As the explosive twosome joined forces some eighteen months ago to create a cinematic gem of their own, here comes the debut long player ‘Broken Hearted City’.
The album has been engineered by Ando Wright at Parr Street studios in Liverpool, with the writing, vocals and production shared equally between Hogan and Forbes. The resultant eight track LP is short and sweet, except it’s not sweet at all.
The opening ‘Scream Machine’ bursts out with entangled guitar, gritty synth, gentle piano and pretty much everything else in between, floating away with shreds of sound, to enter the much more subdued ‘Lonesome’.
The guitar is still the guiding light for the voices of Forbes’ and Hogan’s, creating an atmosphere of a Wild West ballad a la John Fryer’s BLACK NEEDLE NOISE creations. As they walk together into the sunset, ‘Will You Be Mine’ takes over with the grizzly musical elements intertwined with futuristic beats and sprinkles of bossa nova for an electric ballad all sealed with a cinematic stamp.
Hogan takes the vocal reigns on ‘Head Sounds’; a mid-tempo puzzler with background distorted vocals and simple melody.
‘Planet Sweet’ presents an easy listening duet, showcasing the intricacies of Forbes’ vocal, and a radio friendly, uncomplicated structure. It’s like a more grown up version of THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH. Meanwhile, the title track changes the feel instantly with delicate piano, laced with high pitched guitar, both achieving a near Lynchian effect.
Hogan takes the singing reigns on ‘Paris Vortex’, with its luminous grace and magical soundscapes, while the SIMPLE MINDS legacy shines through on the closing titles with ‘Universe Of Love’. This super chilled track has the power to relax and fulfil dream-like fantasies all at the same time. Its floaty textures ebb away with a single line “where do you go?” before it dissipates to nothingness.
It’s not surprising that ZANTi provides a plethora of musical knowhow, what with the pioneering legends’ involvement from Hogan and Forbes.
‘Broken Hearted City’ is grown-up music for grown-up listeners, presented in a modestly served parcel that comes packed with some seriously good material. It is indeed an outstanding song collection, superb!
KITE BASE released their debut long player ‘Latent Whispers’ in 2017.
Comprising of two bass guitars and electronics courtesy of a Dave Smith Instruments Tempest drum machine affectionately named Alan, the dynamic duo SAVAGES’ bassist Ayşe Hassan and the haunting vocal presence of Kendra Frost.
Songs such as the wonderfully hypnotic ‘Transition’ and the mantric percussive vibes of ‘Soothe’ have won Frost and Hassan a cult audience all of their own. But it has been their cover of ‘Something I Can Never Have’, a track from NINE INCH NAILS’ first album ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ that has attracted the most attention.
John Fryer, the producer of ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, invited Kendra Frost to contribute vocals to his BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project. Meanwhile, Trent Reznor himself has invited KITE BASE to open for NINE INCH NAILS on five North American dates for the upcoming ‘Cold & Black & Infinite’ tour.
Kendra Frost kindly took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about the ongoing progression of KITE BASE, as well as her new found passion for synth building and sound design.
KITE BASE have an unusual format in that it’s two bass guitars and programmed electronics. What were the inspirations behind making music like this?
It honestly wasn’t a conscious choice we made. When Ayşe and I first met, we bonded over the fact that we were both bassists and also shared a love of electronic music, so we stuck true to those things; the things that initially drew us together.
Working out how to physically integrate the electronics part was a big learning curve as I hadn’t programmed anything outside of basic level DAW tinkering before and so acquiring the right kit and learning how to use it was a challenging voyage of discovery.
Your drum machine / sequencer named Alan is a Dave Smith Tempest designed by Roger Linn, what made you choose one of those as opposed to something else and what is ‘he’ like to use?
Primarily, we both agreed that we wanted to avoid having a laptop on stage. So I set about the hunt for a singular piece of hardware that had a playlist function for practical reasons – so that I could play bass and sing at the same time. But I also wanted the ability to sculpt sounds and modulate live (certain songs ended up being written in a particular way to allow my hands to be free because I wanted to get some live modulation in there). Otherwise it would’ve felt a little like owning a vintage E-Type Jaguar and only taking it out to the supermarket on Sundays…!
