Category: Interviews (Page 1 of 107)

DIE SEXUAL Interview

From out of the shadows to under the strobe lights, DIE SEXUAL are the erotically charged Los Angeles-based duo of Anton Floriano and his wife Ros.

While Ros is comparatively new to the music scene having been more involved in visual art, Anton is best known as a member of production duo BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY whose impressive remix portfolio includes YAZOO, ERASURE, IAMX, NITZER EBB, OMD and most notably DEPECHE MODE with a powerful take on ‘Oh Well’, one of their few decent tracks in the last 15 years!

Operating in not dissimilar territory to BOY HARSHER, NIGHT CLUB and NNHMN, DIE SEXUAL’s dark electronic template is exemplified by the seductive ‘Bound, I Rise’ from their debut EP ‘Bound’ which sees the bottom switch to the top in a hypnotic EBM friendly stomper. Followed-up swiftly with a standalone interim single ‘Tremble For Me’, the recently released EP ‘Inservio’ develops on the themes of desire and despair, domination and submission, as well as their penetrating club-friendly sound crafted using vintage and modular synthesizers.

Steamy and seductive, DIE SEXUAL trigger dark passions and conjugal exploration through their intoxicating elektro body musique. With lights down low, Ros and Anton Floriano spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their motivations and realisations…

How did the idea of making music together as DIE SEXUAL come about?

Ros: We instantly knew we wanted to make music together from the moment we met. I connected with Anton through Instagram where he was promoting BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY believe it or not. We hit it off rather quickly so I shared some solo tracks I’d done. Anton loved my voice and I think the rest came very natural. It was obvious from that point what we needed to do.

What are your shared music likes that help shape the sound of DIE SEXUAL?

Ros: We have mad love for all things analog, BPMs of 125, and industrial banging sounds. PORTISHEAD, LED ZEPPELIN, HARD CORPS, NITZER EBB, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES, DEPECHE MODE and ZOOT WOMAN are probably some of my top influential artists. Definitely keeping these musical pioneers as somewhat of a foundation.

Anton: DEPECHE MODE, KRAFTWERK, CABARET VOLTAIRE, NITZER EBB and FRONT 242 would be my top influential artists. We also listen to a lot of newer techno and electronic acts and have a shared love of different artists that in some way play into the music we create.

Were there some things that one liked that perhaps the other wasn’t very keen on? 😉

Ros: Not really! Honestly, we enjoy the same music styles and that’s what makes doing DIE SEXUAL very comfortable for us… we are like one another’s mirror. You truly never know when or how inspiration will find you. Keeping an open mind is key with almost anything art-related and we may just stumble across something. Having a closed-mind only guarantees missing out on important talent and lack of growth. Our personal playlists are pretty eclectic for this reason.

Is there any style or approach that you have experimented with in DIE SEXUAL that you wouldn’t normally go with in BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY?

Anton: As BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY was an instrumental project and not having a vocalist. I had to build tracks around samples and themes, but even then I always tried to retain a more traditional song-like approach, not just doing straight club type arrangements. Now working with Ros, it’s a bit more natural being able to work in that verse / chorus structure but at the same time keeping it very DJ friendly. Ultimately, we like to create music for the dancefloor but it’s important it’s just as interesting to listen to in any environment.

DIE SEXUAL have opened their account with two EPs, has this release strategy been dictated by today’s streaming services or is this the best way to start?

Anton: Sure it stems from the current streaming environment and seemingly shorter and shorter attention spans to releases. Also, getting a whole album’s worth of tracks together seems a bit more daunting process and can take someone like us quite a long time to have enough completed in order to release a full album. Working on smaller batches of tracks allows us to get them out there sooner, then kind of move on to the next thing. Someday, we would probably like the challenge of doing that but just getting our feet off the ground feels better to be able to release material more frequently.

While there is a dark S&M club vibe to DIE SEXUAL, the songs are very catchy and energetic but dark without being depressing, how do you get the balance right?

Ros: The balance is truly right – when you mix tantalizing intimacy and a bit of dark essence, you find yourself at crossroads with the perfect concoction. We want to break that stigma that everything dark needs to be depressing or everything that is sexual can’t be done tastefully. It’s easy to express yourself when something comes naturally and is done from experience. So, really we are just speaking from our own perspective.

Anton: I’m really drawn to music that has some element of something sinister or menacing and the energy it creates isn’t depressing but enticing, you want to find out where it takes you.

‘Bound I Rise’ is not necessarily about S&M is it?

Ros: It is, and it isn’t. It came from a place of taking what’s yours and not holding back. It’s really about the subject and their uprising. You can assume they’ve gone through an experience where now, see themselves in a different light… as a force that cannot be reckoned with. Ultimately, they find their “someone” that they can be the version never thought possible and allowing themselves to give into those ways, restoring power and control with the “hunted” through a heavy, sexual powerplay. Thus having a passionate belief that through all of this; they’ll both become freed together, if accepted.

With ‘On This Night’, this showcases the gothic allure of your sound, there is this romance like with the classic goth bands, any thoughts about this as goth can often be dismissed now as being just about depression and hate?

Anton: The main riff / musical motif of ‘On This Night’ is actually based on a classic 80s Chicago House track and it’s showed up in various House, Techno and New Beat tracks over the years. We wanted to create this dark seductive vibe and can see how it resonates across genres. Lyrically, I’m inspired by that early DURAN DURAN, mid 80s DEPECHE MODE where the songs are largely about desire, passion and lust. I don’t come from a place of depression and hate, so I don’t really identify with those kind of lyrics.

Ros: That’s such a huge misconception and I feel proud to be a part of a community that embraces so many different branches that stem from one sole objectivity – wanting to feel welcomed… heard… supported to have a place to lay down our burdens, secrets, or angers; no matter how it may be presented. We give newcomers different outlooks that they no longer have the choice to be close-minded. There is something for everyone here and we know you’ll find it outside of stigmatisms / misconceptions if you just look.

Was there a reason that ‘Tremble For Me’ came out as a standalone single rather than included on ‘Bound’ or ‘Inservio’?

Anton: Following the release of ‘Bound’, we were a bit surprised how quickly it caught on and the attention it was receiving. We wanted to get another 3 track EP out by end of the year and ‘Tremble For Me’ was the first track we worked on along with starting on ‘House of God’. As we were nearing the holiday season and busy December plans, we knew it would not be possible to complete something by year’s end so we went ahead and just put out the one track we had completed and as we both really love the track, we were excited to get it out there and for people to hear it. Once January rolled around, we got back to work on writing and completing the tracks that make up ‘Inservio’.

How does ‘Inservio’ differ from ‘Bound’ or are they all part of the same family and parts of something bigger?

Ros: ‘Bound’ was a reflection of what was to come. The EPs aren’t one in the same but essentially are of chapters of DIE SEXUAL as we go into depth with our musical endeavors. There is always a repeated main theme (or emphasis) and we expect that to continue in following releases. In that case, I suppose you can say they are in fact a part of something larger!

