Tag: Nikonn

RUSTY EGAN PRESENTS Welcome To The Dancefloor

After many years of trials and tribulations, Rusty Egan finally presents ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’.

rusty-egan-presents-wttdfIt’s a collection of thirteen songs that explore a varied range of topics, from the euphoria of clubland to the celebration of musical heroes to personal bereavement.

This could have formed the basis of the fourth VISAGE album had Egan not been constructively ousted by the then-puppet masters of the late Steve Strange during its recording; sensing a quick buck on the back of ULTRAVOX’s ‘Brilliant’ but failing to understand anything about the music that made The Blitz Club collective a much loved act of the Synth Britannia-era, the end result was the very disappointing ‘Hearts & Knives’.

Indeed, several of the songs included on ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ started off as recordings for the rebooted VISAGE. Chris Payne who co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’ had submitted several compositions, but these great songs remained on the cutting room floor… until now. Also key to this album being fully realised is Nick Bitzenis, best known as NIKONN and one half of FOTONOVELA, the production duo behind MARSHEAUX.

Rusty+HookyContributing the album’s opening salvo is Peter Hook with ‘The Otherside’; comparisons with Hooky’s previous band are perhaps inevitable and the song’s melodic basslines again show how much his sound was a vital part of NEW ORDER.

Hooky’s vocals are delivered passionately, but exude a vulnerability that will be loved by some and disliked by others.

Another artist firmly associated with his band is Tony Hadley; but the sublime ‘Lonely Highway’ sounds nothing like SPANDAU BALLET. A prime example of classic synthpop, it begs the question as to how the Islington quintet might have developed had they not been soul boys? The first of five Chris Payne co-writes, Tony Hadley’s booming vocals are perfect for this catchy little tune.

The superb ‘Hero’ featuring the voice of Andy Huntley sees Egan exploiting a dancier groove, but is just a great song featuring the sort of memorable melodies and counter-melodies that are absent from much of today’s music.

rusty-egan-erik-steinErik Stein from post-punk balladeers CULT WITH NO NAME adds his voice to two numbers with the first ‘Love Is Coming My Way’ being a superb slice of machine pop.

Meanwhile, the second Stein voiced number ‘Ballet Dancer’ is a vocodered eulogy to Egan’s late ex-wife, laced with the most beautiful Polymoog Vox Humana synth lines from Chris Payne.

The air is taken down further with ‘Be The Man’ featuring the voice of Kira Porter; this serene orchestrated ballad with its spacey synth solo could easily have come from Midge Ure’s most recent long player ‘Fragile’.

The pace ups considerably and heads towards clubland with the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ title track. Dynamically uplifting, it comes over like GIORGIO MORODER meets DAFT PUNK via THE HUMAN LEAGUE with the track’s root being an interpolation of TENEK’s single ‘Blinded By You’ from their 2010 album ‘On The Wire’.

With a new topline was co-written by Egan with Gerard O’ Connell, The Blitz Club’s legendary DJ said: “’Dancefloor’ is an example of how I have always worked. TENEK had an amazing bassline with synth stabs that grabbed me, but what I could hear was an electro style uplifting track and I wrote this on the roof of the villa in Ibiza … I just looked and thought ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor of THE WORLD’”

The slightly more rock flavoured ‘Evermore’ featuring NIGHT CLUB’s Emily Kavanaugh is another co-write with Chris Payne and features former ULTRAVOX guitarist Robin Simon. The end result comes over feisty and frisky.

The following ‘Dreamer’ is a track originally written and recorded by Arno Carstens. Appropriated by VISAGE for ‘Hearts & Knives’, the song was initially discovered by Egan while listening Carstens’ set at the Isle Of Wight Festival. But this improved reworking makes a misjudgement in keeping Carstens’ voice; grouchy singer/songwriters do not go well with synthpop! However, a newly composed bridge features Andy Huntley and based on this evidence, he really should have sung the whole song.

midgerusty-2012Chris Payne reunites with Midge Ure for ‘Glorious’ in a revisiting of the New European ethos that produced ‘Fade To Grey’. Attached to a triplet percussive mantra and Ure’s distinctive fret work, this is a seasoned anthem with gigantic choral pads and an honest vocal from the ULTRAVOX front man. To continue the mood, Anni Hogan contributes ‘Love Can Conquer All’ which includes a marvellously soulful vocal from Nicole Clarke and a cameo from Egan impersonating Dieter Meier from YELLO.

On the squelch fest of ‘Wonderwerke’, Egan reclaims some of his lost history. “I have re-recorded this fantastic electronica I first made in Germany on my trip to Zurich to meet YELLO. In 1982 I first discovered a sampler in the studios of Wonderwerke and away I went.” he said of the track that was appropriated by TIME ZONE as ‘The Wildstyle’, “Now without the samples or the Afrika Bambaataa rap, it’s a fantastic electro beat”. Featuring Egan’s voicing in robotic Deutsch with reprogrammed drums and electronics, the track serves a similar role to ‘Falling Down’ on JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s ‘Electronica2’.

rusty-egan-chris-payneThe wonderful closer ‘Thank You’ uses some ‘Endless Endless’ vocodered stylings and does what it says on the tin. Over layers of sweeping ambience à la MOBY and a gentle metronomic pulse, it is Egan’s list of musical heroes and associated beneficiaries in no particular order. Egan’s tone poem is a touching acknowledgement of that marvellous electronic music history. A simple yet highly effective idea, the beauty is in its realisation. Appropriately, it ends with a poignant “VISAGE… thank you”.

As JEAN-MICHEL JARRE put it recently “Electronic music has a family, a legacy and a future…” and for anyone to think that new electronic acts pop-up out of nowhere without any link to the past is naïve and ignorant.

There are some outstanding songs on ‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’. But despite the title, this is NOT a dance record. To all intents and purposes, it is a SYNTHPOP album! Unfortunately the general public will not listen to electronic stuff unless it is labelled dance, so Egan probably feels this is the only way to sell his product. This is the situation that the club-focussed mainstream music media has sadly created.

