Tag: Spacebuoy


Spacebuoy 03English synthpop duo SPACEBUOY met over 20 years ago through their common interest in music.

Singer Howard Moth really knows how to put his effort into the songs with his very sensitive and unique voice. Meanwhile, his companion Jez Allen Smith is the cool captain behind the computer and synthesizers.

With a support slot with ERASURE on their CV, tracks from their two EP releases so far ‘Fashionista’ and ‘Breathe’ have been played on different radio stations all over the UK including Harborough and Phoenix FM. Prestigious live appearances at Bas II and both iSynth Festivals in France continued their upward momentum. They are just about to release their first full length album called ‘Intoxicated’ having just been signed to Juggernaut Music Group, also home to MACHINISTA.

TEC’s Swedish Correspondent Sophie Nilsson caught up with Howard (aka H) and Jez to speak a bit about their new album, music and life in general.

How would you very shortly describe the sound of SPACEBUOY?

Jez: We’re alternative future retro synth pop with a twist.

You’ve got a new album coming out now called ‘Intoxicated’. Has it been an easy journey?

H: There’s been plenty of emotion and dilemma as with any worthwhile journey, but it feels good to have captured that and I have far too much to say for myself as usual.

Spacebuoy - intoxicatedTell me about the process of making it?

Jez: The process we’ve always used is to bounce ideas off each other through email or mobile phone and progress from there. Basslines, melodies, guitar chords, lyrics, humming a tune or whatever it is, there is no real order to it.

H: It’s random and chaotic I guess but it works for us and anything goes if it peels our banana. Songwriting isn’t anything we find overly difficult as yet, we work together well in our own inimitable way. We knew we wanted to produce new sounds and vibes this time around and we’ve worked hard to achieve that. Our studio methods may well be unorthodox but we do everything ourselves in our own way and that’s how we like it to be.

What is SPACEBUOY’s songwriting dynamic?

H: We’ve never written a song from scratch together in the same room at the same time which results in multiple demo ideas kicking around until they’re complete. Jez takes care of all programming and synths and making sense of any of my badly played synth ideas. I’ll do a guide vocal track and once we’re happy with the direction of the track, I re-do the vocals, harmonies and song arrangements and Jez then pulls everything together again technically. Then comes mastering and production which we actually decided to do together this time, but that was only an excuse to drink beer and eat cake.

What differences are there between this new album and your previous EP releases?

Jez: We’ve learnt a lot since those initial releases, moving into another zone from the perspective of what we want and how to produce it. The new album has a different feel to it although I think you could see that happening with the ‘Breathe’ EP compared to ‘Fashionista’. There’s more a personal feel to this album as well as a gritty solid early synthpop edge to some of the songs from our life’s rich pageant.

Spacebuoy 02Your lyrics have a nice, delicate twist. Are they very personal for you or do you like telling people what they are about?

H: They are personal yes, they’re me. But as for explaining them, I prefer the idea of making your own interpretation. Not everything is black and white and needs to be explained as such, it’s good to have an opinion through thought. Give me intrigue and mystery, irony and meaning, however that translates for you because ultimately we all take from it what we want.

What serves as your inspiration?

H: Everyone and anything that’s had an influence in some way, Stella Artois seems to make an appearance quite often in that process.

What comes first, music or words?

Jez: We’re open minded and go both ways. Either one can inspire the other and frequently does.

Both of you have different musical backgrounds; does that make it harder to decide for the sound of your songs?

H: In many ways it’s easier. You need unique style and maybe fusing together our diverse influences helps. There are things we’ve done that I’d have never dreamt of doing and vice versa. You’ll always hear influences but love us or not I don’t believe we sound like anyone else and I’d be bored to tears if we did.

What are your musical influences?


Jez: ERASURE and YAZOO, DEPECHE MODE with and without Vince, HOWARD JONES, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, VANGELIS, PET SHOP BOYS, DAVE BALL and a ton of dance music from BIZARRE INC to CHICANE to THE TIDY BOYS and beyond… there are so many musical influences I couldn’t possibly name them all.

Is there any new electronic music that you like?

Jez: I’m loving CHVRCHES at the moment.

H: I’m very hard to please I’m afraid, although I’ve been getting into PAGE over the last year or so … yes I know it takes me a while to catch on from 1983.

What synths and other electronic equipment do you use?

Jez: At the moment it’s really a case of the cheapest we can get that will do the job, and we buy things as we can afford them. Current gear list is Novation X Station, MicroKorgXL, Akai Miniak, Novation Mininova, Arturia Microbrute, DSI Mopho keys, Korg Monotron delay, PC running Ableton Live, Novation Vstation, Novation Nio audio interface, Lennar Digital Sylenth1, REfx Claw and Rob Papen Blue.

