Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Xmas! Latest news and a year in review!

Merry Xmas everybody.  Just wanted to put a few words together to wrap up the latest ongoings of everyone involved (or once involved) in the Boutique Empire family.

Starting with Guilty About Girls who have just arisen from a productive hiatus to deliver two new songs, the latest of which was singled out by Alan Cross on his music blog.  Once again Jordy Birch is proving he is among Canada's finest pop song craftsmen!  Have a listen to his blistering new single The Boys in the Band.

Old friends Sex With Strangers have just released their fifth album Behaviors.  The first video from the new album, once again produced by the brilliant folks of BKS Crew is called Times Electric.  Check out the video below for their new sound and style.  They seem to be gathering a lot of press with this release and we wish them all a great success.

Combine the Victorious has taken the inspiration from their first European tour to begin writing and recording their third full length.  Scheduled for a spring 2013 release, the duo plans to return to Europe next year for an extended tour in its support.   Their new EP, Crumbling Hearts, indicates the tone of their new material, some of which may appear on the full length.  Vinyl pressing is being sourced out as well, with cover art to be commissioned from Robert Edmonds. 

Isabelle Dunlop has had several very successful pop up shops during 2012 which has spurred on the idea of setting up a permanent shop for her designs in the new year.  It seems her wool scarves and shawls are becoming more popular each season.  Stay tuned for more news.

Robert Edmonds, the man behind the images of all the Boutique Empire releases, is currently planning expositions for the new year.  We are discussing many ideas of how to make each series unique and exciting.  Once again we'll be offering more information as we near the time to reveal his works. 

Vince Tuckwood, our resident author, not only released his Escalation novel this year but has been hard at work on a dualistic music album as well.  He has been revealing certain works from the sparse side of the album which show dramatic artistic leaps from anything he's done before.  Have a listen to some of his latest works on his reverbnation page.

Though not officially a member of the Boutique Empire collective (yet) The Population Drops have quietly started to amass attention around their first four song collection.  More songs are being recorded in January and hopefully a several more live performances will be scheduled to showcase this remarkable new band and their unique style.   Check out Enough from their first EP.

In closing, if we're very lucky we should also hear some new music from the elusive Gilles Zolty in the 2013.  He's been busy working away in Saskatchewan this past year, but there have been rumours of new works that might escape from his private studio into the world.  At very least we hope he can make his way out to Vancouver for another live performance!

Here's hoping all of you will have a happy holiday season, and though 2012 has been a challenging year we are all looking forward to the new year and the opportunity our new works shall bring.

Thanks for reading, be well and merry xmas.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dancing in Dystopia 2

Combine the Victorious will be performing their last show of the year tomorrow night at the B-Ex ( British Ex Servicemen's Association, 1143 Kingsway, Vancouver).   Joining them on the bill shall be The Population Drops with The Rain and the Sidewalk opening the night.

CtV have been rehearsing with Justin "Juice" Kadis on drums and recently have been adding in Misty Reid on backing vocals.  A few other surprise guest musicians will joining them on stage to make this a highly memorable event!  The set included songs from the brand new Crumbling Hearts EP as well as a few favorite covers from the past and some sneaky little new moments from uncompleted songs.  The additional live musicians offer such a remarkable new sound to the live performance.  Not to be missed.

The Population Drops are quickly gathering interest on the Vancouver scene.  Their new four song EP has been getting a great deal of love at college/campus radio and even though they've only performed a handful of times they are rapidly acquiring a great reputation as a band to watch out for!

First on the bill is none other than The Rain and the Sidewalk.  With Trevor Thompson's eerily similar voice to Ian Curtis and his angular song writing his set promises to set a wonderful tone for the entire evening.

Doors are at 8pm
The Rain and the Side Walk 9pm
The Population Drops 10pm
Combine the Victorious 11pm

Tickets at the door, only $5 

click here for the official facebook invite

Poster designed by Robert Edmonds

Smoke and Choke by Combine the Victorious

Monday, November 26, 2012

Isabelle Dunlop Pop Up Shop

On December first Isabelle Dunlop will be revisiting the old Birkeland Bros Shop and holding a second pop up at 3573 Main St.  She will be displaying her definitive wool scarves and shawls as well as a small selection of individual coats and dresses

The shop will open this Weekend - Dec 1st - at Noon until 5PM. 

