Tag: Danz CM (Page 1 of 2)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2021

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

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

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

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


ACTORS Love U More

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

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

https://www.actorstheband.com/


BAND ELECTRONICA featuring MIDGE URE Das Beat

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

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

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/


JORJA CHALMERS Rhapsody

Although a seasoned musician as the sax and keyboard player for Bryan Ferry over the past 10 years, Australian multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers did not release her first album until 2019. The superb take on SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Rhapsody’, an orchestrated gothic epic off their ninth album ‘Peepshow’, featured an intriguing electronic warble within its stripped down arrangement. From its claustrophobic cocoon, Chalmers sounded trapped inside an unsettling icy soundscape of synthetic strings and choirs.

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

https://www.instagram.com/jorjachalmers/


CLASS ACTRESS Saint Patrick

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

Available on the EP ‘Sense Memory’ via Terrible Records

https://classactress.com/


HATTIE COOKE I Get By

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

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

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke


DANZ CM Human Existence

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

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

https://www.zdanz.com/


DAWN TO DAWN Care

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/dawntodawnmusic


DEVOIR Mercer

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

Available on the single ‘Mercer’

https://www.facebook.com/wearedevoir


DIAMOND FIELD feat BELINDA BRADLEY A Kiss Apart

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

Available on the album ‘Diamond Field’ via Sofa King

https://diamondfieldmusic.com/


DLINA VOLNY Bipolar

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

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

https://www.instagram.com/dlina_volny/


LAURA DRE All Day, All Night

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

Available on the album ‘Moving Spaces’ via Outland Recordings

https://lauradre.com/


DURAN DURAN Featuring CHAI More Joy!

Celebrating 40 years as recording artists, DURAN DURAN released their 15th studio album ‘Future Past’ in a “live for the moment” reference of how something today can become a cherished memory in times to come. The chiptune inspired ‘More Joy!’ was reminiscent of past glories, its syncopated disco poise capturing DURAN DURAN at what they do best and with hypnotic electronics offset by a wonderful bass guitar run and chants by Japanese rock band CHAI, its exuberant manner presented the right dose of escapism.

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

http://www.duranduran.com/


GLÜME Get Low

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/babyglume


ROBIN HATCH Airplane

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

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

https://twitter.com/robinhatch


ITALOCONNECTION featuring ETIENNE DAHO Virus X

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection


JAKUZI Hiç Işık Yok

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/jakuz1/


JOON Good Times

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

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

https://www.templeofjoon.com/


КЛЕТ Eternity

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

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

https://www.instagram.com/kletwave/


LEATHERS Reckless

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

Available on the EP ‘Reckless’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.leatherstheband.com/


CATHERINE MOAN Drop It!

Having treated the world with her charming cover of the Alan Wilder penned DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Fools’, Philadelphian songstress CATHERINE MOAN launched her debut album with the self-composed ‘Drop It!’, song craving the joy of nightlife after a year of lockdown confinement. Dreamily floating over a classic four chord progression with an eerily sombre apocalyptic understatement, ‘Drop It!’ channelled her innocent sound in the manner of ELECTRIC YOUTH meeting STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE and MARSHEAUX via her own bedroom aesthetic.

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

https://www.facebook.com/Catherine-Moan-105421111625150


KARIN MY Loop

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

Available on the album ‘Silence Amygdala’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.karinmy.net/


NATION OF LANGUAGE This Fractured Mind

Using a rigid motorik backbone and capturing a danceable ethereal shudder, ‘This Fractured Mind’ breathed new life via its sprightly synth tones in a reference to the past. Although there was also some frenetic bass guitar grit to provide a hint of claustrophobia, the machines that had only been friends previously became family in the NATION OF LANGUAGE sound. Dealing with the spectre of unrealised dreams and jealousy towards more successful others, by the end of ‘This Fractured Mind’, any inferiority complex is countered with hopeful acceptance.

