Tag: Causeway


Photo by Jori Hulkkonen

Just as it looked like it would be safe to come out to play, there was uncertainty within the music industry again.

What had become the artists’ favourite platform thanks to its low commission and 0% Fridays, Bandcamp was taken over by Epic Games in 2022 but then following a move by employees to unionise, was sold to Songtradr who immediately dismissed half of its staff… in hindsight, despite its proclamation that this platform cared about the music, it looked like this had been yet another start-up by tech venture capitalists. Just as many acts dropped their own websites in favour of Facebook over a decade ago but were then trapped into sponsored posts to reach the majority of their own fanbase, online shops had been dropped for Bandcamp. So, things are back to square one as many consider a rebuild of their web presence.

Meanwhile, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino made a controversial declaration that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”. While THE CURE notably refused to do this and capped their face value tickets at $20 for their US tour, the Live Nation sister outlet Ticketmaster applied excessive booking extras of more than $20 per ticket for a “service fee”, “facility charge” and “order processing”! With dynamic pricing in place at a number of high profile events and so-called VIP tickets on the rise (which didn’t actually include a meet ‘n’ greet but only a nearby bar and a lanyard), fans had their “FOMO” anxieties triggered and simply paid up!

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

Another artist who kept ticket prices low was Midge Ure who embarked on the successful ‘Voices & Visions’ tour after a year’s delay due to uncertainties over the Covid situation in 2022. Complimented by a straightforward but very effective light show and material from his second and third long players with ULTRAVOX ‘Rage In Eden’ and ‘Quartet’, it was a triumph. He was rewarded with a 70th birthday show celebrating his career at The Royal Albert Hall, which despite its plush surroundings was also kept affordable.

Who says an artist has no control over retail pricing? But one band who were shamelessly happy to charge more for concert tickets, more for merchandise and more for physical releases were DEPECHE MODE. For their first album and tour since the passing of co-founder Andy Fletcher in 2022, the remaining members played the death card with ‘Momento Bori’ and managed to plonk an even more underwhelming arena show into the stadiums of the world… at least the ‘Global Spirit’ tour featured risers!

With renowned UK venues such as Printworks and Moles closing down, as had already been highlighted by Juls Garat of US goth band PILGRIMS OF YEARNING via social media in 2022: “If you’re spending a kidney on DEPECHE MODE tickets and not attending a local show this weekend, I don’t wanna see you complaining that there’s no scene, local venues or new music anymore”. However, one seemingly oblivious Devotee said about the inflated ticket prices: “Really don’t know what the issue is. Happily paid £108.00 for a DM ticket. Would have paid more!!”. And therein lays the problem… DEPECHE MODE played a date at Stadion Wankdorf in Bern and that said it all! As the man who Devotees call a genius once wrote: “Some great reward will be coming my way…”

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

As The Devotees wallowed in their collective misery during 2023, the Stockholm Syndrome was stronger than ever. On the Bratislava leg at the National Football Stadium, one of The Black Swarm commented to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I was there… I must admit, a bit disappointed… but I still love them!!!”. It was business as usual for DEPECHE MODE, with “business” being the operative word. It was reported that so much money had been sucked out of the European alternative music market in particular that a number of acts had to schedule their planned tours to 2024, while others who had made good albums worthy of attention in 2023 got lost in the sea of DM propaganda on the web.

Despite increased ticket prices at all levels, gig etiquette declined to the worst possible standards with the constant chatter and bad manners among some attendees. Surely if you have paid upwards of £30 or more for a show, you might want to pay more attention and enjoy it? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never seen it this bad in the 43 years it has been going to concerts, but this entitled arrogance to talk extremely loudly about total bollocks is a undoubted legacy of Brexit and Covid which in combination has normalised a lack of social graces in gathered environments… and when challenged, these total numbskulls become aggressive, pitifully unaware that they are ruining the evening of those around them.

Meanwhile, there was another undesirable element who only go to gigs to post selfies and badly distorted footage on their socials… these were often the sort of people who actually hated the band back in the day, but after 40+ years realised they like the song on the Vitality or Waitrose advert so are sudddenly giving it the big “I AM” about being a fan… but BECAUSE they are only there for one song, they then treat the rest of the gig like they were out with their mates in the pub! 🤬

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

The best live shows of the year came from PET SHOP BOYS and DURAN DURAN with their arena extravaganzas full of hits, classic fan favourites and great staging. Among the album celebrations, CHINA CRISIS ran through their second long player ‘Working With Fire & Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume 2’ on tour to celebrate its 40th anniversary and founder bassist Peter Hook took the first NEW ORDER compilation ‘Substance’ out on the road to coincide with its expanded 4CD reissue.

“Sweden’s best kept pop secret” KITE impressed with an imitate headliner for their debut London gig and later at Cologne’s Amphi Festival to a much larger crowd, while the return of Ollie Wride to the London stage at The Scala illustrated why he has potential to be the next synthwave artist to crossover into the mainstream.

Photo by Ed Miles

‘Time’s Arrow’, LADYTRON’s second album since their return from hiatus proved to be something of a disappointment while fairing slightly better with its anti-Brexit sentiments, ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ was touted as the final album from OMD; now kissing the strict machine, having previously been supportive of new electronic pop via ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK championed acts MIRRORS, VILLA NAH, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, their choice of art glam hipsters WALT DISCO as opening act on the UK leg of the 2024 tour was symbolic of the general poor state of modern synthpop ie pop music using synths, particularly within the narrow-mindset of Brexit Britain.

