Hailing from Fremantle in Western Australia, NEU-ROMANCER is the latest in a lineage of electronic producers who have made Berlin their creative base and home.

The vehicle of Laura Bailey, the debut NEU-ROMANCER release ‘Neue Romantika’ is a largely Italo flavoured techno EP that pays tribute to the New Romantics while aurally illustrating a not-so-far-off digital dystopia.

As well as NEU-ROMANCER, Bailey is also plays bass in goth band VV & THE VOID, punk band CIERN and augments Alison Lewis in the live set-up of ZANIAS, the solo project of the charismatic LINEA ASPERA frontwoman. ‘Neue Romantika’ has been released on Lewis’ label Fleisch and also includes an ethereal remix of the title track by her.

As well as being a musician, Bailey is an artist with a talent for drawing and also a teacher. She kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about NEU-ROMANCER and how her relocation to Berlin has reinvigorated her creativity and outlook.

What prompted your relocation to Berlin?

It feels so long ago. To be completely honest, it was quite the prompt… I broke my toe while I was traveling through Greece. The moment it happened I was overwhelmed with happiness, hopeful it would be a good enough excuse to not go back to Australia. Broken toes can’t really be fixed and it was absolutely fine a few weeks later. I moved to Berlin shortly after.

Was Berlin exactly as you imagined or were there a few shocks? I think seeing someone smoke heroin on the platform of Neukölln U-Bahn station was mine!

Haha! It’s part of the parcel. You do get used to it. It’s definitely a choose-your-own adventure sort of place. Public transport here is a daily challenge to see how well you respond to such situations. In saying that, I still hate the smell of crack on the U-Bahn. It was a shock at first, yes absolutely.

Your first instrument is bass, so how did you become interested in making music by electronic means?

Well, I began on violin, and from there I really wanted to play drums, so my Dad’s compensation was the bass (which is also his instrument, so we now get to enjoy this together).

The interest in making electronic music had a slow start, initially Ableton was more of a songwriting tool. I remember my first dance party in Sydney… I tried to resist the whole thing. At the time I didn’t know anything about EBM or body music, it would have been so enlightening. After my move to Berlin, I really got into artists like CURSES and SKELESYS who are the perfect bridge between the two worlds.

Then, when Alison and I began playing together, our long drives were filled with showing each other our influences. It was after that I really got excited. It’s a special moment, finding your new favourite thing.

‘Neue Romantika’ captures the New Romantics and Berlin, how did the imagery for the title track take shape in your head?

Thank you! ‘Neue Romantika’ initially took many forms… actually, I can share the demo with you if you would like? It’s quite rough, but it gives an idea of how I write my music… often they start off as songs that I then remix. I guess you imagine at the end of the day how you would like to be received. What is the end goal? I hate singing live. I’m way too shy, I want to dance and be present… maybe one day I’ll be able to enjoy both. In terms of the name – ‘Neue Romantika’ translates to ‘New Romantics’ in German… playing with all these cross-references felt like something that encapsulated what I was going for as a first release.

‘Remnants’ moves away from the instrumental uptempo format of the EP and ventures into classic goth; it is a duet featuring Kris Baha and has this strong melodic resonance and romance about it, have any particular artists been an influence?

Absolutely, if you have seen Kris play live, he covers THE CURE’s ‘Burn’ so well. He has such incredible range and emotion. We worked on ‘Remnants’ together with this in mind. The idea also stemmed from listening to Dischi Autunno’s compilation ‘Intermezzo’, which includes a CURSES song he wrote with his beautiful wife Rachel called ‘Gina’ and Kendal’s track ‘Nostalgia’. It reminded me how diverse this release could be, so why not write something more melodic and romantic? Sonically, artists like CHROMATICS and BLACK MARBLE have also contributed to this direction.

Are you planning to sing more yourself in the future?

Yeah, for sure, it is more or less how these songs begin, I am slowly letting vocals trickle back in.

