Since 2008, Bedsitland have been a credit to the scene, sticking their necks out in support of a combination of synth and pop… a very important stance during an electrical surge which many were confusing for an 80s revival.
And while their DJ sets reflected on electronic pop’s heritage and glory days, Bedsitland always had their eye out for the best synth driven talent in a manner similar to The Electricity Club’s own thinking.
Among the bands they championed were THE MODERN, VILE ELECTRODES (before anyone else including The Electricity Club) and TENEK. Pete Steer and Geoff Pinckney’s rousing electro-rock sets have graced the Bedsitland stage on no less than three occasions so it is therefore fitting that TENEK should play the final Bedsitland event on SATURDAY 22ND MARCH 2014 at London’s Boston Music Room.
Founded by Tracy McKenzie and Wiggy Stardust, both had been regulars of the capital’s alternative club scene which featured nostalgia based evenings such as Planet Earth, Electric Dreams and Pretty In Pink.
Identifying a need for a dedicated electronic pop night with more forward thinking aspirations as opposed to an 80s Night, Bedsitland’s “shiny night for lovers of electronic and synthesizer pop” was born.
Starting in June 2008 at The Orwell Bar, Bedsitland’s first event was headlined by FASCINATION. At the time, putting on new acts was perceived by some to be a risk, as it was assumed the existing listenership would only be interested in the DJs playing DEPECHE MODE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE.
However, with a reinvigorated scene that saw synth friendly acts such as LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, LADYHAWKE and LADY GAGA hit the mainstream, there was a potential audience both old and new that Bedsitland’s ethos could appeal to. Eventually the evenings were becoming so successful that in 2009, they moved to The Purple Turtle in Mornington Crescent with up to three acts playing each event.
While Bedsitland’s support of now well-known stalwarts of the UK independent electro movement like TENEK and VILE ELECTRODES showed plenty of foresight and talent recognition, they also played host to some promising talents who sadly did not break through to greater heights. Among them were the wonderful electro girl group RED BLOODED WOMEN. Sounding like GIRLS ALOUD produced by Daniel Miller, they lit up a particularly marvellous Christmas party at The Lexington in 2009.
At the other end of the spectrum was electro Weimar songstress KATJA VON KASSEL who played Bedsitland twice to showcase her enticingly classic 1930s Meets The Future sound. Meanwhile, there was also Tyneside duo MOTORBIKES IN TOKYO who featured a then new-to-the-scene KID MOXIE on their album track ‘What’s The Matter With You?’ and remixed her song ‘La Romance D’Hiver’ which featured on the soundtrack of US TV series ‘The L Word’. Meanwhile, Southend’s THE VANITY CLAUSE had their potential negated by three line-up changes between 2009 to 2011.
Bedsitland was not immune to its own line-up changes either and although Wiggy Stardust formally vacated his hands-on share of Bedsitland in July 2009, he returned as a guest DJ and on several occasions as part of the covers combo CAR CRASH STARS.
Also featuring the flamboyant figure of BeN CooKe, they provided much entertainment with their affectionate reinterpretations of ABC, DURAN DURAN and ROXY MUSIC at Bedsitland’s 2010 Christmas Party.
While CAR CRASH STARS could be considered Bedsitland’s house band in the way VISAGE were at The Blitz Club, there was of course, those great white synth hopes THE MODERN. They first came onto the British scene in 2005 and effectively became Bedsitland’s original house band, playing on three occasions.
Their most memorable performance took place in front of a glamorous, appreciative audience on Bedsitland’s 1st Birthday. Ever indebted to Bedsitland’s continued support, when Nathan Cooper left THE MODERN in 2010, he naturally chose Bedsitland for the launch of his debut album ‘Kasiotone’ at the start of 2012 with his new project KID KASIO. But despite a scene bursting with new opportunities, like today there were acts making a big noise who did not quite live up to their hype.
So with not enough quality acts to go round, Bedsitland returned to a single band format at The Buffalo Bar in 2010. A 2011 relaunch at The London Stone took place before Tracy McKenzie moved her evening to its current lodgings at The Boston Arms from 2012, usually showcasing two acts but on a more occasional basis.
The Electricity Club have always shared an affinity with Bedsitland and guest DJed for them in June 2010 at The Lexington. A significant number of acts who have been featured on TEC have also played Bedsitland. In addition to VILE ELECTRODES, TENEK, KID KASIO and KATJA VON KASSEL, there has also been SHH, SPACEBUOY and AUTOMATIC WRITING.
So for The Electricity Club, Bedsitland have been kindred spirits with whom passionate but good natured discussions could be had on the merits of HURTS, MIRRORS and CHVRCHES. But the realities of market forces and the practicalities of real life have been factors in Tracy McKenzie deciding to end Bedsitland: “I just don’t have the time / energy / commitment to continue putting on a regular night these days” she said, “but I’ve loved doing it and am pretty proud of what I / we achieved over the years. But dwindling numbers and busy lifestyles means its time to close the doors”.
And what was Tracy’s best memory? “I think my stand out moment would be our opening night at the Orwell. We took a chance on a 100 capacity venue with a relatively unknown band hoping to get about 50 people in. The night was rammed from the moment we opened the doors, and in the end we had over 130 attend!”
On her choice of TENEK to draw an end to an era, she added: “VERY happy to have possibly the best band I’ve discovered since starting the night to play the final one too”
TENEK’s Pete Steer said on Facebook: “We are personally very sad to see Bedsitland close its doors for the last time. This will be the 4th time we’ve played and every night has been special. We are very honoured to have been chosen to play for the finale.
Thank you for all your support Tracy, you were there at the very beginning! Everyone is trying to put on events now but back in 2008, there were very few places and events to play at! You were well ahead of the pack xx”
Bedsitland with its ethos and its selfless commitment to the UK’s independent synth scene will be sorely missed.
TENEK play the final Bedsitland on SATURDAY 22ND MARCH 2014 at The Boston Arms Music Room, 178 Junction Road, London N19 5QQ
The nearest tube is Tufnell Park (Northern Line) right opposite the venue. Admission is £8 on the door.
Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chi Ming Lai except where credited
22nd January 2014