Tag: Electri_City Conference (Page 1 of 4)

Ten Years Of TEC: STILL PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

The Electricity Club celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up.

It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label. The Electricity Club was it and became reality on 15th March 2010.

Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned The Electricity Club’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.

The Electricity Club preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary with the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill and that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, The Electricity Club’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

The Electricity Club has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”; and that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time The Electricity Club felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, The Electricity Club decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’. With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What The Electricity Club achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with The Electricity Club being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.

The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest, with one artist of a far too normal disposition in particular failing to realise that in order for a crowdfunding campaign to succeed, they needed to actually have quite a few fans in the first place!

Then, there was the similarly clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.

It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that The Electricity Club first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.

The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get The Electricity Club started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.

Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on The Electricity Club.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If The Electricity Club does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD.

Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling a narcisstic entitlement to be featured. A few deluded artists even went as far as to blame The Electricity Club publically for their lack of traction! NoW that’s what The Electricity Club calls deluded!

If an act is good enough, the fact that The Electricity Club hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, The Electricity Club maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantaneously champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not The Electricity Club’s thing frankly…

The Electricity Club’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six TEC branded live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music 😉

Other highlights over the last ten years have included The Electricity Club’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

There was also ‘The Electricity Club’ 2CD released by Amour Records in 2019 which included TEC featured acts like MESH, SECTION 25, SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, NIGHT CLUB, QUIETER THAN SPIDERS, ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, DAYBEHAVIOR, LIEBE, TWINS NATALIA, KID MOXIE, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS, ELEVEN: ELEVEN, AUTOMATIC WRITING, FOTONOVELA and QUEEN OF HEARTS among its 34 excellent tracks, including a bangin’ MARSHEAUX remix of Katy Perry!

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with The Electricity Club. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

The Electricity Club is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk. With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

One inferior revivalist platform featuring far too much normal rubbish once complained that The Electricity Club “only feature bands that are popular…”; what they actually mean is “only feature bands that are really good”! 😉

The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.


‘The Electricity Club’ is released by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation be purchased from the following retailers:

Europe http://www.poponaut.de/various-artists-electricity-club-p-18056.html

North America https://stormingthebase.bandcamp.com/merch/various-the-electricity-club-2cd

The tracklisting is:

CD1

01 MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
02 KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
03 ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
04 DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (Marsheaux remix)
05 MARNIE The Hunter
06 ELEVEN:ELEVEN Through The Veil
07 NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
08 QUEEN OF HEARTS United
09 KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux remix)
10 ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys remix)
11 KID MOXIE The Bailor
12 KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
13 FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW Our Sorrow (Original mix)
14 GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica 6
15 AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
16 METROLAND Thalys (London Edit)
17 RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

CD2

01 SIN COS TAN Trust
02 POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)
03 TENEK What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)
04 ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
05 ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
06 MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
07 SECTION 25 My Outrage
08 047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
09 TAXX Is It Love?
10 LIEBE I Believe In You
11 QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
12 iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
13 TWINS NATALIA Destiny
14 MESH Tuesday
15 MIRRORS Between Four Walls
16 OMD Time Burns (Fotonovela rework)
17 VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red

Please note this product is NOT on sale through The Electricity Club website and only via retailers


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020

ARCTIC SUNRISE Interview

Mönchengladbach is best known for the Borussia football team and F1 driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

But the North Rhine-Westphalia city is also the base of electronic duo ARCTIC SUNRISE. Comprising of Torsten Verlinden on vocals and Steve Baltes on synths, the seasoned pairing cite DEPECHE MODE, ULTRAVOX, HEAVEN 17, VISAGE, BLANCMANGE and OMD among their influences.

Opening for DAF’s Robert Görl, ARCTIC SUNRISE performed at the 2017 Electri_City_Conference in Düsseldorf. The intuitive crowd warmed to their enjoyable brand of dark synthpop showcased on songs like ‘Tell The Truth’ and ‘When Traces End’ which recalled the overtones of fellow German acts such as DE/VISION and CAMOUFLAGE.

The Electricity Club caught up with Steve Baltes from the duo to chat about music, synths and stuff…

With two successful albums bagged, are you pleased with how you’ve been received in the synth circles?