But fans of classic synthpop need not worry. Even the album’s club courting title track has its core root in synthpop, thus proving how much the genre is owed by the sniffy dance obsessed electronic music press…

emily-rustyRusty Egan has successfully united a range of talents to produce a highly enjoyable collection of work, like one of your favourite electronic music compilations, but curated with new(ish) songs. And in the veteran DJ / guest vocalist album stakes, ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ certainly beats GIORGIO MORODER’s 2015 effort ‘Déjà Vu’ hands down.

Yes, despite 38 years since The Blitz Club, synthpop still rules!


‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’ is released by Black Mosaic and available as a download from the usual digital retailers

Pre-order vinyl LP and CD variants plus more via Pledge Music at
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/rusty-egan-welcome-to-the-dancefloor

http://rustyegan.net/

https://www.facebook.com/rusty.egan/

https://soundcloud.com/rusty-egan

https://twitter.com/DJRustyEgan


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th November 2016, updated 4th March 2017

ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE 2016

mark-reeder-and-john-foxxThe ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE held its second event at Düsseldorf’s CCD following the success of the inaugural gathering.

With impressive line-up that read like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of electronic music, former NEW ORDER bassist Peter Hook, OMD’s Andy McCluskey, HEAVEN 17, WRANGLER, MICHAEL ROTHER, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND and TINY MAGNETIC PETS were among those who took part in 2015.

For the 2016 event, JOHN FOXX, STEVE D’AGOSTINO, RUSTY EGAN, MARSHEAUX, CULT WITH NO NAME, JIMI TENOR, JORI HULKKONEN and ERIC RANDOM played live while among the speakers were DANIEL MILLER, CHRIS LIEBING, MARK REEDER and CHRIS PAYNE.

The conference coincided with co-organiser Rudi Esch publishing ‘ELECTRI_CITY – The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music’, an English language version of his acclaimed book documenting the development of the city’s innovative and inspiring music scene which spawned acts such as KRAFTWERK, DAF, RIECHMANN, NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF. With Jochen Oberlack of Bellerophon Records acting as the weekend’s Master of Ceremonies, the first of the special international guests was MARK REEDER.

mark-reeder-in-dusseldorf2016Presenting his acclaimed documentary ‘B-Movie: Lust & Sound In West-Berlin 1979-1989’, the film captured the music, art and chaos of West Berlin before the infamous wall came tumbling down.

But as Reeder explained in his charmingly fluent Mancunian lilted German to Tassilo Dicke in the Q&A afterwards, the enclosed conscription free environment allowed a creative melting pot to emerge where everything and anything seemed possible.

Next up was CHRIS PAYNE in an interview hosted by The Electricity Club. Best known as a member of GARY NUMAN’s band between 1979-1990 and for co-writing VISAGE’s ‘Fade To Grey’ with Billy Currie and Midge Ure, the Cornishman began by demonstrating his bass Cornamuse, a double reed instrument from the 14th Century.

chris-payne-and-cornamuseRevealing that he studied Medieval music, he even treated the audience to a quick burst of ‘Cars’ before reflecting on its limitations and therefore highlighting the expansive possibilities of synthesizers.

Now domiciled in Normandy, he happily chatted about his period with Numan, recalling how he had 21 keyboards in his armoury and some of the practical jokes he played on the 1979 support act OMD.

At this time, OMD were a duo comprising of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys plus a third member Winston. Despite some electronic music publications stating Winston was a drum machine, Payne confirmed that Winston was most definitely a tape recorder. And on the final night of the UK leg of ‘The Touring Principle’ at Hammersmith Odeon, Payne thought it would be amusing to put on the lock of the TEAC A344 4-track reel-to-reel to stop it from playing.

chris-rusty-markThe genesis of ‘Fade To Grey’ occurred during soundchecks on ‘The Touring Principle’, but Payne recalled how the song’s cyclic structure had been composed during his time at music college. With regards the song’s female French voice, while the eventual German No1 featured RUSTY EGAN’s then-girlfriend Brigitte, the idea had come from Monsieur Payne and featured on the original recording made at Martin Rushent’s Genetic Studios with a different lyric.

Mute Records impresario DANIEL MILLER and techno guru CHRIS LIEBING followed and while Miller reflected on his love of German music which inspired his own recordings, he highlighted the musical kinship he had with Liebing and even joked that they would probably want to play exactly the same tracks during their DJ sets later that night at the Time Warp club night hosted by Salon des Amateurs.

eric-random-2016The ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE was about live music too and Manchester electronic veteran ERIC RANDOM had the honour of opening proceedings. Random recently released his new album ‘Words Made Flesh’ on Austrian record label Klanggalerie, but the one-time CABARET VOLTAIRE and NICO collaborator made his return in 2014 with ‘Man Dog’, ‎having last issued a long player using his own name in 1986 as ERIC RANDOM & THE BEDLAMITES.

Opening with his set with the groovy ‘Knock Yourself Out’, he captured the ethos of the weekend with his sinister but funky, voice sample laden electro. Occasionally adding vocoder and his own FAD GADGET inspired vocals as on the hard beat driven ‘Let It Go’, the Germanic environment more that suited his stark style of presentation.

marsheaux-live2016MARSHEAUX’s appearance prompted dancing in the aisles and despite monitor issues, the duo delivered a fine performance which can soon be witnessed in the UK at TEC004 in Norwich.

The brooding aggression of ‘Burning’ from the new album ‘Ath.Lon’ proved to be a highlight, while other newbies such as ‘Safe Tonight’ sat well next to slightly reworked fan favourites like ‘Breakthrough’, ‘Dream Of A Disco’ and ‘Come On Now’.

A beautiful rendition of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’ won over anyone who wasn’t already convinced, with two new converts being Claudia Schneider-Esleben, sister of KRAFTWERK co-founder Florian and JOHN FOXX who sat absorbed throughout the entire set.

chris-payne-liveFinishing proceedings on day one was RUSTY EGAN with a part live-part DJ presentation of his upcoming record ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’.

