Tag: Actors

LEATHERS Interview

A musician, singer, songwriter, graphic artist, photographer, filmmaker and tattooist, Shannon Hemmett has many creative talents.

The Canadian is best known internationally as the keyboardist and backing vocalist of Vancouver post-post-punk band ACTORS whose most recent album ‘Acts of Worship’ was their best body of work to date and saw Hemmett taking on a more prominent role.

Running in parallel is LEATHERS, an electronic pop project fronted by Hemmett which also sees ACTORS leader Jason Corbett act as collaborator and producer.

Although primarily synth-led and more immediate melodically, LEATHERS is pop music with darker sensibilities seeded by her love of the imperial phase DEPECHE MODE long players ‘Black Celebration’, ‘Music for the Masses’ and ‘Violator’.

The debut LEATHERS EP ‘Reckless’ was recorded over several years and finally released in 2021; the title song was an infectious slice of melancholic synthpop with an alluring vocal despite the heartbreak express by our heroine while exuding a darker spectres, ‘Day For Night’ allied itself to the moody atmospheres of CHROMATICS and ‘Missing Scene’ rocked with a cavernous gothique.

While some songs on the ‘Reckless’ EP like ‘Phantom Heart’ were maybe not that far removed from ACTORS, the following year saw the release of LEATHERS’ brightest single yet in ‘Runaway’, a glorious escapist pop tune that was one of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2022.

A more Motorik but ethereal number ‘Ultraviolet’ followed-up ‘Runaway’ last Autumn to coincide with confirmation of plans for a full-length LEATHERS album. To tie in with the recent release of a new single in the detached dark disco of ‘Highrise’, Shannon Hemmett kindly took time out and chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the ethos and background of LEATHERS.

How did the idea for a more synth-based music vehicle come about?

It was a natural progression, exploring the sounds and aesthetics that were inspiring to us. We weren’t thinking too hard about where we would end up genre-wise.

LEATHERS is electronic pop rather than EBM or dance, had any particular artists been inspirational in the concept?

Melodies are important to Jason and I as songwriters, so I imagine some of that comes from our love of 80s era songwriting where strong melody is a key ingredient. I tend to listen to music outside of the genre we’re creating within. Right now I’m enjoying a lot of dark techno and the 90s revival that’s going on lately with shoegaze and grunge.

Closer scrutiny reveals LEATHERS to have begun with the release of ‘Missing Scene’ in 2016, why did you choose that track to launch with?

When LEATHERS was in its infancy, ‘Missing Scene’ was the first track we wrote and recorded. So it wasn’t so much a choice, but the only song completed at the time!

The release of ‘Missing Scene’ was before the first ACTORS album ‘It Will Come To You’ in 2018, so did the international success of the band put a hold on LEATHERS?

The idea was to develop LEATHERS in the background while ACTORS toured and continued to release its own material as well. With this more gradual timeline, I was able to develop my songwriting, and my confidence as a performer in real world situations with ACTORS.

The ‘Reckless’ EP was the first body of work as LEATHERS and the title track has this dreamy melodic quality, were the lyrics autobiographical?

I think all music has some kind of connection to our personal experiences, sometimes it’s clear to the writer, and other times it’s more veiled and under the surface.

‘Day For Night’ has a beautiful OMD meets Twin Peaks vibe about it, how did that come together?

We wanted to write a ballad as a counter to the wall of guitar in ‘Missing Scene’, so that was our starting point. I also wanted to direct the ‘Day For Night’ video myself, so I filmed it on my iPhone and edited it in iMovie. It was a super lo-fi video, but I like how it turned out. I spent a lot of time on the lighting and the colour palette so it would have a Lynchian feel.

In a similar situation with Helen Marnie of LADYTRON’s first solo album ‘Crystal World’ which was produced and co-written by band mate Daniel Hunt, the ‘Reckless’ EP saw you working with a bandmate Jason Corbett, did you feel that it was better to keep things in-house? How would you compare your creative dynamic with LEATHERS to ACTORS?

Jason is just my preferred writing partner, together we have a broad set of skills in music and the visual arts that compliment one another. For LEATHERS, the writing process starts with me recording demos on my own, and then I bring them to the studio, where Jason gets involved as producer. ACTORS is Jason’s project, so he is lead songwriter, and then when it comes time, he’ll bring us into the studio to add our parts as needed.

Keeping it in the family, when LEATHERS goes out live, Kendall Wooding and Adam Fink are backing you?

Yes. Kendall is multi-talented with various instruments (guitar, bass, keys, voice etc) and I wanted live drums, so having Adam with us as well was a no-brainer. We debuted the live line-up at the US dates this past fall.

Instrumentally, what synths are you favouring?

We use a lot of the Sequential synths, especially the Prophet-6 and the OB-6 on the recordings. The Roland Juno-6 and 106 are favourites of ours too.

LEATHERS has a less ambiguous image than what has been presented on the artworks of ACTORS while it has allowed you to explore making your own videos, how important is visual aspect to your music?

