Tag: Front Line Assembly (Page 1 of 2)

2021 End Of Year Review

As the world steadily emerged from a painful pandemic that put many lives on hold, nostalgia appeared to be the commodity most in demand as the music industry took steps to recover.

No matter which era, anything musically from the past was more desirable that anything that reminded the public of the past 20 or so months. The first escape destination in the summer for many restricted to staying on their own shores were the established retro festivals.

Meanwhile television provided an array of documentaries ranging from chart rundowns of past decades and informative classic song analysis on Channel 5 to Dylan Jones’ look at ‘Music’s Greatest Decade’ on BBC2 and Sky Arts’ ‘Blitzed’ with all the usual suspects such as Boy George, Philip Sallon, Marilyn, Gary Kemp and Rusty Egan.

SPARKS had their own comprehensive if slightly overlong film ‘The SPARKS Brothers’ directed by Edgar Wright, but the Maels’ musical ‘Annette’ starring Adam Driver was a step too far. Meanwhile the acclaimed ‘Sisters With Transistors’ presented the largely untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers.

It was big business for 40th anniversary live celebrations from the likes of HEAVEN 17, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and SOFT CELL, while other veterans such as NEW ORDER and ERASURE returned to the live circuit with the biggest indoor headlining shows of their career.

Meanwhile for 2022, Midge Ure announced an extensive ‘Voices & Visions’ tour to present material from the 1981-82 phase of ULTRAVOX.

Also next year and all being well, GOLDFRAPP will finally get their belated 20th Anniversary tour for their marvellous debut ‘Felt Mountain’ underway while there are rescheduled ‘Greatest Hits’ live presentations for PET SHOP BOYS and SIMPLE MINDS.

Always money for old rope, but also giving audiences who missed them at their pioneering height an opportunity to catch up, ‘best of’ collections were issued by YELLO and TELEX while JAPAN had their 1979 breakthrough album ‘Quiet Life’ given the lavish boxed set treatment. Meanwhile, while many labels were still doing their best to kill off CD, there was the puzzling wide scale return of the compact cassette, a poor quality carrier even at the zenith of its popularity.

“Reissue! Repackage! Repackage! Re-evaluate the songs! Double-pack with a photograph, extra track and a tacky badge!” a disgraced Northern English philosopher once bemoaned.

The boosted market for deluxe boxed sets and the repackaging of classic albums in coloured vinyl meant that the major corporations such as Universal, Sony and Warners hogged the pressing plants, leaving independent artists with lead times of nearly a year for delivery if they were lucky.

But there was new music in 2021. Having achieved the milestone of four decades as a recording act, DURAN DURAN worked with Giorgio Moroder on the appropriately titled ‘Future Past’ while not far behind, BLANCMANGE took a ‘Commercial Break’ and FIAT LUX explored ‘Twisted Culture’. David Cicero made his belated return to music with a mature second album that was about ‘Today’ as Steven Jones & Logan Sky focussed on the monochromatic mood of ‘European Lovers’. Continuing the European theme but towards the former Eastern Bloc, Mark Reeder gave a reminder that he was once declared ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ and fellow Mancunians UNE became inspired by the ‘Spomenik’ monoliths commissioned by Marshal Tito in the former Yugoslavia.

For those who preferred to immerse themselves in the darker present, Gary Numan presented ‘Intruder’, a poignant concept album produced by Ade Fenton about Mother Earth creating a virus to teach mankind a lesson! Meanwhile ITALOCONNECTION, the project of Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti teamed up with French superstar Etienne Daho to tell the story of ‘Virus X’! The video of the year came from UNIFY SEPARATE whose motivation message to ‘Embrace The Fear’ despite the uncertainty reflected the thoughts of many.

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia, there was some excellent new music released from less established artists with the album of the year coming from Jorja Chalmers and her ‘Midnight Train’ released on Italians Do It Better. The critical acclaim for the UK based Aussie’s second long playing solo offering made up for the disbandment of the label’s biggest act CHROMATICS, as it went into its most prolific release schedule in its history with albums by GLÜME, JOON, DLINA VOLNY and LOVE OBJECT as well as its own self-titled compilation of in-house Madonna covers.

As Kat Von D teamed up with Dan Haigh of GUNSHIP for her debut solo record ‘Love Made Me Do It’, acts like DANZ CM, CLASS ACTRESS, GLITBITER, PRIMO THE ALIEN, PARALLELS, KANGA, R.MISSING, I AM SNOW ANGEL, XENO & OAKLANDER, HELIX and DAWN TO DAWN showed that North America was still the creative hub as far as electronically derived pop songs went.

Attracting a lot of attention in 2021 were NATION OF LANGUAGE, who with their catchy blend of angst, melody and motorik beats welcomed synths as family in their evolving sound while also providing the song of the year in ‘This Fractured Mind’, reflecting the anxieties of these strange times. At the other end of the spectrum, DIAMOND FIELD went full pop with an optimistic multi-vocalist collection that captured the spirit of early MTV while BUNNY X looked back on their high school days with ‘Young & In Love’.

ACTORS delivered their most synthy album yet while as LEATHERS, they keyboardist Shannon Hamment went the full hog for her debut solo effort ‘Reckless’. FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY released a new album and some of that ‘Mechanical Soul’ was brought by their Rhys Fulber into his productions this year for AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

In Europe, long playing debuts came from PISTON DAMP and WE ARE REPLICA while NORTHERN LITE released their first album completely in German and FRAGRANCE. presented their second album ‘Salt Air’. There was also the welcome return of SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, GUSGUS, MARVA VON THEO, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY.