Augmented by NIKONN and CHRIS PAYNE, it began with a marvellous dual overture where the latter performed instrumental piano based renditions of ‘Down In The Park’ and ‘Fade To Grey’, while sneaking in snatches of Numan evergreens ‘Are Friends Electric?’ and ‘Cars’ as well.

Seguing into the ‘Nu Cinematic’ ambient version of VISAGE’s German No1 featuring Payne on violin, there was then the surprise inclusion of the beautiful VISAGE instrumental ‘Whispers’; this was not entirely successful as the monitor problems continued, but it was a brave choice and more than welcome for that very reason.

rusty-egan-live-2016Erik Stein from CULT WITH NO NAME joined the ensemble for ‘Ballet Dancer’ and ‘Love Is Coming My Way’, his voice more than complimenting the two synth heavy tunes before the video playback section. Featuring the lead vocals of Andy Huntley, Midge Ure, Emily Kavanaugh and Tony Hadley, such was his enthusiasm, Egan couldn’t resist joining in on the mic. But Egan got his turn on lead when he morphed into an MC for ‘Wonderwerke’, adding a “was ist das?” snarl shaped by his inimitable London swagger.

Closing the main set with ‘Thank You’, Egan’s vocodered list of musical heroes over layers of sweeping synths even prompted him to walk into the audience to encourage their additional robotised contributions.

The following day began with artists and journalists being given an informal tour of Düsseldorf by Rudi Esch. The landmarks included Düsseldorf HBF where KRAFTWERK had their iconic monochromatic photo on Gleis 17 taken and the entrance to the former Kling Klang studios.

john-foxx-talks-about-conny-plankAmong those present were JOHN FOXX and MARSHEAUX, with one particularly memorable moment taking place outside Der Ratinger Hof, when Foxx held court as he chatted about working with Conny Plank on ‘Systems Of Romance’. Appropriately, formal second day proceedings began with the showing of ‘Keine Atempause – Düsseldorf, Der Ratinger Hof und Die Neue Musik’, a film about the city’s music scene followed by a panel Q&A.

But afterwards, a familiar character from Berlin reappeared. The scheduled speaker MARTYN WARE had unfortunately been taken ill, so MARK REEDER kindly stepped in with an interview in English conducted by The Electricity Club. This chat differed slightly from the day before, focussing on Reeder’s own music career and his long association with NEW ORDER.

Interviewed by German journalist Ecki Stieg, JOHN FOXX gave a marvellously eloquent talk covering his entire career. Working with Brian Eno on the first ULTRAVOX! album, the one-time ROXY MUSIC synthesist told Foxx it was important to keep a space at the end of an album to make a new song out of nothing; that nothing of course became ‘My Sex’. Reflecting on the recording of ‘Systems Of Romance’ to applause from the attentive audience, Foxx also declared Conny Plank as the most important record producer since George Martin.

john-foxx-at-electri_city_conferenceDespite the innovation of his debut solo album ‘Metamatic’, Foxx moved away from pure electronics due to criticism that his music was cold. At the time he thought “Maybe I’ve done the wrong thing… it made me afraid of my own music in a way… I’ve never been any good at judging the quality of what I do, I like it but don’t know if it’s any good or not!” – this led to the more band oriented sound of the follow-up ‘The Garden’ which included the actual ‘Systems Of Romance’ song.

Talking about his third solo album ‘The Golden Section’, Foxx said “I wanted to combine electronics with psychedelia… I think I failed because I tried to fit too many favourite things together. It’s always a mistake, it’s like having a meal with all your favourite food, you have fish and pudding and cake and soup and it’s not good! You might love them all, but if you put them on the same plate… but it was out of enthusiasm so I can forgive my younger self for making mistakes like that!”

cult-with-no-name-dusseldorf-2106Post-punk balladeers CULT WITH NO NAME and their inherent laid-back atmospheres provided the perfect transition into the evening’s programme of live music.

While many of CULT WITH NO NAME’s songs are piano based, it’s when they mix in some uptempo electronic tension that things get really interesting. This was exemplified by ‘Rosabelle Believe’, a new song featuring Steven Brown of cult art rockers TUXEDOMOON.

Also including the best known number ‘Breathing’, those still recovering from the techno and deep house barrage at Time Warp on the night before would have found this set most welcoming.

Premiered in 2014 at London’s South Bank, JOHN FOXX and STEVE D’AGOSTINO supported by visual artist KARBORN gave an assured performance of ‘Evidence Of Time Travel’, “a unique investigation of the terrors and pleasures of temporal displacement. A sinister sonic architecture of drum-machine-music and analogue synthesizers”.

evidence-of-time-travel-02KARBORN’s cut-up images and filmed segments complimented the stark and stoic soundtrack.

A continually evolving audio / visual experience, the finale of ‘Empty Clothing Blows Across A Beach’ saw Katia Isakoff join the trio on a Moog Theremin as they locked into a wonderfully trippy improvisation with disturbing schizophrenic voices also reverberating around the enclosure.

The second day concluded with a unique presentation of the silent art movie ‘Nuntius’. Featuring a live improvised soundtrack from Finnish musicians JIMI TENOR and JORI HULKKONEN, the film stars MR NORMALL as its central, alien character. Seemingly manufactured in outer space, MR NORMALL explores the woods, stares intensely and even rides a motorcycle sidecar combination through a tunnel in Helsinki with a Shetland sheepdog named Louis.

nuntius-film-02The film’s accompanying music ranged from blippy ambient to frantic motorik, with Tenor occasionally taking to a flute while Hulkkonen brought out his portable Trautonium, an electronic instrument with a pressure sensitive glided board and whose conceptual origins date back to 1929. The whole experience was totally mindbending and when MR NORMALL appeared on stage with Tenor and Hulkkonen, things became even more surreal.