What is your ‘Need To Sin’?

Anton: This track was conceived as a tantalizing roleplay of our seemingly innocent subject submitting to her ultimate desires and hedonistic fantasies, knowing any hesitation of guilt should be discarded as forgiveness will always be granted. Many of us, for a variety of reasons, tend to associate guilt with pleasure and as long as it’s consensual with our trusted partner, we need to learn to let go of that guilt and it’s ok to give in to what feels right.

What hardware, software and effects are you using in DIE SEXUAL, has there been anything that has been a particular revelation to achieve your aesthetic?

Anton: The majority of the synths on our tracks are the Roland System 100M, Oberheim Xpander and Sequential Circuits Pro-One. We have quite a lot more gear and with BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY, I was always trying to use a little bit of everything but we seem to quickly kinda lock down tracks mainly working with those three units. Other synths that may show up here and there are the ARP 2600, Roland Jupiter 4, SH-1 and MKS-70, RSF Kobol, Korg MonoPoly, Waldorf Microwave, Sequential Pro 2 and Pro 3, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Emax and several more pieces. For drums, we use boxes from Jomox and Elektron, a Toraiz sampler and Native Instruments Maschine.

We also have a moderate sized Eurorack system with a complete Roland System 500 set along with various other modules and we use Eurorack sequencers for a lot of the programming of the synth parts. As far as effects, we use hardware Eventide boxes, Elektron Analog Heat, an old Ensoniq DP2 and the Erica Synths Zen Delay. We mainly use Universal Audio plug-ins in the DAW.

What has been your favourite DIE SEXUAL song so far and your favourite that has not been released yet?

Ros: ‘On This Night’ will always hold a special place for me. I’m a highly-emotional, nostalgic ridden being and this takes me back to times that I shared and still do share with my partner. Not only that, but I know other people feel the same way about their muse or significant other when they come across this track. That makes me feel good inside. I can’t give away a favorite of an unreleased track but for you, Chi – we might give you a sneak peek!

Anton: ‘Fate Awaits’ was the first song Ros sent me when we first met so it was really rewarding to develop that into what it became, although I’m really loving the way ‘Need To Sin’ came out.

Have you considered making full length song videos or are short reels the way to go with how social media works now?

Ros: Full-length videos have been talked about for sure. It’s only a matter of time so you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled for something soon. Coming from a professional photography and cinematography background, having any type of content is super vital. People like to what see you’re working on or doing but it’s said our attention spans timeout after a while and so sweet and short is where it’s at.

With the erotic charge of DIE SEXUAL, how far do you think you can push boundaries on social media?

Ros: We’re pushing the limits until we find a way to break them. There are other means of platforms that aren’t so restrictive, perhaps we might explore those. How’s that saying go? “Things weren’t like they used to be back then”.

Anton: Catch our early Sunday morning IG Stories, LOL! We believe in freedom of expression and that’s gotten us flagged a few times already, but we will continue to flirt with those boundaries and look at alternative platforms.

What is next for DIE SEXUAL? Is an album on the way? What about live shows?

Anton: We just played our first live show and have a string of shows coming up. We will likely start working on new material after this first round of shows and will probably release something early summer and just get out there and play a lot of shows over the summer. We shall see where things take us from there!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to DIE SEXUAL

The ‘Bound’ and ‘Inservio’ EPs, along with the ‘Tremble For Me’ single and ‘Remixes Vol1’ mini-album are available direct from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
8 April 2024


Photo by Petter Duvander

Now with just Robert Enforsen remaining from the original line-up, ELEGANT MACHINERY began as a trio in 1989. They were named after the third album by DATA, the cult synthpop project of SAILOR’s Georg Kajanus released in 1985.

Alongside other acts such as PAGE, S.P.O.C.K and SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN, ELEGANT MACHINERY were part of a movement of Swedish synth trailblazers dedicated to making a purer form of melodic electronic pop in the vein of early DEPECHE MODE, OMD, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and YAZOO.

In their first phase, ELEGANT MACHINERY would release three albums ‘Degraded Faces’ (1991), ‘Shattered Grounds’ (1993) and ‘Yesterday Man’ (1996). They disbanded in 1999 after the release of a “best of” compilation ‘A Decade of Thoughts’ which featured re-recorded material and rare songs.

Although there was a reunion in 2001, a full return did not begin in earnest until 2004 and the subsequent album ‘A Soft Exchange’ in 2008. However, there was another split but in 2016, Robert Enforsen revived ELEGANT MACHINERY for the much darker ‘I’ EP.

Since then, there have been no new releases but most recently Robert Enforsen has been performing as ELEGANT MACHINERY with Johan Malmgren who had been in the band since 1992 and a revolving live line-up that has included current S.P.O.C.K member Val Solo.

With the release for the first time of ‘A Soft Exchange’ in vinyl formats, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had a career spanning conversation with Robert Enforsen…

How has the ELEGANT MACHINERY brand managed to keep going for over three decades?

I’ve got to be upfront here and tell that I actually have been the only one of the other members that kept on going. After years of disagreements, me and Johan Malmgren eventually decided that life is here and now. I suppose that the soft start of this was when we were forced to meet at our mutual friend’s funeral. Johan afterwards gave me a hug and said the very wise words of that “who knows when this will happen to us, it could have been you or me in that funeral coffin”. Later on we two simply agreed on to start fresh, with our original intentions of EM; to make the best available synthpop the world has ever seen. So far I believe we’ve done quite good, despite some drawbacks.

Although ‘101’ and ‘Violator’ had happened, by the time of ELEGANT MACHINERY’s debut album ‘Degraded Faces’ in 1991, Grunge was about to take over the world… in hindsight, it perhaps wasn’t a great time to be a new synthpop band? 🎹🎤🎹😉

I get what you’re trying to go for here, which is rather funny. We were surely not blind for the music trends going on in the world, but we didn’t bother. Our only reason to make music was to make it as we’d love to hear it. ‘Violator’ was probably the best album ever coming out of DM, but we didn’t aim for that sound anyhow. We decided to stick to our unwritten rules of our work; basically to make music that sounded as weird and wonderful as the early/mid 80s in its top class.

What attracted you to making pop music by electronic means? Had the Synth Britannia movement been influential?

Synth Britannia, as such, never really came into my hemisphere as it obviously did in the UK. It was never the thing, so to say. Then again, all these bands, as mentioned before, have had a major influence on us, without a doubt. What the Brits refer to labelling it like this is basically what we would refer to as the synthpop movement. But yes that affected us all in a multitude of ways.

In 1995, ELEGANT MACHINERY’s recorded the title song for the ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ electronic pop pioneers tribute compilation, what was the appeal of that SPANDAU BALLET song for the band?

The original song made it all clear for us; this song could also sound like ELEGANT MACHINERY. This was, as I can recall it, the trigger that made us plan our next steps. Then, one shouldn’t forget that SPANDAU BALLET by then were kind of an electronic band, unlike what they became. We simply made the song “ours”; more synthpop.

