Miami Living Magazine

Aaron Diaz

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Butler had an early relationship with music. It developed organically in moments when Butler felt like he needed to hide. "I needed a release, and there was a piano in my house," he says. "It was never used." Butler's natural talent caught the attention of his mother who put him into piano lessons—and it was his teacher who nurtured his compositional voice. Ever since, the piano, has been a lifeline for him. It's a place where Butler goes to find the answers he is looking for. For Butler, his big break came in 2008 with "Blind" and the release of their self-titled debut studio album, Hercules & Love Affair. He was in his mid-twenties at the time. He tells us that it was the first song he presented to a record after many years of sitting on it. "There was an immediate intense response. At that moment, upon hearing how excited they were, I realized this could get more and more opportunities. I am really fortunate," he says. They needed to give their band a name, so Butler went to Greek Mythology—another one of his passions. "The image of the strongest man on earth with a broken heart, and that he could be gay, was vindicating," says Butler. "It spoke to me that those two things can exist." There were no other strong contenders. "I had fifty horrible word associations. I don't remember the other names I came up with," he chuckles. It's been almost ten years since they released their debut album, and three years since they released their last album. With live shows and being on the road, Butler tells us, "it can be a little hard to write. I was in transition from one city to another, and it creates stress. Not to mention, sometimes I get distracted in the studio with other opportunities." Fans patiently waited for the anticipated album, and raved about the singles that released earlier this year. It was clear that Omnion would have a different feel. The title track, "Omnion," set a clear path for the rest of the album, and while some songs can be inspired by multiple collaborators, Butler tells us that this one was born in complete solitude. "It was written in a moment when —the past three years there's been so many intense kind of crisis. One of them that inspired a lot of hopefulness was the refugee crisis," he says. "I was just constantly witnessing, reading about these quite desperate scenarios." It was these types of crises that inspired Butler and truly got him asking the important questions. "I was thinking about, what does a child do when they present themselves to God? How does a child speak and ask for help? It's this really humble and neat approach," he explains. "I was inhabiting that space in my mind, because there didn't seem to be any clear answers on how to alleviate some of the crisis in the world. "Omnion" was born out of that. A really simple, authentic, and immediate dialogue that was done in a kind of childlike way. I wanted to put down the simplest spiritual experience on paper." Butler also tells us that "Omnion" is the song that best represents the album thematically—however not sonically, given its quiet nature. "The record is about those themes of humble notions, of spirituality, and acknowledging uncertainty. It's about the acceptance of all kinds of people. It's about allies. It's about looking outside of your own group and community you identify with, trying to build bridges with other people. I think the seed is "Omnion," the idea of presenting yourself before your maker really humbly and asking for guidance through difficult situations." Each song represents a piece of the puzzle. "I built a theme or line of continuity through the whole record, and the songs represent different little side tabs, or deviations from the main theme," Butler explains. "A song like "Rejoice" is an explosive and noisy industrial gospel song. There is no one song that completely represents the whole record, but there are a lot of themes that run through it offering continuity." In a world where there is division, Omnion represents togetherness. "I would encourage people to use music as an opportunity to look at their own belief system and increase their tolerance. Ask yourself if it's that important to be right. I hope that music facilitates connection and communion to other people." There are 11 tracks on the album, and each one of the collaborators were carefully selected by Butler himself. Butler had been touring with Gustaph and Rouge Mary for the last five years. "They are like family. I knew that they were going to be on the record. They both have great messages. Rouge Mary is very spiritual specifically, and I knew that this record was going to be dealing with a lot of spiritual themes, so she was the definite collaborator." Faris Badwan from the Horrors was brought on to collaborate on this record. Faris sang the first single, "Controller," but finding him wasn't easy for Butler. "I was looking for a gloomy male voice to work with. A male voice for rock 'n' roll that also has a darkness to it. I had a hard time finding it in the current landscape. Then someone sent me something from the Horror's and I really loved it." Sharon Van Etten, who sings "Omnion" has a modern tale on how she came to be a collaborator. Butler was watching The Walking Dead on Netflix when he heard her voice for the first time. "What a beautiful voice," he gasped. "Who is this person? I looked her up and tweeted at her. I never have engaged a collaborator this way. It was just an initial connection that went nowhere, and then a year later she was looking for a remixer for a song she did, and my name came up. So, that is how we really connected and when we spoke about the collaboration." Then there's CCA. This wasn't the first time they'd be working together with the Islandic trio. "They are wonderful," says Butler. The last collaborator is Mashrou' Leila, an outspoken Lebanese rock band. "They came to me via a video maker. A year of chatting in the midst of all this craziness around the world, and then we said we'd do something together," Butler explains. "They are very outspoken and critical of society. The lead singer of the band is openly gay, and that was a real eye-opening experience for me— that one of the largest rock bands in the Middle East could be openly gay." Adding new voices to Omnion is a way to differentiate this album from the rest, but there are other differentiators worth noting as well. "As a producer I tried to shake free of genre, and avoid too much direct references to existing music. The first record I managed really was in some way, a bunch of homages to music I love. Those kinds of referential starting points I tried to avoid with this record. I tried not to impose genre on the songs. It's a really hard thing to do, but it was a good exercise to do it well." Butler tells us that this is the first time two people who don't identify as queer or gay participated in the production of the record. "I am really happy about that," he says. "It's important now, more than ever before, to bridge communities. I am also a different person. It's ten years later," Butler exclaims. ML Hercules & Love Affair is currently on tour in Europe, and will be adding dates in the U.S. very soon. For more information, visit: and follow them on Twitter:, and Facebook: edit

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