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

https://www.nationoflanguage.com/


NORTHERN LITE Ich Fürchte Nein

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

Available on the album ‘Ja’ via UnaMusic

https://www.northernlite.de/


GARY NUMAN The Chosen

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

Available on the album ‘Intruder’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


MARK REEDER & FIFI RONG Figure Of 8

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

Available on the album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ via MFS

https://fifirong.com/

https://mfsberlin.com/


R. MISSING Crimeless

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music. 2020’s ‘Placeholder For The Night’ signalled airier developments in their increasingly synthy sound, but the wonderful ‘Crimeless’ was R. MISSING’s most electronic pop noir statement yet. It was like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Available on the single ‘Crimeless’ via Sugarcane Recordings

https://rmissing.com/


SCHÖNHEIT Danse Du Robot

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

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

https://swedishelectroscene.bandcamp.com/track/danse-du-robot-hommage-florian


SEA FEVER De Facto

SEA FEVER are the new eclectic Manchester combo featuring second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham. ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while also crossing over to lovers of synth. With echoes of NEW ORDER and THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, it captured a vibrant energy worthy of Manchester and its musical heritage.

Available on the album ‘Folding Lines’ via Kartel Records

https://seafeverband.com/


UNIFY SEPARATE Embrace The Fear

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/usmusicspace


WAVESHAPER Lost In The Cloud

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

Available on the album ‘Mainframe’ via Waveshaper Music Production

https://www.facebook.com/Waveshaperofficial


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music in 2021 is on its ‘Missing U’ playlist at
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2021

DANZ CM Interview

DANZ CM, the artist formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC is New York-based Danz Johnson, a musician, producer and vocalist fascinated by everything ‘Synth History’ has to offer.

As a result, she has been able to overcome her shyness to produce her own music and engage with some of the biggest names in electronic music. “I outgrew COMPUTER MAGIC. I outgrew the shy bedroom pop girl a long time ago” when she announced DANZ CM and her first album under that name ‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’.

As well as releasing a fistful of albums and EPs since 2012’s ‘Scientific Experience’ which made its release debut in Japan, she also started the ‘Synth History’ online platform which to date has interviewed Gary Numan, Vince Clarke, Rick Wakeman, Dave Smith, Suzanne Ciani, Pete Townsend and James Murphy amongst others, while a well-researched podcast on the career of Wendy Carlos attracted much acclaim.

Danz Johnson chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about her creative process, song inspirations, leaving behind COMPUTER MAGIC and ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’…

Why did electronic music become your choice of artistic expression as opposed to say indie rock, punk, R ‘n’ B, folk or country which many American kids can and do get into?

I started out with electronic music because that’s what I had. I didn’t even know I could make music before I downloaded Ableton one day and tried. Prior to that, I had been obsessed with listening to music. I had my own music blog when I was super young. I’d listen to music all day long, even throughout class. I could always hear music in my head even when I wasn’t listening to it – I’d fantasize about whole songs through – like a radio station in my brain.

Eventually, I just decided to try, and found out the ability of hearing music in my head translated to making music by ear. I still have never memorized notes or chords – but I could transpose a song just by listening to it. If I had picked up a guitar first, maybe I’d have started with rock.

The album title ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ indicates you may have been going through an existential crisis, so is it a concept album of sorts?

It’s definitely somewhat of a concept album. I went through some difficult emotional realizations when I was writing it. I was dating someone who was really narcissistic.. it really messed me up. For some reason it felt like a last straw. I realized throughout my whole life, I was, for some reason, susceptible to people like that – like a target. A realization which finally broke me. Is everyone in the world out to get everyone else? Do people really only care about themselves? Is it me? Why do I feel guilty?

I always saw the world through rose colored glasses – that people generally have good intentions, but suddenly that view shifted… I saw flaws everywhere and also in me. But not in a bad way, in a very accepting way. That’s how the world is, after all. Everyone comes from a different place with a different upbringing with a different mind and yeah – bad things happen to good people all the time. And I think that was a big step in growing up. Despite the emotionality, I think it was something I needed to go through artistically and as a person.

How would you break down ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’?

I kind of see the album in different stages, albeit the tracklisting is loose. The beginning of a relationship gone south (‘Not Gonna Stand By’), realizing what’s going on, feeling bad about it and helpless (‘Domino’, ‘Idea of You’) – Trying not to let your low self-esteem get the best of you (‘My Other Self’) – Finally breaking (‘Breaking Point’, ‘Low’) – Picking yourself up, knowing that you’re capable (‘I Don’t Need a Hero’, ‘Something More’) – Falling in love again (‘Don’t Stop’) – And the last song is important (‘Human Existence’) because it encapsulates it all. Existence is absurd, emotions in themselves are as well, but as far as we know, you only live once so you might as well make the best of it.