Featuring second generation members of NEW ORDER and SECTION 25, SEA FEVER released their eclectic debut ‘Folding Lines’ as fellow Mancunian LONELADY added sequencers and drum machines to her post-punk funk template. But Glasgow’s CHVRCHES disappointed with their fourth long player ‘Screen Violence’ by opting to sound like every other tired hipster band infesting the land.

The most promising artist to breakthrough in 2021 was Hattie Cooke whose application of traditional songwriting nous to self-production and arrangement techniques using comparatively basic tools such as GarageBand found a wider audience via her third album ‘Bliss Land’. In all, it was a strong year for female synth-friendly artists with impressive albums from Karin My, Laura Dre, Alina Valentina, Robin Hatch and Catherine Moan while comparative veterans like Fifi Rong, Alice Hubble, Brigitte Handley and Alison Lewis as ZANIAS maintained their cult popularity.

In 2021, sometimes words were very unnecessary and there were fine instrumental synth albums from BETAMAXX, WAVESHAPER, КЛЕТ and Richard Barbieri, with a Mercury nomination received by Hannah Peel for ‘Fir Wave’. But for those who preferred Italo Noir, popwave, post-punk techno and progressive pop, Tobias Bernstrup, Michael Oakley, Eric Random and Steven Wilson delivered the goods respectively.

With ‘The Never Ending’ being billed as the final FM ATTACK album and PERTURBATOR incorrectly paraphrased by Metal Hammer in a controversial “synthwave is dead” declaration, the community got itself in a pickle by simultaneously attacking THE WEEKND for “stealing from synthwave”, yet wanting to ride on the coat tails of Abel Tesfaye, misguidedly sensing an opportunity to snare new fans for their own music projects.

With THE WEEKND’s most recent single ‘Take My Breath’, there was the outcry over the use of a four note arpeggio allegedly sampled from MAKEUP & VANITY SET’s ‘The Last City’. But as one online observer put it, “Wow, an arpeggiated minor chord. Hate to break it to you but you might want to check out what Giorgio Moroder was doing 50 years ago. We’re ALL just rippin’ him off if that’s how you think creativity works”. Another added “If a four note minor key arpeggiated chord can go to court on the basis of copyright law, we are in for a hell of a few years my synthy friends”. It outlined once again that there are some who are still under the impression that music using synths was invented by Ryan Gosling in 2011 for ‘Drive’ soundtrack ??

There were also belated complaints that 2019’s A-HA inspired ‘Blinding Lights’ had a simple melody and needed five writers to realise it… but then, so did UTRAVOX’s ‘Slow Motion’ and DURAN DURAN’s ‘Rio’! Collaboration, whether in bands, with producers or even outsiders has always been a key aspect of the compositional process. If it is THAT simple, do it yourself! As Andy McCluskey of OMD said on ‘Synth Britannia’ in 2009 about the pioneering era when Ryan Gosling was still in nappies: “The number of people who thought that the equipment wrote the song for you: ‘well anybody can do it with the equipment you’ve got!’ “F*** OFF!!”

Over the last two years, THE WEEKND has become the biggest mainstream pop act on the planet, thanks to spectacles such as the impressive gothic theatre of the Super Bowl LV half time showcase while in a special performance on the BRITS, there was a charming presentation of the ERASURE-ish ‘Save Your Tears’ where he played air synth in a moment relatable to many. But everything is ultimately down to catchy songs, regardless of synth usage.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK would like to present a hypothetical case to consider… if someone uses the arpeggio function with a sparkling patch from a Juno 6 synth in a recording, does Cyndi Lauper sue for infringing the copyright of ‘All Through The Night’ or the original songwriter Jules Shear or even the Roland Corporation themselves as they created it? More than one producer has suggested that THE WEEKND’s soundbite came from a hardware preset or more than likely, a software sample pack, of which there are now many.

However, sample culture had hit another new low when Tracklib marketed a package as “A real game-changer for sample based music. Now everyone can afford to clear samples” with rapper and producer Erick Sermon declaring “Yo, this is incredible. They’re trying to put creativity back into music again. By having samples you can actually pay for and afford”.

Err creativity? How about writing your own songs and playing or even programming YOUR OWN instrumentation??!?

One sampling enthusiast even declared “I might go as far as to say you don’t really like dance music if you’ve got a problem with adding a beat to a huge (even instantly recognizable) sample”… well guess what? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK LOATHES IT!!! ?

In 2021, music promotion became a bit strange with publicists at all levels keen more than ever to have their clients’ press releases just cut ‘n’ pasted onto online platforms, but very reluctant to allow albums to be reviewed in advance in the event of a potential negative prognosis.

While cut ‘n’ paste journalism has been a disease that has always afflicted online media, in a sad sign of the times, one long established international website moved to a “pay to get your press release featured” business model.

The emergence of reaction vloggers was another bizarre development while the “Mention your favourite artist and see if they respond to you” posts on social media only added more wood to the dumbing down bonfire already existing within audience engagement.

It was as if the wider public was no longer interested in more in-depth analysis while many artists turned their publicity into a reliance on others doing “big ups” via Twitter and Facebook. But then, if artists are being successfully crowdfunded with subscriptions via Patreon, Kickstarter, Bandcamp and the like, do they need a media intermediary any longer as they are dealing direct with their fanbases?

