Tag: Cult With No Name (Page 1 of 4)

A Not So Short Conversation with CULT WITH NO NAME

With  their two most recent albums ‘Heir Of The Dog’ and ‘Mediaburn’, CULT WITH NO NAME have consolidated their position as “post-punk balladeers”.

The duo comprising the suave figure of crooner Erik Stein and the understated ivory virtuoso of Jon Boux issued their first album ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ in 2007. What CULT WITH NO NAME have never been short of is mood, but their artistic progression has included more expansive and electronic arrangements.

In the middle of writing and recoding the next CULT WITH NO NAME album, Erik Stein took time out to chat with The Electricity Club about their most recent works and also the conundrum of practical packaging for compact discs.

Both ‘Heir Of The Dog’ and ‘Media Burn’ appear to have gained wider traction than previous CULT WITH NO NAME, why do you think that might be?

I guess so. A lot of that will have had to do with the success of ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’, the soundtrack for the David Lynch documentary we recorded with TUXEDOMOON and John Foxx.

The wonderful thing about ‘BVR’ is that it has had at least four lives. Originally, the soundtrack was due to be released alongside the film, but delays to the film meant it was released a whole year beforehand in 2015. So, we had tonnes of press for the soundtrack, followed by another tonne of press for the film when it came out a year later.

The film had a really long life, touring festivals around the world for a year or two. Then, just as that started to fall away, The Criterion Collection reissued ‘Blue Velvet’ on Blu-Ray (inexplicably only Region 1) and included ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’ as the main extra at David Lynch’s own request. And then, just as the publicity from that started to fall away, HBO Italy licensed one of the tracks from it (‘Lumberton’) for their series ‘The New Pope’, starring Jude Law and John Malkovich. Spotify plays went through the roof, not that that ever amounts to anything apart from some nice graphs.

All of this has helped keep our profile quite high, which is so important given that we don’t perform live particularly often.

That’s not a conscious decision, by the way, it’s just when faced with spending a day working on music or emailing promoters, I know which I’d choose. Being relentlessly focused on recording has helped us at least be prolific, which also helps.

Would it be fair to say ‘Heir Of The Dog’ and ‘Mediaburn’ are companion albums musically?

Personally, I don’t see them that way, but if people do that’s fine of course. We actually see ‘Heir Of The Dog’ as our ‘Americana’ album. As well as having a wonderful black American singer Sirena Riley perform on it, there are a few nods stylistically. ‘Rosabelle, Believe’ is kind of disco, ‘I Don’t Fear The Reaper (Just Don’t Want To Meet Her)’ is kind of blues, ‘Of California’ is kind of gospel, and ‘All I Have is Yours (Including You)’ is kind of croonerish. All in their peculiar semi-electronic way. As an album, I think the tracks hang together better than any other album we’ve done.

‘Mediaburn’, on the other hand, is a bit more all over the place musically, but is lyrically much more thematic, not that most people pay attention to lyrics. There’s no deliberate link between the two. We tend to treat every single song completely independently from the last, sometimes to a fault. For the next album we’re trying to make more of a conscious effort to use consistent sounds.

I interviewed Paul Humphreys of OMD in his home studio once and I always remember him saying that you should start an album with a palette of sounds to draw from and restrict yourself to it. You can really hear that on OMD albums. Take ‘Junk Culture’ as an example. That album has a sound totally unique to it in terms of OMD’s discography. The problem is, I get very easily distracted. Luckily Jon Boux (the other half of CWNN) is much more consistent with his sound choices although much more freehand in how it applies it (a good thing).

You had the usual supporting cast of Kelli Ali and the guys from TUXEDOMOON on board as well?

I recently sent Kelli Ali the tracks for the next album and she loves it, so will be adding stuff to that too.

She really is like a third member of CWNN now and always so wonderful to hear her say such nice things about us.

I don’t want CWNN’s sound to get too ‘typecast’ but Kelli’s voice really does add something special and we complement each other well. We’ve also been helping with her excellent ‘Ghostdriver’ film and album, including some attempts at acting from yours truly. ‘Ghostdriver’ is genuinely a superb album.

With Steven Brown and Blaine L Reininger from TUXEDOMOON, I’m partly still indulging the musical fantasy of having some of my musical heroes play on our albums. It’s ridiculous really, I mean they’re friends now and we’ve recorded and released a very successful album together. Of course, that’s not to take away the vitally important contributions they make. Blaine’s violin on ‘By Air Or By Sea’ on ‘Mediaburn’ makes that track what it is. It’s funny, I’m so close to the TUXEDOMOON story now that I sometimes forget how amazing and influential their records still are and just how big a fan I was in my 20s.

‘Heir Of The Dog’ contains two distinct types of songs, the CWNN signature piano ballads and more obviously midtempo electronic pop?

We’re just carrying on a tradition from the very first album, although each album has probably got a little more electronic than the last. That’s partly to do with confidence in the technology, if I’m honest.

The piano ‘ballads‘ (none are actual ballads) are still crucially important. It’s all too easy to surrender and make a record of only electronic ‘pop’.

I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but the extreme restrictions of piano + voice, or whatever you choose, can push you to be more creative. It certainly helps us stand out, in the quietest kind of way. It’s also worth noting that two piano ballads ‘You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself’ and ‘Swept Away’ are in the top five most popular CWNN tracks. A lot of people say ‘Swept Away’ is the best song we’ve ever written.

‘Rosabelle, Believe’ fell into that latter category, how did that come together?

Musically, it’s dead simple. I had the main riff on guitar, transposed that to synths and it went from there. It’s only three chords. Steven Brown’s sax is great on it too. It was an obvious track for him to perform on.

