Category: Interviews (Page 1 of 87)

BUNNY X Interview

BUNNY X are the playful American duo comprising of Abigail Gordon and Mary Hanley.

Exponents of an Italo disco / retrowave hybrid with influences ranging from early Madonna to FM ATTACK via PET SHOP BOYS, their upcoming debut long player ‘Young & In Love’ parties like it’s 1986 in their most straightforwardly pop statement yet.

Ultimately as this interview shows, Abigail Gordon and Mary Hanley are just girls who want to have fun…

They kindly talked to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of their eagerly anticipated first album and if they were in ‘Pretty In Pink’, would they have chosen Duckie or Blane?

You started releasing music as BUNNY X since 2013 and its only now you have completed your debut long playing record, why has it taken this time and how have you changed in that period?

Abigail: Such a great question. I think the short answer is probably that we weren’t terribly active for a while there due to general life responsibilities such as full-time jobs and the like. I think at one point I had 3 jobs at the same time. The New York hustle is real! So, from about 2013-2017, I think we only averaged about 1-2 new songs a year. We were playing live quite a bit though in those years and also released a few videos so even though we weren’t producing a great deal of new content, we were still pretty active with the project.

We started to become much more active in about 2017, which is when we decided to dip our toes into more retrowave-inspired waters as opposed to sticking solely to Italo disco. We didn’t really have a proper game plan since we were still mostly in an experimental phase, so I think that’s why it’s taken us so long to fully realize our vision enough to be ready to work on a full-length album. In the end, I think it was the right thing for us.

Mary: We have definitely taken our time with the LP. I guess it felt like we were more interested in releasing singles there for a while but eventually, with Conrad Kaneshiro’s help, we released our ‘We Demand Fun’ EP. We also booked and played quite a few gigs in the meantime. We always considered the idea of doing a complete LP at some point but life always seemed to take us in other directions. So, once the pandemic hit, we decided it was time to make this record finally happen.

Did you have any particular inspirations as to the format and type of music for BUNNY X when you conceived the idea?

Abigail: So, BUNNY X really started as a synthpop project and was very much influenced by Madonna’s early demo tracks such as ‘Stay (’81)’ as well as early DEPECHE MODE. We released an EP called ‘Lovespy’ in 2012 but it wasn’t that great honestly as we didn’t really know what we were doing at that point. So, when we began working with Conrad Kaneshiro on more Italo disco / Hi-NRG-inspired tracks in about 2012-2013, everything started to make a lot more sense and come together.

Over time, we began to drift into the synthwave / retrowave space and started working with different producers that had experience in the genre but we still write with Conrad and will hopefully release more Italo tracks with him next year.

Mary: Since Abbi answered your question already, I’ll just add that, as far as the inspiration for the upcoming album, we decided we wanted to pay homage to those 80s coming-of-age films we all know and love. To this end, I got inspired to write some lyrics for what later became ‘Young & In Love’ which ended up becoming the album title. The tracks are very much coming from a high school perspective and include themes like being in love for the first time.

How do you look back on your 2013 single ‘Berlin, In December’, had you been to the city at the time you put the track together?

Abigail: ‘Berlin, In December’ was a co-write with Conrad Kaneshiro, who had actually travelled all the way to Berlin from Mexico City (if memory serves) only to have his heart broken. So, the credit definitely goes to him for inspiring that cut. Mary and I pitched in a bit on that but the vision was his for sure. We had a lot more involvement on ‘If You Say Yes’ which came out around the same time as ‘Berlin, In December.’ I have been to Berlin a couple of times though and it’s a fantastic, vibrant city.

Mary: Berlin is definitely a destination I must see. The song as it was, was complete!

You have described ‘Young & In Love’ as a “high school nostalgia” concept album…so tell me about your childhood? 😉

Abigail: Well, being a child of the 80s, I grew up idolizing ‘Jem & the Holograms’ and all the big female pop acts of the era such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde, Whitney Houston, etc.

I would sit by the radio wearing my dad’s enormous brown Sony headphones and would frantically hit record on the stereo anytime I would hear the opening notes to the songs I liked and wanted on my mixtapes.

I remember always being irritated when the DJ (Casey Kasem anyone?!) would keep talking and talking when my favorite songs started playing. I just remember thinking: “shut up, shut up already!” Oh the things we had to endure back then LOL.

Mary: It is exactly that! As far as my childhood, I drew upon thinking about how special young love is and how it’s a rarity to be so open and willing to risk anything and everything for that kind of love.

Were you both hairbrush as microphone types of girls?

Abigail: I was 100,000% a hairbrush as microphone girl and frankly still am! In fact, my claim to fame occurred at summer camp sometime in the late 80s when the girl that was supposed to perform Kim Wilde’s version of ‘Keep Me Hangin’ On’ at the camp’s end of summer talent show developed a terrible case of stage fright. Before I could protest, a “microphone” consisting of a wooden spoon with the spoon end wrapped in aluminum foil was thrust into my hand and I was unceremoniously shoved to the front of the stage. Not unlike my counterpart, I was terrified at first as well, however, I quickly recovered and before I knew it, I was belting “set me freeeeee why don’tcha babe” at the top of my 9 year old lungs.

Mary: Ummmmm HECK YES!

So bearing in mind the early MTV era, Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?

Abigail: I LOVE me some Madge but I had a serious Cyndi moment and would lose my shit whenever I heard Casey announcing that ‘Time After Time’ was in the queue. And, I fell in love with every song on ‘She’s So Unusual’ and wanted to be just like Cyndi for quite a number of years. Even still.

Mary: BOTH PLEASE!

What about BERLIN versus MISSING PERSONS?

Abigail: I love them both, but I’ll never forget seeing the video for ‘Take My Breath Away’ on MTV and just being completely enamored with Terri Nunn and her amazing two-toned hair blowing in the wind as she stood atop a downed aircraft in a mysterious, dystopian wasteland. Once I was old enough, I attempted to duplicate her look many times however I was never as successful as she.

Mary: Not gonna lie, LOVE them both!

‘Young & In Love’ moves away from the Italo blow-out of the 2019 EP ‘We Demand Fun’ for a more pop focussed direction, but what was it like to work with the Italian disco legend that is Fred Ventura?

Abigail: Mary and I met Fred Ventura in January 2015 when we were lucky enough to share the stage with him (and other Italo legends such as Brian Ice and Fancy) at the Patrick Miller Italo disco festival in Mexico City. It was a dream come true to be in such company and he truly could not have been more kind and fun to be around. In fact, we all had a blast hanging out and exploring the city together that weekend and have stayed in touch ever since. So, when our long-time producer Conrad wrote the track ‘Words’ and asked Mary and I and Fred if we’d be interested in singing on it as a duet, we were all about it. Fred is such a talented musician and writer but Mary and I found him to be extremely humble and down to earth too, which just makes him even cooler.

Mary: It was fantastic. We were all recording from different places so it took a while to complete but ‘Words’ was very special to us as we truly love Fred. He’s a lovely person and a super talented artist.

What did you think of the ‘Italo Disco Legacy’ documentary?

Abigail: It was a fantastic documentary and quite thorough for being on the shorter side. And it was really neat to see people we’ve met, spent time with and even collaborated with being interviewed on the big screen, as they well deserve to be. It’s paramount that these stories are preserved and documented so they can continue to be shared with younger generations of listeners.