You also paid tribute to DEPECHE MODE with a cover of ‘My Secret Garden’ on the ‘I Sometimes Wish I Was Famous’ compilation, ELEGANT MACHINERY were often compared to early DM, did that help or hinder the band?

Oh gosh, hahaha, that is still the issue when talking about us today with people who are really not into the scene. For the outsiders, we probably always sound like DEPECHE MODE. Yes, we’ve got similarities to the early DM, but clearly also to bands such as SOFT CELL, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and so on. We truly, from the start tried to create our own identity, and I think we did.

’Process’ from ‘Degraded Faces’ was a wonderful lively pop tune… is it true that was popular in Spain, was that a surprise?

Thanks! The whole story goes like this; We released the album ‘Degraded Faces’ in 1991. We were already planning for the follow-up, when a Spanish label got in touch, wanting to release ‘Process’ as a CDM. They wanted it to be club friendly and we were suddenly stepping into territories we probably didn’t want to dive into. However, we made a compromise with ourselves and went into the studio trying to deliver a club sound as we could possibly interpret it.

During a recording procedure, that was more adventurous than one might think, and what truly can’t be told just in a few sentences, we managed to transform our song to what it became. Sadly, we didn’t get to see a single coin from the sales, despite reaching number 5, kicking down Madonna to number 6, in the official Spanish charts. On this matter I can go on forever, because the consequences didn’t stop with us, but also made our record label to chatter a bit or two.

‘Forget What I Had In Mind’ on the 1993 second album ‘Shattered Grounds’ recalled CAMOUFLAGE, do you think that successful German wave of bands which included DE/VISION and WOLFSHEIM helped keep the door open for electronic acts such as yourselves within North West Europe?

Without a doubt, even though DE/VISION started in 1988 just like ELEGANT MACHINERY and WOLFSHEIM just the year before. I tend to believe we all made this scene to stay alive.

Did you feel an affinity with other Swedish electronic acts of the period such as PAGE, S.P.O.C.K and COVENANT?

Yes, absolutely! PAGE started as one of the first electronic bands in Sweden. One must note, PAGE started when most of us were still pre-teens! However, we all kind of grew together. Not to forget that a pre-version of COVENANT actually had a gig at the party where I was asked to join what would become ELEGANT MACHINERY. Alexander Hofman designed the cover of ‘I Sometimes Wish I Was Famous’. I sold merch for the other bands of Energy Rekords, like POUPPÉE FABRIKK. I can continue forever here, hahaha! We all were part of what it all would become.

1996’s ‘Yesterday Man’ album maintained the melodic positivity despite the melancholic theme in the lyrics of songs like ‘Save Me’, ‘Say Goodbye’ and ‘Feel The Violence’? Was the ‘Yesterday Man’ album the one where the band felt most confident about in its abilities?

The mentioned songs in themselves are for sure rather melancholic, all being mainly in a minor key. Me personally can’t recall that this was a calling for us to make them like that; we all always had a penchant for the darker sides of life, while totally also being in love with the bleepy synthpop. The whole album just happened as it is from our hearts.

ELEGANT MACHINERY didn’t go drifting off into live drums and guitars like CAMOUFLAGE did on their third album ‘Meanwhile’ and DEPECHE MODE with their narcotic fuelled pseudo rock on ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’? Please discuss 😉

Hahaha, there’s nothing to discuss here. We started off with a passion for the drum machine sound, with synth sounds and such; no drummer or guitarist in the world could ever replicate this. We longed and still are longing for that programmed sound, with dynamic vocals on top.

Eskil Simonsson of COVENANT co-produced a number of the new songs and re-recordings on the 1998 compilation ‘A Decade Of Thoughts’. What was the idea behind doing re-recordings rather than using the familiar versions and how was the experience of being in the studio with him?

Our record label in the past, Energy Rekords, urged to make a “best of album” – we refused. To make such a foolish thing after just three albums simply seemed to be a bit over the top. ‘A Decade of Thoughts’ is the result of our refusal. We felt that it would be better to present ourselves in updated versions of our songs, while also getting the songs that’ve been laying there for a while a chance. I dare to say that we all felt we did the proper choice here. One fun fact is that while looking for a producer, Eskil Simonsson, an old friend of ours said that he HAS to be the one since he’s the biggest fan of ELEGANT MACHINERY ever. The search was over! 😀

The booklet of ‘A Decade Of Thoughts’ stated ELEGANT MACHINERY “use Novation synthesizers from Music Mania, Malmö”, what equipment did you use before then and what are you using now?

Without sounding snobbish, what didn’t we use back then in the 90s?! We’ve been blessed with getting hold of the finest analogue synths while they didn’t cost more than a low-price car. These synths got sold way back in time, while a few already then broke down, even during live performances. Nowadays we are using quite some synths from Arturia, some Behringer stuff, the old E-mu…

ELEGANT MACHINERY disbanded in 1999, it was a difficult period for synthpop bands as opposed to dance / DJ acts, what happened to cause the split?

This is a tough one for me personally, since I truly got taken by surprise of the split-up and that I, on top of this, got told about it on the very New Years Eve 1998. Pretty nasty indeed, since we on that very evening had a show in Germany on a mini festival with WELLE: ERDBALL, S.P.O.C.K and CAT RAPES DOG – I was in shock. However, I afterwards can understand my band mates; I was partying too much. To cut the words short, I eventually became more decent, but then it was for the moment too late.

What prompted the return of ELEGANT MACHINERY in 2001? How was the experience for you?

Back then, we got two great offers for shows in Hollywood USA and Mexico City that were too good to reject. However, Johan Malmgren was then already about to go on tour with S.P.O.C.K in Germany and the surrounding countries, so we had to find another solution with someone who both could play, sing backing vocals and perform. In came our old dear friend Jarmo Ollila from DAILY PLANET (in these days singing in the band TELESKOP that he’s got with his brother Jouni Ollila). These two shows and the surrounding free days will always remain as fantastic memories for me.

There was a new ELEGANT MACHINERY album ‘A Soft Exchange’ in 2008 but there has not been a long playing record since, but how do you look back on the making of this record?

The shows in USA and Mexico lead to even more shows in like for instance Moscow, Russia and Tallin, Estonia (where we had the honor to sign the wall behind the bar in the famous DM pub in the latter city). We started to seriously talking about a new album. Since I was already dug deep down in the work of my other band HYPE’s forthcoming album ‘Desperately Yours’ that got released in 2006, the new album with ELEGANT MACHINERY, ‘A Soft Exchange’ had to wait.

After the release of the HYPE album, a year later I was expecting my first son, while we were recording all the pre-production of the new songs. We were by now, once again, living spread out in different cities and towns over Sweden. I had to travel a lot to enter one of the most used studios for my vocals, while I could sit in my home studio and work on different hooks for the production. The Moog Voyager Rack was for a while essential for me to create a lot of the drops and risers to use. ELEGANT MACHINERY were once again back – for a while.