It was fabulous weekend that was a reminder of Düsseldorf’s importance as a centre for art, culture and fashion. With the rising profile of the ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE, the 2017 event will be a must-attend date in next year’s diary.


rudi-at-der-ratinger-hofThe Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Rudi Esch and Carsten Siewert

Live performances can be viewed at
http://concert.arte.tv/de/electricity-conference

www.electricity-conference.com/

www.facebook.com/ELECTRICITY.Conference

www.facebook.com/Electri.city.Esch/

daniel-miller-und-chris-liebingwww.jorihulkkonen.com/

www.facebook.com/jimitenor/

www.mrnormall.net/

www.metamatic.com/

www.altersonicsound.com/

www.karborn.com/

women-produce-and-love-electronic-musicwww.cultwithnoname.com/

http://rustyegan.net/

http://www.electronicmusiclibrary.com/

www.facebook.com/undonikonn/

http://marsheaux.com/

https://twitter.com/theericrandom

john-foxx-marsheauxhttp://mute.com/

www.clr.net/

www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/

www.electroniccircus.co.uk/

https://bellerophon-records.com/

www.groenland.com/en/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Markus Luigs, Roger Kamp, Lola Li and Chi Ming Lai
23rd October 2016

A Beginner’s Guide To UNDO RECORDS

UNDO-blkUndo Records is the Athens based record company founded by Nick Bitzenis and George Geranios.

Continuing the tradition of iconic labels like Factory and Mute with an attention to detail and a tasteful if occasionally eccentric design aesthetic, Undo’s physical products have captured the hearts of music fans worldwide and become highly sought after collector’s items.

Legend has it that the name Undo was actually an abbreviation of “United Donkeys” after the name “Gaga” was rejected! The label was conceived by the pair as a better way of utilising their business interests in light of a lucrative sponsorship deal for Bitzenis’ band MIKRO that saw little return for the power pop combo after a three album tenure with Warner Music Greece.

Undo’s first release though was actually ‘E-Bay Queen’ by MARSHEAUX in 2004, featuring the catalogue number KUCD001 which reflected Undo’s then partnership with distributor Klik Records. Meanwhile, MIKRO’s fourth album ‘180°’ was the label’s second release as KUCD002.

But it was following the cult success of MARSHEAUX’s breakthrough release ‘Peek ABoo’ in 2007 that the label secured a wider distribution deal with EMI Greece. With fans such as Andy McCluskey, Tom Robinson, Stuart Maconie and Jared Leto, the Athens based synth maidens have since become Undo Records’ most acclaimed and prized asset, with MARSHEAUX’s most recent album ‘Inhale’ becoming their biggest seller to date.

MARSHEAUX_PeekaBooA decade later and the label have nearly fifty releases to its name including some key names from classic and contemporary electronic music.

“We make electro pop records!” Undo say, so quite why a representative from a UK music distributor approached them about licensing the BEADY EYE debut long player still remains a mystery!

So here are eighteen songs affectionately chosen by The Electricity Club for a fantasy CD compilation that represents the ethos of Undo Records. Restricted to one song per artist moniker or guest vocalist combination and arranged in catalogue number / chronological order, this is A Beginner’s Guide to Undo Records…


FOTONOVELA But Not Tonight (2005)

Greek Tribute to DMNick Bitzenis and George Geranios had initially met through the Greek DEPECHE MODE fan club Hysterika. So a DM covers album featuring the best of Greece’s independent bands was a natural artistic undertaking for the pair. MARSHEAUX contributed ‘New Life’ while MIKRO did ‘World In My Eyes’. But the highlight turned out to be from Bitzenis and Geranios themselves via their own music production platform FOTONOVELA with a lounge cover of Da Mode’s often forgotten but popular B-side ‘But Not Tonight’ featuring Bitzenis on lead vocals.

From the CD compilation ‘Around The World & Back: A Greek Tribute To Depeche Mode’ (V/A) – KUCD003

http://www.facebook.com/undofotonovela


MESH Crash (2006)

MESHwecollide62005’s ‘We Collide’ was MESH’s best album to date at that point, so it was a major coup for Undo to have been able to license it for their fourth catalogue release. With ‘Crash’, MESH continued on their usual regular lyrical gists on the conflict within the human condition, providing the sort of synthesized anthems that the blues obsessed 21st Century DEPECHE MODE no longer delivered. For one of the album’s extras on the Undo variant, MARSHEAUX contributed a brilliant electro disco remix of ‘Crash’.

From the CD album ‘We Collide’ – KUCD004

http://www.mesh.co.uk/


NIKONN Sunday (2006)

Nikonn-poladroidAlthough a cult success in Greece via his power pop outfit MIKRO, Nick Bitzenis wanted an outlet to express some of his more soundtrack based ideas… enter NIKONN. His beautiful solo debut album ‘Poladroid’ opened with ‘Sunday’, a rich chill out tapestry in the vein of MOBY featuring expansive synths, soothing vocoder and the exquisite vocals of Maria Papadopoulou. Incidentally, ‘Poladroid’ sold out its original KUCD005 run and was reissued as an ‘SX70 Edition’ with bonus material in 2013 while NIKONN’s work has appeared on ‘CSI: Miami’ and numerous bar compilations.

From the 2CD album ‘Poladroid – SX70 Edition’ – CDUN05

https://www.facebook.com/undonikonn


ESTE Ready For Love (2007)

Undo LM.End_1While ‘Ready For Love’ was actually a Eurodisco hit from the film ‘Deep End’ featuring the Greek actress and Playboy model Maria Korinthiou on lead vocals, the song appeared on a CD compiled by Undo Records that was given away free with domestic music magazine ‘Pop+Rock’ in Spring 2007. Breathy and highly alluring, the mysterious connection that enabled ‘Ready For Love’ to be included was that ESTE turned out to be Bitzenis and Geranios’ production wing FOTONOVELA in disguise!