Although the UK was continuing to party like it was 1933, the incendiary language that Cruella Braverman was using was so extreme that she was even dismissed from fronting the Conservative Party new wave covers band A FLOCK OF SIEG HEILS… as a trio of poets from South Yorkshire once said: “BROTHERS! SISTERS! WE DON’T NEED THIS FASCIST GROOVE THANG!”

Reflecting a wider issue, 2023 also saw ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK publish its fewest number of ‘Introducing…’ new artist articles since its inception in 2010 with only Brigitte Bardini and Madeleine Goldstein featured. There were a number of possible reasons…

Photo by Bella Salvatore

“The technology leads the art form and it always has” said veteran producer Steve Lillywhite on a recent Rockonteurs podcast, “if the technology allows you to reference other people’s records… you WILL do that!”. This was summed up by an Apple Mac advert featuring sample-based British pop singer PinkPantheress demonstrating how to have a hit by appropriating a topline from Kelly Rowland and plonking it into GarageBand before processing her voice through AutoTune and nabbing the intro of ‘Gold’ by SPANDAU BALLET… you said it yourself Miss Walker, IT SOUNDS LIKE GARBAGE!

While the accessibility, usability and sound quality of modern tech has totally democratised music making, as another veteran producer Stephen Hague put it to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “it’s made it far too easy”, with the end result being familiarity and imitation rather than innovation. Now that an acceptable sound is able to be obtained fairly quickly on software such as GarageBand, the level of songwriting has generally declined in many genres. Artists abstain from putting in the hard work towards the actual songcraft because they think their track is already great, as it sounds like someone they’ve based it on!

However, the misuse of “synth” as a description reached a new nadir in 2023. There were those using “synth” or “synthwave” in their brand identity who proudly revealed via their Spotify Wrapped that their Top Genre was actually rock or made bizarre comments like “What I like most about synthwave is the guitar solos”. Meanwhile one artist declared they were synthpop because they had spent their youth “listening to too much Madonna”! But synth music as an enduring form is ultimately doomed when social media platforms using “Synthpop” in their idents think that guitar-based bands like BIG COUNTRY and COCTEAU TWINS are part of it, or compile acoustic playlists!! 🤦‍♂️

“Synth” has now somehow become is a general term for any retro-flavoured pop with an element of shiny artifice whether synthesizers have been used or not! These artists and “content creators” are now too young to understand what “synth” in music actually once meant and probably think the term is short for “synthetic” as in clothes and hair products, as opposed to “synthesizer”.

That said, 2023 was not all bad and there was a lot of excellent music. The song of the year was by the unlikely synth hero in glum rocker Lloyd Cole; while guitars made a more prominent but limited return on his album ‘On Pain’ following 2019’s electronically-dominated ‘Guesswork’, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ saw him provide a touching narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976.

Swedish veterans PAGE took the Numanisation of their poptronica to its zenith by bringing in former imperial phase Numan band members Chris Payne and RRussell Bell on their new album ‘En Ny Våg’. Across the Öresund Bridge, Danish synthpop couple SOFTWAVE showed the world the ‘things we’ve done’.

Photo by George Tripodakis

Another music veteran Ricky Wilde teamed up with NINA to reveal their ‘Scala Hearts’; full of classic pop references and a modern sheen, this was the record Wilde had wanted to make for a few years but hadn’t been able to with his sister Kim. Its creative drive showed and this was also the best long player that NINA had been part of since she launched her solo career in 2011. In a busy year, NINA also found time to satisfy many a red blooded fantasy by collaborating with Kid Moxie on the ‘Lust’ EP released by Italians Do It Better.

The Finns were strong too, with Jaakko Eino Kalavi and Jori Hulkkonen producing two of the best albums of 2023. The former’s eclectic ‘Chaos Magic’ featured Alma Jodorowsky, Mr Silla and Jimi Tenor as special guests while the latter’s ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ brought in John Grant, Ralf Dörper, Jake Shears, Jon Marsh, Juho Paalosmaa and Tiga.

While maintaining his front man role in MESH, Mark Hockings presented his solo project BLACKCARBURNING in long playing form and was ‘Watching Sleepers’. Also going it alone, Alison Goldfrapp squarely hit the dancefloor via ’The Love Invention’ with Kylie Minogue’s similarly glitzy ‘Tension’ as its companion. But with ACTORS still busy touring the world, the planned long playing debut from LEATHERS was yet to emerge but there were two new singles in the interim.

METROLAND and side project 808 DOT POP ambitiously released albums in five different formats with exclusive tracks on each between them simultaneously, in a move that had not been seen since 1978 when all four members of KISS released solo records on the same day. Much more discretely, ITALOCONNECTION came up with ‘Nordisko’ which comprised of Nordic pop disco covers. More ambient experiments were served by John Foxx, Vince Clarke, Patricia Wolf, Johan Agebjörn and the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, while putting those ethereal textures into song was Hinako Omori with her appropriately named second album ‘stillness, softness…’

Germany’s BEBORN BETON offered bleak commentary on the state of the planet with ‘Darkness Falls Again’ but encouraged everyone to be dancers in the dark while Chinese band STOLEN highlighted this ‘Eroded Creation’. Within their ‘Circle Of Doom’, NNHMN had pressing matters closer to home while ZANIAS emerged from her ‘Chrysalis’. FERAL FIVE confronted and worked with AI to declare ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ and Finlay Shakespeare tapped into his ‘Illusion + Memory’.