Mary: I’d love that, as I haven’t seen it!

You’ve referenced several John Hughes movies for this album, which are your own favourites?

Abigail: That’s a tough question! I guess I would have to go with ‘Pretty In Pink’. Even though Duckie was her ride or die, there was something so satisfying about Andie ending up with the guy she really wanted to be with. And I like that the film (and others, such as ‘Sixteen Candles’) was largely from Andie’s point of view which was pretty forward-thinking considering the era. Plus, the soundtrack is just awesome.

Mary: I love ‘Pretty in Pink’, ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’, ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’. All of these movies reference the kind of angst so pervasive in most teens. The characters are a bit too cool for school… then there are the personal walls that finally fall down (especially in ‘The Breakfast Club’). Being vulnerable is always good and letting people in teaches us more things (as we know as adults). There’s also the family money dynamic in ‘Pretty In Pink’, the “wrong side of the tracks” thing. But as they say, love conquers all.

So who would you have gone for out of Blane and Duckie in ‘Pretty In Pink’?

Abigail: I always tend to root for the underdog so I would have gone for Duckie!

Mary: I’d love the Duckman as a best friend, but of course, I’d be crossing all fingers for Blane.

Any retrospective hindsight thoughts about how gothy Ally Sheedy was “madeover” by Molly Ringwald and only after then appealing as love interest?

Abigail: It’s total BS! Leave Ally alone, she was perfect to begin with.

Mary: She was definitely gothy, but Molly Ringwald’s character treated Ally’s character with kindness, so that’s something. And once she looked in the mirror, she seemed really happy!

You worked with Don Dellpiero on ‘Perfect Paradise’ which uses some big electronic drums, how did the song come together?

Abigail: I follow Don Dellpiero on Bandcamp so when I received an email notification back in January that he had released a new album, Believe in Magic, I’m pretty sure I clicked on it and listened right away. I love ‘Never-Ending Summer,’ the collaboration he did with Badison, and then when I got to ‘Perfect Paradise’, it just blew me away. I quickly started hearing a vocal arrangement and lyrics for it in my head so, on a lark, I decided to record a demo of the idea and sent it over to David (Don Dellpiero) to see if he’d be at all open to a collaboration.

Luckily for us, he was. He also agreed to let us reimagine his awesome track ‘Rolling Down Memory Lane,’ taken from his album ‘That Friday Feeling’ for another track on our upcoming album called ‘Lost Without You.’

Mary: Don Dellpiero’s music for this was perfection and Abbi wrote wonderful lyrics for ‘Perfect Paradise’ – all I had to do was sing it!

You also worked with SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS on a number of ‘Young & In Love’ songs, how would you describe your creative dynamic?

Abigail: Kevin is a dang genius. He’s like a hit factory, just churning out amazing album after amazing album. It’s really something. He’s been extremely generous with us because I just kept bugging the poor guy with more and more collab ideas and he graciously agreed to each and every one. As such, we ended up doing three collab tracks with him on ‘Young & In Love’. He’s been a dream to work with and super easygoing with things and I’m thrilled that we plan to continue working together after this album release.

Mary: I mostly focused on working out the harmonies for the tracks we worked on with SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS, which are so lovely and dreamy.

Collaborations have been a regular thing within BUNNY X, has there been a highlight for you over the years?

Abigail: We’ve been fortunate enough to work with a bunch of incredibly talented artists over the past few years such as MARVEL83’, CASSETTER, TURBO KNIGHT, CJ BURNETT, DRIVER86, KSMTK, VINCENZO SALVIA and DIAMOND FIELD (to name a few) and have enjoyed every minute of it.

A big highlight for us was when the legendary Italo DJ and producer Flemming Dalum offered to remix our track ‘Stay’ which ended up being released on vinyl via Fresh Colour Music in February 2019. He did an amazing job on the remix and it was a true honor to work with him.

Mary: We have definitely enjoyed our collaborations over the years and are excited to see how the new ones will turn out!

There is this big STARSHIP thing going on with ‘Can’t Wait’, was the film ‘Mannequin’ on your minds?

Abigail: Yes! The music is that of SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS and was originally released as ‘In Common’ on his awesome album ‘Sparks’, which came out late last year. The song instantly grabbed me and I started hearing this really uplifting vocal arrangement for it. You’ll have to ask Kevin since he composed the music, but I imagine he’d be pretty happy with that comparison being a lover of all things 80s 🙂

Mary: Hmm! I actually hadn’t thought about that yet but now I’m intrigued!

The ‘Young & In Love’ title song is rousing synthpop that celebrates holiday romances, do you have a funny story you can recall from one?

Abigail: I don’t know about one story in particular but I did have a remarkable ability to completely embarrass myself in front of my grade-school crushes. I mean, we’re talking epic levels of embarrassment. Once, when trying to impress a crush (this goes out to you Braxton), I decided it’d be pretty awesome if I quickly jumped off my friend’s bike (I was standing on the rear pegs) as she was pedalling. In a clear case of expectation vs reality, instead of looking cool and casual, I flew through the air like a poor man’s Supergirl and landed in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk in full view of my crush. There really wasn’t any coming back from that. Hopefully Braxton has long since forgotten the incident.

Mary: I loved going to the beach as a kid. I’d pack my little cooler, my magazines and just hang out all day. On one occasion, a bunch of guys decided they wanted to come over and chat with me. I must have been about 18 or so at that point. In any event, we spent the day together and talked about hair bands of the 80s and the like. It was a fun day and a great memory.

‘Who Cares What They Say’ is potentially quite trancey but you’ve kept it midtempo, had the seed of this song started quite differently?

Abigail: It is on the trancey side and Laura from Aztec actually had a note about that very thing. When our producer Gosteffects and I went to rework it though, we found that we had actually gotten pretty attached to the sound and we decided to keep it as is. This was the first track we worked on together for the album and it ended up informing the theme of the record as it’s about bullying and being made to feel like you don’t fit in. So, this one goes out to all the misfits out there.

Mary: I would just add that the midtempo vibe made it a very easy song to sing, and I love the lyrics and the message of the song.

‘Back To You’ is one of those songs you can imagine in any romantic scene from a Brat Pack movie featuring Demi Moore. Most people focus on the guys but who were the Brat Pack era girls that you looked up to?

Abigail: I loved all the Brat Pack girls but probably identified the most with Molly Ringwald’s characters as she was very much an “every girl” type of character in my view.

Mary: I’m a huge fan of ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’, so I’m saying Demi Moore (of course) but I also loved Mare Winningham and Andi MacDowell, who had a cameo in the film. Kelly LeBrock of ‘Weird Science’ was also amazing and of course, all the John Hughes’ Brat Pack gals like Mary Stuart Masterson in ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ and Lea Thompson… Let’s hear it for the girls!

‘Lost Without You’ is the track on the album that veers away from the main electronic pop template, using more guitar and piano for an AOR presence, had this been intentional in the context of the album?