I have a visual arts background in photography and graphic design, so I produce my own photos, videos, and album art. For me, the visual presentation is a crucial part of the project. All my favourite bands have a strong relationship between their music and their visuals. It’s inspiring and creatively satisfying when the music and the visuals work together to create a defined aesthetic.

With the forthcoming LEATHERS album, are any of the ‘Reckless’ songs being carried over or have you started with a clean sheet?

The song ‘Reckless’ will carry over to the new record because it was the first LEATHERS single release with Artoffact Records, but everything else will be brand new material.

Is there anything you can say about the new album, like its title, any particular favourite tracks to look out for or your own personal satisfaction in its realisation?

We’re almost done recording and mixing the new songs, and the pre-order for the album will start in April. We’ll be releasing a new single called ‘Fascination’ with the pre-order, along with a new video directed by Wayne Moreheart.

How do you think the LEATHERS album will be received, do you hope ACTORS fans will crossover to it or do you think it will have a different audience?

We can’t wait to have a full album of material out for our fans. A lot of ACTORS fans already cross over, but we’re seeing some growth into a different, more pop oriented fan base which is super cool too.

What is next for you, with both LEATHERS and ACTORS?

Both ACTORS and LEATHERS will be playing the Dark Force Festival in New Jersey on April 1st. LEATHERS will also be playing the Verboden Festival in Vancouver on May 13th.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambition, either creatively or personally?

Releasing the full length record will be a major milestone for us. And if I’m allowed to dream a little, I’d love to see LEATHERS as a musical guest on ‘Saturday Night Live’ one day. Let them know!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Shannon Hemmett

The singles ‘Highrise’, ‘Ultraviolet’ and ‘Runaway’ plus the ‘Reckless’ EP are released by Artoffact Records and available from https://leathers.bandcamp.com/






Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
30th January 2023


As the world steadily emerged from a painful pandemic that put many lives on hold, nostalgia appeared to be the commodity most in demand as the music industry took steps to recover.

No matter which era, anything musically from the past was more desirable that anything that reminded the public of the past 20 or so months. The first escape destination in the summer for many restricted to staying on their own shores were the established retro festivals.

Meanwhile television provided an array of documentaries ranging from chart rundowns of past decades and informative classic song analysis on Channel 5 to Dylan Jones’ look at ‘Music’s Greatest Decade’ on BBC2 and Sky Arts’ ‘Blitzed’ with all the usual suspects such as Boy George, Philip Sallon, Marilyn, Gary Kemp and Rusty Egan.

SPARKS had their own comprehensive if slightly overlong film ‘The SPARKS Brothers’ directed by Edgar Wright, but the Maels’ musical ‘Annette’ starring Adam Driver was a step too far. Meanwhile the acclaimed ‘Sisters With Transistors’ presented the largely untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers.

It was big business for 40th anniversary live celebrations from the likes of HEAVEN 17, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and SOFT CELL, while other veterans such as NEW ORDER and ERASURE returned to the live circuit with the biggest indoor headlining shows of their career.

Meanwhile for 2022, Midge Ure announced an extensive ‘Voices & Visions’ tour to present material from the 1981-82 phase of ULTRAVOX.

Also next year and all being well, GOLDFRAPP will finally get their belated 20th Anniversary tour for their marvellous debut ‘Felt Mountain’ underway while there are rescheduled ‘Greatest Hits’ live presentations for PET SHOP BOYS and SIMPLE MINDS.

Always money for old rope, but also giving audiences who missed them at their pioneering height an opportunity to catch up, ‘best of’ collections were issued by YELLO and TELEX while JAPAN had their 1979 breakthrough album ‘Quiet Life’ given the lavish boxed set treatment. Meanwhile, while many labels were still doing their best to kill off CD, there was the puzzling wide scale return of the compact cassette, a poor quality carrier even at the zenith of its popularity.

“Reissue! Repackage! Repackage! Re-evaluate the songs! Double-pack with a photograph, extra track and a tacky badge!” a disgraced Northern English philosopher once bemoaned.

The boosted market for deluxe boxed sets and the repackaging of classic albums in coloured vinyl meant that the major corporations such as Universal, Sony and Warners hogged the pressing plants, leaving independent artists with lead times of nearly a year for delivery if they were lucky.

But there was new music in 2021. Having achieved the milestone of four decades as a recording act, DURAN DURAN worked with Giorgio Moroder on the appropriately titled ‘Future Past’ while not far behind, BLANCMANGE took a ‘Commercial Break’ and FIAT LUX explored ‘Twisted Culture’. David Cicero made his belated return to music with a mature second album that was about ‘Today’ as Steven Jones & Logan Sky focussed on the monochromatic mood of ‘European Lovers’. Continuing the European theme but towards the former Eastern Bloc, Mark Reeder gave a reminder that he was once declared ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ and fellow Mancunians UNE became inspired by the ‘Spomenik’ monoliths commissioned by Marshal Tito in the former Yugoslavia.