We are actually quite overwhelmed by the extremely warm welcome in the scene, since we pretty much came out of nowhere, with quite different musical careers before ARCTIC SUNRISE. We were very surprised especially by the global reception, worldwide airplays and fantastic reviews – so, yes… we are way more than pleased!

You cite the influences from DEPECHE MODE, HEAVEN 17, ULTRAVOX, VISAGE and BLANCMANGE. All things British then?

Good call! There’s some kind of spiritual connection to cities like Sheffield and Manchester. Synthpop-wise, the UK is where it really started and the most amazing and for us most influential music came from.

It’s the first thing which blows you away which will stay for you the whole life and that just was the sound of ULTRAVOX, VISAGE, NEW ORDER, HEAVEN 17, OMD and others…

Do you mind being compared to DE/VISION?

It’s not a bad thing to be compared to great bands, but to be honest we actually do not know too much of their material and are a bit surprised that we get compared quite often. We do think that they sound a bit more Depeche than us and vocal wise, we also sound quite different. If you do electronic pop music, you just share kind of the same DNA.

Germany mothers many a synth band. How would you say your sound differed from the rest?

We are not following this too closely, but we think that due to the way we work we might have developed our own sound. Part of that is to not use virtual instruments in the studio and the use of old drum machines in a contemporary way as well as making your own sounds. A lot of the bands use the same pool of sounds especially with drums or the more trancey preset lead hook sounds which we are not into too much and this makes a lot of projects sound quite similar. But there’s still much interesting stuff out there as well.

You like your vintage synths and drum machines. Any firm favourites?

If I have to name just one it’s probably the Linn Drum, this one really shaped a decade and gives you that warm feeling in your stomach by just switching it on 😉

I really love the fact that there is just one Kick and on Snare instead of gigabytes of Drum Libraries you carry on your computer.

Synth-wise, it would be the Roland System 100M Modular Synthesizer, which we pretty much use on every song – pure synthpop bliss.

What selection of hardware did you predominantly use on ‘When Traces End’?

It’s quite a long list, to name a few… drum machines like the Linn and Oberheim DMX, Korg DDD-1, Kawai R100, the mighty Simmons SDSV, some weird soviet effects, drum boxes and synthesizers like the fantastic Aelita which is 90% of ‘Tell The Truth’.

More synths we used a lot are the Roland System 100M, Akai AX60, Polymoog Keyboard as well as newer analogue stuff from my favourite companies (and friends) like Dreadbox from Greece or Analogue Solutions from the UK, especially the Nyborg12.

How does the use of vintage synthesizers translate to live gigs?

For gigs we try to keep it quite simple, safe and not too heavy.

Some sounds I play on stage, I recreated on virtual instruments like the U-He Zebra or Alchemy from Camel Phat inside of Ableton Live which also runs the drums and sequencer stuff.

For the analogue vibe, I play a quite rare Korg SB100 Synthesizer which I love a lot and mainly use for bass live. It’s small, built into a handy case and adds a really nice low end to the setup. It’s also built like a tank and even though it’s very old, it’s very reliable. Some of the other machines from the studio would be a bit scary on stage, since they have their own life sometimes.

Any plans to visit the UK Soon?

It would be fantastic to actually play in the UK since we feel very connected because of our musical heroes, but unfortunately nothing planned yet … we’ll see. From time to time, I go to the UK for some shows of bands like BLANCMANGE who are not playing in Germany since they became active again. Recently I also played with my ambient project BALTES & ERBE near Birmingham which was nice.

After two albums, is there a third one looming?

Yes, absolutely – we are working on it and have a couple of songs written, loads of ideas and so far around 3 songs completely finished. Since we were very pleased especially with the last album, we try really hard to take things even further, which we think we did with a couple of the new ones. We don’t have a roadmap for a release yet, but we think maybe around the end of 2018. We just want to make sure it’s as good as possible. So please be patient 😉

You mention the influences derived from the pinnacle years of synth, any contemporary artists that take your fancy?