I should point out that the idea of Absurdism really saved me when I hit my lowest during this period, which is when I wrote ‘Breaking Point’. That’s when I titled the album. Oftentimes as human beings with reactive emotions, we feel depressed when we’re not in control of our situation. Letting go and realizing that – the universe can be random and accepting it – helped immensely.

Was the pandemic crisis another trigger in your artistic psyche?

To be honest – I wrote, produced and recorded this entire album before the pandemic! Everything including the title was written and recorded beforehand. The only thing the pandemic did was delay the release. It did give me time to find a good mastering engineer – Joe LaPorta. He really did a great job.

You have already stated the reasons on your own social media as to why you decided to stop being COMPUTER MAGIC, but has the name change affected profile momentum or was it a smooth transition like when Gary Numan was no longer TUBEWAY ARMY even though he was TUBEWAY ARMY?

Looking back, I wish I had the money to hire PR. It would have been nice to get the world out via online publications in addition to my social media channels. I put out everything myself on my own label, Channel 9 Records. In turn, my PR budget runs parallel to what I can personally afford.

I don’t have a $20k budget for hiring PR being given to me by a label as an advance, or by my parents. I need to have that money saved up and ready before the release is set if I want to get written up in Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, etc. A reputable PR company costs upwards of $5-10k a month – that’s not even counting billboards and wild postings – posters you see on the streets of NYC and other major cities. But there is also the cost of pressing vinyls – which is important to me, mastering – which is important to me, and videos. It’s a lot of money and it all adds up if you want to release something properly.

I needed to figure out what I couldn’t live without – and that was the substance. The music, the tangible vinyls, the videos to coincide with the songs. People will eventually find out about the album. Maybe I’ll be dead and it’ll be in forty years, but I know it’s good and I put my all into it. Whatever happens afterwards is a bonus.

The name change has really just been word of mouth. One thing I didn’t take into consideration was all of CM’s Spotify followers. I had twenty thousand that weren’t notified of the release, and I had to start from scratch. But the name change needed to happen. It just felt right for me.

The difference between your pop-oriented debut ‘Davos’ album and the melancholic innocence of songs like ‘Lonely Like We Are’ from the ‘Obscure But Visible’ EP , to the darkness of the ‘Danz’ album are quite marked, so things already were heading in a new direction in your mind?

Yeah – I think so, but not on purpose, just subconsciously. I think the main factors that influence my work are the unfolding of my life, external inspirations and the increase in knowledge concerning music production. If you’re making art, it’s unhealthy to be stagnant and always have the same output.

On ‘Danz’, the widescreen other worldliness of ‘Nebraskaland’ seemed to spark your interest in the expansive spaces that are captured in the photos and videos for ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’?

I wrote ‘Nebraskaland’ on tour! When I play live, I hire a session drummer, the amazing Ignacio Rivas Bixio. We were driving and I think my friend Mo was tour managing. We were out in the middle of nowhere – all in our own zones in the tour van. I think Ignacio was playing ‘DOOM’ on his laptop, Mo was listening to the ‘Serial’ podcast and I was on my headphones working in Ableton. I saw a truck that said ‘Nebraskaland’ and it just stuck with me. The song is about the endless open road – one of my favorites. It goes with ‘Absurdity’ for sure.

‘Idea of You’ set the scene as your first DANZ CM single release, what was its genesis?

‘Idea of You’ is basically about falling in love with someone for all the wrong reasons, a complete facade. You want to feel “the feeling” of falling in love, so you ignore all the red flags when you should really be running in the opposite direction. It’s about feeling fooled, whilst simultaneously feeling stuck because in your heart you want it to work out. In the video we wanted to capture that. My boyfriend – Matthew James Reilly – is a director. During quarantine we couldn’t get a big crew, so we just flew to the middle of Death Valley the two of us and made the video. I think it really does the song justice. To me, the house represents the relationship that I’m slowly realizing isn’t real.

The almost title track ‘Human Existence’ is gorgeous, one of the best of 2021 so far, it’s like OMD been fronted by CHROMATICS, had there been any particular influences in its arrangement?

I just wanted to make something uplifting to portray the way I was feeling. To me, the song means acceptance of circumstance. I didn’t aim for any particular sound, it just came to be honest. I used the Prophet 6 – which is mostly analog except for the effects. I wanted epic pad sounds.

‘Breaking Point’ taps into that chilling arpeggio template that some would say is very ‘Stranger Things’, how did that come together?

