Tag: Vandal Moon

VANDAL MOON Interview

With a sound seeded from post-punk, goth and new wave, VANDAL MOON are shaped as much by their use of drum machines and synthesizers as much as guitars and the inevitable deep baritone vocals.

Comprising of Blake Voss and Jeremy Einsiedler, the Santa Cruz duo opened their account with the self-released ‘Dreamless’ in 2013.

Their most recent long player ‘Black Kiss’ is their most electronic work yet, although the sound of THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS and THE SISTERS OF MERCY permeates throughout, perhaps not unsurprisingly as the two are linked by John Ashton who was the guitarist for the classic line-up of the former and an early producer of the latter.

In 2018 for the release of the ‘Wild Insane’ album, VANDAL MOON signed to Starfield Music, the record label of Shawn Ward, best known for his work as FM ATTACK. It is perhaps Ward who can be credited for championing VANDAL MOON to the wider synth community. Meanwhile notable collaborations with BETAMAXX and MECHA MAIKO have cemented that association further.

But despite their influences like THE CURE and DEPECHE MODE, Blake Voss and Jeremy Einsiedler have presented their own take on a classic approach with the potential to connect with wider tribes and enclaves. Front man Blake Voss talked to The Electricity Club about the rise of VANDAL MOON.

Who were the bands that inspired VANDAL MOON?

I was born right around the time THE SEX PISTOLS broke in the UK. So, by the time I was cognisant of what was going on around me, new wave was all over the radio. EURYTHMICS, TEARS FOR FEARS, BLONDIE… those were the bands of my early childhood. At the same time, my Dad’s record collection was filled with everything from Lou Reed to PINK FLOYD. Oddly enough, VANDAL MOON was initially envisioned as a sort of electronic-psychedelic project, and I think my childhood experiences, and imagination turned it into what it is now.

Had the use of synthesizers and drum machines in VANDAL MOON been more out of necessity to keep the creative process as a duo, or had you been like a conventional rock band previously?

Jeremy is my best friend. He and I have been playing music together since the late 90s, in all kinds of different bands. Noise bands, punk bands, acid folk… everything. We both loved the sh*t out of math rock, and all those post-rock bands of the early 2000s that nobody talks about anymore.

Typically, he played the drums and I played guitar and sang. But the synths and drum machines came into play because of our mutual love of the soundtrack to the movie ‘Drive’. That movie really affected us both in a profound way. It did that for many people.

Of course, the original European definition of goth which was doomy but melodic has mutated over the years into this American take which is more like dark metal, any thoughts?

I don’t know much about dark metal, but I love goth music and goth culture. I’m not a goth and I don’t pretend to make strictly goth music, but we have a lot of fans from the subculture. I’ve never met nicer, more thoughtful people. I’m just happy to have been accepted by some of them. And I love them back.

How do you look back on the first three VANDAL MOON albums and how you’ve developed?

We’ve moved in a lot of different directions as a band. THE BEATLES sort of set that precedent for pop music; never doing the same thing for too long. Eventually they became a corporation more than anything, but we all learned the same lessons from them.

Art isn’t about being born fully formed from the head of Zeus or something. It’s a journey and a process. It’s about leaving a beautiful mess behind you and letting the kids sort it all out.

Oh yeah, and being a celebrity sucks. THE BEATLES taught us that as well.

The Electricity Club first heard of VANDAL MOON though collaborations with FM ATTACK and then MECHA MAIKO and BETAMAXX, so how did this synthwave association begin and has it expanded your audience?

I didn’t even know the synthwave community existed until a gentleman by the name of Axel from Neon Vice Magazine reached out to me around 2013. From there it just snowballed. The synthwave kids embraced me as an artist, and that was so heart-warming.

Because of that, I’ve been fortunate enough work with some artists who have forged a place for themselves in the history books. Shawn, Haley and Nick are all legends in their own right. These are people who have created something from nothing. Back when MTV mattered, they would have been featured on ‘120 Minutes’ or something. They deserve to be celebrated. History will not forget them, and neither will I.