Are there any favourite ones?

Jez: At the moment it’s the Mopho, it’s got a really good sound to it.

Do you prefer analogue or digital sounds?

Jez: There are some great analogue synths and some great digital synths, but we prefer analogue although we’re a mixture of virtual analogue, soft synths and analogue at the moment. We’re going more analogue for sure as we’ve done with ‘Intoxicated’ and that’s simply because we prefer the sounds, they’re more tactile and fun to use.

Have you ever used conventional instruments?

H: Live we haven’t, but in the studio we’ve used some guitar on tracks like ‘Deliverance’ and ‘13’ from the album as well as a few others on previous releases.

What’s the best thing about being in SPACEBUOY?

H: Without doubt the fun we have playing live. It’s the thing we enjoy the most.

You’ve said before that SPACEBUOY are an unfashionable combination, why is that and what makes it work?

H: I don’t think we’re in any way hip or trendy, like the whole orange thing with white sunglasses and long hair, shouldn’t work but it does. Our songwriting ideas are almost always totally different to each others, I don’t know how that works either but it does too so long may it continue.

And in case people are wondering, what is it about the orange thing?

H: It’s the new black haven’t you heard? It’s very much out there and the happiest most positive colour there is … and yes I have a thing about it too!

What were your reactions when ERASURE contacted you and wanted SPACEBUOY to support them on their last tour?

H: It was very early in the life of SPACEBUOY, we’d played two or three low key gigs at that point so reactions went from total bliss to mild hysteria at the realisation that we’d been asked to support. It was obviously a big deal at the time we but embraced the whole thing totally and enjoyed every second of it.

What was it like playing before them?

H: A huge amount of fun! We were made to feel extremely welcome and looked after equally as well by ERASURE themselves and everyone in their crew, we’ll never forget that that. To be asked us to play was very humbling to say the least.

Jez: The audience took to us from the first notes we played so it was it was pretty cool to receive that. We had a fabulous time and met some really lovely and genuine people.

You’re live performances differ from most acts, is that something conscious?

H: Some say we’re quirky! I don’t know, but what you see in our performance is who we are and what comes out on stage isn’t pre-rehearsed it just happens that way. I used to find it terrifying getting on stage, hence the persona but I just absolutely enjoy it.

What is your favourite thing to see in the audience from the stage?

H: People enjoying themselves and having a good time, singing along. I really like audience interaction and the fun of having some chit-chat.

Does anything distract you?

Jez: There’s been a few weird things happen but nothing too major to distract me enough to force an error just yet.

Any strange studio quirks we should know about or pre performance rituals?

H: I’m addicted Bilar sweets, the sugar coated variety, so I have to eat those during a studio session. I always record vocals barefoot and I have no idea why that came about. Pre-performance, I like a few minutes to myself.


Photo by Sophie Nilsson

H: Jez likes to freshen things up sometimes and deliver a different spin on a track if he’s got some new sounds to play with. People really notice too although it catches me out sometimes if I forget we’re doing it.

What are the future plans for SPACEBUOY?

Jez: We’re delighted to have just signed to the Juggernaut Music Group and ’Intoxicated ’will be the first release. It’s a positive move in the right direction for us and we’re excited for what the future holds working with Juggernaut.

Will there be any remixes of your new songs done for you by any other artists?

Jez: We’re discussing ideas to collaborate with MACHINISTA so we’re really looking forward to hopefully working with those guys in the very near future.

Your artwork is striking and again something different in many ways, who is responsible for that?

H: Our artwork represents our songs and the concept of whatever release it is, it’s an important part of the package. We work closely on all our visuals artwork with Lee Jenkins of Lee Photography who is also our photographer.

Tell us something about you that nobody knows?

Jez: I don’t like rice pudding.

H: We had a gig in Bristol where the dressing room was shut for refurbishment. As I was getting changed outside in a side street next to the car and just as I was down to nothing but my orange boxer shorts, the police decide come around the corner. They saw the funny side of it at least.

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to SPACEBUOY

’Intoxicated’ is released by Juggernaut Music Group on 27th June 2014 as a CD and download.





Text and Interview by Sophie Nilsson
Photos by Lee Jenkins of Lee Photography except where credited
23rd May 2014

Introducing SPACEBUOY

SPACEBUOY3The first time I ever heard of SPACEBUOY was back in 2011 when ERASURE announced the bands who were to support them on their ‘Tomorrow’s World’ tour.

Andy Bell liked their music so much that he invited them to be their opening act at ERASURE’s warm-up gig in Bristol. They also supported them later in Blackpool where they received a loving welcome from the audience.