However, it wasn’t all bad in the media with ‘Electronically Yours With Martyn Ware’ providing insightful artist interviews and the largely entertaining ‘Beyond Synth’ podcast celebrating its 300th show. Due to their own music commitments, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were less prolific with their discussion show ‘The Album Years’ but it was still refreshing for commentators to be able to say that a record was sh*t when it actually was, rather than conform to the modern day adage that all music is good but not always to the listener’s taste!  And while various programmes came and went, other such as ‘Operating//Generating’, ‘KZL Live’ and ‘Absynth’ came to prominence.

Post-pandemic, interesting if uncertain times are ahead within the music industry. But as live performance returns, while the mainstream is likely to hit the crowd walking, will there be enough cost effective venues to host independent artists? Things have been tough but for some, but things might be about to get even tougher.

However, music was what got many through the last 18 months and as times are still uncertain, music in its live variant will help to get everyone through the next year and a half and beyond.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s year in music is gathered in its 2021 Playlist – Missing U at
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2021

AESTHETIC PERFECTION: The Industrial Pop Interview

Los Angeles-born, Austrian-based artist Daniel Graves is the main man behind AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

It’s an industrial pop project that can veer in and out of electro, EBM, goth, alternative rock, metal and aggrotech, thanks to Graves’ love of artists such as diverse as Justin Timberlake, Darren Hayes, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson.

Following 2019’s ‘Into The Black’ album, Graves announced a 2021 schedule of releasing one AESTHETIC PERFECTION single per month funded by his Patreon supporters. It is a return of sorts to Graves’ singles only experiment of 2016-2018 which allowed him the freedom to broaden his vocal and production horizons, with the result being one of the best recordings of his career in ‘Rhythm + Control’.

The most recent single ‘Gravity’ has been produced by Rhys Fulber of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY. It reflects on Graves’ struggles to keep his feet on the ground as he loses touch with reality, crushed beneath the weight of existence, while slowly being pulled away from it. It’s a feeling that many can relate to.

Daniel Graves gave another enlightening interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the future of music and how he is responding to an ever changing market place.

After your singles experiment of 2016-2018 which included ‘LAX’, ‘Love Like Lies’, ‘Rhythm + Control’ and ‘Ebb & Flow’, you produced an album ‘Into The Black’ in 2019. And now you are back with a run of singles at a rate of one per month, why have you returned to this “singles” format?

I’ve always believed the singles format to be the way of the future. From an artistic point of view, I looked at the creation of ‘Into The Black’ kind of like a commission; as if I were a sculptor or painter. It wasn’t something I would have created had I been left on my own, but I enjoyed the process and am happy with the result.

That doesn’t mean I think the way forward is albums. If anything, the pandemic has accelerated the streaming and singles model. I’m watching my friends and colleagues absolutely devastated because the records they’ve been releasing in the last 12-14 months get no traction. The social media timeline turns over every 3-4 weeks, and in order to stay in the public consciousness, you’ve gotta keep up.

So how do you look back on ‘Into The Black’, the pros and cons of making it and then the promotion after?

Working on ‘Into The Black’ was a lot of fun, and I did enjoy the singular focus that takes place when trying to complete a big project. I wasn’t on social media trying to promote myself or worrying about tours or any of the ancillary stuff that comes with being an independent musician – I was just locked into the creative mindset.

However, that’s a double edged sword, because you’re not really seeing what’s going on in the world around you. I feel like great artists know how to “read the room” and figure out how their voice fits into the world at large. That’s hard to do when you’ve got your nose buried in a big project.

The promotional aspect is very difficult, because even before the pandemic, “the churn” as I like to call it, moves quickly. You’ve only got a small window of time to drum up interest in your project, and getting people to sit down and consume (and digest) 10 new songs is an impossible task. Back when you could tour, there was some amount of wiggle room, as live shows gave you the opportunity to showcase that new music, and continually remind the world you exist. However, these days, you’ve got your couple weeks and then the door closes.

Do you think your very eclectic music tastes are partly contributing to your mindset to not lock AESTHETIC PERFECTION into any one style or ethos?

I grew up on artists like NINE INCH NAILS and David Bowie and Michael Jackson… artists who continually evolved and took risks. I sort of just assumed that’s what you did when you were a creator. As I got older and more involved in music, I found myself quickly losing interest in bands and artists who didn’t evolve. It shaped my entire creative worldview and made evolution a part of my artistic DNA. Whether or not that helps success or hinders it is anyone’s guess. Perhaps in an alternate universe where I’d stayed the course and rehashed ‘A Violent Emotion’ for the last 12 years, I’d be a megastar!

The first single of the schedule ‘S E X’ has a wonderfully deviant tone about it?

I don’t often write songs about sex. I was never sure why until I started writing ‘S E X’. As a creator, I’ve always tried to say things that I haven’t heard from other artists… or I at least try to add new perspectives to subjects and themes.

I suspect, on a subconscious level, I was never inspired to write about sex because so many other artists were doing it. You can’t turn on the radio without hearing a song about sex… so what could I possibly have to offer that would add to the conversation?

However, at some point, I realized that even though there are tons of songs out there about sex, there aren’t a lot of contemporary songs about love and passion. ‘S E X’ is really my way of trying to capture and express THAT view of sexuality.

‘Party Monster’ is reflective of the approach you took on ‘Rhythm + Control’ with a heavier guitar take, twinned with a more electro version, in this case by Deadbeat?

“Deadbeat” is the de facto moniker I adopt whenever remixing my own songs for the club. If you take a look through my discography, you’ll find a number of Deadbeat remixes (usually of tracks that aren’t clubby by nature). The electro version of ‘Rhythm + Control’ should by rights be referred to as a Deadbeat Remix actually, but it was the original version that was completed before Jinxx came through and cut the guitars (which was really just an afterthought). Technically, the version with the guitars is the remix, but it was just so much better than the “original”!

