Tag: Femmepop

FEMMEPOP Tom Dooley

Behind FEMMEPOP is the Irish singer and musician Margaret O’ Sullivan. She released her debut album ‘From A Girl Who Never Sleeps’ in 2014 while she followed it up with ‘Dancing With Myself’ in 2017.

But 2018 could be seen as the breakthrough year of FEMMEPOP; there were collaborations with Robert Parker and Hayley Stewart aka MECHA MAIKO while the ‘CYM’ EP which saw O’Sullivan develop her synth sound further for her best work yet.

2019’s ‘London’ EP surprised as an instrumental affair, but for her new single, FEMMEPOP has returned to songs but with a folk twist.

Margaret O’ Sullivan told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: ”I live alone so lockdown was really hard. I was thinking of old songs I used to hear as a child and I remembered a song my Aunt used to sing ‘Tom Dooley’. I used to imitate my Aunt singing this song, as she used to sing it a lot. So I copied her and even at the age of 4 or 5, I loved the dark story within the lyrics.”

‘Tom Dooley’ is a ballad about the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County. It was allegedly committed by Tom Dula ; a local poet named Thomas Land wrote a song about the tragedy, titled ‘Tom Dooley’ shortly after Dula (which was pronounced “Dooley”) went to the gallows.

“I decided to do a cover and see what I would come up with” said O’Sullivan, “I was drawn to darkness of the song, the line ‘met her on the mountain stabbed her with my knife’ especially interested me as it’s just so stark and poignant.”

The recording of ‘Tom Dooley’ also saw a new side to FEMMEPOP. “Production wise, this song has the most tracks I have ever used on a song” said O’Sullivan remembered, “It contains 28 tracks. I used a lot of ideas for this, I wanted a rich sounding orchestral sound. There’s viola, piano, guitar, and strings on there as well as about 4 different drum tracks and 5 vocal tracks. Getting the drums right was the hardest part. That took quite a while. There are 5 verses in the song and I wanted to bring in the drums at the right point.”

One of the unexpected was the rhythmic climax: “I wanted to keep the softness of the ballad at the beginning then surprise people with the marching drums that come in and then slowly build to a crescendo at the end, along with the strings and piano. My vocals too emphasise this towards the end as I sing ‘ To die, to die, lay down, lay down.’ This song means a lot to me as it reminds me of my childhood but I have brought it into the year 2020 and I don’t think there is another version out there quite like this.”

The video put FEMMEPOP into a forlorn setting with another eerie twist: “It was shot in Cork city in August, outside an old, closed down, mental institution called St Kevins. So there was a very dark and eerie feeling about the place. It was directed and shot by a very talented film maker called Zoe Kavanagh from Dublin who has won several awards for her horror based films. The video was shot in one day and had me climbing through brambles and bushes on a boiling day in a dress and fishnet stockings!”

With ‘Tom Dooley’, FEMMEPOP makes a statement on several artistic levels, capturing the human condition’s challenges in coping with current world events.


‘Tom Dooley’ is released as a download single on 25th September 2020, available direct from https://femmepop.bandcamp.com/

https://www.femmepop.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Femmepop

https://www.instagram.com/femmepop/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Margaret O’ Sullivan
21st September 2020

2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business. That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic… MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again.

HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour. Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths.

DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019. It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount. This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever. It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after attending two of its live events: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019, updated 29th Janaury 2021

FEMMEPOP London EP

FEMMEPOP aka Margaret O’Sullivan carries the baton of Irish electronic music rather proudly, alongside other Emerald Isle acts like CIRCUIT3, TINY MAGNETIC PETS, iEUROPEAN or EMBRACE THE CRISIS.

Having two albums under her belt as well as a poignant EP ‘CYM’, on which FEMMEPOP proved she can do non-nonsense synth music thanks to her sophisticated style and production precision, it is only expected for the following EP to be heading in the direction of further greatness.

O’Sullivan doesn’t like her music described as “synthwave”, not meaning the description to be derogatory, but her style is far too eclectic to be pigeon holed. While the previous offerings were utilising her main instrument, the voice, ‘London’ is devoid of any vocals.

