Alex Hush is the noted dance producer best known for his work in DAYBREAKERS with Ric Scott and before that, KOISHII & HUSH with Simon Langford.
Based in Toronto, undoubtedly now one of the liveliest and most creative hubs for modern electronic music, Alex Hush has an impressive portfolio that includes U2, MADONNA, ERASURE, PET SHOP BOYS, YAZOO, DURAN DURAN and INXS among others.
His latest work has been with DAYBREAKERS and an excellent remix of ERASURE’s new single ‘Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling)’.
Alex Hush was also behind the famed seven volume ‘Retro:Active – Rare & Remixed’ CD compilation series on Hi-Bias Records in Canada which dug deep in the vaults for rare tracks by VITAMIN Z, LEISURE PROCESS and SEONA DANCING as well as featuring notable extended versions from the likes of A-HA, DEAD OR ALIVE, CAMOUFLAGE, OMD and THE CURE.
Alex Hush spoke about his career to date with DAYBREAKERS, KOISHII & HUSH and a whole lot more…
All the projects you have been involved with are largely associated with a dance friendly sound, what sort of clubs, DJs and environments influenced your approach to music?
Good question. I suppose I would say I was shaped by the music I grew up listening to in the 80s and to this day. In Toronto, there was a station called CFNY which played a ton of new wave and house tracks that were hugely influential. After that, people like Judge Jules, Pete Tong, Armin Van Buuren etc, all had a big influence with the tracks they played.
Who were the artists that you grew up loving?
ERASURE, NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, PET SHOP BOYS, DEAD OR ALIVE, THE CULT, THE CURE, DURAN DURAN and many more. Even artists that only had one or two songs made an impact. I suppose for most people, if you liked one of the bands I mentioned, you more than likely listened to all of them.
So you love songs and you love remixes?
I do. I am no different than anyone when it comes to remixes. Sometimes a remix will turn a good track into a great track and other times I may not love the remix that was done. When it comes to remixes, fans can be very passionate and very opinionated and I am no different.
Who are your favourite remixers?
So many great ones but off the top of my head, the ones that I really like(d) are Shep Pettibone, Matt Darey, Tin Tin Out, Mark Saunders, Ferry Corsten. Any time their names appear you know you are getting something special.
Your first big name remix as DAYBREAKERS was ‘Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way’ for U2, there were a lot of remixes commissioned for that, what was your approach to make it distinct?
For that mix, we wanted to try something with a bit of a deeper vibe to it while using the vocals in a unique way. We did two mixes and Bono really liked the ‘main’ mix and had an idea for an extra vocal. So he recorded it and sent it over and we incorporated it into the final mix which we were really pleased about. Nice to have his input and something unique.
How did you feel when MADONNA came calling for ‘I Rise’? Did you get to find out what she thought of your mix?
Just to work on U2 and MADONNA tracks was a thrill. We got the MADONNA mix right after the U2 one and it was a lot of fun to work on also. Because of the style of song, we took that in a different direction and was glad she and her team were happy with it. No, we never got any direct feedback from her, but we were honoured that our mix was one of the ones chosen to be included on the RSD vinyl release.
DAYBREAKERS have produced a remix for ERASURE’s new single ‘Hey Now (I Think I Got A Feeling)’, do remixers get set a brief or is the point of being involved is that you are given artistic freedom?
I suppose that would depend on the project. We have never been given any sort of guidelines for a remix, but on occasion I have asked the label if they have any sort of direction for the mix. That can save a lot of time if you start out doing a mix in style a) and they really had style b) in mind. Other than that though, we have never had any sort of restrictions or template given to us.
The ERASURE mix was a lot of fun. We started out making a very progressive house sound and it was sounding good but neither Ric nor myself thought it was truly capturing the feel of the original. We completed that and set it aside, during which time Ric came up with a cool idea of a ‘pop’ mix, which ended up morphing into the final mix you hear now.
‘Marigold’ by the NEW ORDER offshoot SHADOWPARTY was another track remixed by DAYBREAKERS, would you like to be asked to work on an actual NEW ORDER song one day?
Yes! That is definitely on our bucket list! ‘Marigold’ was a great track to work on. Loved the original and having known Tom and Phil from NEW ORDER and BAD LIEUTENANT and getting to know Josh, doing a mix for them seemed like a no brainer. They are very passionate about what they do and great musicians.
Speaking of NEW ORDER, you worked with Gillian Gilbert on ‘Lifetime’ in KOISHII & HUSH, how did that come together?
I have been friends with NEW ORDER management for ages, and when we sat down to come up with our dream collaborators list, Gillian was on it.
Her vocals on THE OTHER TWO project are so good, we had to get her singing something for us, so we pitched the idea and luckily, she agreed! The entire NEW ORDER camp are great.
KOISHII & HUSH were known for using some unusual vocalists as in artists who were not known for singing. Had that been a conscious concept or did it evolve naturally?
Hmmmm. I don’t think we ever set out to make a ‘non singers’ list – it just kind of happened. We did have a running list of people we wanted to work with just because we thought the combinations would be unique and quite cool, but it was not really a concerted effort. I would say that of all the people we approached, we got about 90% of them on board. We still have many unreleased K&H tracks that will see the light of day at some point.
One example was DURAN DURAN’s John Taylor and ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’, what inspired the collaboration?
Well both Simon and I were fans of DURAN DURAN and I knew John had done stuff on his own and always liked his style. His track ‘I Do What I Do’ from the ‘9½ Weeks’ soundtrack really stood out in my mind and he considers ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ a follow-up to that song, which is very cool.
‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ had a superb remix by Mark Reeder, when you write and produce a song, can you get “possessive” about things or does your experience allow you to remain objective?
Yes and no. Like I mentioned before, I can have the same reactions to remixes as anyone. What I do try and do though is remove myself from the equation and listen to it as someone not involved, which is not always easy to do. If you love a remix someone has done of your work, then great. If at first it is not really grabbing you, you need to think “ok, maybe this is not MY style but it might be for someone else”.
To be honest, I can only think of one occasion ages ago where a remix was submitted and we were not enamoured with it, but as it was not ‘our’ sound, who were we to judge? In Mark’s case, yes, it’s a great mix and we were thrilled to have him involved. I know John really liked his mix too and used it as the backing track on a vlog he made flying from London to LA.
The KOISHII & HUSH track ‘Rules & Lies’ was sung by Sarah Blackwood, what was she like to work with?
Total diva. LOL just kidding! She was great. Super sweet and did a great job on the writing and vocals. We met with Sarah at a coffee shop in London and hit it off right away. We were thrilled to have her involved because I had been such a huge fan of DUBSTAR. She is an underrated talent and would love to work with her again.
Is the album dying art? In the dance environment where there is less focus on the long player format?
It certainly seems that way, which I think is unfortunate. With so much of music being based on quick hits on social media, and with songs getting shorter to take advantage of streaming services, I think the whole experience that an album used to bring is gone. It obviously started with the ‘death’ of the CD and it has only gotten worse. Music seems to be the only instance where this seems to happen. You don’t watch bits of a movie or only read a few chapters of a book…
You’ve remixed DURAN DURAN, PET SHOP BOYS, YAZOO, INXS, WHEN IN ROME and B-MOVIE among others in your various guises, do you have any particular favourites from your career?