From the CD compilation album ‘Undo LM.End_1’ (V/A) – MPH049

https://www.facebook.com/maria.korinthiou.official.Fan.Page


MIKRO Kalinihta (2007)

Originating from Greece’s other big city Thessaloniki, MIKRO were noted for their catchy uptempo party anthems. ‘Kalinihta’ from their fifth album ‘Restart’ perfectly captured the imminent conclusion of a rousing night out with some seductive Greek language vocals by Ria Mazini. ‘Restart’ was the first Undo release that featured a ‘CDUN-’ catalogue prefix, reflecting their new distribution deal with EMI Greece. Meanwhile, MIKRO’s next album was released by Undo in separate Greek and English CD editions as ‘Download’ and ‘Upload’ respectively in 2009.

From the CD album ‘Restart’ – CDUN07

http://www.mikro.gr


CLIENT Zerox Machine (2008)

CLIENT Heartland undoBy 2007, CLIENT had left Mute Records and had secured a new European deal with Out Of Line for their third album ‘Heartland’. In 2008, Undo licensed the album for the Greek and Cypriot markets. ‘Zerox Machine’ was a futuristic pop cover of the cult ADAM & THE ANTS favourite that was simultaneously glamorous, cold, emotional and sexy. In a touring tie-in which also saw MARSHEAUX sign to Out Of Line for the rest of Europe while Undo developed a close friendship with lead singer Client B aka SARAH BLACKWOOD that continues to this day.

From the CD album ‘Heartland’ – CDUN09

http://www.clientlondon.com/


KID MOXIE Selector – Fotonovela remix (2009)

KKidMoxie_undoKID MOXIE is the musical project of stunning LA based actress Elena Charbila whose film career has seen her appear alongside Al Pacino and Malcolm MacDowell. Prior to her current cinematic phase on songs like ‘The Bailor’, her first album ‘Selector’ dabbled in what Charbila termed “Gutter Pop”. For the Greek physical edition of the release, FOTONOVELA took the title track and imagined ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reworked as an electro disco track for one of the bonuses while MARSHEAUX remixed ‘Medium Pleasure’.

From the CD album ‘Selector’ – CDUN11

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie


PARRALOX X Minus One (2009)

‘Electronically Yours’ was a compilation that gathered a number of the new synthesizer acts such as MARSHEAUX, HIDDEN PLACE, KATSEN, TECHNOLOGIC and RED BLOODED WOMEN. Melbourne’s PARRALOX were led by John von Ahlen who produced a vibrant New York electro disco track ‘X Minus One’ that when coupled with the sexy MADONNA-like vocals of Roxy and a sparkling transposing chorus melody, was a glitterball floor filler that Arthur Baker would have been proud of.

From the 2CD compilation album ‘Electronically Yours’ (V/A) – CDUN14

http://www.parralox.com


MARSHEAUX Radial Emotion (2009)

marsheaux Lumineux Noir Cover High RezWith two albums to their name, Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou delivered on their promise with their most accomplished work to date in ‘Lumineux Noir’. ‘Radial Emotion’ with its infectious chorus and vibrant syncopated beats almost stole the show on an album which also included some of MARSHEAUX’s best songs like ‘Sorrow’, ‘Breakthrough’, ‘Summer’, ‘So Far’ and ‘Exit’. The innovative packaging for ‘Lumineux Noir’ consisted of a perforated black box that needed breaking to access the CD… thus, many fans bought one to play and one to display!

From the CD album ‘Lumineux Noir’ – CDUN16

https://www.facebook.com/marsheaux


ROCKETS IN A COMA You In Me (2009)

ROCKETS IN A COMA CDROCKETS IN A COMA’s striking front woman Elektra first came to prominence as a guest vocalist on FOTONOVELA’s 2008 debut ‘Mistakes Are Good’. With her feisty vocal style coupled with musical partner Java Kid’s eclectic production style, the duo delivered a mutant strain of dominatrix electro rock disco with hints of MIKRO, THE CURE and GOLDFRAPP. This was wonderfully showcased on their first single ‘Psycholover’ and ‘You In Me’. But despite these sexily provocative overtures, Elektra has since effectively retired from music in order to raise a family.

From the CD album ‘Square Strawberries’ – CDUN17

http://www.undorecords.com/RocketsInAComa.html


TAREQ Mosquito (2010)

IMG_127Greco Jordanian vocalist TAREQ was a member of TECH SOIR who released their only album ‘Dark Room’ on Undo in 2007. So it was not a total surprise when his solo debut appeared on the label in mid-2010. The relaxed but pacey drum ‘n’ pop of ‘Mosquito’ was enhanced by a charming vocal croon that was not that different from INXS’ Michael Hutchence. Indeed, the parent album ‘Cocoon’ featured a cover of ‘Need You Tonight’ to further substantiate the link. TAREQ’s second album on Undo entitled ‘Fish’ came out in 2013.

From the CD album ‘Cocoon’ – CDUN24

http://www.facebook.com/Tareqdisco


OMD Green (2010)

‘Green’ was a demo from the solo phase of OMD that Andy McCluskey wrote with Stuart Kershaw and sounded like a ploddy rock ballad. Taking ‘Almost’ as a reference point with its white noise-like cymbal, Paul Humphreys reworked the track with a classic but contemporary electronic feel that became one of the highlights of ‘History Of Modern’. For its Greek release, Undo put the standard album into a lavish box with a bonus remix EP and ribboned it with a unique OMD wax seal.

From the 2CD+DVD boxset ‘History Of Modern’ – CDUN25

http://www.omd-messages.co.uk


ROLLA SCAPE featuring MARSHEAUX Heaven Is Real (2011)

Rolla_Scape_st__CoverMARSHEAUX found themselves in funky disco mode on this guest appearance with ROLLA SCAPE, a pseudonym of K.BHTA, an Athens based Australian electronic musician. While the wispy vocal tones of Marianthi Melitsi are unmistakeable, the repetitive and sparse dance flavour of ‘Heaven Is Real’ augmented by rhythm guitar is quite unlike anything else in the MARSHEAUX catalogue and an enjoyable diversion away from their more obvious synthpop sound.

