THE FRIXION are British-born Berlin based singer / lyricist Gene Serene and producer Lloyd Price, best known as a collaborative partner of SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK’s Martin Degville and a member of MASSIVE EGO.
Forming in 2016, Serene and Price’s combined sound mined both classic synthpop and Weimar Cabaret for their debut EP ‘If U Ever Wonder’.
Its five songs, including a cover of PRINCE’s ‘Under The Cherry Moon’, saw Serene coming over like a Goth Kylie over Price’s Numan-eqsue backing in a variety of tempo and signature settings; ultimately it’s what LITTLE BOOTS could have sounded like had she not had major label interference.
THE FRIXION’s new single ‘Deceive A Believer’ develops on that debut EP; with a crisp electronic production, it displays an unashamed musicality with a brooding futuristic mood that will satisfy the ears of pop and Synth Britannia connoisseurs alike.
With a performance at Synth Wave Live 2 and a short UK tour coming up, Gene Serene and Lloyd Price chatted to The Electricity Club about the artistic progression of THE FRIXION.
How did THE FRIXION become a thing?
Gene: PRINCE …we were both devastated when he passed over. Both Lloyd and I were posting the songs we could find on social media , I remember looking for a studio version of ‘Anna Stesia’, I think that’s when we started chatting – we are both massive fans, that’s how we connected… sad but true
What is the creative dynamic between the two of you?
Gene: It’s very interesting… Lloyd is much more dance and programmed based whereas I started off as a live musician, in writing I am more about arrangement and songwriting… he’s all about the synths and the noises, the rhythm, the moves and feel – I am about the lyrics, melodies and chord changes… it comes together nicely.
Lloyd: Yeah, I’m very much about the sounds and rhythms. I love to listen to other stuff and try to figure out how a certain sound was achieved. Then I’ll just bury my head in the kit and get inspired. Basically I’m the nerd.
As experienced hands, what do you each bring to the party that the other doesn’t?
Gene: Lloyd definitely is far more ahead of it all than I am… I find it hard to just “do it”, I have to wait for that magic moment when I “feel” it’s the right time – he’s much more in order than I… I make him break the mould, take risks and changes that may not be comfortable. In a lot of ways, we are worlds apart, and even live in different countries but we know 1+1=3 and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts… personally I wish Lloyd would get his axe out more – but it takes a little coaxing… I think his experience in making people move and my way of making people feel brings a “thing”.
Lloyd: Gene definitely brings a musicality to it that I could never achieve and don’t feel I’ve done in the past. As I mentioned, I’ll listen to something and that drives me immediately to jump to the kit and put something together. I’m very structured in how I work. I turn stuff around really quickly; that was a trick I learnt from my time working with Martin Degville. He was always like “have you got that demo finished yet???”, he was crazy to work with but taught me some really valuable lessons about working to tight deadlines. I actually owe Martin a lot.
The darkness with the brooding melodies on songs like ‘We Walk A Line’, that appears to be the Berlin influence taking its hold?
Gene: Actually it was a visit to Devils Den and Avebury that moved me to write that. Being very interested and involved in the more esoteric and magical things moved me to write that track, it’s about the alchemical marriage, though it has a very deep Berlin feel which Lloyd may have taken from his touring in Germany… I love that track – he did some lovely work on that musically – I didn’t want him to change a thing.
Lloyd: That track was originally a pretty ploddy 120 BPM 4/4 beat. It wasn’t working, so I stripped it back and gave it the 3/4 timing. Slowed it down… it was actually a demo for another project, but once the timing and tempo had changed, I just knew Gene would sound amazing on it. If it has a “Berlin influence” then it really is just an accident. I don’t generally go in for light-hearted pop music. I find the music that moves me most are the moodier sounds.
On the other side of the coin, ‘If U Ever Wonder’ is very pop?
Lloyd: Gene sent me over some music she’d done in the past. Immediately ‘If U Ever Wonder’ just stood out. I put a rough demo of it together and presented it to Gene to see if she’d like to work on it further. Although it does have a pop feel it still has that dark under current running through. It’s a gorgeous track.
Gene: That was written a lifetime ago – it fitted really well into our live set so I wrote to Andy Chatterley and asked if he minded me including it… although it was written in my twenties, I am a firm believer in “a good song is timeless”, it really works, and I think Lloyd has brought it to date perfectly. We had some amazing remixes on that single.
