Showing posts from 2015

busy season

Wow, it's been ages since we've posted anything.  So much has gone on, it's funny to realize how little time we've spent online!

The store has been very busy these days, so we've been a bit slack with our music.  However, we do have a couple things coming up that'll be fun.  On Thursday, Dec 17th,  we are hosting the Boutique Empire Xmas Party at Isabelle's store: Isabelle Dunlop Clothing.   On display will be the debut series from Jean Vercoe, the recluse.   Also we are proud to offer a stage to our friends The Population Drops for a mini showcase set (8:45 sharp).   I'm going to be DJing songs to set the festive vibe and a few of our friends shall be providing a complimentary seasonal beverage for us all to enjoy.

Thursday December 17th 7-10pm #4158mainst #livemusic #art #wool A photo posted by Isabelle Dunlop (@isabelledunlopclothing) on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:56pm PST However even amid that we have booked a live show.  We are now sharing the night with …

Behind the Music: Happy Girl

When we were writing Autonomous there were several different directions and ideas that were tried over the past year and a half.   Even though some of the songs were re-workings of older songs (It's Still On is a remixed, re-recorded version of our song Please from the Disagreements ep - 2008) a few of the songs happened all at the last minute.  Happy Girl was one of them.

Happy Girl was born of a drum track.  My old friend Leigh Grant did us a big favour and came into the city to track drums on a couple songs, and a few ideas we had.  Back in the Spring of 2014 we had him come in to record at Valt Studio, Jordy's downtown production space.  It was hardly a massive room, and the equipment was simple and effective, but we ended up with a lot of great stuff!  It was during this session we recorded the drum tracks to Hardly Spoken, Happy Girl, and two others that didn't make the album but may still be used one day!

Originally I had Leigh track drums for another song entirely:…

Rock and Roll Marathon 2015-Vancouver

We are pleased to announce we'll be performers at this year's Rock'n'Roll Marathon in Vancouver.  We were a part of this race last year as well and had a surprisingly good time doing it.  There is something very rewarding to having 10 000 runners pass by your stage and give you the thumbs up and cheers as they run past!

This year in addition to the Sunday half marathon they have asked us to perform on the Saturday Seawall run as well.  So if you're a part of the R'n'R Marathon we'll be seeing you on both days.

The concept behind this Marathon is rather appealing.  The race course is lined with live acts that will provided music for the runners as they traverse the course.

The first 10K run is on Saturday Oct 24th and the half marathon is Sunday Oct. 25th.  Maybe we'll see you there.

For more details of the marathon please click thru the following link:  Rock'n'Marathons: Vancouver

Behind the Music: Recharge

Autonomous by Combine the Victorious We had a lot of fun recording this song.  It began very close to the end of the recording sessions.  Most of the album had been figured out, recorded, arragned, even pretty close to mixed.  In listening we both thought there could be another moment, something a bit more ambient, so I started messing around with ideas.

Recharge was born of a cheeky inspired thought: what if I recycled a drum track from our debut album "The World Over."   We cut the drums for that album at Mushroom studio, with both Jonas Fairly and Jesse Smith covering the drumming duties.  For Recharge it was Jesse's drum track from our song "For the Glory" that I used as the basis for the track.  However, unlike The World Over, where we'd been making a huge bombastic, large room, lots of tracks kind of record, on Autonomous we wanted to make a dance record so that fantastic live room had to be tamed.  (Kudo's to Shawn Penner for his excellent engin…


We are excited to announce the release of our second full length album, Autonomous.  Twelve songs that combine the style and sound of modern electronic dance music with more experimental and traditional song writing.  
Have a listen, download it, share it, comment on it.  We'd love to hear what you think!!

Autonomous by Combine the Victorious

DANCE - ENJOY! with love from Mark and Isabelle

thanks to: Robert Edmonds for the artwork  Don Harrison for the guitar Leigh Grant for the drums Stefan Sigerson for the bass and brilliance Ingrid Schroeder and Barry Flynn for the song writing Jordy Birch for the additional production Paul Schroeder and Adam Percy for their brilliant mixes
Matt Kennedy, Hugh Ellenwood, Elaine Henderson, Jesse Smith, Kevin Jones, Misty Reid, Jane Dunlop, Vince Tuckwood, Patrick Gilmore, Helen Mitteregger, Hajnalka Mandula, Richard Bafaro, our families, The Population Drops, Jim Newton, Sex With Strangers, Paul Dwyer, Benn McGuire,  Marc "Bandcouver&q…

The UMAs - Feature article

We are very pleased to share the featured article from the Unsigned Music Awards site this week!  They contacted us this past summer and we conducted a fairly extended interview with them.  Please check it out!  

