TRAIN TO SPAIN released their debut album ‘What It’s All About’ in 2015 and showcased their appealing Lana Del Rey fronting YAZOO template with catchy songs like ‘Passion’.
It’s been just over two years since the Swedish duo of singer Helena Wigeborn and producer Jonas Rasmusson presented their second album ‘A Journey’. The new five-track EP ‘¿Amor?’ is the first part of a digital EP trilogy to be released in six month intervals.
While ‘A Journey’ was not too radical a departure, one of its highlights was the explosive stomper ‘Monsters’, a track with the sort of chunky triplets that filled German discos once upon a time.
Indeed, ‘Monsters’ was reissued as a remix for the summer dancefloors to herald the return of TRAIN TO SPAIN. The EP opener ‘Living Now’ turns up that Eurodance wick to 11 and parties like its 1994! Meanwhile, the elastic ‘Everyday Nightmare’ is no less frantic as the rhythm pounds like a dancer.
‘Something’s Missing In My Heart’ eases the mood and is reminiscent of their Danish neighbours SOFTWAVE who stole something of a march by nabbing the OMD support slot of their Scandinavian tour. But TRAIN TO SPAIN show they are equal of such an accolade being offered to them in the future with a tune that has a great vocal and some enticing crystalline synth hooks. ‘Tsunami’ comes from a similar midtempo cloth although Wigeborn’s vocals take on more of a detached snarl on a piece that exudes a more Germanic feel.
To conclude, the bonus remix of ‘Living Now’ by Nórdika plays with a trancey Schaffel structure but while it is different, it is not a patch on the original.
‘¿Amor?’ does the job of leaving the listener wanting more but if there is a criticism of this short and sharp EP, it’s that the overall sound across the four main songs is a bit on the cloudy side and could do with more dynamic clarity.
However, this doesn’t detract that this is a very immediate and enjoyable body of work. With the 40th Anniversary of THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’ looming, it is fitting that it is time to take that TRAIN TO SPAIN again.
Following their successful tour opening for OMD in Scandinavia, Danish synthpop couple SOFTWAVE have paid tribute by presenting their own Scandipop interpretation of ‘Souvenir’.
“Before we went straight on tour with OMD, we decided to make a cover version of OMD’s ‘Souvenir’; the perfect choice to cover on their ‘Souvenir’ tour and a perfect souvenir for us as well. Backstage in Copenhagen Feb 12, we mentioned it to Paul Humphreys and he told us to send him the song.” said singer Catrine Christensen.
“Right after the tour, we went straight to our studio to complete the mix and realised a VERY IMPORTANT part we had totally missed out. Thanks to Paul, we were made aware of how much the choir actually meant for him and the entire composition of the song”
Instrumentalist and producer Jerry Olsen remembered: “At first we recorded Catrine’s choir vocals and added them to the song. But it didn’t sound good. We got frustrated right away. What if we couldn’t make a great cover version? That would be a disaster! So we then tried to make a synth choir… but still not good enough… the third step and the last thing to do was to put both together and it worked so well! Yes! We finally nailed it and we’re very excited about the result!”
Accompanied by a self-produced video paying homage to the original directed by Peter Saville which featured his red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia sports convertible being driven by Andy McCluskey around The Manor in Oxfordshire, SOFTWAVE have brought an affectionate twist by going for a countryside picnic in their deep metallic orange Toyota CH-R.
The original song was written by Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper, inspired by tapes of choirs recorded by Dave Hughes who had been in the OMD live keyboard player role prior to Cooper. The various choir tapes were looped and fed into the mixing desk so that the vocal notes could be ‘played’ like a giant keyboard until the now familiar lush atmospheric structure took shape.
However, completing the recording which was produced by former GONG bassist Mike Howlett proved problematic. There were band tensions with Andy McCluskey feeling detached from the song having not been involved in its writing, while Humphreys providing the lead vocal meant that ‘Souvenir’ would be the first OMD single that he did not sing on.
Meanwhile, Howlett felt the final recording lacked a certain dynamic; so he varispeeded ‘Souvenir’ up to the classic single version that the public are familiar with today, although this was with the amusing after-effect of Humphreys coming over particularly high-pitched to the point of sounding like Alvin The Chipmunk! But the process worked and ‘Souvenir’ reached No3 in the UK singles charts in the Autumn of 1981.