What is ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’ about and how did that come together during recording?
Gene: It’s about the elements, magic and taking charge of your world. It was our first track we ever did so one of the things I want to do is mix and remaster it again for the album. I wanted to inspire people to connect to nature and feel the world they live in rather than react to and live on it.
Lloyd: The music came together from that pulsating bassline. I’d just got a new analogue synth and that sound was the first thing I got out of it.
The demo had been sitting around a while and after chatting to Gene it was the first thing I sent to test the water. That track confirmed that we had something worth pursuing further.
You’ve recorded PRINCE and HOWARD JONES covers which is diverse to say the least?
Gene: We love both those artists. PRINCE was a hero… the HOWARD JONES track is both a classic, and an honour to have him give it the thumbs up. I don’t see too many more covers – though you never know we may slip them in every now and again, we are focusing on original material for the new album.
Lloyd: PRINCE had to be done. For me he was the best thing to come out of the 80s. I read he was inspired by GARY NUMAN around the ‘1999’ album period. If you listen to that album it really shows that he had an ear to what was going on in the UK and electronic music in general. PRINCE took elements of what was going on and stuffed it with sex and groove.
‘What is Love?’ is just a brilliant song. I heard it the other day and thought to myself that Gene would sound great on it. She proved me right. And Howard has given us his blessing too which made my day!
The debut EP came with a companion remix variant, what was the thinking behind this?
Gene: Let’s just say I wanted to give my publisher a chance to “exploit my catalogue” before we parted company, it wasn’t originally intentional to put them all on one CD – it just made sense at that time…
What will be your approach to playing Synth Wave Live 2 compared with other events you’ve performed at?
Gene: We are still a new act and have only played two live shows, we have quite a lot of shows lined up for the first part of 2018. It’s gonna be good to hone that journey, we are working on video content to go with the tracks and hopefully explain a few of the questions asked here. It’s gonna have a lot of new material – more edge, I guess you’ll have to come to really experience its energy. That’s what it will have… more energy.
Lloyd: I definitely want to take us down an edgier path. As Gene said, we’ve not done too many shows right now so I think we’re in an enviable position that no one really knows what we’re about or what we’ll come up with.
What’s next for THE FRIXION?
Gene: We have been looking at the musical and visual journey as well as our live shows in the first part of the year, the next single should be out around March if not before, the album early June… there’s a lot of enthusiasm and we would love to secure some professional support so we can keep the focus on the music.
Currently we are looking at more dates – we would love to play some festivals this year and are looking at another show in Berlin, places like Tallin, Prague, Barcelona are on the radar… we both said we would love to play America too!
But really it’s early days, the focus right now for us is finishing the album… some tracks are still in the writing and production process and the best sound is where I am at….in these immediate times I think people forget how long these things take. I love the music we make – I think it’s quite unique and I want to give it the energy it deserves – things are really looking quite exciting for us – personally I cannot wait ‘til it’s mixed and mastered, then I can take my head out and project!
Lloyd: Taking it out live is important for me now, trying tracks out live to work out what works best and what we should focus on for a great album. We’ve got a very busy schedule in 2018.
We are supporting INERTIA in March, embarking on our first tour of England as part of the ‘Ohm From Ohm’ tour with RODNEY CROMWELL, NATURE OF WIRES and VIEON in March and May. That is going to be a great experience.
We’ve got Synth Wave Live 2 obviously and then we’re supporting DAS FLUFF in June. We’ve got more in the pipeline too. And in all of that we’re writing and recording. It’s going to be a busy first six months in 2018.
The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to THE FRIXION
The new single ‘Deceive A Believer’ and the ‘If U Ever Wonder’ EP are available in their various formats from https://thefrixion.bandcamp.com/
THE FRIXION also embark on the ‘Ohm From Ohm’ tour with RODNEY CROMWELL, NATURE OF WIRES and VIEON, dates include: Birmingham Actress & Bishop (15th March), Leeds The Fenton (16th March), Salford Eagle Inn (17th March), London The Islington (10th May), Coventry In Music & Arts (11th May), Southend Railway Hotel (12th May) – tickets available from http://www.ohmfromohm.co.uk
Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
24th February 2018