You have described ‘Black Kiss’ as your most electronic record yet, had you been looking to evolve in this direction or did the acceptance by the synthwave community accelerate this and give you the confidence to make more of an artistic jump?

When I make a record, I imagine it in very abstract terms. To my imagination, this record wanted to be more angular and dark. A primarily electronic pallet was the best way for me to elaborate on that vision. I’ve written literally hundreds of songs on guitars, so it felt good to write this album on synthesizers. It gives it a different vibe. But who knows, maybe I’ll do something weird like a ‘VANDAL MOON: Unplugged’ album next. Or maybe a synthesizer style punk record. Who knows!

How would describe the creative dynamic within VANDAL MOON?

Much of the time, I’m alone in my studio, just f*cking around until something decent emerges. For every album, I write maybe 50 or 60 songs, and pick the best 10 or whatever. When I die, you can rummage through all my hard drives and release bullsh*t demos to your heart’s content. Jeremy and I get together a lot at his place, and drink vodka until we’re screaming at 2am and creeping the neighbours out. It’s a good way to let off some steam. A lot of songs come out of that process as well.

‘Wicked World’ does that epic gothic thing like FIELDS OF THE NEPHILM, did you know The Electricity Club was in the same class at school as The Neph’s drummer Nod but he was into jazz funk then!?! Were there any genres of music you explored before settling where you are now?

I’ve listened to and made all kinds of music. I listen to hip-hop, math rock, Turkish psych music… you name it. I’ve done soundtracks for documentaries where I’m playing a dumbek drum and a melodica and just chanting. I’ll play any instrument. I might play it sh*ttily, but I’ll play it nonetheless. I just love making music. F*ck everything else. I’m determined to succeed at creation. The rest is just happenstance.

‘Hurt’ really plays on making THE SISTERS OF MERCY’s template more synthy, had that been intentional?

I don’t intentionally model any of my songs after particular artists. The bands I liken us to, for PR purposes, are just based upon what people tell me we sound like. The thing I love about this project is that people struggle to pigeonhole us. VANDAL MOON sounds like a lot of different things, but we don’t fit neatly into any one genre. That means we’re doing something unique. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

The moody gothwave of ‘We Are Electric’ sees you collaborate with FM ATTACK again, Shawn Ward really loves his dark musical side doesn’t he?

Shawn is the warmest, most enthusiastic and supportive person I know. He invited me out to this home in Mazatlan and we made a bunch of songs together for this last album ‘New World’. He’s my friend first and foremost. And yes, he loves dark music.

He understands how to create something dark that touches people’s hearts in a way that is multi-faceted, and not just like “oh me, I’m angry, boo hoo”. That’s because he is a special soul, and talented as hell. We’ll probably make a full-length FM ATTACK // VANDAL MOON album together at some point. It’ll be like THE GLOVE or something.

You’re not afraid to play with post-punk disco templates as ‘Suicidal City Girl’ shows? What had this been influenced by?

I think I was listening to a lot of Sally Dige when I made that song. You can hear it in there. Sally is so talented. I hope I get to work with her one day. She’s a real artist in the lifestyle sense.

Her life is art and art is her life. At least from what I can see. She draws, paints, makes music and film. She’s what we all aspire to. I was supposed to get my ass out to Berlin to do a music video with her, but it never happened.

‘Robot Lover’ is like DEPECHE MODE meeting THE MISSION, how did this track come together?

That’s a lovely compliment, thank you. This is one of those songs that Jeremy and I wrote together at his house. I think I wrote the bass line and Jeremy came up with the chords. Jeremy came up with the idea for me to sing higher during the verse line “we are enslaved for life, our pain is real”. And I think that’s what really pushed the song forward. It’s a very futurist song.

The apocalyptic gothic trance of ‘No Future’ no doubt surprised your fans, but how has the reception been on the whole to ‘Black Kiss’, has anyone said you are “betraying your goth roots”?