Incidentally, OMD became so popular in Germany having scored the biggest selling single of 1982 in ‘Maid Of Orleans’ that ‘Souvenir’ was covered by Schlagermusik star Nino De Angelo with new lyrics under the title of ‘Und Ein Engel Fliegt In Die Nacht’ in 1983.
Meanwhile, SOFTWAVE will be releasing a CD of the Norwegian show opening for OMD entitled ‘Live at Rockefeller’ via Electro-Shock-Records on 1st October 2020.
It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label. The Electricity Club was it and became reality on 15th March 2010.
Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned The Electricity Club’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.
At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.
The Electricity Club preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary with the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill and that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.
Meanwhile, The Electricity Club’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.
The Electricity Club has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.
Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”; and that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.
Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.
Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time The Electricity Club felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.
But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, The Electricity Club decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.
During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’. With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!
2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What The Electricity Club achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.
Although 2014 started tremendously with The Electricity Club being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.
The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.
But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest, with one artist of a far too normal disposition in particular failing to realise that in order for a crowdfunding campaign to succeed, they needed to actually have quite a few fans in the first place!
Then, there was the similarly clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!
Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.
2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.
It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to offer some revealing insights.
Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.
VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that The Electricity Club first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.
However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.
The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.
And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.
And don’t get The Electricity Club started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!
With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.
Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on The Electricity Club.
The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.
EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!
But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.
2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.
Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.
Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling a narcisstic entitlement to be featured. A few deluded artists even went as far as to blame The Electricity Club publically for their lack of traction! NoW that’s what The Electricity Club calls deluded!
If an act is good enough, the fact that The Electricity Club hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, The Electricity Club maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.
Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantaneously champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not The Electricity Club’s thing frankly…
The Electricity Club’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six TEC branded live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music 😉
Other highlights over the last ten years have included The Electricity Club’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.
There was also ‘The Electricity Club’ 2CD released by Amour Records in 2019 which included TEC featured acts like MESH, SECTION 25, SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, NIGHT CLUB, QUIETER THAN SPIDERS, ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, DAYBEHAVIOR, LIEBE, TWINS NATALIA, KID MOXIE, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS, ELEVEN: ELEVEN, AUTOMATIC WRITING, FOTONOVELA and QUEEN OF HEARTS among its 34 excellent tracks, including a bangin’ MARSHEAUX remix of Katy Perry!
As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with The Electricity Club. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.
The Electricity Club is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk. With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.
One inferior revivalist platform featuring far too much normal rubbish once complained that The Electricity Club “only feature bands that are popular…”; what they actually mean is “only feature bands that are really good”! 😉
The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.
‘The Electricity Club’ is released by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation be purchased from the following retailers:
01 MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
02 KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
03 ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
04 DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (Marsheaux remix)
05 MARNIE The Hunter
06 ELEVEN:ELEVEN Through The Veil
07 NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
08 QUEEN OF HEARTS United
09 KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux remix)
10 ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys remix)
11 KID MOXIE The Bailor
12 KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
13 FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW Our Sorrow (Original mix)
14 GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica 6
15 AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
16 METROLAND Thalys (London Edit)
17 RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog
01 SIN COS TAN Trust
02 POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)
03 TENEK What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)
04 ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
05 ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
06 MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
07 SECTION 25 My Outrage
08 047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
09 TAXX Is It Love?
10 LIEBE I Believe In You
11 QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
12 iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
13 TWINS NATALIA Destiny
14 MESH Tuesday
15 MIRRORS Between Four Walls
16 OMD Time Burns (Fotonovela rework)
17 VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red
Please note this product is NOT on sale through The Electricity Club website and only via retailers
Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020
Over the last 10 years, The Electricity Club has been a voice for the discerning enthusiast of electronic pop.
With a balancing act of featuring the classic pioneers of the past alongside the emergent new talent for the future, The Electricity Club has become well known for its interviews and reviews, asking the questions people have always wanted to ask while celebrating the continuing development of the synthesizer in popular music. All this while holding to account those who deliver below expectations, assuring the listener that if they are perhaps not hearing the genius that some devoted fans are declaring, then The Electricity Club is there to assist in affirming or denying that assessment.