The most recent ELEGANT MACHINERY release was an EP called ‘I’ in 2016, how do you find producing new music now, is it more enjoyable than back then or is it much more challenging?

Back in 2016, I befriended a talented musician named Jonas Kröjtz, living in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he also had his studio. We started to talk about if we, without the other past members, could create a new album with ELEGANT MACHINERY and at the same time try to make it more fresh. The EP ‘I’ became our child; a strong four song EP that was meant to be followed up with two more EPs. However, the way the record label worked with doing no real promotion made me to quit the collaboration with them.

At around the same time, I moved from Sweden to Germany. Eventually me and Johan Malmgren got back to each other, starting to talk about making a new album, despite living rather far away from one another. Then, thanks to the current technology, we could move ahead with our plans. We can collaborate in multiple ways online. Then… here comes the difference from the days of our youth and around nowadays; we spend more time with family and ordinary day-jobs than with producing music.

Already 20 years ago, the downloads of mp3 killed our incomes and now it would almost be an absurd thought living from what the music brings in financially. The sum of it all; we have more fun these days to create our next darling, but it takes more time. Actually, it has to take more time due to the lack of the very same; time.

Songs like ‘I Say’ and ‘Wheels In Motion’ from ‘I’ both brought in some aggression when compared with early ELEGANT MACHINERY and even the songs on ‘A Soft Exchange’, was this the midlife angst creeping in?

Hahaha, this is a funny reflection, but unfortunately not true whatsoever. With the EP ‘I’ and the circumstances it was created from, I could start to express myself in new ways. There was life events that were rather unpleasant happening the years before there and I needed to get it out in the songs in a proper way. I also thought it was time to develop the sound of ELEGANT MACHINERY.

Had the lyrics of ‘Future Breakup’ been motivated by anything in particular?

Indeed! This song is directed directly to my then pre-teen son and how he could get my advice later on in the future, being grown up.

Your vocal style, past and present has always had a passionate and honest style of delivery, how do you feel about the use of voice correcting software in recording today?

There has, since the early days of multi-track recording, been ways to manipulate certain takes from both musicians and vocalists. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, sequencers for electronic bands have always corrected the timing for instance. Then, of course, vocals need to have a certain degree of humanity when producing rather static synth music. I am no fan of too much editing there. Then, when it comes to the music production after Cher’s song ‘Believe’, most current song productions went downhill. I think like this; if you can’t sing, learn to sing or shut up. It’s as easy as that. Today’s younger people have been growing up with more corrected vocals than non-corrected ones. Isn’t that sad?!

What have been your ELEGANT MACHINERY career highlights? Do you have a favourite memory or amusing story?

Oh gosh, this is impossible to tell in less than a book, but one funny highlight that I always come back to is when I and another guy from our team separated from the rest of the group going out at Reeperbahn in Hamburg. This is way before Google Maps. I tried to be clever, so I wrote down the station street we got off and were to head back to in the dim night. I knew “Strasse” meant street, so I wrote down the name “Einbahnstrasse” and we carried on. Later on, me and my mate hopped into a taxi cab whereby I proudly announced our destination. The driver leaned back to me, asking “Are you a tourist?” Hahaha, little did I know that “Einbahnstrasse” means “One Way Road”!

Are there any of the 21st Century wave of Nordic electronic pop acts who you enjoy and rate?

Well, TELESKOP, TRAIN FROM SPAIN and KENT is some of the acts I can enjoy a bit. To rate them is not my cup of tea; that’s not fair. I prefer to see the good stuff only.

Finally, what is next for you and ELEGANT MACHINERY?

Me and Johan Malmgren, who has written the foundation for most of ELEGANT MACHINERY’s ultimate well-known songs like ‘Save Me’, are working together again since a couple of years. As mentioned before, we take it bit by bit as our time’s allowing us to do. Eventually there will be a new album out, with songs stronger than ever before. Also with some sprinkles of anger in the vocals on some songs can be expected, hahaha!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Robert Enforsen

Special thanks to Steffi Enforsen

‘A Soft Exchange’ has been reissued by Out Of Line Music as a red vinyl LP, available from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm except where credited
4 April 2024


Photo by Petra Ruehle

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to good electronic dance music with a grittier impassioned outlook, well it’s alive and well in Berlin in the form of the recent ‘Hide & Seek’ EP from DINA SUMMER.

A collaborative project comprising of LOCAL SUICIDE, the Greco-German technodisco couple Dina Pascal and Max Brudi and KALIPO, the moniker of Nu-disco exponent Jakob Häglsperger, DINA SUMMER opened their account with the excellent single pairing of ‘Who Am I’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ in 2021. The Italo flavoured debut album ‘Rimini’ followed a year after.

Before they departed on their next set of travels, DINA SUMMER spoke collectively to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their past, present and future…

You produce music in your own right as LOCAL SUICIDE and KALIPO, so how did the idea of working together come about?

We’ve been friends for years before starting collaborating. But the idea of a collaboration started when Jakob (KALIPO) and Dina and Max (LOCAL SUICIDE) were all playing at the same festival. While hanging out at the backstage, Jakob floated the idea of Dina contributing vocals to some of his edgier darker tracks. A few weeks later Dina and Max popped over to Jakob’s studio to lay down some vocals, and things just clicked from there. The creative energy sparked instantly, and before we knew it, ideas were flowing freely, blurring the lines between our individual projects. The musical and personal chemistry was undeniable, and from that moment on, the idea of creating a new live project took root and flourished.

Photo by Alex Gotter

What is the creative chemistry in DINA SUMMER, do you have designated roles?

Our creative process flows with flexibility. While we embrace a collaborative approach without strict roles, each member contributes their unique strengths. Jakob’s background as a sound engineer, a live performer and multi-instrumentalist, cultivated through his involvement with German band FRITTENBUDE and his solo project KALIPO, enhances our sonic landscape. Max and Dina, in addition to their production roles, are experienced DJs too, ensuring our tracks translate seamlessly to the dancefloor. Max’s extensive experience in label management brings valuable industry insight to our projects. Meanwhile, Dina leads lyric writing and takes care of our social media also lending a hand with PR efforts.

‘Who Am I’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ was an excellent first single pairing, were these tracks built up from scratch or ideas originally for LOCAL SUICIDE or KALIPO?

Both tracks were actually created after we had finished producing our debut album. However, we made the decision to release them as our first EP under the name DINA SUMMER to introduce our new project. Our goal was to craft a fresh and distinctive sound by blending elements from our individual projects while venturing into new sonic landscapes.

What do you get from a satisfaction point of view in DINA SUMMER that might not occur otherwise?

DINA SUMMER is our playground for experimenting with diverse styles and pushing creative boundaries. It’s a collaboration that provides a unique sonic space, allowing us to explore new territories and find satisfaction in merging our individual approaches. Currently, we’re in the studio producing a variety of tracks, from dark wave and synthpop to electronic tunes made for the dancefloor.