To hell with anyone who tells me I’m betraying my roots. The first CD I ever purchased with my own money was LL Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, just based upon the power of the album art, so what the fuck do they know about my roots? I put ‘No Future’ last on the album because I felt like it was just a really nice closer. It’s aggressive, but in a more EDM kind of way. Of course, it’s not EDM. Nobody knows what it is, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s a really fun song to perform, and it’s very powerful at loud volumes. It’s a song dedicated to dystopia, and also to John Lydon. Thank you for everything, John. We love you.

How have European audiences taken to VANDAL MOON, will some of the directions taken on ‘Black Kiss’ make that more palatable for the future?

We live in interesting times. We have followers from all over the world. We get an extreme amount of support from Brazil and the rest of South America. But in the end, we’re all humans who hurt and laugh and love.

I don’t give too much credence to where our audience is from, but rather I try to embrace their love and acceptance and express gratitude back towards them as individuals. I don’t know if ‘Black Kiss’ will connect more with European audiences, but I believe it will connect with those who listen with open hearts.

The ‘Black Kiss’ album title does rather capture the zeitgeist, any thoughts?

I don’t groom my music to pump people up or bring them down, like Coca-Cola or something. I just follow my instincts and make songs based upon how I’m feeling at that moment. As a result, I think it sort of follows the emotional ups and downs of my human experience, which people can innately relate to.

I don’t want to make any commentary on what this album is or isn’t in terms of emotional content, because I want listeners to create their own experience and connections. The world is f*cked up, but it’s also filled with beauty.

The worldwide lockdown has made it difficult for everyone to make plans, but are there anymore collaborations planned for the future, or live appearances?

I’m working on a remix album with a bunch of insane artists that I won’t name here. But rest assured, it’s packed with talent. All 10 songs from ‘Black Kiss’ will be remixed by 10 different artists. I can’t wait. I also have like 3 different, full on collaborations that are in the works, which I think will surprise people.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Blake Voss

‘Black Kiss’ is released by Starfield Music as a white vinyl LP, cassette or download, available along with the rest of the VANDAL MOON back catalogue direct from https://vandalmoon.bandcamp.com/

https://www.vandalmoon.com/

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
17th June 2020

VANDAL MOON Black Kiss

During the MTV era, the advent of college radio with an Anglophile stance on American campuses and stations such as KROQ in Los Angeles featuring DJs like expat Englishman Richard Blade had a huge effect on youth in the US.

Considering themselves smarter than the average mainstream BON JOVI fan, this audience facilitated a breakthrough for a number of darker tinged acts alongside the bands who had been featured in John Hughes teen flicks like ‘Pretty In Pink’, ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’.

So unlike the UK where they were more than likely to have totally different audiences, American fans of SIMPLE MINDS, DEPECHE MODE, OMD and ERASURE could often be seen attending the concerts of THE CURE, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES, THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS, ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, THE SMITHS and THE SISTERS OF MERCY alongside the goths and positive punks.

As a result, the New Wave movement in North America turned out in a way that would be considered incongruous by British music fans. But what it did culturally was influence generations of aspiring music creatives to mix and match genres without necessarily being self-conscious about it.

One of those acts is California’s VANDAL MOON. With a sound seeded from post-punk, goth and new wave, they are shaped as much by their use of drum machines and synthesizers as much as guitars and the inevitable deep baritone vocals.

Front man Blake Voss manages to sound somewhere between Andrew Eldritch and Richard Butler, while instrumentalist Jeremy Einsiedler is the more electronically inclined of the pair.

Having guested on records by FM ATTACK, BETAMAXX and MECHA MAIKO, the Santa Cruz duo has ended up with a foot each in the synthwave scene.

As a result, ‘Black Kiss’ is by their own admission is the duo’s most purely electronic work yet, largely written using synths while being inspired by THE CURE, DEPECHE MODE, THE SISTERS OF MERCY and THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS.

Conceived around the futuristic love story of two androids escaping enslavement, ‘Black Kiss’ begins with the profound statement that is ‘Hurt’; now if THE SISTERS OF MERCY’s ‘Lucretia My Reflection’ was redone with synths, it would sound like this.