But when artists do deliver, they tend to build a strong relationship with The Electricity Club. So with the site celebrating its first 10 years, presented here are greetings and messages from some people who you might know…
Rusty Egan, VISAGE
TEC is 10 years old with the synth knowledge of a 50 year old. If I can’t remember something electronic I don’t Google, I TEC!
Glenn Gregory, HEAVEN 17
The Electricity Club and its wonderful leader Chi is like the League Of Super Heroes for Electronic Music. Our future is safe in his hands.
I have been involved in electronic music making for 40 years, yet one half hour conversation with Chi makes me realise how little I know. From then to now, he’s knows!
Neil Arthur, BLANCMANGE
Chi has been brilliantly supportive of BLANCMANGE, for which I am very grateful. We’ve always managed to have a good laugh during our interviews, as he would ask me about the darkness and gloom lying within a given BLANCMANGE song! I look forward to our next chat.
The Electricity Club has a very important place and a role to play, in spreading the news of electronic music, new and old, far and wide. Here’s to the next ten years. Well done and good luck.
Gary Daly, CHINA CRISIS
Thanks for all your wonderful support Chi, so glad someone has taken the time to ask some great questions…
Sarah Blackwood, DUBSTAR
I love The Electricity Club website. It’s a treasure trove of informative articles, both a very readable historical archive and a forward looking platform for encouraging new talent. In what can be traditionally and lazily categorised as a very male dominated scene, Chi encourages great music regardless of gender and I enjoy the updated Spotify playlist if I’m ever stuck for what to listen to whilst running.
As regards interviews, it’s always enjoyable – Chi is a bit too easy to talk to and his passion for music and synth geekery shines through – heaven forbid you try sneaking a (cleared) sample past him, he will spot it!
Is it 10 years already? Happy birthday TEC!
Chris Payne, DRAMATIS
With 18,000 likes and 12,000 Facebook followers; The Electricity Club under the guidance of its purveyor Chi Ming Lai, has become the leading place for the Electronic Music fan. Intelligent, well written and well researched journalism with a great team of writers presenting an array of brilliant fascinating new acts (and some older ones as well!), hopefully it will continue for at least another 10 years.
Tracy Howe, RATIONAL YOUTH
Congratulations to The Electricity Club on ten years of brilliant reporting of, and support to, the electronic pop scene. TEC is the authoritative publication “of record” for fans and makers of synthpop alike and is the international rallying point and HQ for our music. We look forward to many more years of in-depth interviews and probing articles, all in the beautifully written TEC style. Happy birthday TEC!
Mark White, ABC + VICE VERSA
Chi Ming Lai and Paul Boddy are two of the most learned, nay, erudite music journalists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, a rare experience indeed to be quizzed by a pair who know their onions. And unusual integrity. Chi promised me if we asked, he would turn off the tape recorder and it would never appear in print. And has been true to his word. This has literally never happened in my career. Also these two chaps are bloody good fun. I laughed til I cried. Go see the movie!
Rob Dean, JAPAN
10 years of The Electricity Club? Only one for me (yes, I know…), but it’s heartening to know that Chi and the crew have created a site so cutting edge for us die-hard fans of electronica. Having read the highly entertaining VICE VERSA chaps interview, I was delighted to be asked to do my own, confident that the questions would be thoughtful and intelligent and yes, a little bit probing too. Here’s to the next 10 and thank you!
Richard Silverthorn, MESH
On several occasions I have done interviews for The Electricity Club. Every time I felt like they actually cared about the music and scene and put some educated thought into the questions. It’s good to feel that enthusiasm.
Tom Shear, ASSEMBLAGE 23
Congratulations on 10 years of covering and supporting the scene! Here’s to another 10 and beyond…
Sophie Sarigiannidou, MARSHEAUX
I first met Chi at Sparrowhawk Hotel, Burnley in November 2000 for an OMD convention. It took me 13 hours to reach by train to Burnley from London due to bad weather.
I saw him playing live (!!!!) with his covers band THE MESSERSCHMITT TWINS, they were having their time of their life, dancing and singing, so so happy! Us too of course!! From that moment on we became friends.