SPACEBUOY are a Midland duo; Howard Moth and Jez Allen Smith, who do electronic pop music at its best! They met over 20 years ago through their common interest in music. Their lyrics are brilliantly winsome and that combined with the elegant electrotunes makes for a perfect combination. Singer Howard (aka H) really knows how to put all his effort into the songs with his very sensitive and unique voice. His companion Jez is a cool captain behind the computer and synthesizers. It is not difficult to understand that they’ve put a lot of hard work into making their songs just the way they are.

Their first release ‘Fashionista’ is a classic electropop album containing 8 songs. From it, the title track has been played a lot on different radio stations all over the UK including Harborough and Phoenix FM. The songs are everything from immediately catchy to being a bit dark and mysterious. Songs like ‘Sonic Boom’, ‘Velveteen’ and ‘Oblivion’ really get stuck in your head in a positive way and you want to listen to them over and over again. They really grow on you as a listener. Every play uncovers new things in them and the songs just sparkle when played live. “Alternative synthpop…it’s what we do” say SPACEBUOY!

SPACEBUOY1The orange pair released their second EP ‘Breathe’ this spring featuring the very delicate title track. When SPACEBUOY performed this April at i Synth 1 in Lille, they played a couple of new songs which were really something special. They are a very interesting live band and Howard connects closely with the audience. Having seen them at Bas II and Croydon in 2012, their live set in Lille showed that they had elevated one level further.

They are now back in the studio recording new songs for the next album. The so-far-untitled album will be out on the market later in 2013. Everything is progressing fine and the band are very happy with the results so far.

If you haven’t heard of SPACEBUOY, I really recommend that you give them a listen… if you like ERASURE, it is a definite must! This is for sure a band that we will hear lots from in the very near future.

‘Fashionista’ and ‘Breathe’ are available as downloads via iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby




Text and Photos by Sophie Nilsson
13th June 2013

BAS II – Basildon’s Electro Synth Weekend

Several cities have a special place in the heart of the heart of electronic music lover; Düsseldorf, Sheffield, Berlin, but none has more resonance than Basildon.

This new town in Essex was the birthplace of the world’s biggest electronic band DEPECHE MODE, as well as YAZOO and a host of related acts. Given this remarkable musical legacy, it is surprising that Basildon has done little to celebrate its most famous sons. That is, until now…

Deb Danahay was at the heart of this thriving music scene during these Synth Britannia years. She was a close friend of DEPECHE MODE and co-ran their fan club in the early days. Deb has stayed living in the Basildon area and always maintained her enthusiasm for the scene.

In 2011 she put on her first live event – A Very Special Weekend in Bas – and was overwhelmed at the response of DM fans who travelled from far and wide to celebrate in the hometown of their idols. Buoyed by the success of this inaugural event, Deb planned something altogether more ambitious for BAS II.

BAS II, whilst retaining its primary focus as a gathering for Devotees, grew to become a fully-fledged two-day festival of electronic music featuring some the best new talent alongside heritage synth acts. Inside the venue at Basildon’s Bowers Club, it was clear that the same attention to detail had gone into everything from the professional lighting and visuals. MODOVAR delivered a polished performance showcasing material from their debut album, ‘The Sea Of Unspoken Words’, which is due for release soon.

Frontman Christopher Beecham’s impressive vocal range has shades of Andy Bell and Alison Moyet, and their closing number, fittingly a cover of YAZOO’s ‘Situation’, had the crowd on its feet.

Local hero ROBERT MARLOW was welcomed warmly and the audience were greatly appreciative when he dug out his Vince Clarke produced cult classics, ‘The Face Of Dorian Gray’ and ‘Calling All Destroyers’.

Next up was TENEK, who delivered a blistering set including recent single ‘What Do You Want’, and crowd pleasers from their two albums ‘Stateless’ and ‘On The Wire’. Their set culminated with a roof-raising rendition of ‘No Time For Fighting’,which delighted diehard fans and newcomers alike.

The final live act of the evening was BLANCMANGE, who played a well received set of material from recent album ‘Blanc Burn’ alongside their earlier hits and album cuts. Neil Arthur’s superbly down-to-earth deameanor would put him in good stead as a stand-up comedian.

Closing the Friday night was a DJ set by none other than The Electricity Club, who played to the DM faithful and were joined on the decks by the fabulous Sarah Blackwood of DUBSTAR and CLIENT fame.

Sarah had a very special surprise for the crowd when she sang a cover version of DM’s ‘A Question Of Time’, followed by an exquisite rendition of DUBSTAR’s ‘Not So Manic Now’ and finally CLIENT’s ‘The Price Of Love’. The surprise was returned at the end of the evening when Deb Danahay led a crowd in a chorus of “Happy Birthday to Sarah”!

BAS II aside, as a visitor to Basildon you’d be hard pressed to find any clue as to its rich musical heritage. However, at the James Hornsby School, where a young Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher studied all those years ago (and subsequently played their very first gig as DEPECHE MODE), a plaque in the school hall commemorates their achievements.

