Tag: Eugene

SYNTH WAVE LIVE 3 at Electrowerkz

A truly international line-up gathered for Synth Wave Live 3, with acts from three continents present at London’s Electrowerkz on a rare sunny day in what has been a very rainy June.

Combining synthpop and new wave, hence the “Synth” and “Wave” tagline of the event, it was as if acid house had never happened.

Featuring a range of musicians from original Some Bizzare trailblazers and prog synthpop veterans to various musical descendants of Mute Records, things all came nicely together for a varied but coherent bill with no rude awakening…

With a stage set comprising of TV monitors and glowing projections directed by Outland VJ Will Cunningham, THE DEPARTMENT opened Synth Wave Live 3 by performing tracks from the recently released ‘Pressure’ EP, a body of work channelling a midlife angst with observations on the now pathetically normal phenomenon of deluded narcissism in amongst its subject matter.

Following on was the stunning Parisian presence of YS ATLOVE who began her set with the danceable Europop of ‘Back To Yesterday’.With her alluring stage manner and appealing nouvelle vague disco, she also presented her cover of ‘True Faith’, NEW ORDER’s paradoxically radio friendly tune about narcotic dependency, and prompted the first audience singalong of the day. Meanwhile, ‘You Can’t Fool Me’ revealed her moodier side.

Having been out of music for nearly four years, her return to live performance has without doubt rejuvenated her muse. But while YS ATLOVE may have approached things cautiously, there was not fear of that from CIRCUIT3. Armed with his Behringer MS-101 clone, the Dublin synthpop chap took to the stage to showcase material from his well-received ‘siliconchipsuperstar’ long player and the forthcoming second album ‘The Value Of Everything & The Price Of Nothing’.

Wearing a heavy black leather great coat inspired by Midge Ure at Live Aid, Peter Fitzpatrick’s songs like the dreamy ‘Ghost Machine’ and frantic ‘Hundred Hands’ donned their hat to HOWARD JONES and HEAVEN 17 respectively, while an affectionate reinterpretation of THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Being Boiled’ affirming CIRCUIT3’s spiritual connection to Synth Britannia.

Meanwhile, new tunes like ‘Breaking Point’ offered some political reflection with accompanying footage of a dancing policeman highlighting the absurdity of the current divisive stand-offs.

JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM is possibly Europe’s greatest synthpop secret; best known as a member of DAILY PLANET, the Swede however has been making a fine impression with his escapist solo work, as with the delightfully ERASURE-ish ‘Running Away From Myself’. But there were also more weightier concerns like the environment on ‘Like Before’ and the madness of materialism on Utopia’. He then naturally ventured ‘Into The 80s’ with a synthetic cover of a 1979 song by Canadian rocker Nick Gilder.

Although Baeckström is unashamedly candid about the influence of Vince Clarke on his music, another lesser known facet to his sound is that of prog synth trio WHITE DOOR who released their only album ‘Windows’ in 1983. Having covered ‘School Days’ and ‘Jerusalem’ as B-sides, Baeckström invited Mac Austin, John Davies and Harry Davies to join him on stage for the first live rendition of those songs featuring the original band for 35 years.

Austin was in good voice although he was slightly overwhelmed as he came in a bar early for the chorus of ‘Jerusalem’. But this slight slip just brought smiles from all concerned on this highly emotional occasion. New material from WHITE DOOR featuring Baeckström as a new member is on the way with a promise of more live performances.

The wild cards of Synth Wave Live 3 and the youngsters of the event, synth assisted post-punk trio CENTRE EXCUSE offered some exuberant energy to proceedings. Comprising of Teddy Lewis, Alex Rush and James Caine, their sound can be best exemplified by the single ‘Let It Ride’ which combines THE CURE and guitar driven NEW ORDER with elements of Britpop and occasional synthesizer textures.

A tight and engaging live band, their good looks certainly won’t do them any harm, with front man Lewis particularly noticeable thanks to his resemblance to Joseph Gordon-Levitt when he was in ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’. The joyous ‘Thank You (For Moving Me Up)’ had the bonus of some cascading voice-derived samples and with ‘Moon, Sky & Stars’ expressing their interest in synthesizers, it will be interesting to see if CENTRE EXCUSE do a MUMM-RA and morph into something like MIRRORS!

Hailed within the Synthwave community, the charming Italian EUGENE gave a superbly energetic performance which included a passion and physicality that was the antithesis of the static laptop boys often associated with that scene. With his love of European synthpop, there were tunes, vocoders and uptempo rhythms too, particularly during the superb ‘HR Diagram’ with its inherent danceability and the Casiotone driven ‘Promenade’.