Photo by Tim Darin

Among the promising emergent acts with debut EPs were NEU-ROMANCER and DIE SEXUAL while German solo artists Jennifer Touch and Laura Dre added to their long playing portfolios, as did OHNOTHING and BUNNY X. Fronted by respectively by John Grant and Neil Arthur, CREEP SHOW and THE REMAINDER outlined the benefits of collaboration while CAUSEWAY joined forces with R. MISSING for the single ‘Wear The Night Out’.

Despite having plied their trade for over 50 years, SPARKS continued to be as eccentric as ever and even had Cate Blanchett appear in the video for ‘The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte’. With ‘*Happiness now completed’ and Dave Ball returning to the live fold after a period of serious illness, SOFT CELL effectively issued another new album featuring a significant number of previously unreleased tracks including covers of Giorgio Moroder and X-RAY SPEX to provide a much more satisfying listening experience than the parent ‘*Happiness not included’ record. Then there was the unexpected recorded return of CLASSIX NOUVEAUX with their ‘Battle Cry’.

Veteran acts who ceased active operations many years ago got worthy boxed set treatments; TELEX provided ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK with the funniest interview of the year in support of their self-titled retrospective on Mute while LANDSCAPE were comprehensively catalogued by Cooking Vinyl. Not to be left out, the trusty Cherry Red via their Lemon imprint showcased how underrated NEW MUSIK and their leader Tony Mansfield were, especially with the latter’s sound clearly audible in today’s pop acts such as THE WEEKND.

Despite the return of Q, the jury was still out on whether music magazines are still desirable aside from their CD and vinyl artefacts. Meanwhile, music-based social media dumbed down its engagement to cut ‘n’ paste Wikipedia snippets accompanying archive photos or artwork, pointless 26th anniversary posts and non-significant birthday celebrations to attract likes. Comments from the public such as “My favourite album… I wish I still had it!” and saying “Happy Birthday” when the platform wasn’t even connected to the artist concerned only highlighted further the continuing inane nature of online interaction. And this was without those irritating “POV” reels and reaction videos on TikTok and Instagram which were unfortunately prevalent!

The less said about the right wing gammon infested sh*t show that Twitter has become, the better but on the new Threads platform intended to take it on, PENDULUM’s El Hornet remarked “omg threads is full of music industry self help w*nkers making lists about things nobody asked abort! ABORT!” 🤣

With such platforms also seemingly centred around the exposure of flesh with photos “just for fun” be the subject a golfer, gamer, painter, baker, comedian, hairdresser, photographer, psychologist, racing driver, book reviewer, poet, dating coach or Lego enthusiast, is it any wonder that several music artists resorted to setting up OnlyFans accounts to sell nude photos!

With pun totally intended, in this challenging climate for exposure, some acts simply got a bit too big for their boots and were unbearably conceited on their socials with their bragging and frivolous chatter to appease a needy flock who hung onto their every word, desperate to be seen to be “friends” of wannabe stars while crowdfunding towards their spa weekenders and vet bills for their cat… it was therefore ironic that one of these acts declared “Music isn’t a competition!” when it appeared that another band might be taking away some of their limelight! Well, stop acting like it’s a 24 hour edition of ‘The Apprentice’ then!!! 🙄

On the other side of the coin, one too cool for school band took a strange attitude to promotion by refusing to accept questions about their influences while trying to come over like total originals. Despite their inspirations being blatant and obvious to hear, they had a misguided self-belief that they were somehow speaking a new language! But everybody knows they started out by purchasing the sheet music to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ from a New York thrift store! 😆

A few years ago, a lone British artist was complained about the lack of press attention for their new admittedly good album, but then proceeded not to answer emails containing interview pitches. Artists need to engage, no matter how much they say they hate doing promotion, they can’t have it both ways. The days of RADIOHEAD not doing interviews to promote a new album and letting the music speak for itself are long gone…

With the world now making up for lost time since 2020, it would be fair to say that 2023 has been something of a strange year!

Text by Chi Ming Lai
18 December 2023

CAUSEWAY Interview

With the likes of GLÜME, MOTHERMARY, JOON, KID MOXIE & NINA attracting attention for their longer form releases on Italians Do It Better, one act also deserving equal recognition are CAUSEWAY.

The Idaho-based dreamwave duo of Allison Rae and Marshall Watson, CAUSEWAY first appeared on the Italians Do It Better compilation ‘After Dark 3’ in 2020 with the song that would become the title song of their debut album ‘We Were Never Lost’.

With a few more singles and a cover of ‘Crazy For You’ for their label’s Madonna tribute album under their belt, their floaty melodramatic aura revealed itself to be the perfect soundtrack for unrequited and failed romances.

Despite appearing to be enigmatic and veiled in mystery, the duo are actually very friendly and down-to-earth when engaged in conversation about their music. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK spoke to Allison Rae and Marshall Watson about the making of CAUSEWAY’s first long playing record and much more…

It appeared as though CAUSEWAY came out of nowhere with ‘We Were Never Lost’ featuring on the ‘After Dark 3’ compilation in the Fall of 2020?

