Tag: Fred Ventura (Page 1 of 2)

BUNNY X Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were you both hairbrush as microphone types of girls?

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

Mary: Ummmmm HECK YES!

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

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

Mary: BOTH PLEASE!

What about BERLIN versus MISSING PERSONS?

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

Mary: Not gonna lie, LOVE them both!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abigail: I don’t know about one story in particular but I did have a remarkable ability to completely embarrass myself in front of my grade-school crushes. I mean, we’re talking epic levels of embarrassment. Once, when trying to impress a crush (this goes out to you Braxton), I decided it’d be pretty awesome if I quickly jumped off my friend’s bike (I was standing on the rear pegs) as she was pedalling. In a clear case of expectation vs reality, instead of looking cool and casual, I flew through the air like a poor man’s Supergirl and landed in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk in full view of my crush. There really wasn’t any coming back from that. Hopefully Braxton has long since forgotten the incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th September 2021

ITALOCONNECTION Midnight Confessions Vol1

In the UK, ITALOCONNECTION are perhaps best known for their remixes of HURTS ‘Better Than Love’ and THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Never Let Me Go’; the latter’s radio mix was actually BBC Radio2’s preferred version for airplay.

For Italian music veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti, the ethos of ITALOCONNECTION is “to sound vintage in a modern way”.

The duo released their self-titled debut album in 2013 which comprised of their own tracks as well as productions and remixes for other artists, so 2017’s ‘Metropoli’ was actually their first album proper.

And now after the interim covers collection ‘Disco Boutique’ comes ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, an album about love that also brings in a wider commentary including environmental issues, the worldwide pandemic and human rights, all while fused to a tight danceable electronic sound bursting with melody.

As Fred Ventura himself described it, “The production of this album was like a long journey, going through bad weather and back to the sun several times. We had to face the reality of working from distance and without the usual production jam we used before the pandemic”.

The opener ‘All I Want Is You’ is wonderful and with its chosen Korg Poly synth tones, is almost like CHINA CRISIS gone Eurodisco. Fred Ventura’s vocal topline is appealing and rousing in all the right places to stamp its origins.

Playing with more of machine groove and a much darker tone, ‘Rainbow Warrior’ featuring Swedish performance artist Tobias Bernstrup on lead vocals is another superb song. With references to the story of the Greenpeace ship and the Stonewall Rebellion, it celebrates the heroics of environmental and LGBT activists to an infectious dance beat.

‘All Over’ is all hooks and atmospheres galore with another confident vocal performance from Ventura and when the female vocals join in, it provides a glorious uplift.

The pulsating ‘Get Together’ is a catchy if bittersweet number, with room to breathe musically as Ventura tells of how he wants to be left alone; his falsetto refrain in the vein of ‘I Feel Love’ in the extended coda is a delight.

The superb ‘Virus X’ featuring French veteran Etienne Daho springs a surprise as a suave slice of Gallic synthwave; with a downbeat verse and an emotive chorus, it acts as a poignant musical document of the past year’s tensions while using toxic personal relationships as a sinister lyrical analogy.

Despite its deep cutting bassline and spacey shimmers, the lovelorn drama of ‘Since You Went Away’ takes a progressive turn from its retro-modern first half with a gorgeous monologue from actress Francesca Diprima that brings an airy feminine touch to proceedings alongside Ventura’s voice and a collage of speedy arpeggios towards an expansive climax.

Modern Italo duo CARINO CAT, who had their debut album ‘Attraction Of Heat’ released on Ventura’s Disco Modernism label, guest on ‘The Year Of The Sun’; the sparkly number does exactly as the title suggests with an addictive Mediterranean disco vibe from yesteryear that sounds more than familiar with its catchy chorus and “ohoh-oh-oh” vocal ab-libs!

The largely optimistic template captured on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1 takes a more introspective turn on ‘Humans’.

As people of the world emerges from a long period of enforced isolation, it is time to “express our right to be loved” with “no reason to give up or hide anymore”. As Paolo Gozzetti reflected: “We are humans, we need to relate, we were made to relate. You can hide, you can escape, but the truth is we all need to relate.”

Throughout ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, the production is excellent, showcasing a collection of danceable widescreen European electronic pop at its best. So here’s to the standard being maintained for ‘Midnight Confessions Vol2’.


‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is released by Bordello A Parigi on 21st June 2021, the vinyl LP and CD are available direct from https://bordelloaparigi.com/artist/italoconnection/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st June 2021

ITALOCONNECTION Interview

Fred Ventura is a legend of Italo Disco; meanwhile Paolo Gozzetti is a stalwart of Italian electronic music. Together they are ITALOCONNECTION.

Known to British audiences for their remixes of HURTS, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and KNIGHT$, their new album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is a sun-kissed eight track collection featuring a number of specials guests including French pop veteran Etienne Daho, the striking androgynous personality of Swede Tobias Bernstrup, modern Italo duo CARINO CAT and newcomer Francesca Diprima.

As well as songs about love, ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ also brings in a wider commentary including environmental issues, the worldwide pandemic and human rights.

Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their latest adventure as ITALOCONNECTION and to make some midnight confessions…

The new ITALOCONNECTION album is called ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, had there been any conceptual intention musically?

Paolo: When we started to work on this new album, we wanted it to be deep, nighty and sophisticated. We wanted to create a story through the lens of our vision creating some kind of metaphysical perspective of the dancefloor. Not a direct, but a more reflective and mediated approach.

Fred: The production of this album was like a long journey, going through bad weather and back to the sun several times. We had to face the reality of working from distance and without the usual production jam we used before the pandemic

Did the concept include the synths you were using, where there any self-imposed restrictions on the palette of sounds used to achieve your aims?

Paolo: Our aim is always to sound vintage in a modern way. So yes, we used a certain number of selected synths and drums, but we like to work on it to make it sound somehow unique and up to date. We love to start from a palette and tweak with knobs, filters and effects to achieve sounds that suit that particular song in a “sensual” way.

Fred: I love the freedom to be able to work with sounds we like, instead of following a dogma or being stuck in the past or obsessed by new technology.

How would you describe your creative dynamic as ITALOCONNECTION?

Paolo: We come from a common ground and we share a lot of passions varying from musical acts to artistic imaginaries. When we work together, we are very fast on revealing where a track could lead us to. We usually start tweaking and then something happens. It could be a bassline that reminds some particular song or artist, or a melody or harmony that makes us unveil where the song could go. This is very special and it works because we know each other very well and love what we do.

Fred: The good thing is that we never follow any rule, we know our background and we exactly know where we want to bring the ITALOCONNECTION sound.

ITALOCONNECTION have been busy with productions and remixes, do you have a favourite from the recent batch of work?

Paolo: Remixes are like a gym where you can play and practise different things you wouldn’t normally do with the strain of production. It’s fun because you are free, and forced to work on a different pattern and this can be stimulating. We had great fun remixing Etienne Daho and recently Josep Xortó & The Congosound and Rago e Farina. Productions are a totally different playground because you have to translate the artist’s idea into something that reflects both his and your vision. We had massive satisfaction working on the album of La Prohibida.

Fred: It’s a nice feeling to work for other artists because you experience a different involvement, less personal but with a strong focus so to reach a result that make all the people involved happy.

How do you look back now on your previous album ‘Metropoli’ and the covers collection ‘Disco Boutique’?

Paolo: Yesterday I had the chance to listen to ‘Metropoli’ for the first time in ages, and I had a “detached” listen, while before I was always too much involved and critical. I must admit it still sounds timeless and focused. It clearly shouts for urgency and character and sounds monolithic and big. It is almost a sound manifesto and I still love it. We wanted to take a picture of our imaginary. ‘Metropoli’ is an interpretation of what we felt and saw when playing in Berlin, London, Paris, Helsinki. A ‘Metropoli’ of sound, in a European vision.

Fred: In a way ‘Metropoli’ is a collection of images, we always bring back good memories and images from our touring that sooner or later end up influencing the atmosphere and lyrics of the songs

Paolo: ‘Disco Boutique’ is a tribute to some of the most iconic or obscure tracks that somehow inspired us over the years, remixed with our feeling and sound. This project is both fun to make and useful to have because we wanted to give a layer of fresh paint to songs that would sound somehow dated or unfamiliar to many. This is an open project, we don’t exclude, we could work on new ‘Disco Boutique’ material in the future.

