Tag: Kid Moxie (Page 1 of 6)

KID MOXIE & LUXXURY Love & Unity

When Los Angeles and Athens are your home bases, you cannot help but have a sunnier disposition.

Following her moodier instrumental introspections for the soundtrack of the film ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ which also featured her great minimal cover of ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Big In Japan’, KID MOXIE ventures to the dancefloor for her new EP ‘Love & Unity’.

In collaboration with LUXXURY, the production moniker of LA based self-confessed disco fiend Blake Robin, Elena Charbila gets to showcase her dancier side as KID MOXIE.

It’s party like it’s 1999 as LUXXURY’s funked-up basslines and thumping beats combine with KID MOXIE’s indigenous Mediterranean moods on the title track and the modern day Sylvester meets THE BEE GEES groove of ‘Can You Feel It’ (not a cover of THE JACKSONS).

Meanwhile ‘All I Want’ cannot help but conjure up images of Ibiza sunsets as it recalls MOLOKO despite just the repeated title acting as the main vocal hook. But it’s not all full-on Nu-disco as ‘Paradise’ displays a much more dreamy restraint with a less frantic tempo and is all the better for it.

But ‘Saturn Returns To Disco’ is more filmic and possesses the exquisite continental allure that people love KID MOXIE for, especially with its reference to absent loved ones as Charbila laments “the distance between us and stars”. ‘All Day Long I Think Of You’ is angelic and vibey while still being dance-friendly, but like ‘All I Want’, it relies on a minimal repetitive lyrical topline.

If clubbing is still your thing, then ‘Love & Unity’ will appeal and with Kylie Minogue going ‘Disco’ again, maybe the time is right to hang the gliterball up again. But for long standing KID MOXIE fans, the wonderfully atmospheric depth of ‘Saturn Returns To Disco’ will be the main point of interest.


‘Love & Unity’ is released by West One Music Group, available via the usual digital platforms

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie

https://twitter.com/KIDMOXIEMUSIC

https://www.instagram.com/kid.moxie/

https://open.spotify.com/album/3Mj05wfvId0Tti1WHcEQlx


Text by Chi Ming Lai
27th July 2020

Lost Albums: KID MOXIE Selector

As KID MOXIE, Elena Charbila has been on a most interesting musical journey, one which has included collaborating with Angelo Badalamenti on an updated version of ‘The Mysteries Of Love’, the ‘Blue Velvet’ song best known in its original form voiced by Julee Cruise.

Her most recent release was the soundtrack to Greek film ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need to Have a Serious Talk’ which was released on the Grammy-nominated label Lakeshore Records, home to the physical editions of ‘Drive’ and ‘Stranger Things’.

While KID MOXIE achieved a breakthrough with the ‘1888’ album in 2014, it all started slightly less conspiciously. Having released a debut EP entitled ‘Human Stereo’ in 2007, a long playing statement was made in 2009 with ‘Selector’. At the time of its making, KID MOXIE was a duo comprising of Elena Charbila and Erica Zabowski.

Elena Charbila kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about how her journey began on ‘Selector’ and may have led her down the artistic paths she follows today…

Despite ‘Selector’ being the debut KID MOXIE album, it sounds quite transitional now?

11 years have passed and I am a different person and that is reflected musically on this album. It’s like growing up and seeing your development through your music, like a public diary. Any song you write, any album you make, there’s a public diary of where you’re at during each stage of your life.

So like reading your diary from high school, you cringe! But it also rings true to you because you remember how you feel and what you wanted to sound like. Looking back at ‘Selector’, I wasn’t as honest and free with myself as I feel now. I was not as mature or savvy, instrumentation or production-wise *laughs*

When I was in my 20s, I was mostly going out for style rather than substance. I was thinking “I’m going to make an electropop record, it’s supposed to sound like this and I’m supposed to sing it like Madonna in her early years etc!”… it was like Paris Hilton in the nid-2000s or whatever! *laughs*

So it was very nubile and adolescent, it was very immature, the way I sounded, the way I wrote! But there was something endearing because it’s like looking at an old picture of yourself when you’re a kid, so this album was more “Baby Moxie”!