Photo by Petra Ruehle

How do you look back on the making of the ‘Rimini’ album? Was the sunny Italian flavour intentional from the start?

Looking back on the making of the ‘Rimini’ album, it was a thrilling adventure. From the outset, we intentionally infused it with the sunny Italian flavor, aiming to encapsulate the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of the region. Our shared love for Italy and its music, especially Italo disco, served as a driving force, motivating us to pay homage to its essence. Given Rimini’s significance as a hub for Italo disco enthusiasts, it felt natural to center our album around it.

With ‘Rimini’ you released not one but two remix albums… are remixes a strategy due to modern streaming algorithms or is it something you wholeheartedly embrace… but can it be too much on occasions?

After releasing ‘Rimini,’ we realized that some tracks weren’t exactly geared for the dancefloor, but held serious potential. Thus, we cooked up a ‘Versioni Discoteca’, or Club Versions album, featuring our own club edits of selected tracks. Additionally, we already had some killer remixes for a few singles released upfront, and we loved them so much that we sought out a few more, aiming for a diverse sound. It’s always intriguing to witness other artists’ reinterpretations of your music. Furthermore, we were eager to involve some Italo legends and were delighted to receive remixes by Alexander Robotnick and Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi.

Around the time of ‘Rimini’ although not featuring on the album, you covered THE FLIRTS’ Bobby O produced disco classic ‘Passion’ and FRONT 242’s EBM favourite ‘Headhunter’ as free downloads, what was the thinking behind this as they are at quite opposite ends of the electronic dance spectrum?

We chose to cover tracks like THE FLIRTS’ ‘Passion’ and FRONT 242’s ‘Headhunter’ because they’re both songs we absolutely adore and we wanted to give them a dance floor makeover. Jakob suggested ‘Passion’, while ‘Headhunter’ was Dina’s idea, but we all agreed instantly that we should give them a shot. It was a fun way to pay homage to influential tunes from different corners of the electronic dance scene while showcasing our versatility and passion for diverse musical styles… and with fewer purists around these days and the current wave of Italo Body Music blending EBM, Italo, and new beat vibes, it felt like the perfect time to explore these classics and put our own spin on them.

Photo by Alex Gotter

Do you have any favourite go-to synths for your productions?

Our go-to synths for our productions often include the Moog One, Korg MS20, Sequential Prophet 6, and Moog Voyager, which you can hear in nearly all of our songs.

On the ‘Hide & Seek’ EP, the title song comes in two different versions, had it been a challenge to realise your visions, was there any creative tensions as to where to take it?

Originally, we crafted the original version of the title track for the ‘Hide & Seek’ EP. But with its faster synth-pop vibe, we realized it might not seamlessly fit into our solo live and DJ sets, as well as those of other DJs. So, we decided to create a club version to give it an electronic twist, making it more dancefloor-friendly for a wider audience. This allowed us to tailor the song to fit the needs of club DJ sets while preserving its energy.

As can be heard on ‘Unter Strom’ and other tracks, drums fills are a characteristic of the DINA SUMMER sound which is quite unusual in club music, how did this enter the party?

Since we’ve used drum fills in our solo productions, it just made sense to bring them into the DINA SUMMER sound too. We love how they add a unique twist to our music and have always been about breaking away from the usual club music norms by throwing in some dynamic and unexpected elements.

Anglo-German vocals are another constituent to DINA SUMMER, do you view the voice as just another sound texture or is the lyrical content important as well?

While the voice certainly contributes as another sound texture, we also value the importance of lyrical content. Our lyrics can range from humorous, as seen in tracks like ‘Zig Zag’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ to empowering in songs like ‘Who Am I’, ‘Dominator’, ‘All or Nothing’ and ‘Echoes of the Past’. We also delve into fictional storytelling, as seen in ‘Revenge’, which tells a horror sci-fi tale or we explore specific characters, such as the story of Rimini’s Romeo La Zanza Maurizio in the track ‘Rimini’. Our lyrics typically revolve around topics that we find interesting, important or amusing.

Photo by Petra Ruehle

‘All Or Nothing’ is very energetic and stark at the same time, but doesn’t use hi-hats in its rhythm, how did you arrive at this feel?

This distinctive feel is achieved through a combination of elements: a 16th arpeggio Moog bassline, infectious vocals, and numerous breaks featuring screaming opening filters and a deep sub bass.

‘Excess’ does what it says on the tin and is quite sweaty and sexually charged, is the viewpoint expressed autobiographical or observational?

We were captivated by the tales and visual material of Studio 54, prompting us to create a track that embodies the spirit of this legendary club. Renowned for its hedonistic vibe and lavish gatherings, Studio 54 inspired the birth of ‘Excess’. This track dives deep into the sweaty, sexually charged atmosphere synonymous with the club culture of that era, evoking feelings of unrestrained indulgence and opulence.

The Berlin music scene appears to have a lot of camaraderie, which artists have impressed you recently who are based in or around the city?

In the vibrant Berlin music scene, camaraderie runs deep, and we’re constantly inspired by the talents surrounding us. One artist who stands out for us right now is CURSES; his production prowess, DJ sets, and guest vocals truly resonate with us. So we’re very happy to have a guest appearance by him on our next album too. We also love the work of SKELESYS, FRANZ SCALA, ITALO BRUTALO, MODERNA, RADONDO, NEU-ROMANCER, ZANIAS, KRIS BAHA, and PHASE FATALE, some of whom we’ve also had the pleasure of collaborating with. On the DJ front, we’re particularly drawn to the sounds of Paty Vapor, Caillou, Ludmila Houben, Melanie Havens and Philip Strobel.

Will there be another DINA SUMMER album, does the long playing format have a place in this modern world of music consumption or is another EP more likely?

We are currently working on our album, although we’re not certain when it will be completed. It’s possible that we may release an EP before the album. However, rest assured, a DINA SUMMER album is on the horizon, and we anticipate it will be released either by the end of this year or the beginning of the next.

Photo by Petra Ruehle

What is next for you as DINA SUMMER but also individually?

Right now, we’re deeply focused on crafting our second album as DINA SUMMER, while also preparing for upcoming gigs in Switzerland and Sicily. Furthermore, we’re excited to announce our confirmed appearances at several festivals in Germany and France for the summer season with more to be announced soon.

KALIPO has some exciting releases in the works, starting with an EP set to drop on Ki Records, along with a series of performances at various venues and festivals.

Meanwhile, LOCAL SUICIDE have an impressive line-up of releases coming up. This includes a collaboration with PANKO on U’re Guay Records, an EP with VELAX featuring remixes by Arnaud Rebotini and Andre VII for Record Store Day on Iptamenos Discos, and another EP with SKELESYS later in the year again on Iptamenos. Additionally, they’ve been hard at work on several remixes scheduled for release in the coming months. While their DJ schedule is packed for the next few months, they’re also planning to take some time off this summer in Greece, Dina’s homeland, to recharge their batteries.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to DINA SUMMER

Additional thanks to Mirren Thomson at Eclectica

‘Hide & Seek’ is released by Iptamenos Discos, available as a 12” EP or download via

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13 March 2024

A Short Conversation with NINA & RADIO WOLF

NINA and RADIO WOLF have teamed up to create two fiery back-to-back singles ‘My Dark’ and ’Bluesbreaker’.