Handily, I have a best friend who is a genius in all things sonically related and so I asked him what he might recommend for the job, after autonomous investigation only resulted in my drowning in the bombardment of options available out there. He gave me a very clever three tier choice system, based on price and rabbit hole depth. He introduced me to the Korg Volcas – which I still adore and use for inspiration – worked up to the Roland TR8 and then he said… “now hunt down and try out this…!” So I sourced a Tempest at the awesome store, Funky Junk, in London, and… well, how could I not have gotten hooked?! I took him home with me and named him ‘Alan’ in honour of Mr. Turing.
Alan is a complicated beast and he demands dedication. However, KITE BASE as it currently stands would not exist without him and he is well worth the effort.
I learned to use him by working out how to translate my demo programming over from Propellerhead Reason, finding ways to better it as I learnt the functionality of the machine.
I pretty much became a total recluse because of that, and willingly so! To learn the DSI functionality is not the learning curve, synthesis is. I didn’t even know what an oscillator was when I started and so beyond working out the basics like how to programme the sequencer, the science behind it was and still is the real challenge.
But what I did have to my aid were years of listening to and adoring outfits like NIN, AUTECHRE, BOARDS OF CANADA, CABARET VOLTAIRE and a whole host of other dance genres, so I had an excellent hand hold in that respect – I knew what I wanted to hear. To really get the most out of the Tempest, in my mind, you need to study the science behind sound to at least some degree. Years later, I still feel I have merely scratched the surface of that learning, but that is exciting to me because it directly influences my creative output and so aids artistic development.
How do you look back on the making of ‘Latent Whispers’ and how it was received?
I am proud of what we created. It was an honest reflection of that moment in time and to me that is the holy grail of creating anything.
I am exceedingly grateful for the reception the album received, the shows we were invited to play and all of the opportunities we obtained via it. We were lucky to do some incredible things off the back of it and meet some amazing people. It is always an honour to receive a positive review from any platform, but I try very hard to be honest with myself about the creative output first and foremost.
It takes courage to release any form of art and you hope people react to it in a positive way, but that is ultimately a subjective thing over which you have no control. As an artist of any medium, I think it’s vital to strive for that kind of one step removal, however impossible that may ultimately be. Otherwise your future output, your voice, becomes less genuine as external factors inevitably influence you, one way or another.
Was the gestation time for the album quite long due to all the various other commitments?
In short, yes. But from my part that was something I took on board willingly from the off because I knew that’d be the case and I fully believe in the project. Also, everything happens for a reason and had things rolled sooner, some of the incredible things that did happen quite simply would not have come into being.
‘Transition’ appears to be the one that has crossed over into various audiences?
Yes, and I am profoundly happy about that because lyrically and sonically, it was the track that I felt best reflected upon what was actually happening in real time on a personal level. I guess you could say it was the most mindful track, as opposed to reflective or something. That immediacy and honesty was important for me.
Which tracks still remain favourites for you from the record and why?
‘Dadum’; it was the first demo I wrote and the first track that Ayşe and I subsequently worked on together as KITE BASE. It also marked a turning point for me in that the melody came to me in quite an inopportune moment – at the start of a gig and I knew I’d lose it if I didn’t run outside into the snow (it was winter) and quickly record some teeth chattering, melodic babbling into my phone. I absolutely detest the cold, so it really tested my mettle. Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? It puts hurdles in your way by method of measuring how much you want a thing, I believe…! That was the first time I’d harnessed that philosophy and it has since become a vital method of writing for me.
Your cover of NINE INCH NAILS’ ‘Something I Can Never Have’ has opened a few doors for you, what’s the story behind KITE BASE reinterpreting it?
I had been listening to LAURIE ANDERSON’s incredible ‘O Superman’ on repeat for days. I find walking helps generate creative catalysts, and I was playing about with that addictive, repetitive staccato vocal in my head on my way in to work one day. Then a counter melody appeared over the top of it and I couldn’t quite place it at first, so I let it unfold and eventually cottoned on that it was the opening piano riff for ‘Something I Can Never Have’ by NIN.