‘Dead’ plays along with a more typical gothic template using a guitar-laced setting, but pretty cascading synth hooks add to the chilling atmosphere while metallic percussive samples provide some industrial edge. Meanwhile, the ‘Black Kiss’ title track signals impending doom and chipmunk voice samples provide a foreboding not-of-this-world aesthetic.

The more obviously synth driven ‘We Are Electric’ uses pulses and drones simultaneously for its low end, penetrating the darkwave via its hybrid overtones. This is perhaps not surprising as FM ATTACK’s Shawn Ward makes a notable guest contribution.

However, ‘We Live Forever’ surprises as a moody synthwave ballad; featuring Leanne Kelly from the San Francisco indie-pop duo NEW SPELL on vocals, it sees an understated Blake Voss adapting to a less overwrought singing style and delivering it very well.

But the frantic ‘Wicked World’ puts everything back on the epic gothic path with a thundering run of percussion that recalls Stevenage’s finest FIELDS OF THE NEPHILM and their ‘Moonchild’; trivia fact pop pickers, The Electricity Club was in the same class at school as The Neph’s drummer Nod!

‘Robot Lover’ enjoyably passes ‘Enjoy The Silence’ through a Wayne Hussey filter while ‘Suicidal City Girl’ is superb, showcasing electronic post-punk disco at its best with enthralling echoes of THE DANSE SOCIETY. With the more laid back approach premiered on ‘We Live Forever’, ‘Pretend To Die’ sees Shawn Ward return on synths and here the FM ATTACK synthy shades are strong.

Hypnotic to the point of being gothic trance, the apocalyptic closer ‘No Future’ is another surprise, a magnificent four-to-the-floor dance number complete with squealing drops and a mighty climax. If this track doesn’t crossover into the German alternative club scene, then The Electricity Club will eat its copy of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Superstition’…

But despite all these retrospective alternative influences, what VANDAL MOON have come up with is something unique at this moment in time. THE CURE and THE SISTERS OF MERCY were never as synthy as VANDAL MOON, so with their melting of styles, Voss and Einsiedler have presented their own take on a familiar classic approach.

Mixed and mastered by Maurizio Baggio who worked on THE SOFT MOON’s ‘Criminal’ and the BOY HARSHER breakthrough album ‘Careful’, ‘Black Kiss’ sits up there as a great modern alternative pop record with its gothwave aesthetics.

If it had been released in 1984, many of these songs would have gone down extremely well at The Batcave, the famous London goth haunt where Hamish Macdonald and Rusty Egan DJed. Today, they wouldn’t sound at all out of place at Slimelight.

A fine record that captures a dystopian outlook on life with an appealing electronic sensibility, ‘Black Kiss’ has the potential to connect with a number of different tribes and audiences.


‘Black Kiss’ is released by Starfield Music, available as a white vinyl LP, cassette or download from https://vandalmoon.bandcamp.com/album/black-kiss

https://www.vandalmoon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vandalm00n/

https://twitter.com/VandalMoon

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https://open.spotify.com/album/6Z8qGpueRVwXM3M2orJtBr


Text by Chi Ming Lai
15th May 2020

BETAMAXX featuring VANDAL MOON Never Sleep Again

Founded in 2012, BETAMAXX is the musical vehicle of Pittsburgh based Nick Morey, a vintage synthesizer enthusiast who released his debut album ‘Lost Formats’ that same year.

Among his armoury are a Roland Juno 106, Roland Juno 60, Minimoog, Korg Poly6, Korg Mono/Poly, Oberheim OBXa and Sequential Prophet 6.

Despite four albums acclaimed by the synthwave community, as seems to be common among its exponents, a retirement of the BETAMAXX name was announced by Morey in 2015. But sure enough, a return came with 2017’s ‘Archaic Science’.

The most recent BETAMAXX album ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ was a more confident affair, with Morey bringing in wider influences such as goth and new wave, perhaps taking a leaf from Shawn Ward, best known of course as FM ATTACK and now his label boss.