The two first met while touring together on the US West Coast. Known as “The Queen Of Synthwave”, NINA was promoting her first solo album ‘Sleepwalking’ while RADIO WOLF, better known to his parents as Oliver Blair was performing as a member of Canadian synthpop band PARALLELS with whom he would later release a soundtrack of songs for the film ‘Proximity’ on Lakeshore Records.

Collaboration is at the heart of both NINA and RADIO WOLF; the former’s most recent releases were with Ricky Wilde and Kid Moxie while the latter’s portfolio includes work with Sarah Blackwood, Kelli Ali and a then-unknown Jorja Chalmers when they were members of the new wave trio HOTEL MOTEL.

Created, recorded, produced and mixed in a custom-built home studio in Berlin, ‘My Dark’ and ’Bluesbreaker’ both encapsulate a dark romantic spirit to make a fine follow-up to NINA’s previous two RADIO WOLF productions ‘Carnival Night’ and second version of ‘I’ll Wait’.

As well as the release of two new songs, NINA and RADIO WOLF will be busy in March as they open for CANNONS when the American indiewave band venture over to Europe for selected dates in Berlin, Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam and London. The Berlin-resident couple spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their recent comings and goings…

Both of you have been making music individually and in collaboration with others over the years, but was coming together to make music with each other just a natural process?

RADIO WOLF: We connected on tour. NINA and PARALLELS were performing in the US together (me as a de facto member of PARALLELS). I could tell right away that NINA had so much more to her than what she was already known for and I wanted to help her bring that forward. She has an incredible voice and beautiful way of writing dark yet romantic lyrics. She shared my desire to make music that is more conceptual and genre-fusing and we bonded very quickly. When we first started recording demos, things got exciting very fast and we pretty much wrote an album’s worth of songs in one month. We just fit.

NINA: When I heard RADIO WOLF’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever’, I knew there was something special about him. Nobody had impressed me with the fusion of Electronica and Rock guitar quite like that before. On tour, he actually remixed one of my songs: ‘Automatic Call’, which was never released by the label. Still, I was blown away when I first heard it and how he reinvented the song, especially with his treatment of my voice. It may become some kind of “bootleg” one day. I love how we sound together and the world we’ve created.

How does your creative dynamic operate and how might it differ from others you have worked with?

RADIO WOLF: Not all artists who collaborate, even those with huge mutual respect, want to step very far from their oeuvre. And that’s all right. It’s our mutual desire to experiment and break free from rigid musical genres that is the key to our harmony. Also we read one another in an intuitive way – there’s a natural rhythm in our creative movements. If I start the process with a song or instrumental, NINA runs with it and adds to it in ways I often wouldn’t imagine, which turns into a back-and-forth flow of creativity.

NINA: We’re both very instinctive and rarely over-think our process, often giving our best ideas right upfront. RADIO WOLF tends to leave my very first moment with the music uninterrupted—He doesn’t interfere at all. Unless he writes the song from the beginning, he’ll only inspire an idea or put a concept on the table for me to play with. Other times, I’ll come to him with an idea or song and he’ll work on developing it. We have a great understanding of one another. It’s almost psychic.

What influences do you have in common for this collaboration but also, what things did one like but perhaps the other really wasn’t so keen on? 😉

RADIO WOLF: The influences we share are quite diverse and not what some would expect, which is the most fun aspect of us coming together. It’s how we mix it up and make it all our own. Our influences range from David Lynch, Roy Orbison, and Jimi Hendrix to TANGERINE DREAM, DEPECHE MODE and GOLDFRAPP… to name only a few! There’s also the influence and ethos of the jukebox single – that ‘jukebox spirit dimension’ as I call it. Because the consensual rocketing off from our usual orbit into more adventurous territory was a fiery entry point for NINA and me, we worked hard to create the harmony needed to make the music—we just kept fine tuning to create the perfect hybrid sound of our imaginings. There was little we disagreed on once we got into this zone.

NINA: We have the same taste, especially in our mutual love for electronic music and rock ‘n’ roll. I was so excited when Oliver started referencing his favourite artists because they were all so different. I hadn’t met anyone who was influenced by such a wide range of music before. He’s just like me! We really enjoy experimenting with electronic technology and strange modular sounds as it gives us a lot of freedom; evoking our “cinematic minds”. However, it’s our love for the raw feeling that rock ‘n’ roll inspires that really motivates the heart and soul of our music. I always feel like my true self when listening to Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Blues. That wild at heart feeling you get when the old records come on… Wow! I believe we’re channelling this feeling in the sonic world we’ve created. In terms of one of us not liking the other’s influences, well, when I feel the need for a blast of ABBA, Oliver cranks up THE PRODIGY as loud as he can. Cheeky!

Could ‘My Dark’ and ‘Bluesbreaker’ be seen as an old fashioned single with an A-side and B-side or is this more a double A-sided release?

RADIO WOLF: Double A-Side… That’s the idea!

NINA: Damn right! I think we should do this more often…

How did ‘My Dark’ develop?

RADIO WOLF: NINA’s vocals can be very sensual so with that in mind I created an instrumental that felt sexy and dark. It had a badass vibe right from the start. On hearing it, NINA said “let’s call this song ‘My Dark’” and I knew we’d be creating a kind of revelatory anti-love song about the dark side of relationships. Adding spacey guitars give it an even more uncanny feel.

NINA: Yes, we both felt like creating something quite heavy and I wanted to let out my inner femme-fatale. I was so inspired when I first heard RADIO WOLF’s instrumental, so I started singing along and writing lyrics to it very quickly. We completed the track together – RADIO WOLF’s really good at placing words and melodies where they shine the most. We both wanted to capture my intimate side as well by using spoken-word that builds to a passionate vocal climax. I think the song is special because it’s very moving as a dance track yet provocative like a sex scene in a movie.

‘Bluesbreaker’ has a rugged sound that might surprise some… and what? Harmonica? Is that virtual or real? 😉

RADIO WOLF: We love our rugged tones! It all started with the main guitar riff; I recorded it on New Year’s Eve after finishing my production of NINA’s ‘I’ll Wait’. It was a way for me to unwind after working so intensely and I was playing around with my crunchy overdriven Fender tones. NINA joined in with her raunchy vocals and we wrote the lyrics on the spot. We both love Bo Diddley, so we incorporated a variation of his classic beat near the end and then thought… “Hmmm… Harmonica?”. Admittedly I’m not the best harmonica player but I ‘bluesed it up’ in my own way with a real harmonica knowing I would customise it with SFX to give it that spacey, otherworldly twist.