Talking of covers, you recorded a version of THE ELECTRONIC CIRCUS’ ‘Direct Lines’ in 2017 with Francesca Gastaldi, how did you discover the song as it is quite obscure, even in the UK?

Paolo: The story behind ‘Direct Lines’ is peculiar. I listened to it in a skate documentary and I had the impression I already heard it before. I loved it since the first riff, which goes directly to the point and captures that new wave spleen immediately. Then I discovered that this song was written by Chris Payne who played with Gary Numan and co-wrote VISAGE ‘Fade To Grey’ so all the elements of the puzzle made sense immediately. There is this long rope of tension that bends all the people that were involved in the new wave and post-punk environment together. And yes, I am definitely a “Blitz Kid”!

You opted to have a number of special guests on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, what was the idea behind this?

Paolo: ITALOCONNECTION is a duo, and at the same time an open project (hence the name “connection”). We want to be a bridge to collaborations with people we admire and respect. We love to create connections and listen to how artists translate our vision. We had guests also in ‘Metropoli’. We love to have guests.

How did you meet French superstar Etienne Daho to make ‘Virus X’, that title is a very relevant subject?

Fred: I had the chance to meet Etienne Daho at the after party of French iconic new wave band MARQUIS DE SADE reunion concert in Rennes a few years ago. I’ve been a big fan of him for more than 35 years and this collaboration is a real dream come true.

Paolo: When we approached Etienne we wanted him to have the broadest freedom on the interpretation of the song. We were stunned by the song melody itself and the inspiring lyrics. He made this clever comparison between a toxic relationship and a virus, which is actually very true.

‘All I Want Is You’, ‘All Over’ and ‘Get Together’ feature some very confident and rousing vocal performances, but how did you decide which songs were sung by yourselves and which were sung by the guests?

Paolo: Fred is very confident with the potentialities of the songs he chooses he could sing in. and he is very good at finding a melody that works. Sometimes songs come up already with a melody and we feel they could be perfect for some artist we love. Other times we just have an instrumental song and we want to challenge some of our artist friends to find and sing a new melody for us. There is no rule here. It’s just fun and we are very focused on the songs we are working on. For example: ‘Year Of The Sun’ was perfect for the mood and the key of CARINO CAT, and we decided it was the case.

Fred: I’m definitely more than happy sometimes to leave the lead vocal role to other artists that we both respect, it is also a way to make our sound more interesting and international

‘Year Of The Sun’ with CARINO CAT has a great nostalgic feel that parties like it’s 1985?

Paolo: There are “waves” of inspiration during times where we write in a certain style of music. In this case, we had a grape of songs that were very nostalgic and 80s in a ‘Donna Rouge’ style. So we thought that CARINO CAT were perfect for that particular song.

Fred: I’m still so proud of releasing their debut album on my label Disco Modernism, they are very talented and real, and most of all great songwriters

‘Rainbow Warrior’ featuring Swedish performance artist Tobias Bernstrup on lead vocals tells the story of the Greenpeace ship which was attacked by French Secret Service?

Paolo: Yes exactly, but not only. It’s a tribute to people that stand up for rights. We are always up for human rights and peoples rights in general.

A feminine element is brought to ‘Since You Went Away’ by Francesca Diprima, has this song been inspired by real life events?

Paolo: Not really; you have to think that when in the studio, we play a lot with imagination. This song is like a film, inspired by the music. And we pictured ourselves in a 1981 rainy and windy Paris at Montparnasse, searching for the lost love. Francesca Diprima is the connection with the loved one, ideally a telephone call in the storm, a retro-modern drama.

Fred: I’m pretty fascinated by this feeling of loneliness you feel when you are left by somebody and you are wandering in a big city, among buildings and lights under the rain

The album ends more introspectively with ‘Humans’, what is your message here?

Paolo: The point of this song sounds like it may have a direct connection with the recent age of pandemic, which may be true, but could be applied to a wider spectrum of our relationships. We are humans, we need to relate, we were made to relate. You can hide, you can escape, but the truth is we all need to relate.

Fred: The lack of physical contacts of the last 15 months made me realise how I miss shaking hands and holding people you are close with. The eyes connection is not enough, unfortunately

Which are your own personal favourite songs on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’?

Paolo: It is very difficult to make a choice. Every song hides a story and a long development. Every song is a confession.