Marshall: We kinda did. Allie and I had worked together on a couple of small projects way back in 2012 or so and had lost touch. Fast forward to late 2019 and I was working on an early version of ‘We Were Never Lost’ and Allie messaged me asking what I was up to musically. We started talking about what lyrics might look like and if she had interest etc. It took a few months but we finished ‘We Were Never Lost’ and on a whim I sent it to the Italians Do It Better via Soundcloud.

Megan Louise of IDIB got back to us within the day and said she loved it and would like to put it out on an upcoming compilation. She was a bit cryptic and I didn’t realize she was talking about ‘After Dark 3’. We didn’t know it at the time, but they’d made room for us. Johnny Jewel was nearly finished mixing the whole comp and they were just waiting on finals from a couple other artists. They snuck us in at the end. We didn’t even have a name for the project yet, it all happened so fast. Soon after that, ‘Riverdale’ licensed it for a pivotal shot in one of their episodes and things just kinda took off.

Allison: In 2016 I moved back to Boise. I actually never told him. There was just so much going on, it slipped my mind. So when I reached out to him, it was kinda funny. He told me that he sent a couple emails to my old work email address and didn’t get a reply. When I reached out to him, he told me that he thought that I was ignoring him. Then we got to work!

Which artists, films or TV shows influenced the aural aesthetic of CAUSEWAY? Had you always intended to be synth-based?

Marshall: I can definitely hear THE CURE, NEW ORDER and early new wave stylings, but I don’t intentionally set out to do that. I definitely wanted CAUSEWAY to be synth forward and more song structured than my other output. As a solo artist, I make lots of different kinds of music, most of it ambient / downtempo / chill or house / techno and mostly instrumental.

For CAUSEWAY, I set out with the intention to create more lyrical tracks and get back into a vibe that I’d been into years ago. As for films, John Hughes movies, Kubrick’s films and lots of Sci-Fi.

How would you describe your creative dynamic in CAUSEWAY, do you sit in a room together or is it more remote by necessity?

Marshall: We started out during the pandemic and worked entirely remotely. In 2021 my wife and I moved up here to Boise and for a brief time Allie and I worked together in a room, but we kinda realized that we both needed space to process and work through stuff, so eventually we went back to working remote when it came to the creation process. That said, we have a pretty strict rehearsal schedule that we adhere to, and twice a week meet up for band practice for the live set. It’s been really neat to go from a learning curve to really enjoying playing together. I still send Allie demo tracks and she will send back lyrical ideas.

Allison: Typically, Marshall will send me a rough instrumental track. I’ll listen and add in lyrics and sing them to a scratch melody line. We use Drive to share our ideas and files. Once I have a rough demo, I send it back to Marshall. Sometimes he’ll make notes to the lyrics and usually change up the melody line. We go back and forth until the idea is finalized. This process works well for us. It’s been a blast working with Marshall.

How did the Italians Do It Better become interested in releasing an album and what did Johnny Jewel bring to the final mix?

Marshall: I guess they just heard something they liked in ‘We Were Never Lost’. As for Johnny Jewel, I love working with him and he cracks me up. He actually made a point to stay hands off on the mixing most of the album. He mixed ‘WWNL’, ‘Hide & Seek’ and ‘Your Silent Face’ as singles, but after that when we were starting to really go deep into the rest of the album, he said that we’d created a really solid sonic palette and he didn’t want to step on that.

He does, however, have mix notes on everything, lol. EVERYTHING. Most of that is level, eq and whatnot but occasionally he’ll have an idea we explore that is a little deeper.

For example, during the mix of our latest single ‘Wear The Night Out’, he had this amazing chord progression he heard that didn’t exist, and he played it for me super-fast— I wouldn’t say it ‘changed’ the song, but it definitely gave it something it was missing—and it made it better. So, he’s there, but he’s not always all up in it. Mostly.

Allison: I don’t know what their pull was to us, but they have been amazing to work with and I’m loving every minute of it. They are so supportive and always hook us up with the best feedback and artwork.

‘Let Me Love You’ is an epic start to the ‘We Were Never Lost’ album and makes a statement both lyrically and musically, it reminds me a bit of ‘Oostende’ by KEEP SHELLEY IN ATHENS…

Marshall: That is my ‘Plainsong’ moment I guess. That song went through several face lifts but we’d always kinda thought it would be a good opener. I wanted it to be big, both sonically and emotionally. In fact I’d say we’re going all-in on the emotive thing on most of our tracks. Lotta pain.

Allison: Lyrically ‘Let Me Love You’ comes from so much pain and grief from my last relationship. Wanting things in a relationship to be like they were in the beginning, wanting to pretend everything is fine when it absolutely isn’t. The line “Let me love you like we’re alright” I think says a lot in a sentence. When I write, I try to say more with less. The tail end of our album was written during my separation and divorce, and I think my writing was greatly influenced by that even though it wasn’t intentional. It’s interesting listening back and it’s so obvious. I guess my feelings had to get out somehow.

The first rendition of this song was my absolute favorite. Marshall knows, but he broke my heart when he changed it. The wall of sound he created had so much feeling. If you could put a sound on how you feel right before you cry, that what it sounded like. It was so beautiful. Marshall also has an amazing ability to see a project on a larger scale, and the first rendition didn’t fit with the album. He was able to see that. I didn’t. I eventually came around, and he was right. I am so happy with the result!