NINA: RADIO WOLF originally wanted me to play the harmonica but I could tell that he was so passionate about it, I convinced him to record it. I wanted to focus on my vocal style and create a dreamy rock blend. I always wanted to make a Blues-inspired track. This one’s more of a hybrid and I like that! We’re mixing genres and trying things that are unexpected. This is what our team-up is all about. It’s conceptual Pop, Art Rock, Heavy beats, and Dreamscapes all rolled into one… Plus a hell of a lot more!

How was playing on stage for the first time together on the dates opening for DE/VISION last Autumn?

RADIO WOLF: It felt amazing! DE/VISION are such a cool band and the fans are the best! I’m so happy that they all loved the new songs and embraced NINA’s reimagined versions of beloved classics. It gives us motivation to update a few more…

NINA: I loved seeing the boys again. They are such veterans and inspire me every time. I’m not gonna lie, it was a really big jump into cold water for us, as everything was new and we hadn’t been on stage for 4 years. My nerves went up the roof on the first show, but by the third one, I felt very at home.

And then there was the Johnny Jewel gig…

RADIO WOLF: That one was special. It was very intimate; just NINA and I. We played only new and unreleased songs, which was pretty risky but it worked like a charm! Everyone had a great time and Johnny even jumped into the crowd and filmed us. Our performance resonated with a very dark yet romantic mood, which I think he liked. He’s a super sweet guy, incredibly talented and very supportive. Johnny’s performance was particularly inspiring as we share many of the same influences. We bonded later over Mario Bava films and Guy Bourdin photography.

NINA: We adore Johnny! What a talent. His performance was exciting and we’d love to play more shows with him and Megan à la DESIRE. Megan is a great artist as well and a really cool person.

What’s next for you together, is there an album on the way and more gigs?

RADIO WOLF: We’ve already booked a lot of shows and there’s more to come, so we’re really busy. The album is in the works and we keep adding songs. It’s very difficult to scale it all down—maybe there’ll be more than one so stay tuned!

NINA: We’re going to release more singles before we drop the album. We have so many songs! We really want to explore more with our sound. The album will certainly open things up and shed new light on both of us. We’re putting a lot of love and care into it and I can’t wait to share what we’ve created together with the world.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to NINA & RADIO WOLF

‘My Dark’ is released on 8 March 2024 via the usual online platforms, pre-save at

‘Bluesbreaker’ follows on 15 March 2024, pre-save at

NINA & RADIO WOLF open for CANNONS on the following 2024 dates:

Berlin Franz Club (13 March), Cologne Club Volta (15 March), Paris Le Maroquinerie (16 March), Amsterdam Tolhuistuin (17 March), London Heaven (19 March)

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7 March 2024

HELIX Interview

HELIX are the North American synth power couple of solo artist Mari Kattman and ASSEMBLAGE 23’s Tom Shear.

Releasing their debut album ‘Twin’ in 2018, their busy schedules meant that there was no more from HELIX until 2021’s ‘Bad Dream’ EP. But their new EP ‘Unimaginable Place’ is their best body of work yet, dark yet strangely romantic and hopeful collection of songs combining elements of synthpop, dub, dance, trip hop, trap and more.

In an ‘Unimaginable Place’, Mari Kattman and Tom Shear gave ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK a wonderful insight into their creative relationship as HELIX and the workings of the modern music industry…

Both of you have been making music individually and in collaboration with others for a while, so was doing a music project together always a given?

Mari: I don’t think it was always a given per se. It’s certainly how things ended up, but our collaboration had as much to do with mutual respect and admiration of one another as people as well as artists. I think our personalities work amazing in a collaborative environment. As much as we may butt heads creatively once in a while, we are both extremely passionate, dedicated and artists that hold ourselves to a high standard of output. So it works out to being a success.

Tom: It’s funny, but the way it came together was that I had heard Mari’s previous project DAY TWELVE and really liked her voice. I had a track I was working on that I needed a harmony part that was higher than I could sing, so I asked her if she could do it and she nailed it. So I asked her to do some vocals on a remix I was working on. Then I asked her to sing on a SURVEILLANCE song. By that time it was like – wait, why don’t we have our own project together?!

What have been each of your favourite tracks done by the other?

Mari: I listened to Tom’s music occasionally before we met and over the years I would come to hear his stuff in passing with friends who were listening to his music or at clubs I was playing shows at. My favorite track from Tom was always ‘Cocoon’. It’s really atmospheric with that kind of reverb-y feel that is super dreamy. I also really appreciate the vocal being so present, clear, right up front. I always find myself tiring of the EBM stuff in general, it’s just so repetitive. So to hear this track in a sea of cookie cutter EBM, was a breath of fresh air. Tom always takes risks on every album which isn’t something most artists do, he will do something unique, out of the box and that’s really something that sets him apart.

Tom: I really like ‘Swallow’. It’s the whole package. It’s got a great rhythmic feel to it, an insistent hook, a really strong vocal and although the song title on its face might suggest something sexual, it’s actually about the struggles women deal with. I love that subversiveness. Honestly, though, it’s hard to pick. Mari’s really been getting stronger with each track she does. She’s been on fire lately!

What are your shared music likes but also any things that one liked that perhaps the other wasn’t very keen on? 😉

Mari: We are very similar, like eerily so, we even shared our common interest of Missy Elliott right when we first met. We also share a common background of punk rock music being our first real affair with music as teenagers. We both also have a HUGE appreciations for 90s electronic music. It’s really nice when there is much to bond about.

Tom: I think we really bonded over 90s music, particularly the electronic stuff. PORTISHEAD and MASSIVE ATTACK… hip-hop stuff like THE FUGEES and Missy Elliot. We’re both fans of 80s stuff, too, but I think the 90s ushered in a sort of darker sound overall that’s really appealing. I can’t really think of anything Mari likes that I hate.

In terms of your music partnership, how does it differ from your own established vehicles?

Mari: HELIX is a totally different sound than the Mari Kattman project. Tom is a true wonder with the cinematic, massive, string heavy, shimmering tracks. It’s fun to apply my vocals to the arrangements he comes up with. I am a totally different composer, I really focus my weight on edgy basslines and try and keep the song structures as simple as I can handle from a mixing perspective. When it comes to Tom holding the control over most of the music and having his expertise in mixing, we can totally push the limits of the stereo field, and we do.

Tom: For me, it’s a chance to just concentrate on the music and let someone else worry about the vocals and fronting the band. It’s refreshing.

Is there any style or approach that you have experimented with in HELIX that you perhaps wouldn’t normally go with?

Mari: We have totally done a lot of stuff that’s super 80s reminiscent. Not synthwave, but 80s 90s electronic music from a pop angle. It’s fun to be able to do whatever we feel like with this project, because it’s not meant to be a copycat of anything happening today. It’s truly a mish-mash of the music that has been inspirational to us in our lifetimes.

Tom: The thing that is the most fun for me is that I just kind of incorporate influences from different genres and squash them together to see if they gel. There’s elements of trip-hop, house, dance music, trap, hip-hop, rock, dub, synthpop in our stuff and somehow it just works.