I’ve always loved that song because of its honesty, but also because I felt that there was an intense beauty in the hope I read as being hidden there in the lyrics too – in that regardless of something feeling hopelessly out of reach, it doesn’t stop you wanting it and therefore hoping for it to happen…
I let the melody roll in my head as I often do when working out harmonies and then I realised you could take that incredible theme from ‘The Fragile’, the melody found in the track ‘La Mer’, and place it over the top too allowing the different time signatures to double helix a bit… that was when I got excited and called Ayşe to explain the idea and sense check if I had lost my marbles!
I visualise sounds in that way a lot, as a first port of call when writing – I studied photography for my degree and that visual training had a profound effect on the way I approached music afterwards.
I try to hear what I can imagine seeing and I find it a useful writing aid to ask myself questions like what shape I want a part of a song to be as a result of the emotion of a lyric, noise, sound, overriding concept. Then the melody follows that.
As for the vocal harmonies, I’ve been singing with my dear friends Grace, Theresa and Eve since we met in a local choir aged about 10! All of them are professional singers now, and I was so happy they agreed to collaborate on this as I really had them in mind to perform it, having sung with them as a female barbershop group for fun for years. And of course the two basses… Ayşe and I often fondly refer to each other as ‘yin yang’ in that we have contrasting but complimentary ways of playing bass.
Ayse’s is fantastically heart felt, no nonsense, wallop and mine is less immediate, but more planned out – I like to think “what am I trying to achieve here?”, mull it over and then play. It’s the balance between those two styles that gives KITE BASE its voice, I’d say. We owe a huge debt of thanks to Giorgio Testi and Simone Pellegrini and their incredible team for directing and shooting that video and Dan Conway’s outstanding visuals. Without them, the track would have been half of a whole. You need the gift of sound and vision.
John Fryer, the original producer of ‘Something I Can Never Have’, asked you to sing on first ‘Warning Sign’ and then ‘This Kind Of Road’ for his BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project, how was that?
That was a wonderful experience and I was thrilled to have been asked to collaborate. John had written the music and he gave me free reign to write whatever vocal melodies and lyrics I wanted in reaction to the tracks. It was a real treat because I could just focus purely on the vocal and the words and push that communication. I’d not done that before, purely focus on just those elements, and was happily surprised to find it all flowed very quickly. When you’ve already got a great foundation to build upon, the rest is a joy!
Then KITE BASE actually get invited to open for NINE INCH NAILS on selected dates on the Autumn US tour… have you taken it in yet and are you ready?
We are still pinching ourselves and I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet for either of us! This has been a pipe dream for us both since we discovered NIN in our teens… it’s beyond an honour to have been asked and a massive great big deal for us both personally.
Are we ready?! YES! We cannot bloody wait to get out there! Nerves kind of haven’t come into it because it’s all so wonderfully, David Lynch level beautiful / surreal. A place we are both very happy to be in.
How will you approach playing considerably larger venues than maybe you’ve played in the past?
Turn it up to 11 and dig out the miniature Stonehenge props! No, in all seriousness, it’ll be great to have a bit more space on stage! We are usually on top of our 8×10’s blasting out a whole spectrum of shades of distorted bass frequencies… try pitching to that! Ha! Smaller stages are hugely challenging for that reason and we usually get that AND low ceilings… you’re basically in the epicentre of a giant sonic bass whirlpool in those situations, and although that can feel cool as heck, it will be great to have some space on stage.
Will you have any new music to release? Are you taking KITE BASE into any different directions?
It’s well underway and we have demos. We would love to work with a producer this time around… I don’t want to repeat old ground and have been exploring ways to revise the current set up. As much as I love Alan the Tempest, there obviously are other pieces of hardware out there requiring different technical approaches that would therefore lead to new creative outcomes. Superbooth this year was choc full of incredible new machines – that MFB Tanzbar 2, oooh…!
Also, I like the idea of the possibility of putting my bass down here and there, in favour of adopting a bass synth, for example. That’d stay true to the ‘two basses’ idea then, but move it into different territory, generate new sounds and create fresh areas to explore sonically.
You’ve got into the physical act of synth building with soldering and all that, how did this all come about?