If you cannot make it within those hours please contact Isabelle Dunlop to book an appointment.

Video shot and edited by M R Henning
music provided by Combine the Victorious

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Georgia Straight Review of Crumbling Hearts EP

Music » Recordings

Combine the Victorious bucks recent trends with Crumbling Hearts

By Mike Usinger,
Crumbling Hearts (Independent)
For whatever reason, there aren’t a lot of synth-pop artists these days hitting the dance floor in a mood that could loosely be defined as melancholy. At the moment, no one wants to be bummed out like Depeche Mode or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark—they’re more into hitting the same glitzy, beautiful-people parties as Crystal Castles and the Golden Filter.

Combine the Victorious bucks that trend on its five-song Crumbling Hearts EP. The band’s name suggests one of those Hitler-haired Victory Records emover acts that were all the rage a half-decade ago. What you get, though, is retro-tinted dance music guaranteed to resonate with those who spend far too much time alone in their lonely bedrooms, watching a cellphone that never seems to ring.
Like, say, Depeche Mode, Combine the Victorious doesn’t sound completely fixated on wallowing in self-pity. As coolly detached as the duo—Isabelle Dunlop and Mark Henning—is, there’s an ethereal underside to the unrepentantly synthetic title track and the ghostly “Glasgow”. The EP’s standout is “California State of Mind”, on which an elastic bass line and squelch-city percussion serve as the backdrop for a sun-kissed reminiscence of a road trip to the state where it never seems to rain. Amazingly, Combine the Victorious manages to make that sound melancholy, although maybe not enough to make anyone forget OMD.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rob Edmonds paints We Are Local Pop Up

The illustrious Robert Edmonds has just painted the front window of the We Are Local pop up shop on Main Street here in Vancouver.  He is the first of six local artists that will be designing the front window display to the store, a new one each week.  Today he was putting the finishing touches on the window, a transfer of one of his "Day At the Races" series, made life sized on glass.

It will only be up for one week so please make a note to look up at 2539 Main St (Main and 10th), the site of the Whoa!  Nellie Bike Shop (who have graciously provided the space and temporarily moved upstairs).

The We Are Local pop up shop will feature gift boxes that will contain items from over 60 local businesses, apparently there will packages available for guys, gals, grey sky days, hipsters and more.  Drop in and find out more.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Successful Return from Europe (new video too)

Combine the Victorious released their new Crumbling Hearts EP in Stockholm last month.  The show at Bonden Bar was a wonderful success with a young and greatly enthusiastic crowd giving a glowing reception.   A return is being planned. 

While there, they recorded some of their favorite views of that beautiful city.  This new video is the result of those adventures in Sweden.  

Good friends Sex With Strangers have also returned from their second east coast tour: winning contests in Toronto and making their second appearance at CMJ in New York.  Most importantly SWS have just made their brand new album "Behaviors" listenable on bandcamp

Friday, October 19, 2012

New release: Combine the Victorious - Crumbling Hearts

New EP from Combine the Victorious - Crumbling Hearts

Available today October 19th 2012

A brand new five song ep from Vancouver's electronic duo Combine the Victorious, featuring their latest single Crumbling Hearts.

Celebrating the release of this new collection the duo are performing in Stockholm Sweden tonight at Bonden Bar.   Performance at 9:30PM
This will be followed by two shows in London UK.  Saturday Oct 20th at Gunners Pub (Highbury) 10PM and Oct 23rd with Club Fandango @ Buffalo Bar (Islington) 8PM.

Here is a behind the scenes look at the writing and recording of the new ep, directed and edited by Stefan "Flash Action" Sigerson (who also co-produced three of the songs).

Available on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, 7Digital, Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, and more very soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Touring News

Combine the Victorious will be performing their new ep Crumbling Hearts in Stockholm, Sweden this month.
Oct 19th 2012 Bonden Bar, Bondegatan 1, Stockholm Sweden.   Also the release date of the EP.  Available digitally. 

Followed by Oct 20th at The Gunners Pub, London UK and Oct 23rd, a Club Fandango event at Buffalo Bar, London, UK. 