Lyrically, it’s an interesting one. I have quite a big interest in magic. Not occultism (I’ve really tried, but no), but the actual artistry of magic… slight of hand, chopping people in leotards in half, making things disappear, that sort of thing. Harry Houdini famously spent the final few years of his life trying to reveal mediums as fakes. He even offered up rewards for anyone that could demonstrate to him it was real. Then Houdini famously got punched in the stomach, which ultimately lead to his early death.

On his deathbed he made a pact with his wife Bess to carry on this work. He told her that if a medium claimed they were in contact with him in the afterlife during a séance that he would have a code word for her, which was ‘Rosabelle, Believe’ (‘Rosabelle’ being the name of a song they used to sing to each other). And there you have it.

Interestingly, Bess did eventually claim that a medium had successfully contacted Houdini, but it turned out it was an inside job to get and split the reward money. A sad end, really.

What was the idea behind ‘Yves Klein’s Blues’, wasn’t he the guy who did the exhibition ‘The Void’ which was an empty art gallery?

The music for this was a demo that Kelli had developed for her fantastic ‘Bands of Angels’ album, which we co-wrote two songs for. We loved the piece, so took the vocal and created the backing around it. It has a real COCTEAU TWINS feel to it, I think.

The title was me trying to be too clever, as usual. As ‘Heir of the Dog’ was our Americana album, I wanted a track called ‘Something, Something Blues’, like a tongue in cheek reference to Robert Johnson. As the track was just three chords, that fitted nicely with the concept too. Yves Klein did indeed create ‘The Void’ exhibition amongst many other things, but is most famous for patenting ‘International Klein Blue’, his own distinctive blue pigment. Calling the track ‘Yves Klein’s Blues’ was a pun that I just couldn’t resist.

One of the highlights of ‘Heir Of the Dog’ is ‘All I Have Is Yours (Including You)’ which has a real classic pop feel about it, but you still haven’t performed it live yet?

I know, I know. It’s a quite a long track though. For us to perform it would have to be a concert with a longer setlist time. I keep meaning to note down all the CWNN songs we have yet to perform live. There’s a whole lot of them. I’m really pleased you like it. I think it’s quite different to any other song in our catalogue.

From ‘Mediaburn’, ‘Blind Dogs For The Guides’ is a fantastic title for a song…

Thanks. The song title came first. I like it when that happens, and you can see that with bands like SPARKS. I mean, they have some of the greatest song titles in music history. I’m always aiming for that. Jon did some fantastically morose piano on this. Lyrically, it’s simply about not being able to trust what you read online.

No one knows what is real or fake anymore. To believe everything you hear is obviously ridiculous, but to dismiss everything equally dangerous and irresponsible. Is it better to be misinformed or uninformed? Answers on a postcard, please.

There’s more wordplay with ‘Fake Nudes’… despite the internet being a leveller and seemingly connecting more people, over the years it seems to have created some strange isolation bubbles don’t you think?

Absolutely. It’s really a myth that the internet brings people closer together if all it’s used for is to hide reality. People can use it to create whatever image of themselves they want to people to see. And we all do it, let’s face it. People can endlessly post things that make them appear as if they’re an outsider. Or they cannot be on social media altogether… to make themselves appear as if they’re an outsider.

‘Fake Nudes’ isn’t actually about any of that. It’s actually about the fake Melania Trump conspiracy. It’s very entertaining if you’ve not seen it. Some people believe her bodyguard doubles for her at times. I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but for a while I thought it might be true. I’m much less certain now though. By the way, the drum sounds on ‘Fake Nudes’ were totally inspired by ‘Scared Heart’ by OMD, which I think is an outstanding B-side.

With ‘Low On High’, you’re sort of going disco, what happened there? 😉

I’ve always thought of ‘Rosabelle, Believe’ as our disco number, but I see what you mean. In many ways these are companion pieces, both have Steven Brown on sax. It had never occurred to me before. The song really is just built around a weird chord progression I played one day on synth. It’s become one of the most popular tracks on the album, which we’d never have predicted. I guess the people want CWNN to go disco! It’s quite epic in places.

It’s another bizarre CWNN lyric, bear with me. I read an article that there was a global shortage of helium gas. It’s just something that would never occur to me as a thing to happen, and most people I imagine. It set off a million puns in my head about party balloons not inflating etc, although helium has very serious medical uses, of course.

There’s more to the story in that the same article talked about huge helium reserves being found in Tanzania. So that in turn set off thoughts about how ghastly Western mining corporations will be marching into the beautiful Tanzanian landscape and completing destroying it to extract their gas. I found an incredible clip of an indigenous Tanzanian tribe reciting the bible in their own language and thought, “that’s it! What could possibly demonstrate the Western colonisation of Africa to steal its resources better than an indigenous tribe reciting the bible?” So, that is the African voice you hear.

Oh, and a song about helium has got to be a party song, right?

Is the arty synth waltz of ‘Mona’ about the lady whose image hangs in in the Louvre?

It is, but in a peculiar way, which I will come on to. The origins of the song actually go back about 10 years. It was called ‘The World is Short Staffed’ at the time (very timely). We made an attempt at it a couple of years ago, but it didn’t really work. So, I completely rewrote the lyrics and we tried again from scratch. Got there in the end.

The lyrics are actually a bit surrealist or absurdist, depending on how you look at it. The Mona Lisa is an oil painting and, as all artists know, oil paintings never quite dry. So, the song proposes that the reason the Mona Lisa’s smile is so enigmatic is because her face is melting. When Da Vinci painted it 500 years ago, she was grinning from ear to ear and in another 500 years it will be a frown. I should add that I’m not seriously proposing this, but I liked it as a totally bonkers notion.