I love the latest stuff by TRENTEMØLLER which has a nice 80s vibe without just being retro. Also I was blown away by the latest BJÖRK album, very innovative and strange in the best way. Also THE XX, WRANGLER and FADER… not sure if you could call this contemporary though 😉

How did the Electri_City_Conference gig come about and how do you think it went?

I’ve known Carsten Siewert, who was organising the Conference, loosely for about 30 years. Back then I was working in a Supermarket and he worked for a company who delivered CDs to the shop – back then we always had a nice chat mainly about DEPECHE MODE or electronic music.

We then met from time to time and I visited the Conference as well. At one point we were thinking about showing some gear at Electri_City as well and he mentioned ”hey, if you there for the gear anyway, you of course have to play with your band as well” which we of certainly couldn’t resist.

It was a great event and show, the people were very friendly. It was almost family like and the reception was fantastic. So we were more than happy to get the chance to play an event like this. Stage looked great, sound was great, we think we played quite good and people seem to like it … what more to ask for, we were VERY happy to be part of this!

The synth world is raving about the new Minimoog Model D, have you got yours yet?

Actually I finally ran out of space for more keyboards and only might be able to add some smaller stuff like drumboxes or Eurorack modules. Regardless I played the new Model D a few times and I must admit that I really like it a lot. Next to the Moog Sub 37, it’s the first of the newer Moogs I really loved. I used to have a Minimoog Voyager which I never really got along with too, well since it sounded a bit “static” in my opinion (sorry!) … so if I find some extra room or a larger space, or maybe bring some stuff to my repair guy I might finally join the party.

What album would you say you loved the most in 2017?

I think probably ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ by OMD, what a great return – it was a big surprise and still sounded fresh! Also the latest GARY NUMAN album – fantastic production!


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to Steve Baltes

Both ARCTIC SUNRISE albums ‘A Smarter Enemy’ and ‘When Traces End’ are released by Echozone

https://www.facebook.com/wearearcticsunrise/

https://www.reverbnation.com/arcticsunrise4

http://www.echozone.de


Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Trigwell
31st January 2018

On Tour with TINY MAGNETIC PETS

Releasing their first album in 2010, it’s been a steady path of progression for TINY MAGNETIC PETS.

It was helped along by an endorsement from The Blitz Club’s legendary DJ Rusty Egan, where the Numan-eqsue ‘Control Me’ and the dreampop of ‘We Shine’ were regular staples of his Electronic Family Tree radio show. But when The Electricity Club introduced TINY MAGNETIC PETS to Andy McCluskey at the 2015 Electri_City_Conference in Düsseldorf, little did anyone realise what it would lead to, least of all the charming Irish trio themselves.

The end result was an invitation to open for OMD on the UK leg of ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ tour. However, the sojourn actually began at home in Dublin; “we had a massive crowd and following there” remembered singer Paula Gilmer, “the reaction was incredible”. But to get to this point, months of logistical planning and rehearsal had been required.

The band’s gear was kept streamlined as they were using nothing more than a 4 door hatchback with a flux capacitor on their UK jaunt. Also, the band had just 30 minutes each night to make their impression.

“When you do a tour like this” drummer Eugene Somers says, “you have to be aware of your time slot and that you’re on / you’re off! With this tour, it was going to be electronics all the way. The kit is basically an SPD-SX, you have to compromise”. It looks like a tea tray, but cranked up through OMD’s sound system, it is mighty.

On the keyboard front, synthesist Sean Quinn has had to strip it all down to a Roland XP10 workstation and a Novation which he enthuses as being “a fantastic workhorse of a synth, it’s quick and easy and has Moog sounds, ARPs, string machines”.

This set-up makes things easier at soundchecks which can be tedious and frustrating affairs. At the Cambridge Corn Exchange, things go reasonably well but Eugene is not happy about a slapback on his bass drum.

After a quick discussion with sound engineer Chicky Reeves, a solution is offered and accepted. Luckily as the band are using an electronic kit, the adjustment is much more straightforward.

Eugene could be referred to as a colours drummer, much like OMD sticksman Stuart Kershaw and the pair bond well during the tour. A bit of a reggae fan, Eugene is heavily influenced by Stewart Copeland and his subtle style adds power when appropriate. He is a drummer that actually enhances an electronic band, unlike the numbskull antics of Christian Eigner, the polarising drumhead for DEPECHE MODE.