Creatively, what would have been the dynamic within KID MOXIE at this point?

I had just moved to my first apartment in LA and my roommate Erica who was a violinist and I found in the LA Times, we started KID MOXIE together, she was a big fan of electropop. We were composing and rehearsing in our living room but then, we were later evicted for making too much noise!

We had a garage space so we were practicing there. It was so hot in LA that summer that we even had naked practice days on Tuesdays, wearing bikinis! It was like a sauna in there, 110 degrees in that garage.

We had a producer walk by while he was getting coffee and he heard what we were doing. He thought we were interesting and fresh so invited us to record in his studio on the same block. So that’s how the ‘Selector’ album started! We were practicing pretty much naked and doing this kind of obnoxious electropop and this producer saw something in that! *laughs*

At that point, I was writing most of the music and Erica was co-writing the lyrics with me. But even then, although I enjoyed being in the band set-up, I still knew that I was a bit of a Billy Corgan, I liked to do things my way and wanted full control. I was never comfortable sharing the creative experience of making music, minus having a producer to make things sound better sonically. So the process back then was very different because there were more people involved and you can hear it. We were very young and trying to get into the new scene in LA at the time, which was very bleepy and poppy and fun.

What sort of music would you have been listening to as inspiration?

I was always listening to a lot of GOLDFRAPP but by no means did I sound like that, but I loved that style. I also listened to BELLE & SEBASTIAN, French pop and a big fan of DAFT PUNK and AIR.

Plus just though my contacts in Greece, I loved MARSHEAUX and close to them as we were friends and I felt sonically that I belonged in this group. Inevitably, if you feel you belong somewhere, you emulate it. So the Undo Records crowd of the late 2000s was very much shaping my sound.

Around this time, you recorded a cover of Madonna’ ‘Burning Up’ which is not on the album and has never been released, is this an indicator of your mindset during this stage of KID MOXIE?

For sure, I was listening to a lot of early Madonna… as she got older, her music got better I felt and her voice… she never had an excellent voice but the songs were great. But in the early 80s, stuff like ‘Burning Up’ and ‘Borderline’ was a massive influence, probably more than anybody. I was like “Hey! I think I can sound like that!”, the spoilt girly type of thing, I thought I could do that…

One thing that has been a continuing artistic thread is vocalising en Francais which you did on ‘French Disco In Space’, had done before on ‘Ma Romance D’Hiver’ on your first EP and did later on ‘Lacuna’ from ‘1888’?

I studied French at school and got quite fluent; being Greek, you have to learn more than your own language. English is a given when you are in first grade, and most Greek kids take another language and it’s either French or German.

I think it’s the most beautiful language, I like the sound of it and it sounds great in a song format. It’s so crisp and has such a beautiful ring to it. ‘Ma Romance D’Hiver’ and ‘French Disco In Space’ which actually has a French rap, both got on major TV shows.

‘Ma Romance D’Hiver’ was used in ‘The L-Word’ and ‘French Disco In Space’ got in the film ‘Yoga Hosers’ which was directed by Kevin Smith and produced by Johnny Depp, it stars their daughters. So these early songs, they got on big media productions.

‘What Kind Of Girl’ is an interesting track and has a gothic resonance, like a girly IAMX in retrospect?

I was very happy with that song because even then, without really knowing it, there was composition… it had violins and things that go beyond a pop format, it intrigued me. I was feeling really good that I could write something that included real instruments and bring it into a pop format. I would explore this more years later, bringing me to this point where I’m doing a lot more scores and stuff for film and TV. So that was kind of like the seed in an odd way.

I love classical stuff, I come from a classical background having been trained on piano as a kid, so it was refreshing to have done this little something among all the bleepy girly attitude, it felt more redeeming.

The title song and ‘Medium Pleasure’ were quite poppy, but they ended up much better when remixed by FOTONOVELA and MARSHEAUX respectively, have you any thoughts on that?