One thing that is peculiar about the ‘Mediaburn’ album is that there are so many songs in triple time; five of them. It’s highly unusual for most bands these days, and in particular electronic ones. I’m quietly a bit proud of that. That’s another reason OMD stand apart. They even had hits with their triple time songs.

The exotic mood of ‘All This Spite (Comes At A Price)’ masks a message that is far more sinister?

We deliberately tried to go ‘electronic Chris Isaak’ on this. I’m very pleased with how it came out and Kelli’s vocals are magnificent. There’s also a bass arpeggiator in it, which reminds me a bit of how Martin Rev from Suicide plays. Another influence.

The lyrics are about people that essentially say outrageous or ridiculous things for cash, Katie Hopkins, Milo Yiannopolous, Ann Coulter, Piers Morgan etc. They have quite literally made a career out of drawing attention to themselves in a way that earns them money. I genuinely don’t think they believe half the stuff they say, but they need to feed the beast.

One thing that The Electricity Club liked was the packaging idea used for ‘Heir Of The Dog’ and ‘Mediaburn’ where the cardboard slipcase contained an alternative insert to put in a plastic jewel cases for those like us who prefer something more practical that doesn’t scratch the CD surface like those horrible vinyl replica sleeves that Mute favour and can fit in CD rack… had this been borne out of personal experience?

We always like to give people options, what can I say? I’m not a huge fan of digipacks, unless they have a nice booklet inside. The single panel digipacks you increasingly see totally sell people short, and having a package that doesn’t fit into a CD rack is highly annoying. I have well over 2000 CDs, I should know. There are some great examples, though. I’ve been massively impressed with Cherry Red’s reissue programme for THE RESIDENTS; double CD digis with a big thick booklet, loads of unseen photos, etc. Selling CDs is hard work these days, so you have to put the effort in, whatever it comes in.

I wouldn’t say that the packaging of our most recent albums is a direct attempt to right some packaging wrongs. In some ways, ours is impractical as it takes a bit of effort to actually get inside. I like packaging that you can pore over and explore. We all have memories as teenagers of buying records or CDs and looking at every detail of the cover while the album plays. I think including lyrics is important, as it’s one of the only incentives left for people to buy physical copies, sadly.

For these last few albums, we’ve been led by the brilliant Leigh from Disc-Phalanx. He really is a packaging genius. The “make your own jewel case” thing was entirely his doing. He’s recently done a whole load reissues for Björk, which speaks for itself. I was also pleased to throw some work his way as he did a bit of package design for the excellent James Nice at LTM.

You’ve been collaborating with TINY MAGNETIC PETS on their new album ‘Point Of Collapse’?

Love TINY MAGNETIC PETS! It was you of course that first introduced me to Sean Quinn. We get on great, though it’s impossible not to get on with them. There is also of course a very real mutual appreciation of the music we both make.

I think TMP really stand apart. I was really happy that they invited me to help write lyrics and melody for a song for their next album. It’s called ‘Cosmonaut’s Lullaby’, a duet with Paula.

I loved the track, so it wasn’t hard to write something and luckily they were very happy with what I did. I’m really looking forward to the album. We’ve done gigs together of course, we keep mentioning about doing a tour together. One day it might even happen. I am genuinely so, so happy to see TMP to achieve the success that they have, they truly deserve it.

You recently did a track with Jochen Oberlack for his EISBERG project called ‘Moby Dick’ which was a bit different?

Again, Jochen asked me and I really liked the track he sent. I really like his music in general, it’s kind of like a harder-edged RHEINGOLD (who I think are an underrated band anyway). Brilliantly produced. The lyrics and melody came quite quickly. He was happy, I was happy. Another great person.

Has the recent spate of collaborations including those with Rusty Egan brought new approaches into CULT WITH NO NAME?

They probably have, but not consciously as such. Rusty continues to be an amazing advocate for CWNN and we’re so grateful to him. I’ve met so many people though him that have also become friends. Rusty also introduced me to Paul Tunkin who has since become our publisher.

We’ve been asked to do a couple of remixes recently, one for Kelli Ali (‘Fear of London’, which has come out) and another for a band I Iove which should be out later in the year. That has been an interesting experience as it’s not something we’ve really done before. In both cases we went massively off track and turned them into something unrecognisable. There’s also another interesting collaboration in the works, but I can’t reveal anything just yet.

How is the new album coming along, will it be part of a trilogy with ‘Heir Of The Dog’ and ‘Mediaburn’ or conceptually something different altogether?

More of the same, but each album is better than the last, right? Not that all bands say that, of course. I would say, as mentioned earlier, that we’ve tried to stick to a few sounds that we use across several tracks, certainly drum sound wise.

Drums always take me the longest anyway, perhaps that’s why we have so many tracks with no drums at all. I’m determined to not overcrowd the tracks, so the production is a little bit more minimal (in an electronic sense). Some tracks on ‘Mediaburn’ nearly tipped me over the edge in terms of endlessly fiddling about and adding on layer upon layer. I was absolutely sick to death of some songs by the end.

With the new album, I’m trying to not overthink it too much…or over listen. It’s working, so far. The more consistent approach to production means that I think the songs are going to hang together conceptually really well. There really are some absolute corkers on this album, even if I do say so myself. There’s dark thumping electro, epic synth ballads, Arabic grooves… something for the whole family to enjoy.