For those who preferred to immerse themselves in the darker present, Gary Numan presented ‘Intruder’, a poignant concept album produced by Ade Fenton about Mother Earth creating a virus to teach mankind a lesson! Meanwhile ITALOCONNECTION, the project of Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti teamed up with French superstar Etienne Daho to tell the story of ‘Virus X’! The video of the year came from UNIFY SEPARATE whose motivation message to ‘Embrace The Fear’ despite the uncertainty reflected the thoughts of many.

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia, there was some excellent new music released from less established artists with the album of the year coming from Jorja Chalmers and her ‘Midnight Train’ released on Italians Do It Better. The critical acclaim for the UK based Aussie’s second long playing solo offering made up for the disbandment of the label’s biggest act CHROMATICS, as it went into its most prolific release schedule in its history with albums by GLÜME, JOON, DLINA VOLNY and LOVE OBJECT as well as its own self-titled compilation of in-house Madonna covers.

As Kat Von D teamed up with Dan Haigh of GUNSHIP for her debut solo record ‘Love Made Me Do It’, acts like DANZ CM, CLASS ACTRESS, GLITBITER, PRIMO THE ALIEN, PARALLELS, KANGA, R.MISSING, I AM SNOW ANGEL, XENO & OAKLANDER, HELIX and DAWN TO DAWN showed that North America was still the creative hub as far as electronically derived pop songs went.

Attracting a lot of attention in 2021 were NATION OF LANGUAGE, who with their catchy blend of angst, melody and motorik beats welcomed synths as family in their evolving sound while also providing the song of the year in ‘This Fractured Mind’, reflecting the anxieties of these strange times. At the other end of the spectrum, DIAMOND FIELD went full pop with an optimistic multi-vocalist collection that captured the spirit of early MTV while BUNNY X looked back on their high school days with ‘Young & In Love’.

ACTORS delivered their most synthy album yet while as LEATHERS, they keyboardist Shannon Hamment went the full hog for her debut solo effort ‘Reckless’. FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY released a new album and some of that ‘Mechanical Soul’ was brought by their Rhys Fulber into his productions this year for AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

In Europe, long playing debuts came from PISTON DAMP and WE ARE REPLICA while NORTHERN LITE released their first album completely in German and FRAGRANCE. presented their second album ‘Salt Air’. There was also the welcome return of SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, GUSGUS, MARVA VON THEO, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY.

Featuring second generation members of NEW ORDER and SECTION 25, SEA FEVER released their eclectic debut ‘Folding Lines’ as fellow Mancunian LONELADY added sequencers and drum machines to her post-punk funk template. But Glasgow’s CHVRCHES disappointed with their fourth long player ‘Screen Violence’ by opting to sound like every other tired hipster band infesting the land.

The most promising artist to breakthrough in 2021 was Hattie Cooke whose application of traditional songwriting nous to self-production and arrangement techniques using comparatively basic tools such as GarageBand found a wider audience via her third album ‘Bliss Land’. In all, it was a strong year for female synth-friendly artists with impressive albums from Karin My, Laura Dre, Alina Valentina, Robin Hatch and Catherine Moan while comparative veterans like Fifi Rong, Alice Hubble, Brigitte Handley and Alison Lewis as ZANIAS maintained their cult popularity.

In 2021, sometimes words were very unnecessary and there were fine instrumental synth albums from BETAMAXX, WAVESHAPER, КЛЕТ and Richard Barbieri, with a Mercury nomination received by Hannah Peel for ‘Fir Wave’. But for those who preferred Italo Noir, popwave, post-punk techno and progressive pop, Tobias Bernstrup, Michael Oakley, Eric Random and Steven Wilson delivered the goods respectively.

With ‘The Never Ending’ being billed as the final FM ATTACK album and PERTURBATOR incorrectly paraphrased by Metal Hammer in a controversial “synthwave is dead” declaration, the community got itself in a pickle by simultaneously attacking THE WEEKND for “stealing from synthwave”, yet wanting to ride on the coat tails of Abel Tesfaye, misguidedly sensing an opportunity to snare new fans for their own music projects.

With THE WEEKND’s most recent single ‘Take My Breath’, there was the outcry over the use of a four note arpeggio allegedly sampled from MAKEUP & VANITY SET’s ‘The Last City’. But as one online observer put it, “Wow, an arpeggiated minor chord. Hate to break it to you but you might want to check out what Giorgio Moroder was doing 50 years ago. We’re ALL just rippin’ him off if that’s how you think creativity works”. Another added “If a four note minor key arpeggiated chord can go to court on the basis of copyright law, we are in for a hell of a few years my synthy friends”. It outlined once again that there are some who are still under the impression that music using synths was invented by Ryan Gosling in 2011 for ‘Drive’ soundtrack ??

There were also belated complaints that 2019’s A-HA inspired ‘Blinding Lights’ had a simple melody and needed five writers to realise it… but then, so did UTRAVOX’s ‘Slow Motion’ and DURAN DURAN’s ‘Rio’! Collaboration, whether in bands, with producers or even outsiders has always been a key aspect of the compositional process. If it is THAT simple, do it yourself! As Andy McCluskey of OMD said on ‘Synth Britannia’ in 2009 about the pioneering era when Ryan Gosling was still in nappies: “The number of people who thought that the equipment wrote the song for you: ‘well anybody can do it with the equipment you’ve got!’ “F*** OFF!!”