They were… the original production was way better than I could have achieved but FOTONOVELA and MARSHEAUX put them both in a new light and better than the originals.

In my next album ‘1888’, you can hear the different sonically because I introduced different producers for different tracks that made them sound so much more solid and crisp than on ‘Selector’, so I definitely learnt that lesson from these two remixes. Also ‘Tsunami’ was remixed by Serafim Tsotsonis and got a ton of airplay, and still gets played on the biggest Greek radio station as their “signal”.

‘Tsunami’ was an attempt at the more atmospheric music with that ‘Twin Peaks’ feel that came later with KID MOXIE and the backing sounds like OMD. It’s quite naïve but do you now see it as an indicator of where you were heading?

I think yes, you’re spot on. Again as with ‘What Kind Of Girl’, ‘Tsunami’ is a favourite from this record as it create atmosphere with very few words. All the other songs were verse-chorus-verse-chorus, this one was ethereal vocals maybe for the first time and more sparse; it became my signature later on. It much more what I’m about now. I wrote it on my MicroKorg in my bedroom and it felt like an accomplishment at the time. It came out of a dream and I basically reiterated the dream. But that remix was much better and that’s why it became a radio hit in Greece.

‘Neon Tears’ and ‘Dream In Pale Blue’ are moody tracks that also perhaps signal ‘1888’… it would appear that the rhythmic side needed work, it this as a result of limited equipment and experience?

I don’t feel that was the case for ‘Dream In Pale Blue’. Serafim Tsotsonis who remixed ‘Tsunami’ only worked on that one track and did the rhythm section, that still hits a chord with me, I am still feeling that one. But ‘Neon Tears’? Absolutely, that’s a very loose song, it could have been done way better like a lot of stuff on this album, I do cringe at a lot of aspects of ‘Neon Tears’.

‘Polytechnic’ sees you sounding like THE B-52s, was this conscious?

Oh God! It might have been! It was just two chicks being arsey and wordy, giving attitude!

It had that 60s pop vibe going on and to me, it sounds so hollow right now, it’s like my diary at 15! *laughs*

Were you’re still figuring out how best to use your voice?

Yes, I was still working out what to do with my voice; I was working with a male producer and perhaps looking back subconsciously, there was some kind of male-pleasing aspect to my singing at the time although I wasn’t about that. The dudes I was hanging around with liked that so I kind of went with it. The producer though the girly thing was very appealing. But honestly, I was trying to figure out my voice, but I don’t I think I did during that album! I died trying! *laughs*

That airy continental vocal style you’re known for now is nowhere on this album, so how did that eventually emerge?

There a tiny bit of it on ‘Tsunami’ as a precursor… I worked on a lot of different projects for various Greek producers; I tested myself on their tracks. That liberated me from fabricating this persona that I had in mind that I should be following or doing. So I decided I would follow their music and see how my voice translated onto other people’s stuff. And eventually, I brought it into my own sound and crystallised it because it has sounded so good then. That other work shaped my new voice on ‘1888’.

So was ‘The Bailor’, which came a few years after ‘Selector’, the breakthrough song where you found your sound?

Yes, I love that tune, it still speaks to me. I’m proud of it and feel ‘that’s’ my voice.

And here we are today, do you see ‘Selector’ as an important album to your development as an artist or would you have preferred it not to have been released in hindsight?

I’m going to reply to this in a very personal way! I look on this like any relationship I’ve had that I’m not happy with. I’ve made mistakes in my life and I’m not one of those people who is proud of everything I’ve done and wouldn’t change a thing, like why? If I had the power to go back in time, I would have changed a few things. But it did feel right at the time…

I wish it was sonically better, I wish I had found my voice earlier and done a different job with it. At the same time, I look on it endearingly (like at my teen diary) even though I cringe. It’s like my first crush, my first time.