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Erik Stein

‘Mediaburn’ is released as a CD and download, available along with the CULT WITH NO NAME back catalogue from https://cultwithnoname.bandcamp.com/

https://www.cultwithnoname.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial/

https://twitter.com/cultwithnoname

https://www.instagram.com/cultwithnoname/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
20th April 2020

Ten Years Of TEC: BIRTHDAY GREETINGS FROM SOME PEOPLE WHO YOU MIGHT KNOW…

Over the last 10 years, The Electricity Club has been a voice for the discerning enthusiast of electronic pop.

With a balancing act of featuring the classic pioneers of the past alongside the emergent new talent for the future, The Electricity Club has become well known for its interviews and reviews, asking the questions people have always wanted to ask while celebrating the continuing development of the synthesizer in popular music. All this while holding to account those who deliver below expectations, assuring the listener that if they are perhaps not hearing the genius that some devoted fans are declaring, then The Electricity Club is there to assist in affirming or denying that assessment.

But when artists do deliver, they tend to build a strong relationship with The Electricity Club. So with the site celebrating its first 10 years, presented here are greetings and messages from some people who you might know…


Rusty Egan, VISAGE

TEC is 10 years old with the synth knowledge of a 50 year old. If I can’t remember something electronic I don’t Google, I TEC!


Glenn Gregory, HEAVEN 17

The Electricity Club and its wonderful leader Chi is like the League Of Super Heroes for Electronic Music. Our future is safe in his hands.

I have been involved in electronic music making for 40 years, yet one half hour conversation with Chi makes me realise how little I know. From then to now, he’s knows!


Neil Arthur, BLANCMANGE

Chi has been brilliantly supportive of BLANCMANGE, for which I am very grateful. We’ve always managed to have a good laugh during our interviews, as he would ask me about the darkness and gloom lying within a given BLANCMANGE song! I look forward to our next chat.

The Electricity Club has a very important place and a role to play, in spreading the news of electronic music, new and old, far and wide. Here’s to the next ten years. Well done and good luck.


Gary Daly, CHINA CRISIS

Thanks for all your wonderful support Chi, so glad someone has taken the time to ask some great questions…


Sarah Blackwood, DUBSTAR

I love The Electricity Club website. It’s a treasure trove of informative articles, both a very readable historical archive and a forward looking platform for encouraging new talent. In what can be traditionally and lazily categorised as a very male dominated scene, Chi encourages great music regardless of gender and I enjoy the updated Spotify playlist if I’m ever stuck for what to listen to whilst running.

As regards interviews, it’s always enjoyable – Chi is a bit too easy to talk to and his passion for music and synth geekery shines through – heaven forbid you try sneaking a (cleared) sample past him, he will spot it!

Is it 10 years already? Happy birthday TEC!


Chris Payne, DRAMATIS

With 18,000 likes and 12,000 Facebook followers; The Electricity Club under the guidance of its purveyor Chi Ming Lai, has become the leading place for the Electronic Music fan. Intelligent, well written and well researched journalism with a great team of writers presenting an array of brilliant fascinating new acts (and some older ones as well!), hopefully it will continue for at least another 10 years.


Tracy Howe, RATIONAL YOUTH

Congratulations to The Electricity Club on ten years of brilliant reporting of, and support to, the electronic pop scene. TEC is the authoritative publication “of record” for fans and makers of synthpop alike and is the international rallying point and HQ for our music. We look forward to many more years of in-depth interviews and probing articles, all in the beautifully written TEC style. Happy birthday TEC!


Mark White, ABC + VICE VERSA

Chi Ming Lai and Paul Boddy are two of the most learned, nay, erudite music journalists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, a rare experience indeed to be quizzed by a pair who know their onions. And unusual integrity. Chi promised me if we asked, he would turn off the tape recorder and it would never appear in print. And has been true to his word. This has literally never happened in my career. Also these two chaps are bloody good fun. I laughed til I cried. Go see the movie!


Rob Dean, JAPAN

10 years of The Electricity Club? Only one for me (yes, I know…), but it’s heartening to know that Chi and the crew have created a site so cutting edge for us die-hard fans of electronica. Having read the highly entertaining VICE VERSA chaps interview, I was delighted to be asked to do my own, confident that the questions would be thoughtful and intelligent and yes, a little bit probing too. Here’s to the next 10 and thank you!


Richard Silverthorn, MESH

On several occasions I have done interviews for The Electricity Club. Every time I felt like they actually cared about the music and scene and put some educated thought into the questions. It’s good to feel that enthusiasm.


Tom Shear, ASSEMBLAGE 23

Congratulations on 10 years of covering and supporting the scene! Here’s to another 10 and beyond…


Sophie Sarigiannidou, MARSHEAUX

I first met Chi at Sparrowhawk Hotel, Burnley in November 2000 for an OMD convention. It took me 13 hours to reach by train to Burnley from London due to bad weather.

I saw him playing live (!!!!) with his covers band THE MESSERSCHMITT TWINS, they were having their time of their life, dancing and singing, so so happy! Us too of course!! From that moment on we became friends.

Then he supported our band MARSHEAUX from the very early beginning and I thank him a lot for that! It’s always great having Chi asking questions for interviews . We as a band had our best interviews with The Electricity Club! We spent a lot of hours talking about the history of electronic music and the future of synthpop. My favourite articles on TEC are the “A Beginners Guide To…” series, you have a lot to learn from these pages!!! Happy Anniversary Chi, we’ve indeed had 10 amazing years with TEC. I hope and wish the next 10 to be even better.


Erik Stein, CULT WITH NO NAME

The Electricity Club elected not to review earlier CWNN albums, so we just had to keep making better and better records until they would finally relent. They finally gave in from album number 7 onwards, and it was well worth the wait. The writing was spot on and not a single DEPECHE MODE reference in sight.