Fred: I don’t have a proper favourite one but ‘Virus X’ definitely represents a reached goal and an emotional moment

The production on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is superb, very clear and spacious yet powerful. Have you any thoughts about how modern music production is heading now and the harsh sound that some acts are adopting, like on DURAN DURAN’s ‘Invisible’ for example?

Paolo: Being a musician, a sound engineer and synth lover with a fetish for “that” sensual sound, makes it automatic to think of an album as a whole. A unique piece of art made of music, sound, melodies and words with a precise image and vision in the background. We are very careful at sounding good.

We don’t want to sound harsh. We rather prefer to sound big and enveloping. To achieve this, we always want to have complete control over every aspect and stage of production. We think of an album as a piece of art, be it a film or a painting. Something that remains over the years.

The title ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ indicates there will be more music in this style, what is next for ITALOCONNECTION?

Paolo: ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is the first volume of a wider collection of songs. We had too many for a single album, so expect it to be part of a big selection of ‘confessions’.

Fred: Yes, we still have a lot of ‘confessions’ to reveal.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to ITALOCONNECTION

‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is released by Bordello A Parigi on 21st June 2021, the vinyl LP and CD are available direct from https://bordelloaparigi.com/artist/italoconnection/

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection

https://www.instagram.com/italoconnection/

https://italoconnection.bandcamp.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13th June 2021

FRED VENTURA Interview

Fred Ventura is the Italo Disco legend who had a number of European club hits such as ‘Wind Of Change’, ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘The Years (Go By)’ between 1984-1989.

Born Federico Di Bonaventura in Milan, he generally wrote and sang his own material, something that perhaps wasn’t so prevalent in the world of Italo Disco.

The first Fred Ventura solo single ‘Zeit’ took its lead from his passion for German language pop and ‘Der Kommissar’ by Falco in particular, although it baffled Italian audiences!

And while his music was later influenced by NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS, it would be fair to say that some musical transfer also occurred in the opposite direction.

On ‘Late Night Train’, there may have been some data exchange with Messrs Tennant and Lowe for the sparkly synth riff from ‘Domino Dancing’, while 1987’s ‘Imagine (You’ll Never Change Your Mind)’ and ‘Heart’ have much in common. Meanwhile recorded in 1985, ‘You Want Me’ has some striking musical similarities with NEW ORDER’s ‘Shame Of The Nation’. But by the release of his first album ‘East & West’, Fred Ventura was already disillusioned with where European electronic dance music was heading and looked towards Chicago House for solace.

Continuing to record in a variety of guises and later running his own Disco Modernism label, he formed ITALOCONNECTION with engineer and producer Paolo Gozzetti with the aim of using classic vintage sounds while looking towards the future. Although they did not release a single in their own right until 2012 with the rousing ‘My Rhythm’, Fred Ventura’s reputation was such that ITALOCONNECTION were immediately in demand as remixers.

In 2010, the pair reworked HURTS ‘Better Than Love’ while in 2011, their radio mix of THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ was actually BBC Radio 2’s preferred version for airplay.

ITALOCONNECTION released their self-titled debut album in 2013 which comprised of their own tracks as well as productions and remixes for other artists, so 2017’s ‘Metropoli’ featuring ‘Humanize’ could be considered their first album proper.

Some of their more recent productions can be heard on three songs for ‘Dollars & Cents’, the 2019 debut long player by Britalo exponent KNIGHT$.

With the release of a new ITALCONNECTION album coming soon, Fred Ventura kindly took time out to chat with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about his career to date.

What got you interested in the sound of electronic music?

My first contact with electronic music was around the mid-70s, KRAFTWERK ‘Radio-Activity’ and Giorgio Moroder productions were innovative and pretty unique to the ears of a 13-14 year old boy living in in the suburbs of Milan, even if it was punk rock that grabbed my attention in 1977.

You have been quoted as saying ‘Blue Monday’ by NEW ORDER was the record that changed your life, can you remember the first time you heard it?

‘Blue Monday’ was such a positive shock for even someone like me who was already a fan of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER. At the time I was starting producing myself some electronic demos and one morning I woke up and switched on my radio and heard ‘Blue Monday’ for the first time, it was played every hour for 24 hours, it was the record of the day for the station, I remember checking it every hour for almost all day…

You started with a Roland Juno 60 and Oberheim DX, what led you to choose those as your first instruments? How did you find them to use?