‘Dead Zone’ is classic industrial pop AESTHETIC PERFECTION, what inspired that track?

I’ve spent a lot of my time in lockdown reflecting on myself, my life, and my work. The endeavor has been simultaneously traumatic and transformative. It feels almost as if I’ve gone into a cocoon, a dead zone, if you will, to work through all these things – hopefully, to emerge on the other side as something better.

With your known love of pop, what have you thought about THE WEEKND’s recent Max Martin produced synth excursions ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’?

To be 100% honest, I’m not as in love with the synthwave vibes of THE WEEKND’s new tracks as I was with his earlier work. I totally understand WHY these songs were produced that way (that style is HUGE right now), but as someone who is not personally a big fan of retro genres, it doesn’t speak to me so much. They’re well-crafted productions with top notch songwriting, but they don’t feel fresh to me.

In my mind, art is about using inspiration from the past to build something new and exciting in the future. Synthwave really is at odds with my musical philosophy in that regard. However, I *do* feel like synthwave is starting to craft its own identity apart from the nostalgia factor. A lot of the offshoot genres like Industrial Bass Music or EBSM are fresh and really getting my attention.

‘Automaton’ and ‘Gravity’ were both produced and mixed by Rhys Fulber of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, how did that association come about?

Facebook Messenger! I literally just wrote Rhys a Facebook message asking if he’d be interested in producing some music with me. As luck would have it, we had a number of friends in common and decided to start working on a couple tracks together. I feel like Rhys’s experience with industrial, metal and pop really make him uniquely suited to both understand and help me realize my musical vision. Definitely looking forward to more collaborations in the future.

Will you eventually compile these 12 singles as an album, or perhaps do a compilation including the 2016-2018 work?

Part of the promise of this project was that if I reached a certain number of Patreon supporters, I would collect the singles and release them as an album sometime next year. It was a very ambitious goal, I wasn’t exactly sure if I would be able to hit it. To my surprise (and many others as well) we hit it within 3 months. Which just goes to show how incredible the level of support is from my fans and from my community.

However, I also have no illusions about the state of the music industry. First of all: The world at large does not care about re-releases. They want NEW material and nothing else. Second: The world at large does not care about albums. Both of those things work against my plans, but I think if I do a very small run of physical releases (probably exactly the count of my Patreon supporters so each of them have a chance to get their hands on one) it will be okay. A good artist knows how to read the room, right?

Regarding the singles from 2016-2018: All those singles were already released on the deluxe edition of ‘Into The Black’ in September 2019!

There appears to still be demand for the long playing format, but is it cost effective for you as an independent artist now?

If there’s demand for the LP format, I don’t see it. I see people talking about it online, but I believe those people to be the vocal minority. Like my Facebook page is filled with people demanding I return to the sound and singing style of ’A Violent Emotion’. However, when you look at the actual metrics, like sales and streams and all of that, you see that the silent majority has a different opinion. When observing the actual metrics of CD sales and how LPs perform against singles in the world of streaming, a very clear picture emerges: Albums are losing ground more than ever before.

Again, it’s my job to read the room. So if the trend changes, you can bet I’ll be back on the album horse. However, I currently see no reason to invest months or years of my life into producing an album when people are only gonna listen to one or two songs and have the rest be forgotten in a matter of weeks.

Which is the upcoming single everyone should be looking out for that might spring a surprise?

The single for June is absolutely coming out of leftfield. It’s an AESTHETIC PERFECTION take on the beloved European concept of a “Summer Hit”. I expect a bunch of VERY p*ssed off people! I’m also planning a Christmas song for December so… get ready!

Have you a personal favourite out of this campaign?

‘Party Monster’ and ‘Dead Zone’ I think are great examples of my dedication to both brutal honesty and experimentation within the AESTHETIC PERFECTION framework. They may not be the most popular songs of mine, but they certainly mean the most to me.

Have you been able to make any future plans despite everything, how do you think things will pan out?

I’m an artist. I thrive in chaos. I’ve also learned to make the best of a bad situation. I feel like no matter what happens, I will be ready and willing to face it head on.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Daniel Graves

‘Gravity’, ‘S E X’, ‘Party Monster’, ‘Automaton’ and ‘Dead Zone’ are available to download, along with the AESTHETIC PERFECTION back catalogue from http://aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/

Information on Daniel Graves’ Patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/danielgraves

http://www.aesthetic-perfection.net/

https://www.facebook.com/aestheticperfection

https://twitter.com/daniel_graves

https://www.instagram.com/danielxgraves/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
17th May 2021

RHYS FULBER Interview

Few, if any musicians on the electronic music scene could claim to be as prolific as the duo of Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb.

The Canadian-based pair have collaborated as FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, DELERIUM, INTERMIX and NOISE UNIT and have also brought their musical talents to several other diverse projects over the last 35 years.

Rhys Fulber kindly took time out of his busy PR schedule to talk about the new FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY release ‘Mechanical Soul’ and a selection of some of his high profile side-projects.

How important was the influence of your father on you getting into music?

Hugely important. His record collection alone was a solid foundation for anyone, but then the fact our dining room was a jam space from when I was 5 or so meant there were always instruments set up to mess around with. The keyboard player in the bar band he played with had a Minimoog, so I remember playing with that when I was 7 or so. I also started playing drums maybe even earlier than that.

Who were your earliest musical influences?