That was a moment of amazing serendipity; I am ridiculously lucky to have been taken under the wing of ‘The Prof’, Steve Thomas at Digitana. Along the lines of thought of investigating new synths and hardware to use in KITE BASE, I’ve always been very keen on the idea of building my own DIY electronics, directly inspired by artists like Chris Carter of THROBBING GRISTLE, Oliver Ackermann of DEATH BY AUDIO / A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS, Guido and Kyle of VACTROL PARK etc.
I just think it’s insanely cool to be able to make and use your own pieces of kit in addition to bought hardware and I’d been hunting for a teacher for a while with the hope of following along in those footsteps. I was relaying this to my dear friend and awesome film and TV composer, Carly Paradis, and she said “you need to meet Steve from Digitana”.
Steve was about to visit her to showcase the prototype of a new analogue synth he’d built called the SX-1 as a collaboration with THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON, so Carly very kindly invited me along too.
I couldn’t believe how awesome the SX-1 was, the sounds, the build quality, the classic EMS aesthetic… We all got on like a house on fire, and, it transpired that Steve was looking to train someone up to join the team. (I know how unbelievable this all sounds and no, I cannot believe my luck!)
Since then, I have been trained up on a number of awesome things and I am currently soldering and wiring the looms for the licensed EMS Synthi Hi-FLi, whilst my fellow team mate Alina Kalancea, who is an incredible electronic artist in her own right, works on the SX-1. It is beyond a perfect role because it’s a truly wonderful company, motivated by excellence and craft – Steve is as much a genius as he is a genuinely lovely guy and an outstanding teacher (he is a head of PHD physics!).
Everything is designed by him and every item is built and made by hand by Digitana. I get to learn about synthesis as well as electronics and Steve fully supports our work as musicians also, making it as flexible as possible so we can still write and play.
Will this possibly spark an interest in hardware like modulars? We’ve discussed Alan but what other equipment are you looking at for your music?
Yes! Just before landing my role at Digitana, I undertook a short evening course at London Modular, an introduction to modular synths. I love that store! It was excellent as it gave a thorough overview into Eurorack systems and basic patching. We mainly used modules by Doepfer and Make Noise, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the alluringly sci-fi looking Buchla 222e control surface in the corner of the room.
Buchla is just something else. It feels like a classical instrument in every way to me; learning wise, sound quality wise… price wise… I’d long been a fan of Buchla artists like SUZANNE CIANI, ALESSANDRO CORTINI and REED & CAROLINE but Buchla has always seemed to be that unreachable, shiniest star over yonder for a number of reasons.
Until I met Alina at Digitana, that is, who I am excited to say has literally just sold me two of her second hand 200e modules! I’m due to receive them in the next couple of weeks and I cannot wait to fall down that rabbit hole. Bang goes any social life I had! Oh well! And yes, I’ve already named it – it’s a she and she is called ‘Pris’. After all, Pris did rock Buchla blue as eye make-up so very well!
What else are you up to musically at the moment?
KITE BASE and I SPEAK MACHINE have collaborated on the soundtrack for Matt Harlock and Krent Able’s short horror ‘Deep Clean’, which should hopefully be released soon! I LOVED working with Tara Busch from ISM, she is such a fabulous musician.
And personally, I’ve been working on something that I am exceedingly proud of and excited by; I’ve been doing musical sound design for Carly Paradis on the score for the new and forthcoming Netflix series ‘The Innocents’ which is due to air this summer.
I’ve been using the FSOL / Digitana SX-1 and Tempest Alan to make sounds for some of the best briefs I’ve ever seen; emotive, dark, alluring, sci-fi, thriller sounds – everything that is totally my cup of tea!
Working with Carly has been an absolute dream and it’s a wonderful pairing for me in that I make the raw sounds and send them over to her to be incorporated into her score writing per scene. It has been incredible to see the journey of these sounds unfold. To make something and have it illustrate stunningly beautiful cinematography like that and to collaborate with an artist like Carly has been one of my proudest achievements to date and it is something that I very much hope will continue.
The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Kendra Frost
KITE BASE appear as part of Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival on Sunday 24th June at London’s Southbank Centre on the Sunday Surprises stage – it is a free show with the duo performing a half hour set at 1.00pm
They will play the following Autumn 2018 dates with NINE INCH NAILS + THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN:
Washington The Anthem (9th – 10th October), New York Radio City Music Hall (13th October), New Orleans Saenger Theatre (23rd – 24th November)
Last year saw yet another metamorphosis for the legendary John Fryer, this time masquerading as BLACK NEEDLE NOISE.
