‘Millennial Girl’ by SARAH P. is a musical commentary on societies’ obsession with perfection and the perception that others’ lives seem so much more accomplished.
More guitar assisted and faster paced than her more dreamy but afflicted offerings, ‘Millennial Girl’ does capture a spacey vibe despite the use of more live sounding elements. With a hint of sarcasm, the Greek songstess sings “So I strive, I strive, I strive for perfection every time – But see no purpose – And I buy, I buy, I buy hip, cool stuff I see online – To scratch the surface”
Filmed on location near Athens by George Geranios, he of Undo Records fame and now establishing his new Amour Records imprint, Sarah’s hair and make-up on a brand new visual accompaniment was by none other than Sophie Sarigiannidou of MARSHEAUX in the ultimate Hellectro connection. Meanwhile, the colour touching of the video was undertaken by Norman Treffkorn.
SARAH P. said on her Facebook: “This video – an odyssey in itself, was filmed earlier this summer, but was supposed to come out last year ?
The song is obviously sarcastic – I chose to pick on my fellow millennial girls (w/o excluding myself), because I know that they can take a joke ❣
Girls (of all ages) have always been told how to do things: how to do our hair, what to wear, how to lose weight, how to look pretty. Superficial worries have been passed on from generation to generation, only to keep us busy for a lifetime trying to get what we don’t have. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful for all the women worldwide who are challenging this narrative and breaking all these stupid, outdated stereotypes. To all the ladies here and everywhere – YOU ARE PERFECTION, just the way you are! I’m really excited to share with you my upcoming records and projects, inspired by female empowerment in the past, in the present and in the future. The Who Am I era is closing – the Maenads era is about to begin!”
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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉
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.
It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction. Meanwhile, Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017. South American wasn’t left out either and representation came via Argentina’s COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO.
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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 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, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 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 our 30 Songs Of 2016.
So restricted to purchasable releases only and one song per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’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.
Swedish duo KITE unleashed their darkest offering yet in ‘Demons & Shame’. Shaped by a ritualistic drum mantra and brooding bass drones, as the title suggested, the song confronted the despair that life occasionally throws up while pursuing visions and dreams. If Ennio Morricone composed music for Nordic Noir dramas, it would sound a bit like this. Vocalist Nicklas Stenemo literally screamed his frustration over an epic synthetic soundscape from Christian Berg, laced with nocturnal Arctic overtones and the spectre of THE KNIFE.
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.
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.
Greek electropop goddess SARAH P. releases one of the first songs she ever wrote as a single.
Of ‘LoveStory’, she said to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK this year: “I struggled for many years to find a love that’s pure and not one-sided. I suffered multiple heartbreaks – they’re countless, really, and I was so defeated that when real love came to me, I was incapable of even realizing it. For a long time, I was trying to destroy it, before it destroyed me. That being said, my partner (who would later become my husband) was extremely patient with me. He was able to tear down my defence walls and ‘fix my wounds’”.
Although the passionately afflicted song from the debut album ‘Who Am I’ is about how hearts can be broken into pieces by love interests, there is also a sense of airy optimism and that is reflected in the serene visual accompaniment. Filmed by award-winning director Eftychia Iosifidou and featuring SARAH P. with dancer Clio Arvaniti, friendship and sisterhood are two of the video’s key themes.
The beautifully hazy imagery captured of the bond between the two girls in ‘LoveStory’ recalls moments from the acclaimed British independent movie ‘My Summer of Love’, which featured a soundtrack by GOLDFRAPP. It also starred BAFTA winner Natalie Press and included the theatrical film debut of Emily Blunt, now a Hollywood star.
SARAH P. concludes: “It’s a love song that can be sung to a mom, dad, child, sibling, friend, pet, lover; whomever / whatever’s cheering you up needs to receive this love letter”
It’s been a while since Sarah Anna Psalti-Helbig worked in Greece on her project KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS with RΠЯ.
Seemingly, even the magnificent ‘Oostende’, taken from their debut ‘At Home’ couldn’t keep Sarah in Athens, seeing the songstress relocating to Berlin for a much needed new challenge and the change of scenery.
Following her directness on ‘Free’, SARAH P. has now unveiled her first proper long player ‘Who Am I’, “a pop record that is different, an ode to the humanly deep need of security and love”.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is chatting to the lady herself, about the past, present and future for SARAH P.
