Tag: S.W.I.M.

TEC’s 2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business.

That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic…

MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again. HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA at TEC005 and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER at TEC006.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour.

Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths. DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by The Electricity Club to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019.

It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur like it was normal behaviour, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount.

This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as The Electricity Club comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever.

Artwork by Heloisa Flores

The Electricity Club had a compilation released by Amour Records gathering some of the best music from the last 10 years and reached No2 in the German POPoNAUT charts.

It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of deluded poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So The Electricity Club ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after TEC006 who had also been to TEC004: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME Interview

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME are the feisty Greek threesome of Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou.

Releasing their debut album ‘Dance With You’ on Amour Records, the trio swear by analogue sounds, toy synths, chaotic guitars, fake strings, and off-beat rhythms complimented by deep voices in English and Greek.

The new single ‘Pinku’ comes over an interesting snarly mix of TR/ST and KITE crossed with NEW ORDER. Meanwhile, its superb visual presentation directed by Alkistis Terzi features striking time freeze effect portraits of five Biblical female figures Jezebel, Lilith, the Virgin Mary, Salome and Delilah.

Kindred spirits to fellow Hellelectro exponents MARSHEAUX, SARAH P. and KID MOXIE, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME have particularly impressed with their striking video presentations, particularly for their most recent single ‘Pinku’ and the award winning ‘Gomenaki’.

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME kindly talked to Electricity Club about their artistic motivations and ideals…

The three of you have quite distinct musical backgrounds, so how did the idea of making music together come about?

Marilena and Gina have been on the Athens Music scene for years. Gina on the grunge side as she is the guitarist of KATRIN THE THRILL; Marilena on the pop – electronic side and she formed BERLIN BRIDES with Natasha Giannaraki. They were also high school friends and they met up as adults again after many years through the music scene. Marilena had this dream of creating a pop band, but with distinctive guitar riffs. And Gina was open to new music genres.

Maria started learning the drums much later. She passed by a music school one day and with Marilena’s encouragement went in and enrolled in drum classes. She and Marilena had always dreamed of creating a band together.

Later on Marilena was commissioned to write the soundtrack of A Tsangari’s ‘Chevalier’ (which won the Best Feature Award at the BFI London Film Festival) and invited Maria and Gina to experiment. The music didn’t make it into the film, except for the end titles song ‘Never Find It’, but that was the beginning of the band. Many of the songs that appear in ‘Dance With You’ were written for this soundtrack as instrumental pieces.

Then Marilena was commissioned by the French Institute in Athens to write the OST for a silent Greek Film titled ‘Astero’ and invited Maria and Gina to perform it live. That was the first live gig of the band.

With regards band dynamics, how do the influences of the three of you combine and clash?

It’s actually quite an easy and natural process. We are so well tuned with each other on our aesthetics. Marilena is the brain of the band. She writes the music and the lyrics. She then invites Maria and Gina to jam, experiment and add elements to the songs. We have a tiny studio (San Marco SWIM studio) in the centre of Athens where the magic happens.

Your latest single ‘Pinku’ is a wonderful combination of quite different styles, there’s techno, indie and classical!

Yes it’s true. We are quite excessive and melodramatic in our music. Marilena had classical studies in Music and Composition plus she is also very inspired by soundtracks and electronic and techno music. Our references come from Debussy to Delia Derbyshire to PET SHOP BOYS to PJ Harvey. We actually recorded live strings for ‘Pinku’. These elements exist in our music a lot.

‘Pinku’ comes with a striking video, what was the inspiration?

The video exists as an art piece as well, entitled ‘Survive in My Sex’. It is created by the amazing Photographer and DoP, Alkisti Terzi and it consists of 14000 still photos. When we saw the image, we immediately thought of ‘Pinku’ as a music background. The song talks about a long lost love affair between two women and the different female biblical faces on the film who look at you in the eye in these intense moments were the perfect visualization of this love affair.

So you like toy synths, are there any particular ones?

Yes we love a little Casio synth made for children, the Stylophone, an 80s Yamaha and the Solina synth.

Your album opens with the ‘Dance With You’ title song. In your opinion, how important is dance as an emotional expression in life?

Very important, we would say. Marilena (aka Loo) and Gina also work as DJs on the Athens scene and they make people dance. Music is in our heads 24/7. We have to let the energy out and communicate it. We would suffocate otherwise. ‘Dance With You’ is a dance pop song but the lyrics are about love, crying and suffering. You just dance it out!

‘Girl’s On Fire’ has a very unorthodox construction?

Yes it does. We are always flirting with R ‘n’ B which we love. This one was originally written as an instrumental piece for a theatre play (‘Lulu’ directed by D Tampassi) where we played the music live on each performance. It had so much body energy when we played it. It was a fiery one. Marilena had the image of a Girl on Fire. She collaborated with Kate Adams (who is theatre maker) on the lyrics.