Oh sure. The remix of INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’ was a big one and I think it still holds up to this day. ‘Storm In A Teacup’ for ERASURE and others, but it’s tough to pick out individual ones. They are all different and hopefully special to the listener in their own way.
Is there anyone else who you would really like to work with or remix?
I would really like to remix DEPECHE MODE or A-HA. I know we would love to work with a bunch of other people but I am not going to mention any names in case I jinx something 😊
What’s next for DAYBREAKERS or anything else you are working on?
We have our first single signed to a label and that will be coming out soon. We are really excited about this one. We think it sounds great and hopefully others think so too!
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Alex Hush
Born in Halifax, Sarah Blackwood has been a most striking vocal and visual presence since 1995 when DUBSTAR hit the UK singles charts with ‘Not So Manic Now’, a cover of an obscure song by Wakefield band BRICK SUPPLY.
Sarah Blackwood studied Spatial Design at Newcastle University and it was while living in the city that she met Chris Wilkie and Steve Hillier, joining DUBSTAR as lead singer. Scoring hits under the auspices of OMD, PET SHOP BOYS, ERASURE and NEW ORDER producer Stephen Hague, kitchen sink dramas like ‘Stars’, ‘No More Talk’ and ‘I Will Be Your Girlfriend’ appealed to both electronic music and indie audiences.
DUBSTAR bridged the gap between Synth Britannia and Britpop, opening for ERASURE while also simultaneously being label mates with BLUR, JESUS JONES and SHAMPOO. But after three albums ‘Disgraceful’ ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Make It Better’ on Food Records, with worsening band relations, management tensions and waning audience interest, DUBSTAR disbanded.
In 2002, Blackwood joined multi-instrumentalist Kate Holmes in female synthpop duo TECHNIQUE after original singer Xan Tyler was unavailable for a European tour opening for DEPECHE MODE in Europe. The support slot was a success and led to the pair forming crucial friendships that would help their relaunch as a brand new project.
Morphing into CLIENT and releasing their self-titled debut album in 2003, they initially shunned using their real names, choosing to be mysteriously referred to as Client A and Client B in a ‘1984’ inspired Orwellian twist. Interest in their mysterious allure coincided with the emergence of acts like LADYTRON, MISS KITTIN, BLACK BOX RECORDER and GOLDFRAPP.
A favourite act of Karl Bartos who they opened for at his London ULU gig in 2003, CLIENT became a popular cult draw in Europe and released a further three albums ‘City’, ‘Heartland’ and ‘Command’ before Blackwood officially departed in late 2010, coinciding with a reunion of DUBSTAR.
But despite a well-received 2013 comeback concert at The Lexington in London, things went quiet until Summer 2018 when Blackwood and Wilkie announced they had recorded a new DUBSTAR album as a duo entitled ‘One’. Released in Autumn 2018, it was well-received and considered by some observers to be one of the best albums of the year.
Although best known as the front woman of DUBSTAR and CLIENT, Sarah Blackwood has always been open to collaboration and has lent her charming voice to a number of recordings helmed by artists from Germany, Greece and Canada as well as the UK. Also adept in the art of reinterpretation, among the artists she has covered are TUBEWAY ARMY, PET SHOP BOYS, ADAM & THE ANTS, VISAGE, NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE and THE SMITHS.
By way of a Beginner’s Guide to her work, here are eighteen recordings highlighting the varied musical portfolio of Sarah Blackwood, presented in chronological order with a restriction of one track per album project.
DUBSTAR The Day I See You Again (1995)
Possibly one of the standouts from DUBSTAR’s debut long player ‘Disgraceful’, ‘The Day I See You Again’ featured the immortal line “If the man you’ve grown to be is more Morrison than Morrissey”. Blackwood captured a deeply Northern English cynicism which actually transferred abroad, with the song’s American producer Stephen Hague dusting the tune off for the German songstress Claudia Brücken to cover on her reinterpretations album ‘The Lost Are Found’.
Available on the DUBSTAR album ‘Disgraceful’ via Food / EMI Records
One of the B-sides to ‘No More Talk’ and co-written by the late Charles Aznavour, ‘La Bohème’ became the Frenchman’s signature song and an acknowledged chanson classic, telling the tale of a painter recalling his younger years in the Parisian bohemian suburb of Montmartre, hungry yet happy. Applying a wonderful Anglo aesthetic to the translation, Blackwood gave a superb interpretation which more than suited its relocation to West Yorkshire over its icy electronic backdrop.
Available on the DUBSTAR CD single ‘No More Talk’ via Food / EMI Records
DUBSTAR featuring GARY NUMAN Redirected Mail (2000)
Having covered TUBEWAY ARMY’s ‘Everyday I Die’ for the ‘Random’ tribute album, it was now Blackwood’s turn to duet with Gary Numan himself, albeit remotely. “I was in Manchester when we recorded ‘Redirected Mail’” she said, “but Steve and Chris actually went down to Gary’s and sat and had ham and chips with him. They had a right laugh and had a really good time.” As a result of that visit south, Steve Hillier also bought a Roland CP70 electric piano from Numan.
Having secured a deal with Mute Records via Andy Fletcher’s Toast Hawaii imprint, CLIENT’s stark mission statement of “satisfaction guaranteed” also included a striking look which had a distinct element of Cold War chic. “It started because we didn’t know what to wear on tour with DEPECHE MODE” said Blackwood knowing they would be performing in front of some very partisan Devotees, “if they threw anything at us, we wanted it to be something that was sort of disposable so we thought of the uniforms!”
Available on the CLIENT album ‘Client’ via Toast Hawaii
For their second album ‘City’, CLIENT got more ambitious by featuring some guest vocalists which included THE LIBERTINES. But the most notable one was DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration that was instigated by Blackwood writing him a letter: “Martin had this newly set-up studio and recorded himself. The thing is, when we mixed the two vocals together, that was a moment! I didn’t know how it was going to work but when you heard it, it was like ‘woo!’…it was a bit spine tingling really!”
Available on the CLIENT album ‘City’ via Toast Hawaii
Of DIE KRUPPS‘ mighty industrialised cover, Ralf Dörper said: “When I first heard ‘The Anvil’ (‘Der Amboss’) by VISAGE, I thought ‘what a perfect song for DIE KRUPPS’ – it just needed more sweat, more steel. And it was not before 2005 when DIE KRUPPS were asked to play a few 25-year anniversary shows that I remembered ‘Der Amboss’… and as I was a big CLIENT fan at that time, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Fräulein B for assistance in the vocal department”.
To beef up their concert sound, CLIENT expanded to a trio to include bassist Emily Mann aka Client E and became a gritty live act which exuded an electronic body presence that powerfully complimented Blackwood’s stoic stage persona as Client B. Occasionally and fittingly, they would be joined on drums by Robert Görl from esteemed Industrial Godfathers DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT and together they would end the set with their seminal EBM classic ‘Der Mussolini’.
Originally on the self-released CLIENT album ‘Live In Porto’, currently unavilable
Of Athens-based female duo MARSHEAUX, Blackwood said: “They sort of copied us but it was the biggest form of flattery because they’re such lovely girls! It’s nice to think I’ve inspired something”. So when the two parties toured Germany together in 2008, it was a most appropriate pairing. On their remix of ‘It’s Not Over’, some Hellenic shine was added to the original’s more dystopian demeanour with additional Eurocentric riffage for a slice of electronic pop perfection.