Abigail: So, this was from Don Dellpiero’s track ‘Rolling Down Memory Lane’ which was originally released on his album ‘That Friday Feeling’. I instantly loved the energy of the track, including that ripping guitar solo, and started to hear a vocal arrangement for it after just a few listens. We definitely restructured the song so the vocal line would fit, but fortunately for us, David was completely game and let us reimagine it to what you hear on the album. The original demo we did for it was actually way less structured – and much longer – than the edited cut that ended up on the record. We went a bit into leftfield for this one but I personally like shaking it up sometimes.

Mary: I think that having a bit more of an instrumental presence is always enjoyable. I would have to ask Abbi about it being intentional, but in general, I think the break gives the track a nice interlude.

‘Diamonds’ sings of “an electric shock through my heart” and features some gorgeous counter melodies, what is the song about?

Abigail: ‘Diamonds’ is about that electric, buzzy feeling we get when we’re around that certain someone. When you feel your heart start to pound out of your chest as your crush walks by or even just when you’re thinking about them. I think we can all relate to that feeling, when you literally walk into walls because you can’t concentrate on anything else. Oh, just me? 😉

Mary: This is a quintessential song about being in high school and wanting so badly to talk to someone but just being too shy to make a move. Shyness was a big thing for those of us that didn’t have the moxie at the time to make it happen. ‘Diamonds’ has a really lovely vibe and cadence and I really enjoyed singing on this one. The last thing I can say is that I’m rooting for our heroine here.

You allow some sax in on ‘Go Back’ and ‘Still On My Mind’, it’s an instrument that can provoke mixed reactions, what are your thoughts?

Abigail: I immediately fell head over heels for the sax on ‘Still On My Mind,’ originally released as ‘Look Away’ by SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS. In fact, I loved the saxophone on the track so much that it ended up completely inspiring the vocal arrangement as I found it to be so moving. I originally shared my little demo for the track on our Instagram and tagged Kevin of SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS, who then ended up messaging me and, long story short, a collab was born. After that, I kept bugging the poor dude with other ideas I had and, lucky for us, he continues to humor us.

Mary: I have nothing against a little sax, it’s definitely a hallmark from the 80s and I personally am into it! As for the mixed reactions I can understand that, but the sax makes me happy!

What tracks are you are happiest with on ‘Young & In Love’? Who do you think the album will appeal to?

Abigail: They all have a special place in my heart and I’m really happy with how everything turned out. We received so much amazing support (and excellent suggestions) from Laura and Ariel of Aztec Records and absolutely loved working with NYC-based producer Gosteffects (John Bourke) who was instrumental in turning our vision into a reality. I think ‘Perfect Paradise’ is such a crowd-pleaser and I think it has the potential to appeal to a larger audience as the music is so infectious and warm. The title track, ‘Young & In Love,’ arranged by Mary, is a fun synthpop number and I think it also has the potential to appeal to both retrowave and non-retrowave listeners. But, on a personal level, ‘Still On My Mind’ has a lot of meaning – I mean that sax! It hits me right in the feels.

Mary: Honestly, I am in awe of and super happy with all of these tracks. They are like our babies if you will! I think the album has the potential to appeal to young people who might find themselves in uncharted territory when it comes to dating and I also think it might appeal to the Gen X crowd, who, like myself, remember all that mooning over cute boys/girls and trying to figure out how to make something magical happen.

What’s next for BUNNY X? Any live work and new collaborations?

Abigail: We have a bunch of fun collaborations we’re working on at the moment. We are thrilled to be collaborating with THOUGHT BEINGS on not one but two tracks and we have other projects lined up with MORPHICE, MONDMANN, THORISSON, BINO BISCOTTI and ELEVATE THE SKY.

We’re also hoping to finish up a bunch of half-completed Italo tracks with Conrad that have been works in progress for a while. We do have a live show tentatively scheduled for late October but we’re apprehensive with all the news about the delta variant so we might wait until the situation improves a bit before playing out again. Fingers crossed!

Mary: We’re working on some collaborations now and have a few other artists that are interested in working with us which is always great. We’re excited to see how the tracks we recorded recently will do and we will definitely keep you posted. We really enjoyed answering your questions, thanks so much for having Abbi and I along!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to BUNNY X

‘Young & In Love’ is released by Aztec Records on 5th October 2021, available as a CD, vinyl LP, cassette and download from https://bunnyx.bandcamp.com/album/young-in-love

https://www.facebook.com/BunnyXmusic

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th September 2021

Vintage Synth Trumps with MARK REEDER

Photo by Crystal Reeder

His portfolio has included NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, PET SHOP BOYS, JOHN FOXX, BLANK & JONES, WESTBAM, MARSHEAUX, THE KVB, NOBLESSE OBLIGE, KOISHII & HUSH, QUEEN OF HEARTS and many more.

Mark Reeder is the jovial Mancunian who ventured over to Germany in 1978 in search of electronic music records and never returned home, eventually settling in West Berlin.

Immersing himself in the local art and punk scene, he arranged JOY DIVISION’s now legendary gig at Kant-Kino, managed MALARIA! and was Factory Records representative in Der Bundesrepublik.

On Mayday 1982, he paid a visit to the DDR and while taking photos of the grand parade in East Berlin, he was arrested by the STASI and taken in for interrogation, under suspicion of working for M16. Unable to draw any conclusions, other than he was trying to corrupt the youth of East Germany with pop music, the East German Secret Police marked his file ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’.

The experience inspired Reeder’s most recent double album named after his STASI classification. Comprising of productions and remixes made by himself and his engineer Micha Adam, it celebrated his cross-border artistic ethos and also included collaborations with the likes of Fifi Rong and Alanas Chosnau, as well as solo work on which he lent his own spoken voice.

The two high profile centrepieces of ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ focus on Reeder’s reworkings of NEW ORDER’s first new single since 2015 ‘Be A Rebel’ and YELLO’s evergreen ‘Vicious Games’. But room is also given to newer acts such as the Dutch-based American BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC, Manchester’s MFU, DEER Mx from Mexico and hailing from the Chinese city of Chengdu, STOLEN who opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour.

Another NEW ORDER support act Zachery Allan Starkey makes appearance via a remix of ‘Coked Up Biker Anthem’ which saw Reeder realise some of his mad axeman fantasies having grown up as a fan of Jimi Hendrix. But accepting ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s invitation to play a round of Vintage Synth Trumps, Mark Reeder kindly chatted about his love of classic synthesizers and how they have been used throughout his career.

Ok, our first card is the Roland SH7…

I’ve seen one but never had one, I had an SH9 which I used at the end of DIE UNBEKANNTEN and the start of SHARK VEGAS. In fact, the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ which we released on Factory in 1984 was made with an SH9. They were very similar kinds of synthesizers but the SH7 had a few extra features. I actually played the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ by hand all the way through for six minutes non-stop, it wasn’t a sequencer! If you made a mistake, there was no way of going back and you had to start again! *laughs*

What was the drum machine you were using at the time?

We had an 808 and a 606…

And the next card is an Oberheim 2 Voice…

I never knew anyone who could afford Oberheim stuff until it became more affordable in the late 80s, no-one I knew had the 2 Voice. But the OBXs was really good, you could do some great things with them but the earlier ones weren’t readily available, so you didn’t really see anything you could buy… no-one had any money in Berlin in the 80s! A Prophet 10 would be like 10 years wages! *laughs*

So, when you were conceiving ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ which was a reference to that time in 80s Berlin, and your cover photo of the May Day parade and your STASI file, did you select a palette of specific vintage synth sounds to work with?