"Record producer Mark Henning and fashion designer Isabelle Dunlop are not your average husband and wife. The independently successful Vancouver couple decided to form Combine the Victorious after an evening of cocktails in 2007, and they haven’t looked back since...

    read more by clicking the above passage.

Autonomous Arrives Sept 14th 2015

We are pleased to announce the official release date for our new full length album AUTONOMOUS is set at September 14th 2015.   Below is a playlist of about half of the songs we've uploaded onto Soundcloud, have a listen and please feel free to share!

Encryption - new electronic instrumental

We present our late addition to the album "Encryption".   Just finished this one over the weekend and created the cubist video from some cool live footage our friend, the great and creative Stefan Sigerson, shot last March at a live show.

This one fills in the gaps between the more pop songs on Autonomous, such as Stop Givin Up On Love and the deeper dance tracks like Stand In Front of Tanks.  Kind of a spy music track.

Song Writing - Stop Givin Up On Love

Here's another new song from our forth-coming Autonomous album.  This one is sequenced as the album's closing track, a sweet way to say goodbye (before starting the whole thing over again!).

We started writing Stop Givin Up On Love over four years ago.  It was titled If Not Love and was much slower, with a completely different chorus.  However the story behind the lyrics has remained pretty much  the same.  It's a song I wrote initially about my brother, who was going through a very rough patch, and in it's initial iteration was very slow and a little depressing sounding.  We put it away and hardly gave it a thought for years.  It was written in the same weekend as our song California, which also started out much slower than it's ended up.

At around xmas last year I was going though all the various songs that we'd sketched, recorded, or finished, trying to get a feel for what was going to make up our album.   Because I've started writing and recording  in …

Isabelle's Story: Caught Up To You

“Caught Up to You”
  How’s She know what’s going on in my head                             What did she mean by those words?                                 Was it the fight that made it alright or is it in all of us?                             You play with my emotions like it’s a joke that I care                              But me without my senses, there’s nobody there.
                            Caught up, caught up, caught up to you                             Caught up, caught up, caught up to you
                             What if I don’t want to run in your race                              I’ve got my eye on the bigger picture                              Are you ready for that pace?                               To copy’s the way, does that make it okay?                               Here’s hoping original wins the day ,                               Here’s hoping original wins the day                                Here’s hoping.                               Caught up, caught up, …

Sunday July 12 Railway Club 9PM

We are excited to be performing all the songs from our new album Autonomous live this Sunday night at the Railway Club opening for Spectacular Spectacular from Los Angeles.  

Doors 8
Combine the Victorious 9PM
Spectacular Spectacular 10:15

The Railway Club
579 Dunsmuir

BIG thanks to Robert Edmonds for the poster!!

New Music! Real Life Turns Me On

We are excited to share the first track from the new album "Autonomous" - Real Life Turns Me On.   Started back in 2013, it's a song that has evolved thru several different versions until it arrived at this master.

Our good friend Stefan Sigerson was instrumental in bringing this track to life, he was there right at the beginning and played both the bassline, and the disco guitar as well as adding the piano breakdown all on the first night.  It then kind of sat on the hard drives for a while before we revisited it.  At the time we were exploring a different direction but over the course of the year we kept coming back to Real Life and adding things, subtracking others, and finally hit on the robotic vocal effect that runs through out when we figured we had something cool.

Sometime in 2013/14 we ran the track past Juice while he was still in Vancouver and playing with us, and he laid down the lead guitar you can hear on the song.   I think it adds a nice counterbalance …

Single: It's Still On

It's Still On (Paul Schroeder mix)

This is a very substantial update of our song "Please" (off the Disagreements ep) retitled It's Still On for 2015.  Good friend and excellent music producer Paul Schroeder has given us a gorgeous mix and we felt the need to put it up!

Isabelle created the background visuals for this clip, gathered from just about everywhere.  Hope you enjoy it.

It's Still On
written by Mark Henning, Isabelle Dunlop, Ingrid Schroeder, Barry Flynn
Produced and engineered by: Henning (Boutique Empire Studio)
Mixed by: Paul Schroeder
Mastered by: Craig Waddell (Gotham City Studio)

Vocals: Isabelle, Mark
Backing Vocals: Ingrid, Barry
extra production elements: Paul Schroeder
Drums: Kevin Jones
all instruments: Henning


Waking up, still tired
feeling down, uninspired
draining out, the hard work washed away

GIving up, so heart broken
all the dreams, left unspoken
see them smile, as we become the same

Don't be scared of what you're seei…

Recording: Autonomous mixed!