Described as “one of my favourite Northern folk songs” and arranged by Chris Wilkie on acoustic guitar more or less as such, this live solo performance of this NEW ORDER evergreen formed part of a free download series which also included stripped down versions of CLIENT and DUBSTAR songs as well as THE SMITHS ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’. “I just think a good song will work if you can do it acoustically” Blackwood would later remark.
Originally on the CLIENT B EP ‘Acoustic At The Club Bar & Dining’, currently unavailable
Having previously tackled new wave pop like ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Xerox’, CLIENT took a diversion and covered Curtis Mayfield’s soultastic and groove laden ‘Make Me Believe In You’. Co-produced by one-time KILLING JOKE bassist Martin Glover aka Youth who added a more rhythmic energy, things were danced up with an icy edge coming from his frenetic guitar work. This approach more than suited their fourth album’s “brazenly bossy” title of ‘Command’.
Available on the CLIENT album ‘Command’ via Out Of Line
DUBSTAR I’m In Love With A German Film Star (2010)
Although at the time Blackwood was still in CLIENT, the newly reformed DUBSTAR were invited to submit a cover of their choice as part of a project for Amnesty International Catalunya. While songs by THE ROLLING STONES and the late Kirsty MacColl were considered, the trio settled on this 1981 cult classic made famous by THE PASSIONS. While there was to be an emotional reunion concert in Spring 2013, the DUBSTAR’s reformation as a trio was not to last…
Originally on the compilation album ‘Peace’ (V/A) via Amnesty International, currently unavailable
WILLIAM ORBIT featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD White Night (2010)
While things had become uncertain within the CLIENT camp, Blackwood took time out to work on a Rico Conning penned track for William Orbit’s album ‘My Oracle Lives Uptown’ which dated back to their TORCH SONG days. Although her version did not appear on the final tracklisting, her take was offered as a free download. More accessible than some of CLIENT’s offerings but more purely electronic than DUBSTAR, this was a priceless pop gem which lyrically expressed her pain during that period.
Originally available as a free download, currently unavailable
SOMAN featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD Blue Monday (2010)
No stranger to cover versions, Blackwood was invited to add her suitably forlorn voice to German producer Kolja Trelle’s version of NEW ORDER’s signature tune. The esteemed musical ears of Stephen Hague always felt that Bernard Sumner and Sarah Blackwood would make a perfect duetting partnership but until that happens, covers are what the public has to make do with for now. Now imagine if she had had sung on ‘Tutti Frutti’ instead of Elly Jackson of LA ROUX?
Available on the SOMAN album ‘Noistyle’ via Trisol Music Group
FOTONOVELA featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD Justice (2013)
The concept of FOTONOVELA’s sophomore offering ‘A Ton Of Love’ was to produce a supreme electronic record featuring vocalists from all stages of classic synthpop. Andy McCluskey was the first on board for the project but the resultant song ‘Helen Of Troy’ turned out so well, it ended up on OMD’s ‘English Electric’! Undeterred, the duo recruited Sarah Blackwood. Halifax’s own Queen of electro took FOTONOVELA onto a cloudier but enjoyable hitchhike through the North West of England with the very personal ‘Justice’.
KOISHII & HUSH featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD Rules & Lies (2015)
Keeping herself busy, Blackwood collaborated with progressive house duo KOISHII & HUSH. “Sarah was one of the vocalists we had always wanted to work with. We managed to get in touch with her and decided to meet in London to discuss the idea.” said Alex Hush, “She was quite keen on the project and after that initial meeting, we sent Sarah a rough backing track which she wrote and recorded vocals for. We then did some tweaks and additional production on ‘Rules & Lies’ and are thrilled with the final version”.
Available on the KOSHII & HUSH single ‘Rules & Lies’ via Grammaton Recordings
VILE ELECTRODES featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD Captivity In Symmetry (2016)
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK initially described VILE ELECTRODES as “Client B born and raised in the Home Counties fronting Dindisc-era ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK”, so a duet with Anais Neon was perhaps inevitable. Blackwood added a nonchalant almost-spoken vocal to a variation of the gorgeous ‘Twin Peaks’ flavoured ‘Captive In Symmetry’ as part of a bonus CD ‘Not Everything Is As It Seems’ which came with the initial run of their second album ‘In The Shadows Of Monuments’.
RADIO WOLF featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever (2017)
RADIO WOLF is Canadian musician and producer Oliver Blair who remixed ‘It’s Now Over’ and ‘Can You Feel’ under his KINDLE moniker as well as playing guitar on ‘Command’. Now performing with PARALLELS as well as recording in his own right, his debut EP combining electronic music with rock ‘n’ roll featured a stellar cast of female vocalists including his bandmate Holly Dodson, Marika Gauci from his previous combo HOTEL MOTEL, Kelli Ali ex-SNEAKER PIMPS and on the title song, Sarah Blackwood.
Just when it looked like that was it over for DUBSTAR, Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with ‘One’. While Wilkie took on prime songwriting duties, the classic bittersweet aura remained, albeit within a more organic setting. Produced by Youth, the most electronic number on ‘One’ was the gorgeous ‘Locked Inside’ with elements of KRAFTWERK creeping in and even TEARS FOR FEARS while Blackwood poignantly reflected on how “my hands are tied”.
Available on the DUBSTAR album ‘One’ via Northern Writes
Like PET SHOP BOYS, NEW ORDER collaborated with other artists from quite an early stage in their career, as well as later working on their own various projects during the band’s recurring hiatuses.
Even in the JOY DIVISION era, Ian Curtis, together with manager Rob Gretton produced ‘Knew Noise’ by SECTION 25 in 1979. Following the passing of the charismatic front man, NEW ORDER underwent a well-documented transformation, aided by the advancements in technology. While NEW ORDER began with electronic instruments such as the Doctor Rhythm DR-55 drum machine, ARP Quadra and Sequential Pro-One, their synth armoury would expand to a Moog Source, Emulator, several Prophet 5s and an Oberheim DMX.
Bernard Sumner in particular relished the opportunity to further his craft by recording with other artists. Although more naturally inclined to the live environment, Peter Hook did bring his experience into the studio as well, while Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert primarily found an outlet for their knowhow within television. The compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ released on Factory Benelux gathered many of these works.
Photo by Donald Christie
But there are still a significant number of tracks which featured the artistic input and involvement of a NEW ORDER member that are worthy of discovery and recognition.
So here are 20 tracks which encapsulate the spirit of NEW ORDER through the medium of collaboration and joint working, restricted to one track per project and presented in chronological order.
MARTHA Light Years From Love (1983)
Martha Ladly was already part of the NEW ORDER family having produced the paintings for the Peter Saville Associates artwork of ‘Temptation’ and the ‘1981-1982’ EP. Formally of MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, she teamed up with fellow Canadian Brett Wickens on this charming pop tune that echoed THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Peter Hook provided his distinctive melodic six-string bass and dynamic production came from Steve Nye. The promo video was directed by Midge Ure and Chris Cross of ULTRAVOX.
Originally released as a single on Island Records, currently unavailable
While the trailblazing electro of ‘Cool As Ice’ was solely produced by Donald Johnson, Bernard Sumner contributed the synth basslines which were from a Moog Source run from a Powertran 1024 sequencer; it was to become the trademark feature on many of the NEW ORDER front man’s productions. The hybrid of authentic Manchester soul courtesy of Beverley McDonald’s vocals and New York urban influences was unsurprisingly a cult success across the Atlantic.