It was my first attack in a record and a production, I messed so many things up. I wish I could have changed them but I can’t so I look as it now as an endearing time of my life.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to Elena Charbila

‘Selector’ is available as a name your price download direct from https://kidmoxie.bandcamp.com/album/selector-2

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie

https://twitter.com/KIDMOXIEMUSIC

https://www.instagram.com/kid.moxie/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
30th May 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

KID MOXIE: The Unpleasant Interview

Photo by Sofia Gaafar

While KID MOXIE might be best known for her exquisite breathy synthpop like ‘Lacuna’ and ‘Dirty Air’, her latest musical venture takes her into previously unknown territory.

The vehicle of Greek-born singer / songwriter / musician / actress Elena Charbila, KID MOXIE has composed the soundtrack to a new film ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ directed by Giorgos Georgopoulos.

The plot centres around a womanizer who finds out he is a carrier of a sexually transmitted virus, lethal only to women. But he is also the only hope for a curing vaccine if he can find which one of his ex-girlfriends had the first viral strain!

Released on Lakeshore Records whose digital catalogue includes the prestigious soundtracks for ‘Stranger Things’, ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ and ‘Drive’, while there are numerous ambient and instrumental pieces, ‘Unpleasant’ also includes two notable cover versions.

One of them is ‘Big In Japan’ which was originally recorded by ALPHAVILLE; the new KID MOXIE arrangement sees ‘Stranger Things’ meet ‘The Ipcress File’ within its icy aural aesthetic. Meanwhile, there is also a moody reworking of ‘The Night’, a 1983 Stephen J Lipson produced US hit for THE ANIMALS.

Elena Charbila chatted to The Electricity Club from Los Angeles to talk about her ‘Unpleasant’ experience…

Is ‘Unpleasant’ your first soundtrack venture?

This is the first time a full soundtrack I’ve composed has been released, as opposed to giving tracks to certain shows, films or commercials which I’ve done in the past.

How did it come about?

I was approached by the director who I met in LA and who is also Greek, he had known my stuff and has the same synth sensibilities as me, we gelled on the kind of sonic landscape that we both liked. When he was ready to shoot the film, he asked me to compose the soundtrack and I also acted in the film as well. It’s a small part but it was a pretty fun thing.

What’s the character that you play and what’s the premise of ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’?

The basic story is that we’re in Greece in the future, it’s a Sci-Fi / dark comedy / drama where there’s a disease which is sexually transmitted that kills women but men carry it! The lead character has to go back into his past to figure out who gave it to him so that he can tell them all that they’re dying… it’s pretty grim but there is definitely some humour injected into it, done in a tasteful way I think. Spoiler alert! I’m the first girl who is going to die in the story.

What was the big difference for you working on ‘Unpleasant’ compared with doing pop songs?

The magical thing that happens with not doing actual songs was the freedom that is offered by non-verbal compositions. It was very liberating not to write lyrics because I didn’t have to write about me and my experiences, but it became about creating a world that these other characters could live in. This meant I wasn’t going to “talk” basically, so it was liberating not to be confined to the structure of a pop song, verse/chorus, having to say something and then match it or rhyme it. It was very rewarding in a different way.

So were you doing what Vangelis does, composing to moving pictures, or writing to a brief?

I’ve done some more soundtrack work since and every film is different. But for this particular one, the director wanted a lot of stuff in advance, even before they shot because he wanted to rehearse with the actors using that music. So the actors and all the elements grew together, so during rehearsals, there was stuff to listen to and play on set. A lot of stuff was also made after the cut, so I was very much involved in the whole process.

‘Bonsai’ perhaps doesn’t stray too much away from the music people know you for as it has your vocal on and your airy sound?

Yes, that’s safe to say but it was such a freeform process. ‘Bonsai’ was the last track I wrote for the whole soundtrack after I had seen the rough cut of the film, there’s a Japanese character, there’s a lot of Japanese dialogue.

And there’s this bonsai that keeps growing throughout the film, it’s almost like a character in itself. So that was based on the energy which that bonsai was emanating to me.

But the solemn filmic ambience of ‘The Distance Grows Again’ and ‘Interlude’ will surprise?