I’ve always worked like this, when I started to get back into actually making music again, as more of a remixer and producer than before, I had this idea that I only wanted to have a small selection of things that I could draw from to maintain a particular sound. I made my own drum kits, three different kinds and I would interchange within each one.

So, I might have three different claps but I’d put two together and manipulate them to create another type of clap sound. So, the sounds are all drawn from the same three basic kits and say with a snare, I might add another instrument into that snare mix, but it’s all the same block if you like.

It’s the same in a way with synthesizers as well, I don’t have loads, and I keep it reasonably contained. If you have too many, you end up spending too time trawling through thousands and thousands of sounds, but if you have a limited amount of possibilities, then you have to be creative within those few things. I’ll take pads off one synthesizer and put the dirt in from an MS20 underneath, and it will change the sound of the pad. And if you put that through a chorus, it will automatically give that a different sound.

I’ve not got loads of synthesizers in the studio, but we’ve got quite a few. We’ve got quite a few plug-ins too, initially I was a bit dubious about them, but meanwhile a few of them are really quite good and very useful…

Do you have a favourite of the plug-ins?

Well, we’ve got Omnisphere which we use regularly, as I find it’s got a few sounds which I’ll always use and they’re easy to manipulate, but they’re always the same basics. I think I always choose the same couple of sounds *laughs*

We’ve got an ARP plug-in and that is quite good and an EMS one because I could never afford a real one. I’ve got a plug-in version of the Roland SH101 but having the original thing is different, it has a totally different feeling to it. It depends what you want to do with it. The plug-in doesn’t come near, but it has its own sounds that are useful. I have a Juno 106 and my studio partner Micha Adam has a plug-in 106 and a boutique version, although it’s similar in certain sounds, neither sound like a real 106. But each has features that the real 106 doesn’t have, like the arpeggiator or the delay, so you kind of mix them all together, that’s how I work.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What was your approach to reworking ‘Vicious Games’ by YELLO from 1985 for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’?

The original track was like “I’ve got a sound sampler and I’m gonna show you how to use it” so it’s like all these ideas together and a vocal connecting everything.

When YELLO sent me the parts, I realised there were more vocals recorded than used on the track and I thought it was a shame that this track of idea wasn’t actually a song. So, I reworked Rush Winter’s wonderful vocals into a song, to give it a definitive verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, like a 21st Century version of an 80s song.

I used the Oberheim OBX and Juno to make the pad at the beginning and made it more song structured. I looped the guitar part so that it became a groove. People have come up to me and said they love the Donna Summer ‘I Feel Love’ bit that I added, but it’s in the original track, it’s just that you can’t hear it because it’s mixed down so much within the track. You don’t really get to experience that part, so I thought it would be nice to feature that as the break, so I cannibalised the original.

What did Boris and Dieter think of it?

They love it, Boris said I was very daring for changing their song so much and not make it sound like their original, but it does! You can hear I’ve used as many of the original parts as possible but I’ve rearranged it completely.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

So, we go from you remixing ‘Vicious Games’, an old YELLO track to remixing a brand new NEW ORDER song ‘Be A Rebel’…

As with all my remixes, I like people to be able to recognise the song, I don’t want to take some unused backing track and just drop in some vocals, to me that’s not a remix. I take all the parts I require from the original song and rework them so that they will fit my groove. The idea was make the Elektron bassline more pulsating, give a driving feeling to it.

The first mix I made was the Cheeky Devil one, which appears on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ that I made more for the elderly semester of NEW ORDER fans that don’t like the techno side. I know people who will get a remixes CD or vinyl and they’ve got techno versions of the track that they love, but they can’t get their heads around it. I thought I’d do one which had a “ploddy” kind of feel that’s not so fast even though it’s exactly the same tempo, one that chugged along and put more emphasis on the vocals.

For the Dirty Devil remix for the NEW ORDER release on Mute, I wanted to make it so that Bernard could listen to it in his car while he was on the motorway, more driving and I must confess I prefer this remix to the one I did for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ but that chuggy version had to work within the framework of my album. I just changed the volume of a few things within the mix like the loudness of the hi-hats in the Elektron driving version.

You actually added some guitars into your remixes of ‘Be A Rebel’ which aren’t on the NEW ORDER original?

There was initially no bass guitar on the original version. There was a guitar, but it was all quite jangly… that style kind of slowed my track down, so I played what I needed… in fact my guitar mirrors Bernard’s vocal quite a lot. I thought I’d play a melody on the guitar like a sequence… some people thought it sounded like the ghost of Hooky’s bass, but it’s my Les Paul playing that and some power chords to embellish the end.

So what’s your guitar playing like compared with your keyboard prowess?

They equally as cr*p! *laughs*

Time for another card and it’s a Prophet 10…

I don’t know anybody who owned a Prophet 10. Susanne Kuhnke from MALARIA! owned a Prophet 5 but I only ever saw a Prophet 10 in a music shop and you weren’t allowed to touch it!

By the time when you supported NEW ORDER as SHARK VEGAS in 1984, they would have swapped their Prophet 5s for Octave Plateau Voyetras?

Yes, they’d just got it. A few years before, Bernard had got an ARP so he gave me his Transcendent 2000…

Did you ever do anything useful with the Transcendent 2000?

It just makes a noise! It doesn’t make any kind of like sounds that your granny is going to like! It goes “KKKKHHRRRKK” or “TSCHHHHHH”, it’s a noise synthesizer, white noise, pink noise! A Wasp you can kind of play but the Transcendent didn’t make any keyboard notes. All the crazy “TSCH-TSCH-TSCH-TSCH” noises you hear on the JOY DIVISION records were made by the Transcendent *laughs*

Photo by Kai von Kröcher

On your albums, you like to do new collaborations and on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’, you worked with Fifi Rong who has a connection with YELLO…

I met Fifi Rong at a YELLO gig in Berlin. She told me she was playing a gig in a small bar the next evening and invited me. She was absolutely mind-blowingly good and she explained what each song was about, it was very endearing. I thought she was so talented, she’s very hands on and so determined.

I thought it would be nice to work with her to give her another platform other than YELLO. You could hear that she has an interesting voice with that high Asian tone. So, I remixed ‘Future Never Comes’, that was such a nice track and as I was doing that, I had another track that I asked her to do a vocal on. I didn’t hear anything from her for about 3 weeks and then she sent me this track that became ‘Figure Of 8’. I decided to start and close ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with Fifi because I felt she deserved to have those important positions within the framework of the record. She’s been working on her own new album for 2 years and it’s finally getting there, it is an interesting record, a really nice album, I think she’s done really well and got the right ambience.

And the next card is a Yamaha CS30…

I must confess I always found Yamaha gear to be interesting but very cold. I have a TX module which is like a DX7 and has all the sounds, which I’ve had for decades… it’s a limited thing. I don’t use it much, only for specific things like if I want a hard tone filtered in with something else to give it a colder edge. I never bought an actual DX7 because it was too complicated to programme. It had bits like marimba sounds that sounded good, but everyone had one, as it was the first big affordable synthesizer back in the 80s. Everyone dumped their analogue synths for a DX7 and I’m thinking WHY!?!