One of Bernard Sumner’s productions for Factory with Donald Johnson, ‘Reach For Love’ featured the late Marcel King who was a member of SWEET SENSATION, a vocal group who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’. With its distinctive Moog bassline programming, this was a vibrant electro disco tune that couldn’t have been more different. Shaun Ryder of HAPPY MONDAYS remarked that if this had been released on a label other than Factory Records, it would have been a hit!
Despite Peter Hook’s more rock inclined sympathies and productions for acts like STOCKHOLM MONSTERS and THE STONE ROSES, he showed that he knew his way around the dancefloor as well with this Moroder-esque offering by Hull combo NYAM NYAM which he produced. Featuring a Roland TR808 plus NEW ORDER’s Emulator and Prophet 5 amongst its instrumentation, ‘Fate/Hate’ certainly today deserves to be as lauded as SECTION 25’s ‘Looking From A Hilltop’.
SECTION 25 Looking From A Hilltop – Restructure (1984)
In a change of direction where founder member Larry Cassidy stated “you can’t be a punk all your life”, Factory Records stalwarts SECTION 25 recruited vocalist Jenny Ross and keyboardist Angela Cassidy to go electro. Produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson, the clattering drum machine accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations dominated what was to become a much revered cult club classic.
Possibly the best NEW ORDER song that NEW ORDER never recorded, although ex-JOSEF K front man Paul Haig demoed the song to an almost complete standard, when as Haig told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson started adding more to it like extra guitar, bass and percussion. We spent a long time on the sound of the percussion”. ‘The Only Truth’ was like a brilliant cross between ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Temptation’, and the 12 inch version was almost as long!
Available on the PAUL HAIG album ‘At Twilight’ via Les Disques Du Crepuscule
Mark Reeder moved from Manchester to Berlin in 1978 having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was for a time Factory Records’ representative in Germany. Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes around the world. His own Deutsche musical journey started with DIE UNBEKANNTEN, who mutated into SHARK VEGAS; the sequencer heavy ‘You Hurt Me’ was produced by Sumner at Conny Plank’s studios near Cologne.
The aptly named REVENGE was Peter Hook’s response to Bernard Sumner’s ELECTRONIC. Comprising of Hook, Dave Hicks and Chris Jones, the single ‘Seven Reasons’ backed with the edgy gothique of ‘Jesus I Love You’ got in the shops a few weeks before ‘Getting Away With It’. Coming over like early SISTERS OF MERCY with some extra raw power, it was a promising calling card. However, as things progressed, the output of REVENGE was not particularly well-received by the music press.
Miami duo THE BEAT CLUB were the husband and wife team of producer Ony Rodriguez and singer Mireya Valls. The Bernard Sumner remix of ‘Security’ was the first ever release on Rob’s Records, the imprint of Rob Gretton. Sumner’s creative additions saw an overhaul of the original version with the crucial addition of his own vocal contribution, giving it an unsurprisingly NEW ORDER-like feel along the lines of a more fully realised ‘State Of The Nation’.
808 STATE Spanish Heart featuring BERNARD SUMNER (1991)
Having been largely instrumental and sample based on their debut ‘90’, the Manchester dance collective used guest vocalists on their more melodic second long player ‘Ex:El’; while Björk contributed to ‘Ooops’, Bernard Sumner added his voice to the dreamy Balearic of ‘Spanish Heart. A less frantic cousin of ‘Mr Disco’ from ‘Technique’ with its holiday romance subject matter, ‘Spanish Heart’ had a blissful feel not too distantly related to ELECTRONIC’s ‘Some Distant Memory’.
Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Ex:El’ via ZTT Records
Frustrated with the conflicts and confines within NEW ORDER, Bernard Sumner had planned a solo album. But on bumping into Johnny Marr who had just departed THE SMITHS, it was turned into a collaborative project with the occasional guests including Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and later Karl Bartos. It was ELECTRONIC not just in name but also in nature. The beautiful closing section of ‘Some Distant Memory’ featuring the oboe of Helen Powell enhanced the string synth melancholy.
Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via EMI Records
Having done the music for the BBC shows including ‘Making Out’ and ‘Reportage’, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris began turning their stockpile of unused material into songs when NEW ORDER went into hiatus. The original singer slated as the vehicle for these tunes was Kim Wilde, but when this fell through, Gilbert took over on lead vocals. Amusingly titled after a fish and chip shop near Stockport, ‘Tasty Fish’ was a catchy electropop single that should have been a big hit.
Available on THE OTHER TWO album ‘And You’ via LTM Recordings
Smoother, tighter, speedier and dancier plus more ELECTRONIC in both name and nature, A CERTAIN RATIO reconfigured and re-recorded their 1980 signature cover with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr at the production controls, all as part of a 1994 updates retrospective for Creation Records. Originally a rare groove track by BANBARRA from 1975, this new version was popular with those who had not previously enjoyed the Mancunian band’s earlier industrial funk exploits.
Available on the A CERTAIN RATIO album ‘Looking For…’ via Creation Records
With the demise of REVENGE and seemingly NEW ORDER, Peter Hook regrouped with guitarist David Potts to form MONACO, a combo very much in the mould of the latter. Proudly embracing his signature melodic bass sound, the first single ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ sounded like it could have come off ‘Technique’, with Hook’s Curtis-like baritone and Potts’ Sumner-esque refrain enabling a prompt audience acceptance for the duo.
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)
‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. With echoes of NEW ORDER’s 12 inch only excursions like ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Thieves like Us’, ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat, cerebral sequences and bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned to the fact that “Maybe my moustache is too much…”
Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records
BLANK & JONES featuring BERNARD SUMNER Miracle Cure (2008)
Having worked with Robert Smith of THE CURE, German trance duo Piet Blank and Jaspa Jones had Bernard Sumner high on their list of singers for their album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’, which also featured Claudia Brücken. The track managed to fill the electronic dance gap that had opened up with NEW ORDER’s more rock focused albums ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Waiting For The Siren’s Call’, while the single release came with excellent remixes from Mark Reeder and Paul Humphreys from OMD.
FACTORY FLOOR A Wooden Box – STEPHEN MORRIS remix (2010)
Some say the music of FACTORY FLOOR is genius, others a load of repetitive bleeping to an incessant four-to-the-floor beat. Stephen Morris was a fan, hearing kindred spirits in their use of sequencers next to live drums and guitars, sometimes on the brink of post-industrial noise chaos. With his remix of ‘Wooden Box’, Morris brought out its more tuneful elements and added some vocoder processing. He continued to work with the band as the producer of 2011’s ‘(Real Love)’.
Available on the FACTORY FLOOR single ‘A Wooden Box’ via Blast First Petite
Techno DJ WESTBAM celebrated 30 years in the music business with an intriguing mature collection of songs under the title of ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Brian Molko and Hugh Cornwall as guest vocalists. ‘She Wants’ saw the return of Bernard Sumner on a new electronic recording. With the guitar driven BAD LIEUTENANT having been his main vehicle over the intervening years, it was great to hear him on something approaching the classic sound of synth-centred NEW ORDER again.