KRAFTWERK is number one. My parents took me to a show when I was 5 and I still remember it. After that it’s Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’ album and all the BUZZCOCKS original LPs. Their music really connected with me when I was young and still does today.

What kind of effect did growing up in Canada have on your music?

Vancouver was still very colonial when I grew up so we got more of the British music scene than the US, as well as Canada promoting a lot of their in house bands so we had our own take on things in some ways. Also Vancouver was a world class studio city already in the 80s so there was a culture of that in Vancouver. All the studios we worked in were first rate, and connected to a famous Canadian musician, like Bryan Adams or Paul Dean.

How much have the themes of ‘Mechanical Soul’ been influenced by the situation of the pandemic?

I think maybe lyrically a bit. I was still living in LA when we started the album so we were already used to working remotely, so it wasn’t a big change for us in that way.

What have been your other sources of song material for the album?

I had clips of music from various things and times that we pulled together as the basis. One was meant to be for my solo techno material as well, so it was a bigger variety of starting points that usual. We used to get in a room together and write all the music so this one is different in that way. I had some track ideas and Bill made suggestions to them and then added vocals and lyrics, so in some ways we both focused on our roles more than in the past in a way.

Were there any particular synths or pieces of technology that had an impact on the making of ‘Mechanical Soul’?

Each one had a different key piece. I added that to the liner notes; which was the featured instrument on each. For instance, the main riff of ‘Alone’ was from a borrowed Moog Model 15 reissue that I just recorded jams on for a day and pieced those core elements together from that. The single ‘Unknown’ has a lot of a Roland Alpha Juno 2 synth I think I have only used on maybe two other songs over 20 years or so…

You have two featured songs out of the 157(!) on the recent ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ computer game. What is the story behind ‘Drained’ and ‘Subvert’, were they written specifically for the product?

Yes, they were. I was put in touch with one of the music supervisors as just a general contact, because he had worked for a label FLA had released for in the past and he just asked if I would be interested in submitting some ideas to this new game project. I had submitted a total of 6 or 7 tracks and they chose those two. The song ‘Stifle’ on ‘Mechanical Soul’ was one of the tracks that didn’t make the cut. Bill liked it so we developed it into a Front Line song. Two tracks on my last solo album ‘Ostalgia’ were also from those sessions, and the ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ material spawned the rest of that album as well, as it was done at the same time.

In pre-pandemic times, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY co-headlined with DIE KRUPPS on the ‘Machinists United Tour’, what are your recollections of those shows?

It was a pretty good tour. Just adding another name band does a lot for the draw it seems, so we had some shows that we hadn’t had in a while in places like Munich for instance.

What means most to you? Recording new material or playing live?

Well, you can’t have live without the studio for this music, so I think the studio means more to me although I really like both.

Sampling has always been at the core of your musical projects, what have been the highs and lows of creating songs using this creation method?

Sampling is just like another form of synthesis to me so it’s hard to extract it as a separate thing now. We didn’t think too much about what we sampled other than if it sounded good. I still think that holds true now, though I have just gotten much more covert with how I do it now. Random and obscure sources, for instance.

‘Voices’, which featured on the INTERMIX album, has always been a favourite. What are your memories of working on this album?

I don’t remember that album too well. I remember the mix room and the gear we used, but it’s not exactly clear. It was a busy time and we made that album fairly quickly as a way to experiment with new ideas without committing them to FLA. So it was like a testing site album.

From the same album, ‘S+M=y’ features a sample from Clive Barker’s seminal horror film ‘Hellraiser’. Was there a specific process with getting the “we’ll tear your soul apart” dialogue cleared, or was this an early case of let’s sample it and hope no-one will notice?

We didn’t think that way then at all. We just sampled whatever. It wasn’t until ‘Millennium’ (1994) that we had to atone for our sins!

In terms of commercial success, the DELERIUM track ‘Silence’ sticks out. The original version still stands up, but how did you feel when the trance versions brought the track to a more mainstream audience?

It was pretty surreal, like you are somehow disconnected to it. But who can complain about a magic moment like that? I think hits have to be accidents, because nothing about that was planned.

You have produced for other artists, notably working on KANGA’s superb eponymously titled album and ‘Automaton’, the upcoming single by AESTHETIC PERFECTION. What do you think makes a good producer?

Someone who can make an artist comfortable and not afraid to try new things and push themselves. It’s usually done with lots of support and being careful with words and constructive criticism.

You have worked with co-collaborator Bill Leeb for over 30+ years now. What do you feel helps to keep that relationship fresh creatively?

It is mainly around a similar taste and we still listen to new things. I think our working relationship is better than ever because there has been so much trust built up.

How influenced are you by current forms of music?

Moderately. I think you can’t have stale beats in electronic music, so it’s good to hear what the current sounds are to keep your sound fresh without jumping too much on one thing. As you get older you realise being yourself is the most important, but buying new shoes and a jacket really helps.

Do you feel that the Industrial format is a bit of a straitjacket? Is this a reason why you have pursued several side projects?

It doesn’t have to be, but I think the audience wants the bands they like to deliver the sound they were drawn to. When you go too far off that they feel betrayed somehow. It’s easier just to have another banner to keep everyone happy.

Your CV of outside artists you have worked from a production / remix perspective with is pretty incredible including MÖTLEY CRÜE and MEGADETH as well as Alice Cooper, Sarah Brightman, Sinéad O’Connor; do you find working with other artists more or less stressful than working on your own material?

It really depends. Both can be very stressful. Working on your own, you can lose perspective which can really slow things down, whereas with a band or something there are more ears in the room.