I have since added ‘Oostende’ to my playlist. Thank you for the comparison! We are flattered.

Yearning is a recurring theme on and this is quite vivid on ‘Hide & Seek’?

Marshall: Yes. We write a lot about pain and loss.

Allison: Haha, yes we do. I think the yearning in ‘Hide & Seek’ comes from a desire to be wanted. It speaks to every person that feels lonely in a relationship and the wandering eye that comes with it.

‘I’m Falling Apart’ which later appeared on ‘After Dark 4’ has this gorgeous disco lento feel about it, what was its genesis?

Marshall: That was one of the few tracks that I wrote most of the lyrics, and I guess we needed a slow chugger that might work on a dance floor. That was another one that had many faces before the final version. I’m into slow disco.

Allison: This song was almost entirely all Marshall, other than me showing up to sing. Love performing this one live!

You’ve said that ‘Loser’ is about a desire for deviance, are you able to say what your deviance is? 😉

Marshall: Allie wrote the ‘Loser’ lyrics… maybe she can speak to that?

Allison: I think it would be a deviance to go against the norm. The line “I wanna be your loser, I wanna feel so lonely with you” is the idea that society has rejected you as an outcast, a loser… but you would rather be alone with your person and be their loser than care about the rest of the world. I could explain the literal meaning behind this song, but once the cat’s outta the bag, it ruins the mystery.

‘Running To You’ appropriately has this real drive to it with arpeggios and staccato voice samples?

Marshall: Those choppy vocals bits are taken from Allie’s vocals. It was Johnny’s idea to add them in and I think it helped elevate the track.

Allison: ‘Running To You’ was a song that Marshall and I wrote together in his studio. We prefer to write separately, but this track was fun to write together. It came with challenges. Mostly, not wanting to look or say something stupid. Ha! But I think we are both over that now.

‘Crazy For You’ was originally recorded for the ‘Italians Do It Better’ Madonna tribute album, what led to your choice and how you went about the arrangement?

Marshall: When IDIB asked us about participating, I went through a bunch of Madonna tracks that I liked and would possibly work with a modern arrangement and I kept coming back to ‘Crazy For You’. I worked on the arrangement of that track for months. In my mind I heard a more industrial, almost psychotic version where she was “cray cray” for you, à la stalker, and less about the gentle 8th grade slow dancer.

We open our live show with it… there’s something about when Allie sings “Swaying room when the music starts” just before that huge kick comes in. Thus far, people go nuts when that first drop happens.

Allison: Yeah, Marshall kept texting me song titles and I kept replying “no” to everything he sent. Then at the end of the day he texted me “What about ‘Crazy For You’?” and I immediately responded “That’s it!”

CAUSEWAY tackled another cover in ‘Your Silent Face’ which happens to be my favorite NEW ORDER song; it was interesting that on your version, the main symphonic string hook didn’t appear until halfway through?

Marshall: That is one of my fave NEW ORDER songs too. I love the whole ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ album. I’d been working on a cover of ‘Your Silent Face’ for years before Allie and I tackled it through CAUSEWAY. I held off on the synth line because I wanted to have a little more tension and I also knew that most people might not recognize it until that line came in, so I’m using it as a tension / release thing. Maybe going back to my techno roots a bit with that.

‘Birthday’ closes the album featuring solemn lines such was “How has it been another year?” and “I wish that you were here”, was this an autobiographical narrative?

Marshall: ‘Birthday’ is another one that I wrote most of the words for. I had a dream / nightmare about everyone I loved dying and I was left alone grieving. The line “I brought you flowers for my birthday, how has it been another year” was just going round and round in my head… it woke me up, and I wrote it down. The next day I got up and wrote the rest of the track. I had a demo of that one in about a day, it was one of the few times the writing process went really fast. The track isn’t autobiographical per se, but it is all about grief which is universal. I don’t think any of our songs are autobiographical, but we do try to tap into the story of pain and suffering, love and loss.

Allison: This one is one of my favorites! Marshall nailed this one.

Which are your own favourites on the ‘We Were Never Lost’ album?

Marshall: Hard to say for me. I’ve worked so hard on all of them I’m kinda numb to them at this point. ‘Let Me Love You’, ‘Birthday’ and ‘Crazy For You’ maybe?

Allison: ‘Loser’, ‘Let Me Love You’ and ‘Hide & Seek’, I think I love these tracks the most because the feeling behind them is still raw. Another favorite again is ‘Birthday’, it’s just beautiful.

CAUSEWAY did several live performances recently, how were they for you and did they light the desire to do more? 

Marshall: At first I was completely against playing live. I didn’t think the tracks would translate well in a live setting. With some nudging from Allie, I agreed to do our first show in Oakland, which ended up being riddled with sound issues. It was a shame too because the venue was packed and the crowd was really up for it.

We had trouble with Allie’s mic but we survived. I thought we might be done with live performance but we just finished playing SXSW and Treefort, and that was a blast. For SXSW we had a decent crowd but here in Boise for Treefort, the Neurolux was packed front to back. I was shocked. Treefort was the first time we were playing without the IDIB label machine behind us, which usually has its own power to bring people in. When you are playing on the same bill as ORION, GLÜME, MOTHERMARY and DESIRE… people tend to show up. But here, we were on our own and it turned out amazing.