We had a fantastic session at the Armoury Studios at the end of May, and after living with the mixes for a week we've submitted them off to Craig Waddell for mastering.  This is our best work yet, with our most complete vision for an album and definitely the most dance floor worthy collection of song yet.  Isabelle and I haven't figured out the final running order yet, and we've been playing with several different orders to see which flows best, but we're looking for a nice long playing album.  Something that you can put on at the start of a party to get things going, and then hopefully put at again at the end of the party to set your night activities in the right direction!

Everything sounded quite stunning through the overhead monitors.  It is my favourite room to mix in Vancouver, so good!   We even had the opportunity to record a quick piano part to start our first day.  The middle eight of the song Caught Up To You has a quirky samba kind of break and there is no…

Vancouver Creatives Two - June 4th

We are pleased to be a part of the opening of Vancouver Creatives Two which will be held at Make Gallery, starting June 4th until July 3rd 2015.
A few months back Bastien and Virginie of VNB took a glorious portrait of Isabelle in her store, using an antique box camera.  We had a wonderful time meeting them and the shoot itself was quite illuminating.  As you can see from the poster above they have photographed several really interesting and inspiring people from around Vancouver, and it's quite an honour to be included in the exhibition.
An added bonus to our meeting VNB is they have asked us to perform at the opening party!  Combine the Victorious will be playing two sets on June 4th amid all the stunning photos: 7:30 and 9:00.   Admission is free and the doors open from 6-10PM.
Vancouver Creatives Two MAKE Gallery 257 E. 7th Ave Vancouver BC 6-10PM Live music at 7:30 and 9:00 Free admission, open to the public.  

Mixing at Armoury Studios

We are really excited to have just booked time at the amazing sounding Armoury Studio to do our final mixdown.  After the months (years in some cases) we've been working on these songs, it feels thrilling to set a date for completion.  

The monitoring in that room is astounding.  John Vrtacic designed the over head sound system and it has possibly the best bottom end I've ever experienced.  Really looking forward to the session.

Have to say thanks again to Don Harrison and Stefan Sigerson for their contributions to the songs.  Everything is sounding fantastic!

Getting closer to completion.  yes.


Recording Progress: Recharge

We've been busy with so many projects as well as putting our live show together for the 29th, but I found some time to get back to a new song we are recording.  This one features Jesse Smith on drums, Stefan Sigerson on bass and Don Harrison on guitar and I must say it's turning out DANCEY!  Wow what a great combination of players.  This is just me starting to create the mix, but it's already pretty astounding.  Check it out.

Working on new @combo nethevictorious #recharge love #stefansigerson on #bass and #donharrison on #guitar super #dancey! A video posted by Mark Henning (@boutiqueempire) on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:46pm PDT

Autonomous: Recording Editing Drums

Had a great day recording last weekend when Leigh Grant (original drummer from Pure) came in to play on three more songs.  It's been really fun to see how adding live drums to the tracks makes everything come to life.  He's now playing on over half the album.

Leigh killed it once again. We tracked drums on Best Tonight, California '15, and Stop Givin Up On Love.    I started with Best Tonight so we could enter it into CBC Searchlight, and I've just finished the edits on the last of the three,  They as sounding super solid.  Very proud of Boutique Empire studio, it's turning out some big sounding songs!

Last year Jordy Birch and I had Leigh come into The Valt studio, (Jordy's studio downtown), and he played on four other songs, one of which we later dumped the original song entirely and built a new one on top of his drumming: Happy Girl.   I know we were all hard on each other in our old band back in the day, but man, Leigh can really drum.  It's been gre…

Help! CBCSearchlight

We've entered out new song, Best Tonight into the CBC Searchlight contest.  We have high hopes for it but need your help.  It's one of those vote a lot kind of things, but in this case, because it involves the CBC I think attracting attention its way is kinda good too!  Plus we'll hopefully have our song debuted on the radio before we even release it!

So if you'd be so kind to click thru the following link; have a listen Best Tonight, and if it pleases you, give us a vote, that would be greatly appreciated.  You can vote for up to ten bands per day so listen to more and press that button with liberty!

Mark and Isabelle

CBC Searchlight 


New music: Best Tonight

We've just finished this track, Best Tonight, and are going to enter it into the CBC Searchlight contest, so please help us out with some voting this April!