For Paula, things are less complicated with her not needing to set-up or clear-up equipment; “Mine’s easiest” she laughs, “just the tambourine”. But she works closely with the band’s manager Una Fagan on the business side and as the pretty face of the band, she is the first to go and meet the public after TMP’s and OMD’s performances.

While the soundcheck is in progress, Una is liaising with OMD’s tour manager about catering arrangements while also completing PRS forms. A vital source of income for live acts, some bands don’t even bother registering and it’s a testament to TINY MAGNETIC PETS’ professionalism that they have taken this aspect seriously.

At dinner, the band sit with the crew and OMD’s Martin Cooper.

Sean gets distracted by an amusing conversation that Eugene and the crew are having about embarrassing albums in their collections. Earlier, Sean and Eugene had a fierce but friendly discussion in the dressing room about whether being a fan of YES and MUSE was mutually exclusive! Paula doesn’t get involved, saving her voice and disappearing into her own space in preparation for the show after having her salad.

TINY MAGNETIC PETS are treated well by OMD and their crew. However, this is not always been the case with support acts on tours with other major acts. One artist wasn’t spoken to by the headliner, while the crew blanked them on the tour bus. They were even asked to reduce the number of items they had for sale on the merchandise stand.

Luckily, there’s no such issues for TINY MAGNETIC PETS; Una chats with the merchandise personnel about positioning their items to the right of the stand next to a lobby area where Paula, Sean and Eugene can meet and greet new fans. “It couldn’t be better. We’re really at ease and totally enjoying it” says Paula while Eugene is very happy that “They’re treating us like kings and queens”.

There is enthusiasm after TINY MAGNETIC PETS’ set at Cambridge. It has gone well and Paula’s Irish charm has won over people. “We’ve been selling a lot of CDs and vinyl” says Sean, “that’s been a surprise” while Paula adds “People have said that they’re not too into support acts but are loving us which is so lovely to hear” – even those who have chosen not to make a purchase come over to offer their positive feedback to the band.

Eugene enjoys the aftershow banter too, noting: “It’s so good to meet the fans and in turn, give it back to us. That is a key factor. There are people finding us for the first time on the day and it’s lovely compliments we’re getting”.

Between sets, a chance meeting with Paul Humphreys on the stairs backstage results in a conversation about TMP’s set. As a fan of KRAFTWERK and LA DÜSSELDORF, the OMD synth man is quite taken with ‘Semaphore’, especially its extended instrumental section which echoes ‘Europe Endless’ and ‘Rheinita’.

If SAINT ETIENNE collaborated with KRAFTWERK, TINY MAGNETIC PETS would probably be that composite end result.

But at 10 minutes long, ‘Semaphore’ takes up a third of the allotted set time but “it was always going in and it was unanimous” according to Eugene; “Apart from anything else” enthuses Sean, “it’s just a lot of fun to play live, there has to be a certain edge when you’re playing live”. ‘Semaphore’ certainly seems to be the track making the biggest impression; “People always come up to us and ask ‘what was that last song?’” says Sean, “that’s fascinating”.

Social media has picked up for TINY MAGNETIC PETS so prompt reciprocal engagement is important to build support. Twitter acts as the most straightforward live platform, while Facebook takes a bit more effort and is usually looked at after the show at the hotel. “The comments have been great on Twitter and Facebook” confirms Sean.

Throughout the tour, the all-important likes and follows come in with ease, but it’s the actual comments and feedback which make gauging reaction much easier.

TINY MAGNETIC PETS make efforts to take selfies and provide a pictorial travelogue to connect with the audience and potential media outlets. This is one aspect they have good hang of and something that other acts in the same position as them can learn from.

The band usually watch OMD perform although this can be dependent on how far Una’s car has had to be parked from the venue. A keen dancer, Paula likes to see as much of OMD performance as possible, almost as a way of unwinding; “We have watched OMD every night, it’s an amazing show. ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ and ‘What Have We Done’ are sounding fantastic live”. Meanwhile, Sean adds: “It’s wonderful hearing these records in a live setting. I love the new album”.

