When Arthur Eisele talks about himself as a kid, worshipping Michael Jackson and shopping at the mall, it sounds like he had a pretty typical American upbringing. The only difference is that Eisele lived this Americanized lifestyle in Puerto Rico. "Everything is in Spanish, but apart from that, it could be America," says the lead singer and guitarist for the somber synth trio Kordan. The island even has Gap stores. "I wore khakis," Eisele says. "Therefore, I am American."
Eisele, 29, and his band mates, synth player and vocalist Liz Reboyras, 27, and bassist Gabo Rodriguez, 27, all hail from Puerto Rico and currently call Bushwick home. As indicated by 2010’s The Longing, the group’s debut LP, the band revels in brooding echoes of electric sound with hard beats and soft vocals. Much of this sound profile comes from the brain of Eisele, who started Kordan as a solo project. The name Kordan has its roots in a computer language and was intended to embody "something from the future but ancient, and not male, not female, kind of androgynous," Eisele says. "But I never checked it on Google, and when I did, there’s this prime minister from Iran called Ali Kordan who’s like a super corrupt guy."
Eisele got into music as a child, taking piano lessons at a local music store before opting for self-teaching. "Slowly I fell into classical music, and I stayed in that dungeon for like seven years," he says. But he broke out when he turned 18 and started attending college at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. It was also around this time that Eisele got an introduction to Puerto Rico’s burgeoning rave scene at a club called Asylum, which Reboyras remembers as consistently being "dark and sweaty and packed with people." The first time Eisele stepped into the club, he was immediately blown away by the sounds he heard, "kind of hip-hop but electronic and from the future. And then this weird bass music, which was drum and bass."
The experience inspired Eisele to start creating his own drum-and-bass-style tunes on his laptop. He and a friend even released some of this music under the name Fission on U.K. labels in the early 2000s, but he dropped off of the project as he got more involved with school. He continued to hop around the local music scene though, which is how he met Reboyras and Rodriguez, who were also students at the university.
On a quest to meet girls, Eisele started to explore Puerto Rico’s indie rock scene.
"I was coming off my drum-and-bass, I’m-a-robot stage," he says, and he quickly realized that "maybe the Japanese robot makeup from the future might not be so attractive." He toned down his look and started attending Reboyras and her friend’s weekly record-spinning party called Random. He and Reboyras hit it off and took in a viewing of An Inconvenient Truth, but the courtship was short lived, as Eisele was about to move to New Jersey to start a Ph.D. program in global affairs at Rutgers.
After Eisele shipped off to Jersey, Reboyras finished school and moved to San Francisco for two years, but the pair kept in touch. "We became sort of like longdistance best friends," Reboyras says. Eisele left Rutgers due to funding problems and relocated to Brooklyn, where he continued to work on music. One day in 2008, he got a message on his MySpace from the manager of the band Cut Copy, asking if he would be interested in joining the band on tour. He jumped at the chance and asked members of French Horn Rebellion and Savoir Adore to join him as the live version of Kordan. The lineup worked for the one tour, but Eisele would soon require more permanent members in his band.
Eisele released the Kordan EP, Fantasy Nation, in the summer of 2009. Members of Brooklyn surf-pop group The Drums got their hands on it and invited Eisele to open for them on a string of New York shows. "And I was like, ‘Yeah, awesome! But I don’t have a band. How do I do this?’" he says. It was then that he turned to Reboyras and Rodriguez, now both living in New York, for help. The trio became official and put out its debut, The Longing, in fall 2010. That album, said to depict a love story in 2036, was inspired by the opening line of William Gibson’s 1984 cyberpunk science-fiction book titled Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." The next album, planned for fall 2011, will move away from images of dystopian Tokyo and into the forest. "The second album has something to do with a big German forest and psychedelics and a tribe from the future and plants becoming conscious and importing their knowledge from the nature world," Eisele says excitedly. "So brace yourselves," Reboyras says, laughing, "for something very unique for the second album."
Jan. 12, Glasslands, 289 Kent Ave. (betw. S. 1st & S. 2nd Sts.),
Brooklyn, 718-599- 1450; 8, $7.