JOON was also on but much later, and there were punk bands in-between. When the first drop of ‘CFY’ hit, the whole room went off—it was exhilarating. As for the future, we don’t know yet. We’ve discussed adding a few other tracks to the set and maybe playing locally. Flying with a synth and gear is a hassle, but I could see us doing some gigs in PDX or SLC or more in Boise.

Allison: I absolutely love performing live. It’s addictive. Can’t wait for more live shows.

What prompted you to choose to cover ‘Nobody’s Diary’ by YAZOO live?

Allison: This was Marshall’s idea. So I’ll let him speak more about the decision. I absolutely love singing this song live. There is so much drama and mood in the track. You can see us live here if you are interested.

Marshall: ‘Nobody’s Diary’… just like LCD in ‘Losing My Edge’… I wanted to make a YAZ record… kinda. YAZOO was a huge influence for me growing up and ‘Nobody’s Diary’ is one of my favorite tracks. I thought it might be ambitious to tackle that one, and it’s taken quite a while to hone in on the sound for the cover, but ultimately I love how it has turned out. Every single time Allie sings “If I wait for just a second more… “, I kinda lose it inside, and can’t wait to drop it on folks. Right now we have been playing it last in our sets and I LOVE when I can hear people recognize it… I guess it’s some sort of weird validation—I feel like an old raver then… tryna teach the people about something they should know. I just hope we do it justice.

Your new single ‘Wear The Night Out’ is with R. MISSING which is a quite fitting musical union like your label mates KID MOXIE & NINA, is this an indicator of another direction that CAUSEWAY is heading with collaborations?

Marshall: I dunno. I really like R.MISSING and I hit them up on Insta and asked if they’d be into collaborating. I sent Sharon a few demos and she picked one she thought she’d want to work on. It was really seamless and they are amazing artists. She wrote the lyrics and did the heavy lifting on the vocals and I did all the music production and added Allie in, almost as a character for call and response. Blending the two voices was really interesting to me because they are quite different but worked together really well. As for an indicator of future collaborations or direction, I’ve done one other ‘remix’ for an artist that DESIRE was working with but that’s about it. I’m open to collaborations, but it’s all about fit. Most don’t work out so well.

Allison: We had a blast working with Sharon! She killed it. Her instincts were spot on, and Marshall made our voices blend so well together. It was a great fit! We don’t have any collaborations in the pipeline but doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

What is next for CAUSEWAY?

Marshall: Working on new music. IDIB want another album. We’ve got 3 tracks ready (which we’ve been playing in our live set) and a 4th just about ready and several sketches. I’d say sometime this year we’ll have a new one. We’ll see. Our schedules dictate that quite a bit. Maybe more live shows? We’ll see 🙂

Allison: My goals for CAUSEWAY would be more live shows, a killer second album. Mean dirty break up album. Haha! I would love to make another music video. Dream big, right?!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to CAUSEWAY

The new single ‘Wear The Night Out’ with R.MISSING can be heard via https://idib.ffm.to/wearthenight

The album ‘We Were Never Lost’ is released by Italians Do It Better and available on the usual digital platforms including https://wearecauseway.bandcamp.com/








Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29th April 2023


Founded in 2006 by Johnny Jewel and Mike Simonetti, Italians Do It Better is an independent record label based in West Hollywood making music and art with a strong visual identity, emphasising the cinematic thread running through its ethos.

GLASS CANDY, the duo featuring Johnny Jewel and Ida No had released their first album ‘Love Love Love’ through Simonetti’s Troubleman Unlimited in 2002, but the pair saw potential for a platform that offered more electronically tinged night music, free of interference and scheduling.

Italians Do It Better built itself initially around Johnny Jewel’s musical projects GLASS CANDY, CHROMATICS and then DESIRE whose 2009 self-titled album was to become an acclaimed favourite; the combo’s front woman Megan Louise would later become Jewel’s partner and the label’s president.

Before then CHROMATICS’ singer Ruth Radelet was romantically involved with Jewel and their evolving dynamic from the debut album ‘Night Drive’ right up to the long delayed ‘Dear Tommy’ has kept followers of both the band and label waiting… but one relationship that was unable to be maintained was with Mike Simonetti who parted ways with the label in 2014.

The profile of Italians Do It better has been boosted a number of key soundtrack inclusions; the tracks ‘Tick Of The Clock’ by CHROMATICS and ‘Under Your Spell’ by DESIRE were both used in the 2011 Ryan Gosling film ‘Drive’, while the actor’s 2014 directorial debut ‘Lost River’ featured a score composed by Johnny Jewel.

But for ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ in 2017, David Lynch handpicked CHROMATICS to perform their ethereal 2014 single ‘Shadow’ at the Roadhouse for a scene in Episode 2. Meanwhile material from Johnny Jewel’s ‘Windswept’ was included alongside new music from the original series composer Angelo Badalamenti, its sound of “time wasted” fitting in perfectly with the surrealist drama.

Over the past few years, Italians Do It Better has expanded beyond its core roster and signed a number of new acts from all around the globe. Acting like a creative director, Johnny Jewel carefully considers the label’s aesthetic, writing and producing for many of the artists, ensuring a considered continuity of ambience throughout its output.