It was interesting to observe that even off duty, Paula is recognised by well-wishers who come up to her during the show to compliment her on the band’s performance and her fine voice.

But she is an experienced and charismatic performer who connects well with people; “When we’re performing” she confirmed, “we like to build it up so we started with the slow, chilled back stuff and build up to the climax. We’re pushing a lot of the new stuff and it’s going down a treat”.

Their new album ‘Deluxe/Debris’ builds on the momentum of ‘The NATO Alphabet’ EP from 2016 and fittingly features ex-KRAFTWERK percussionst Wolfgang Flür on two songs ‘Radio On’ and ‘Never Alone’ with the latter, an enticing highlight of the Cambridge set.

The album has been released by Happy Robots Records, a small independent label run by Adam Cresswell.

He’d enjoyed the first album and got chatting with the band online over a shared ability to quote ‘Spinal Tap’. “They were friendly, professional and seemed to be actual music fans, which is essential in my opinion” he remembered, “so at their next London gig, I stumbled over to the lads at the bar, and asked ‘who is putting out your next album?’. And it just fell into place. I had no idea Wolfgang was going to be on the album or that they would get the OMD tour, but clearly somebody up there likes me”.

But what was been selling more, vinyl or CD?: “The plan was always to put the album out on vinyl” said the label boss, “Although expensive, it was worth it for aesthetic reasons alone. On LP it looks, sounds and feels like a classic synth pop record. It was fan pressure that talked me into pressing a CD, and on tour the CD has been selling more and that is totally understandable – you can’t stick an LP in your back pocket. But no-one anticipated the numbers we would sell and that we would be repressing before we’d hit the halfway point. The LP is still selling nicely online too”.

As the tour progresses, TINY MAGNETIC PETS continue to impress. At Southampton Guild Hall, Lorraine Brown of My Music Passion observed: “it was really special to see TMP perform on a big stage to an audience of thousands. Their set went down incredibly well and, given that I was sat on the balcony, I could see the audience were well and truly engaged and seeing so many of the audience members congratulate them on the performance afterwards was a joy”.

Meanwhile in London, their longest standing champion Rusty Egan expressed his delight: “I was very pleased to see TINY MAGNETIC PETS who proved to me and the OMD audience at the Roundhouse that their simple melodic synthpop songs with a great vocalist are winning new fans”; he was also very pleased “they also thanked me for my small part in their success”.

‘Nuntius’ star Mr Normall also reported that: “TINY MAGNETIC PETS managed to fill the floor at the Roundhouse from the start of their set and that doesn’t happen too often with support bands. I believe all the audience were not there just to see Paula on stage but the band has gained a new following with their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’ and the gig at the Roundhouse proved that the increased popularity is rightfully earned”.

In Guildford, Chris Payne who played in GARY NUMAN’s band comes backstage to give his best wishes to TINY MAGNETIC PETS.

It is also the first time he has seen Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys since OMD opened for Numan on ‘The Touring Principle’ in 1979.

With the reunion came hearty recollections of on tour practical jokes, like when Chris sabotaged Winston The Tape Recorder on the final night at Hammersmith Odeon and how Andy still owes him a fiver!

By the time the tour reaches Glasgow and its notoriously hard-to-please crowd, it was clear the band had hit their stride. Ian Ferguson of local synthpop duo RAINLAND noted that “everyone seated around me were asking the name of the support and were impressed both by the performance and that I was on their guest list…”

As the tour reaches its end via Birmingham and Gateshead, TINY MAGNETIC PETS don’t want to go home and even have a jokey photo taken of them trying to stowaway in the back of OMD’s truck.

Undoubtedly, the last four weeks have been a success. What happens next is up to them, but whatever TINY MAGNETIC PETS do now, there are undoubtedly more people interested than there were before. And it’s to OMD’s credit that they give new electronic acts an opportunity to play on a big stage with them.

TINY MAGNETIC PETS follow a fine tradition of acts like VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, METROLAND and VILE ELECTRODES who were all featured on The Electricity Club prior to being invited to open for OMD.