And it would a crime not to mention that close friends Sex With Strangers are off to New York City for their second appearance at the CMJ's! We wish everyone the greatest successes in both Toronto and New York.  Their new album "Behavoirs" comes out Oct 20th, with the release party at the Biltmore Caberet. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

New release: Combine the Victorious - Crumbling Hearts EP
Release date: October 19th 2012

A new five song collection from Combine the Victorious featuring:
Crumbling Hearts
California State of Mind
Smoke and Choke

Produced by Combine the Victorious with Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by M R Henning at Boutique Empire Studio spring/summer 2012

To celebrate the release the band will be performing at Bonden Bar, Stockholm Sweden October 19th, as well as two shows in London UK, Oct 20th The Gunners Pub, and Oct 23rd as part of Club Fandango at Buffalo Bar in Islington.  A brief west coast North American tour is being book for later this year as well. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New series from Robert Edmonds

Currently hanging at the walls of the Isabelle Dunlop pop up shop on 3573 Main Street this weekend is the new Hasting's Park inspired series from Rob Edmonds.  Following the technique he's been refining over the past few years, he has four large racing horse themes paintings on display.

for more information regarding these or any other artwork from Robert Edmonds,
please contact him at:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Movie news - Random Acts of Romance

We are pleased to announce the inclusion of two Boutique Empire artists on the soundtrack of a new locally shot comedy called Random Acts of Romance.

Over the past summer we were approached about licensing songs for a new independent film shot here in Vancouver.  The trailer below looks great and features the Sex With Strangers song "We Want the Fire."  Another song, "Dancefloor" by Guilty About Girls is also included in the movie, apparently it is used prominently during the closing scene and credits.

From the few moments I've seen everything looks really good, and I can say we're all quite looking forward to catching its premiere in October.

Thanks again to everyone involved, you've been great people to meet and we wish you the greatest success with your motion picture!

Check it out!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Isabelle Dunlop fall fashions

Sept 22nd/23rd  

Isabelle Dunlop will be having her fall collection on display at Main St., Vancouver.  She has a wide selection of coloured wool shawls and scarves as well as her brand new pea coat made from Buffalo check plaid wool (as featured in the Georgia Straight last week).  

In addition to the pea coat Isabelle has several new colours of scarves and shawls, the wool freshly arrived from the Shetland isles of Scotland.

The pop up shop will be happening at the former Birkeland Brothers Wool shop at 3573 Main street,  near the corner of Main and 20th Avenue. Special thanks again to Cara Birkeland for offering her site for the sale.

Saturday Sept 22nd 12-8 PM
Sunday Sept 23rd 12-6
Cash or cheque only. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hidden Treasures: Gilles Zolty "Horny Astronaut"

Gilles Zolty - Horny Astronaut

A while back, and I mean over a decade now, I had the pleasure of working on a fantastic album by Gilles Zolty, his end of the millenium opus Horny Astronaut.  Gilles had approached me to do a little mastering on his home recorded album.   We spent a few hours working on things and in the end I gave it my best shot but really thought there was a great deal of potential that was being missed in the mixes.   Gilles walked away that afternoon with a new cd-r and a few things to think about.

Over the summer of 1999 we got to speaking and decided to attempt upgrading his sonics by leaving his home basement studio and going into Studio 55 in N. Vancouver, where I'd been working for a few years at that point.  The differences were quite noticeable and we were both rather pleased with the results.  I thought I'd finished my work and was later surprised to learn that Gilles had been in communication with an English producer named Paul Schroeder (Stone Roses, The Verve).  By late September we'd booked more studio time because Paul was flying over to help finish the album.  I confess I was a bit surprised by this latest news as I'd considered our work done.  However from the moment Paul stepped into the studio I discovered there was in fact a great many things to do!

We worked around the clock for two weeks straight.  The first week was spent on editing, arrangements, additional parts, re-recording bits, replacing vocals, tweaking keyboard parts, replaying basslines, adding guitar parts: essentially what everybody does in the course of making an album.  It was a hectic week of tracking but we achieved a tonne of things and felt extremely excited about the project by the end of our labours.

Next came another solid week of 15-20 hour days where we mixed 11 of the 12 songs on the album.  Paul and I ended up tag teaming on a couple of the mixes as we were running out of time before Paul had to return to the UK.  In the end we got it done, with Paul literally putting the final touches on a mix right before picking  up his bags and jumping in a cab taking him straight to the airport!  A brilliant couple of weeks for sure.

