Tag: Bunny X

2021 End Of Year Review

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
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2021

BUNNY X Young & In Love

Forming in New York, BUNNY X released their first single ‘Berlin, In December’ in Spring 2013.

Since then Abigail Gordon and Mary Hanley have issued a number of danceable pop singles as well as an Italo disco flavoured EP ‘We Demand Fun’ with Fred Ventura. But the pair have yet to realise their vision over a full length long player until now. Entitled ‘Young & In Love’, it moves away from the Italo blow-out of ‘We Demand Fun’ for a more poptastic journey if no less sun-kissed. Taking inspiration directly from John Hughes films such as ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Pretty In Pink’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’, it parties like it’s 1986!

Working on the opening song with Swedish producer Don Dellpiero, ‘Perfect Paradise’ offers the sort of funky optimistic popwave that PRIMO THE ALIEN did in collaboration with BETAMAXX augmented by big electronic drums. LA music producer Kevin Montgomery aka the oddly monikered SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS comes on board for ‘Can’t Wait’ which does the big STARSHIP heart thing to confirm that nothing is gonna stop BUNNY X.

Raising the tempo and sparkle, the ‘Young & In Love’ title song is a rousing slice of synthpop celebrating holiday romances and yes, she will “see you next summer”. Cut from a similar cloth but more sedately, ‘Go Back’ adds a touch of melancholy to proceedings in its emotional reflection with a sax solo to make the point.

With its metronomic background and gated synths, ‘Who Cares What They Say’ could actually be a trance anthem if it was speeded up to 160 BPM, but it works fine as a melodic midtempo stomp with a spoken word middle eight.

A close cousin, ‘Back To You’ is another catchy midtempo synth number and one that could be imagined to be in a John Hughes movie.

Changing the mood slightly for the early evening drive to the next party, ‘Head Rush’ adopts a steadfast gallop that declares a potent emotion of desire while Don Dellpiero returns to helm ‘Lost Without You’ which deviates slightly with more prominent guitar and piano for a distinct AOR presence.

Back to synths, ‘Diamonds’ sings of “an electric shock through my heart” and certainly buzzes in an alluring fashion with gorgeous counter melodies to compliment the main vocal topline before another SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS collaboration ‘Still On My Mind’ closes ‘Young & In Love’ while making use of sax and brassier keyboard approximations alongside some airy staccato voice samples.

Featuring excellent vocals that are never overblown, well-written songs with appealing arrangements that don’t outstay their welcome and clean consistent production, BUNNY X have put together an enjoyable and immediate collection of songs.

With its themes of first crushes, teen angst and youthful exuberance, Abigail Gordon and Mary Hanley have certainly achieved their aim of a “high school nostalgia” concept record that many who lived through the first MTV era will savour.

Welcome to Abbi and Mary’s High School Reunion.


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

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th September 2021

BUNNY X Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were you both hairbrush as microphone types of girls?

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

Mary: Ummmmm HECK YES!

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

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

Mary: BOTH PLEASE!

What about BERLIN versus MISSING PERSONS?

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

Mary: Not gonna lie, LOVE them both!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abigail: I don’t know about one story in particular but I did have a remarkable ability to completely embarrass myself in front of my grade-school crushes. I mean, we’re talking epic levels of embarrassment.

Once, when trying to impress a crush (this goes out to you Braxton), I decided it’d be pretty awesome if I quickly jumped off my friend’s bike (I was standing on the rear pegs) as she was pedalling. In a clear case of expectation vs reality, instead of looking cool and casual, I flew through the air like a poor man’s Supergirl and landed in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk in full view of my crush. There really wasn’t any coming back from that. Hopefully Braxton has long since forgotten the incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

https://www.facebook.com/BunnyXmusic

https://twitter.com/bunnyxmusic

https://www.instagram.com/bunny_xmusic/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1Jm30qu7cd4QfXkJSoYL6y


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th September 2021, updated 15th February 2022

VEHLINGGO PRESENTS: 5 Years

Originally released in November 2019, ‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’ collected together exclusive tracks from the world of synthwave and electronic pop.

Curated by Aaron Vehling, founder of Vehlinggo, the 17 tracks presented the musical ethos of the Brooklyn-based website, podcast and multimedia platform. Having been issued digitally, ‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’ is now available on CD with a slight adjustment in running order to reflect Vehling’s vision of an imaginary film soundtrack.