As part of their diversification, Italians Do It Better have also released demo recordings of now well-known tracks by Fred Ventura and Julee Cruise. The surprise signing of Swedish cult favourite Sally Shapiro following a 2016 retirement signalled wider ambitions but this news this was countered by CHROMATICS announcing they were disbanding.

The past 18 months has seen Italians Do It Better enter one of its most prolific periods yet, while maintaining its high quality. Known for their ‘After Dark’ series of compilations, the label recently paid a 63rd birthday tribute to Madonna (who inspired the label’s name via a T-shirt slogan “Italians Do It Better” in the ‘Papa Do Preach’ video) with a collection of in-house covers.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents by way of a Beginner’s Guide, a selection from the Italian Do It Better catalogue, placed in yearly, then alphabetical order subject to a restriction of one track per artist moniker.

GLASS CANDY Etheric Device (2007)

Formed in Portland by Ida No and Johnny Jewel, the second GLASS CANDY album ‘B/E/A/T/B/O/X’ was among the first long players released on Italians Do It Better. Its compendium of dysfunctional electro-disco featured highlights such as ‘Beatific’. But the sharp mantric cascade of ‘Etheric Device’ saw Ida No channel a startled cross of Debbie Harry, Lene Lovich and Cyndi Lauper over bursts of rumbling synthbass. A third album ‘Body Work’ was announced in 2012 but remains unreleased.

Available on the GLASS CANDY album ‘B/E/A/T/B/O/X’


SYMMETRY Thicker Than Blood (2011)

Johnny Jewel was originally commissioned with CHROMATICS drummer and synthesist Nat Walker to provide an electronic soundtrack for ‘Drive’. But his work was not used and replaced by Cliff Martinez. So Jewel reworked the music and other abstract archive material as ‘Themes For An Imaginary Film’. Using the moniker SYMMETRY, the instrumental ‘Thicker Than Blood’ was one of the standouts Meanwhile, one track turned into a song was ‘Streets Of Fire’ which featured the vocals of Ruth Radlett.

Available on the SYMMETRY album ‘Themes For An Imaginary Film’


CHROMATICS Looking For Love (2013)

While their fourth album ‘Kill For Love’ showcased CHROMATICS cross of NEW ORDER styled indie guitar pop and synthesized grandeur, ‘Looking For Love’ was a dark slice of John Carpenter-inspired electronic disco lento at 103 BPM, with Ruth Radlett offering more of a tone of resignation rather than her trademark her wispiness. Originally, it was one of three new songs by CHROMATICS on the ‘After Dark 2’ collection featuring a selection of the Italians Do It Better roster.

Available on the CHROMATICS single bundle ‘Looking For Love’


JOHNNY JEWEL featuring SAOIRSE RONAN Tell Me (2014)

Undeterred by his frustrating experience working on ‘Drive’, Johnny Jewel agreed to provide the score for ‘Lost River’, the directorial debut of Ryan Gosling. A sparse ballad of innocence, ‘Tell Me’ was its undoubted highlight and sung in the film by Saoirse Ronan as her character Rat. The actress had never sung before and her contribution was recorded in two takes with a single microphone and no headphones. This nervous tension presented a wonderful ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe and a chilling if emotive ambience.

Available on the JOHNNY JEWEL album ‘Lost River (Original Motion Picture Score)’


TESS ROBY Catalyst (2018)

The contralto folktronica of Tess Roby was something of a departure for the Italians Do It Better stable. Born to musician parents, Roby dedicated the ‘Beacon’ album to her father and built her songs around the understated tones of a Roland Juno 106, allowing room for her vocals to take centre stage. ‘Catalyst’ was the album’s key reflective ode and provided an expansive earthy quality in its minimalism. She is also a photographer and a member of the danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN.

Available on the TESS ROBY album ‘Beacon’


DOUBLE MIXTE Romance Noire (2019)

Originally a duo comprising Thomas Maan and Clara Apolit, brooding Parisians DOUBLE MIXTE projected themselves as a modern day Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin but with a lively techno backbone that was especially evident on their debut Italians Do It Better single ‘Romance Noire’. The Gauloises flavoured film noir synergy came over in a combination of feminine Gallic prose over fat bursts of synths for a dark disco soundtrack that had decadent cool written all over it.

Available on the DOUBLE MIXTE EP ‘Romance Noire’


HEAVEN Truth Or Dare (2019)

The mysterious HEAVEN first came to wider attention with the ‘Lonesome Town’ EP featuring the hauntingly breathy ‘It’s Not Enough’ and a funereal paced cover of the Ricky Nelson title ballad that captured the fragility of the broken heart. Fronted by the enigmatic allure of singer and keyboardist Aja, the brilliant ‘Truth Or Dare’ sounded like CHROMATICS but with more synths and drum machine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, closer scrutiny revealed that HEAVEN was another project helmed by the ubiquitous Johnny Jewel.

Available on the HEAVEN single bundle ‘Truth Or Dare’


ORION I Want You So Bad (2020)

Inspired by Cyberpunk and Giallo cinema, ORION are the enigmatic Rhode Island duo of Orion Dommisse and John-Paul Sullivan. Their second single ‘I Want You So Bad’ was a wonderful Italo-inspired slice of “Cybernetic Noir” produced by Johnny Jewel where the breathy inter-galactic desire was so hot that “I flew from space to love you”. The follow-up single ‘Higher’ was another noteworthy Eurocentric offering with an airy and alluring feminine disposition.