It was not easy to buy the more expensive synthesizers like the Jupiter 8 or the LinnDrum so we had to start with cheaper instruments, more affordable but good enough to sound credible.

After using a few other instruments that were rented, I decided to buy the Oberheim DX and a Juno, they sounded fantastic to me and easy to use, I still own both of them.

What can you remember about making your first single ‘Zeit’ in 1984?

‘Zeit’ was the first thing I wrote with a new awareness, after ‘Blue Monday’ I felt legitimated to flirt with dance music and ‘Zeit’ was my personal idea of disco, I was very naïve but I knew what I wanted. The main goal was to make a record, I went to the Disco Magic label office, there I met Roberto Turatti who proposed for me to go in the studio with his partner Miki Chieregato to produce the song for a 12”, a dream come true, I was 21 and full of hopes…

When did you realise there was some sort of an Italo Disco sound emerging, although of course it wasn’t called “Italo” then?

I started to feel part of a sort of movement a bit later, at the beginning it was all about individuals trying to propose their own brand of dance music. Common influences were THE HUMAN LEAGUE, and HEAVEN 17, Bobby Orlando and Patrick Cowley… near the end of 1984, all those Italo records were charting in Italy and starting to spread all over Europe

Did you consider SAVAGE and RAF as rivals or brothers in arms?

I never felt rivalry with any of my contemporaries, I’m still a good friend with SAVAGE and I love ‘Self Control’ by RAF.

You signed to Time Records and had this European pop career, how do you look back on that period as a “star”?

I was not conscious of my sort of popularity, “success” came too late and short, I was already bored of the evolution of the Italo sound, all the producers were becoming more and more commercial.

I felt totally out of place when the BPMs were jumping to 140. Chicago House was getting big in the clubs, I thought it was time for a personal revolution and I quit the scene…

What were your own favourite songs that you recorded in this phase of your career? How do you think they stand up in the pantheon of European pop music?

I’m not that proud of the records I made from 1986 to 1989, I still like the songs but I’m not so in love with the production, the introduction of digital sounds and sampling were changing the feeling of my own demos. By the way, ‘Wind Of Change’ still sounds good to me and is still getting great feedback during my performances.

The UK never really embraced Italo Disco BUT would accept it through the back door via PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, were you ever frustrated by the hypocrisy especially from the British press? One journalist admitted “Despite the fact that I love the PET SHOP BOYS as much as I loathe MODERN TALKING, I have to admit that musically, they’re not that different!”

Honestly, our main goal was to reach the European market, we felt the UK market was too complicated to reach, considering how many extremely good productions were coming from there. I love the PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER and I have to admit they were my biggest influence. Probably our biggest limits were the lyrics and the Italo-British accent, something that in the rest of Europe was never noticed

In some ways, you were unusual as an Italo artist who wrote and sang their own material, which was not always the case with a number of acts from the genre?

Yes, this was the main difference between me and other Italo artists, songs were written mostly by their producers, I still regret about accepting to record ‘Night & Day’ that was written by my producers of the time, Farina and Crivellente.

Did you feel the ‘character’ artists like Den Harrow and Baltimora tarnished the credibility of Italo Disco?

The fact that many of the “so-called” Italo artists were miming didn’t help to make it a credible genre of music, that’s for sure, but today at last, people are into the music, not the gossip or the fashion.

How did you think electronic dance music has been developing over the years since then?

The evolution of electronic music, it’s been always been associated with technology, after analog synthesizers, we had FM synths, then samplers, then plugins and laptop. There’s not that much left to discover nowadays, so everybody has the possibility to give a look back to old technology and refresh it with a contemporary attitude. It’s a great feeling to be able to use such a variety of old sounds and new technology together, the most important thing to me is to try to use all the knowledge to create something that sounds modern.

Did you ever get frustrated enough to want to make a guitar-based album like Karl Bartos did?

During my career, I have been able to fulfil almost all my music desires, I have made various albums and projects under different names, from my post-punk band STATE OF ART to VIBRAZIONI PRODUCTIONS to BEDROOM ROCKERS, via Milano 2000 Records and Evolution Records, they were all very important steps in my career.