The DX7 sounded super modern and dead professional at the time, but I didn’t get my module until very late when nu-beat and acid house started, it made a slappy kind of hard bass sound that fitted.

Photo by Martyn Goodacre

Did you get into Akai samplers at all?

I had an Akai S900, I was talking to Micha Adam about them just the other day and how they were the best thing on the market at the time with the longest sampling time. I had a Roland sampler which had an expanded sampling time of 2 seconds! And then there was the Ensoniq Mirage which had its own 30 second samples but when you tried to sample something yourself, you only had a small amount of time. And then came the Akai S800 and that had 20 seconds!! *laughs*

The Akai S900 cost a fortune and was so complicated, there was a lot of fiddling around, twiddling knobs and pressing things! It had a manual the size of the Holy Bible and they knew no-one was going to read this thing, so it came with a VHS video cassette so that you could watch how to programme the thing! It was a really good tool to use once you got used to it and sounded good compared to the others. But then the Akai S1000 came and that had 90 seconds of sampling time which was amazing! I did a couple of remixes in the 90s with the Akai, one for Nina Hagen of ‘Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen’… she hated it! It never came out! *laughs*

How did you put together your 13 minute epic ‘You Can Touch Me’?

That was an idea that’s really three tracks in one and it kind of went on and I thought I’d better stop it at some point! *laughs*

It was originally born from an idea for an album, that had a great underlying groove and I took a snippet from an Eiven Major track to use as a loop in the techno part of the track. I like taking a track that will morph from one thing and end up as another. ‘With You Can Touch Me’, it became that. It starts off very sexual, dark and mysterious… it’s like when you meet someone for the first time, you go through the actions of foreplay and it gets to the climax, the song is a bit like that, very Wet & Hard! It goes into the lyric where “you can’t touch me” and at the end, it goes into this mad techno thing. I’m not a singer, but for that track, it fitted and it sounds alright. I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to do it to be honest.

I made it just so I could play it in clubs, mostly the DJ who plays after me is usually a techno DJ so I wanted to give them something at the end of my set that they can mix into. It’s my closing track and it’s so long, I can pack all my stuff away while it’s playing and the DJ after me can either let it play out or mix into it. *laughs*

The final card, it’s an EDP Wasp!

I never actually owned one, I borrowed a Wasp, Mijk van Dijk had a Wasp. It’s a bit like the Transcendent, but it has more tone and easier to use. I never recorded anything with it, I just messed around with it, it was quite good. You could mix it with other sounds to add some grit.

You’re working on the debut album of BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC who are on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with your remix of ‘How Do We End Up Here?’?

We’ve been working on quite a lot of songs together and they’ve become an album. It’s a synthpop album in its own way, Andy Evans has got a very distinctive voice that colours the music and gives it his own edge. It’s not dissimilar to how I work with Alanas Chosnau, but I try to keep Alanas’ song ideas directed towards his kind of sound, if you know what I mean. I’m also working on a second album with him. I keep them separate, but as I use the same kind of sounds, there is always this “me” thread running through the music.

When you’re writing songs with people, you have gaps while they’re figuring out their part, especially when having to do it online, so you can use the time to work with somebody else. So for example, I’m doing something with Andy and when there’s a break, I’ll do something with Alanas in between. I’m quite happy the way the BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC album has turned out, it’s been quite a nice project.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What’s happening with STOLEN at the moment?

STOLEN have gone from being “a band to watch” to playing headline gigs in China now. Since the pandemic, their career has had a meteoric rise, as no Western artists are allowed to play in China at the moment, so promoters have been forced to look at their home-grown talent and have realised they actually have some really good and interesting bands there.

With STOLEN having opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour, it boosted their credibility enormously back home and has added to their attraction, so now they’re performing at festivals to 25,000 people. They’re playing a gig virtually every week and in between, they’re trying to write and record another album. So, they’re sending their parts to me too, that means I’m doing three albums parallel!

I guess whoever’s gets finished first will get released first! But it’s a lot more difficult not having them in the studio, because if they were there in person, you can bounce ideas off immediately. And the time difference with someone in China and being in Europe isn’t easy, usually when they’re in the studio, you’re going to bed! It’s a bit complicated! *laughs*

I want to make everyone happy, but I also like a challenge. When it all fits, it can be very rewarding.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Mark Reeder

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is released as a download double album, available from https://markreedermfs1.bandcamp.com/album/subversiv-dekadent

Mark Reeder’s Dirty Devil Remix of ‘Be A Rebel’ features on the NEW ORDER double 12” clear vinyl EP and expanded CD collection released by Mute Artists also featuring mixes by Arthur Baker, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Maceo Plex and Paul Woolford

A one hour long Operating//Generating special on Mark Reeder is broadcast for 4 weekends from Saturday 4th September 2021 at 1800 CET on laut.fm at https://laut.fm/operating-generating

https://mfsberlin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mfsberlin

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs

https://www.instagram.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1n7yJzVVfUO2MiQskjmzqW

Vintage Synth Trumps is a card game by GForce that features 52 classic synthesizers available from
https://www.juno.co.uk/products/gforce-software-vintage-synth-trumps-2-playing/637937-01/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st September 2021

A Short Conversation with SIN COS TAN

Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen are back as SIN COS TAN after a six year hiatus.

The Finnish synth duo opened their account in 2012 with a nocturnal self-titled ‘Sin Cos Tan’ album which included the magnificent “disco you can cry to” of ‘Trust’. The second album ‘Afterlife’ in 2013 added more colours and a collaboration with Casey Spooner of FISCHERSPOONER on the electro-new wave of ‘Avant Garde’.

Released in 2014, the third SIN COS TAN long player ‘Blown Away’ was a concept album about the fictional middle aged banker Michael Burana who following his divorce, becomes a drug courier and gets involved in a life of crime before his story comes to its inevitable conclusion when he is ‘Blown Away’ in the ‘Heart Of America’.

The last SIN COS TAN release was the three-track dance focussed EP ‘Smile Tomorrow Will Be Worse’ and although the pair worked together on ‘Ultima’, the 2016 second album from Paalosmaa’s other project VILLA NAH, the upcoming ‘Drifted’ EP will be their first new material as SIN COS TAN since 2015, inspired by the experiences of separation and resignation during the worldwide pandemic.

Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen chatted to ELECTRICITY CLUB.CO.UK about becoming ‘Drifted’ and returning from the wilderness as SIN COS TAN.

SIN COS TAN had been extremely prolific with three albums in three years, how do you look back on that catalogue of work produced in such a short time?

Juho: Looking back on it now, I’m honestly kind of surprised at how much of it still holds up. We were on a creative roll, but still managed to stay quite focused. It’s strange to listen to something you’ve done years ago and genuinely feel like you’re discovering it in the process.

Jori: Very proud of those albums. And, even though they were done in a relatively short period of time, they each really stand on their own and have a specific sound to them. I don’t really listen to my own music, but earlier this year I went through the full SCT catalogue as we were preparing our first live show in six years, and was really surprised how well the material has aged. But I guess that’s the advantage when you make retro sounding – or as I like to say, timeless – music.

Had there been any particular reason that after the concept album ‘Blown Away’, you opted for a more dance-oriented EP ‘Smile Tomorrow Will Be Worse’ as its follow-up in 2015?