Then he supported our band MARSHEAUX from the very early beginning and I thank him a lot for that! It’s always great having Chi asking questions for interviews . We as a band had our best interviews with The Electricity Club! We spent a lot of hours talking about the history of electronic music and the future of synthpop. My favourite articles on TEC are the “A Beginners Guide To…” series, you have a lot to learn from these pages!!! Happy Anniversary Chi, we’ve indeed had 10 amazing years with TEC. I hope and wish the next 10 to be even better.
Erik Stein, CULT WITH NO NAME
The Electricity Club elected not to review earlier CWNN albums, so we just had to keep making better and better records until they would finally relent. They finally gave in from album number 7 onwards, and it was well worth the wait. The writing was spot on and not a single DEPECHE MODE reference in sight.
Mark Reeder, MFS BERLIN
Congratulations and a very Happy 10th Birthday TEC! Over the past 10 years, The Electricity Club website has developed into becoming the leading website for all kinds of electronic synthpop music. It has become a familiar friend, because it is something I can personally identify with, as it is maintained by fans, for fans.
However, it is not only commendable, but can also be quite critical too, and that is a rare balancing act in the contemporary media world. It has been a great source of regular electronic music information. I have discovered and re-discovered many wonderful electronic artists, and regularly devour the in-depth interviews and features.
Through TEC, I have been introduced to and worked with some of the wonderful artists presented on your pages, such as QUEEN OF HEARTS or MARSHEAUX and in return, it has supported my work, my label and my artists too, and I thank them for that! We can all celebrate ten years of TEC and together, look forward to the next 10 years of inspiring electronic music.
Per Aksel Lundgreen, SUB CULTURE RECORDS
The Electricity Club is a highly knowledgeable and very passionate site! They are digging out rarities from the past as well as exploring and discovering new acts, giving them attention and writing about them often before anybody else around have even heard of them.
This makes TEC a very interesting page to follow, as their in-depth stories about older bands “missing in action” as well as the latest stuff “in the scene” gets perfectly mixed together, giving you all you want basically in a one-stop-site for everything electronic. I also love the way they give attention to unsigned / self-released bands and small indie-labels, giving everybody a fair chance as long as the music is good enough. Congrats on the 10th Anniversary, well deserved!
Jane Caley aka Anais Neon, VILE ELECTRODES
When VILE ELECTRODES were just starting out, we heard through the Facebook grapevine about a new electronic music blog called The Electricity Club. We had a London gig coming up, and had recently made a promo video for our song ‘Deep Red’, so we dropped them an email about both, not expecting to hear back, since we were virtually unknown. However it transpired they really liked our sound, likening us to “Client B born and raised in the Home Counties fronting Dindisc-era ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK”.
The Electricity Club subsequently gave this very description to Andy McCluskey, which piqued his interest such that he checked out our music. We were invited to tour Germany with OMD as a direct result!
George Geranios, UNDO RECORDS
Chi is a really rare quality of a man. He is passionate about music which is so obvious of course while reading The Electricity Club. Through our mutual love for OMD, we discovered that we have the same musical taste. TEC helped us promote all of Undo Records projects and finally we ended collaborating and releasing this brilliant TEC double CD compilation! Chi, I wish you health and to continue writing the best music texts in the industry!!
Adam Cresswell, HAPPY ROBOTS RECORDS
Some people say The Electricity Club doesn’t support the scene but I’ve not found that to be the case; having been a part of two TEC gigs and the recent CD, I know how much blood, sweat and tears they put into what they do. TEC might get a few people’s back-up, but they know their stuff when it comes to synth-driven music and I’m massively grateful that they have supported so many Happy Robots artists since 2010.
Stuart McLaren, OUTLAND
It’s no secret that the burgeoning new synthwave genre shares a common history with the great synthesizer acts and pioneers of the 80s, like Dolby, Jones, Luscombe, Wilder, Daly et al who created new soundscapes with what we now define as vintage synths.
These sounds are brought back to life by pioneers in their own right like FM ATTACK, GUNSHIP, ESPEN KRAFT and BETAMAXX to name a few.
The Electricity Club and Chi Ming Lai have always been at the forefront of championing, interviewing and reviewing the luminaries of this great instrument past to present, and are likely to remain the de facto voice of the synth scene well into the future… we agree on one thing and that is FM-84’s singer Ollie Wride is deffo one to watch as a star for the future!