Like I mentioned earlier – I really hit a low. It was after the departure of the toxic relationship. I was really questioning myself and who I was. I started taking a benzo type of drug, which I would not recommend to anybody dealing with depression. When that wore off, I went through the worst withdrawals. I was hallucinating when I would leave my apartment. I didn’t feel like I was a real person, like my existence was futile. I felt like everything was meaningless. Pretty dark stuff. And that is when I wrote ‘Breaking Point’.

Never in my life did I capture my emotions as vividly as in that song. So much so that it’s hard for me to listen to it even now without tearing up. Eventually, I started reading about Nihilism, Existentialism and Absurdism. The last one stuck with me, and I think saved me from that dark hole, which is what the album is named after.

Being DANZ CM appears to have freed you to explore different styles in your music, it appears THE CURE’s ‘Fascination Street’ is an inspiration on ‘I Don’t Need a Hero’?

I love THE CURE – particularly ‘Friday, I’m in Love’ and ‘Pictures of You’. I’m going to be honest – ‘Fascination Street’ is not a song I’m too familiar with. So if there is a familiar style there, it intrinsically comes from their other music.

There’s the surprise of the fragile disco feel of ‘Not Gonna Stand By’ and you rocking out a bit on ‘Something More, two songs with quite opposing feels?

So – ‘Not Gonna Stand By’ was the most challenging song to record off the record. I wanted to use all live, acoustic instruments, to stay true to 1970s disco. I initially composed everything in Ableton with software synths. Then I had my friends come over to re-record everything with the real thing. My friend Danny Meyer played sax, Emily Holden played violin – which I layered to sound like an orchestra, Owen Biddle played bass and I went into a studio to record Ignacio on drums. It really was a fantastic experience and gratifying to make. I never brought a bunch of people together to make a song like that before. Danny did some awesome improvisation on the sax parts. I mean – they were all amazing.

‘Something More’, I wanted to be like a 1970s old school rock anthem, mixed with a Devo vibe. I suck at guitar, but somehow made it work. I wanted very angular guitar parts. Luckily, since I play by ear, it’s easy to find singular notes on the guitar – but harder to play chords. There are a lot of singular guitar riffs, layered with other singular guitar riffs to make chords.

In terms of production for this album, what is your home studio set-up and what was the process for fine tuning it?

I write and record everything in my apartment. For mixing, I sent ‘Absurdity’ off to Claudius Mittendorfer in London. Then for mastering it went over to Joe LaPorta in New York. Writing, recording and producing are like second nature to me at this point. They all kind of coincide.

Making the record was a lot of hard work. I’d literally drive myself crazy working on songs up until I couldn’t stay awake anymore. It also took an emotional toll as you can imagine, getting all that stuff out. l was happy when it was complete.

The sound of your music, even on your earlier material like ‘Fuzz’ and ‘All Day’, is quite accomplished while maintaining a gritty edge. Is there any advice you would give to aspiring musicians recording on a limited budget, especially when recording vocals and drums?

Stay true to yourself. You are essentially what makes your music unique! There is no other you in the world. As for vocals, don’t be afraid to ask for privacy when recording. I almost never record vocals in front of anyone else because I’m self-conscious. For drums – get experimental. I always mix electronic with acoustic, which is why I tour with a drummer and record live drums on a lot of my tracks.

You’ve posted up photos of yourself using vintage gear like the ARP 2600 at The Synth Sanctuary, did that end up on any of ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ or is that for another project?

I was interning there for a bit, dusting off synths. I didn’t record anything there except stuff for a potential upcoming podcast episode on ARP and some Minimoog. But that place is great, and Jay who owns it is an awesome dude and musician.

What are your own favourite synths? Is there a particular synth you covet?

Prophet 6, Moog Minitaur and Omnichord; they are my go-tos and have been for the past few years. I would like to someday own a CS-80!

You’ve immersed yourself in ‘Synth History’ with your online interview and podcast platform, what have been the most rewarding aspects of putting this together for you?

I think just meeting other people who want to nerd out about synths. I’m really happy I started it, it seems to bring a lot of people joy.

Who else would you’d like to interview or feature for ‘Synth History’?

Trent Reznor, Thom Yorke, Paul McCartney.

You run your own Channel 9 label, how do you see the future of music distribution and consumption?

I think it’s leaning towards artists thankfully. It’s easier to be in touch with fans directly.

Do you miss performing live or do you see DANZ CM being only a music and video entity?

I can’t wait to perform live as DANZ CM FKA COMPUTER MAGIC!

