Tag: Amour Records

10 Years of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK – STILL PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up. It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was it and became reality on 15th March 2010. Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary.

Wth the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill, that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”.

And that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’.

With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.

The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest. There was the clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.

It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.

The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.

Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD. Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling an entitlement to be featured. If an act is good enough, the fact that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantly champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s thing frankly…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music 😉

Other highlights over the last ten years have included ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk.

With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020, updated 29th Janaury 2021

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME Interview

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME are the feisty Greek threesome of Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou.

Releasing their debut album ‘Dance With You’ on Amour Records, the trio swear by analogue sounds, toy synths, chaotic guitars, fake strings, and off-beat rhythms complimented by deep voices in English and Greek.

The new single ‘Pinku’ comes over an interesting snarly mix of TR/ST and KITE crossed with NEW ORDER. Meanwhile, its superb visual presentation directed by Alkistis Terzi features striking time freeze effect portraits of five Biblical female figures Jezebel, Lilith, the Virgin Mary, Salome and Delilah.

Kindred spirits to fellow Hellelectro exponents MARSHEAUX, SARAH P. and KID MOXIE, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME have particularly impressed with their striking video presentations, particularly for their most recent single ‘Pinku’ and the award winning ‘Gomenaki’.

SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME kindly talked to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their artistic motivations and ideals…

The three of you have quite distinct musical backgrounds, so how did the idea of making music together come about?

Marilena and Gina have been on the Athens Music scene for years. Gina on the grunge side as she is the guitarist of KATRIN THE THRILL; Marilena on the pop – electronic side and she formed BERLIN BRIDES with Natasha Giannaraki. They were also high school friends and they met up as adults again after many years through the music scene. Marilena had this dream of creating a pop band, but with distinctive guitar riffs. And Gina was open to new music genres.

Maria started learning the drums much later. She passed by a music school one day and with Marilena’s encouragement went in and enrolled in drum classes. She and Marilena had always dreamed of creating a band together.

Later on Marilena was commissioned to write the soundtrack of A Tsangari’s ‘Chevalier’ (which won the Best Feature Award at the BFI London Film Festival) and invited Maria and Gina to experiment. The music didn’t make it into the film, except for the end titles song ‘Never Find It’, but that was the beginning of the band. Many of the songs that appear in ‘Dance With You’ were written for this soundtrack as instrumental pieces.

Then Marilena was commissioned by the French Institute in Athens to write the OST for a silent Greek Film titled ‘Astero’ and invited Maria and Gina to perform it live. That was the first live gig of the band.

With regards band dynamics, how do the influences of the three of you combine and clash?

It’s actually quite an easy and natural process. We are so well tuned with each other on our aesthetics. Marilena is the brain of the band. She writes the music and the lyrics. She then invites Maria and Gina to jam, experiment and add elements to the songs. We have a tiny studio (San Marco SWIM studio) in the centre of Athens where the magic happens.

Your latest single ‘Pinku’ is a wonderful combination of quite different styles, there’s techno, indie and classical!

Yes it’s true. We are quite excessive and melodramatic in our music. Marilena had classical studies in Music and Composition plus she is also very inspired by soundtracks and electronic and techno music. Our references come from Debussy to Delia Derbyshire to PET SHOP BOYS to PJ Harvey. We actually recorded live strings for ‘Pinku’. These elements exist in our music a lot.

‘Pinku’ comes with a striking video, what was the inspiration?

The video exists as an art piece as well, entitled ‘Survive in My Sex’. It is created by the amazing Photographer and DoP, Alkisti Terzi and it consists of 14000 still photos. When we saw the image, we immediately thought of ‘Pinku’ as a music background. The song talks about a long lost love affair between two women and the different female biblical faces on the film who look at you in the eye in these intense moments were the perfect visualization of this love affair.

So you like toy synths, are there any particular ones?

Yes we love a little Casio synth made for children, the Stylophone, an 80s Yamaha and the Solina synth.

Your album opens with the ‘Dance With You’ title song. In your opinion, how important is dance as an emotional expression in life?

Very important, we would say. Marilena (aka Loo) and Gina also work as DJs on the Athens scene and they make people dance. Music is in our heads 24/7. We have to let the energy out and communicate it. We would suffocate otherwise. ‘Dance With You’ is a dance pop song but the lyrics are about love, crying and suffering. You just dance it out!

‘Girl’s On Fire’ has a very unorthodox construction?

Yes it does. We are always flirting with R ‘n’ B which we love. This one was originally written as an instrumental piece for a theatre play (‘Lulu’ directed by D Tampassi) where we played the music live on each performance. It had so much body energy when we played it. It was a fiery one. Marilena had the image of a Girl on Fire. She collaborated with Kate Adams (who is theatre maker) on the lyrics.

You are not afraid to produce instrumentals, like ‘Night Flight’ and ‘Strange’, plus even ‘Pinku’ is offered as an instrumental bonus. So how do you decide that a composition remains without a vocal and what can you get from an instrumental that you can’t with a song?

We love instrumentals and we will keep on writing them. It’s like the soundtrack in our heads. When you don’t have something to say anymore and how to express your feelings with lyrics, you can do it easily just writing music! ‘Strange’ is our most melodramatic theme and ‘Night Flight’ the lighter one; the two opposites.

Actually many songs exist first as instrumentals and at the very last minute we might add vocals. ‘Pinku’ existed as an instrumental for a long time. That’s how we used to play it at our gigs. The night before we sent it for final Mastering, Marilena stayed up at the studio all night and wrote the lyrics and the vocal arrangement. We all listened to it and we decided it was worth the extra work to add the voice.

How do you decide whether to sing in Greek or English?