Paula Gilmer, TINY MAGNETIC PETS
Happy Birthday TEC. thank you for your support. You never fail to impress with your encyclopedic knowledge of synthpop. Here’s looking forward to 10 more!
Mr Normall, NUNTIUS
I’ve been following most of my favourite artists since they were brand new and often this means 30+ years, yet reading articles and interviews by The Electricity Club, I have learned every time something new about of my favourites.
Following The Electricity Club have made me paid attention to several new acts that I would likely know nothing about if they hadn’t appeared on the page.
Catrine Christensen, SOFTWAVE
An outstanding magazine supporting new and upcoming artists whom they choose carefully as they have great taste of music regarding to their huge knowledge within the synthpop genre, when it comes to their writing and promotion – there’s no one like them. Happy birthday 😘
Elena Charbila, KID MOXIE
Happy 10th birthday TEC! Your love and commitment to the synth community is unparalleled and your support has meant a lot to me on a professional but also on a personal level. Here’s to the next 10 years! 😘
Alexander Hofman aka Android, S.P.O.C.K
I’m a fan of The Electricity Club for several reasons. You showed up when I perceived the majority of the electronic scene had turned more and more harsh; as much as I can appreciate an occasional emotional outburst, I’m a happy guy and thus I’m into pop – TEC showed, and still shows me that there’s still electronic pop music being made. Good electronic pop! Which makes me glad, as I find the greater part of the generally popular darker scene to be of lower musical quality.
Moreover, TEC writes in an amazingly happy tone – remember, I’m a happy guy, so it’s right up my alley. Add the fact that TEC regularly publishes interesting articles, using intelligent and varied vocabulary, shows enormous knowledge and interest of the theme, the style, the scene – and I’m hooked. Thanks for being around – keep up the good work, it’s much needed! And congratulations – let’s grab a beer again! 🍻
As highly respected veterans with a career of over four decades and still able to fill concert theatres around the world, OMD have used their position and earned a fine reputation for providing opportunities to fledging electronic pop acts to shine in front of a sympathetic audience.
The latest beneficiary has been the Danish synthpop couple SOFTWAVE who were accorded the honour of opening for OMD in Oslo, Stockholm, Malmo and Copenhagen during the Scandinavian leg of their 2020 ‘Souvenir’ greatest hits tour.
A keen OMD fan from Germany, Anja Minnemann went to all four of these gigs and observed: “It was amazing to watch SOFTWAVE’s performances. They gave a very strong performance every time I saw them and they grew in confidence so much from the first gig too the last gig! When they performed in their own country Denmark, you would have thought they were the main event!”
Unlike Sweden and Norway, Denmark has not been known for a tradition in electronic pop, but maybe there was never been a group worthy enough in the past to lead and inspire? SOFTWAVE’s album ‘Game On’ featuring songs included in the live set like ‘Galaxy Of Stars’ and ‘Something Is Missing’ has been one of the best debuts to have emerged from the Nordic region in the last few years.
Without doubt, the pair have certainly been the most promising synthpop act from Denmark since TIGER BABY whose last album ‘Open Windows Open Hills’ came out in 2011. “The Scandinavian people are always a bit cool but Catrine and Jerry warmed them up massively” said Anja, “Her voice was clear and she had so much power in it. It seems she can’t stand still, the rhythm was her cardio. Jerry was the quiet guy behind her, dressed up in a PacMan suit 🙂”
“They captivated the crowd and got them involved with chanting ‘OMD’” she added, “both the band and crowd were interacting with each other, which was an amazing feeling for both. One of the things I’ll always remember is, when the stage was dark and Catrine come onto it opening her arms and her ‘wings’ had lights on and she glowed in the dark, she looked like a massive butterfly. The reaction from the crowd was awesome! Songs like ‘No Need To Hide’ stay in your mind for a very long time”.
Enthusiastic UK-based Dutch OMD fan Marilyn Wilson remembered: “I first heard about SOFTWAVE in 2018 when Chi from The Electricity Club told me that both Catrine and I were going to be on the same 80s Throwback Floating Festival cruise and that we should meet each other. The ship was rather big and we were never in the same location, so that never happened unfortunately. I did follow Softwave on Facebook after I came back home from the cruise and really liked what I heard.”
The Electricity Club have often remarked how SOFTWAVE sound like Celine Dion fronting ERASURE and certainly the latter’s instrumental palette is a similarity that many have referenced.