NEW ORDER featuring BRANDON FLOWERS Superheated (2015)
Brandon Flowers named THE KILLERS after a fictional band in the ‘Crystal’ video while his own combo covered the JOY DIVISION standard ‘Shadowplay’ for the ‘Control’ film. So a collaboration was not totally unexpected in this union of the sorcerer and the apprentice. A Stuart Price production featuring Flowers on the chorus, ‘Superheated’ was a slice of supreme pop which despite the frantic drum ‘n’ bass elements, sounded more like THE KILLERS than it did NEW ORDER.
Simon Langford and Alex Sowyrda are the British-Canadian duo KOISHII & HUSH whose tracks have featured unusual vocalists ranging from DURAN DURAN’s John Taylor to actress Joanne Whalley. Gillian Gilbert lent her voice to ‘Lifetime’, sounding not unlike Sarah Blackwood who incidentally sang on their 2015 offering ‘Rules & Lies’. The remix from FM ATTACK aka Canadian synthwave exponent Shawn Ward added a serene crystalline quality to proceedings.
Available on the KOISHII & HUSH single ‘Lifetime’ via Grammaton Recordings
RUSTY EGAN featuring PETER HOOK The Other Side (2017)
With the opening salvo ‘The Otherside’ featuring Peter Hook on Rusty Egan’s debut solo album, sonic comparisons with NEW ORDER were inevitable and the song’s melodic basslines showed how much his sound was a vital part of the band. The Bass Viking’s vocals also exuded a vulnerability that listeners could empathise with. But with Hooky touring the JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER back catalogue, new material from him has been rare.
FREEBASS You Don’t Know This About Me – Remix Instrumental (2017)
A Mancunian supergroup of three bassists Hooky, Mani and Andy Rourke that spent five years in gestation before imploding. Producer Derek Miller aka OUTERNATIONALE was a fan and told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Really liked this song despite Hooky’s project falling apart on him! As you know, I’ve started and thought it deserved a proper release, albeit belatedly! So, I’ve been back in the studio with it and totally overhauled it sonically. There’s also a surprisingly punchy instrumental mix now”
Mark Reeder has carved out an impressive reputation for his catalogue of fine remixes.
When Mark Reeder spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2011 about his remixing style, he said: “I’m old school. I like to still be able to hear the song, but give it my own signature and atmosphere, while at the same time use as many of the original elements as possible”.
He had moved to West-Berlin from Manchester in 1978, having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was Factory Records representative in Germany between 1978 to 1982. He is credited with introducing Bernard Sumner to the world of electronically propelled dance music, thus being instrumental in the development of NEW ORDER’s influential hybrid sound.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reeder had great success with his electronic dance music record label Masterminded For Success (MFS). For the last few years, Reeder has been heavily involved in a documentary film about his adopted home city:
“’B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’ is about the forgotten city of West-Berlin during the 80s. When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, not only did communist East Germany cease to exist, but the walled-in island of West-Berlin did too. Most people have forgotten, or have no idea how the city was back then. In ‘B-Movie’, I guide the viewer through this decade, but as the film is also about my life in this city too, I show you some of the things I saw and experienced during the 1980s, while participating in what has now become, the legendary subkultur of West Berlin.”
In a break from his hectic worldwide schedule promoting ‘B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’, Mark Reeder kindly gave an insightful commentary into the tracks that shaped his own musical career.
DIE UNBEKANNTEN Radio War (1981)
Reeder formed DIE UNBEKANNTEN with Alistair Gray when he settled in West-Berlin.
We were actually given the name DIE UNBEKANNTEN by a journalist, who saw our feeble first gig at the SO36. That gig was supposed to have been just a one-off, but he was surprisingly impressed and thought we were very avant-garde and apparently enjoyed our miserable performance.
In his magazine review of the event, he just called us two unknown Englishmen and from then on, people just called us DIE UNBEKANNTEN (“The Unknown”). A few weeks later, we played at the Genial Dilletanten Festival and were inadvertently presented as ‘Necropolis’, which was actually the title of our intro track. A while later, after Elisabeth Recker of Monogam Records witnessed what was probably our most chaotic performance – we were on acid – she believed we would fit perfectly with the abstract style of the rest of the artists on her record label.
Our Swiss friend Thomas Wydler became our drummer and we recorded a three track EP featuring ‘Radio War’, ‘Poseidon’ and ‘Casualties’.
The record not only sounded nothing like any of Monogam’s previous releases, but it also caused a lot of controversy because of my design for its front cover image (a photo depicting three East German border guards) and the striking Germanic style of type face which I had chosen.
Our second, and final DIE UNBEKANNTEN record, was much more electronic. By this time, Thomas had left us and joined DIE HAUT and we had gone back to using a drum machine and had also acquired some more electronic instruments. Our friend, Adrian Wright from THE HUMAN LEAGUE gave us a brand new drum computer to test for him.
He had actually been asked to try out a very early prototype Roland TR606, but couldn’t be bothered and so he gave it to us to trial for him, so along with the Transcendent 2000 (the very same one which Bernard Sumner had played in JOY DIVISION with) and a Moog that Klaus Schulze had also given us, we immediately went into the studio and recorded ‘Don’t Tell Me Stories’ for our ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ EP. This became the first record to feature a Roland TR606.
One of the bands who grabbed Reeder’s attention in West-Berlin were the uncompromising all-female combo MALARIA!
I already knew Bettina Koester and Gudrun Gut from their first band MANIA-D. Musically, their approach was so different from anything I had ever heard before, as the conventional rules of male dominated rock and roll didn’t apply to the way these girls made music at all and that was what made them so exciting.
They were no virtuosos, but that didn’t matter one bit, because it was exactly that ingredient which made their music so interesting. After Beate Bartel left MANIA-D to form LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, Gudrun and Bettina formed MALARIA! a five piece all-girl band and quite an international one too, being a mixture of German, American and Dutch.
Their striking, on-stage image, all dressed in black with bright red lips, is considered a Goth image nowadays; but back in the 80s, MALARIA! did it first, and after their debut appearance in London with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, this image was obviously hi-jacked from them for the Robert Palmer video ‘Addicted To Love’, even to the point of making the emphasis that the girls in his video also couldn’t play their instruments.
At some point very early on, I became their manager. At that time, I was the only man allowed into their sphere, and because I knew what the band wanted to sound like live, I also became their sound engineer too and naturally, as I also had my own band, DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we became their support band.
The girls trusted me, they knew I understood their ideology and I liked their music and most importantly, I didn’t interfere.
Reeder’s own musical journey has to an extent, mirrored that of Bernard Sumner’s. DIE UNBEKANNTEN morphed into SHARK VEGAS to become a more electronic and disco friendly proposition.
After performing for nearly four years as DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we were asked by NEW ORDER if we would like to accompany them on their European tour after the success of ‘Blue Monday’.
We decided this would be a good moment to change our name and musical style, especially after adding two new members to our band. Besides, after our first disastrous London performance in the Barracuda Club, I thought DIE UNBEKANNTEN was much too difficult to pronounce outside of Germany, as people thought we were called DIE UNBEKANNTEN as in “Death Unbekannten” and so we urgently needed a new name and image.
Me and my partner-in-crime, Alistair Gray just threw a few ideas together one night and SHARK VEGAS became our name. I wanted something obscure sounding that didn’t actually mean anything apart from it being our band name.