Over the last two years, THE WEEKND has become the biggest mainstream pop act on the planet, thanks to spectacles such as the impressive gothic theatre of the Super Bowl LV half time showcase while in a special performance on the BRITS, there was a charming presentation of the ERASURE-ish ‘Save Your Tears’ where he played air synth in a moment relatable to many. But everything is ultimately down to catchy songs, regardless of synth usage.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK would like to present a hypothetical case to consider… if someone uses the arpeggio function with a sparkling patch from a Juno 6 synth in a recording, does Cyndi Lauper sue for infringing the copyright of ‘All Through The Night’ or the original songwriter Jules Shear or even the Roland Corporation themselves as they created it? More than one producer has suggested that THE WEEKND’s soundbite came from a hardware preset or more than likely, a software sample pack, of which there are now many.

However, sample culture had hit another new low when Tracklib marketed a package as “A real game-changer for sample based music. Now everyone can afford to clear samples” with rapper and producer Erick Sermon declaring “Yo, this is incredible. They’re trying to put creativity back into music again. By having samples you can actually pay for and afford”.

Err creativity? How about writing your own songs and playing or even programming YOUR OWN instrumentation??!? One sampling enthusiast even declared “I might go as far as to say you don’t really like dance music if you’ve got a problem with adding a beat to a huge (even instantly recognizable) sample”… well guess what? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK LOATHES IT!!! ?

In 2021, music promotion became a bit strange with publicists at all levels keen more than ever to have their clients’ press releases just cut ‘n’ pasted onto online platforms, but very reluctant to allow albums to be reviewed in advance in the event of a potential negative prognosis.

While cut ‘n’ paste journalism has been a disease that has always afflicted online media, in a sad sign of the times, one long established international website moved to a “pay to get your press release featured” business model.

The emergence of reaction vloggers was another bizarre development while the “Mention your favourite artist and see if they respond to you” posts on social media only added more wood to the dumbing down bonfire already existing within audience engagement.

It was as if the wider public was no longer interested in more in-depth analysis while many artists turned their publicity into a reliance on others doing “big ups” via Twitter and Facebook. But then, if artists are being successfully crowdfunded with subscriptions via Patreon, Kickstarter, Bandcamp and the like, do they need a media intermediary any longer as they are dealing direct with their fanbases?

However, it wasn’t all bad in the media with ‘Electronically Yours With Martyn Ware’ providing insightful artist interviews and the largely entertaining ‘Beyond Synth’ podcast celebrating its 300th show. Due to their own music commitments, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were less prolific with their discussion show ‘The Album Years’ but it was still refreshing for commentators to be able to say that a record was sh*t when it actually was, rather than conform to the modern day adage that all music is good but not always to the listener’s taste!  And while various programmes came and went, other such as ‘Operating//Generating’, ‘KZL Live’ and ‘Absynth’ came to prominence.

Post-pandemic, interesting if uncertain times are ahead within the music industry. But as live performance returns, while the mainstream is likely to hit the crowd walking, will there be enough cost effective venues to host independent artists? Things have been tough but for some, but things might be about to get even tougher.

However, music was what got many through the last 18 months and as times are still uncertain, music in its live variant will help to get everyone through the next year and a half and beyond.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s year in music is gathered in its 2021 Playlist – Missing U at

Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2021


Despite the general appetite for nostalgia with boxed sets and coloured vinyl of classic albums hogging the pressing plants, there was a lot of excellent new music released in 2021.

The quality of individual tracks released in 2021 was extremely high but at the end of the day, only 30 songs can be selected as a snapshot of the calendar year. As Monica Geller in ‘Friends’ once said, “Rules are good, rules help control the fun” – rules, routine and structure = creativity and fun ?

So the highly commended group who did not quite make ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021 includes Tobias Bernstrup, David Cicero, Alice Hubble, Michael Oakley, Jason Priest, Nina, Eric Random and Kat Von D’s duet with Peter Murphy, along with SIN COS TAN, FIAT LUX, LONELADY, GLITBITER, KNIGHT$, PEAKES, DESIRE, SOFTWAVE, XENO & OAKLANDER, BUNNY X, PISTON DAMP, FRAGRANCE. and HANTE.

So here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021, presented as usual alphabetically by act with a restriction of one song per artist moniker.

ACTORS Love U More

With the recruitment of new bassist Kendall Wooding, the male-to-female ratio of ACTORS has equalled up and altered their dynamic. The vocal duality between Jason Corbett and keyboardist Shannon Hemmett takes an increased role. With the brooding baritone counterpointed by girly soprano and male falsetto to provide an uneasy uplift to the gloomy domino dance, ‘Love U More’ was like a goth DURAN DURAN with metronomic rhythms and eerie synths.