Mark Reeder, MFS BERLIN

Congratulations and a very Happy 10th Birthday TEC! Over the past 10 years, The Electricity Club website has developed into becoming the leading website for all kinds of electronic synthpop music. It has become a familiar friend, because it is something I can personally identify with, as it is maintained by fans, for fans.

However, it is not only commendable, but can also be quite critical too, and that is a rare balancing act in the contemporary media world. It has been a great source of regular electronic music information. I have discovered and re-discovered many wonderful electronic artists, and regularly devour the in-depth interviews and features.

Through TEC, I have been introduced to and worked with some of the wonderful artists presented on your pages, such as QUEEN OF HEARTS or MARSHEAUX and in return, it has supported my work, my label and my artists too, and I thank them for that! We can all celebrate ten years of TEC and together, look forward to the next 10 years of inspiring electronic music.


Per Aksel Lundgreen, SUB CULTURE RECORDS

The Electricity Club is a highly knowledgeable and very passionate site! They are digging out rarities from the past as well as exploring and discovering new acts, giving them attention and writing about them often before anybody else around have even heard of them.

This makes TEC a very interesting page to follow, as their in-depth stories about older bands “missing in action” as well as the latest stuff “in the scene” gets perfectly mixed together, giving you all you want basically in a one-stop-site for everything electronic. I also love the way they give attention to unsigned / self-released bands and small indie-labels, giving everybody a fair chance as long as the music is good enough. Congrats on the 10th Anniversary, well deserved!


Jane Caley aka Anais Neon, VILE ELECTRODES

When VILE ELECTRODES were just starting out, we heard through the Facebook grapevine about a new electronic music blog called The Electricity Club. We had a London gig coming up, and had recently made a promo video for our song ‘Deep Red’, so we dropped them an email about both, not expecting to hear back, since we were virtually unknown. However it transpired they really liked our sound, likening us to “Client B born and raised in the Home Counties fronting Dindisc-era ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK”.

The Electricity Club subsequently gave this very description to Andy McCluskey, which piqued his interest such that he checked out our music. We were invited to tour Germany with OMD as a direct result!


George Geranios, UNDO RECORDS

Chi is a really rare quality of a man. He is passionate about music which is so obvious of course while reading The Electricity Club. Through our mutual love for OMD, we discovered that we have the same musical taste. TEC helped us promote all of Undo Records projects and finally we ended collaborating and releasing this brilliant TEC double CD compilation! Chi, I wish you health and to continue writing the best music texts in the industry!!


Adam Cresswell, HAPPY ROBOTS RECORDS

Some people say The Electricity Club doesn’t support the scene but I’ve not found that to be the case; having been a part of two TEC gigs and the recent CD, I know how much blood, sweat and tears they put into what they do. TEC might get a few people’s back-up, but they know their stuff when it comes to synth-driven music and I’m massively grateful that they have supported so many Happy Robots artists since 2010.


Stuart McLaren, OUTLAND

It’s no secret that the burgeoning new synthwave genre shares a common history with the great synthesizer acts and pioneers of the 80s, like Dolby, Jones, Luscombe, Wilder, Daly et al who created new soundscapes with what we now define as vintage synths.

These sounds are brought back to life by pioneers in their own right like FM ATTACK, GUNSHIP, ESPEN KRAFT and BETAMAXX to name a few.

The Electricity Club and Chi Ming Lai have always been at the forefront of championing, interviewing and reviewing the luminaries of this great instrument past to present, and are likely to remain the de facto voice of the synth scene well into the future… we agree on one thing and that is FM-84’s singer Ollie Wride is deffo one to watch as a star for the future!


Paula Gilmer, TINY MAGNETIC PETS

Happy Birthday TEC. thank you for your support. You never fail to impress with your encyclopedic knowledge of synthpop. Here’s looking forward to 10 more!


Mr Normall, NUNTIUS

I’ve been following most of my favourite artists since they were brand new and often this means 30+ years, yet reading articles and interviews by The Electricity Club, I have learned every time something new about of my favourites.

Following The Electricity Club have made me paid attention to several new acts that I would likely know nothing about if they hadn’t appeared on the page.


Catrine Christensen, SOFTWAVE

An outstanding magazine supporting new and upcoming artists whom they choose carefully as they have great taste of music regarding to their huge knowledge within the synthpop genre, when it comes to their writing and promotion – there’s no one like them. Happy birthday 😘


Elena Charbila, KID MOXIE

Happy 10th birthday TEC! Your love and commitment to the synth community is unparalleled and your support has meant a lot to me on a professional but also on a personal level. Here’s to the next 10 years! 😘


Alexander Hofman aka Android, S.P.O.C.K

I’m a fan of The Electricity Club for several reasons. You showed up when I perceived the majority of the electronic scene had turned more and more harsh; as much as I can appreciate an occasional emotional outburst, I’m a happy guy and thus I’m into pop – TEC showed, and still shows me that there’s still electronic pop music being made. Good electronic pop! Which makes me glad, as I find the greater part of the generally popular darker scene to be of lower musical quality.

Moreover, TEC writes in an amazingly happy tone – remember, I’m a happy guy, so it’s right up my alley. Add the fact that TEC regularly publishes interesting articles, using intelligent and varied vocabulary, shows enormous knowledge and interest of the theme, the style, the scene – and I’m hooked. Thanks for being around – keep up the good work, it’s much needed! And congratulations – let’s grab a beer again! 🍻


Text compiled by Chi Ming Lai
15th March 2020

TEC’s 2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business.

That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic…

MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again. HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA at TEC005 and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER at TEC006.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour.

Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths. DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by The Electricity Club to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019.