Long may that tradition continue 🙂


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to TINY MAGNETIC PETS and Una Fagan

Special thanks to Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Stuart Kershaw

‘Deluxe/Debris’ is released by Happy Robots Records as a vinyl LP, available online direct from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/tiny-magnetic-pets-deluxe-debris-12

A selection of TINY MAGNETIC PETS’ back catalogue is available on CD and download from https://tinymagneticpets.bandcamp.com

https://www.tinymagneticpets.com

https://www.facebook.com/Tiny-Magnetic-Pets-69597715797/

https://twitter.com/TinyMagneticPet


Text and Interviews by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chi Ming Lai, Richard Price and Una Fagan
7th December 2017, updated 21st January 2018

ROBERT GÖRL Interview

DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT or DAF are the influential pioneers of electronic body music.

Forming at Die Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, DAF’s punky ethos became fully realised thanks to the availability of newly affordable synthesizer technology from Japan. Attaching the powerful sound to heavy rhythms and Teutonic expression, the energetic aggression of the music reflected their militaristic aesthetic, as exemplified by songs like ‘Der Mussolini’ and’ Kebabträume’.

Between 1981-1982, the nucleus of Gabi Delgado on vocals and Robert Görl on drums and electronics released an acclaimed trilogy comprising of ‘Alles Ist Gut’, ‘Gold Und Liebe’ and ‘Für Immer’ which were produced by the legendary Conny Plank and originally came out on Virgin Records.

That trilogy along with what was the first album ever released on Mute Records ‘Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen’ (which Plank also worked on) form the bulk of ‘Das Ist DAF’;  a celebratory boxed set released by Grönland Records, the set also features a bonus disc of respectful remixes while the lavish vinyl edition exclusively contains the treat of a brand new DAF single entitled ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’.

While DAF fell under a haze of “sex, drugs and sequencer” after 1982, Görl began a solo career with the cult favourite ‘Mit Dir’ in 1983. This was followed by ‘Night Full Of Tension’, an album which saw Görl embracing synthpop and the English language. It featured vocal contributions from Annie Lennox of EURYTHMICS.

Fast forward to the present day, Görl and Delgado-Lopez have more than occasionally reunited for DAF shows, while the DAF drummer has been showcasing his ‘Glücksritter’ live only project to audiences around Europe, most recently at the 2017 ELECTRI_CITY CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf.

With the success of the ‘Das Is DAF’ boxed set and the accompanying authorised biography of the same title due to break cover, Robert Görl kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about DAF’s past, present and future while also reminiscing about the beginnings of his solo career and working with Conny Plank.

Are you pleased with the ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set and what it has achieved?

Yes, I’m happy, we put in just the core albums and I thought the different remixes were a great idea plus of course, there is a very special new DAF single in the box.

It’s taken a long time to get new DAF material together, what was the idea behind ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’?

The working process how we did it was completely old school, like in our old days. I have to say when me and Gabi come together, we don’t do so many new records, we have lots of different projects and sometimes we do DAF. The last DAF album was already 15 years ago! But sometimes we meet and talk about maybe doing something new and this time, it worked because we had Grönland and they said they would be very happy if we did at least a single.

For me and Gabi, the two songs we did was kind of a test, I did the sequences, made all of the music and then the drumming before Gabi did the lyrics and singing. It’s in the same style like in the old days.

It’s not like what many bands do… Gabi lives in Spain and me in Berlin, but I don’t send audio files for him to progress further before sending it back to me or for a third person to mix it… I don’t like this style of working when people don’t even see each other to do a record. This for me is very boring.

So me and Gabi had to meet and come together, I played him my sequences. He sees everything like my drumming and I see Gabi while he puts down his first lines and makes them better while I’m in the studio.

Gabi says you still love your vintage synthesizers?

Yes, I still love them. For example, this single is a Korg MS20 and the Korg sequencer as is the B-side ‘Ich Bin Nicht Da’

Did you and Gabi choose the remixers?

Grönland suggested these guys like WESTBAM and BOYZ NOISE, we were happy with them and agreed. Apparently when they approached Giorgio Moroder, he said “Greetings to the DAF guys, tell them I really want to do it” – this was fantastic.

There is this new authorised book ‘Das Ist DAF’? Is it a tale of “sex, drugs and sequencer”?