Available on the album ‘Acts Of Worship’ via Artoffact Records



Midge Ure launched his BAND ELECTRONICA as a recording entity with ‘Das Beat’, a glorious slice of Teutonic robopop in collaboration with Wolfgang Flür. With “Beats through wires, beats through walls”, the icy motorik bossa nova was complimented by a blisteringly catchy synth hook in the classic Kling Klang tradition and harked back the Glaswegian’s days hearing KRAFTWERK at The Blitz Club and making music with VISAGE and ULTRAVOX. Dancing is a given to the synthesizer rhythm.

Available on the single ‘Das Beat’ via BMG Rights Management



Although a seasoned musician as the sax and keyboard player for Bryan Ferry, Australian Jorja Chalmers did not release her first album until 2019. The superb take on SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Rhapsody’, an orchestrated gothic epic off their ninth album ‘Peepshow’, featured an intriguing electronic warble within its stripped down arrangement. From its claustrophobic cocoon, Chalmers sounded trapped inside an unsettling icy soundscape of synthetic strings and choirs.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Train’ via Italians Do it Better



CLASS ACTRESS is the nom de théâtre of one-time Giorgio Moroder protégée Elizabeth Harper. Releasing a new EP ‘Sense Memory’ which initially featured three cover including THE SMITHS’ ‘Ask’ but steadily expanded with new material, the percussive ‘Saint Patrick’ featured an array of infectious synth hooks while Harper’s richly passionate vocal over some strident keyboard work combined like Nerina Pallot fronting BOY HARSHER for a brilliant slice of modern electronic pop.

Available on the EP ‘Sense Memory’ via Terrible Records



Perhaps more intentionally pop than Hattie Cooke has ever been before on her previous two long playing outings, an intimate gravitas comes with the expanded electronic texturing on her third album ‘Bliss Land’ and this is undoubtedly stamped on its opening song. The hypnotic ‘I Get By’ was superb with ringing hooks, sweeping soundscapes and airy understated vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Italians Do It Better ‘After Dark’ compilation.

Available on the album ‘Bliss Land’ via Castles In Space


DANZ CM Human Existence

‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ is the debut album by DANZ CM, the artist formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC. New York based Danz Johnson is the synth girl behind both vehicles with a passion for the development of the electronic music. Reflecting the album’s title, the total melancholic brilliance of ‘Human Existence’ sees our heroine make a sombre declaration that “you can’t save me, I can’t save you” reminiscent of CHROMATICS meeting OMD.

Available on the album ‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’ via Channel 9 Records



Danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN feature in its line-up Tess Roby who released her debut album ‘Beacon’ on Italians Do It Better. Also featuring Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee with their Minimoog, Roland System 100, Roland Juno 60 and Korg 700s armoury, ’Care’ was written on a cold winter’s night and unsurprisingly captures that mood. Nocturnal yet rhythmic, Roby’s alluring folk-tinged vocal offsets the various synthetic overtures for a mysterious weightless quality.

Available on the single ‘Care’ via https://dawntodawn.bandcamp.com/track/care



Leeds based duo DEVOIR are Imogen Holmes, best known as IMI and Jacob Marston. Although ‘Mercer’ is entirely electronic, it differs from IMI in its four-to-the-floor construction. So imagine GOLDFRAPP at an Alpine rave in the Hornlihutte basecamp next to The Matterhorn. As the cinematic techno builds, the magnificent voice that graced IMI soars and shines, expressing itself at the extremes of alluring spoken word and piercing high soprano.

Available on the single ‘Mercer’



DIAMOND FIELD is the musical vehicle of Andy Diamond, the New York based Kiwi who, looks to studio icons such as Hugh Padgham, Rupert Hine and Peter Wolf as his heroes. With a backing track like NEW ORDER’s ‘Your Silent Face’ reworked by OMD, ‘A Kiss Apart’ is superb and sees a velvet performance by Belinda Bradley; akin to the other Belinda, Ms Carlisle crossed with Marcella Detroit there is a gorgeous chorus and some great synth interventions recalling lost Mute trio PEACH.

Available on the album ‘Diamond Field’ via Sofa King



Inspired by the spectre of the former Soviet Union, Minsk trio DLINA VOLNY explore post-punk with a dance beat not unlike NEW ORDER. Having already had two albums already under their belt and singing in English with an inherent Eastern Bloc gloom in Masha Zinevitch’s vocals throughout their Italians Do It Better period, their fifth single for the label ‘Bipolar’ was dark disco with plenty of synth and mystery that asked “But what is it like being on the border?”.

Available on the album ‘Dazed’ via Italians Do It Better


LAURA DRE All Day, All Night

With her mix of modern synthpop and synthwave coupled to her deep nonchalant vocals, Laura Dre captures the rainy dystopian air of ‘Blade Runner’, but with a sexy enigmatic allure and a mischievously wired groove that wouldn’t go amiss in a West Berlin nightclub. The glorious uptempo disco number ‘All Day, All Night’ offers great crossover potential; drenched in sparkle and a delicious percussive base, it was for fans of early PET SHOP BOYS.