“The sounds and melodies that Jerry uses remind me a bit of Vince Clarke’s work, and Vince is one of my musical heroes” Marilyn said, “Catrine’s voice is beautiful and powerful and compliments the synths wonderfully! I was so excited when I heard that SOFTWAVE were going to support OMD in Scandinavia, and their four performances certainly didn’t disappoint!”
With Catrine as SOFTWAVE’s vivacious front women, she garnered the majority of the attention but she worked hard on her performance to maintain it, as the measure for support acts is not how many people are watching at the start of the set, but how many still remain at the end.
“Catrine is a natural on stage and presented all songs with lots of flair and humour” added Marilyn, “She was energetic, confident, interacted a lot with the crowd and managed to get lots of people, who had never heard the music before, to dance throughout the performance! That’s why it didn’t surprise me much when people queued up to meet the band after the gig. Both Catrine and Jerry also happen to be the loveliest friendliest people you could ever meet! My favourite song on the setlist was ‘Something Is Missing’. It’s so catchy I had in my head for days after the gigs.”
Seeing SOFTWAVE perform in Oslo and Stockholm, American music journalist and future music enthusiast Mary L Chang could not help but be impressed. “It’s a tall order, opening for an established band like OMD who have very devoted fans. From the very first song, the aplomb of Catrine Christensen set the stage for a spellbinding and energetic set. Whether in their Pac-Man-themed jackets or in Christensen’s case, lit up with a blue LED cape, SOFTWAVE gave an engaging, unforgettable performance.”
After the misstep of choosing the admittedly low maintenance LOVERS ELECTRIC to support on their comeback tour in 2007, OMD played it safe with the dependable CHINA CRISIS in 2008. However, they then took a greater interest in their special guests and a run of excellent up-and-coming synth acts have since been chosen for the coveted opening slot.
Among those acts touring with OMD since 2010 have been VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND and TINY MAGNETIC PETS.
In a strange coincidence of synchronicity, all five of these acts had been featured previously on The Electricity Club and now SOFTWAVE were eagerly following in their footsteps as the sixth.
Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen spoke to The Electricity Club about their tour with OMD and what the future holds for SOFTWAVE following their successful four date Scandinavian run…
How did you receive the news that you would be opening for OMD?
Catrine: By e-mail. It was an ordinary day. I checked my inbox and there it was! We thought they would never answer – an email was received from OMD’s manager saying: “The band has agreed”.
Later we were told by Andy McCluskey himself in Oslo that we were personally chosen by OMD. It was a great start to begin the tour – we felt SO happy, they were really kind to us during the whole tour. We actually felt like we came closer for each place we played with them. And now I miss them and the touring life. I want more 🙂
So how was preparing for a four date touring different from a one-off show for you?
Catrine: OMG! Haha! As this was our biggest opportunity ever, I had to prepare more than I’m used to. To our biggest surprise, preparing our show wasn’t the toughest. It’s no secret that I’m a perfectionist when it comes to planning things.
Every single detail was double checked several times, for example planning transport, flight, train, cruise, hotels and not to forget all the new contacts we had become from each venue promoters, production managers, bookers etc.
Jerry: It was all so big and new to us. So of course, we were both very frustrated in the beginning, because we knew this was big and it meant so much to us that we wouldn’t fail. We wanted to make a great impression on OMD and the audience to show them that this tour wasn’t just another show to us – but the biggest four shows we have ever done…
Catrine: …and maybe the door to future success – a dream would finally come true. We couldn’t be more happy – and GOD I so much wish for more of this to happen! Even though preparing was tough! But I believe everything new is difficult. We could easily do it again as we now know how it all works.
Were there any interesting dilemmas with choosing songs to perform for a 30 minute slot?
Catrine: Yes, sure. 30 minutes isn’t a whole album, so we had to remove some songs. What we didn’t expect was that we had to add an old song because Vega, the venue in Copenhagen decided to promote us by using the ‘On & On & On’ music video. So we chose to add that one too, replacing ‘Human Beings’.
How were rehearsals going, did you have a particular process? Voice exercises, run throughs etc??
Jerry: We did rehearsals one month before the first show and each day during the tour, even during the cruise to Oslo and at hotels.