Photo by Larissa Schöfl

‘Superposition’ has echoes of ‘Enjoy The Silence’, now synth hooks seem to play a key role in your music which isn’t always the case in a lot of techno for example… so is this your love of Italo Disco creeping in?

Yes! Of course… and that is incredibly sweet re: the DEPECHE MODE reference – I absolutely love a good synth hook. I am really enjoying what is going on with this Italo revival. I was talking with a friend the other day about how I never thought I would be alive at the right time and place to enjoy a movement that actually resonates. Everything on Ritmo Fatale is just fantastic.

What are your favourite composition and recording tools / synths?

Ableton, for sure. Every track always has a bit of MS20 somewhere… my bass… all the little bits that I’m so comfortable with, self-extensions. I think I might be picking up my dream synth this year. So, fingers crossed.

‘Blindsight’ is speedier but is the title referring to the “not-so-far-off digital dystopia” you have mentioned on Bandcamp? How do you find having to use social media as an artist and the attention that is triggered as a result?

The consistent idea behind all these references is exploring consciousness and identity through technology. In our current “dystopia”, social media has become an extension of oneself. I am trying to look at social media through the lens of what I am creating as opposed to it being personal. It can be exhausting, but at the same time it’s like a canvas. I don’t use it as often as I should and fortunately, the attention I have received so far has been predominately kind.

How did meeting Alison Lewis and becoming part of the ZANIAS live set-up come about?

The first time I met Alison, she was staying at my place in Sydney after a show. I’ll never forget that night, it was a late one and she just cracked me up. Fast forward a few years – everyone was stuck in Berlin not being able to tour due to the pandemic, which was actually quite fortunate because we all got to know each other.

So, Alison and I had a very wholesome time going for walks through Treptower Park and catching up over tea. When summer came, ZANIAS was offered some covid-regulated shows, I was invited. It was incredibly surreal, I think our first show was at the Munich Olympic Stadium… it was after that we discovered how well we work together.

What certainly comes across in the shows is that you and Alison love performing and touring together, are there any plans to collaborate together in the studio?

Yes, we are having a great time, and absolutely… we are drowning in ideas, looking forward to having some time to arrange them all. There will definitely be some collaborations on the way.

Is there a favourite tour memory or a fun incident that you cherish?

Grauzone Festival was definitely a highlight for the year so far, ZANIAS performed on Friday then we both DJ’d Saturday. After I finished, a group of us ran through the streets of Den Haag to get from my set to hers. When we got there the energy was so special. It was pure magic.

With Alison Lewis, Jennifer Touch and Joon, you’ve manage to connect with a cool electronic sisterhood, there’s still a lot to change but how do you see the future for female music artists?

Yes, these humans are all wonderful, I love the connection with all of them, they are all so incredibly talented.

I see a more political future fuelled by activism, I think we can all feel it coming. Our societal changes will certainly influence music and parties. In terms of the future for women in music – I hope we won’t have to question it. After growing up in the pre #metoo music world back home, I know we are already moving towards a better reality… not everywhere (not yet) but the dream is to abolish this dated, patriarchal bullsh*t. Music has a history of powering things along.

What is next for you?

I’ve just sent off some tracks to two very lovely compilations I am honoured to be a part of. Also a bunch of remixes, which is super exciting. Alison and I are going B2B at Berghain for the ‘Bite Nite’ on April 21st… still can’t believe it. ZANIAS has a lot of touring planned, we have some very special adventures lined up as well… with writing in between.

My punk band CIERN has a bunch of shows booked too, very much looking forward to the ‘Castle Party’ in Poland. And yeah… it’s been such a wonderful year already.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Laura Bailey

‘Neue Romantika’ is released as a blue marble vinyl and digital EP by Fleisch Records, available direct from https://neu-romancer.bandcamp.com/album/neue-romantika





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
14th April 2023