One of those songs is ‘Never Sleep Again’, a collaboration with post-punk Santa Cruz duo VANDAL MOON. Entering darker territories, courtesy of some great Robert Smith-tinged vocals by Blake Voss, ‘Never Sleep Again’ breaks away from the definitions of synthwave by offering a propulsive electronic take on THE CURE, although the Keith Forsey-era of THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS would be another reference, if slightly more distant.

Reflecting its tale of love and disaffection, ‘Never Sleep Again’ comes with a superb video directed by Dan Przygoda and shot by Brad A Kinnan. It’s kind of a tribute to ‘The Lost Boys’ that not surprisingly exudes a sinister air of foreboding while our heroes perform as the house band in a vampire nightclub. Blink and you will miss Holly Dodson of PARALLELS in the audience.

‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ has perhaps been a slow burner outside the confines of synthwave but extends beyond its expectations and is well worthy of investigation. Living up to the album’s title and with an angelic feminine air, the sparking synthpop of ‘Skyhigh’ featuring GLITBITER (who also makes a cameo in the ‘Never Sleep Again’ video) was another appealing facet to ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, with the song’s vibrato treated vocal stabs on the coda being a particular delight.

One of the other guest vocalists was the delectable MECHA MAIKO whose girly avant pop stylings on ‘No Fun’ added an eclectic twist to proceedings, its bass sequencing looking more towards European electronic acts like VISAGE and SIN COS TAN.

But ‘Lost in a Dreamworld’ isn’t just about its songs; the glitterball energy of ‘Disco Dreamgirl’ is a brilliant instrumental that blips gloriously, while the ringing hypnotic overtures of ‘Vacation’ in collaboration with Swedish producer Robert Parker decorate another great club-friendly instrumental.

Then there was ‘Opaque Fog’ which glistened via its crisp production and fabulously rigid rhythms in a pacier take on Hollywood-era TANGERINE DREAM. And with a churning arpeggio sweetened by actual synth playing, the delightful ‘Stargazer’ did exactly what it said on the tin.

Taking a more open-minded approach, BETAMAXX has an album in ‘Lost in a Dreamworld’ that could appeal to those who might see themselves as synthwave synics. Throw in the inherent Giorgio Moroder vocoder influences on ‘Getaway’ and ‘I’ll Walk You Home’ as well and maturer listeners may have a further point of reference to appeal.


‘Never Sleep Again’ is from the album ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ released by Starfield Music in vinyl LP, cassette and digital formats, available from https://betamaxxmusic.bandcamp.com/

BETAMAXX + FM ATTACK appear with special guests MECHA MAIKO + VANDAL MOON at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre on Saturday 25th April 2020 – tickets from http://www.theinvisibleorange.com/

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https://www.vandalmoon.com/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
6th January 2020

MECHA MAIKO ‘Let’s!’

Hayley Stewart and Jared Nickerson had a good thing going with DEAD ASTRONAUTS.

But it was Stewart’s solo debut ‘Mad But Soft’ that turned heads in the circles of care-free synthwave. A self-confessed lover of Japanese culture, the Canadian songstress adopted the name of MECHA MAIKO and started creating little electronic gems, mixing sweet and poppy naive synth with the nostalgia of the classic era.

Her first creation wasn’t by any means amateur; on the contrary, it showcased slick synthpop candies with interesting twists, promising more was to come from the super talented lady.

And then the Canadian Geisha didn’t disappoint. Her five song EP ‘Okiya’ proved that the girl was so much more than candied synth wave. In came experimental sounds, quirky drum patterns and eloquent progressions, presenting a truly different side to MECHA MAIKO’s world of synth.

The Canadian electronic scene appears ever united with the likes of PARALLELS or DANA JEAN PHOENIX working together, and the latter has collaborated with Stewart, praising the artist in her endeavours.

And what does the Toronto based star do with it all? She goes off and makes another album. ‘Let’s!’ will surprise again and potentially steal the top spot for many this year. It’s enough to hear the opening ‘Apathy’ to prove that Stewart is not scared to use all sorts of influences to get what she wants. Nobody else has mixed the sound of swing into their electronic tunes, and the idea could seem ridiculous until you hear this track. Thrown together with a slight sprinkling of Japanese instrumentation, she goes for the kill.