The most interesting part of the book is it tells the hard truth. We were interviewed many times for the book and it is not about a band where everything worked fine, where it’s a nice and successful polished career. No, in this book, the reader will see how at many points, Gabi and me had discomfort and there were times when it was not so nice. We never had fist fights but we did split and said “you go your way and I go mine”. We talk very honestly about what happened and when it was sh*t *laughs*

So was your first solo album ‘Night Full Of Tension’ a result of one of these splits?

Yes, we’d worked for 5 years together as DAF and we were burned out. This was the first split and very heavy, we could not even see each other anymore because we were together day and night for those 5 years. I wanted to do something else.

How did it feel on that album to not be drumming as well as writing and singing in English?

Around this time, I was getting more into pop. When we split DAF at this highpoint, when you look at our style and how we behaved with these three successful DAF albums, we were like pop stars, more or less. We had lots of money and good clothes, I could just book a flight to New York and go… we had everything that we wanted. I wanted to make a pop album and at this time, I was invited to London and New York a lot.

People suggested to me if I wanted to really make it worldwide, I should do an English album. In the 80s, the kingdom of pop music was still London so for me, it was normal and not a big compromise.

What was it like working with Annie Lennox?

She was involved in helping me with lyrics, I went to Montpellier for 2 weeks to write the basic ideas and then I showed her them in London.

She would make suggestions so we worked together on the lyrics, that’s why she was also on the album.

You released a great standalone single ‘Mit Dir’ before ‘Night Full Of Tension’. Have you heard DJ HELL and STEREO MCs cover version of it as ‘With You’?

I think they did a good well-produced version; ‘Mit Dir’ is my favourite solo song…

…DJ HELL also did a remix with you of ‘Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick’ for ‘Das Ist DAF’?

Yes, I liked it… I had a few arguments about how he did it, but in the end it was a good product.

There was also the Prada commercial using the ‘Headed For The Sun’ version by MURK.FM?

That was a good one…

The ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set highlights your productive relationship with Conny Plank on those classic albums? What sort of person was he?

Conny was like home, he made it comfortable for all the bands he produced. What I really liked about him was he gave you comfort. Even at lunchtime, we met many times in the kitchen and he would just give Gabi and me his studio. He said “Take my studio, it’s yours”. He gave us time and wouldn’t look at the watch saying “we must do this and this and that now”, he was not like this.

Was he like your favourite uncle?

He was almost like a father to me, we lived at the studio so it was all very familiar. We had a room and slept there, we would go down in the morning and he would be making breakfast, while his girlfriend Christa Fast would make cakes. It was the very homely feeling that we remember most. And this made it easier for us to feel good and create without having a heavy head.

Other studios can give you headaches because of the deadlines, it was the opposite at Conny’s Studio. He would come down in the afternoon, listen and say “hey, this sounds good, let’s record it”… it was warm and comfortable with no pressure. He was a fan of our music and he was a gentleman. He always found the moment when we were hot… this was very good.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Robert Görl

Special Thanks to Rudi Esch

‘Das Ist DAF: Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Die Autorisierte Biografie’ by Gabi Delgado, Robert Görl, Miriam Spies and Rudi Esch is published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf

The boxed set ‘Das Ist DAF’ is released by Grönland Records, available in vinyl and CD formats

DAF perform at Malmö Inkonst on Saturday 25th November 2017

http://www.robert-goerl.de

http://www.das-ist-daf.net

https://www.facebook.com/DASISTDAF/

https://www.groenland.com/en/artist/deutsch-amerikanische-freundschaft/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
23rd November 2017

EBERHARD KRANEMANN Interview

Eberhard Kranemann is a one-time member of KRAFTWERK who later recorded an album ‘Fritz Müller Rock’ with the legendary Conny Plank.

A graduate of the Dortmund Conservatory, the multi-instrumentalist also worked with NEU! but it was in 1967 while as a member of the band PISSOFF that he met Florian Schneider.

More recently, Kranemann has formed KRAUTWERK with Harald Grosskopf who played drums on Klaus Schulze’s ‘Moondawn’ and recorded a number of albums with Manuel Göttsching as a member of ASHRA.