Well to be honest our first instinct is to write in English. There is a lightness and a distance writing in a different language than your own. We love writing in Greek as well, but the words that come are always very simple and repetitive. We have a new song that will be featured in our second album, called ‘All Gone’ which combines both languages, English and Greek.

The video for your debut single ‘Gomenaki’ won an award, are you proud that you have been able to make an important existential statement through your art?

Yes, we definitely are. The IndieMemphis award was quite a surprise to us. I have to say though that the credit goes to Alkis Papastathopoulos who wrote the script and directed the music video. He listened to the song once and the next day he came up with this brilliant script. Maria produced it. Our main goal was to make a “different” high school indie drama and I think we succeeded. Our tagline says it all: A femme for femme love story that challenges the classic high school film narrative and takes revenge on toxic masculinity.

Music is politics is life? Please discuss?

The personal is political, of course. This is deeply rooted in us in our everyday life and as artists; we have to communicate it, through our music, through our films, through our voice and actions. We cannot close our eyes and stay untouched by the sudden turn to conservatism, fascism and decay that surrounds us not only in Greece but worldwide. We need to raise our voices.

What is next for SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME?

Well we already have all the songs of our second album ready. It’s more dark and downtempo in a way. We will play at Pop Kultur in Berlin this August and we are also writing music for two short films and we will be writing the soundtrack of a TV series that Maria and Alkis Papastathopoulos are currently developing. We would also like to play in more festivals abroad.

We also have three more music videos in development, always collaborating with directors we love and admire.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME

‘Dance With You’ is released as a digital album by Amour Records, available via the usual online outlets

http://www.swimtheband.com/

https://facebook.com/swimtheband.page

https://instagram.com/swimtheband

https://www.youtube.com/c/SomeoneWhoIsntMe

https://soundcloud.com/swimtheband


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
20th June 2019

Introducing SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME

“Pop. What else?” is the mission statement of Athens trio SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME.

Also known as S.W.I.M. by those who find that a bit of a mouthful, the feisty threesome of Marilena Orfanou (synths, guitars + vocals), Maria Hatzakou (drums + vocals) and Gina Dimakopoulou (guitars + vocals) swear by analogue sounds, toy synths, chaotic guitars, fake strings, and off-beat rhythms complimented by deep voices in English and Greek.

The new single ‘Pinku’ comes over an interesting snarly mix of TR/ST and KITE crossed with NEW ORDER. Meanwhile, its superb visual presentation directed by Alkistis Terzi features striking time freeze effect portraits of five Biblical female figures Jezebel, Lilith, the Virgin Mary, Salome and Delilah.

The debut album ‘Dance With You’ was released in February 2019 by Amour Records, the Hellenic home of SARAH P. and KID MOXIE. SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME’s two most overtly synthy numbers on the album are both instrumentals; ‘Night Flight’ is an airy dream pop number offset by an uptempo backbone while the electronically orchestrated cinematics of ‘Strange’ flirts with the enigmatic aura of arthouse soundtracks.

Meanwhile, the title song was a grand statement of baroque indie with a superb cutting synth solo while the moody synthesized shoegaze of ‘Gomenaki’ was a European radio hit in the summer of 2018; its accompanying video won the 2019 Sound Award for ‘Best Music Video’ at the Indie Memphis Film Festival.


‘Dance With You’ is released by Amour Records

http://www.swimtheband.com/

https://facebook.com/swimtheband.page

https://twitter.com/swimtheband_

https://instagram.com/swimtheband

https://soundcloud.com/swimtheband

https://open.spotify.com/album/0P0DJuiFd2CzDU9Vaxw0il


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th May 2019

SARAH P. Millennial Girl

‘Millennial Girl’ by SARAH P. is a musical commentary on societies’ obsession with perfection and the perception that others’ lives seem so much more accomplished.

More guitar assisted and faster paced than her more dreamy but afflicted offerings, ‘Millennial Girl’ does capture a spacey vibe despite the use of more live sounding elements. With a hint of sarcasm, the Greek songstess sings “So I strive, I strive, I strive for perfection every time – But see no purpose – And I buy, I buy, I buy hip, cool stuff I see online – To scratch the surface”

Filmed on location near Athens by George Geranios, he of Undo Records fame and now establishing his new Amour Records imprint, Sarah’s hair and make-up on a brand new visual accompaniment was by none other than Sophie Sarigiannidou of MARSHEAUX in the ultimate Hellectro connection. Meanwhile, the colour touching of the video was undertaken by Norman Treffkorn.

SARAH P. said on her Facebook: “This video – an odyssey in itself, was filmed earlier this summer, but was supposed to come out last year ?

The song is obviously sarcastic – I chose to pick on my fellow millennial girls (w/o excluding myself), because I know that they can take a joke ❣

Girls (of all ages) have always been told how to do things: how to do our hair, what to wear, how to lose weight, how to look pretty. Superficial worries have been passed on from generation to generation, only to keep us busy for a lifetime trying to get what we don’t have. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful for all the women worldwide who are challenging this narrative and breaking all these stupid, outdated stereotypes. To all the ladies here and everywhere – YOU ARE PERFECTION, just the way you are! I’m really excited to share with you my upcoming records and projects, inspired by female empowerment in the past, in the present and in the future. The Who Am I era is closing – the Maenads era is about to begin!”


‘Millennial Girl’ is from the digital album ‘Who Am I’ released by EraseRestart Records, available direct from https://sarahpofficial.bandcamp.com/

The CD of ‘Who Am I’ is released by Amour Records, available direct from https://www.amour-records.com/product-page/sarah-p-who-am-i-cover

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/

https://twitter.com/sarahpofficial

https://www.instagram.com/sarahpofficial/

https://www.amour-records.com/sarah-p


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Robert Helbig
Photo by George Geranios
10th September 2017