If Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had not been part of The Disney Club but actually raised by The Addams Family, would they have ended up making a record like this?
Fresh from lending her voice to one of the songs of 2017 in AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s ‘Rhythm + Control’, NYXX begins her year with some ‘Voodoo’.
Laced in lusty gothic tension with robotic voices and an almost evangelical middle eight from Daniel Graves, ‘Voodoo’ is like its predecessor ‘Diabolical’, co-written by the AESTHETIC PERFECTION main man.
The promo video, self-directed by NYXX, sees the striking tattooed starlet out in the dust and briars of the LA countryside, pondering how best to dispose of her latest victim because “that girl is psycho”!
The speedier Danny Armand Remix of ‘Voodoo’ with its stutters and drops, comes over like Britney gone dubstep so won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
But with its enticing pop sensibilities and a sinister animist backdrop of swirling electronics built around the rhythmic snap of imperial phase LADY GAGA, the single version of ‘Voodoo’ is the first truly happening tune of 2018.
‘Voodoo’ is released as a download bundle by Close To Human Music through the usual digital outlets
The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.
Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner MARK REEDER used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.
After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and GARY NUMAN refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.
But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.
Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.
Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.
Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.
By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.
Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just The Electricity Club 😉
Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…
The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.
As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.
Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.
No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.
Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.
2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.
Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer JORI HULKKONEN released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.
One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but MICHAEL OAKLEY and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.
Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and HANNAH PEEL embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.
Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.
Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set
Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.
With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.
It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…
While The Electricity Club does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.
Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.
However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.
However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, The Electricity Club maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.
Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉
It was a year when the veterans re-established their standing within electronic pop.
That was not to that comparatively newer acts weren’t making a good impression, it was just that a fair number of established acts gave their all and were producing some of their best work since their imperial heyday.
Great tracks by SPARKS, OUTERNATIONALE, SPACEPRODIGI, iEUROPEAN, PARALLELS, KITE, FEVER RAY, SOL FLARE, SOFTWAVE, KNIGHT$, 2RAUMWHONUNG, JORI HULKKONEN, FIFI RONG and KITE BASE made it onto the shortlist, but despite their quality, they did not make the final listing.
Also not included are songs from ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’, the debut album from RUSTY EGAN; although gaining a physical release this year, it was reviewed by The Electricity Club in the Autumn of last year when download versions of the long player were distributed to those who had purchased it in advance via Pledge Music. Meanwhile, its closing track ‘Thank You’ was included in The Electricity Club’s 30 Songs Of 2016.
So restricted to purchasable releases only and one song per artist moniker, here are The Electricity Club’s 30 Songs Of 2017 in alphabetical order…
AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Mix
Additionally featuring NYXX and WILLIAM CONTROL on vocals, ‘Rhythm + Control’ saw Daniel Graves take AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s industrial pop to the next level via his new singles only policy. The magnificent Electro Mix successfully realised this oddball blend of Darren Hayes, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson. With a mightily elastic bassline, when asked whether The Electricity Club had gone crazy coming up with the comparison, Daniel Graves replied “God no. Spot on, guys!”
From only the third solo album in the long career of Richard Barbieri, ‘Solar Sea’ was a sleazy rhythmic excursion into another world. With the one-time JAPAN sound designer using a Roland System 700 for its bassline, the track’s atonal jazz feel was augmented by the haunting voice manipulations of Lisen Rylander Löve through a vintage Soviet submarine microphone and warping noises offset by soothing brass inflections and live drums.
The American electronic rock quartet BATTLE TAPES continued to develop from their 2015 debut album ‘Polygon’ via their ‘Form’ EP. The best track ‘Control’ hinged around a syncopated filtered synth bass and a brilliantly catchy chorus sung by Josh Boardman, with enough guitars for power and texture without distracting from the overall electronic aesthetic, and even coming over like a heavier Stateside version of SIN COS TAN.