Available on the ORION single bundle ‘I Want You So Bad’


CAUSEWAY We Were Never Lost (2020)

Also produced by Johnny Jewel, West Coast synthwave duo CAUSEWAY are Allison Rae and Marshall Watson. With a deep vocal resignation augmented by the tick of the clock and a foggy electronic disposition, ‘We Were Never Lost’ premiered on the ‘After Dark 3’ compilation. The duo kept up the standard with its more dreampop-laden follow-up ‘Hide & Seek’ while their most recent singular offering was a cover of NEW ORDER’s ‘Your Silent Face’.

Available on the compilation ‘After Dark 3’ (V/A)


DESIRE Escape (2020)

The brazen and provocative sass of DESIRE fronted by Megan Louise presents the more playful side of Italians Do It Better compared with the ice maiden persona of Ruth Radlett. This was more than demonstrated on a saucy if faithful cover of NEW ORDER’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’. But crossing the Italo-influenced electronic pop of Manchester’s finest with BANANARAMA, the charming follow-up single ‘Escape’ did as its title suggested, offering delightful escapism for the dancefloor.

Available on the DESIRE single ‘Escape’


BARK BARK DISCO Get Up & Run (2021)

If PET SHOP BOYS had remixed THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN, then it might have sounded a bit like BARK BARK DISCO. Maltese producer Ian Schranz is the man behind the glitterball canine moniker and ‘Get Up & Run’ was an optimistic rallying call to overcome lockdown fatigue where “You’ve gotta get back to the other side”. As well as recording his own material, BARK BARK DISCO is also an occasional collaborator of label mate and neighbour JOON.

Available on the BARK BARK DISCO single ‘Get Up & Run’


JORJA CHALMERS I’ll Be Waiting (2021)

If there is an artist that encapsulates the nocturnal cinematic aesthetic of Italians Do It Better, then it is Australian multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers. Her debut album ‘Human Again’ captured a lonely hotel room comedown but the second long player ‘Midnight Train’ presented more refinement, structure and vocals. Driven by a drum mantra in the vein of Bill Ward from BLACK SABBATH with expressive sax straight out of ‘Neuköln’, she captured a decadent European chill on the wonderfully windswept ‘I’ll Be Waiting’.

Available on the JORJA CHALMERS album ‘Midnight Train’


DLINA VOLNY Bipolar (2021)

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 DLINA VOLNY single ‘Bipolar’


GLÜME Get Low (2021)

If Lana Del Rey is the “Gangster Nancy Sinatra”, then Los Angeles-born GLÜME is the self-styled “Walmart Marilyn Monroe”. ‘Get Low’ was an intriguing slice of accessible avant pop about the high of falling for someone and how brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected. Applying some rumbling electronic bass, stabbing vintage synths and simple but prominent digital drum beats, ‘Get Close’ sounded not unlike an experimental hybrid of OMD and LADYTRON!

Available on the GLÜME album ‘The Internet’


JOON ET (2021)

JOON is the artist formally known as YEWS and the musical vehicle of Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis. With many voices in her head, the blippy avant pop ‘ET’ comes over like an oddball variant on Berlin-based Nordic duo ULTRAFLEX; with wonderfully eerie Theremin tones that make the concoction creepy yet fun, this inviting lo-fi number was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, adding to its aural surrealism.

Available on the JOON album ‘Dream Again’



Angelica Ranåsen and Jacob Fagerstål are Berlin-based Swedish duo JUNO FRANCIS who had released several synthpop singles on Finland’s Solina Records. But on teaming up with Venezuelan producer Alejandro Molinari, they became much more danceable and ‘Symmetry’ offered a sensual electro-funkiness that fitted in with the international disco aspirations of Italian Do It Better. Glamorous, hypnotic and decadent, the video was filmed in the notorious KitKatClub located in the Mitte suburb of the former Mauerstadt.

Available on the JUNO FRANCIS & ALEJANDRO MOLINARI single ‘Symmetry’


MOTHERMARY Pray (2021)

Inspired by the Prayer of the Blessed Virgin, the strikingly photogenic twins Elyse and Larena are like real-life ‘Twin Peaks’ characters, the backstory being that they escaped their strict Mormon family in remote Montana and uprooted to Brooklyn. Sounding a bit like Anglo-German art pop duo KALEIDA but with an acid house squelch, ‘Pray’ was their most provocative offering to date with gritty references to a “sacrificial offering” and confirmation that “We’ll pray for you…”

Available on the MOTHERMARY single ‘Pray’


RAMXES Bibliotech Virus (2021)

Another diversion for Italians Do It Better, RAMXES is a producer based in Texas with a background in hip-hop and rap who favours using Sequential Prophet Rev2 and Prophet 12 synths. The self-proclaimed “Dystopic Cowboy” combines house and glitch from within a video game mindset, a combination that is in its fullest flow with the sinister but infectious ‘Bibliotech Virus’. The parent album ‘Deep Crimson’ contained another 11 pieces of relentless electronic drive.

Available on the RAMXES album ‘Deep Crimson’


With special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

The Madonna tribute album ‘Italians Do It Better’ featuring 20 covers by 19 artists is now available via all the usual online platforms






ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s IDIB playlist ‘GLI ITALIANI LO FANNO MEGLIO’ can be streamed at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6HPhf1yptwaN6UiHDqzFI6

Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th August 2021