LISBON KID’s Danny De Matos joined EUGENE to reprise their collaboration ‘Waiting For You’ before the Portuguese singer / songwriter outlined an important message about suicide awareness via a cover of RADIOHEAD’s ‘No Surprises’ which would have upset purists with its electronic rearrangement, but was glorious none the less. Ending with the catchy Italo flavoured pulse of ‘Radiowave’, it was an impressive performance by Signore Valente.

Like WHITE DOOR, Mansfield quartet B-MOVIE deserved greater recognition for their work back in the day, having achieved critcal acclaim and BBC Radio1 airplay. Their appearance on the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ with SOFT CELL, DEPECHE MODE, THE THE and BLANCMANGE had earmarked them for great things, but wider fame as a band was to pass by Steve Hovington, Rick Holliday, Graham Boffey and Paul Statham.

However quality numbers like ‘Polar Opposites’, ‘Moles’ and ‘Institution Walls’ performed tonight only highlighted how their music has stood the test of time. There was a slight technical glitch during ‘Welcome To The Shrink’, but things got back on track with the synthetic chill of ‘Stalingrad’, a single as good as anything B-MOVIE did in their creative prime when they were considered to have more potential than SOFT CELL.

Of course, the songs that fulfilled that promise ‘Nowhere Girl’ and ‘Remembrance Day’ closed a highly enjoyable set and while commercial success may have eluded B-MOVIE, the fact that they are here still making great new music is a blessing and a bonus.

SOL FLARE have changed considerably since their charismatic vocalist Jenny Jones departed in 2018. But since then, Australian musician Dominic Wood has soldiered on with the name as a solo act with primarily instrumental material and the occasional song with guest vocalists. Not far from a DJ set with a neon tinged backdrop, the club friendly vibe kept things warm.

Closing proceedings were LUCKY+LOVE from sunny Los Angeles. With a new album ‘Transitions’ just unleashed for public consumption, April Love’s vocal enthusiasm could not be doubted on during their brooding set. The duo’s indie darkwave soundtrack was a fitting backdrop to finish Synth Wave Live 3 as Electrowerkz transformed itself into the long standing resident Goth club night Slimelight and the regular clientele drifted in.

With a wide age range of acts celebrating the art of synthpop and new wave, Synth Wave Live 3 entertained with its multi-generational line-up. What stood out most throughout the event were the songs being performed, whether as originals or cover versions from the Synth Britannia era or as brand new work influenced by that amazingly creative period of crafted synthetic material.

As JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM himself sang in ‘Synth Is Not Dead’, his own rather wonderful tribute to the electronic pop form: “Some might say that it’s an old forgotten relic from the past. But I claim it is the most inspiring music to be heard…”

The Electricity Club really couldn’t have put it much better itself ??


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to Rob Green

http://www.luckyandlove.com/

http://solflare.co.uk/

http://www.b-movie.co.uk/

http://www.eugeneofficial.com/

https://centre-excuse.com/

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/

https://www.facebook.com/whitedoorband/

http://www.circuit3.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ysatlov.official/

https://www.thedepartment-official.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm
27th June 2019

EUGENE Interview

Inevitably influenced by KRAFTWERK and DAVID BOWIE, one of Eugenio Valente’s mission statements is “pop is a not crime”.

EUGENE has been making synthwaves in the past 18 months, particularly with the dreamily propulsive collaboration with LISBON KID’s Danny De Matos called ‘Waiting For You’.

The most recent EUGENE offering ‘Radiowave’ played with the propulsive neon-lit sax-tinged aesthetics of the synthwave sub-genre, but added authentic Italo elements and distorted feral vocal toplines.

The Electricity Club chatted to the Italian singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and remixer about his ethos and upcoming appearance in London at Synth Wave Live 3…

What first got you into electronic music and who became your main influences?

I used to watch lots of mecha anime and sci-fi series on TV in my childhood. I was totally blown away by the robots and spaceships sound effects, so powerful and mysterious. I was (and still am) extremely curious. Although I didn’t want to go to any music school, I loved playing the piano, and to explore the Casio VL-1 my father bought me.

I got my first electronic music record when I was nine or ten, a late 80s album of JS Bach re-arrangements made with digital synthesizers and samplers. A few years later, thanks to my uncle and some schoolmates, I discovered PINK FLOYD and then came (in random order) KRAFTWERK, DAVID BOWIE, THE BEATLES, QUEEN, DURAN DURAN, ULTRAVOX, DEPECHE MODE, VANGELIS, THE POLICE, STEELY DAN. I can’t actually tell who my main influences are, but Floyd and Bowie had a very strong impact on me in the very beginning, of this I’m sure.