“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style” and sounding like a long lunch followed by a round of cocktails, Australian duo CLIENT LIAISON roped in one-time TV talent show star Tina Arena to duet on a lush slice of romantic pop that also rode on the current fashion for Synthwave. ‘A Foreign Affair’ could have easily been a Rat Pack movie song.
CULT WITH NO NAME All I Have Is Yours (Including You)
CULT WITH NO NAME have never been short of mood, but their eighth album ‘Heir Of The Dog’ proved to be their best yet, combining a variety of tempos and textures. With a memorable crooning vocal from Erik Stein complimented by an enticing harmony from Sirena Riley and lush electronic backing sounding like OMD by the Aegean Sea, ‘All I Have Is Yours (Including You)’ was a song that rose forever and ever like one of Aphrodite’s grandchildren.
Johan Baeckström made positive waves with his debut solo album ‘Like Before’ in 2015 but reunited with his musical partner Jarmo Ollila, producing an excellent third album with more tempo variation than their 2014 offering ‘Two’. Featuring the guest vocals of Mac Austin from cult synth trio WHITE DOOR who were one of the inspirations for DAILY PLANET, ‘Heaven Opened’ was an uncomplicated but wonderfully poignant slice of classic synthpop.
ELECTRONIC CIRCUS is the musical vehicle of Chris Payne, the one-time Numan band member who also co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’. With a symphonic theme bursting with melody and musicality like ULTRAVOX galloping across the plains of Normandy, the brilliant neo-instrumental ’The Trapeze’ was given a wondrous tone of humanistic unity when Payne’s wife and daughter joined in on the final straight in Latin.
FADER are the synth superduo featuring BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur and Benge; ‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with analogue electronics rather than guitars. While the pair worked on their parts separately, their creative dynamic produced a great debut album in ‘First Light’.
From the Welsh synth songstress’ first EP, the fabulous ‘Geiriau’ was a driving sequential drama that had more than a passing resemblance to the first part of SPARKS’ ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. Revolving around ANI GLASS’ experience of flying the nest and returning years later to reconnect with her Welsh and Cornish heritage, it was a spacey and futuristic soundtrack for a wonderfully uplifting homecoming.
‘Volupsa’, the promising Nordic flavoured debut album from THE GOLDEN FILTER came out in 2010, but the Aussie American duo of vocalist Penelope Trappes and synth programmer Stephen Hindman took their time with the follow-up ‘Still//Alone’, having relocated to London after spending several years based in New York. The hypnotic pulse of ‘Rivers’ with its precise drum machine pointed to a female fronted OMD, complete with a catchy riff and synthy jabbing bassline.
The immensely catchy ‘Systemagic’ was a prize electronic gem from the seventh GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’, reminiscent of the lusty and beat laden electronic material from ‘Black Cherry’. But its riff asked the question as to whether you will always find Alison Goldfrapp in the kitchen at parties? In the event of Jona Lewie filing a lawsuit, the lucrative income from the song’s use in a BMW advert may ease any potential net payout.
After three acclaimed albums as IAMAMIWHOAMI with producer Claes Björklund, Jonna Lee went solo in 2017 although it was actually difficult to hear the join on the glorious ‘Not Human’, so seamless was the transition; there were still the icy electronic soundscapes, spacey dance beats and uplifting Scandipop vocals while the delightfully odd visuals were all present and correct.
Available on the download single ‘Not Human’ via To Whom It May Concern
I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Soundtracking their film ‘Zombies 1985’, the story was one of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him. Co-written and co-produced with Benge, the brilliant ‘Shame’ with its cascading synths and noise percussion was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.
After a number of years gigging around London, KATJA VON KASSEL finally unleashed released her electro Weimer Cabaret to the world. The pulsating ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ captured an aesthetic which closely resembled that of RONNY, a former protégé of Rusty Egan. Attached to Alex Gray’s intricate filmic electronics, Fraulein von Kassel’s deep vocal detachment was art cool sexy.
James Murphy returned as LCD SOUNDSYSTEM after seven years with this widescreen musical statement reflecting on the political situation in the US. Glancing across the Atlantic and back to the Winter Of Discontent, this 3/4 synth laden tune that had more than a passing resemblance to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Circus Of Death’. So did “The Clown” referred to in that song remind Murphy of someone in particular?