Congratulations on ‘Who Am I’; it’s a very grown-up record…
Thank you so much! During the time working on the record, I want to believe that I matured a lot, so it makes me happy hearing that my album sounds like that, too.
‘Free’ saw a very direct approach, depicting times when you found yourself at the crossroads, would you describe ‘Who Am I’ as a description of a more settled state of affairs?
Absolutely. ‘Free’ came out of a dark place. It’s about my reckless years where I took many risks and didn’t always emerge as the winner. On ‘Who Am I’, I’m way more considerate – I’m saying what I want to say but in a calmer manner.
Many things changed for me during the time between the two records – my lifestyle changed, I got married and to be honest, I had quite a change of heart about several things (people, situations, beliefs) that affected me, not only as a person but also as a creator.
‘Finding Sigi’ was an exciting step into your acting career. With the new album out, are you just concentrating on music, or is there any more talk about pursuing the movies?
For the moment, I’m concentrating on music, however, if an appealing proposal comes in, I’ll gladly take it on. There are moments where I miss acting so much!
With EraseRestart you can dictate your own rules. But surely things are harder without the support of an established label?
Of course. I mean, we’re mainly two people – my husband and I are the core duo. There’s a lot of juggling going on. But the thing is that, now that I know how it is to be in charge and have the full creative control over my work.
Even if I got offered the most amazing record deal (and I’m talking about a direct signing), I would find it hard to go back to being submissive to other people’s wishes and exceptions from my music and image.
I have a very specific vision of how I want things to play and I only see committed partners in the picture. I’ve been active in music as a professional for the past seven years and this is the most autonomous I’ve ever been. It comes with a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
More and more women excel in writing, performing and producing their own music, like GRIMES I AM SNOW ANGEL, GAZELLE TWIN and FIFI RONG to mention a few, who have been reaping successes recently. With the latest album, you’re proving that point further…
Thank you. I’m all down for that girl power. I remember the first time that I sat down to write something on my computer – I was terrified. At the time, I was told that I shouldn’t even try – that I wasn’t able to make my own music. It was really hard to break from those inferiority complexes that you develop as a young woman in the music industry.
Imagine that up to today, whenever we pop up somewhere with my husband, people tend to assume that he’s the mastermind behind my project. I find it utterly sad that we’re still not used to women being equal to men when it comes to creation, capability, and opinion.
But there are so many things going wrong in this world that gender inequality seems like another drop in the bucket.
Elena Alice Fossi aka SPECTRA PARIS has returned with a fantastic album while MARSHEAUX still maintain a loyal following; do you follow and take inspiration from other successful ladies in the synth genre?
Sure I do. I think that women have a completely different style and approach when writing and although, as a young listener, I grew up influenced mostly by male artists, I find myself to be way more drawn to female acts nowadays.
I love love MARSHEAUX and how committed they are to their style – I’m always fascinated by artists who are consistent and never get to disappoint. MARSHEAUX are like a dream! Other inspiring ladies that I love are IAMAMIWHOAMI / IONNALEE, AUSTRA and ZOLA JESUS.
Your output on ‘Who Am I’ is very eclectic, do you set out to make things sound one of a kind?
Not at all. Whenever I sit down to write a song, I start off with a blank canvas and in most cases, I have no clue what I want to write about – I just follow my instincts. I just want to put out music that’s thought-provoking – that’s all I care about.
The ‘Who Am I’ track was a key statement for you?
All ten songs hide key statements in them. The whole album needs time to be understood – not because it’s complex, but because it’s very different from what’s on the radio nowadays. It’s raw! My vision was that the album becomes some sort of treasure hunt, with the treasure being the meanings of the songs. And there can be so many interpretations of them, so there’s a unique treasure for each and every listener.
To go back to your question, ‘Who Am I’ is indeed the heart of the record and means a lot to me both musically, but also lyrically. An early version of it was one of the first tracks I’ve ever written on my computer. In that sense, and connecting to what I mentioned earlier about the prejudice that many have – that women can’t write or aren’t good enough in producing, this song is celebrating the person I am today, the person that I’ve become.
On the other hand, lyrically, the theme I’m approaching is way more sombre.