Any good compilation contains promising talents alongside established names and this is certainly the case here.

The reconfigured tracklisting begins in a cool stylish fashion with ANORAAK’s ‘Panarea’, a funky nu-disco instrumental. Retrospective references surface with Canada’s PARALLELS on ‘The Magic Hour’, an exquisite slice of synthesized new wave that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a classic Brat Pack movie.

Remaining in Canada which has become the creative centrepoint for much of the best modern synth music, Ryan Gosling favourites FM ATTACK offer more of their trademark atmospheric electronic disco on ‘Paradise’.

The mood changes though with the appealing girly Italopop of New Yorkers BUNNY X and their ‘Revolving Doors’.

Now THE MIDNIGHT have become possibly the biggest synthwave crossover act with their sax assisted AOR but their appeal still baffles some observers; ‘Sometimes She Smiles’ does not change things and sounds not unlike busker balladeer PASSENGER but constructed using VSTs.

But with the pacey ‘Rage Of Honor’, proceedings are rocked up by LE MATOS although the backbone is still predominantly electronic. With a track entitled ‘Hi-NRG’, BETAMAXX begins proceedings with a cowbell frenzy but the speedy arpeggios soon join in for a Giorgio Moroder homage complete with digital chimes.

The shiny electro continues with the Sweden’s Johan Agebjörn and ‘Have You Ever Been In Love?’; using robotic vocal treatments like FM ATTACK, because this is a dub version of the track, the featured vocal of Tom Hooker, the voice behind many of the hits for famed Italo star Den Harrow, only comes in phrases which proves to be frustrating; the solution is to track down the original mix of the song from the ‘Videoman’ soundtrack.

MAETHELVIN cuts a solid funk groove on ‘Dance Through The Night’ aided by a LinnDrum derived pattern but maintains a chilly air, while from the Italians Do It Better stable, the previously unreleased Johnny Jewel produced ‘Gold’ by IN MIRRORS builds on some staccato tension.

The throbbing ‘Girl On Video’ from FORGOTTEN ILLUSIONS is loaded with hooks and big synthetic drum fills but while it is passable 4/4 synthwave fare, it is overlong and may have benefitted from being constructed around a 6/8 Schaffel to give it more bite.

A self-confessed “21st Century ’80s” artist, DIAMOND FIELD takes the delightful Dana Jean Phoenix into an interesting direction on ‘Freedom Pass’ by producing something that comes over like THE GO-GO’S gone synthpop. It recalls when Jane Wiedlin was working with PET SHOP BOYS producer Stephen Hague after the group first disbanded.

Beginning with some female prose en Français, DEADLY AVENGER‘s ‘Your Phone Is Off The Hook, But You’re Not’ is reminiscent of the quirky French underground from which cult acts such as MATHEMATIQUES MODERNES and RUTH emerged. Meanwhile, the wonderful MECHA MAIKO contributes the arty ‘Selfless’ which stands out with its screechy backdrop before settling into an avant pop concoction that makes hypnotic use of her repeated “It’s alright” phrasing!

‘She Sees A Future’ from Lakeshore Records signing VH X RR perhaps has the most nostalgic references like THE LOVER SPEAKS meeting ANIMOTION, but proceedings are taken down a notch by the filmic vocodered mood piece that is METAVARI’s ‘Be What You See’.

But the best is saved until last with HIGHWAY SUPERSTAR and the gorgeously dreamy ‘Slow Motion’; featuring a fabulous vocal by Zoe Polanski, the end result comes across a bit like ELECTRIC YOUTH.

‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’ does its job well of showcasing new and established international talent from an American perspective.

Coming from variants of electronic music that have been labelled as synthpop, Italo Disco, synthwave, nu-disco and French disco, what actually matters is whether the music is any good.

Considering this compilation contains largely of previously unreleased material with the baggage that can come with that knowledge, the majority of it is excellent. Listeners will of course have their own favourites, but there really is something for everyone who loves electronic pop with quality and substance.


‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’ is released as a limited edition CD in a packaged in a six-panel wallet with artists’ notes on 1st March 2021 while the digital album is available now direct from https://vehlinggopresents.com/album/vehlinggo-presents-5-years

https://vehlinggo.com/presents-liner-notes/

https://twitter.com/vehlinggo

https://www.instagram.com/vehlinggo/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
5th February 2021