From 1990 until 1994, I was running Evolution Records, a label dedicated to house and techno. After that period, I made a few albums under the name VIBRAZIONI PRODUCTIONS, downbeat stuff, soulful and jazzy.

Then in 2001 together with Enrico Colombo, I did an album as BEDROOM ROCKERS for Universal Italy.

So how did ITALOCONNECTION come into being? Is the concept as the name suggests?

ITALOCONNECTION is the result of over twenty years of friendship and occasional creative meeting between me and Paolo Gozzetti. In 2010, we decided to join forces and give more continuity to our electronic raids using the ITALOCONNECTION pseudonym. The aim is to revive the glories of the early 80s Italo Disco and Synthpop in a modern form.

When was the point when you realised there was still a big love for Italo disco? Did you feel vindicated at all?

Now is more than 20 years since this sort of Italo revival started, travelling around Europe made me realise how big the interest was for this genre. Nostalgia for the past makes people dig and rediscover old music, today there are so many revivals happening at the same time. Actually I never had a vendetta plan in my life, I’m enjoying these moments because I’m having the possibility to produce new music for an old audience but also for a new one that is discovering Italo thanks to the web.

A sign of this was when Italians Do It Better released the 1984 demo version of ‘The Years (Go By)’ with its corresponding instrumental in 2011, how did this come about?

Back in the day, thanks to Myspace, I was able to get in touch with Italians Do It Better and after listening to several of my unreleased songs, they decided to release the demos of ‘The Years’, my most popular song which I wrote together with Turatti and Chieregato back in 1984. I was very happy to make these demos available on vinyl, considering also that I was a fan of the Italians Do It Better sound.

You co-produced three tracks with Britalo artist KNIGHT$, what do you think about these acts who have been influenced by you?

I have to admit that is a great feeling to see new acts showing respect for so many Italo artists and producers, I would never even imagined that one day, I would have become an influence for somebody.

ITALOCONNECTION is now your main project, what does it give you that perhaps wasn’t possible in your solo work?

The opportunity to collaborate with somebody who shares the same feeling and attitude is a real gift, ITALOCONNECTION is a real team and we enjoy every side of our work, playing live together is definitely the thing we love more.

Is there anyone ITALOCONNECTION would particularly like to do a remix for in the future?

I really would like to remix NEW ORDER, PET SHOP BOYS and Paul Haig. Recently we had the opportunity to remix Etienne Daho, another of my favourite artists so all is possible.

What is happening next for you, either solo or with ITALOCONNECTION?

A brand new ITALOCONNECTION album is on the way, it took a while to produce the right follow up to ‘Metropoli’, considering also that we have been busy producing and remixing other artists. The album also will feature a host of special guests, more news coming soon…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Fred Ventura

Special thanks to Sebastian Muravchik of SNS SENSATION and HEARTBREAK

The compilation ‘Disco Modernism (1983 – 2008)’ is released by Clone and available via the usual digital outlets

A selection of music by Fred Ventura can be obtained digitally from https://fredventuramuzik.bandcamp.com/

ITALOCONNECTION ‘Metropoli’ is available from https://italoconnection.bandcamp.com/album/metropoli

https://www.facebook.com/Fred-Ventura-320089268041361

https://www.instagram.com/fred_ventura_muzik/

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection

https://www.instagram.com/italoconnection/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/4wJf9Xnypopb0m96Up3xtC

https://open.spotify.com/artist/2H89jjAoarp9VqMxT8W0et


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
17th February 2021

KNIGHT$ Interview

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

Combining the Italo spirit of SAVAGE and RAF with British exponents of the form such as PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, the debut album by KNIGHT$ is one of the best albums of 2019.

‘Dollars & Cents’ is one of those fine immediate electronic pop records, ideal for these turbulent and uncertain socio-political times.

The solo musical vehicle of James Knights, his bright crowd pleasing nature has made him a must-see live performer following well-received gigs in Europe.

With a stylish energetic persona coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, the catchy glitterball Britalo of KNIGHT$ will be playing all in clubs over the UK in July as the opening act for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

Gathered together in the corner of a bar in Hoxton to avoid the barrage of televised football, James Knights chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of ‘Dollars & Cents’, working with ITALOCONNECTION, plans for his upcoming shows and surviving the vultures circulating in the music industry…

‘Dollars & Cents’ appears to have been a well-received escapist triumph?