Combine the Victorious - Best Tonight
Produced and performed by Combine  the Victorious Recorded and mixed at Boutique Empire Recording by M Henning
Music: Henning, Dunlop, Harrison, Grant Lyrics: Henning, Dunlop, Birch
Vocals: Mark, Isabelle Guitars: Don Harrison Drums: Leigh Grant Synthesizers etc: Mark

Best Tonight
The odds are long but we'll still make it Set a records and then we'll break it
We booked a flight and then we'll take it Australian nights and getting naked
Short on money, long on soul what we found funny was all that we could not control
So we'll travel the world and visit our friends We're putting our dreams together again "Cause nothing makes me happier than music We'll make the best tonight
So we'll travel the world and visit our friends We're putting our dreams together …

Recording: Recharge

We are getting closer and closer to finally finishing our new album.  Back on my birthday we had a listen through to nine out of the ten songs that'll be on the collection.  This little instagram clip is a tiny section from one of the last songs we'll be finishing, Recharge.  You can hear the guitar playing of our friend Don Harrison over the repurposed drumming of Jesse Smith (I grabbed song of his drumming from a song off our debut album The World Over and built a new groove over top).   It's quite an ambient and funky thing we've created and should fit in nicely between the more traditional dance rock tracks and the electro-disco vibe of the others.  Check out it.

A video posted by Mark Henning (@boutiqueempire) on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:45pm PDT

Progress Report: new album "Autonomous"

Well, we've been working for months now and the album is finally taking shape!  So far we've decided on at least seven songs that will be for the vinyl version.  They are in no particular order:

Stand in Front of Tanks
It's Still On
Hardly Spoken
Caught Up to You
Best Tonight
Real Life Turns Me On

Some of these songs we've written on our own but several have been collaborations with old friends and new.  We can list Ingrid Schroeder, Barry Flynn, Stefan Sigerson, Jordy Birch, Justin "Juice" Kadis, Misty Reid, Leigh Grant, Don Harrison amongst our writing partnerson this album.  It's been really interesting comparing the results of each collaboration, as the songs are all playing together quite nicely.

I think we still have a couple really long and hard vocal sessions for the rest of the material we're considering, and there are still so many ideas that we've started in the past that have only reached an very primitive…

Influences: Mick MacNeil / Simple Minds

Working on another new song today, one we started in January titled either Humanity or Illuminaut.  Not sure yet.  Anyway, we've had the pleasure of Don Harrison do a very effective guitar part on this song so it's starting to sound really good.  I was attempting to build a more dynamic lift for the chorus and just spent a few hours messing around with a few different synths before finding a good part.

This afternoon I dialled in a really nice wide lead synth sound on my novation and suddenly this very Simple Minds - Sons and Fascination era part came thru my hands.  It occurred to me that over the decades I've probably referenced the album and more specifically Mick MacNeil's keyboard playing hundred of times.  What a great player; some of his parts were so simple to play but they would expand a chorus or bridge way more than the guitar could.  I have always enjoyed the way he could layer sounds or add effects, usually a quick sixteenth note delay or something simila…

Song Writing: Stop Givin' up on Love-sample

Just a quick note today to mark more progress on the album.  We recently rediscovered a song that we'd started in 2011 and have now brought it up to date:  the sample above is a work in progress and just the chorus hook to our new song Stop Givin Up on Love.

This song was originally titled If Not Love and was almost a dirge on its first iteration.  However after several years, a lot of development, many DJ gigs and the rest of the album taking a more progressive shape it has morphed into the cheery hook that you can hear above.  Isabelle's voice sounds great on the harmony part and now I need to get  the verse vocals down so I can pass it over to Don Harrison to add some inspiring guitars!  Certainly it runs a counterpoint to the electronic muscle of Stand in Front of Tanks.

It's taking us a long long time to complete our new album but everything is sounding better than we've done before so I suspect the process has required the time and we've needed the perspect…

New Video: Stand in Front of Tanks

Stand in Front of Tanks
New instrumental track from the upcoming full length "Autonomous" arriving 2015

Music written and performed by Combine the Victorious
Recorded at Boutique Empire Recording, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Video features footage from Tianamen Square 1989.

Produced by Boutique Empire
Edited by Mark R Henning

Editing a new Video

We are currently just about finished putting a final cut together for our new video: Stand in Front of Tanks.   Depending on computer issues and rendering time we should have it posted tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!


a couple screen grabs from the edit.

Seeking Representation

As we approach finishing our new album the thoughts of touring are arising.  We are currently looking for someone to help us book a west coast tour, as well as assistance with radio tracking and press.

If you are interested in working with us, please contact me here:

Thanks!  A couple more new tunes almost finished, getting close.


Happy New Year 2015!

We had an amazing start to the new year with our performance at eatART: Ascension 2015.   A Sold Out party at their splendidly decorated warehouse in East Van; we played a 55 minute set right at midnight to 500 eager dancers! We even opened with Auld Lang Syne sung thru the vocoder.  A blinding time!  Big Cheers and thanks to everyone who organized the event, and bigger love to the well attired party people!


Recording tonight: cotup2u.    

things are all bleedin' comin' together! *