Juho: We felt like we really went out on a high (no pun intended) with ‘Blown Away’. The downside is we really had a hard time thinking of how to pick up after it. ‘Smile…’ was the result of that conundrum: we just wanted to do something very different after our last album.

Jori: Exactly. I personally felt we had peaked creatively on ‘Blown Away’ on so many levels, that doing another album felt a bit overwhelming at the time. However, we still had the drive and ideas for songs, so we decided to take a slightly different approach.

Although you both worked together on the second VILLA NAH album ‘Ultima’ in 2016, what was the impetus for producing new SIN COS TAN material?

Jori: We’ve had some get-togethers at my studio all through the years, with the intention of starting something, and there’s a bunch of demos that never quite made the cut, or got us excited enough to finalise a release. So there never really was a real break creatively, just a slight exhaustion from the three albums and an EP run, and personally I felt the bar was pretty high after ‘Blown Away’ especially. I guess it took some time for us to find the same loose vibe for writing songs together again.

Juho: We had numerous discussions about doing something again with SCT over the years, but they never came to fruition. I think the whole COVID thing, in all its trouble, gave us the pause we needed in our lives for SIN COS TAN to make sense again.

How have you both been handling the enforced isolation of the lockdown, have your perspectives changed?

Juho: As much as anyone’s, I suppose. This kind of experience is bound to highlight the importance of certain elements in life, and the absolute superficiality and uselessness of others. But Finns, as people, are quite well adapted to handle isolation. We’ve been doing that voluntarily for centuries already. Nevertheless, it’s still been a challenge at times.

Jori: I’ve handled this very poorly, but it’s still been better than normal life.

Did some of your experiences during lockdown affect your creative dynamic as SIN COS TAN? Was there more remote working than in the past with consultations on Zoom etc?

Jori: Not really, we still write some stuff separately, but the main magic happens always when we’re in the studio together just bouncing ideas.

Juho: Not really with the recording part, we were able to do all the recordings of ‘Drifted’ in a few days at Jori’s studio. But any rehearsing for live stuff has been completely different. We basically don’t meet at all, Jori lives in Turku and I live in Helsinki. We’re about 150km apart. So, we rehearse on our own and meet on-stage for the live show! It’s a bit mad. We’ve done it just once so far at a Finnish festival, but it went down surprisingly well…

The opening song ‘Disconnect’ from ‘Drifted’ recalls the nocturnal moods of your self-titled debut but piano makes a surprise appearance in the track’s final third, what was the idea or inspiration behind this?

Jori: The song came about when we were just jamming on top of this groove I had nicked from a Finnish new wave 12” from the 80s; basically I just sampled a drumbreak from it while playing the maxi single at 33rpm, and programmed the rhythm part around that. Then we just started layering things on top of it. Towards the end, we felt it needs to build up for a proper pay-off, and I can’t remember which first hit upon those pianos, but it seemed to do the trick.

Juho: No particular inspiration, it just felt like the right thing to do at the moment. You come up with ideas that flow with the track and match the tension or mood you’re creating. Spontaneity is essential when creating music.

Another new texture comes on ‘True To You’ which is primarily instrumental and throws in some E-Bowed guitar, was this quite tricky to nail down during recording?

Jori: Oh that’s all synth on the track. That lead sound was a bit of a placeholder for a vocal idea to emerge, but eventually it grew up on us, and realised it works better with this really sparse arrangement.

‘If I Was Gone’ is more typical of SIN COS TAN’s uptempo material with its IDM vibes, do you find yourselves still inspired by the dancefloor despite getting older?

Jori: Age has nothing to do with dancefloor really. I think with SCT, we have a few key approaches to how we frame a song. This particular track is based on Juho’s demo, and I immediately knew how it should sound.

Juho: ‘If I Was Gone’, as a song, could’ve also easily been a ballad. I originally wrote it on guitar as a slightly slower version. But it felt right to give it more tempo and pizzazz, and Jori had an Italo vision for it that worked out nicely with the lead melody.

‘Unconditional’ has a particularly emotive vocal delivery, what is the song about and is it autobiographical?

Jori: This again was based on a demo I had made, that had some placeholder lyrics from me, which Juho changed completely but kept the feel of the delivery and melody. It’s a really nice example of how we complete each other’s ideas.

Juho: It’s really about the poison of absoluteness, and how doing things strictly your way can erode a lot of good will around your life. I suppose all the tracks on ‘Drifted’ are autobiographical – lyrically, they’re quite a direct response to things I’ve experienced over 2020 and before.

Equipment-wise, are you using any new toys or are you sticking to your trusted tools? Do you have any thoughts about these clone vintage instruments that Behringer are making or the way synthesizer technology is heading?

Juho: No new toys on ‘Drifted’, as far as I know… I’m not a gear head, but I’ve started to come around to plug-ins over the years. They’re simply so high-quality nowadays that it’s hard to argue for a massive collection of synths, either in economic terms, or simply in the space that they require. At the end of the day, I still feel that the songs themselves matter the most: it’s easy to lose yourself in a sea of plugins, apps and synths, but none of those matter if the songwriting sucks.

Jori: This was actually the first SCT release to emerge from my current studio, after relocating in 2016. However, the main equipment – hardware and software – are the same. I don’t think I’ve bought any new gear in years, I’ve completely gotten over GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), and really been just focusing on ideas and their execution with the stuff I have. It’s all about efficiency. At the same time, I do follow all these amazing new and rebooted versions of classics that keep hitting the market. I mean, what’s not to love?

‘Drifted’ is an EP that captures a specific moment, but do you see yourselves working on a long playing record again in the future, does the album still have a place in modern music consumption?

Jori: For SCT in the future, yes, but for the moment we feel the EP as a format is something that works best for us. Generally speaking though, I do love albums; most music I’m into these days requires that extended timeframe to pass on the ideas and textures, something that the single or EP formats simply can’t deliver.

Juho: I think albums still certainly matter and always will. My favourite records are often LPs. But it also feels quite liberating to do an EP as well. They allow for a more concise vision and give way for variety in the future as well. The idea of an entire LP can feel daunting at times. An EP, on the other hand, just sounds like fun. It’s like a great miniseries on HBO that never outstays its welcome.

Jori appeared in ‘808 – The Movie’, are there any music documentaries or other series you have both been enjoying that you would like to recommend?

Juho: I already told this to Jori, but I’ve really enjoyed some of Tiga’s ‘Last Party on Earth’ podcasts recently – particularly the episode with Trevor Jackson, which goes beyond of just DJs talking about their craft. Tiga is a great host, he’s funny as hell and has a pleasant voice for radio.

Jori: I did the intromusic and jingles for the Tiga podcasts, by the way. Anyways, I actually haven’t seen it yet, but I’m really looking forward to the Edgar Wright’s SPARKS documentary.

What are you hopes and fears as the world re-emerges from a difficult 20 months?

Jori: I don’t think it will re-emerge for a long time, so I have no hopes really.

Juho: Hoping it re-emerges as a better version of itself. Fearing that it most likely won’t.

What’s next for the two of you, both as SIN COS TAN and individually?

Juho: Hopefully more SCT in the future, but it all depends on how we’re feeling about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Music will always play a part in our individual lives, regardless.