“I wanted to create a body of work without using my voice. I realise this is taking a gamble with my listeners but artistically I must do what feels right at the time. I wanted to experiment and branch out as I feel I can do so much more than sticking to the one sound or genre.” she said.

‘London’ reflects FEMMEPOP’s continuing love affair with the city she’s living in, its sounds, tastes, looks and enormous diversity, which makes it the amazing place it is, saying: “I have always seen the beauty and felt the charm of this city and in the most mundane and ordinary occurrences. I have always loved its noisy and dirty underground, its tower blocks, green parks, Camden, its music, culture, people and accents. Its abundance of energy, its fire. The raw, the gritty, the polite, the angry, the urbanity – the general ebb and flow of the city.”

Those notions are depicted on all three tracks on the EP, mostly with the pulsating ‘Gnarly’, which feels like a melting pot of cultures, cuisine and religions. ‘Vice’ is über cool and urban, filled with delicious arpeggios and boundary bending sounds, while the closing ‘Night Procession’ is a demure, nostalgic walk alongside the meandering Thames with gritty textures and hidden energy awaiting to burst free.

FEMMEPOP took a risk with going “words free” but that move has certainly worked in her favour. Having the tracks laid bare with their cinematic qualities, the soundtrack to London’s life practically wrote itself and the result is meaningful and dear to O’Sullivan, and it certainly marks her progression to upper echelons of synth society.


‘London’ is available as a download direct from https://femmepop.bandcamp.com/

https://www.femmepop.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Femmepop

https://twitter.com/MsFemmepop

https://www.instagram.com/femmepop/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
12th July 2019

Introducing FEMMEPOP

Independent Irish electronic artist Margaret O’ Sullivan is the lady behind FEMMEPOP.

Dublin is brimming with synth acts now like TINY MAGNETIC PETS, CIRCUIT3, EMBRACE THE CRISIS and iEUROPEAN, so it’s only natural that further south, the city of Cork should want to join in the fun as well.

In 2018, FEMMEPOP collaborated with Canadian synth songstress MECHA MAIKO on ‘Tomodachi’ as well as working with ROBERT PARKER on ‘Demise’, a song for the soundtrack of the acclaimed Swedish film ‘Videoman’. The title song of her most recent album ‘Dancing With Myself’ was an eerie electronic cover of the GENERATION X masturbation anthem.

FEMMEPOP’s most recent release was the ‘CYM’ EP which saw O’Sullivan develop her synth sound further with the recent addition to her armoury of a Korg Minilogue and a step-up in production values.

To start proceedings, the filmic instrumental opener ‘Astra’ features a catchy riff surrounded by plethora of arpeggios, electronic textures and pipey counter-melodies like a more uptempo modern-day CHINA CRISIS.

Also instrumental, the atmospheric ‘Motion’ fully appreciates what the form is about with its widescreen sweeps, subtle tones and rhythmic interludes, something those laptop boys with their meandering offerings that sound like someone has forgotten to sing on don’t seem to understand.

Meanwhile, the immersive ‘CYM’ title track recalls MECHA MAIKO, a dreamy synth concoction that nods towards a cooler KID MOXIE, like if she had been living next to the Irish Sea rather than the Aegean!

Already a veteran of two albums, one of O’ Sullivan’s most striking statements has been “PLEASE DO NOT CALL FEMMEPOP SYNTHWAVE, THANK YOU!”, a community she has described as “sexist”; so it is fitting that the EP closer ‘Suck It Up’ is a delightful feminist rallying call immersed in a cacophony of pulses, angelic voices and a cascading wall of edgy metallic sound before concluding with a classic synthy motif.

With FEMMEPOP developing a more thoughtful sophisticated sound without losing her avant aspirations, the end result is less harsh and more accessible. Things can only get better…


‘CYM’ is available from as a download direct from https://femmepop.bandcamp.com/

https://www.femmepop.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Femmepop

https://twitter.com/MsFemmepop

https://www.instagram.com/femmepop/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th November 2018