You have been pretty vocal about the way that streaming sites such as Spotify give musicians a raw deal when it comes to royalties. What musical formats do you tend to generate most of your income from?

It’s hard to answer that because I get income from so many places now after so many years in the business, and sometimes it’s really random; suddenly one song will get used somewhere and you get a blip, so I can’t complain too much.

I just think YouTube and Spotify is devaluing art in many ways and it’s hard to steer away from ‘free’ for a lot of people once the toothpaste is squeezed from the tube. I much prefer the model Bandcamp have come up with, where you get some streaming and the appreciation of tangible product as well.

You are stuck on a desert island, what is the one piece of electronic gear you would have with you and why?

My Waldorf Q+. It literally can do it all, and very well!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Rhys Fulber

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

‘Mechanical Soul’ is released by Metropolis Records, available in double vinyl LP, CD and digital formats from https://frontlineassembly.bandcamp.com/album/mechanical-soul

A selection of Rhys Fulber solo material is available from https://rhysfulber.bandcamp.com/

http://www.mindphaser.com/

https://www.facebook.com/frontlineassembly/

https://www.facebook.com/rhysfulbermusic

https://twitter.com/f7a

https://twitter.com/rhysfulber

https://www.instagram.com/front.line.assembly.official/

https://www.instagram.com/rhys_fulber/

https://www.metropolis-records.com/artist/front-line-assembly


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
Photos by Chris Escamilla, Bobby Talamine and Simon Helm
26th February 2021

FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY Mechanical Soul

FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY are a band that continues to fly the flag for Industrial / EBM music as they release their 18th studio album ‘Mechanical Soul’.

The album features guest appearances from Jean-Luc De Meyer of electronic music veterans FRONT 242 and guitarist Dino Cazares from FEAR FACTORY.

The turn of events of last year appear to have provided some excellent source material for the band, with titles such as ‘Purge’ and ‘New World’ appearing amongst the tracklist alluding to a very different future for the world that we live in.

The main discussion point re: album opener ‘Purge’ is in its similarity to the 2013 GESAFFELSTEIN track ‘Pursuit’; both feature an almost identical riff, but with the former one transposed up a couple of semitones. The musical DNA of DAF plainly runs through a track too which doesn’t especially evolve during its five minute duration, although the effects used on Bill Leeb’s vocals (including pitch shifting and Auto-Tune) help to keep the listener engaged.

‘Glass & Leather’ is far more successful and features a dramatic intro which eventually reveals a hooky distorted 303-ish sequencer riff and although this is repeated throughout the track, it provides a hypnotic soundbed allowing Leeb’s vocals to weave in and out of the piece. A 909 kick drum and open hi-hat drive ‘Glass & Leather’ to a mid-point breakdown with cut-up vocals before kicking back into the main riff again.

‘Unknown’ (which was released last year) is an album highlight and far more song-oriented with a hooky vocoder-driven chorus which musically recalls the band’s earlier sound on their ‘Tactical Neural Implant’ and ‘Caustic Grip’ albums. Also worthy of mention is the rather nifty post-apocalyptic promo video which goes with the track; featuring clips from the short Sci-Fi films ‘Sentinel’ & ‘Detroit, 2029’, they provide a perfect visual accompaniment to the song.

‘New World’ provides an early welcome change of pace, with a LFO-modulated synth riff and another vocodered Leeb vocal. Probably as close as one is going to get to a ballad from the act, the song is another highlight and showcases another side to the band with some superb monophonic synth programming throughout.

‘Stifle’ featuring guitar from Dino Cazeres has more of an early NINE INCH NAILS aesthetic and could easily have appeared on ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, whilst ‘Barbarians’ features the immediately recognisable vocals of FRONT 242’s Jean-Luc de Meyer over a slightly glitchy re-programmed ‘When the Levee Breaks’ style drum break. The latter features an undeniably epic chorus, with synth pads and a PWM bass synth part underpinning de Meyer’s “hail the barbarians” hook; again, this is another track to return to for repeated listening…

‘Komm, Stirbt Mit Mir’ (wonderfully translated as ‘Come Die With Me’) is not unlike an EBM RAMMSTEIN remix and features some intricate little synth interjections and a doomy underpinning string part which evokes the intro to FAITHLESS’s ‘Insomnia’.

The album concludes with an actual remix of ‘Hatevol’ provided by BLACK ASTEROID who feature producer Brian Black.

Black is best known for being one half of MOTOR who worked with Martin Gore, Gary Numan and Douglas McCarthy on the 2012 album ‘Man Made Machine’. ‘Hatevol’ comes across as a bit of a ‘bonus track’, not surprising as it originally featured on the last FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY album ‘Wake Up the Coma’.

Although Industrial / EBM style music is not every synth-lovers musical cup of tea, there is plenty to enjoy here for those not versed in the genre. It’s very easy to pigeonhole work like this as being overtly ‘shouty’ and lacking in melody, but ‘Mechanical Soul’ is a fine example of a band that has stuck to their principals and is continuing to deliver quality product… highly recommended.

‘Mechanical Soul’ features the following instruments: Elektron Analog Rytm Mk2, Studio Electronics Omega 8, Roland Alpha Juno 2, Mutable Instruments Shruthi, Waldorf Pulse+, Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas, Ormsby DC7, Moog Model 15 reissue, Mutable Instruments Clouds, Waldorf Q+, Doepfer A100


‘Mechanical Soul’ is released by Metropolis Records, in double vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available direct from https://frontlineassembly.bandcamp.com/album/mechanical-soul

http://www.mindphaser.com/

https://www.facebook.com/frontlineassembly/

https://twitter.com/f7a

https://www.instagram.com/front.line.assembly.official/

https://www.metropolis-records.com/artist/front-line-assembly


Text by Paul Boddy
Photo by Bobby Talamine
15th January 2021

25 TRACKS FROM THE CIRCUIT BOARDS OF CANADA

Like Sweden, as a country with a relatively small population in relation to land mass, Canada punches above its weight when it comes to its contribution to popular music.