You are not afraid to produce instrumentals, like ‘Night Flight’ and ‘Strange’, plus even ‘Pinku’ is offered as an instrumental bonus. So how do you decide that a composition remains without a vocal and what can you get from an instrumental that you can’t with a song?

We love instrumentals and we will keep on writing them. It’s like the soundtrack in our heads. When you don’t have something to say anymore and how to express your feelings with lyrics, you can do it easily just writing music! ‘Strange’ is our most melodramatic theme and ‘Night Flight’ the lighter one; the two opposites.

Actually many songs exist first as instrumentals and at the very last minute we might add vocals. ‘Pinku’ existed as an instrumental for a long time. That’s how we used to play it at our gigs. The night before we sent it for final Mastering, Marilena stayed up at the studio all night and wrote the lyrics and the vocal arrangement. We all listened to it and we decided it was worth the extra work to add the voice.

How do you decide whether to sing in Greek or English?

Well to be honest our first instinct is to write in English. There is a lightness and a distance writing in a different language than your own. We love writing in Greek as well, but the words that come are always very simple and repetitive. We have a new song that will be featured in our second album, called ‘All Gone’ which combines both languages, English and Greek.

The video for your debut single ‘Gomenaki’ won an award, are you proud that you have been able to make an important existential statement through your art?

Yes, we definitely are. The IndieMemphis award was quite a surprise to us. I have to say though that the credit goes to Alkis Papastathopoulos who wrote the script and directed the music video. He listened to the song once and the next day he came up with this brilliant script. Maria produced it. Our main goal was to make a “different” high school indie drama and I think we succeeded. Our tagline says it all: A femme for femme love story that challenges the classic high school film narrative and takes revenge on toxic masculinity.

Music is politics is life? Please discuss?

The personal is political, of course. This is deeply rooted in us in our everyday life and as artists; we have to communicate it, through our music, through our films, through our voice and actions. We cannot close our eyes and stay untouched by the sudden turn to conservatism, fascism and decay that surrounds us not only in Greece but worldwide. We need to raise our voices.

What is next for SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME?

Well we already have all the songs of our second album ready. It’s more dark and downtempo in a way. We will play at Pop Kultur in Berlin this August and we are also writing music for two short films and we will be writing the soundtrack of a TV series that Maria and Alkis Papastathopoulos are currently developing. We would also like to play in more festivals abroad.

We also have three more music videos in development, always collaborating with directors we love and admire.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME

‘Dance With You’ is released as a digital album by Amour Records, available via the usual online outlets

http://www.swimtheband.com/

https://facebook.com/swimtheband.page

https://instagram.com/swimtheband

https://www.youtube.com/c/SomeoneWhoIsntMe

https://soundcloud.com/swimtheband


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
20th June 2019

Introducing SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME

“Pop. What else?” is the mission statement of Athens trio SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME.

Also known as S.W.I.M. by those who find that a bit of a mouthful, the feisty threesome of Marilena Orfanou (synths, guitars + vocals), Maria Hatzakou (drums + vocals) and Gina Dimakopoulou (guitars + vocals) swear by analogue sounds, toy synths, chaotic guitars, fake strings, and off-beat rhythms complimented by deep voices in English and Greek.

The new single ‘Pinku’ comes over an interesting snarly mix of TR/ST and KITE crossed with NEW ORDER. Meanwhile, its superb visual presentation directed by Alkistis Terzi features striking time freeze effect portraits of five Biblical female figures Jezebel, Lilith, the Virgin Mary, Salome and Delilah.

The debut album ‘Dance With You’ was released in February 2019 by Amour Records, the Hellenic home of SARAH P. and KID MOXIE. SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME’s two most overtly synthy numbers on the album are both instrumentals; ‘Night Flight’ is an airy dream pop number offset by an uptempo backbone while the electronically orchestrated cinematics of ‘Strange’ flirts with the enigmatic aura of arthouse soundtracks.

Meanwhile, the title song was a grand statement of baroque indie with a superb cutting synth solo while the moody synthesized shoegaze of ‘Gomenaki’ was a European radio hit in the summer of 2018; its accompanying video won the 2019 Sound Award for ‘Best Music Video’ at the Indie Memphis Film Festival.


‘Dance With You’ is released by Amour Records

http://www.swimtheband.com/

https://facebook.com/swimtheband.page

https://twitter.com/swimtheband_

https://instagram.com/swimtheband

https://soundcloud.com/swimtheband

https://open.spotify.com/album/0P0DJuiFd2CzDU9Vaxw0il


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th May 2019