Having started out in a more rave inclined environment, Lizette Nordahl ventured into more synthy climes and her debut mini-album had the air of KITE is all over it, which was not entirely surprising as its co-producers were Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg from the acclaimed duo. ‘Rest’ with its swirling synth sounds and widescreen Nordic atmosphere had an optimistic air of acceptance despite the melancholic tone and majestic growls.
Led by British born musician Dylan Willoughby, LOST IN STARS is a floating ensemble which also includes Elena Charbila aka KID MOXIE and producer/songwriter Darren Burgos. The latter takes the lead vocal on the spirited electronic pop of ‘Sky’; now if NEW ORDER were from Los Angeles instead of Manchester, they would have sounded like this.
After releasing her first solo album ‘Crystal World’ in 2013, Helen Marnie added more prominent choruses and guitar onto her second, resulting in a catchy Scandipop style. ‘Bloom’ was an optimistic burst of synth laden pleasure and while not totally dissimilar to LADYTRON, it was without their usual hardness or gothic gloom.
Having worked successfully in 2013 with Guy Sigsworth on ‘the minutes’, an acclaimed album which saw ALISON MOYET return to the synthesized music forms to compliment her powerful and self-assured voice, the follow-up ‘Other’ was a natural progression. The startling orchestrated electro-dub drama of ‘Alive’ gave Moyet’s two former classmates in DEPECHE MODE a stark lesson in how to actually fully realise electronic blues. Indeed, it was ‘In Chains’, the lame opener from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ gone right…
With the narrative of ‘Savage’ provoked by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States of America from the Paris Climate Accord, the mighty apocalyptic rock of ‘When The World Comes Apart’ was something of a revelation for GARY NUMAN. Using synths as the dominant instrument and having guitars less obviously prominent in the mix, with its richly anthemic chorus, this was the magnificent crossover song that both old and new Numanoids had been waiting for.
MICHAEL OAKLEY is a talented Glaswegian who describes his music as “Melancholic postcards from my heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines”. The melodic ‘Rabbit In The Headlights’ came complete with Italo “woah-oh” chants and whether it was Synthwave, synthpop, electropop, Italo or whatever, it showcased Oakley’s fine songwriting abilities, regardless of genre.
The excellent ‘One More Time’ was a classic bittersweet OMD stomper, where “everything you gave me didn’t last”. Using electronic percussion as opposed to drum machines, the enticing verse and uplifting bridge were set to a plethora of gorgeous textures and distorted synth to add a touch of enigmatic weirdness. While Andy McCluskey cried “you can break my heart just one more time”, the track’s star was Paul Humphreys with his crystalline synth sounds laced with some portamento bounce.
As well as keyboards and violin, HANNAH PEEL can also play the trombone. Featuring an array of analogue synthesizers and a 29-piece colliery brass band, ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ was her instrumental story about a fictional elderly musical stargazer. Beginning with the lift-off of ‘Goodbye Earth’, Miss Peel’s electronic arpeggios and synthetic noise built up to a crescendo of brass and timpani for a quite unusual combination of two very different musical worlds.
From the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL came forth RAINLAND. Their self-titled calling card was a vibrant synthpop statement, embroiled in a musicality that provided a journey through the Grampian Mountains. Ian Ferguson had already proved himself a worthy vocalist in his previous combo with dulcet tones not dissimilar to a certain Midge Ure and this was allowed to reign free on ‘Rainland’. Meanwhile, the ivories of Derek MacDonald stylistically aped the symphonic overtones of ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie.
Between 1980 to 1984, RHEINGOLD were at the forefront of Die Neue Deutsche Welle, releasing three albums and achieving their first domestic hit ‘3klangsdimensionen’ in 1981. Led by Bodo Staiger, ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ was their first album of new material for many years. The melodic synth of ‘Paradieshafen’ drove along a beautiful instrumental that came over like a dream collaboration between OMD and Michael Rother.