You once said “pop is a not crime”, please explain? ?

I often live on the border between experimentalism and pop music. I guess it’s a consequence when you explore sounds and try to write songs with them.

I once recorded a track using some old camera noises as rhythmic elements, and it came so natural to me adding a classical piano and a good vocal line, turning it into a pop song.

It’s good to express creativity and personality and I haven’t got a programmatic approach to composition. On the other hand, it’s no secret that pop music brings your sounds within the reach of a wider audience.

Did the domestic Italian artists appeal to you?

Yes, there are many Italian artists that I like, but FRANCO BATTIATO is my all-time favourite. I love every period of his forty year-long career, spanning from experimentalism to clever pop songwriting to even soundtracks, and he virtually taught me how these three musical paths are so incredibly related with each other.

What did you think when British artists like NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS made Italo Disco influenced records?

It’s interesting, especially because many times in history, Italy has been influenced by British culture, fashion and music. I imagine that Italo Disco sounded really catchy and futuristic at the time and I’m convinced that some of its elements still rock today.

What inspired you to dig out a Casio for ‘Promenade’ in 2014?

I was jamming with my Juno 2 while running the Casio VL-1 ‘rock 1’ rhythm preset and the song was born almost all at once. As I’ve told you before, the VL-1 was my first electronic keyboard and parts of the ‘Promenade’ lyrics were about my childhood memories, so I decided to keep the Casio beat in the final mix. I also suggested we highlighted these electronic and sentimental connections when director Alessandro Bavari and his team came to work on the music video.

So which were your other early synth purchases and what tools do you prefer use now?

Yamaha SY85 was my first pro synthesizer / workstation: I did a thousand concerts and recorded tons of stuff with that incredible machine! Then I bought a Novation K-Station and a second-hand Roland Alpha Juno 2. Now I use both analog and digital gear, following my expression needs.

How did your most recent single ‘Radiowave’ come together?

‘Radiowave’ is the first result of my collaboration with ‘Italian new-wave’ master Garbo and avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Andy (formerly in the MTV award winning band BLUVERTIGO). Once the work on music and lyrics was finished, I thought it would be a good idea to involve my friends in it. Garbo’s unique vocal timbre and Andy’s dreamy saxophone added a touch of class to the track. Anyway I changed arrangement a couple of times before the release… it was an indietronic rock thing, in the beginning.

The accompanying video directed by Gary Hill, the American videoart pioneer was interesting…

Yes, we were at Gary’s studio in Seattle in October 2017, and he showed to me his early 70s Rutt-Etra analog video-synthesizer. I was so stunned I soon asked him if he was up for working together on the ‘Radiowave’ music video.

It turned out to be a very quick process, as you can see it’s all about me singing in front of the videocam: my image was analog processed by the video-synthesizer and impulses from music and my voice triggered modulation parameters and values.

All processing (automatic and manual) was made in real time, no computer graphics, no post-production effects! We were all aware that we were doing something futuristic though we were using a 40 year old machine. Gary is such an amazing person and a very sensitive artist. He knows how to work with concepts and to make them tangible through his works.

You did ‘Waiting For You’ with LISBON KID’s Danny De Matos who you have since remixed?

‘Waiting For You’ was born from some remix ideas I put around Danny’s haunting vocal tracks, but later it revealed itself as something brand new, so we talked with Wall Of Sound’s head Mark Jones and decided to release it as a single.

In the last two years, I happened to remix a lot of tracks from Wall Of Sound artists as LISBON KID and DENIS THE NIGHT & THE PANIC PARTY alongside with cool underground projects like MAJOR DERANGES (featuring Louis Gordon), SHIRLEY SAID, AZZURRO 80 and OTTODIX.

So to Synthwave or not to Synthwave, that is the question…

Synthwave is just a nuance of my style, I wouldn’t consider myself a 100% synthwave artist, it would be untrue. Though I love 80s pop sounds and imagery, I’d be not happy to be trapped in a nostalgic time warp, it doesn’t belong to my nature.

So, Viva Synthwave when it’s spontaneous and sincere (not a mere fad of the moment) and meant as a starting point to create new musical and aesthetic paths.

Synthwave acts are known for being static behind laptops, how you do ensure you have a more engaging live presentation?

I’ve grown up playing with bands and I still do it in many projects. I want to be honest to the people who come to see me live. I’m alone with my machines and I often use programmed drum machine-and-bass sequences, but I leave to myself many parts to play live, besides singing of course! I like to get busy on stage and I just can’t stand still when I perform.