My memory is filled with the fun and enthusiasm that surrounded this album.   Both Gilles and Paul are outstanding people, the former a bold talent, the latter a fearless visionary.  I learned a great deal about art, music, recording, producing and simply being a better person from each of them.  Over the years I later went to the UK and worked with Paul on several different records for groups such as The Upper Room, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and My Red Cell amongst others.  Gilles moved to London for several years, where we met up and did more recordings, some of which appear on his follow up album "Gilles Zolty".

The sound of Horny Astronaut is a wonderful blend of the acoustic and the electronic, a folk noir sound, at once both primitive and ethereal.  The album never really got a full release, it came close on several occasions, but has remained a hidden treasure for years now.  Please have a listen, and if you enjoy it, grab a copy from his music site.

Mark Henning

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sun bleached and beautiful - "Paros"

Combine the Victorious has just completed their new video for the song Paros.  Shot during the hottest and brightest days of summer to emulate the heat and sunshine of the Greek islands, CtV has created a sun soaked clip for their latest love song.


Video produced by Boutique Empire
directed by Isabelle Dunlop, edited by M R Henning
August 2012

Song written by Henning, Dunlop, Wild
Produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
recorded and mixed by MRH
Mastered by Clayton Worbeck

Drums: Simon Hunt
Guitars: Marc Wild
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Vocals, keyboards, bass: Mark Roland Henning

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August updates

Been a good summer here in Vancouver (well once it arrived of course).   Combine the Victorious had a marvelous show at Electric Owl at the end of July - undeniably their best one yet!  Sex With Strangers has just completed recording the tracks to their fifth album, this time with producer Adam "Wunderbro" Percy at the helm.  Jordy Birch has been recording new songs with Digory Smallz at his new studio, and Vince Tuckwood is well on his way into his fifth novel! 

Combine the Victorious performed their first headlining show of 2012 on July 27th in celebration of their latest single Paros.  Joined on stage by drummer Jim Berry, CtV performed all new material, most of which shall be included on their next EP release.  The still to be titled EP shall coincide with shows in Europe (scheduling is being done right now).   Additional details will be revealed as soon as they become available.

Sex With Strangers have broken new ground on their fifth studio album.  This time they have joined their creative forces with Adam Percy, who has provided the group with some exquisite remixes in the past.  Recording over the past weeks at the new Fader Master studio with Adam leading the sonic vision and engineer Paul Boerchler engineering.   The album is also scheduled for an Autumn 2012 release.

Jordy Birch has been busy writing a whole new batch of material this past year.  He's been teaming up with producer/engineer Digory Smalls (Joshua Hislop, Young Liars) and will be revealing his latest songs soon! 

Vince Tuckwood, author of Escalation and Karaoke Criminals, is well into writing his fifth novel (which he has not yet revealed to us!).   Judging from his posts things are flowing well and we should expect a sneak peak relatively soon!

A busy time with a lot of work being created.  This fall is going to be loaded with releases and events.  Looking forward to it! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Single - Paros - Combine the Victorious

We are pleased to announce Paros, a new single from Combine the Victorious: a sun drenched tune of long distance love, placed in the heart of the Greek islands.   It comes out on iTunes this Friday, July 27th, but you can hear it now on the Combine the Victorious band site.

Combine the Victorious is performing this Friday to celebrate the release of Paros at Electric Owl, here in Vancouver, July 27th 2012. 

(Henning, Dunlop, Wild)
Produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
recorded and mixed by MRH
Mastered by Clayton Worbeck
Artwork Rob Edmonds
original photography Janis

Drums: Simon Hunt
Guitar:Marc Wild
Vocals and other instruments: Mark Roland Henning
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop

Friday, July 6, 2012

Live at Electric Owl

July 27th 2012 
The Electric Owl

Boutique Empire presents:

Combine the Victorious

Combine the Victorious celebrates the release of the bandʼs new single and video “Paros” at the Electric Owl Social Club, July 27th, Vancouver Canada. This exceedingly stylish event will definitely include music and may encourage dancing. Sound good? Yes, we thought so too.

Creating a sound that resides somewhere between the heady waters of Chic and Portishead, Mark R Henning (formerly of Pure/Guilty About Girls) and Isabelle Dunlop (formerly of Sex With Strangers) are performing songs from their latest album (The Agreement). Come dance, say hello, or help spread the word of fun.