VANDAL MOON lends his voice on the super electronic ‘Meet Me At The Arcade’ loaded with gaming noises and robotic progressions. ‘End Of Your Life’ brings back the sweet music MECHA MAIKO presented on her first opus, it’s far more grown up now however, even though she still sounds as delicate and gracious as she did before.

A true oriental floor stomper comes next in the form of ‘Trust’; “Trust” her to make something so catchy, so captivating, so fast pacing.

‘Change Alot’ is a semi-paced ballad with vintage PET SHOP BOYS piano, while ‘Phones’ is heavily influenced by heavy club beats interspersed with classic elements; it’s MECHA MAIKO’s own ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’.

She’s very much ‘Alive’ and kicking, as she throws in a sparkly gem song after song, and this one is a superb combination of fabulous vocal and superb programming.

‘I Can’t Wait’ brings things to a halt with a slower paced, wonderfully poignant story, which floats cleverly into ‘Oddities’, with its massively original tribal beats.

The closing ‘Be The Reaper’ bubbles away with soft vocals and enchanting musical elements, drawing in and pulling under. Another easy listening pearl, it shines on a bed of gritty electronic ocean floor.

For some artists, album number two can be a tricky endeavour, but this simply wasn’t the case here with MECHA MAIKO. If her debut opus was splendid, the following EP quite magnificent, ‘Let’s!’ is truly superb.

Varied, interesting and very grown up, this will be the album to look out for this fall. Stewart has outdone herself here, proving that the Canadian synth ladies rule above all.


‘Let’s!’ is released by ORO Records, available from as a digital album from https://mechamaiko.bandcamp.com/

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photo by Duncan Foy
9th October 2019, updated 20th March 2020

FM ATTACK Interview

Shawn Ward is the DJ and producer behind FM ATTACK. The Vancouver native grew up enjoying New Wave synthpop with ‘Space Age Love Song’ by A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS being a particular favourite.

He released his first EP ‘In The City’ under his own name on Tiga’s Turbo Recordings in 2001 before, after over a dozen solo releases, creating FM ATTACK in 2009 to fashion much more dreamier electronic disco vibes.

With a dance style not too dissimilar to regular Tiga associate Jori Hulkkonen, the debut FM ATTACK album ‘Dreamatic’ got a profile boost in 2011 when ‘Drive’ actor Ryan Gosling mentioned the directing team were fans of the record during interviews promoting the now-influential cult movie.

2013’s ‘Déjà Vu’ moved into more song-based movie soundtrack and Italo territory, but the third FM ATTACK album ‘Stellar’ in 2017 featured Texan combo MNYNMS and saw Ward’s love of new-wave and post-punk truly entering the fore, alongside the neon aesthetic that was now known as Synthwave.

With a new album just released appropriately titled ‘New World’ featuring the likes of MECHA MAIKO and VANDAL MOON on vocals alongside the more understated tones of Ward, he kindly spoke to The Electricity Club’s about his career to date as FM ATTACK and his upcoming live appearances in the British Isles this Autumn which include a London date with FUTURECOP!

What attracted you to produce music that had more of an atmospheric filmic vibe, rather than say full-on EDM?

My parents brought me up watching all the great 70s and 80s films and albums so that was definitely a big influence. My mom was more into new wave and my dad was a rocker.

What are the tools of your trade? Have your views on the hardware / software debate changed as you’ve progressed in your career?

I’m a vintage synth nerd, there is something very unique about programming your own sounds, the ones I use often are the Roland Jupiter 8, Jupiter 4 and the Emu Emax, I think software based synths can be great too, I’ve heard some great songs that are totally software based. Analog gear seems even more popular than ever now as people realize that you can really get “that” sound using the old gear and also they are a lot of fun!

How do you look back on your development from the first FM ATTACK album ‘Dreamatic’ in 2009 to 2017’s ‘Stellar’ which featured the vocals of MNYNMS on two tracks?