From the CD album ‘Rolla Scape’ CDUN28

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rollascape/148634268497058


MIRRORS Somewhere Strange (2011)

MIIRORS-Greek_CdA unity of art and technology, MIRRORS were the perfectly modern take on the Synth Britannia era. The outstanding ‘Somewhere Strange’ was possibly the most euphoric and roaring train ride since NEW ORDER’s ‘Temptation’ with a hypnotic assault of propulsive blips and cacophonies of percussive noise. Undo’s special 2CD release of ‘Lights & Offerings’ chronicled the album and the brilliant B-sides. The Undo arrangement led to singer James New contributing the brilliant ‘Our Sorrow’ and ‘Romeo & Juliet’ on FOTONOVELA’s ‘A Ton Of Love’ in 2013.

From the 2CD album ‘Lights & Offerings’ – CDUN31

http://mirrorsofficial.bandcamp.com/


LIEBE Flamingo Nights (2012)

With the spectre of Moroder and the slight, unorthodox vocal vibe of PULP’s Jarvis Cocker looming, the Thessaloniki based electro duo LIEBE borrowed an Italo style reminiscent of PET SHOP BOYS but added an extra sense of tongue-in-cheek. Also fusing elements of THE HUMAN LEAGUE to their highly immediate sparkling disco sound, the first single from the ‘Somewhere In Time’ album, ‘Strangers’ was a radio success in their home country while ‘Flamingo Nights’ took their uplifting retro euphoria even further.

From the CD album ‘Somewhere In Time’ – CDUN34

http://www.liebe.gr


VIENNA Rendez-Vous Sur La Mer Noire (2013)

VIENNA box artVIENNA were a cult French synth act who were led by Odile Arias, best known for being Martin Gore’s girlfriend at the time when the iconic DEPECHE MODE ‘101’ documentary was filmed. Lively and sublime with an almost Middle eastern derived melody, ‘Rendez-Vous Sur La Mer Noire’ was originally released in 1984 as the B-side to their debut single ‘Say You Love Me (Tu As Juré)’. VIENNA captured a promising Gallic electro sound that never got fully realised back in the day. But in Undo’s first retrospective product, they were rescued from obscurity in this lavish boxset.

From the 4CD boxset ‘History 1984-1991’ – BXCDUN39

http://www.undorecords.com/ViennaComilationBox.html


FOTONOVELA feat SARAH BLACKWOOD Justice (2013)

tonofloveThe 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 as a homage to the genre. Andy McCluskey was the first to come on board but the resultant song ‘Helen Of Troy’ turned out so well that it ended up on OMD’s ‘English Electric’! Undeterred, the duo recruited MARSHEAUX, KID MOXIE, MIRRORS and SARAH BLACKWOOD who took FOTONOVELA onto a cloudier but enjoyable hitchhike through the North West of England with her feisty contribution to ‘Justice’.

From the CD album ‘A Ton Of Love’ – CDUN46

http://www.eblackwood.com/


SAD DISCO Beat (2014)

Sad_Disco_Lp_Cover“If Dimitris Biniaris and Theod Kopoul hadn’t formed SAD DISCO, they would probably hate each other” said their enlightening press release. Creative tension can be a positive thing in music, so with interests as disparate as heavy metal, post-punk and err… sad disco, the duo set about making music that was like “the sound echoing in your head while you are walking away from a club”. With hints of THE PRESETS and CUT / COPY, the grooving disco lento on ‘Beat’ provides an appropriate backing for the introvert melancholy of Binaris’ high register vocals.

From the vinyl LP ‘Sad Disco’ – LPUN47

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


undo-logoFor further information on Undo Records and their online shop, please visit www.undorecords.com

https://www.facebook.com/undorecords/

https://twitter.com/undorecords


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th September 2014, updated 19th April 2017

KID MOXIE Interview

Photo by Jazz Beitler

Photo by Jazz Beitler

KID MOXIE is the musical moniker of Elena Charbila, the Greek born bass playing singer and actress based in Los Angeles.

Her 2007 debut EP ‘Human Stereo’ featured the atmospherically Gallic ‘La Romance D’Hiver’ which appeared on the soundtrack of the TV series ‘The L Word’. A full length album ‘Selector’ was released by Undo Records in 2009 and included bonus remixes by MARSHEAUX and FOTONOVELA.

Continuing her association with Undo, she guested on NIKONN’s album ‘Instamatic’ in 2011. On it, her contributions on ‘The Sea’ and ‘Moby Is Around’ provided the most perfect of Aegean chill out tunes while ‘Nikonn Vals’ provided a dreamy Hellenic take on GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Oompa Radar’

This year, she recorded possibly her best song yet as KID MOXIE with the beautiful transience of ‘The Bailor’; the song has become a favourite of DJs like Rusty Egan. Meanwhile, a Wayfarer remix was recently commissioned in aid of the David Lynch Foundation.

The second KID MOXIE album is slated for 2014 and is set to feature a collaboration with renowned film composer Angelo Badalamenti via a new version of ‘Mysteries Of Love’ which he co-wrote with David Lynch and originally recorded with JULEE CRUISE. Meanwhile, her marvellous collaboration with FOTONOVELA called ‘Freeze Frame’ has just been released on their new album ‘A Ton Of Love’.

Keeping herself busy with a variety of musical and acting projects, Elena Charbila kindly took time out to speak to The Electricity Club about her varied career so far…

Photo by Jazz Beitler

The KID MOXIE project has developed quite considerably since the ‘Human Stereo’ debut EP and your first album ‘Selector’. How have your found your musical journey so far?

I feel that making albums is much like keeping a very personal diary of your life. The time that has passed since 2007 has changed me and that gets reflected in the sounds I’m inspired to create. If I were going to explain in terms of genre crossing, the music I was making back then was closer to electro pop/gutter pop, whereas now it’s more cinematic pop.

Who or what have been your main influences?

Caves with stalactites and stalagmites. I have always liked the way they make me feel.

MARSHEAUX’s remix of ‘Medium Pleasure’ was the track most readers of The Electricity Club came to know your work. How does it feel to have your work reinterpreted by others, especially when the resultant consensus sometimes judges the rework to be better?