With hypnotising hints of Kate Bush and percolating Ryuichi Sakamoto style textures, ‘Who Am I’ by electropop goddess SARAH P. was an ode to “humanity, the world we live in and our importance (or unimportance) as individuals and/or as a whole”. And as the Greek-born songstress announced that “I don’t know where I come from… do you know my name?”, a metronomic beat kicked in to lead a dramatic house-laden climax.
Available on the album ‘Who Am I’ via EraseRestart Records
The normally flamboyant Welsh duo SHELTER surprised all with their darkest and most accomplished song yet in ‘Karma’. “What you want is what you’ll get…” sang Mark Bebb, “…you will get a lot more that you planned”. A vibrant but edgy production from Rob Bradley complimented the sentiment as the message was relayed loud and clear…
Available on the single ‘Karma’ via Ministry Of Pop
From ‘From Deewee’, the first new SOULWAX album since 2004’s ‘Any Minute Now’, ‘Conditions Of A Shared Belief’ was a modular synth lover’s wet dream from the Dewaele brothers. With a retro-futuristic collage of detuned blippy sounds and a backbone of smashing white noise percussion recalling THE HUMAN LEAGUE in their Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh phase, it was complimented by some suitably abstractly pitched TALKING HEADS inspired vocals.
TINY MAGNETIC PETS had their best year yet with a UK tour opening for OMD and to accompany it was their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’. Featuring Wolfgang Flür, the album’s best song ‘Never Alone’ sounded appropriately like SAINT ETIENNE fronting KRAFTWERK. Paula Gilmer has one of the best voices in modern synthpop and her alluring tone no doubt added to the song’s breezy dreamlike state.
The adventurous third VANBOT album ‘Siberia’ was composed and recorded during a 17 day journey on the Trans-Siberian railway. The crystalline ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ though captured a more Nordic vibe with its gorgeous melodies, while the surrounding rhythmic pace of a train ride made its presence felt. An aural exploration of the relationship between time, location and emotion, ‘Siberia’ was a bold musical experiment.
Having been recently heard on the AESTHETIC PERFECTION single ‘Rhythm + Control’, gothic pop princess NYXX presents her self-directed video to ‘Diabolical’.
Coming in a particularly magnificent Electro Mix, ‘Rhythm + Control’ showcased a hard but danceable tune that somehow crossed Darren Hayes and Britney Spears with Marilyn Manson!
‘Diabolical’ is co-written with AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s Daniel Graves and sees NYXX maximising her deviant Britney meets NINE INCH NAILS template.
From her self-released her debut EP ‘Nightmare’, this haunting slice of electro-goth drama discharges a penetrating set of dynamics and an enticing feline demeanour. Meanwhile the video, which NYXX describes as “the fruit of my literal blood, sweat, and tears”, also features a cameo from Graves.
With a name inspired by the Greek goddess of night, NYXX issued ‘Nightmare’ in April 2016. The title track was feisty electronic rock with her inherent pop glitz shaken through a Trent Reznor filter. Meanwhile the collection also flirted with Zombie-like heavy metal on ‘Wicked’ and industrial dubstep on ‘Blindsided’.
Having toured North America with AESTHETIC PERFECTION in early 2017, this artistic association with the Aggro-Tech pioneer from Los Angeles has sparked a lot of interest. With two acclaimed songs in ‘Rhythm + Control’ and ‘Diabolical’ already under their belt, any more work possibly involving the pair will be eagerly awaited.
After the linear (and more uptempo) Speak & Spell driven single ‘LAX’, ‘Love Like Lies’ sees a return to a more musical approach from AESTHETIC PERFECTION AKA Daniel Graves.
‘Love Like Lies’ hinges around a tough sounding synth riff and utilises Grave’s melodic vocal rather than its predecessor’s gruff Industrial alter ego one.
Its central “You can rely on me, I don’t know, if I can rely on you” lyric showcases a more humanistic approach and will ring true with anybody who’s ever been plagued by the insecurities of a relationship and whether it will ever truly be a 50:50 one.