The first opus under the name, which contemplates the scratching sound of black record, ‘Before The Tears Came’, introduced a plethora of sounds and noises performed by the cream of who is who in the world of vocals. Elena Alice Fossi, Zia, Ledfoot, Andreas Eleveness, Attasalina, Jarboe and Betsy Martin amongst others, all got invited to share the “strange and interesting journey”, which proved to be a rather popular outing.
Of course Fryer isn’t a stranger to exquisite productions. Having been a living and breathing backbone of the famous London Blackwing Studios for nearly a decade, during its most prominent years of synthpop, with the likes of DEPECHE MODE, FAD GADGET, COCTEAU TWINS, DEAD CAN DANCE and many more, Fryer learnt his graft masterfully, also being the responsible adult as far as the production of NINE INCH NAILS’ ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ was concerned.
More recently the man himself lent his skills on the wonderfully ethereal MURICIDAE and fantastically glamorous SILVER GHOST SHIMMER, at the same time being an active producer of other artists.
A year on, and the noise magician is ready to serve his follow-up dish of BLACK NEEDLE NOISE, this time thoughtfully titled ‘Lost In Reflections’. Having recently swapped his home studio in the frosty Oslo onto the warmth of LA, Fryer has been busy with further collaborations.
The opening one being, ‘Treasured Lies’, with the returning appearance of Zia Land. This emphatic track is a gripping catalyst of emotion, laced with ominous musical elements and Fryer’s signature guitar as a closing point.
Kendra Frost of KITE BASE makes her entrance on the newest long player twice, firstly on simplistic ‘Warning Sign’ and secondly on the empirical ‘This Kind Of Road’. The latter is a quintessential Fryer track, reminiscent of his ability to build the whole picture in an atmospheric manner of flowing intricacies, without the danger of overloading or dislocating the musical joints. A harsher reality is introduced on the quirky ‘She Stands On A Storm’, even though the angelic voice of Andrea Kerr is delicately interwoven within the grittier, almost STABBING WESTWARD-like arrangement. The track represents an idea of “killing with delicateness”, and it’s exactly what it does.
The highlight of the long player enters half way through, with the generously exquisite ‘Heaven’ with Jennie Vee, stealing the limelight with her distinctive vocal, crying out the melancholy and dreaminess a la Angelo Badalamenti. Oh please David Lynch, use this for the new ‘Twin Peaks’ series!
OMNIFLUX’s Mahsa Zargaran creates magic with her assimilating vocal extravaganza, utilising a soundscape of its own, canvassing the bass heavy background and a profusion of turbulence.
Clearly impressed with Mimi Page’s guestwork on the latest DELERIUM’s album ‘Mythologie’, Fryer borrows the multitalented singer to perform on magically atmospheric ‘Swimming Through Dreams’. As if taken from the parallel reality; this ghostly, mist engulfed gem features humming sounds, which drift away into another world, until “nothing remains”. Indeed ‘And Nothing Remains’ with DEAD LEAF ECHO’s Ana Breton. Continuing the theme of ethereal, otherworldly and from another reality, Breton’s delicate songsmanship glides over abrasive textures of Fryer’s musical aura.
Where one genius meets another is on ‘A Shiver Of Want’. Probably the biggest collaboration on ‘Lost In Reflections’ is that with the legendary Bill Leeb. Leeb, classed as one of the most influential electronic masters, as showcased on his works with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and DELERIUM, lends his grainy vocal over a timeless track, which could have easily been released in another era. The piece drags under, creates an uncertainty and leads into the unknown, but the attraction of being pulled is irresistible.
Sivert Høyem guests on ‘Breathless Speechless’, which changes the atmosphere, still keeping the slower tempo in place. Dreamy to the point of oblivion, scary, but addictive, dirty but virgin, seductive, yet clean with that guitar again, which leads to the sinisterly terrifying concepts of The Black Lodge. Just waiting for Bob to appear out of nowhere…
The closing ‘Neon Noir’ couldn’t be more different from the rest of the production; faster, more positive, inviting and very synthy, Fryer gathers the posse to follow the “neon shines so bright” and lose themselves in music. Fine by us.