Canada’s internationally famous artists may be Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Céline Dion, Bryan Adams and Alanis Morisette, but there have been so many more that have been far more interesting.

Canada has been a significant presence in synth from the post-punk pioneers such as NASH THE SLASH and CERAMIC HELLO, to international MTV-era hits from the likes of MEN WITHOUT HATS, TRANS-X and KON KAN, up to the present day via the mainstream profile of GRIMES, PURITY RING and CRYSTAL CASTLES. Meanwhile, it also has developed into a hub for the burgeoning sub-genre of Synthwave thanks to FM ATTACK and DANA JEAN PHOENIX.

Like in the UK with the availability of affordability of technology from Japan in particular, Canadian youngsters were taking up synthesizers. And while several were to attain cult status like RATIONAL YOUTH and PYSCHE, some such as the Winnipeg trio EUROPA were destined just to have their moment on domestic television without an official release to their name.

Today, the tradition continues with artists such as DEADMAU5, TIGA, KOISHII & HUSH, LOLA DUTRONIC and TECHNIQUES BERLIN covering a wide spectrum of electronic pop and dance music.

So here is ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s list of 25 tracks from the circuit boards of Canada, subject to a limit of one per artist moniker, presented in yearly and then alphabetical order. But notice a void in between 1990 to 2000 when it could be said that the likes of Dion, Adams and Morisette dominated the airwaves of the globe.

However, the number of electronic acts who have appeared in the 21st Century have more than made up for things.


CERAMIC HELLO Climatic Nouveaux (1980)

CERAMIC HELLO were a duo who hailed from Burlington in Ontario, formed by Brett Wickens in 1980 after leaving post-punk band SPOONS. He teamed up with Roger Humphreys who added a more classical bent to their minimal synth in the vein of JOHN FOXX and FAD GADGET. Their first release was the detached cold wave paranoia of ‘Climatic Nouveaux’. Wickens later moved to England to join Peter Saville Associates, making a major contribution to the artwork for OMD’s ‘Architecture & Morality’.

Available on the album ‘The Absence Of A Canary’ via Suction Records

https://www.studiobrettwickens.com/


NASH THE SLASH Swing Shift – Flexi Version (1981)

NASH THE SLASH opened for GARY NUMAN and was signed to Dindisc Records. It was during this period that he had his highest mainstream media profile with features in ‘Smash Hits’; it was with the pop mag that his best known recording in the UK came via a blue flexi-disc with an early self-produced stripped down version of ‘Swing-Shift’ sitting next to his label mates OMD’s live rendition of ‘Pretending To See The Future’. He sadly passed away in 2014.

Available as a bonus track on the album ‘Children Of The Night’ via Artoffact Records ‎

http://nashtheslash.com/


MEN WITHOUT HATS The Safety Dance (1982)

Hailing from Montreal, ‘The Safety Dance’ was written by MEN WITHOUT HATS lead singer Ivan Doroschuk after he had been kicked out of a club for pogoing, thus it was effectively a protest song against conformity, a call for freedom of expression. it had been misinterpreted as a being about safe sex and as an anti-nuclear protest song. The bouncy almost medieval feel combined with Doroschuk’s vocals like a less doomy Andrew Eldritch to produce a huge international hit.

Available on the album ‘Rhythm Of Youth’ via Bulldog Brothers ‎

http://safetydance.com/


SPOONS Arias & Symphonies (1982)

Hailing from Toronto and lead by Gordon Deppe, after the acclaim for the 1981 debut album ‘Stick Figure Neighbourhood’, the songs on the second ‘Arias & Symphonies’ were more European influenced. With JAPAN producer John Punter behind the desk, the title song was an perfect amalgam of prog theatrics, new wave gallop and synth pomp. SPOONS were soon to be opening for bands such as SIMPLE MINDS and THE POLICE. Today, Deppe is also the guitarist for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

Available on the album ‘Arias & Symphonies’ via Ready Records

https://www.spoonsmusic.com/


STRANGE ADVANCE Love Games (1982)

STRANGE ADVANCE were a Canadian new wave band formed in Vancouver, made up of Drew Arnott (keyboards, percussion, vocals), Darryl Kromm (lead vocals, guitars), and Paul Iverson (bass). Utilising synthesizers and advances in programming technology, their music was a fusion of progressive rock and MTV friendly pop that struck a chord, with the lyrical couplet “The time is right / We’ll love tonight” of ‘Love Games’ capturing the mood of times.

Available on the album ‘Worlds Away’ via VR

https://www.strangeadvance.com/


MARTHA Light Years From Love (1983)

The stunning Martha Ladly was more than just a pretty face; she was a musician, vocalist, artist and designer. Following her stints with MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, ASSOCIATES and doing paintings for Peter Saville’s NEW ORDER sleeve artwork, she teamed up with Brett Wickens from CERAMIC HELLO on this charming pop tune which echoed THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Peter Hook provided his distinctive melodic six-string bass while the dynamic production came from Steve Nye.