It’s very refreshing to have my stuff remixed by musicians whose taste I trust. MARSHEAUX are so talented and I might even agree that they made the song sound better than the original!

Working with NIKONN on his 2012 ‘Instamatic’ album appeared to have pointed you to a more breathy continental vocal style which influenced the sound of ‘The Bailor’?

I am not sure if there was a direct influence between NIKONN’s album and ‘The Bailor’ but I tend to believe that everything is interconnected so there is a chance that this might be true. NIKONN’s album is definitely a very beautiful and ethereal musical journey, which really agrees with me aesthetically.

kid moxie-eleniWhere did the idea for ‘The Bailor’ come from and how did it take shape in the studio?

My good friend who I co-wrote the song with, Seth Olansky, came to me with that title and I found it to be pretty ambiguous and therefore, inspiring.

The definition of a bailor is “someone who gives something to someone for safe keeping”. That idea sparked much of the lyrics and the melody that followed. Then Dan Hoal (producer for most of the KID MOXIE stuff) added his beautifully scratchy baritone vocals to the track and when they were layered underneath mine, they created a really nice sonic sandwich.

A Wayfarer remix of ‘The Bailor’ has been released in aid of the David Lynch Foundation. How did you become involved with the organisation and what are its aims?

Apart from having been a hardcore David Lynch fan since I was a teen, I am also a great fan of the causes of his Foundation, which are mainly to help underprivileged populations across the world by raising awareness towards their issues and implementing Transcendental Meditation, along with other methods in order to heal traumatic stress. The David Lynch Foundation has accumulated a great roster of artists (including Moby, Dave Stewart, Iggy Pop, Katy Perry etc) that help raise awareness through performance and music creation, whose proceeds benefit the DLF’s charities. I feel fortunate to be part of the DLF family.

You have a further connection with David Lynch in that you’ve recorded a version of ‘Mysteries Of Love’ from ‘Blue Velvet’ with none other than Angelo Baladamenti himself?

Angelo Badalamenti apart from being one of the most innovative film composers of all times is also one of the most generous and gracious people I have ever met. I am truly grateful that he trusted me with his newly recorded composition of ‘Mysteries Of Love’. The lyrics were written by David Lynch himself.

The more recent KID MOXIE material including ‘Freeze Frame’ for FOTONOVELA on their album ‘A Ton of Love’ has a much more widescreen, atmospheric template than your previous work. How will your new album differ from ‘Selector’ and does it have a title yet?

There is no official title for the new record yet but it will be out next spring. It is a very different sound and atmosphere from ‘Selector’ which was more playful and girlie. The new album is a more cinematic approach to pop.

‘Selector’ was released on Undo Records and you are very much part of the extended Undo electro family; they have a reputation for innovative packaging. Have you decided how you will release your next album and how the artwork will reflect the music?

The artwork will definitely have to reflect the essence of the album. There is nothing set yet, but I am talking to a very talented UK photographer whose aesthetic really matches the music in the album.

the kid and AlDo you see yourself as a musician, actress or just an all round artist? Do you find it difficult to be taken seriously with such a varied portfolio of abilities?

Both acting and music come from the same need, the need to express myself. With music, I have a greater freedom cause I get to write, direct and perform exactly what I want, the way I want to perform it. I feel that as long as you love and respect the work you do, being taken seriously should be a natural consequence of that.

But music isn’t that straightforward to earn a living from these days, certainly compared with other artistic professions, not that it’s easy anyway! How do you keep yourself motivated?

My experience has been that if you create something of quality, and you believe in it enough, it will (sooner or later!) earn you a living. Loving what I do is the motivation itself.

Kid Moxie with Micheal BubleYou recently appeared in a Michael Bublé video. How did that come about and what was that like?

I flew to Canada to shoot three videos with Michael Bublé as part of his band. His production team was looking for a (real) female bass player to support him and after seeing my videos, they got in touch with me through my agent and a few days later, we were shooting in Vancouver. Buble was such a sweet and down to earth kind of guy and made every one feel like we were a little family.

You’ve also worked with Al Pacino in the film ‘Wilde Salome’ … is there anyone else you would like to work with?

There are so many people I would love to work with still. I would be thrilled to collaborate with musicians like BAT FOR LASHES, ZOLA JESUS, TRENTEMØLLER and so many more. As far as acting, I do love comedy so much so I’m looking forward to getting more parts that make room for a lot of silliness to take place.

What are your future plans, either as yourself or KID MOXIE?

I am currently putting the finishing touches on my album, to be released next year. I will also be acting in a movie in January that stars Malcolm McDowell; it’s called ‘Bereave’. I am also involved in making some music for that film, and that’s something I am very excited about.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Elena Charbila

‘The Bailor’ is available as a download single

‘Selector’ is available as a download album via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie

http://www.reverbnation.com/kidmoxie

http://soundcloud.com/kidmoxie

http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org.uk/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th December 2013

NIKONN Interview

NIKONN-InstamaticNick Bitzenis is the musical genius behind Greek power popsters MIKRO and the co-founder of Undo Records with George Geranios.

With Geranios, he is also a member of FOTONOVELA who not only released their own album ‘Mistakes Are Good’ in 2008 but also produced MARSHEAUX’s three albums ‘E-Bay Queen’, ‘Peek a Boo’ and ‘Lumineux Noir’.

Another notable production was the 2004 Eurodisco hit ‘Ready For Love’ featuring the model Maria Korinthiou as guest vocalist for ESTE, who on closer scrutiny were found to actually be FOTONOVELA in disguise! Never one to sit still, he also has a brilliant solo project under the moniker NIKONN.

nikonn1In addition to instrumentals, it has featured a variety of guest vocalists such Maria Papadopoulou (whose own album Nick also produced) and Maroola Koutsouri as well as his own voice. Released in 2005, the superb debut ‘Poladroid’ quietly became one of Undo Records biggest sellers. It was the perfect electronic chill-out album with beautiful widescreen textures, warm melodies and subtle beats. The 2008 follow-up ‘Utopia’, described by Nick as “a soundtrack of our dreams”, maintained the high standards set by ‘Poladroid’.