Yes, those tracks are definitely a departure, if the people listened to these next to my pop songs, they will not believe it’s the same person. I wanted to be something totally different because this project felt totally different. The images and the feelings I was drawing from were different from other stuff that I free-willingly started writing from scratch. This time, I had a “guide” who was somebody else, a film saying “come to us, come this way” and I followed it.

What equipment set-up this you find was the best way of working for you?

I would say half of it is hardware, but I do use a lot of software, I travel a lot so I complete a lot of things that way. It’s like a 50/50 process between hardware and software. I ended up using quite a bit of Arturia Oberheim Sem V, Moog Grandmother, the Moog Minitaur and Moog Mother.

There are some live guitars here and there like on ‘Bonsai’, I wrote the parts but had a friend play it cause I am sh*t at the guitar! I play bass which feels good for me because it’s not so intricate, I’ve always had a little fear of the guitar and that’s not because I’m a synth person, there was never a calling for me to explore it. Whereas the bass felt much more right, it’s like the spine of a song, it holds the beat and the melody together, and that felt very intriguing.

But there’s no bass on your ‘Unpleasant’ soundtrack?

It was natural not to involve anything rhythmic elements in the soundtrack (apart from on ‘Closer Than Ever’) other than the two cover versions. I feel there has to be a good reason to include a rhythmic element, there has to be a really good reason to include drums or bass in movies.

‘Closer Than Ever’ captures an underlying tension, had any particular composers influenced you?

I was channelling more of the dark wave elements on this one, newer bands like SHE PAST AWAY from Turkey who I like, a little bit of JOY DIVISION and SISTERS OF MERCY, that mix of synths and guitars.

Overall, Vangelis is an influence over anything that I do, John Carpenter too and Clint Mansell who happens to also be a good friend. There’s also the German composer Nils Frahm and Cliff Martinez, all of these people, I’m recycling things from all of them.

Was the release of the ‘Unpleasant’ soundtrack on Lakeshore Records always a given?

No, it wasn’t… it was finished when they heard it through Clint Mansell who loved it. He made the connection, Lakeshore loved it and they said “bring it on”.

There are two takes on ‘Love Poem’, one variation being mostly based around solo piano…

At some point I wondered what it would sound like if I replaced the piano sound with a synth. In my head, it made it have a nostalgic, romantic quality that suited a scene in the film that was very melancholy.

The soundtrack is notable for having two songs on it, one being a cover of ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Big In Japan’, so what was your approach?

The director loved ‘Big In Japan’ so it went into the end credits. Because there was a strong Japanese element in the film, it made sense to use that. It didn’t feel right to necessarily use drums because I did want to take a departure from the ALPHAVILLE original. There was already a strong rhythm element with the synth bass and it takes it to a different place by having a woman sing it.

‘Big In Japan’ comes with a very striking video, what was the narrative behind that?

There’s no full story but I don’t think everything needs a full story, it just needs a feeling and an atmosphere to be enveloped in.

I guess the video is a bit of a commentary on children being forced to grow up too fast, especially in Hollywood. I’ve always perceived the song as being about fame (although I am aware that it’s not what the original was about).

The other song is also a cover of ‘The Night’ by THE ANIMALS which you perform with Phil Diamond?

It plays during the movie and was one of the director’s requests to cover this particular track. I thought it would be nice to have it as a duet so I asked a friend of mine to sing it with me. It really departs from the original which was much more of an early 80s pop rock hit, so I made it much more ethereal to match the tone of the film.

‘Slow Escape’ is a glorious mix of piano and synth pulses…

I was listening to a lot modern classical music so just blending the synthetic arpeggio sounds with natural sounds like the piano creates a very multi-layered experience in my mind. By definition, a synth can be a cold sound which is not human, but then there’s piano which is more warm and human, so by blending them, you get an interesting “sonic sandwich”!

Photo by Ghost Of Oz

How have you found working on ‘Unpleasant’ as an experience and for your musical development?

Contrary to its title, it’s been a very pleasant experience for me because it’s opened up a whole new chapter in my music career! I wasn’t sure I had it or could do it, I wasn’t sure I could take on a whole soundtrack by myself. Now I want more. So I’m working on more soundtracks and I hope to keep doing it.