I think so, so far it feels like all the objectives have been achieved. Maybe people were feeling a bit of doom and gloom with Brexit so needed a lift; it definitely did that in the short term.

Was ‘Dollars & Cents’ a natural choice for the title track, did you have a theme in mind for the album?

I knew I wanted the album to be as uplifting and uptempo as possible. In terms of the album title, it seemed to make sense, only because as I went through all nine tracks, that was the one that jumped out at me. I later found out RADIOHEAD had a song called that which was quite disappointing…

You achieved some of that authentic ‘Gelato’ flavour by working with Italo legend Fred Ventura on three tracks, how did the association come about?

I have to thank YouTube for this because I was listening to a lot of Italo playlists and this song came on… I looked up who it was that made it, but I didn’t make the connection between Fred and ITALOCONNECTION. Once I realised, I thought maybe we could do something and I wrote a message to him.

Fred was a total gentleman about being open to working together and when I sent him ‘Alligator’, he completely wanted to get involved. It’s funny, but he said “It’s synth music but it reminds me of THE CLASH”, so thank you Fred and his partner Paolo, they did a good job.

One of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s Italian friends thought the middle section with the girl speaking sounded a bit “porno”, was that the intention? *laughs*

I have to say, it wasn’t that thought out… my vocals require many takes but that part with the Italian girl Monia Rega took two! I asked her to sing on the track, the first take she did very well but the timing wasn’t quite what I wanted, the second time she got it completely bang on. There was never a discussion about this so I don’t know what to say, we were looking for a vibe but we never mentioned anything dodgy like that! *laughs*

You know there was a weird European TV game show called ‘Tutti Frutti’ where contestants answered questions to get strippers to take their clothes off???

No! *laughs*

‘Hijack My Heart’ had you tightening your trousers for a great Jimmy Somerville impression?

In many other projects that I’ve been in before, maybe I didn’t have the guts to go up that high but it needed to be done. I’ve sung high live but never quite got there on the records. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It works really well; did you have BRONSKI BEAT in mind when you recorded ‘Hijack My Heart’?

I have to say if I’m going to break down all those elements, the song that I always come back to is ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ by BRONSKI BEAT… I don’t know if it’s the production or what and I know Jimmy isn’t singing that one, but it’s got a vibe I like it.

Did you raid your sister’s record collection for inspiration, because ‘Running’ isn’t that far off early MADONNA?

Yes, it’s got a bit of that and definitely some Whitney, it was like a “let go” thing to get me out of my comfort zone! It was the hardest track to finish and mix so when I breakdown that whole record, it’s the one where I haven’t had that many opinions on. I think it’s because it just happens, it’s very natural and appears at the end of the record… maybe time will tell, it takes a couple of listens for it to really work. That was the nearest thing to an experimental moment on the album.

Talking of experimental moments, ‘Proving A Point’ is perhaps the most unorthodox track on the album, featuring Holger Wobker of BOYTRONIC…

Yes, it is different from the other tracks on the album, I had a demo of this for many years but the idea to do this with Holger obviously came later. We’ve both had similar experiences and difficulties so we thought with this track, let’s tell it as it is, we needed to let something out.

I really like ROBYN and her albums always have a couple of tracks in, these diversions that give the album some sense within the pop.

So ‘Proving A Point’ is your ‘Konichiwa Bitches’?

Yes, I felt we needed it! *laughs*

What was the idea behind the throbbing ‘Shadows’, another track with Fred Ventura?

That goes back to a demo I had on this old four track TASCAM, I’d played all the synths and they were completely out of time. We knew which tracks were going to go down first on the album but I dragged out this demo, it needed a touch up and ITALOCONNECTION did an amazing job. It’s nice to resurrect things because it means you didn’t waste your time all those years before. It’s got a nice YAZOO feel to it.

Photo by Gilbert Yates

‘Dollars & Cents’ is a pretty straight-up full-on uptempo electronic pop album over nine tracks, had that been a conscious decision, are albums too long now?

Yeah, I could watch my favourite band of all time and two hours would be too much! I know other music fans think differently, but a good hour of anything is fine, my album is not even that!

What do you think of this new trend for two volume album works like MARINA, THE 1975 and TR/ST have done?