How do you look back on the making of the debut HELIX album ‘Twin’ released in 2018?

Mari: ‘Twin’ wasn’t only a pleasure to write but it was a true bonding experience for Tom and I. I like to use the analogy of “message in a bottle” he was in Seattle and I was in Rhode Island. We were both working so hard to create things for each other that were outstanding. I would send him back vocals after he sent me a song and just pray that when he woke up in the morning to download my files that he would love what I did. It was a labor of love, for sure.

Tom: That one was a lot different from the EPs because we were living on opposite coasts at the time. So it was a different way of working and was definitely a lot less collaborative. I feel like that album was also about us figuring out what HELIX was going to be. What our sound would be. I much prefer being able to collaborate with Mari in person. We butt heads from time to time, but I think it always results in stronger songs.

Was following up ‘Twins’ with two EPs ‘Bad Dream’ and now ‘Unimaginable Place’ more a consequence of practically as you are busy with your main creative outlets or was it more to do with today’s release strategies which do not appear to favour long playing formats on streaming services?

Mari: I am a big believer in catering to the limited attention span that most people have these days. However, this one was certainly a mix of both of our lives being very busy with the mundane tasks of daily life and yes, the limited attention span idea.

Tom: A little from column A, a little column B. We do feel like the way people consume music is much different from how it used to be. People have much shorter attention spans. I think it’s rare for someone to listen to an entire album from start to finish. So we thought EPs are more “digestible” and concentrated on making those four songs really good. We also figured it would allow us to release music more frequently, and I still hope that, but the reality has been that jobs, day-to-day life, etc slowed that pace down.

Social media has changed a lot even since ‘Bad Dream’, Twitter has turned into a nightmare while there is the rise of TikTok and the emergence of Threads… is this all getting too much?

Mari: I feel like everyoneis trying to get their 15 seconds of fame these days and to be honest, I couldn’t really be bothered. I really care about what I do, but I grew up in a time where things were much different. Physical looks were less important, followers were a non-issue, and musical quality was everything. I am extremely proud of my music but it’s hard for me to post videos and selfies everyday to promote, it all seems a big frivolous compared to the music product itself.

Tom: It’s hard to avoid the feeling that social media is overall a bad thing for humanity. The idea is great on paper, but the reality is it’s exploited as a really effective means of propaganda and spreading misinformation and it really brings out the worst in people a lot of times. I think I was happier before I knew so many crazy people walked among us.

What hardware, software and effects are you using in HELEX now, has there been anything that has been a particular revelation?

Tom: Hardware-wise I mostly used the ARP Odyssey, Roland SH-01a, Arturia Minifreak, and a borrowed Oberheim OB6. Softsynths used include U-he Repro, Kilohearts Phase Plant, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Arturia Pigments, Inphonik RX-1200, my DAW’s sampler, and a ton more. I treated Mari’s vocals with a lot of stuff from Soundtoys, Valhalla, and others.

The ‘Unimaginable Place’ title song is a mighty club anthem that you can imagine being played at dark alternative establishment, are either of you much into dancing?

Mari: Tom is going to SAY he’s not into dancing, but believe me, he is. At least around the house to annoy our 8 year old daughter. In all honesty though, Tom and I are way more sedentary than we have any business being. haha.

Tom: I prefer to make other people dance than to dance myself. If you’ve ever seen me perform live you know why! I can’t dance to save my life. Which, as Mari mentioned, I have learned I can use to really bum out the kiddo to hilarious effect.

‘Lie To Herself’ ventures into some ominous tones, what is important to get the atmospheric of these types of downtempo songs right?

Mari: ‘Lie To Herself’ is truly a conversational piece, an outward thought. I think the main thing of importance with this track was to get the vocals situated to the front. The vocals truly took center stage when this one came together.

Tom: Atmosphere and texture are two important components of HELIX tracks. The song always comes first, but making it sound interesting and as if it inhabits a physical space of some sort really goes a long way towards creating a mood.

Was ‘Grey’ inspired by anything in particular, lyrically and musically?

Mari: I like to leave these lyrics up to fit whatever situation you are in and leave them there. I am trying to write about things that affect me these days. Feeling the weight of aging is something that a lot of us are dealing with right now. Where is the person I used to be? Am I still acceptable now that I’m not looking or feeling as youthful as I was? Is there still someone who will accept me when I’m not at my best?

Tom: Musically, I had been listening to a lot of old TANGERINE DREAM and was messing around with that sort of “Berlin School” type of sequenced synth line. I set it up to modulate a bunch of different parameters on the synth and set the modulation out of sync with one another so the sound is constantly shifting and evolving against itself. The rest of the song got built around that.

‘Hurt Like Me’ has this powerful but distressing backdrop, do either of you find catharsis in music or can these emotions take you back to difficult paces that are a challenge to deal with?

Mari: I have definitely used this project and my own to sort out a lot of the feelings I was having internally. The coolest part about being a musician is that you are sort of an alchemist of sorts. You can take something really crappy and turn it into something people can dance to! How many people can do that? Musicians also have the last word, always.

Tom: I find the process of making music really cathartic, regardless of the mood or subject matter. Just the process itself is such a satisfying way of working through difficult times or feelings. I guess there’s always the risk of “wallowing in it” a bit, but for me, just going through the process has always been really helpful for getting past tough times.

What do you get from doing HELIX that you perhaps might not doing music with your main vehicle?

Mari: Collaboration is a whole other animal than when you are writing alone. You must be open, willing to bend, willing to settle and you also get the pleasure of the other person’s point of view. You get to combine both of your skills that you have honed over the years. Tom brings so much to the table, he has had decades of experience composing, mixing and producing. It’s so beautiful to hear how HE interprets my voice, instead of just how I do it when I’m alone. It’s a privilege for me to work with him.

Tom: For me, I find it really refreshing to do something different from ASSEMBLAGE 23. I enjoy that too, of course, but to be able to step into a different musical world with different rules and processes helps keep things fresh and also keeps me learning new stuff all the time. I think it’s important that you keep trying to learn new stuff no matter how long you’ve been making music. Stepping outside your usual comfort zone is a really good way to do that. Plus, getting to work with the love of my life ain’t bad either.

What is next for you both, either together or alone or with others?

Mari: I am now working on my first full length solo album and I will finish it this year. I also have some collaborations coming out this year with the FiXT record label, another few tracks with Julian Beeston (FEATURED, CUBANATE, NITZER EBB). I also have another collab with Markus Renard (WOLFSHEIM). You will also be able to catch me on the next MESH album, a much anticipated release that I hope comes out this year as well. So stay tuned!

Tom: We’ve got a bunch of live shows coming up this year for ASSEMBLAGE 23, HELIX and Mari’s solo stuff. Other than that, I’m working on new A23 material, although I have no idea when it will eventually come out. It’s in the works, though!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Mari Kattman and Tom Shear

‘Unimaginable Place’ is available as a digital EP from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
2 March 2024

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