What’s next for you?

I have no idea. But I hope something fun.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Danz Johnson

Additional thanks to Hal at Albedo PR

‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’ released by Channel 9 Records as a cloudy blue vinyl LP available from https://channel9records.com/ or digitally via the usual outlets

The COMPUTER MAGIC back catalogue is available at https://computermagic.bandcamp.com/

https://www.zdanz.com/

https://www.facebook.com/zdanz

https://twitter.com/danz_cm

https://www.instagram.com/danz_cm/

https://www.synthhistory.com/

https://open.spotify.com/album/1oqWGdeaLx3Y6YgI4ibku4


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13th May 2021

DANZ CM The Absurdity of Human Existence

‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ is the first album by DANZ CM, formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC.

New York based Danz Johnson is the synth girl behind both vehicles with a passion for the development of the electronic music.

Having started the ‘Synth History’ online platform which has to date interviewed Gary Numan, Vince Clarke, Rick Wakeman, Dave Smith, Suzanne Ciani, Pete Townsend and James Murphy amongst others, she also produced an acclaimed podcast on the career of electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos.

Her first COMPUTER MAGIC album proper ‘Davos’ came out in 2015, but her most recent long playing offering ‘Danz’ released in 2018 was much darker than the enjoyably escapist ‘Obscure But Visible’ EP and its utterly charming highlight ‘Lonely Like We Are’ from 2016. So a compromise adaptation of her moniker was almost inevitable to reflect her artistic maturity.

Capturing a sombre disposition reflecting the album’s title, the enjoyable opening song and first single ‘Idea of You’ is a stark statement that she’s “Gotta step back to put things in perspective”. ‘Domino’ continues in the vein, Johnson’s afflicted vocals cascading while backed by a range of sweeping timbres over vintage drum machine as everything topples around her; “I wish that my love was enough” she despairs.

With schizophrenic overtones, ‘My Other Self’ is spacey and has and exudes a stark vulnerability while ‘Low’ makes good use of deep synth bass for a burst of hi-hat driven avant pop. Pacier with synth triggers concocting a kaleidoscopic sound, ‘Don’t Stop’ sees Danz wanting to take action and coming over like a girly John Grant as her f***ing mind is blown.

‘Breaking Point’ uses an icy variation on the ‘Stranger Things’ arpeggio with Johnson coming over rather forlorn, but far more boisterous and almost indie rock is ‘Something More although it does amusingly see Johnson exclaim “it doesn’t f***ing suit you”!

‘I Don’t Need a Hero’ is a homage to THE CURE’s ‘Fascination Street’ with added throbbing electronics and blistering stabs of synth while ‘Not Gonna Stand By’ takes a curveball and lightens the mood with disco bass and brass, but her honest vocal offsets any apparent cheerfulness although this contrast is precisely the song’s harm.

However, the best is saved until last with the total melancholic brilliance of ‘Human Existence’, a glorious string synth laden set piece in the manner of OMD meeting CHROMATICS where Johnson declares “you can’t save me, I can’t save you”.

“I outgrew COMPUTER MAGIC. I outgrew the shy bedroom pop girl a long time ago” said Danz Johnson when she announced the birth of DANZ CM and certainly the innocence of her previous work is certainly absent on ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’.

What is in its place is a more intense presence and a wider ambition exploring different music styles and timbres while still remaining at its core, the creation of a talented woman who has overcome her shyness and had the courage to engage with and learn from some of the biggest names in synth.


‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’ released by Channel 9 Records in cloudy blue vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://channel9records.com/collections/absurdity-collection

https://www.zdanz.com/

https://www.facebook.com/zdanz

https://twitter.com/danz_cm

https://www.instagram.com/danz_cm/

https://www.synthhistory.com/

https://open.spotify.com/album/1oqWGdeaLx3Y6YgI4ibku4


Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th March 2021

Introducing VIOLET CHOIR

Phoenix-based VIOLET CHOIR comprise of Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn who met at college while studying jazz.

Previously indie rock combo THE PROWLING KIND and dream popsters MRCH, the output from their previous guises appeared in the soundtracks of ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘Search Party’, ‘13 Reasons Why’, ‘Shameless’ and’ The Vampire Diaries’.

On ‘Reactions’, their 2017 debut album as MRCH, the duo fully embraced a more electronic sound to the point that it was more or less fully sequenced.