Al and I were huge fans of pulsating electronic dance music – most probably since ‘I Feel Love’ – and the small Berlin underground gay-disco scene, which ran parallel to the abstract avant-garde scene, was the place to go and always a great way to spend a late Friday and Saturday night, before finally crashing and burning in the Risiko club.
Besides, musically, DIE UNBEKANNTEN had already been moving away from being depressive and miserable and had become much more electronic high energy disco too, so this tour proposal presented itself as a welcome opportunity to literally, regroup.
During a short break in the NEW ORDER tour, we went into Conny Plank’s studio with Bernard Sumner and recorded our first single ‘You Hurt Me’, but the session was a bit of a disaster, as the studio engineer had a slipped disc and was in terrible pain. He had to lie on a camp bed in front of the mixing desk and shout instructions up to us, while Conny Plank spent all his time playing table tennis in the yard outside. That single became FAC111.
‘Love Habit’ was one of the tracks we initially recorded during the session for the FacUS ‘Young, Popular & Sexy’ compilation. We were asked to perform ‘Love Habit’ for a video, for a special Berlin edition of ‘Music Box’, Britain’s first cable TV music show and using my US Army AFN contacts, I managed to get permission to make our video on the divided Glienickebrücke (the so-called ‘Bridge of Spies’). In the video, we appear as beaten up and tortured spies in raincoats, as if we had just been let out of an East German prison.
Unfortunately, the US army forgot to inform the Soviet Army that we were making a video on the bridge and so, on the East side there was a right flap on. They sent out East German patrol boats to find out what we were doing on the bridge. I guess they thought we were trying to provoke World War III. ‘Love Habit’ was intended to be an album track, but it became one of the last songs we recorded as SHARK VEGAS and it was never released, at least not until we included it on the recent ‘B-Movie’ soundtrack.
Released on East German state label AMIGA, DIE VISION’s ‘Torture’ was the last album to be recorded in communist East Berlin in 1989 and featured Reeder as producer.
I was invited by the band to be the producer for their debut album. At first it seemed incredible that they had actually managed to get the AMIGA to agree, as no-one from the West had ever been allowed in their state-run recording studio, let alone produce an album there.
It transpired that because the band were allowed officially to sing in English(ese), they agreed to let them have an English-speaking producer too. In reality, I later discovered, the STASI wanted to know what kind of subversive activity I was involved in, especially after helping to arrange two illegal and meanwhile legendary secret gigs with West German punk band DIE TOTEN HOSEN in East Berlin. So I guess this was their brilliant plan to keep a close watch on me.
DIE VISION’s singer Uwe, was studying English at the Humbolt University – to be able to do that, you had to speak fluent Russian too – and he was so very insistent that I come over and produce their album. So I did. What an opportunity. Now, forming a band in communist East Germany was very, very difficult. It was nothing like forming a band in the West.
You couldn’t just go into a shop and buy a guitar, bass and drums and bash away. Everything was controlled by the Communist state, especially music. Before you could play to the public, your ability was first considered, then your song lyrics scrutinised to see if there were any subversive hidden anti-state messages and even getting electric instruments was difficult, you needed permits to first buy and then one to play, an electric guitar in public.
Then as a band, you performed before a group of people, who would assess your proficiency. This determined if, when, or where you might be able to play, eg youth clubs and how much you would get paid. DIE VISION had quite a sudden rise in popularity in the East and rather than ban them, the Authorities decided to sign them, that way everything would be under control. That is, until I came along…
As we were making this album, the GDR was literally falling apart. It was very difficult making this album with a feeling of imminent doom hanging over the studio and with constant power fluctuations, people fleeing to the West and general grumbling unrest. I called the album ‘Torture’ because it was exactly that to make!
Available on the DIE VISION album ‘Torture’ via AMIGA / Zong & Vulture Records
PAUL VAN DYK Words – Original Version radio edit by Paul van Dyk, Wolfgang Ragwitz + Mark Reeder (1996)
In 1990, Reeder established MFS and discovered Trance DJ PAUL VAN DYK…
One of my first artists on MFS, COSMIC BABY made some great records, but DJs kept complaining that they couldn’t play them because he always had DJ-unfriendly intros. I suggested he find a DJ who could help him to construct DJ friendly intros to his tracks.
One night, Cosmic was performing live in the Turbine club. One of the warm up DJs was a young lad called PAUL VAN DYK. The two hit it off almost immediately and I suggested that Paul come to the office the following Monday to discuss working with Cosmic. Paul told me he was from Hamburg, but it later turned out he was originally from Eisenhuettenstadt in deepest East Germany, but had moved to East Berlin before applying to leave East Germany for Hamburg shortly before the wall came down.
I was actually very happy to hear he was from East Germany, because that was my initial intention with MFS to create a platform for young Eastie kids; he was my first. One night, he came to me while I was working in my bar and begged me to help him to become a professional DJ.
He was working as an apprentice carpenter at that time and absolutely hated it. I told him, if he would promise me that he would work hard to be the best DJ in the world, then I would help him to achieve his goal. I told him there were no prizes for second best.
I put him in the studio with Cosmic and they recorded two amazing singles together as THE VISIONS OF SHIVA. Then I let him remix HUMATES’s track ‘Love Stimulation’ and that remix attracted a lot of attention. I knew from the start that he could do it simply because he was ambitious enough. He didn’t know it at that time of course, because his talent had to be coaxed out of him. By giving him a platform and motivation and the help of Johnny Klimek’s studio, he was able to discover his own music making talent.
Of course, I believed absolutely in Paul and invested everything, love, creativity, all my time and effort and all I had in propelling him onto an international stage. I guided and advised him, compiled and mastered his records, designed his covers and basically created the legend of PAUL VAN DYK. I used my contacts and credibility to get him high profile remixes, such as ‘Spooky’ by NEW ORDER and even answered his interviews, anything which would enhance his credibility, profile and status.
Sadly, once he had reached the brink of DJ superstardom, he decided he no longer needed me and ditched me without a word of thanks.
SAM TAYLOR-WOOD & PET SHOP BOYS I’m In Love With A German Filmstar – Stuck In The 80s remix (2008)
The ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ film director recorded a number of covers with her favourite pop duo like ‘J T’aime… Moi Non Plus’, ‘Love To Love You Baby’ and this new wave classic…
Neil and Chris asked me to do this remix after hearing the mix I had made of ‘Miracle Cure’ featuring Bernard Sumner for BLANK & JONES. It was quite thrilling being asked to do this song, as I’ve always loved the original.
The PET SHOP BOYS / SAM TAYLOR-WOOD version was more minimalistic and techno sounding though, so I thought I would make mine more retro-modern-disco sounding.
I thought, as its going to be released on Kompakt, they are probably going to have banging techno remixes done anyway. I know they were completely surprized at the label to hear it, because they really expected me to make some sort of cheesy trance mix. It is such an iconic and mystical song though, and I was worried I would be able to do it justice as a dance track. I made three different versions, a long mix and two shorter mixes and all in 5.1 surround sound, which I put on ‘Five Point One’.
I was very pleased when Sam said she thought it was “wicked” and totally relieved that the Boys also liked it too. But when THE PASSIONS contacted me themselves, to tell me that they really loved it, well, that was like a stone being lifted from my heart.
BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER Manifesto – Save Yourself Mix (2009)
Reeder collaborated with popular German dance duo BLANK & JONES on a restyling project entitled ‘ReOrdered’ which featured Bernard Sumner, Robert Smith and Claudia Brücken. But one of the album’s highlights was ‘Manifesto’ featuring Vanessa Daou.
‘Manifesto’ was actually the third track of Vanessa’s that I reworked for ‘ReOrdered’. The first was ‘Consequences’.
I really liked her voice and her lyrics though and I asked BLANK & JONES if I could rework another track, that was ‘Heart Of Wax’. After that, the idea for ‘ReOrdered’ was born and I would go on to rework all BLANK & JONES’ vocal-dance tracks into songs, it was a bit like back engineering a remix. The first two tracks were quite soft, so I wanted ‘Manifesto’ to be a little tougher and sound more like a nu-beat track with trippy elements.
Available on the BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER album ‘ReOrdered’ via Soundcolours
BAD LIEUTENANT Sink Or Swim – Rettungstring Radio remix (2010)
Prior to the recent return of NEW ORDER sans Hooky, Bernard Sumner had an interim, guitar led project BAD LIEUTENANT. However, many followers of NEW ORDER missed the sound Sumner had become synonymous for.
After Hooky decided to leave NEW ORDER, I think Bernard needed some distance and formed BAD LIEUTENANT, together with Jake Evans and the remaining members of NEW ORDER.
Jake is such a talented person and a brilliant guitarist – he’s definitely one to watch in the future. I really liked the parent album ‘Never Cry Another Tear’, it’s a wonderful summer album and I think it is very underrated.
I was given the opportunity to do some remixes for them and decided to rework their guitar tracks into electronic dance versions. ‘Sink Or Swim’ was the first and I think I made about six different versions of this track, Bernard took the piss out of me for the amount of mixes we made. The song had been performed live and so the tempo varied within the song from the start to finish, which made it a bloody nightmare to mix into a 4/4 dance track.
To make it sound organic, we had to take all the instruments and slice them up and then carefully put them back together again by hand. It was a mammoth task and at the time, I thought “I never want to have to do that again”.
After ‘Sink Or Swim’, we mixed ‘Twist Of Fate’, which I also made about four or so mixes. The same time consuming slice and move ritual applied as with ‘Sink Or Swim’. As the remixes were only released digitally, I decided to include some of them on my ‘Five Point One’ album, and later, ‘Collaborator’.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
JOHN FOXX Underpass – Sinister Subway remix (2010)
Reeder’s reworking of JOHN FOXX’s calling card was mighty and he relished the challenge.
JOHN FOXX was putting together the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album and I was in contact with his manager about something different entirely. During our conversation, he told me about the compilation and I said jokingly that I could do a remix perhaps, as a bonus track.
Well, after they had listened to a few of my remixes, he called and asked me if I would like to remix ‘Underpass’. My studio partner Micha Adam and I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true. No-one had ever been allowed to remix this legendary song before and so it was such an honour. Then the reality set in. If I balls this up, the fans will lynch me.
Being a huge fan of the song myself, I decided I could only do it as I would want it to sound myself. Yet I didn’t want to drive too far away from the original though either and wanted to keep as many elements in there as possible.
I was sent the parts, eight tracks in all… but that iconic massive synth riff was missing. All I had been given was the riff, played by a small tinny sounding synth. Well, that was it. I realised, the huge reverb sound was added live, during the mix-down and so we had to reconstruct it.
I recalled what kind of instrumentation and effects they might have used back then and dug out my old Space Echo. Once we had reconstructed the original version, we made a 5.1 mix of it (it is a hidden Easter Egg on ‘Five Point One’). Then, I remixed it. I made three versions, a short radio mix in stereo and 5.1 plus a longer Sinister Subway mix for the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album.
Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘Metatronic’ via Metamatic Records
Cult goth icon ANNE CLARK is an English poet, who sets her poems to music and is probably more well-known outside of the UK.
Anne is truly a great artist. I first met her when she played in Berlin after recording ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’ with David Harrow, who lived in Berlin at that time. This timeless track is one of my all-time favourite 80s songs and it became almost like an anthem to the divided city, especially so to the kids in the East.
She was (and still is) absolutely adored in the East, mainly because her dark and descriptive poetry set to music, clearly struck a chord with them and it was something they all could identify with. Side two of her first album was recorded with Vini Reilly of THE DURUTTI COLUMN. She kept with the electronic side and made her second album with JOHN FOXX. Over the years, she has cultivated her poetry with a wide variety of musical sounds from Synthetic to Rock to Classical.
After a chance meeting a few years ago, when she performed in the Russian embassy in Berlin, I reworked the track ‘The Hardest Heart’ she had made for BLANK & JONES for our ‘ReOrdered’ album and then I remixed two of her tracks ‘Full Moon’ and ‘If’ in 5.1 surround sound for my ‘Five Point One’ album,
DEPECHE MODE Sweetest Perfection – Sweetest Conception remix (2011)
Reeder was given the opportunity to rework a track from the iconic ‘Violator’ album by Daniel Miller.
Like ‘Underpass’, this was almost reverential territory. Depeche were putting together the ‘Remixes 2 81-11’ compilation and Daniel asked me if I would like to do a remix for it. By the time I had received the list of possible tracks to remix, all the most popular songs had been taken and so I was left with songs no-one dared to touch.
‘Sweetest Perfection’ was always one of my favourite tracks though and I thought it would be a real challenge to remix. Not only in terms of actually attempting to remix it, but with the thought that as a fan, how would I want it to sound and if I f*cked up, I would probably have to leave the planet.
We already had a really short deadline to finish the remix on and only three days into the mix, I got a call from my mother telling me that my dad had been rushed to hospital with a broken hip after being pushed over. The situation looked very serious, he was a very old man and the doctors didn’t give him much chance of survival. I had to down tools and fly over and consequently, I missed the deadline for submitting my remix for the DM album.
Fortunately, I was in the process of putting ‘Five Point One’ together and decided to finish the remix anyway and asked Daniel if I could license it for my album. He spoke with the band and they said I could (I was told it was the first time a previously unreleased DM song had ever appeared on another album) and as we were looking for images to accompany the 5.1 mixes, Anton Corbijn kindly gave me one of his old, unseen photos of the band for me to use.
I wanted my remix to retain as many of the original elements as possible, but I added extra strings, more swirling synths and a real bass guitar, as well as my own little riff with a broken piano which I hoped would make it sound a bit more Eastern European.
Reeder took a liking to stop / start Midlands duo ELECTROBELLE and delivered an edgier reimagining of ‘Falling’ before they belatedly got round to releasing it themselves officially in 2012!
I heard ‘Mirrorball’ by ELECTROBELLE on the 2009 ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation released by Undo Records. I really liked Charlotte’s vocal style and so I asked them if they would like to contribute a track to my ‘Five Point One’ album.
They sent me the parts of a demo track they had made and this became ‘Falling’. The idea for the ‘Five Point One’ album was to include remixes I had made for famous artists, coupled with lesser known ones and mix them all in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.
While busy remixing legends in synthesized pop, Reeder also kept an eye on newer acts that were emerging from Europe…
I had been a fan of Undo records, FOTONOVELA and MARSHEAUX for a while and after ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK posted a link to one of their tracks, I asked Chi if he could hook us up, as I thought that ‘So Close’ would fit in well on my ‘Five Point One’ album and asked them if I could remix it.