I wouldn’t do a debut album that way but maybe there’s room for it later on. But I really can’t imagine doing that, it’s hard enough work trying to write good songs without having then to find a thread, it’s not in my way of thinking.

For both ‘Dollars & Cents’ and the new BOYTRONIC album you’re involved in, you used Pledge Music and there have been some very public difficulties with its cashflow; how has this hampered you as an artist?

If it wasn’t for having a good fanbase, it would have been a complete disaster. But going with Pledge Music when I did was the worst thing I could have done, I went in at the wrong time! You have to think that the music will live on and that people will back you. People will back whatever they believe in and luckily, I’ve had many messages of support and we just got on with it, all of the fans have been great.

So what is happening with the upcoming BOYTRONIC album?

That’s was a bit tricky because I was meant to be paid by Pledge in December, so I’ve put my own money into recording the BOYTRONIC album. Obviously, I’m still down because the album’s not yet released, but I hope that it all comes good. A hell of a lot have bands like JESUS JONES have been inconvenienced and very vocal about the situation, but the only way we are going to get any solace from this is the music.

As history has proven, there is always someone in the music industry misappropriating money trusted to them by artists and fans. So is there a future to crowdfunding because no matter what happens, it seems like artists are just making money for a different type of crook?

I once did a calculation based on a record deal I was offered… I could sell 1000 myself or with the record deal, it would give me wider growth and expose me to more people, but I would earn exactly the same money if I sold 8000!! In this day and age, it’s so hard to sell 8000 copies of anything that it’s better to keep everything in house probably and try to sell 1000. People will say that’s short sighted but I don’t think it is.

Even at an independent level, there are people getting into the music industry who apply a smokescreen for more sinister intentions, be they DJs who hate the 80s doing 80s radio shows or event promoters who believe ticket touts are “free enterprise”. Any thoughts?

They will always be there, and unfortunately there will always be artists who take the same view… any artist that doesn’t believe in what they’re making, they’re in the wrong game… what can I say? it’s survival of the fittest.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

On a more cheerful note, your album launch party in London was a great success and even led to you inviting the audience to join you on stage just like early SOFT CELL gigs?

It was a big rush, because you never know what’s going to happen at gigs, you know what London is like. The fact that people came out and really got into it, it was brilliant. My stage is their stage and I wouldn’t really want to create a divide.

I’m not interested in crash barriers, if people want to come up, they should be able to come up. I would rather someone join me on stage and lose their minds.

You had an interesting gig is Sweden because of the venue set up?

That was in Halmstad, the original gig had been cancelled and they moved us to what seemed like the local Wetherspoons, I was on at two in the morning and it was crazy! *laughs*

The Swedes love their Italo…

I think it’s just an appreciation of melody coming through via the ABBA tradition, they really know a good song when they hear one. If there wasn’t any melody, we wouldn’t remember anything.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

You’re touring this UK with A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS?

I’m really excited about it and looking forward to going round the UK again with two nights in London, there’s a lot to be thankful for.

I’ve always loved A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, I know they get a lot of stick with the haircuts and whatever, but they’re far better than people give them credit for. The songs aren’t that far from THE CURE, let’s be honest! It’s nice to be part of it.

So for those people who may not know what you are like live, why should they come along and arrive early?

They’d be fools not too! I have some nice surprises up my sleeve but for every person who has decided to sit in the pub to have an extra beer, I will match that beer! So if they turn up early, the beers are on me! *laughs*

What’s on the cards for the future?

I’d like to make another record as soon as possible but it always takes longer than you think, but we’ll have to see. And it would be nice to do an end of year show somewhere…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to James Knights

‘Dollars & Cents’ is released by Specchio Uomo in CD and download formats, available now from https://knights101.bandcamp.com/album/dollars-cents-lp

KNIGHT$ opens for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS on the following 2019 UK tour dates:

Wolverhampton Robin 2 (11th July), London Dingwalls (12th-13th July), Liverpool Cavern (14th July), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (17th July), Newcastle Riverside (18th July), Glasgow Art School (19th July)

http://knights101.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Knights101/

https://twitter.com/JPSKNIGHTS

https://www.instagram.com/knights101/

http://knightstore.bigcartel.com

https://open.spotify.com/album/24YAx5VzMc2hpQ14xuF0Jn


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th May 2019, updated 25th June 2019

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