Available on the album ‘Moving Spaces’ via Outland Recordings


DURAN DURAN Featuring CHAI More Joy!

DURAN DURAN released their 15th studio album ‘Future Past’ in a “live for the moment” reference of how something today can become a cherished memory in times to come. The chiptune inspired ‘More Joy!’ was reminiscent of past glories, its syncopated disco poise capturing DURAN DURAN at what they do best and with hypnotic electronics offset by a wonderful bass guitar run and chants by Japanese rock band CHAI, its exuberant manner presented the right dose of escapism.

Available on the album ‘Future Past’ via Tape Modern / BMG



Like a tattooed Marilyn Monroe dropped into Twin Peaks, GLÜME is a shimmering new starlet. From her debut album ‘The Internet’, ‘Get Low’ was an intriguing slice of accessible avant pop about the high of falling for someone where brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected. Applying some rumbling electronic bass, stabbing vintage synths and simple but prominent digital drum beats, ‘Get Low’ sounded not unlike an experimental hybrid of OMD and LADYTRON!

Available on the album ‘The Internet’ via Italians Do It Better



Made using the T.O.N.T.O. synth complex created Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff which was made famous by Stevie Wonder, the same titled album is the fifth solo body of work by the Toronto-based neoclassical composer Robin Hatch. The sinister ‘Airplane’ took shape around an avant garde soundscape. Utilising the talents of doom metal violinist Laura Bates of VOLUR alongside the synthetic strings and hypnotic generative blips, this encapsulated an unsettling gothic grandeur.

Available on the album ‘T.O.N.T.O.’ via Robin Records



For Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti, the ethos of ITALOCONNECTION is “to sound vintage in a modern way”. The superb ‘Virus X’ featuring French veteran Etienne Daho sprung a surprise as a suave slice of Gallic synthwave. With its downbeat verse and an emotive chorus, this was as a fitting musical document of the past year and half’s tensions while using toxic personal relationships as a poignant lyrical analogy.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ via Bordello A Parigi


JAKUZI Hiç Işık Yok

Hailing from Turkey, JAKUZI’s Italo flavoured song ‘Hiç Işık Yok’ saw the usual cowbells substituted by processed pots and pans, while the mix of classic brassy tones and chilling synth pads blended to create something rather unusual and extraordinary. Working with Maurizio Baggio who mixed the most recent albums by BOY HARSHER and THE SOFT MOON, the Italian producer turned what had been a gothic futureless mood piece with a sombre vocal intonation into a dark but catchy electronic disco number.

Available on the EP ‘Açık Bir Yara’ via City Slang


JOON Good Times

2021 was a year craving for more ‘Good Times’ and JOON, the electronic solo project from Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis did her best to remember them. Signing to Italians Do It Better, she reflected on “The way you sing your songs and make me dance, the way you take a chance on a little romance” before affirming “You remind me of the good times”. It all captured a charming innocence in a dreamy Mediterranean take on Japanese City Pop.

Available on the album ‘Dream Again’ via Italians Do It Better


КЛЕТ Eternity

КЛЕТ is a music project of Bohemian-born Michal Trávníček. Primarily celebrating the Soviet space programme with its impressive series of firsts, while the ‘Alconaut’ album’s pivotal track ‘Gagarin’s Start’ honoured the handsome hero who was the first man in space as he prepared for lift-off, the spacey Sovietwave mood over 13 tracks made for an enticing listen. The sparkling sparseness of ‘Eternity’ with its stuttering vintage drum machine provided another highlight.

Available on the album ‘Alconaut’ via https://claat.bandcamp.com/album/



LEATHERS is the more synth focussed solo project from ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett. The undoubted highlight of her debut ‘Reckless’ EP was the title song. Resigned and accepting, she was still alluring in her voicing despite the heartbreak of her love being so cruel and dangerous. A rather lovely slice of synthpop in that classic melancholic vein with an infectious steadfast motorik beat, it again showed that Canada again was leading the way in the modern version of the form.

Available on the EP ‘Reckless’ via Artoffact Records



Following her charming cover of the Alan Wilder penned DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Fools’, Philadelphian songstress Catherine Moan launched her debut album with the self-composed ‘Drop It!’, a song craving the joy of nightlife. Dreamily floating over a classic four chord progression with an eerily sombre apocalyptic understatement, ‘Drop It!’ channelled her innocent sound in the manner of ELECTRIC YOUTH meeting STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE and MARSHEAUX.

Available on the album ‘Chain Reaction’ via https://catherinemoan.bandcamp.com/album/chain-reaction-2



While Karin My has been working with TWICE A MAN and MACHINISTA, it was only in 2019 that she stepped out to front her own traditionally derived electronic songs. A steadfast drum machine propels ‘Loop’ over its sweeping symphonic melodies resignation. The closing female computer speech declaring “identification – procedure – quote – hyphen – perform – display – go to – loop – full stop – execute” added to the  unsettlement.