Catrine: I did voice exercises each day for one month up to the first show, but that’s not more than I’m used to before a show.
I tried to keep my throat warm and healthy, it’s like going in a fitness centre, not before one month of training you can feel a difference. I drank tea each day up to and during the tour. I was very afraid of getting sick and not being able to sing. But I didn’t 🙂
You finally had a CD of ‘Game On’ available for sale…
Catrine: Yeah. We were not supposed to. But after receiving a lot of requests, we decided to produce some. Luckily we received support from DPA and KODA’s Cultural Funds, or else we couldn’t afford it. One month before the tour, we decided to release the CD together with the announcement of the 100 new copies of the ‘Game On’ vinyl, a “tour edition” in lime colour. Surprisingly we received many CD pre-orders, and I had to arrange all these to be shipped safely to the fans, all signed during the preparations for the tour. WOW! That was stressful. But after that, we could finally concentrate on the tour.
Jerry: The CDs sold well and 50% of them are gone already. So we’re very glad about our decision. But the vinyl sale went even better!
Your choice of stage clothes made a strong visual impact?
Catrine: Yes, it did. Every single detail was carefully chosen. The most popular visual impact was definitely the blue LED-wings I was wearing during ‘Guardian Angel’. Visuals and stage clothes are almost as important as the music when performing live.
We want the audience to experience the music in another way than when listening at home. As we don’t go on compromise on the quality of the music production, we feel the same live. To show that, we had to “show” it in a visual way.
Jerry: We both wore the PacMan suits as it’s related to the ‘Game On’ album. It’s not a permanent look though.
Catrine: Regarding the shows we did during the tour with OMD, it was my idea to spice up the show with a star, LED wings and my clothes which I changed a little at each show, but it still had the same main look. During all our shows, I was always wearing my wave-earring and wave-makeup. As something new, I added a Greek goddess hair-bracelet which I bought together with my Greek family in Athens. After the tour I found out that many people noticed these small details – so that made me very happy. It was all worth it 🙂
ATTENTION!Watch this video to have a closer look behind-the-scenes and to see how much we enjoyed touring with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.Interview by THE ELECTRICITY CLUB "On Tour With SOFTWAVE":http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/on-tour-with-softwave/We are so pleased to have so many lovely people around us to support us during the whole tour experience ❤ THANK YOU ❤Playlist by OMD: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Pkycy3mykGmoiT3EVSpvy?si=vVCDmE6yRWmmkyzrNy01SwWatch FULL live show (VEGA): https://youtu.be/sg8FJ37vaSc
Posted by SoftWave on Wednesday, February 26, 2020
How was the first night in Oslo?
Catrine: As you say “the first night”. We didn’t know what to expect and what people would think of our show. Therefore we were both very excited and nervous at the same time. A strange but also an incredibly good feeling. (Watch behind-the-scenes video 🙂
We weren’t sure how much we could ask or if we were allowed to meet the band and talk with them backstage. So we kind of just followed the flow and suddenly we met Andy McCluskey and had a short chat.
Afterwards we said hi to Paul Humphreys and the other band members. We also had the pleasure of seeing their soundcheck along with the VIPs.
They looked very curiously at us, as we were just standing there among the hardcore OMD fans, I had this feeling that they wasn’t used to that.
Jerry: After the show, something surprising happened, first of all we sold a lot of merchandise and many came to us to give us feedback. Some gave us high-five and one man told us that what we did was amazing. He said he had never seen an OMD support band like that before. He also added that Norwegians are normally very shy in nature, but we made them clap, jump, shout and smile 🙂
Even a video from an audience was uploaded to YouTube afterwards – and that’s a good sign…
You actually had some German and Dutch OMD fans there to cheer for you?
Catrine: Yes we had, Anja and Marilyn. They were amazingly supportive during the whole tour. We really needed them, so their presence meant a lot to us. At least one person to cheer you up is precious – but we were lucky to have at least two during all four places <3
The tour wouldn’t have been the same without them. But we must say that they maybe would not have known about us if it wasn’t because of our huge fan Shaun who couldn’t be there and told Anja to keep an eye on us.
What was the overall reaction in Oslo?
Jerry: It was impressive. They were all very supportive and cheered us up. We had so much great feedback. If this wasn’t the case, I’m afraid it would maybe have made me nervous for the other shows.