NIKONN’s brand new album ‘Instamatic’ began its genesis with a strong Nordic influence. Indeed, the working titles of the tracks referred to countries or regions in the area.

But the final titles themselves reflect the continual tranquillity that was part of the original concept. This has now been combined with a sun-kissed drama that can only come from living close to the Aegean Sea. ‘Instamatic’ itself is a wonderfully dreamy listen, rich in wispy vox femina and nominally more uptempo than its two predecessors.

Although entitled ‘Silence’, this opening number is paradoxically percussive and features Nick’s own vocals alongside the gated, indie-like backing. ‘The Sea’ is suitably Mediterranean with sexily breathy vocals from KID MOXIE’s Elena Charbila while ‘Afterimage’ is what DEPECHE MODE would have sounded like, if Martin Gore had moved to Barcelona instead of Berlin in 1984 and replaced Dave Gahan with Patsy Kensit.

kid-moxie‘Moby Is Around’ also featuring KID MOXIE does exactly what it says on the tin and is a charming tribute to the former Richard Hall.

The title track’s gorgeous string pads continue the MOBY theme while on the neo-rave of ‘Lifeless’, the ghost of ‘Go’ isn’t far away. However, the angelic chorals provide a great counterpoint to the thumping dance beats.

‘All We Can Do Is Love’ recalls the laid back lounge of AIR’s ‘You Make It Easy’ although at the opposite end of the spectrum, Someday is surprisingly motorik. Piano textures and strings shape the effervescent ‘La Bottega’ while the charming mystique of the French Yeh-Yeh girls and some Riviera vibes concoct the lovely cocktail that is ‘Sunrise’.

‘Nikonn Vals’ provides a waltz interlude before finishing the album with ‘Lust’, a comparatively discordant collage with steady drum loops jarring against the vibrato synth lines. A satisfying fifteen tracks form Instamatic and as an ideal travel companion for a holiday soundtrack, it is perfect.

In a break from his busy schedule, Nick Bitzenis joined The Electricity Club for a spot of Souvlaki and a chat about his varied catalogue of work.

Who were the artists that inspired you to become an electronic musician?

The first artist that inspired me was KRAFTWERK. Then after KRAFTWERK, there was DEPECHE MODE, VANGELIS, OMD, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and YAZOO.

Are you a classically trained musician?

No, I’m self-taught. As a kid, I liked playing with buttons to make noises. When I was five years old, I cried for one week to my father to buy me a small keyboard!

I understand you once played in a DEPECHE MODE tribute band?

Yes, that’s correct. I was in a band called NAKIN EYES that played covers.

But the tribute band that only played DEPECHE MODE songs was CARPE DIEM IV, the name is Latin.

What was your favourite DEPECHE MODE song to play?

I think ‘Stripped’. We played the festival that Hysterika, the Greek DM Fan Club held which is where I met George Geranios.

You have been recently touring with MIKRO in Greece with the Download album, how is your popularity in your home country?

It is very big; I think we are the most famous home-grown electronic band in Greece.

You also played in London in November 2009 supporting MARSHEAUX to promote the English version of the album called ‘Upload’. How do you think it was received?

We were very nervous about it, but because we usually play to an audience who like already like our music. So it was a big surprise that we had people dancing to our music and like it. I know it is very difficult in England, in London to present this kind of music… it’s a tough audience but the feedback we received was very nice for us, it gives us more power to continue our work.

How do you feel about this age of free downloading?

It helps spread the music. Downloading is only a type of media, what’s important is the music. In ten years from now, it will be another type of media. We had CDs, then minidiscƒ do you remember minidisc? *laughs*

What do you think about the loss of sound quality in MP3s?

People have moved from listening to music on Hi-Fi to headphones. 90% of people do this so they can’t understand the difference in sound.

What influenced you to undertake an ambient solo project such as NIKONN. Was it the success of artists such as MOBY, ROYKSOPP and even Greece’s own VANGELIS?

With MIKRO, it’s loud musicƒmore power pop. I needed a solo project to express some of my sound ideas. It’s like an atmospheric soundtrack with electronic moods. I like soundtrack music very much.

Your music as NIKONN has a wonderful filmic quality. Has it been featured on any soundtracks yet?

One track was featured on ‘CSI: Miami’. NIKONN is more successful abroad; I have four tracks from the ‘Poladroid’ and ‘Utopia’ albums on various ‘bar’ compilations.

Do you prefer female vocals on your work?

I like girly vocals very much but it depends on the song. If itÍs my vocals or a girl’s vocals, itÍs not a problem for me.

You are part of MARSHEAUX’s production team. What is it like working with the girls in the studio?

It’s very hard work! *laughs*

You are very busy with FOTONOVELA too. The first album ‘Mistakes Are Good’ appeared to be more grooves rather than songs. So what concept will the new album take?

FOTONOVELA was George’s idea to make pure electro music with 80s influences like Italo Discoƒ the band’s name is taken from the song. The new album goes further with songs.

We would like to have a more serious but modern sound and make the music that we like, whatever! And the vocals, we will experiment. We hope to have a lot of guests; we are talking to Claudia Brucken from PROPANGANDA and ONETWO, Sarah Blackwood from DUBSTAR and CLIENT, and Daryl Smith from THEY GO BOOM.

What have been your favourite albums or artists over the last 12-18 months?

GROOVE ARMADA ‘Black Light’ is my favourite album at the moment; I listen to it all the time. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ album ‘Further’ is good. I also like MIRRORS ‘Lights And Offerings’ and THE SOUND OF ARROWS. THE GOLDEN FILTER ‘Volupsa’ is very nice, although I didn’t like ‘Head First’ by GOLDFRAPP; but I’m in love with Alison and the first albums ‘Felt Mountain’ and ‘Black Cherry’.


The Electricity Club gives its thanks to Nick Bitzenis

NIKONN ‘Instamatic’ is released by Undo Records

https://www.facebook.com/undonikonn/

http://www.undorecords.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
31st May 2011