Musically the track explores a similar electronics meets emotional vibe that Graves mined with his NECESSARY RESPONSE album ‘Blood Spills Not Far From the Wound’ albeit with a smattering of hardcore vocals thrown in.
When Graves spoke to The Electricity Club back in 2014, his parting words were prescient “I think I’m finished with albums for a while. People’s attention spans have been destroyed by the instant gratification world of the internet. Twitter. 144 characters or less. More to say? Can’t be bothered. 3 years waiting for an album? Forgot about you. Techno guys know what’s up. Singles and EPs. Stay relevant. Stay in the public eye. It’s a shame, but I’m just here to give you what you want. Right?”
Daniel Graves kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about his new approach to marketing AESTHETIC PERFECTION and the challenges of moving with the times and staying financially solvent in a market that has changed drastically in the 10+ years that the act have been making music.
You seem to be primarily focusing on singles now rather than albums, what is your rationale behind that?
The way we consume music today has changed a lot since I was a kid. We don’t sit in our rooms for hours on end listening to every note of our favorite band’s album anymore.
We listen to Spotify playlists while browsing Facebook and Amazon. We listen to Pandora stations while driving. We simply don’t have the time or the attention spans to digest 10 new songs in one sitting. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just reality.
But why should I cling to a business model that doesn’t represent reality? Why am I going to spend years working on 10 new tracks when people are only going to listen to the 2-3 singles? Why should I disappear for years on end to create an album when I can constantly release new material? I can be in your newsfeed every few months, not every few years.
Forgetting just the awareness factor, albums bind you thematically and sonically. Albums need coherence. If I just release standalone singles the sky is the limit in terms of what I can justify trying. I can release a dance song like ‘LAX’, then I can release something completely different a couple months later… and that’s what you’re getting with ‘Love Like Lies’. I am unbound by labels. I am unrestricted by artistic continuity. I am free.
AESTHETIC PERFECTION has been releasing material for over ten years now, if you compare (for example) the release of ‘Love Like Lies’ with some of your very earliest singles, how much have things changed?
If you look at the man I was in 2005 and the man I am today and you’ll see two completely different people. AESTHETIC PERFECTION is simply a reflection of who I am at a certain moment in time. The band changes because *I* change. My tastes, my worldview, everything… This is just the natural progression of growing older. It’s part of the human experience.
People mistake my artistic evolution as somehow disavowing my past. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Who I am now is without question a product of who I was then. I’m always mindful of that. But I can’t go back to writing the music I did in 2005 the same way I can’t go back to being the man I was in 2005. It’s impossible, and to attempt to do so would be inauthentic.
What was it that persuaded you to make ‘Love Like Lies’ available on cassette as part of the package?
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE absurd shit. A cassette single seemed pretty absurd so I went for it. They all sold out, btw!
You’re probably the first artist I’ve seen being positive about Spotify and you posted recently that your income from the streaming site was the third biggest earner in terms of the different formats. Why is your viewpoint different to most acts?
Let me be perfectly clear: Spotify should pay artists more. Especially independent artists like myself. Bigger labels have more clout and can negotiate better deals for their artists. I, on the other hand, have no such negotiating power. But let’s be real here. No matter what, I don’t ever see the selling of music as being as profitable as it once was. Today, as an artist, you’re not selling your artwork, you’re selling an identity, and with that you’re building a community.
My art is the language I use to speak to people and build that community, it’s not a direct source of income. I have a roof over my head and food on my table because what I create inspires that community to buy a T-shirt, to buy a concert ticket, to hire me for a DJ gig, commission a remix or something like that. The biggest failing of artists today is not understanding or respecting the importance of building their own communities.
‘Love Like Lies’ has a really strong remix package behind it, do you have a particular favourite mix and why?
It’s definitely a tie between CHVRN and MXD BLD. CHVRN for its great vibe and MXD BLD for its infectious dance groove.