‘Dreamatic’ is more on the disco side of things and even touches on some French house vibes. ‘Stellar’ I think is more of a listening album and journeys into some more indie / post-punk vibes.

‘Magic’ from 2013’s ‘Déjà vu’ is considered to be your most popular track and is sung by Kristine, what was it inspired by and how did that come together in the studio?

I reached out to Kristine after I had done a remix for FLAMINGO DRIVE (SATIN JACKETS) with her on vocals. I originally sang on that song but thought her vocals would suit it much better, so I sent it to her with the lyrics. She sent me back her takes within a day and nailed it!

‘Ultraviolet’ from your most recent album ‘New World’ reflected a modern day take on Giorgio Moroder, is he a key influence?

I’m a big fan of Italo Disco so it came about pretty naturally. I’ve always been a Giorgio fan and also love Gino Soccio who did a lot of groundbreaking electronic disco tunes.

The subtle vocoder aesthetic which permeates through a number of FM ATTACK tracks is an interesting style, how do you decide when a track remains instrumental or needs a vocal whether natural or treated?

The vocoder gets used quite a bit of use in my studio. I like to use it for harmony vox to get dreamy textures or sometimes for funky main vocal lines.

Speaking of natural vocals, you collaborated with MECHA MAIKO on ‘Stranger’, what was she like to work with?

Hayley is a very talented artist. She knew exactly what to sing and came up with an amazing chorus when I sent her ‘Stranger’. Everything just clicked on that song.

The ‘New World’ title track has an interesting twist with more of a gothic vibe, plus it features VANDAL MOON on vocals… it sounds like THE SISTERS OF MERCY gone synthwave! Please discuss *laughs*

Yes! Blake (Vandal) has an amazing voice and adds a huge vibe to this song. We recorded his vocals on the fly in my studio – The guy is brilliant.

And ‘Believe’ sounds like THE CURE gone Synthwave??

Again I can’t say enough about Blake’s talent. He has so much passion and vibe in his vocal delivery and he encapsulates so many epic darkwave influences. He also wrote the lyrics instantly and we recorded the takes right away.

You remixed ‘Lifetime’, a great track by KOISHII & HUSH voiced by Gillian Gilbert in 2016, how was it to work on a track featuring one of NEW ORDER?

This was a very exciting and fun remix and I just love Gillian’s voice and always thought she sang amazing with THE OTHER TWO. It was pretty surreal when they announced the remix on New Order’s webpage too!

Canada appears to be a hotbed of electronic talent in its various sub-genres and at all levels, what might be in the water at the moment in your opinion?

Haha. Yes it seems like a lot of great synth wave / synthpop artists are coming out of here nowadays. It’s funny I think the same thing was said back in the 80s maybe? 🙂

There is a not entirely unfair criticism about Synthwave in a live context, so how do you undertake the challenge of presenting your music engagingly to an audience in a club or concert hall?

It’s never easy to perform live and deliver your show to an audience. Try to just let the music speak as I’m not a big stage performer and have very little stage presence.

You’ll be coming to play in London and Dublin this October, how are you looking forward to your first gigs in The British Isles?

London and Dublin are epic cities so I feel very lucky to play shows in both! The people are quite passionate about the music there so I am quite excited!

What’s next for you as FM ATTACK?

I am finishing off a remix for this great band from Vancouver called ACTORS. There is a new BETAMAXX album due for release in the Fall that I am working on also!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Shawn Ward

Special thanks to Stuart McLaren at Outland

‘New World’ is released by Starfield Music in vinyl LP, cassette and digital formats direct from
https://fmattack.bandcamp.com/ along with all the back catalogue

FM ATTACK plays London Electrowerkz on Thursday 24th October 2019 with FUTURECOP! – tickets available from https://www.wegottickets.com/event/479136

There will also be a performance at Dublin Whelan’s on Monday 28th October 2019 – tickets available from http://www.whelanslive.com/index.php/fm-attack/

https://www.facebook.com/fmattackmusic/

https://twitter.com/fmattack

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th August 2019