‘So Close’ had a melancholic element, but I wanted to give the song a more filmic feeling and make it even more melancholic, with sweeping strings and added bass guitar. Filmmaker Paul Morgens heard the track and immediately loved it. He made a great video for it made up of old footage he had found in his aunties archive.
Available on the MARSHEAUX deluxe album ‘Inhale’ via Undo Records
Düsseldorf punk veterans DIE TOTEN HOSEN have maintained a long standing kinship with Mark Reeder.
I have a long, close connection with Die Hosen. I first met Campino in Bochum. MALARIA! were playing a gig there and he was allocated as my driver. He told me about his new band DIE TOTEN HOSEN and about their hideous, but hilarious high-waisted flared trousers, which they bought by the kilo.
A couple of months later, I became their live sound engineer, and together with my rebelliously minded Eastie friends, I managed to help organise a very secret gig with them in an East-Berlin Church. It was disguised as a religious church service, a so-called Blues Mass. Although heavily monitored, the East German clergy was seen as a passive resistance movement against the communist government and although not officially acknowledged, they were tolerated and thus had a certain amount of flexibility within the system. That way we could arrange our secret gig there using this loophole.
DIE UNBEKANNTEN went on tour with DIE TOTEN HOSEN and one of the highlights was performing in the Kogasz club, in the Karl-Marx-University in Budapest. It was supposed to have been a top secret gig in the Young Artists club to a few music lovers, organised by photographer Janos Veto, but so many people eventually wanted to see the gig, that it was moved to the University.
During this tour we had many problems with our car. DIE TOTEN HOSEN were so sceptical our car would even survive the trip, they bet us a crate of beer, that we wouldn’t make it to Budapest.
We did, but had such a horror trip trying to get there, as our car kept breaking down. Upon our arrival in the University, Janos told us we couldn’t play!
The authorities had decided the gig was illegal and it had officially been pulled, but we thought we have come all this way so f*ck them and we did the gig anyway. After we had performed, someone stole our drum computer. We were paid in beer vouchers (Hungarian Forints) and had so much of it, we invited everyone in the YAC for drinks, as we couldn’t take the cash out of the country… I don’t remember much about that night after that.
‘Disco’ was a track off the DIE TOTEN HOSEN album ‘In Alle Stille’ and I thought it would be fun to make an Italo disco sounding mix of this track. The original is a fast paced, rock song and when we received the parts, we discovered there were about 40 guitar tracks. We had to apply the same procedure as with BAD LIEUTENANT in slicing and moving all the elements so that they would fit into the new tempo and yet still sound organic.
KOISHII & HUSH featuring JOHN TAYLOR C’est Tout Est Noir – Black Night Remix (2013)
‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ was the DURAN DURAN bassist’s best lead vocal since his solo single ‘I Do What I Do’ in 1986.
KOISHII & HUSH had made a remix for BAD LIEUTENANT’s ‘Twist of Fate’ and after telling me how much they liked my version, they asked me if I would like to remix their track ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ which they had made together with DURAN DURAN bassist John Taylor.
At first, I thought he would be playing bass guitar on the track, but then to my surprise he was the vocalist. He has a great voice and I really liked the track. The original is quite trancey, so I wanted to make it more cinematic and add some guitar and extra bass. John loved it and immediately used my rough demo as his soundtrack to a vlog he’d made flying from Austria to LA.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
A stomping electro disco number produced by Reeder, Elizabeth Morphew’s cooing Bush-like howls and breathy euphoria were a total delight to the ears while the mighty cavernous sound provided the heat!
I saw a piece posted on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about QUEEN OF HEARTS and I was curious. I really liked Elizabeth’s voice from the moment I heard the first couple of tracks.
Chi thought we might make a nice collaboration and so I got in touch with her to compliment her and she asked me to remix ‘Neon’ which eventually ended up on ‘Collaborator’. We then made a cover version together of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. I then wrote two songs ‘Suicide’ and ‘United’ for her debut album ‘Cocoon’.
Available on the QUEEN OF HEARTS deluxe album ‘Cocoon’ via Night Moves
WESTBAM featuring BERNARD SUMNER She Wants – Old School remix (2013)
Techno legend WESTBAM made his return with the impressive ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Hugh Cornwell, Brian Molko and Lil Wayne. Naturally, Reeder reworked an excellent track featuring the vocals of Bernard Sumner.
My relationship with WESTBAM goes back to the early days when he was trying to establish himself as a DJ in Berlin. He played in the Metropol disco and towards the end of the 80s in the UFO club.
His involvement in the evolution of the Berlin Techno scene is reluctantly accepted, but arguably without his engagement, many things probably wouldn’t have happened. He was a vital participant in parties and events and was the first Berlin DJ to play in the Soviet Union.
While we were putting ideas for songs for ‘B-Movie’ together, he gave us a demo of ‘You Need The Drugs’ featuring Richard Butler of THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS. It was a great track and we all immediately loved it. He said he was making a songs album and would love to make a track with Bernard Sumner on vocals. He sent Bernard the demo and he really liked the track and agreed to do it. As thanks, I was given the opportunity to remix it which was perfect timing, as I was in the process of putting together my ‘Collaborator’ compilation for Factory Benelux and we could therefore give it a physical release on CD.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
MODERN FAMILY UNIT Mmh Mmh Aahh – Eyy & Aarrgghh remix (2015)
Reeder went back to Manchester to rework the local electro wave duo MFU and added some Berlin Burlesque groove.
Dave Haslam told me about MFU and that they would like a remix. They sent me ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ and I loved it. I don’t know why, but it reminded me somehow of early ROXY MUSIC. I wanted to make it a bit dancier, but retain its overall atmosphere and add a little bit of Berlin mystique with the zither.
Available on the single ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ via GaS Records
From the soundtrack to Reeder’s film ‘B-Movie’, it enabled him to soundtrack his memories of the divided city with a 21st century outlook. Modern technology helped the process…
During the ‘B-Movie’ editing process, we wanted to use the DAF track ‘Kebab Träume’ for the burning of the Berlin Wall birthday sequence, but after long and rather unproductive negotiations, they wouldn’t let us have it.
So I decided I would write a track myself, using only a couple of analogue sequencers and synths to accompany this great piece of footage by the incredible Knut Hoffmeister.
When NEW ORDER made their recorded return with ‘Music Complete’, Reeder was given the opportunity to rework some tracks and indirectly became part of their new live show.
I was asked if I would like to remix a track from the latest NEW ORDER album so I chose one of my favourite songs ‘Academic’, as it seemed like it was up for the challenge, being mainly a traditional style guitar track.
But while I was in Bucharest with ‘B-Movie’ and hanging out with CROWD CONTROL, I got an urgent call asking if I would be able to make a quick remix of ‘Singularity’. I raced back home and immediately started work on it.
It’s a great track and I really enjoyed remixing it. Which is fitting, Bernard was also so impressed with my ‘B-Movie’, that he asked me if NEW ORDER could use some footage for their backdrop video in their live shows.
This was so well received, that it then became the promo video clip for the ‘Singularity’ single. The even faster-cut images and theme of the song work really well together with the music.
When NEW ORDER performed recently in Berlin, I was very pleased to have the honour of introducing the band.