It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur like it was normal behaviour, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount.

This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as The Electricity Club comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever.

Artwork by Heloisa Flores

The Electricity Club had a compilation released by Amour Records gathering some of the best music from the last 10 years and reached No2 in the German POPoNAUT charts.

It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of deluded poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So The Electricity Club ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after TEC006 who had also been to TEC004: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019

TINY MAGNETIC PETS Interview

Proving the luck of the Irish, TINY MAGNETIC PETS continue their upward momentum with imminent European tours opening for MIDGE URE and OMD.

And if that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, there will be a new EP released on Happy Robots Records entitled ‘Girl In A White Dress’ to coincide. Meanwhile, the long-awaited third album ‘The Point Of Collapse’ is set for 2020 with all-new material.

The delightful Dublin trio of Paula Gilmer, Sean Quinn and Eugene Somers kindly took some time out from rehearsals to speak to The Electricity Club about all the latest goings on within the TINY MAGNETIC PETS camp.

Since opening for OMD in 2017, TINY MAGNETIC PETS have been able to undertake a number of headline dates, how have those been for you? Any particular favourite cities or gigs from those jaunts?

Seán: We are so privileged that we are now able to do our own headline shows and it was really great that people came out to see us. It was such a buzz. Synth Wave Live 2 at Electrowerkz in London was really good as we got to play with Chris Payne.

Paula: The Islington was an absolute pleasure to play. It was packed to the brim, hot, loud and sweaty! Loved every minute of it.

Eugene: There have been so many memorable moments on TMP’s journey so far but definite highlights for me it was the hot and sweaty gig in The Islington in London on our second outing on our own mini-tour 2019.

How do you look back now on your 2017 album ‘Deluxe/Debris’?

Paula: ‘D/D’ holds plenty of fond memories for me. It was a great album to write and it came together surprisingly easy. ‘Semaphore’ has become a permanent fixture on our live set and it’s a personal favourite of mine!

Seán: I love ‘D/D’ and I’m still listening to it at home. I remember the thrill of working with Wolfgang Flür! We recorded some of it in Westland Studios here in Dublin and just being in the same place where KATE BUSH, THE CURE and HORSLIPS had recorded was a real vibe. I also love that the actual song ‘Deluxe/Debris’ is not on it!

Eugene: I love our sonic progression from ‘Return Of…’ to now. I feel we have grown together as writers and performers and ‘D/D’ is a highlight in those areas for me. I loved the studio time writing and recording it and now I love playing those songs live in our set. A highlight for me in the set is and I’m sure will always be ‘Semaphore’.

What direction are you heading in for the new album ‘The Point Of Collapse’, same but different or radical? How’s it coming along?

Seán: It’s finished apart from the final sequencing which we’ll probably do over Christmas. We tend to spend a while getting the tracks in the best order. As far as direction goes, ‘same but different’ would fit, yeah but it’s a step on from ‘Deluxe…’ in that it’s a bigger album – it’s even got an orchestra on it! As the title would suggest, it’s lyrically a lot darker than its predecessors – Dystopia beckons and as much as we want to retreat into the music and blot it all out, we can’t.

Also, for the first time we got someone else to mix: Charles ‘Chicky’ Reeves who we met on the OMD tour. As well as doing OMD’s sound and ours, he recorded our live album ‘Pink/White’ without us knowing and we liked it so much we asked him to mix the new album. A couple of people asked how we could just hand our work over to someone else to mix but we’d spent a month on the road with him and we trusted him and he did an amazing job. We’re all really proud of it – it’s our best album yet.

Paula: I am proud of this album. We pushed ourselves maybe a little out of our comfort zone by getting Chicky to mix it, but it was without a shadow of doubt the right decision. ‘The Point Of Collapse’ has, as Seán says above a definite bigger sound and from a vocal point of view, well I’m very happy with how it sounds and can’t wait to get it out there!

Word has it that Seán has dug his guitar out and is singing lead vocals on a track?

Paula: Don’t believe everything you hear!

Seán: I’ve had a few comments about the guitar, but this is the only TMP album where I don’t play any. All the guitars you do hear are played by Seamus Quinn and it’s not your typical guitar playing either. It’s also him singing the lead vocal with Paula on ‘French Cinéma’, not me.

I do it live, though. We only use guitars if we have something to say with them. There are way too many people playing guitars without an idea – just whack a bit of distortion on a few barre chords and it’s ROCK! – It absolutely isn’t! It’s one of the main reasons that rock isn’t what it was – and I love rock music.

One of the tracks already premiered live from ‘Point Of Collapse’ is ‘Falling Apart In Slow Motion’, how did that come together?

Paula: Oh I do love singing this live. It’s quite an emotional song. I guess it happened when Seán came up with an initial sketch and developed from there.

Seán: I had written a sketch on guitar with a different chorus, then switched to synths with a Bhangra beat for the demo and found the chorus didn’t work, so we ditched the chorus, Eugene ditched the Bhangra, Paula did the vocal and Seamus added guitars and backing vocals. It’s about a relationship that’s ending, but they’re both trying to save it and the mixed feelings that ensue. Whether the breakup is amicable or not is not specified but despite their best efforts, it’s over. Its working title was ‘Roxy Thang’…

‘Cексичок’ takes on an unexpected rhythmic stomp, it’s almost 60s like?

Seán: It does have an odd arrangement doesn’t it? The 60s was coolest decade and I think there are quite a lot of 60s references on the new album. ‘Not My Day’ has a very BEATLES feel to it without actually sounding like them, the organ breakdown in the middle of ‘Sitting Target’ reminds me of THE SMALL FACES and take the Simmons drums out of ‘European Grey’ and it could be a 60s TV theme.

