DJ Brandon Callahan plays a set.

SLC Synth Alliance and Imperium Lunae: Brandon Callahan’s Myriad of Muses


SLUG recently had the opportunity to chat with local musician Brandon Callahan, one of Salt Lake City’s movers and shakers in the industrial genre. We chatted about his multiple music projects, Twitch streaming and his role in the SLC Synth Alliance. Callahan has been a music fan for almost as far back as he can remember, but was drawn to making his own music after seeing his first industrial show by Spahn Ranch at McCullough’s—a bowling alley that turned into a concert and dance hall one night a week. As the predecessor to Area 51, it is reflected upon as hallowed ground by the older goth and industrial crowds in SLC.

“I was digging electronics in high school,” he says, “and I wanted to graduate with an electrical engineering degree.” From there, he took his electronic skills and got into synthesizers. The first show he attended after turning 21 was the din_fiv, Velvet Acid Christ and Haujobb concert at Area 51. He says, “I was a huge fan of Velvet Acid Christ … I loved what they did.” Callahan started buying their albums and reading their CD booklets to see what synthesizers they used. He also started researching online forums like Darksonus, an industrial-focused synthesizer forum. He says, “My very first synthesizer was a Roland Juno-106, which was a great synth to learn on. It’s from about 1984 and I still have it today.”

It is no surprise that he has joined a collaborative of synthesizer enthusiasts called the SLC Synth Alliance. This group of passionate players frequently puts on music events in our community such as the SLC Synth Alliance Quarterly, an open mic night at St. John’s Lutheran Church at 1030 South and 500 East. The group also puts on an event called The Sunday Drip at Sugar Space Arts Warehouse in addition to regular shows at the International

“My very first synthesizer was a Roland Juno-106, which was a great synth to learn on. It’s from about 1984 and I still have it today.”

As for Callahan’s musical ventures, he has many. There is his solo project, which focuses on industrial and cinematic soundscapes, the harder industrial project Imperium Lunae, formerly known as IMPXVIII and his power-noise project Burst Therapy. Each one has a different creation process and when it comes to the different styles, he says, “Industrial has always been my thing. I’ve always loved it and [have been] drawn to that genre.” He is influenced by the “industrial greats”—bands like Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly have greatly impacted his musical career. Burst Therapy came about by using a bunch of distortion pedals and evolved into more when he started using drum machines. He says, “When it comes to the writing perspective, [Burst Therapy] is completely different … One is structured and done while sitting at a computer and one is, ‘Turn on a mixer, plug in a bunch of drum machines and distortion pedals and go.’” 

This year, Callahan will be focusing on Imperium Lunae. The name change stems from a need to simplify when it comes to search engines and pronunciation, but this is not the only change—Chad Painter from Carphax Files is now performing on modular synth and keys and Spencer Fullmer is on drums. A follow-up to the band’s debut 2014 release Demonology should hit the streets by the end of the year.

“A lot of these people can’t get to the clubs regularly where they live. They don’t have access.”

Callahan is also a well-known DJ in the underground community, which he says he just fell into. He started promoting shows and events with Aaron Shea, who asked him to DJ while he ran the event.  “That kind of stuck,” he says, “and I started DJing on his nights [called] Technoir at Area 51. I did that for several years and then started my own night called Tanz Machina.” When COVID-19 hit, the event was moved to the streaming platform Twitch, where they have since developed a following. You can watch the stream at on Saturday nights. When it comes to the success of the channel, he says, “A lot of these people can’t get to the clubs regularly where they live. They don’t have access.” Although Callahan created Tanz Machina, it is an equal partnership that consists of Utah DJs Wesley Slaughter and Bryan Miller as well as himself.

Supporting the local underground is very important to Callahan. He hopes that more artists will come out of the woodwork and start playing shows to grow the SLC industrial community.  More musicians, more audience participation and more enthusiasm for these events will keep them happening, so it is crucial to get out and support them. 

There are several events coming up where you can find Callahan performing or DJing. The first will be with Imperium Lunae at the Twitch Virtual Temple Festival that airs April 26, 27 and 28. After that show, you will find him guest DJing during Goth Night at the International with DJ Gabriel on Friday, April 26 as well as at The DLC at Quarters on Thursday, May 16. This will be a free show with Dehorn, Proxy Wars and Shady Prophets.

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