Available on the album ‘Silence Amygdala’ via Ad Inexplorata


NATION OF LANGUAGE This Fractured Mind

Using a rigid motorik backbone and capturing a danceable ethereal shudder, ‘This Fractured Mind’ breathed new life via its sprightly synth tones referencing the past. The machines that had only been friends previously became family in the NATION OF LANGUAGE sound. Dealing with the spectre of unrealised dreams and jealousy towards more successful others, any inferiority complex was countered with hopeful acceptance.

Available on the album ‘A Way Forward’ via Play It Again Sam


NORTHERN LITE Ich Fürchte Nein

The project of Andreas Kubat and Sebastian Bohn, the 2001 NORTHERN LITE single ‘Treat Me Better’ was a cult favourite on the electroclash scene. Translating as “I don‘t think so…”, Kubat reflected on enforced isolation and staying sane. In a chorus that could be roughly interpreted: “You can‘t be happy and by liked by everyone at the same time”, ‘Ich Fürchte Nein’ was a delightfully catchy synthpop tune with a bright and jolly melodic section contrasted by a vocal of a more anxious disposition.

Available on the album ‘Ja’ via UnaMusic



While ‘Savage’ depicted a deserted post-apocalyptic world, clad in darkness, the Ade Fenton produced ‘Intruder’ saw Planet Earth react to human kind’s misdemeanours by unleashing a virus! “It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back” said Gary Numan poignantly.  ‘The Chosen’ was fast paced synth rock filled with pleading messages embroiled in frustration, asking “Do you need one more sign?” and “Can you see, or are you so blind?”

Available on the album ‘Intruder’ via BMG



Mark Reeder first met Fifi Rong who at the Berlin Kraftwerk in 2016 when she was singing in concert with Swiss trailblazers YELLO. From his album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ , the opening track ‘Figure of 8’ was a magical new collaboration between the two with a cinematic backdrop of sparse piano and glistening sequences over which the exquisite Chinese songstress added her distinctive air of mystery to a more metronomic rhythm construction than on her own work.

Available on the album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ via MFS



R. MISSING Crimeless

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music. In their increasingly synthy sound, but the wonderful ‘Crimeless’ was R. MISSING’s most pop noir statement yet. It was like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Available on the single ‘Crimeless’ via Sugarcane Recordings


SCHÖNHEIT Danse Du Robot

Subtitled ‘Hommage à Florian’, ‘Danse Du Robot’ was a magical tribute to the late KRAFTWERK co-founder with hints of ‘Trans Europe Express’ from Swedish producer Martin Lillberg, the man behind SCHÖNHEIT. Not exactly a prolific project with singles in 2014 and 2019, Lillberg however records under various monikers including as DEOLETUS and WML as well as holding down a day job as a classical percussionist.

Available on the single ‘Danse du Robot (Hommage à Florian)’



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. ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while crossing over to lovers of synth. With echoes of NEW ORDER and THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, it captured a vibrant energy worthy of Manchester and its musical heritage.

Available on the album ‘Folding Lines’ via Kartel Records



As the prospect of interacting with others again set off anxieties after 18 months of social distancing, for Scottish Swedish duo UNIFY SEPARATE, it was time to ‘Embrace The Fear’. While the theme was relatable to lockdown, the lyrical gist touched on the more general existential crises that afflict many as they navigate a life crossroads. But despite the air of unease and the grittier disposition, as with most of UNIFY SEPARATE’s output, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Available on the single ‘Embrace The Fear’ via https://unifyseparate.bandcamp.com/track/embrace-the-fear


WAVESHAPER Lost In The Cloud

Gorgeously melodic within a claustrophobic drama, ‘Lost In The Cloud’ did as the title suggested like Vangelis meeting Giorgio Moroder at the Necropolis on a dreamy dance trip. A lovely uplifting synth instrumental, the man behind WAVESHAPER Tom Andersson suggested something darker, saying “Imagine Red Riding Hood trapped in the Digital Cloud, behind the Mainframe. How would she feel? What would she see? There is probably more to fear than a wolf in the forest…”

Available on the album ‘Mainframe’ via Waveshaper Music Production


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music in 2021 is on its ‘Missing U’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2021

ACTORS Acts of Worship

Named after a 1965 short story collection by the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, ACTORS return with their second full length long player ‘Acts of Worship’.

While the initial apocalyptic ethos of the Vancouver quartet can probably be summed up by their cover of THE CURE’s ‘One Hundred Years’, ACTORS have sort of lightened up, or at least have become comparatively less intense, rather like the Robert Smith did with ‘Let’s Go To Bed’, ‘The Walk’ and ‘The Love Cats’ after the harrowing ‘Pornography’ album. Thanks to the recruitment of new bassist Kendall Wooding, the male-to-female ratio of ACTORS has equalled up and altered their dynamic.

