D R O N E S
D R O N E S is a folk rap group from Richmond, VA who combines acoustic and digital elements into their music. Sounding like what you might expect if Pink Floyd had ever rapped, the songs oscillate appropriately between electronic shoegaze and the droned out workings of acoustic guitars.
Lyrically, D R O N E S is a paranoia soaked nosedive into the collective subconscious of America. Written from the perspective of drone operators, while sometimes taking on the homicidal voices of the drones themselves, DRONES offers a collection of songs that could easily be imagined sung around a post-World War III campfire.
Formed in early 2014, D R O N E S brings together three individuals who share an impressive record of service to both indie rock and rap music. Virginia natives Erik Akers and Isaac Ramsey (Swordplay) from the mouthy indie rock band Double Rainbow have extended on familiar songwriting in this new project with P.T. Burnem who brings his signature style of beatmaking to the group’s music.
From humble beginnings as a rapper in the Baltimore music scene of the early aughts, P.T. Burnem has gained international attention for his albums “Paper Cranes” (2009) and “Ornithopter” (2012) and an animated live show which brings the raw, visceral energy of punk rock to the microphone. Taking to the road with just an MPC and a motorcycle, and even having been smuggled once by train to become the second American rapper ever to perform in Belarus, P.T. Burnem’s reputation as a compelling performer is widely known on the underground rap circuit.
Swordplay began his music endeavors as a teenager playing drums for Anousheh Khalili and a variety of pretty almost decent punk bands. In 2005, his first rap album “The Tilt EP” earned approval from diverse audiences for its folk-inspired beats and poetic vocal deliveries, a style which continues in his most recent full-length album “Tap Water” (2013) produced by French beatmaker Pierre the Motionless. A friend of the guitar, Swordplay’s acoustic playing can be heard on both of these records and has become one of the personalizing characteristics of his live show. On the way to OG status, Swordplay shows no signs of stopping, having crossed continents to tour in a wide range of indie rap hubs, from Tijuana to Prague in the last year alone.
THE STORY BEHIND D R O N E S
The story behind D R O N E S dates back at least to the Bush Years when the growth of UAV technology was beginning to accelerate rapidly. Although no specific information has been released pertaining to the objectives of the project known as D R O N E S, sources have suggested that UAV operators involved in a singular accident which occurred in early 2014 may be responsible for its development. During a routine test run of the newest RQ-10 PT BURNEM predator model designed by Northrop Grumman, a team of three drone operators stationed in [REDACTED] crashed their drone into a popular swimming area of the James River in Richmond, VA. While official reports cannot confirm the cause of this accident, witnesses described a Double Rainbow occurring that day which may have distracted one of the operators. According to experts, it is possible that the operators then used a triple encrypted back-channeling communication software system installed in the drone’s [REDACTED] to contact a group of civilians who recovered the drone a few months later on a sunny Saturday afternoon while swimming. What is known for certain, is that since the accident, a small handful of citizens from the US and France associated with the three operators have been placed on all federal watch lists by US authorities. Documents obtained by FOIA requests submitted to the FBI in June are heavily redacted but contain some information indicating that the operators have been working with this group of civilians and possibly others to develop D R O N E S. The implications of UAV technology which can run off of pure sound waves are not yet clear, but technology from early scale models which were fully functional and undertook operations in [REDACTED] has since been applied to at least one fully sized weaponized vehicle capable of worldwide remote operations.