What’s next for you, will you go back to songs?

I have an EP out in Spring 2020 and I’ve also been working on music for a video game amongst other things.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to KID MOXIE

‘Big In Japan’ is released by Lakeshore Records as a digital single, available now via the usual platforms

The ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ digital soundtrack album is released on 24th January 2020 and can be pre-ordered now direct from https://kidmoxiesoundtrack.bandcamp.com/album/not-to-be-unpleasant-but-we-need-to-have-a-serious-talk-original-motion-picture-soundtrack

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http://www.lakeshorerecords.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
18th January 2020

JENNY HVAL The Practice Of Love

‘The Practice Of Love’ is Norwegian songstress JENNY HVAL’s seventh album and the opposite of its self-explanatory predecessor ‘Blood Bitch’ which included stark confessionals such as ‘The Great Undressing’ and ‘Conceptual Romance’.

Now with her anger more subdued, in conceiving her new album’s aural palette, Hval got nostalgic. “I kept coming back to trashy, mainstream trance music from the ’90s” she said, while “writing something that was multi-layered, a community of voices, stories about both myself and others simultaneously…”

Released on Sacred Bones Records, home of ZOLA JESUS and THE SOFT MOON, ‘The Practice of Love’ is quietly subversive like I AM SNOW ANGEL, a body of gentle and mature synthy pop with an ethereal quality which challenges the concept of conventional personal relationships without getting angry.

Featuring friends and collaborators Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert and Felicia Atkinson on additional vocals or sections of recorded conversation, it asks “What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don’t, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?”

Lightly percussive loops, album opener ‘Lions’ featuring a monologue by Vivian Wang is an exotic pulsing number with Hval’s angelic vocal tones gaining great exuberance as the song progresses asking “Where is God?” in a Scandi-Gaelic styled vocal cross.

With more rhythmic looping and gated synths, ‘High Alice’ exudes a widescreen hypnotism with the surprise of slinky sax and a dreamy understated voice embroiled in optimism declaring “We are something better”. With sparkling arpeggios, the gorgeous ‘Accident’ comes over like a Nordic KID MOXIE, with harmonies, ethnic choir samples and more brass concocting some deep forest escapism.

An ambient spoken word art piece, ‘The Practice Of Love’ title track sees Laura Jean Englert and Vivian Wang expressing their thoughts on being childless. Making valid existential statements, it questions “What does it mean to be in the world? What does it mean to participate in the culture of what it means to be human? To parent (or not)? To live and die? To practice love and care?”

Recalling ‘He Said’, the gorgeous collaboration between Michael Rother of NEU! and Sophie Williams from 2004, the dreamy but solemn ‘Ashes To Ashes’ with its gorgeous swathes of synths has a subtle metallic backbone to contrast the mood. It steadily builds for a resigned acceptance of mortality as “I am digging my own grave / in the honeypot / ashes to ashes / dust to dust.”

Beginning like an avant-jazz jam, ‘Thumbsucker’ also has folky overtones but sounds unusual with a subtle electronic arpeggio figuring in the interesting hybrid of styles. The spacey ‘Six Red Cannas’ sees Hval’s friendship trio all together within a metronomic dance enhanced backdrop of trancey sequencer driven synths that still maintains a feminine mystery.

Closing with the layered hush of ‘Ordinary’ with whispers, gongs and synthetic raindrops drifting into a transcendental climax, Hval accepts “We don’t always get to choose / when we are close / and when we are not.”

A thoughtful celebration of female empowerment and the human condition, despite being only eight tracks in length, it does feel a lot longer though. Not for everyone, the lyrical expression and spiritual air may require additional investment. But for those who open-minded enough get both the sound and the sentiment, the enlightenment will undoubtedly prove rewarding.


‘The Practice Of Love’ is released on 13th September 2019 in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats via Sacred Bones Records, available from https://jennyhval.bandcamp.com/

http://jennyhval.com/

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https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/jenny-hval


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Lasse Marhaug
6th September 2019

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