Jori: Like Juho mentioned earlier, we played our first SCT live show for almost 6 years just a couple of weeks ago, and it was really fun, so that got us talking as to where to head next. Time will tell if any of those plans materialise at any point. As for me personally, there will be new Jori records popping out here and there. As always.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SIN COS TAN

Special thanks to Tom Riski at Solina Records

‘Drifted’ comes out on September 24th 2021 via Solina Records as a limited edition vinyl 12″ and digital release, pre-order from https://www.8raita.fi/shop/p96178-sin-cos-tan-drifted-12-en.html

http://solinarecords.com/sincostan/

https://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3maaZRO6VRwTf6oUik93ZJ


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Rainer Geselle
22nd August 2021

JOON Interview

Behind the dreamy world of JOON is Yasmin Kuymizakis. Growing up in Malta, she made music as the more traditionally minded YEWS but a sound production course in London set her on the path of becoming JOON.

However, when she returned to her home island, Kuymizakis found she had no female role models for making electronic music.

Inspired by the Yorkshire Sound Women Network, she co-founded the Malta Sound Women Network with composer and academic Jess Rymer to bring like-minded women together.

Her positivity after a life-changing car accident helped clarify her musical ambitions and a pointer to her take on life comes via her playful cover versions of pop classics ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’.

Recently releasing her appropriately titled debut album ‘Dream Again’ on Italians Do It Better, the 12 track collection co-produced by Johnny Jewel ranges from bouncy blippy numbers to more introspective personal songs which although tinged with melancholy, are ultimately positive.

The music of JOON is an optimistic dose of inspiration and a universal message for everyone as to how to overcome. With the release of another single ‘Whisper’ from the album, she spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about why now is the right time to ‘Dream Again’.

So how and why did YEWS end and JOON start?

I had been meaning to change my artist name for a few years actually. When I joined Italians Do It Better it felt like the right time for a fresh start. Out with the old, in with the new.

Did using technology lead you to writing songs in a different way than you had before?

Yes definitely! There’s so much you can do with technology. Sonically it’s limitless and it gives me plenty of room to experiment

Who were the acts that influenced the JOON sound?

GRIMES, MOLLY NILSSON and THE KNIFE.

How did the Italians Do It Better connection come about?

I emailed them with a link to ‘ET’ on April Fools Day 2020 thinking they would never reply. They did that same day… we even had a phone call a few hours later. For the next 2 weeks, I kept thinking someone was playing an April Fools joke on me.

What did Johnny Jewel’s role on ‘Dream Again’ entail?

Johnny put a lot of thought and love into my songs. I sent him stems and he just made it all sound better by working on the structures and re-playing some parts using his amazing synth collection. He recorded new lines on some songs and created beats too. He produced the backing track for ‘Wait’ from scratch and it went from being the weakest song to one of the strongest. He really elevated all the tracks!

The bouncy avant pop of ‘ET’ ended up on the ‘Animal Crossing’ digital fashion show which was surreally fitting and it features this amazing Theremin-like sound on it, how did you produce that in the studio?

I wrote ‘ET’ very quickly, in a few minutes. I had used Ableton and created that simple bassline without thinking much and just kept building from there. The vocals were most fun. I was just really letting go and having fun with it.

‘Good Times’ was most welcome with the onset of lockdown fatigue but what was the original inspiration behind this song?

I wrote that after a day at my 9-to-5. I guess I was feeling nostalgic and was remembering about the times when it was all easier to go out, flirt and have some fun.

The comparatively abstract instrumental ‘I.You’ displays your musical diversity, are soundtracks an area you would like to pursue in the future?

Oh yeah! I love soundtracks! I have done quite a few for short films, video games, theatre etc. In a variety of genres too. Always happy to do more.

‘Orqod’ is a gently waltzing ballad sung in Maltese, did you feel it was important for you to make an artistic statement in your own language?

It actually wasn’t intentional at all. I always found it hard to write and sing in Maltese. But somehow I was very in the moment and ‘Orqod’ just came to me very naturally. I was going through a hard time and I was living in London at the time. I would love to write more in my native language but when I force it, it just doesn’t work.

‘Watch The Sky’ is a wonderfully quirky big beat disco number, how did it come together?

The original ‘Watch the Sky’ that I wrote years ago was quite rocky actually! It had guitars on it. When I was going through it to make it work with this album, I was struggling. Luckily my friend and frequent collaborator Ian Schranz from BARK BARK DISCO was there to save the day. He wrote that funky bassline and co-produced the song to make sense with my sound today.

You have released a number of collaborations with BARK BARK DISCO, so how does your approach to composing change when you are working with him?

It’s interesting working with Ian. He writes fun catchy songs so easily, he never ceases to amaze me. We challenge each other quite a bit and I’ve learnt that I can be quite a control freak but luckily we always agree in the end. I love working with him and hope we find time to start a fun crazy side project together. We already have a stage name. All we need is time!

What inspired you to include a cover of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’?

It was a last minute decision actually! Johnny came up with the idea. That song brings so much joy and I feel that’s my mission in life… so we just went for it.

Although not featuring on the ‘Dream Again’ album, you released a cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’, or was it the ACE OF BASE version that you heard first?

BANANARAMA forever!!

‘Dream Again’ is a very varied album but which tracks resonate the most with you?

‘Home’ and ‘Me & My Sea’ resonate a lot with me! Every time I hear them I can somehow tap into the exact emotions I was feeling when I wrote them.

You played your first gig as JOON recently, do you think it went ok and are there more planned?

My first live performance was amazing! I got some of my favourite local musicians to join me on stage and it was such a joy. I have some solo gigs planned now, in Malta and Europe.

How is the Malta Sound Women Network progressing, are there still many more things to achieve?

There’s always many things to achieve with MSWN! Right now we’re actually on hold for a bit due to Covid-19… trying to find our feet again at the moment. But we will get back to giving workshops and organising events soon.

What’s next for you?

Perform and write again and again.

Any hopes or fears for the future?

Hope to get to tour and meet all the lovely people I’ve gotten to know this past year and half from JOON. No fears as such… maybe that this pandemic will make it all a little harder.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to JOON

Special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Dream Again’ is released by Italians Do It Better and available via the usual online platforms

https://www.templeofjoon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/templeofjoon

https://twitter.com/templeofjoon

https://www.instagram.com/templeofjoon/

https://linktr.ee/templeofjoon


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Maria Galea
14th August 2021

SEA FEVER Interview

SEA FEVER are the new eclectic Manchester combo featuring second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham.

Fronted by Johnny Marr band member Iwan Gronow, sticksman and BIMM Tutor Elliot Barlow completes the experienced quintet.

With their debut album ‘Folding Lines’ due out in the Autumn, SEA FEVER began their journey with the sombre indie rock of ‘Crossed Wires’. Meanwhile the ‘Folding Lines’ title song offered some orchestrated filmic drama.

However ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while also crossing over to lovers of synth. Cut from a similar cloth if less frantic is the upcoming album cut ‘Le Coup’.

Overall, ‘Folding Lines’ is the sound of a band instinctively working together, exploring the music that inspired each band member to merge into a new whole. With the rousing new single ‘Under Duress’ breaking cover, Tom Chapman and Beth Cassidy chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of the ‘Folding Lines’ album and the chemistry within…

So how does SEA FEVER differ from the other bands and projects you have been involved in?