Synthwave often makes you close your eyes and dream… well I’d be happy if people kept their eyes wide open, watching an artist that every night offers something true and unique: I consider it a form of respect towards my audience.

How was it like opening for THE KVB in Rome?

Sometimes being an opening act is not easy for many reasons, but that night it felt like being in the right place at the right time, with a perfect audience… I did a 30 minute set, alternating very energetic moments with darker and ethereal ones. Even Kat and Nick from THE KVB showed their appreciation, they were very kind to me. Then I got off the stage, joined my wife Claire (who actually arranged my opening with THE KVB management) and enjoyed their concert.

What happened to your ELECTRO EXPERIENCE tribute side project with which you did a cover of DURAN DURAN’s ‘Secret Oktober’?

ELECTRO EXPERIENCE is a way for me and gifted artist Daniele Nonne to explore the music of our personal masters and it started as a game from ‘Secret Oktober’, which had the shape of a demo in its original release. So we treated it very respectfully, as a rough diamond to be refined according to our tastes. We actually have some tracks ready, but we’re always in the whirlwind of our own projects. Despite of this we hope to release something new before we can imagine!

What’s next for you?

On 4th May, I’ll be at the Synth Day & Night event in Rome, to participate in a panel on innovation in electronic music and then to do a short live set. This means a lot for me because last year’s special guest was Wolfang Flür, I can hardly believe it!

On 18th June, I’ll release via Kronos Records the soundtrack to Magdalena Hill’s ‘Lavender Braid’ film, preceded by the new single ‘Queen Bee’.

And finally on 22nd June, I’ll perform at prestigious Synth Wave Live 3 festival at Electrowerkz in London.

Danny De Matos will be my guest on stage too. This will be one of the most important events of the year for me, I’m truly excited and I just can’t wait to come back to the UK!


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to EUGENE

Additional thanks to Claire Lyndon at Stargazers Inc

‘Radiowave’ and ‘Waiting For You’ are released by Wall Of Sound Records and Discipline via the usual digital platforms

EUGENE plays Synth Wave Live 3 at Electrowerkz in London on Saturday 22nd June 2019, the event line-up also includes B-MOVIE, JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, LUCKYANDLOVE, CENTRE EXCUSE, YS ATLOV, LOW SEA, SOL FLARE, CIRCUIT3 + THE DEPARTMENT – tickets are available in advance from https://www.wegottickets.com/event/461473

http://www.eugeneofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/eugenemusic

https://twitter.com/eugene_music

https://www.instagram.com/eugenemusic.official/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Claire Lyndon at Stargazers Inc
8th May 2019

Introducing EUGENE

From Wall Of Sound Records, the stable that brought the world the stable that brought the world RÖYKSOPP, LES RHYTHMES DIGITALES and PROPELLERHEADS, comes Italian singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and remixer EUGENE.

Inevitably influenced by KRAFTWERK and DAVID BOWIE,  one of Eugenio Valente’s mission statements is “pop is a not crime”, a point made via his 2014 cover version of DURAN DURAN’s ‘Secret Oktober’ with Daniele Nonne as part of the Roman’s ELECTRO EXPERIENCE tribute side project.

Although his first single ‘Dior DNA’ was released in 2006 by UdU Records and the Casio-laced ‘Promenade’ came out in 2014, EUGENE has been making synthwaves in the past 12 months, particularly with the dreamy ‘Waiting For You’, a collaboration with LISBON KID’s Danny De Matos.

EUGENE’s new single ‘Radiowave’ featuring Garbo + Andy plays with the propulsive neon-lit sax-tinged aesthetics of the synthwave sub-genre, but adds authentic Italo elements and distorted feral vocal toplines.

The accompanying video directed by Gary Hill (the American videoart pioneer (who is a frequent collaborator through the pair’s multimedia installations) makes use of real analogue processing that makes a refreshing change from the tiresome VHS grids which are all the rage among artists who take their retro obsession too far.

One of the ‘Radiowave’ EP B-sides ‘Insistence Is Futile’ is something of a surprise being acoustic and folk flavoured but ‘Intermission’ does what it says on the tin, while there are numerous reworks including a Plaster remix which comes over in parts like TUBEWAY ARMY in the 21st Century!

An energetic live performer, EUGENE’s next show will be supporting the brooding British duo THE KVB in Rome.


‘Radiowave’ is released by Wall Of Sound Records and Discipline via the usual digital platforms

EUGENE opens for THE KVB on 27th November 2018 at the Rome Largo Venue

http://www.eugeneofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/eugenemusic

https://twitter.com/eugene_music

https://www.instagram.com/eugenemusic.official/

https://www.youtube.com/user/eugenemuzik/videos


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th November 2018