Sharing the bill will be friends to CtV, Onelight and Fuzzum, who are:

Onelight is singer Amy Usher and drummer Hamish Thomson (The Hermit/Big Tall Garden). With a shared love things folk, indie rock and ambient electronica, Amy and Hamishʼs music is emotionally rich with vocal harmonies and tripped out ambient textures. The blend of layered percussive beats and smooth vocals slinks around reference points embracing Morecheeba, Massive Attack and Beth Orton. Onelight is currently in the studio mixing their debut album with Howard Redekopp; planned release date set for September.

Fuzzum is a supersecret side project of Jordy Birch (lead singer of Pure/Guilty About Girls) and Lucas T Poth (Guilty About Girls). A more blissed out indie fuzz rock version than their other projects, Fuzzum is all about noisy pop/rock jams.

And there will also be DJ sets! Juice (Yoko Casionos) will hit the proverbial decks to perfect the evening of music, dancing, and levity.

Doors at 8PM - Early Show - begins at 8:30 sharp Tickets $10 at the door.

Electric Owl - 928 Main Street, Vancouver BC


poster design Robert Edmonds

Facebook event

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Song: Combine the Victorious "Glasgow"

Combine the Victorious has just completed a new song for their upcoming third album.  This one was written by Isabelle Dunlop while she was back in Scotland last year.  They were joined by Marc Wild and Simon Hunt for the tracking of the song, and even managed to get them into the new video.

This video was shot at Imagined Aire Studio and edited by Mark R Henning over the past weekend.  A glimpse into the sound of their future release.

"Glasgow" by Combine the Victorious
(Dunlop, Henning)

Video produced by Boutique Empire
camera work and editing M R Henning

Song produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
engineering and mixing: Henning

Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Keybaords and backing Vocals: Mark R Henning
Guitars: Marc Wild
Drums: Simon Hunt

Download track from iTunes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Video from Guilty About Girls - Dancefloor

Boutique Empire is proud to present Dancefloor by Guilty About Girls

Video produced by Boutique Empire
Camera work and editing by Mark Henning

Dancefloor written by Jordy Birch
Produced and Performed by Guilty About Girls
Engineered and mixed by Digory Smallz at Claymore Studio
Vocal and guitar: J Birch
Keyboards and programming: Mark R Henning
Backing Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Hi Hat overdubs: L T Poth
additional guitar and programming: Digory Smalls

download from or


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Combine the Victorious Vlog

Combine the Victorious has started a vlog explaining their upcoming release.  This post deals with the various remixes of their song "California".  Initially written in the summer of 2011 with good friend Ingrid Schroeder, the song has been remixed by a handful of talented producers and has led to the duo revisiting their song and making a brand new version.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Updates, News, Stories, jelly beans

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes for everyone these days.  Currently Sex With Strangers is using the grey winter skies to find inspiration to write their fifth album!  Guilty About Girls is wood-shedding new songs (Jordy has revealed a couple very inspired hooks already) and Combine the Victorious is finalizing another batch of material that will eventually comprise their third release.  Robert Edmonds is as busy as always, last week revealing a few very haunting impressionistic self portrait type pieces.  Gilles Zolty is still hard at work back home in Saskatoon, but we are hopeful for a west coast appearance this spring!

Combine the Victorious also just re-released a song from their Disagreements EP - FKBC.  The video is below. 

This should be a busy year for everyone involved with Boutique Empire, and hopefully we shall add a few new people to our collective!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Recap - first show of the year for Combine

A brief video recap of Combine the Victorious's first show of 2012.  Filmed live at LanaLou's in Vancouver, CV played a set of completely new songs, including debuting one brand new one: Smoke and Choke.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Combine's first show of 2012

starting the year off with a pleasing bang, Combine the Victorious will be playing an all new set Saturday January 21st at LanaLou's.  Co-hosting the night will be friends Black Betty (catch then while Jonas is still on drums!).  Please join us at Vancouver's finest new saloon, LanaLou's.
 362 Powell St. right by Oppenheimer Park. 

*thanks again to Rob Edmonds for another amazing poster!

Here is a preview of a new Combine the Victorious song: Smoke and Choke.  They shall be debuting this number on Saturday night.