Beth: This feels really different for me… the SEA FEVER set-up seems to flow in and out of these real intense periods of focus, working together, and then calmness.

Tom: SEA FEVER has a really good chemistry between all band members. We’re all on the same page musically and pushing forward in the same direction.

Did you set out to present a particular sound? In terms of direction, were you setting out any particular templates or did anything go?

Tom: I wanted to explore new sounds and unusual instrumentations for this album, I also experimented with sampling beats and noises to generate unusual rhythms throughout the LP, but the key thing was to deliberately push myself out of my comfort zone with the songwriting.

How would you describe the band creative dynamic?

Tom: I’ll usually come up with instrumental song demos that I will pass onto the rest of the band, it’s a collective effort and only sounds like a finished SEA FEVER song once everyone have added their musical parts. We took a road trip to France during the writing process before lockdown, the idea was to immerse ourselves into the creative process without any distractions, we packed out the studio and instruments and headed to Brittany, it was intense but very prolific, ‘Beleaguered Land’ and ‘The Finder’ came out of that trip.

Was there anything that was brought to the table that perhaps wouldn’t necessarily have been considered in another band or project?

Beth: I’m sure Tom had a vision in his mind of a set-up with two singers up front, working in tandem.

Tom: We made use of a choir on ‘Programme Your Life’ recorded at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester alongside a clarinet and a string quartet, I’d never tried anything like this previously on a song. A hammered dulcimer makes an appearance on ‘Folding Lines’, adding perfect tension and mood to the track. Phil experimented a lot with guitar sounds, he played his Gretsch through one of my synths on ‘Crossed Wires’.

One of the influences mentioned in the SEA FEVER playlist is Neil Young’s polarising ‘Trans’, what fascinates you about this record?

Tom: This is one of Phil’s choices, he is a big fan of Neil Young’s guitar playing and songwriting. I think he loves the fact it doesn’t sound anything like Neil Young’s previous releases, it sees him experimenting with vocoder on his vocals, it confused his fans at the time. Great album, a real hidden gem.

The new single ‘Under Duress’ has a particularly expansive sound with electronics, strings and anthemic vocal lines, had there been any particular inspirations here?

Beth: Iwan left these natural pauses throughout his vocal arrangement, so I filled them with subtle, sweeping harmonies. It seemed to balance things out really well. I was listening to Björk’s ‘Homogenic’ album at the time. It was the first track we all worked on together actually.

Tom: I am proud of that one and the way it turned out, a lot of thoughts went into it. One of the first ideas we worked on as a group, it was a good indicator of what was to come musically. It’s a beautifully crafted song with great lyrics and haunting melodies, great guitar work from Phil, and Elliot’s drumming is class, it perfectly captures the essence of a modern Mancunian Spaghetti Western soundtrack with a beat.

There are quite a few string orchestrations on the album like on ‘Built To Last’, but with everything going on, were these synthesized by necessity or were you able to assemble the real thing?

Tom: They are combined. We used a string quartet on the album to complement the orchestra sound.

There are a number of blinders on this album, the club friendly ‘De Facto’ with its electronic sequencing in particular, what was the genesis of this and how did you achieve the balance between dance and rock?

Tom: I think being part of NEW ORDER really helps for that! The writing of ‘Music Complete’ was a big learning curve for me as a songwriter and producer, I picked up a lot from the studio experiences acquired working with Tom Rowland from THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and the rest of NEW ORDER, all this was applied on this record. I was locked in my studio for days programming the sequencing on ‘De Facto’ with one synth triggering another, it was a bit of an experiment but came out really good in the end! We didn’t want the final result to be a conventional structured song, it’s more a melodic beat and bass generator with the sole purpose of dragging you onto the dance floor!

Another track in a similar vein but less frantic is ‘Le Coup’ which sees Beth take the lead vocal and is a blend of many Mancunian influences, how did that come together?

Beth: Haha, slowly…! It was a labour of love, a marathon of edits, back and forth over email. We figured out the general vibe and main vocal melodies quite early on, but then the main structure evolved quite a bit over time.

‘The Finder’ captures a solemn Spaghetti Western feel, did influences from cinema come into play when making the record?

Tom: Majorly yes! I’ve always been a big fan of film scores from Bernard Hermann, Georges Delerue, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto to name a few.

Which are your own favourites tracks from the ‘Folding Lines’ album?

Beth: ‘De Facto’ is a banger to play live, it’s fun and chaotic!

Tom: That’s a tough one ! I like them all. I think the album is very coherent from start to finish and the interplay between songs works really well.

SEA FEVER were able to film some live performances which are now acting as trailers for the album, do you see the concert setting as the best way to experience the band?

Beth: From the offset, we always set out to play our songs live, you go through the writing and production process in a new band, and you never think in a million years that you won’t physically be able to play live… it was such a weird time, and a real downer. We had all this new material that we were just sitting on for months! We’re dead excited to play our first actual gig….

Tom: Absolutely, we can’t wait to get out there and play some shows, songs take on a life of their own when played live. We keep evolving as a band in rehearsals and some of the song’s interpretations are now different, it keeps the creative juices going and makes it interesting for us as a band.

Have you been able to get out to view the ‘Use Hearing Protection’ Factory Records exhibition at the Manchester Science + Industry Museum?

Beth: Yeah, it felt like a really comprehensive exhibition, unreleased posters I’d never seen before, loads of hand written ramblings, one of the Factory envelopes on display has my first home address scrawled across it… one person’s junk is another person’s treasure!

Tom: Not yet, it’s on the “to do” list!

It’s been a tough 18 months for many, what are your hopes and fears for the future?

Beth: I hope we can all enjoy live music and other arts events together soon. That beautiful connection you have with other people when you’re experiencing something live together in that moment, it’s priceless, it’s like therapy for me. To watch and to play.

Tom: The last 18 months have been tough for many reasons, the lack of interest and support shown by the government regarding The Arts in general has added to the frustration to be honest! But on the positive side, it’s shown us that music plays a big part in people’s daily lives. Being a lockdown band or “Rockdown” as I like to call it without doing gigs has been a challenge to say the least, But musicians are resilient and where there’s a will there’s a way. My hope is that when things open up and gigs are fully allowed again, people will go mad for it!

What is next for SEA FEVER? Will this just be a one-off adventure or will there be more music?

Beth: We’re not going anywhere…. already writing new material!

Tom: One of the good things that came out of these lockdowns was the amount of time we got to spend in the studio writing and being creative, album number two is done, next is recording it. Loads more to come from us…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to SEA FEVER

Special thanks to Federica Furlotti at Kartel Music Group

‘Under Duress’ single is out now via Kartel Records, ‘Folding Lines’ is released on 22nd October 2021 – pre-order the album ‘Folding Lines’ from https://seafever.lnk.to/foldinglines

SEA FEVER will play Manchester Night & Day Cafe on 13th August 2021, the evening will also feature a DJ set by Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert – tickets available from https://www.gigantic.com/sea-fever-tickets

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

https://www.instagram.com/SeaFeverBand/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Anthony Harrison
5th August 2021

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