The vocal duality between guitarist Jason Corbett and keyboardist Shannon Hemmett aka LEATHERS takes an increased role in the band’s developing sound while drummer Adam Fink maintains a thumping Doktor Avalanche mode of presence. Less guitar-based than 2017’s gloomy ‘Reanimated’ mini-album or ‘We Don’t Have To Dance’, ‘Slaves’ or ‘Hit To The Head’ from debut album ‘It Will Come To You’, ‘Acts of Worship’ is dark but accessible pop music, less aurally jagged and much more synthy than its predecessors.

As a statement of intent, ‘Love U More’ is like DURAN DURAN gone emo, syncopated rhythms with eerie synths, the brooding baritone counterpointed by girly soprano and male falsetto to provide an uneasy uplift to the doomy domino dance.

A cousin of ‘We Don’t Have To Dance’ from ‘It Will Come To You’, ‘Like Suicide’ however comes over more like early U2 in the chorus. Although bass guitar remains prominent throughout the album, the echo-locked six string of previous ACTORS works is dialled down and more textural. The vocal exchanges between Jason Corbett and Shannon Hemmett expand on a unique ACTORS selling point and this is put to additional good use on the more screechy post-post punk of ‘Cold Eyes’.

Utilising very precise beats, ‘Obsession’ displays melancholic echoes of ‘Goodbye Horses’, the Q LAZZURUS cult favourite that featured on ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ and subsequently covered by fellow Canadians PSYCHE. The rhythm construction sways towards Schaffel for ‘Death From Above’, with piercing synths blending with the pulsating moods for an almost exclusively electronic production.

‘Killing Time (Is Over)’ channels a more aggressive approach with stabs, chants, strums and even soloing, while the wonderful ‘Only Lonely’ returns to the disco gothique of ‘Love U More’ to recall American alternative dance rock combo VHS OR BETA, although the chorus and string machine accompaniment are not far off Simon Le Bon and Co before some prose en Français presents some exquisite je ne sais quoi to proceedings to finish.

Returning to a heavier hypnotic mood, ‘Strangers’ features a chorus that sees Corbett aping ‘Boy’-era Bono to remind listeners that U2 were actually a good band once, although the synth blips highlight that this could only be ACTORS. With a subtle neo-motorik backbone, ‘End Of The World’ presents a cerebral wall of sound that doesn’t overpower despite the subject matter, before ‘Once More With Feeling’ closes the album with a solemn downtempo spoken word piece.

With 10 songs in less than 37 minutes, none of the songs on ‘Acts Of Worship’ outstay their welcome and the end result is a sharp cohesive record that despite the inherent pessimism gives hope via its danceable melodic approach and the greater use of higher register vocalisation.

While not quite akin to NEW ORDER going disco with ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Acts Of Worship’ is perhaps more like Manchester’s finest when they released their highly under rated single ‘Procession’. As it featured the vocals of both Bernard Sumner and Gillian Gilbert, the comparison is not quite as daft as it sounds and with that, it can be confirmed that ACTORS have recorded their best body of work yet.

‘Acts Of Worship’ is released by Artoffact Records, available as a CD, vinyl LP and download from https://actors.bandcamp.com/album/acts-of-worship






Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st October 2021


The recent emergence of post-post-punk internationally have seen acts such as Belarus’ MOLCHAT DOMA, JAKUZI from Turkey and Canadian band ACTORS take the haunting legacy of JOY DIVISION into the 21st Century.

Although primarily guitar driven, post-post-punk is often distinguished by its bed of icy synths and mutated disco rhythms. And from ACTORS comes their keyboardist Shannon Hemmett with her more synth focussed solo project LEATHERS. However, it is not completely divorced from the ACTORS family as frontman Jason Corbett acts as producer on her debut EP ‘Reckless’.

With a blend of pop melodies and the gloomier overtones of DEPECHE MODE, COCTEAU TWINS and BAUHAUS, Hemmett brings her mysterious air and voice from the background of her day job to become a confident lead, contrasting lightness with darkness, femininity with masculinity, fantasy with reality and creation with destruction, all in one plot.

The undoubted highlight is the title song itself. It’s a rather lovely slice of synthpop in that classic melancholic vein with an infectious steadfast motorik beat, showing that Canada is again leading the way in the modern version of the form. Resigned and accepting, Hemmett is alluring in her voicing despite the heartbreak of her love being so cruel and dangerous.

Exuding a darker spectre, ‘Phantom Heart’ is fiercer and perhaps not that far removed from ACTORS with Hemmett being more contralto to suit, while ‘Day For Night’ is an introspective synth-laden ballad with the occasional six and four string intervention that allies it to the moody atmospheres of CHROMATICS and structurally comes over like a dreampop version of MAZZY STAR. But for those who want something more like a female fronted take on THE CURE, ‘Missing Scene’ goes the full post-post-punk hog and rocks with a cavernous gothique to close the EP.

The ‘Reckless’ song is worth the purchase price alone and as LEATHERS, Shannon Hemmett has demonstrated she can pursue a career outside of ACTORS that has the authenticity to appeal to a purer synth inclined audience if she so desires.

‘Reckless’ is released by Artoffact Records and available on the usual online platforms including https://leathers.bandcamp.com/





Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th July 2021