The New Division’s ‘One Day’ explores themes of addiction, loss, and love,
The New Division is the electronic synth-pop project of John Kunkel, a California-based musician, producer, and sound designer with Brazilian American heritage. With millions of plays across several streaming platforms, the LA-based producer began his passion project at the age of 18 when he moved to Riverside, CA, at a time when synth-driven sounds were starting to gain traction but yet were very not appreciated by the mainstream, “I remember going to shows back then (2005) and thinking, ‘why aren’t there more synth bands?’ Everyone was making music I wasn’t interested in, whether it was folk, emo, or just generic rock music, and I felt the drive to start my own synth-pop band.”
In a few months, he started writing songs inspired by some of his favourite acts, New Order and Depeche Mode. “The New Division” began in his college dorm, the name deriving from a play of words that were originally taken from a book he was assigned to read in an economics class titled “The New Division of Labor.” Kunkel explains, “A lot of fans think the name came from putting together “Joy Division” and “New Order,” but at the time of seeing that book cover, I didn’t even think about it until a few months later when someone pointed it out. I ended up ‘Myspacing’ Peter Hook (New Order) a message to see if he approved of the name, and to my surprise, he responded and said, “Well, I don’t mind it, actually. Your music’s good as well!”
Upon his first release in 2009, The Rookie EP was featured on Pitchfork and several other publications. Being compared to other bands at the time of the growing Chillwave scene, Kunkel decided he needed to take his music in a darker direction, producing 2011’s Shadows LP which remains a fan favourite to this day. “I didn’t really want to be associated with overtly chill and happy music at the time,” Kunkel explains.
Shadows became a subconscious effort by that point, with many songs touching on themes inspired by film noir, murder mysteries, and drug abuse. Kunkel explains, “While the album contains a few love songs, I wanted the record to explore themes that don’t often get the light of day. It probably didn’t help that I was working graveyard shifts four nights a week and writing the album during odd night hours.”
Soon after the arrival of Shadows, The New Division began playing several shows around the globe, opening for Peter Hook & The Light, Peter Murphy, playing alongside several acts of the mid-2010s, including Elefant, Shout Out Louds, Minus the Bear, and more.
In 2023, after releasing four full-length albums, half a dozen EPs, and a variety of singles, Kunkel finds himself living a drastically different life than when he embarked on this journey at 18, “Times have changed, I’m married, have two kids, work a long nine to five, but the drive to make the music I love is still there,” he explains.
His latest album, Modern Life shared in March, explores themes of chaos, isolation, and finding escape in music during the pandemic. With a darker edge than its predecessor, Hidden Memories, the album delves into the effects of technology addiction and navigating a constantly changing world.
His latest track “One Day” explores themes of addiction, loss, and love, inviting listeners on an emotional journey through expertly crafted melodies and captivating vocals. The New Division has expertly blended progressive house beats into the mix, creating a sound that’s both powerful and unique. The pulsing rhythm and driving bassline will have you moving to the beat while the lyrics will tug at your heartstrings. To bring this track to life, the talented Pau Lara created a series of stunning computer-generated graphics that complement the music perfectly. The result is a truly immersive experience.