With the huge amount of political turmoil going on (on both sides of the Atlantic), you couldn’t resist producing a ‘Make America Graves Again’ T-shirt. Will a future AP single see you tackling a subject matter with more of a political nature?
Absolutely not. The whole point of the ‘Make America Graves Again’ campaign was to make clear the political neutrality of my art. Personally, I don’t like political music. It puts an expiration date on it. Is a kid in 20 years going to understand or even care about all the anti-Bush songs from the early 2000s? Do I understand or care about the Vietnam protest songs from the 60’s? No. I think music should be relatable no matter who you are, where you come from or when you were born. Art should speak to the essence of what it means to be human.
For me, it’s a way to connect and relate to people I might never have found common ground with. It should cross political and cultural divides, not create them. Yeah, I know, we’ve all got our beliefs and our wars to wage, but I’ll do that as a private citizen, not as an artist. Truth is, a Christian Republican in Michigan understands love, loss, jealousy, fear and anger the same way an atheist Liberal in Stockholm does. That’s what *I* want to address with my work. The things that tie us all together. The things that make us human.
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Daniel Graves
The ‘Industrial Pop’ 2017 North American Tour with SOLAR FAKE + NYXX includes:
The Hideout – San Diego, CA (Jan 19), La Antigua Bodega de Papel – Tijuana, MX (Jan 20), The Surly Wench – Tucson, AZ ( (Jan 21), The Perch – El Paso, TX ((Jan 22), The Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM (Jan 24), Elysium – Austin, TX (Jan 27), The Amp Room – San Antonio, TX (Jan 28), The Church – Dallas, TX (Jan 29), Siberia – New Orleans, LA (Jan 31), The Orpheum – Tampa, FL (Feb 2), Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA (Feb 3), Fallout – Richmond, VA (Feb 5), Ivy City Tavern – Washington, DC (Feb 7), Alchemy – Providence, RI (Feb 9), Dead of Winter Festival – Amityville, NY (Feb 10), Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA (Feb 11), Mr. Small’s Funhouse – Pittsburgh, PA (Feb 12), Evening Star Concert Hall – Buffalo, NY (Feb 13), Venue Event Center – Cincinnati, OH (Feb 14), Coalition – Toronto, CAN (Feb 15), Small’s – Detroit, MI (Feb 16), Reggies – Chicago, IL (Feb 17), Crack Fox – St. Louis, MO (Feb 18), Club Underground – Minneapolis, MN (Feb 19), Lookout Lounge – Omaha, NE (Feb 20), Riot Room – Kansas City, MO (Feb 21), Oriental Theater – Denver, CO (Feb 23), Area 51 – Salt Lake City, UT (Feb 24), The Eclipse – Boise, ID (Feb 25), Highline – Seattle, WA* (Feb 28), Analog Cafe and Theater – Portland, OR*(Mar 1), Brick and Mortar – San Francisco, CA* (Mar 3), Complex – Los Angeles, CA* (Mar 4) *without SOLAR FAKE, Mar 3 + Mar 4 includes NIGHT CLUB
The ‘Industrial Pop’ 2017 European Tour with WILLIAM CONTROL + ARMY OF THE UNIVERSE includes:
Sala Salamandra – Barcelona, ES (Apr 08), The Fleece – Bristol, UK (Apr 12), Ivory Black – Glasgow, UK (Apr 13), Ruby Lounge – Manchester, UK (Apr 14), Islington O2 – London, UK (Apr 15), Het Oude Badhuis – Antwerp, BE* (Apr 16), Kulttempel – Oberhausen, DE* (Apr 17), Underground – Cologne, DE* (Apr 19), Subkultur – Hannover, DE* (Apr 20), Markthalle – Hamburg, DE (Apr 22), Musik und Frieden – Berlin, DE (Apr 26), Moritzbastei – Leipzig, DE (Apr 27), Escape Metalcorner – Vienna, AT (Apr 28), Melodrom – Kaufbeuren, DE (Apr 29), Das Bett – Frankfurt, DE (Apr 30) *without ARMY OF THE UNIVERSE