Catrine: We were told by Andy that they would come and see our show. So we were very excited to hear their feedback afterwards.
Then onto Stockholm, did the audience here differ?
Catrine: There were unbelievably so many photos taken here, it sure was the most beautiful venue we have ever played at. We would love to go there again. Even the backstage area and service was amazing. Sadly there wasn’t much videos posted by the audience. But we were lucky to find one:
How was your relationship developing with the road crew?
Jerry: Step by step. We ended up having a very good time together, it felt like a small family. We really miss them.
Did you get to chat much to Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys during the tour?
Catrine: Yes. But it wasn’t easy. We were afraid it would never happen. So we stayed humble and didn’t want to demand them to have a chat with us, so we shared our wish with their manager and made it up to them to decide when and if they wanted to chat with us.
That was a good decision as we experienced they opened up more after each show. During the last show in Copenhagen, they came to us many times for a chat and we even had photos with them backstage. We also gave them and the rest of the band a copy of the lime vinyl including a personal message and signed of course 🙂
They seemed very happy about the gift and they also gave us great feedback on our performance, actually many times. They also said they were honoured to have us with them on tour – and we didn’t know what to say because we were the ones to be honoured to be chosen.
Right before we went to the stage in Vega, Andy told me that he was amazed by my way of performing. He said something like this: “…without looking nervous at all you just went on stage like a queen saying here I am…”. That really was a huge compliment. I hope to chat more with them, we had such a great time and even better, the same sort of humour.
Jerry: I had a nice producer-conversation with Paul before we entered the stage in Copenhagen. We mentioned that we’re working on a cover version of ‘Souvenir’ which caught his attention right away. He asked me to send him a demo to his private email.
Malmö was heading towards home, were you getting into your stride by now?
Jerry: Yeah… we were definitely getting the hang of the touring life. It was a different place but everything remained the same. Every place, the schedule is exactly the same. That was actually a good thing because it made us relax more.
But you were most nervous for the Copenhagen show?
Jerry: Yes. Danes are not easily satisfied. They are often critical about new bands like us and can be very judging. But surprisingly, we were completely wrong about that.
Catrine: We had a huge queue at the merchandise stand. We were three people to help sell our stuff and it was lovely to have a good friend helping us out during the day. Copenhagen was a great success and a perfect end to the tour!
Over the four shows, which songs appeared to be getting the best reaction?
Jerry: Hard to say. Ask OMD’s fans 😉
But if I should mention one song – it must be ‘No Need To Hide’ as it was the last one on the setlist and worked as the perfect transition for OMD to take over the stage after us.
How were merch sales and the online reaction with regards social media and post-show steams?
Catrine: Just amazing. We couldn’t have asked for more. We sold way more than expected. Our lovely followers on social media kindly shared our posts and even OMD fans commented and uploaded pictures and videos. It was a great help to me, as I’m responsible for the promotional part. Only at Vega, we had our own film-production crew to film our show and a photographer. So we especially want to thank all people who took pictures and filmed our show in Oslo, Stockholm and Malmo and would like everyone to send us their files to firstname.lastname@example.org
What advice would you give to artists to be able to get into the position you managed to find yourself in?
Catrine: Be prepared, be yourself, produce great music and show you are proud of it. Don’t be afraid to move forward – just believe you will succeed and you will.
What are SOFTWAVE’s future plans, hopes and fears?
Jerry: We want to tour more for sure! It’s very sad that the tour with OMD is over already, and we fear a tour like this will never happen to us again. We feel very lucky and honoured to have experienced this. It feels like we have reached the top. So of course it’s always frustrating to think of the future after having such a great time in “tour-heaven”.
Catrine: It’s like having an “after-tour-effect”, some artists feel depressed. I have been told it’s normal, but I don’t feel that yet. I’m still very happy, but I have thought “So what will happen now?”... I believe the worst thing is to have to wait and stay patient.
As we didn’t know what would happen after this tour, we are still available for bookings during the whole summer. We hope to play in Germany and bigger venues and festivals in Denmark. But we’re not in a hurry as we’re planning a new album and another exciting side-project 😉
But there will be a full professional live show recording of the Copenhagen Vega show online soon.
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to SOFTWAVE
Special thanks to Anja Minnemann, Marilyn Wilson and Mary L Chang