Although it’s manifested in a very understated way that’s open to many reads, ‘Who Am I’ is inspired by the images of refugee camps and tells the story of a young man, who’s waking up in a bed, not remembering a thing about himself and / or how he got there.
It’s pure imagination and I can’t even understand how it is to be violently uprooted from your native land. Writing and singing that song is my way to salute those people who are going through those incredibly hard times.
What was the genesis of ‘LoveStory’ as a song?
Coincidentally, ‘LoveStory’ was also one of the first tracks I ever wrote, but it took me a lot of time to write meaningful lyrics to it. As a true millennial, I struggled for many years to find a love that’s pure and not one-sided. I suffered multiple heartbreaks – they’re countless, really, and I was so defeated that when real love came to me, I was incapable of even realizing it. For a long time, I was trying to destroy it, before it destroyed me. That being said, my partner (who would later become my husband) was extremely patient with me. He was able to tear down my defence walls and “fix my wounds” as I sing.
I understand that selfless love has become very difficult to find, but if my husband and I managed to meet and fall in love in a big city like Berlin, I would say that everything is possible. ‘LoveStory’ is inspired by my personal history, but also by my friends and their friends who have had their hearts broken into pieces by their love interests. It’s also a wish – a lucky spell, if you please, for them to be paired up sometime soon if that’s what they want.
So how did the video for ‘Summer Prince’ spring out of nowhere? Do the visuals ever come into your head during the writing?
’Summer Prince’ is based on memories I have from vacations with my parents and dreams I had as a teenager. I knew that, if we were to film a video for it, the visuals had to be summery and playful. While in Athens, we got the chance to escape for a couple of hours and go to the sea. Very spontaneous as we are, we decided to film this summery adventure, we cut it together and released it the very next day. It’s nothing grandiose – it’s exactly how it should have been. ‘Summer Prince’ is a delayed eulogy to my long-gone innocence and anything too stylized or touched-up would have felt terribly wrong.
As far as your writing technique goes, do you prefer to work with hardware versions of synths or like many today, you don’t shy away from the soft equivalents?
I’m a softy – at least, I became one, due to the circumstances. It was only until late last year that we got to build my home studio. Up to that point, I did everything on my laptop. But hey, I bought some new things, brought my first ever keyboard from Athens and I can already tell that my next album will be way more analogue.
What’s your take on cover versions? Would you ever borrow someone else’s material to make it your own?
I would and maybe I have already, but I can’t say more. I like covers – they’re like being in the attic of an old house and opening the window to let in some fresh air. As long as they’re respectful towards the original pieces, covers are great!
Are we likely to expect ‘Who Am I’ being showcased in live environments any time soon?
That’s become the most difficult question for me to answer during the promotion of ‘Who Am I’. I said before that I won’t play any shows and that’s by choice, opposing a bit the stereotypical idea of putting out a record and performing it live to spread the word.
However, later on, I realised that the way I expressed my views on the matter sounded a bit wacky and kind of negative. So I’d like to clarify that it’s not that I don’t want to play live shows, it’s that I’d like to perform in places and under circumstances that make sense to me and do not cause a headache to me and to my team.
I know that the music lovers and concert goers do not really care about what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway – it’s often that promoters and venues not only dare to just ‘invite’ you to play to places and expect you to cover all of your costs on your own (note: an invitation often means that there’s no fee paid to the artists and the bands), but also do their job very poorly when it comes to promotion, basic professionalism and / or respecting the artists’ riders (and I’m talking about common riders, not the diva-esque, extravagant ones).
I don’t like to generalise – as there are many unprofessional promoters and venue managers, there are many unprofessional artists, too. However, I believe that change can only come when you do something about what’s wrong and that’s the reason why I haven’t confirmed any live shows for the time being. So far, I didn’t receive any offers that met with my terms. And just to be clear, the problem is rather in the morals than in the pockets.
It’s not about getting offered an astronomical amount of money to perform – I’m not Justin Bieber, it’s about not settling down to being treated in a disrespectful manner that’s resembling illegal prostitution in so many ways. I hope this doesn’t sound too insensitive and that nobody gets offended by my words. It’s just how I see things.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m currently producing visuals for the rest of the songs of ‘Who Am I’. I also already started recording and producing my next album. There are several things coming up that I can’t announce just yet, but I will soon enough!
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SARAH P.
Special thanks also to Robert Helbig at Hellbig Music