Inspired by the likes of independent artists like COMPUTER MAGIC aka DANZ CM and the synthwave breakthrough, there came a change of style with a change of name. So VIOLET CHOIR was born. Their self-titled EP makes use of a Prophet 08, some Moog via the Matriarch and Minitaur, plus Ableton soft synths simulating DX7 bell sounds. Meanwhile a live kit and drum machines sit in tandem alongside occasional electric guitar and bass.

Moody and percussive without resorting to synthwave clichés, ‘Don’t Come Around’ recalls the feel of KLEERUP’s ‘Nothing Left To Die For’ with Jenny Wilson. Nurtured on jazz and rock, Mickey Louise’s voice comes over rich and airy over an appealing electronic pop song that doesn’t sound as long as its five and a half minutes length might suggest.

Although adopting more of a post-punk template with live bass and guitar, ‘Tonight’ still has plenty of synths to add texture including a surprising jazzier twirl and a particularly piercing but melodic sound reminiscent of the sparkly feminine new wave vibe of PARALLELS or CHROMATICS.

Meanwhile, the chunky fuzz and deeper treated vocal counterpoints on ‘Dream About It’ offer a slightly gothic dimension to a slice of precision disco lento, with its dynamic highs and lows projecting in the manner of THE GOLDEN FILTER.

Maintaining that “life is strange”, the sombre root note bass and strident keyboard arpeggio patterns make ‘Friend Song’ the most archetypical synthwave styled offering on the EP, with the breezily wispy vocals contributing to an enjoyable chorus uplift.

The electroclash-derived ‘Kids On Sunset’ adopts a dominant bass triplet for a galloping rhythmic sway that becomes more addictive as it approaches the dancefloor. The presence of the coy feline allure of COMPUTER MAGIC with her track ‘Fuzz’ in particular and the much missed Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN are strong.

This debut EP is not your run-of-the-mill synthwave-by-numbers and by bringing their experience from other genres, VIOLET CHOIR have largely avoided the usual musical catchphrases that can haunt modern electronic pop. What stands out are the songs and the musicality. Time will see Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn fully realise the promise on show here.


‘Violet Choir’ EP released on 19th February 2021 by Fervor Records

http://www.violetchoir.com/

https://www.facebook.com/violetchoir/

https://twitter.com/violetchoir

https://www.instagram.com/violetchoir/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3l62JBwb5peXmTGwKh4DM3


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th February 2021

DANZ CM Idea of You

She’s the artist formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC and ‘Idea of You’ is her first single under her new moniker of DANZ CM.

Behind the music is Danz Johnson whose first album proper ‘Davos’ came out under the name COMPUTER MAGIC in 2015. She said on social media: “In the beginning I didn’t know what to call myself. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, was so sure no one would believe it was just one person making the music…”

New York-based producer added “I wanted to change it because I outgrew COMPUTER MAGIC. I outgrew the shy bedroom pop girl a long time ago. COMPUTER MAGIC might mean something different to you, but to me it represents a skin that I need to shed.”

Capturing a sombre electronic disposition, ‘Idea of You’ develops on the darkness that was apparent on the last COMPUTER MAGIC album ‘Danz’ with its self-referencing title a pointer of things to come. It is all quite distinct from the enjoyably escapist ‘Obscure but Visible’ EP and its utterly charming highlight ‘Lonely Like We Are’.

With her stark statement that she’s “Gotta step back to put things in perspective” summing things up, in the collaborative video for ‘Idea of You’, Danz Johnson and director Matthew James Reilly set off to the desolate location of Death Valley in Nevada to see our heroine take on the role of The Girl Who Fell To Earth.

While recording ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’, her upcoming first album as DANZ CM, Danz Johnson launched her ‘Synth History’ platform celebrating musicians who have embraced the sound of synthesizers in their work. To date she has interviewed Pete Townshend, Suzanne Ciani, James Murphy, Rick Wakeman, Vince Clarke, Dave Smith and many more.

She then began a crowdfunding campaign to expand ‘Synth History’ into a podcast series and the first acclaimed episode in Summer 2020 discussed the pioneering legacy of Wendy Carlos.


‘Idea of You’ is available now via digital platforms and is from the forthcoming album ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ released on 12th March 2021 by Channel 9 Records

https://www.zdanz.com/

https://www.facebook.com/zdanz

https://twitter.com/danz_cm

https://www.instagram.com/danz_cm/

https://www.synthhistory.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th December 2020

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