We’re huge BEATLES fans and to this day, they remain one of the oddest bands for instrumentation, production and arrangement quirks. We’re still trying to decode their messages from the 60s…

Eugene: When I presented the drums for ‘Cексичок’ Seán said and I quote: “You’re taking it down Rio way…”, so I took that as a compliment 😉 and continued down Rio way. All joking aside; I’m a big fan of 60s grooves and one groover in particular – the one and only Ringo! He is a musical drummer and I from time to time, take a leaf from his book.
Seán: Wolfgang Flür loves Ringo!

Having had Wolfgang Flür appear on two tracks for ‘Deluxe/Debris’, are you able to reveal any of the guests that you have gathered for ‘The Point Of Collapse’?

Eugene: It’s an absolute honour to have the very talented and true gent that is Chris Payne on two tracks and another hugely talented man is Erik Stein of CULT WITH NO NAME on our closing track.

Paula: Erik Stein and I do a duet on a song called ‘Cosmonaut’s Lullaby’.

After three EPs ‘Stalingrad’, ‘The NATO Alphabet’ and ‘The Politburo Disko’ over the last five years, there’s a new EP on the way via Happy Robots Records, what can you say about it and does it also have a Cold War theme?

Seán: The 21st century Cold War is boring – sitting at home hacking an election is not as cool as a stand-off with huge nukes in space and it’s down to you to save the planet… so no Cold War theme this time.

We re-recorded ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as we felt it never had a fair shake in the first place. This EP has more vintage instruments: Mellotron, Stylophone and of course the ubiquitous TR77 – sorry Paula! It’s covered in Mellotron, actually. It also has the usual false ending on one track.

A lyrical first for us is the inclusion of a song about an actual event: ‘Kicked Off In Ikea’ which is about an incident in London in 2013 where a Black Friday sale turned nasty. It’s written from the perspective of a person scoffing at the crassness of it all but the curiosity gets the better of them and they turn up to see what it’s all about. It’s a sad indictment of modern consumerism and society that people will resort to violence just to get some cheap furniture. It’s a very ‘Happy Robots’ record!

TINY MAGNETIC PETS offer good value for money by not duplicating tracks from albums on EPs and vice versa, but what has been the process in deciding what tracks go on the album and which up end on the EPs?

Seán: Given that everyone writes, we always have plenty of material to work with and as albums take shape, it’s obvious which of the recorded tracks will make the cut. Our motto is: “You know it when you hear it”. We try not to force anything, it all has to flow naturally so the opening and closing tracks usually make themselves known early on.

Once we’ve established this, then it’s a question of what’s the best track to follow the opener, what follows that and so on until we meet the closing track. We only finish the ideas we really love so there are usually five or six tracks that, for one reason or another didn’t find a place on whichever album. These usually get issued as EPs, which we view as stand-alone works so we don’t include them on albums – ‘Girl In A White Dress’ is a one-off.

Are there any particular favourite tracks from either of the two upcoming new releases?

Paula: ‘Above & Overture’ (EP) and currently ‘Echoes’ or ‘French Ciméma’ from the album. Ooooh, there’s also ‘No Time Today’ and…

Eugene: ‘Above & Overture’ is my favourite from the EP and currently ‘Dreamless’ and ‘Cosmonaut’s Lullaby’ from ‘The Point Of Collapse’ are both my favourites at the moment, but it changes week by week. Why? Because they are so beautiful TBH 🙂

Seán: It keeps changing but at the moment: ‘All The Mad Things’ on the EP, ‘Not My Day’ and the ten minute ‘At The Point Of Collapse’ (almost a title-track) on the album.

TINY MAGNETIC PETS played the W-Festival in Belgium alongside a host of big names, what’s it like as an occasion? Are you able to be choosier about what types of festivals you will play now?

Seán: We had a great time at W-Fest. It was just a nice vibe and nice to be at a festival where it didn’t rain! We hung around backstage, I did a painting and we watched the bands until it was our turn. We missed KILLING JOKE because we had to leave early as our hotel was actually in France! As regards what types of festivals – I don’t think we’re at the choosy stage just yet.

Two years on from supporting one set of Synth Britannia heroes in OMD, you’re opening for MIDGE URE on selected dates of his ‘1980’ Tour…

Seán: Hard to believe isn’t it? And we’re doing it again with OMD! We are so honoured that it’s the ‘Vienna’ / ’Visage’ tour and OMD’s 40th. Andy McCluskey once said that KRAFTWERK was in OMD’s DNA, well OMD and ULTRAVOX are in ours. Sorry we won’t be around for any of the shows with Rusty Egan

Eugene: What dreams are made of; I still have to pinch myself sometimes.

Do you have any favourite Ure-related ULTRAVOX and VISAGE tracks that you’re looking forward to hearing live?

Eugene: ‘Astradyne’ for sure, most definitely ‘Vienna’ and another of my favourite ULTRAVOX songs is ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’.

Seán: ‘Astradyne’ and ’New Europeans’ for me, and of course we all want to hear ‘Fade To Grey’.

Paula: ‘All Stood Still’, ‘Vienna’ and ‘Fade To Grey’.

So with all this activity, is the new album ‘The Point Of Collapse’ more likely to have a 2020 release now?

Seán: It is going to be 2020.

Paula: Yup 2020 it is!

TINY MAGNETIC PETS have shown how a band at this independent level of modern synthpop can gain traction and make in-roads within the music industry today, so are there any words of wisdom you could offer to fellow acts who have been observing your progress and have similar aspirations?

Eugene: Keep doing what you love and what drives you!