This was the venue for Saturday afternoon’s proceedings at BAS II, where visitors were treated to an exhibition of memorabilia from the early days of DM and YAZOO, featuring press cuttings, gold discs and personal photo albums of those closest to the bands.

There was also a chance for the live bands of the weekend to meet & greet those present, all in an affable atmosphere over a cup of tea. For those who had over indulged on the Friday night, this friendly afternoon get-together provided the perfect therapy!

Two bands provided the live entertainment; first up were PROTÉGÉ REIGN, who showcased their neo-TENEK brand of electro.

Bringing the afternoon to a close was SINESTAR, who delivered a punchy set featuring live drums and guitar alongside the ubiquitous synths. Their set culminated with the anthemic ‘I Am The Rain’ from their recent EP, which received an enthusiastic reception and became one of the talking points of the weekend.

On the Saturday night it was back to the Bowers Club for a DM-themed line-up featuring no fewer than six bands. The opening act was BA5IC, featuring Martin Gore’s nephew. ELECTRO KILL MACHINE, SHINY DARKNESS and SPACEBUOY followed in close succession, each delivering crowd-pleasing synthpop sets with the DM sound very much part of their template. SPACEBUOY’s performance in particular was noted for the sea of their trademark day-glo orange in the venue as their fanbase ventured their way to the front of the stage.

Meanwhile, DJ Atmo provided an enjoyable set of cult synth tunes for the cognoscenti which included YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s ‘Neue Tanz’ and SECTION 25’s seminal ‘Looking From A Hilltop’. The penultimate act of the night was STRANGERS, who were featured on TEC back in February. Their sonic template was somewhat different from the other bands featured, and as such they provided a welcome diversion. They were another band being talked about as their filmic qualities shone through.

The final act of the night was, appropriately, the DEPECHE MODE tribute band SPEAK & SPELL. They provided a fitting climax to the weekend with their faithful renditions of the DM back catalogue, from ‘Photographic’ right through to 2009’s ‘Wrong’. There was great attention to detail; for example ‘Martin Gore’ aka Joe Beaumont fronting a couple of songs; the obligatory hand waving during ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ and even a cry of “See you next time!” at the end of the set.

Frontman Paul Christian Wood makes a convincing Dave Gahan, and with the general euphoria of the weekend, it felt just like the real thing! At the end of SPEAK & SPELL’s set, the newly-crowned ‘Queen of Basildon’ Deb Danahay was presented with a bouquet for all her hard work in organising BAS II. The DM tunes continued on the dancefloor into the early hours courtesy of DJ Dan Martin from Barcelona for an aftershow party that was greatly appreciated by The Masses.

Deb’s energy and enthusiasm for the BAS II project was infectious from the outset, and together with the whole of the BAS team, their tireless efforts resulted in a memorable weekend for all concerned.

So what made BAS II so special? Was it the live acts? The DJ sets? The school exhibition? Maybe, but the whole event was greater than the sum of its parts. It was a chance for DEPECHE MODE fans – as well as the wider synth community – to meet up and celebrate the genre together. Many new friendships were made, and numerous people have since commented on the event’s positive atmosphere. There was no negativity; no aggression; just The Masses coming together for a black celebration. Long live BAS!

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Bas Productions

The Electricity Club and Sarah Blackwood DJ Setlist

CAMOUFLAGE The Great Commandment
LANA DEL REY Video Games (Nikonn remix)
SIMPLE MINDS Theme For Great Cities
CRYSTAL CASTLES Suffocation (Health remix)
YAZOO State Farm (Madhouse remix)
HURTS Wonderful Life (Freemasons remix)
MIRRORS Falls By Another Name
FAD GADGET Life On The Line
SLOK New Cage
DEPECHE MODE Photographic (Rex The Dog Dubb mix)
DEPECHE MODE Route 66 (Beatmasters remix)
SARAH BLACKWOOD A Question Of Time (Live vocal)
OMD vs THE TING TINGS That’s Not Gay
MARSHEAUX Dream Of A Disco
DEPECHE MODE Personal Jesus (Pump mix)
YAZOO Nobody’s Diary
SARAH BLACKWOOD Not So Manic Now (Live vocal)
VISAGE Fade To Grey (Rusty Egan Soundfly remix)
ALISON MOYET Whispering Your Name
ERASURE Who Needs Love Like That?
DEPECHE MODE Behind The Wheel (Vince Clarke remix)
DEPECHE MODE Nothing (Headcleanr Rock Mix)
SARAH BLACKWOOD The Price Of Love (Live vocal)

Text by Steve Gray
Photos by Richard Price, Steve Gray and Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2012