In a merger of the Schools of Düsseldorf and Berlin, Kranemann and Grosskopf transmit their cosmic sonic visions of today, tomorrow and beyond in an updated take on art school kosmische with a lively and rhythmic self-titled debut album.

Following an enthusiastic talk at the 2017 ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf, Eberhard Kranemann kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about the genesis of KRAUTWERK and his observations on the vibrant post-war German music scene that ultimately impacted the world’s musical landscape.

So what is the concept of KRAUTWERK?

There is no concept, we are just two guys who are making music for fun. We did know not each other until one year ago. I heard Harald for the first time at a festival in Sulingen where he was doing a solo performance and I had a performance in another room.

I liked his kind of drumming, he doesn’t play natural drums and doesn’t use those crazy boom-boom-boom drums from a computer, he plays a special electronic kit with sticks on plates. He doesn’t use the pure electronic sounds, he changes them via Ableton with his special effects… they had so much power, I had never heard this before. I thought “I must work with him”

Then, he came into my room… I’m a more experimental musician using wired sounds and he didn’t like it! For him, it was too dissonant! So when I telephoned him to suggest working together, he did not want to… but 4 weeks later, he said “OK, we try something”

He came into my studio, but I did not tell him before that I’d prepared it to record our whole session professionally. I recorded 40 minutes of what we had played. We had never played together before but this 40 minutes was so great, it was wonderful music.

We made another date 4 weeks later and did 20 more minutes.

So we had 60 minutes in total and this is our first LP, CD and digital download. It was two old guys making music for fun, but then a label heard it and other people liked it very much.

So we did a British tour which was a big success, we will be going to Stockholm and next year, we play in China. People in America want us to go there too.

Both you and Harald Grosskopf have a lot of history in German electronic music, Harald was in ASHRA and released a great solo debut in ‘Synthesist’, had you been aware of his previous work?

No, I wasn’t interested in the Berlin School of Music, for me it was boring, it was just synthesizers going on and on and it was not enough. For myself, I need more power or action.

You were in KRAFTWERK?

Me and Florian Schneider were the originators of KRAFTWERK, one year later Herr Hütter came into the band and now he is the only man who makes it exist, he gets a lot of money out of it because he is a businessman.

A band who spends 30 years not making any new music and only the old sh*t comes out every year in new clothing, this is not for me. I must make new music going into the future and when I began this project with Harald, I had the idea of starting at a point 30 years ago when KRAFTWERK stopped making music because when they now play concerts, they don’t make music… they stand there like roboters and the music comes programmed from the computer, I do not like this.

When I played in KRAFTWERK in 1971 and the years before, we used techniques between man and machine but there was a lot of freestyle, everyone could play. But they stopped it and did this very cool, reduced music… you can do this if you want, they are very famous for it and they do it very well, but I think my friend Florian left the band he didn’t like it anymore. He is a real musician and he wanted to make music, he doesn’t want to stand on a stage with the sounds coming from the computer

So how do you make technology work for you in KRAUTWERK?

There is a difference between Harald and me; Harald works very much with technology and computers. But I don’t do it as much as he does, because I’m more of a traditional musician. When we play live, I play cello, Hawaiian guitar and sing. But I don’t tell stories, I use the voice like another instrument and make rhythm with it like “boom-tschak-boom-bah-tschak”… so I sing like a drummer and then Harald comes in with drums.

As Fritz Müller, you worked with the legendary Conny Plank, what was he like?

He was a very important man, for me in the last century, Conny Plank was the most important producer, engineer and mixer in the whole world, THE BEST! He was so great that he even turned down David Bowie and U2. He was very honest, he didn’t want to work with them.

He was very clear and only wanted to make music with people he liked… not only liked but loved! There was a lot of love between him and the musicians, it was so wonderful to work with him, he had a good gut feeling about people. I was the person in the background that put him in contact with KRAFTWERK and NEU!


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Eberhard Kranemann

‘Krautwerk’ is released by Bureau B in CD, vinyl and digital formats

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf play Kraken Sthlm in Stockholm with FAUST on Friday 17th November 2017

https://www.facebook.com/realsynthesist/

http://www.bureau-b.com/grosskopf_kranemann.php


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
14th November 2017

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