Paula: As long as music makes you happy, just do what you love and keep going for it. Don’t hold back! It’s definitely a roller coaster of emotions, but the highs absolutely outweigh the lows!

Seán: The only advice I could possibly offer is stick to your guns when everybody is ignoring you and get out on stages and social media, make connections and LET EVERYONE KNOW YOU’RE HERE – oh! And send your music to Rusty Egan!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to TINY MAGNETIC PETS

The forthcoming ‘Girl In A White Dress’ EP will be released by Happy Robots Records on 15th November 2019 in white vinyl, pre-order from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/tiny-magnetic-pets-girl-in-a-white-dress-ep-new-pre-order

‘Deluxe/Debris’ is still available as a CD from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/tiny-magnetic-pets-deluxe-debris-cd

The ‘Stalingrad’, ‘The NATO Alphabet’ + ‘The Politburo Disco’ EPs are available from https://tinymagneticpets.bandcamp.com/

TINY MAGNETIC PETS 2019 live dates opening for MIDGE URE include:

Manchester Albert Hall (25th October), Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (26th October), Belfast Ulster Hall (26th October), Dublin (29th October), Bochum Ruhr Congress (6th December), Osnabrück Rosenhof (7th December), Berlin Columbia Theater (8th December), Hamburg Gruenspan (9th December), Ravensburg Konzerthaus (11th December), Munich Teknikum (12th December), Kassel Congress Palais Stadthalle (13th December), Düsseldorf Stahlwerk (14th December), Aarhus Train (17th December), Copenhagen Amager Bio (18th December), The Hague Paard Van Troje (19th December)

TINY MAGNETIC PETS 2019 live dates opening for OMD include:

Belfast Ulster Hall (23rd October), Dublin Olympia (24th October), Rostock Stadthalle (25th November), Dresden Kulturpalast (26th November), Leipzig Haus Auensee (28th November), Berlin Tempodrom (29th November), Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36 (30th November), Berlin Tempodrom (2nd December), Stuttgart Leiderhalle (3rd December), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric-Halle (5th December)

https://www.tinymagneticpets.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tinymagneticpets/

https://twitter.com/TinyMagneticPet

https://www.instagram.com/tinymagneticpets/

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/tiny-magnetic-pets

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3t3ITkzKzWOludV0CeUqYk


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
23rd October 2019

CULT WITH NO NAME Mediaburn

CULT WITH NO NAME are possibly smoothness personified. The suave crooner figure of  Erik Stein and the understated ivory virtuoso of Jon Boux issued their first album ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ in 2007.

Having released their best album to date in 2017’s ‘Heir Of The Dog’, the new long player ‘Mediaburn’ is their ninth and features the familiar cast of esteemed supporting players such as Kelli Ali (vocals), Steve Brown (sax) and Blaine L Reininger (violin), who between them made their names in SNEAKER PIMPS and TUXEDOMOON.

The brilliantly titled ‘Blind Dogs for the Guides’ which opens ‘Mediaburn’ is classic CULT WITH NO NAME… a little bit electronic, a little bit acoustic with plenty of mood. ‘Needle & Thread’ extends the atmosphere with a fabulous vocal harmony from Kelli Ali for a whispery allure, the overall effect recalling the ‘Behaviour’ of PET SHOP BOYS, particularly in the middle eight instrumental section. Interestingly on a track where it feels like a bit of sax might appear, it doesn’t…

‘So Much Left To Do’ springs a surprise by almost sounding like KRAFTWERK; while Stein and Boux have not exactly turned into Ralf and Florian, this is another nice facet to the CULT WITH NO NAME template. Even more uptempo and electronic, ‘Low On High’ is dreamily hypnotic, fast without being overtly frantic or compromising artistically. With bursts of sax, acoustic guitar and haunting backing voices providing an alluring counterpoint, to quote the duo: “Disco inferno it may not be but CWNN still invite you to burn baby, burn”

The moody waltz of ‘Mona’ utilises a good mix of electronic and organic textures, while ‘All This Spite (Comes at a Price)’ and its cutting lyricism could be on the soundtrack of a Cold War spy drama, all superbly cinematic with a sinister icy air. Throwing a curveball, the melancholy of ‘By Air Of By Sea’ takes on an almost countrified flavour, boosted with soothing violin and a heavenly choir presence.

On the more esoteric side, ‘In Hollywood You Won’t Find Bel-Air’, ‘Fake Nudes’ and ‘Money’s Gone’ are nocturnal piano-centred ballads which offer poignant sociopolitical commentary. Meanwhile the sparse interlude ‘(No Such Thing) As Silence’ provides mystery, but the slinky lounge jazz of ‘She Sells Incels’ might not be for everyone although it offers an interesting sax ‘n’ synth hybrid. With a slice of subtle squelch-laden synthpop sweetened by cascading piano, ‘Button On My Desk’ ends ‘Mediaburn’ on something of a cantering rhythmic note.

Brilliantly produced and continuing the tempo variation and expansive arrangements of ‘Heir Of The Dog’, ‘Mediaburn’ is perhaps maybe a few tracks too long, but it acts as a fine follow-up and companion to its predecessor.

Packaged in striking modern artwork that is a statement in itself, as a sidenote, ‘Mediaburn’ gets bonus marks for its additional build your own jewel case kit inserts because after all, CDs are meant to be spindled, not slipped into scratch prone cardboard packaging 😉


‘Mediaburn’ is released as a CD and download on 11th October 2019, pre-order from https://cultwithnoname.bandcamp.com/

https://www.cultwithnoname.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial/

https://twitter.com/cultwithnoname

https://www.instagram.com/cultwithnoname/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
7th October 2019

« Older posts