Refined, very arty, evoking different emotions is what BLACK NEEDLE NOISE is about. John Fryer, with a wealth of experience, paints various musical landscapes with a little help of capable vocalists.
More cinematic this time round, the master pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable and inevitably he wins, again.
SPECTRA PARIS is a side project of the multitalented Elena Alice Fossi, also known as the enigmatic singer of the celebrated Italian act KIRLIAN CAMERA and Alice Neve Fox.
Fossi, born in Miami but bred in Tuscany, was vocally trained by the Oscar-winner Ennio Morricone’s most famous singer, soprano Susanna Rigacci.
Well known for her collaborations, among them is the legendary producer John Fryer on whose eclectic collection of tunes for BLACK NEEDLE NOISE she featured no less than three times.
As a result, the accomplished artist invited Fryer to be in charge of the executive production of her third album ‘Retromachine Betty’. The long player promises to “breathe and live the spirit of 80ies electronic Pop and Wave and the almost forgotten vibe of bands like VISAGE or DESIRELESS”.
Opening the outing, ‘Star Bubbles’ is sweet and light happy German disco pulled away from the retro synth era. Featuring a sample from Mike Oldfield and Maggie Reilly’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’, it must be the definite return to the good old classic era!
‘Alice (Geistersterne)’ changes the tempo, into a subdued, mystical number to start off with, blossoming into a fast paced extravaganza of house synth with vocal a la FIFI RONG. A heavy change is brought about with ‘Ludovico Technique’, which is bass and guitar loaded and more reminiscent of Fossi’s projects with KIRLIAN CAMERA.
While ‘Machinedream’ is indeed dream inducing, ‘Universal’ is a captivating disco visit, with vintage electronica references, embedded into the curious use of vocals and mantra-like sequences. ‘Lux Industries’ slows the flow once again, leading into a sci-fi cover of THE KINKS’ ‘You Really Got Me’. Interestingly enough, the techniques used on this one resemble ERASURE’s ‘Rock Me Gently’ synth and the added ominous use of guitars make it a worthy, if not quirky cover of the classic.
‘Metrolynx’ brings about the heavy electro pop darkness once again, with vocals resembling a fusion between vintage MADONNA and GOLDFRAPP. Is that because ‘Felt Mountain’ is one of Fossi’s top ten albums? Either way, this is a true example of Spectra’s abilities; a real artistic chameleon.
The metallic qualities and sparse noises of ‘E-Girl Song’ could have been easily practised before by GAZELLE TWIN, before we enter the boot stomping territory of industrial beats and the closing ‘E-Kitsch Souvenir Of Italy’, with its paralysing weirdness, sums up the long player.
To say that Fossi has many faces would be an understatement; she’s fearless and endlessly talented, tackling many a genre change and surfing through the rough waters of today’s music industry.
‘Retromachine Betty’ is “a retrospective of excitement and familiarity, old memories and young melodies with its retro-kitsch catchyness”. Joining the likes of GRIMES, the Italian songstress shows off quite how electronic music can be bent to suit all palates.
John Fryer is the man behind many contemporary projects, which include the wonderfully ethereal MURICIDAE and the eccentric, shiny and glittering SILVER GHOST SHIMMER.
Having previously been living-in part of London’s Blackwing Studios, working with FAD GADGET, DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO, COCTEAU TWINS, THIS MORTAL COIL and NINE INCH NAILS, with such a wealth of experience, John Fryer cannot do anything else but dirty his hands in the music of “old, new and future”.
Last year saw the rise of his latest enterprise, BLACK NEEDLE NOISE, which caused a stir amongst the fans of the quirky persona with an impeccable musical eloquence.
With the release of a new song ‘Swimming Through Dreams’ featuring the vocals of Mimi Page whose voice was heard on ‘Open Page’ from the most recent DELERIUM long player ‘Mythologie’, The Electricity Club is chatting to the master himself about the story of BLACK NEEDLE NOISE, its future and Fryer’s plans for world domination.
You’re globally known for working with acts spanning from DEPECHE MODE to NINE INCH NAILS, what made you decide to present your own projects to the world?
It’s been amazing working for so many talented artists and I’m very proud of all the records I’ve made over the years, but at the end of the day, you are working on their music, even though I take it very personally and treat their records as if they were my own, but nothing beats making your own art.
MURICIDAE and SILVER GHOST SHIMMER were both successful projects with in-house vocalists. BNN is different in that respect…
When I was writing for those bands and DARKDRIVECLINIC, I wrote lots of other music that didn’t really fit into their sound, so I was left with lots of songs. So I decided to go down another route and this time not have the boundaries that bands put upon you. So with BLACK NEEDLE NOISE anything goes.
The name of the project came from the sound of a stylus on a vinyl record, that certainly has a vintage reference?
Well, that is one visual point. The other one came from watching the series ‘Black Mirror’. Picture this, you take your vinyl records and melt them down into a liquid form, then you inject them into your body. Then you have the music you love to totally take over your body. To feel from the inside.
The use of various vocalists paints different soundscapes. Is that what you were planning to achieve?
Yes, each song has its own life, its own story to tell and is its own movie. Just close your eyes, drift away and let yourself get taken on many journeys.
The journey started with ‘Wild Stone’. Why did you decide to kick off with that one?
Well, the BLACK NEEDLE NOISE story started with ‘Bang Bang’, a Nancy Sinatra cover.
‘Wild Stone’ was the first song release as a collaboration and was a good jumping off point as it sounded completely different from my other three bands, DARKDRIVECLINIC, MURICIDAE and SILVER GHOST SHIMMER.
‘Before The Tears Came’ became an unusual project with songs released monthly and finally put together on an album. Is that what the master plan was?
Yes, and I’m continuing in that way so you don’t have to wait a year or two for the next album to be finished. Whenever a song is finished, it gets released. Why sit on something for a year or two before you release it. Why not just put it out?? We live in a digital age so why not use it??
Your choice of vocalists on the outing is rather eclectic. What prompted using specific artists for specific songs?
I admire all the singers I have worked with and am working with on the new songs. The only reason they have been released in that order is, I send out the music and whatever song comes back with vocals first gets mixed and released. Then, when there are enough songs, I put them together to make the album and adding a track just for the album. I will do the same for the second album too.
‘Mourning Morning’ could have been a lost Bowie piece, is that your tribute to the man?
JF: Well, no, it’s just that Andreas Elvenes has a very Bowie-esque voice and it really suited that track. ‘Dead Star’ is more of a tribute to the amazing talent of Mr David Bowie.
Some artists return more than once, what’s the reason for that?
It really depends on the songs and if the artist has time to fit another song in. BLACK NEEDLE NOISE should not become a burden to them, it should be fun. Anyway I’m really grateful and honoured for them just to sing on my music once let alone twice.
‘Bang Bang’ featured your voice and ‘I Face The Wall’ continues the trend. Did you feel like those two suited you to sing on?
Yes, I think they worked out pretty well and there will be another one on the new album in the near future.
Your shimmery touch of anything vintage adds to the songs on the production, are we to expect more of BNN in those realms?
You can expect more BLACK NEEDLE NOISE in that realm and many other realms of shimmery shiny noise pop.
Your self-confessed use of softsynths does not take away that vintage feel of the music. How is that achieved?
That is the magic of the audio alchemy and sound sculpting that goes on in my studio.
Are MURICIDAE and SILVER GHOST now retired with BNN thriving?
I would have to say probably yes, well SILVER GHOST SHIMMER for sure as Pinky no longer wants to do anything else. She made a classic album with me and now she is totally happy doing other things with her life.
Any plans to produce other acts again?
JF: Yes of course, I’m writing with and producing someone right now and I’m always mixing songs for other artists + fitting in some new BLACK NEEDLE NOISE songs. I never stop working.
As hard as it would be to tour BNN, any DJ sets you’re planning to perform?
I would love to do more DJing but I never get asked, so if anyone one out there wants me to come and DJ. Let me know.
I want to play live with BLACK NEEDLE NOISE, it’s just figuring out how to do it and with whom. Maybe later in the year something will happen.
What’s next for BLACK NEEDLE NOISE?
The next song features Ana Breton from DEAD LEAF ECHO.
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to John Fryer