Originally released as a single by Island Records, currently unavailable

http://samemistakesmusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/charmed-life-of-martha-ladly_22.html


RATIONAL YOUTH Holiday In Bangkok (1983)

The classic RATIONAL YOUTH line-up of Tracy Howe, Bill Vorn and Kevin Komoda gained acclaim for their 1982 debut album ‘Cold War Night Life’, which became one of the biggest-selling Canadian independent albums at the time and secured a deal with Capitol Records. However, Vorn left to continue his university studies, but contributed synth programming to ‘Holiday In Bangkok’, a sinister overwrought warning about the dangers of becoming international drug mule.

Available on the album ‘Heredity’ via Capitol Records

https://rational-youth.com/


TRANS-X Living On Video (1983)

French-born Canadian Pascal Languirand was the man behind TRANS-X, and had previously been known for his spacey progressive rock solo albums like ‘Minos’ and ‘De Harmonia Universalia’. Originally issued in French as ‘Vivre Sur Video’, this cosmic octave-shifting electronic dance tune, with additional vocals by Laurie Ann Gill, became a massive hit worldwide after being re-released in 1985 and went onto to influence Electroclash artists such as FISCHERSPOONER and MISS KITTIN.

Available on the album ‘Living On Video’ via Unidisc

http://transx-music.com/


PSYCHE The Saint Became A Lush (1986)

PSYCHE are the acclaimed dark synthpop duo from Edmonton, founded by the Huss brothers Darrin and Stephen. Of the foreboding overtones of ‘The Saint Became A Lush’, “Many think the main sequence sounds like ‘Tubular Bells’ and there may be some element of that as it was used in ‘The Exorcist’ movie which my brother loved” Darrin said, “It’s also inspired by JOY DIVISION, as I was really going for the sound of a world weary preacher and channelling the voice of Ian Curtis for that.”

Available on the album ‘Unveiling The Secret’ via Artoffact Records

http://www.psyche-hq.de/


SKINNY PUPPY Dig It (1986)

“Love cannot attach itself to binding ugliness” goes the theatrical horror of ‘Dig It’; formed in Vancouver by cEvin Key of IMAGES IN VOGUE and vocalist Nivek Ogre, SKINNY PUPPY are widely considered as the pioneers of industrial. ‘Dig It’ was a big favourite of NINE INCH NAILS mainman Trent Reznor and heavily influenced his own track ‘Down In It’ which appeared on ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, so much so that he later confessed he had actually sampled it!

Available on the album ‘Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse’ via Nettwerk America

http://skinnypuppy.com/


MITSOU Les Chinois (1988)

Mitsou Annie Marie Gélinas achieved the comparatively unusual feat of having a francophone pop hit across Canada with ‘Bye Bye Mon Cowboy’. But her best tune was the saucy Fairlighted ‘Les Chinois’ from the multicultural-themed album ‘El Mundo’. Written and produced by Jean Pierre Isaac who later worked with Céline Dion, she exclaimed “Non non non c’est pas comme ça, qu’on fait l’amour, regarde les Chinois”… was she trying to make babies?

Available on the album ‘El Mundo’ via Unidisc

http://mitsoumagazine.com/en/


KON KAN I Beg Your Pardon (1989)

The project of Barry Harris, the KON KAN name was a play on the policy of “Canadian Content” which enforced Canadian radio station to air at least 30% domestic music. Voiced by Kevin Wynne, ‘I Beg Your Pardon’ was not just content with borrowing off NEW ORDER but inspired by ‘Pump Up The Volume’, used samples of other songs like ‘Rose Garden’, ‘Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)’ and ‘Get Up & Boogie’, as well as National Lampoon’s ‘Disco Hotline’. This mash-up became a huge international one hit wonder.

Available on the album ‘Move To Move’ via A&M Records

https://www.facebook.com/konkanofficial


SOLVENT Wish (2005)

Toronto-based Jason Amm is all about “synthesizers, drum machines, fx, knobs, buttons, wires, wave, electro, acid”. But while he is now best known for his documentary film ‘I Dream Of Wires’, he has a vast catalogue of music released under the SOLVENT moniker. With gentle vocoder treatments and glorious whirring synths, ‘Wish’ set a pattern for acts like FOTONOVELA and QUIETER THAN SPIDERS to follow in the understated melodic machine pop stakes.

Available on the album ‘Demonstration Tape (1997-2007)’ via Ghostly International

http://www.solventcity.com/


DRAGONETTE I Get Around (2007)

Toronto’s DRAGONETTE comprised of singer Martina Sorbara, producer Dan Kurtz and drummer Joel Stouffer. The acclaim for their self-released self-titled EP led to a deal with Mercury Records and a relocation to the UK. Opening shows for BASEMENT JAXX and SUGABABES, the highlight of their debut album ‘Galore’ was ‘I Get Around’ which was previewed on Planet Clique and Lucky Pierre’s ‘Robopop – The Return’ compilation. It also was used in ‘The Vampire Diaries’.

Available on the album ‘Galore’ via Mercury Records

http://www.dragonetteonline.com/


FM ATTACK Sleepless Nights (2009)

With ‘Drive’ star Ryan Gosling being a notable FM ATTACK admirer, Shawn Ward has concocted a unique hybrid electronic sound combining Gino Soccio and Giorgio Moroder with Italo disco, French house, new wave and post-punk, all with a fine-honed musicality. From 2009’s ‘Dreamatic’ album which opened up the gates and led the way for what was to become Synthwave, ‘Sleepless Nights’ crossed arpeggios with octave lilts for an enjoyable vocoder-laced romp.

Available on the album ‘Dreamatic’ via Starfield Music

https://www.facebook.com/fmattackmusic/


CRYSTAL CASTLES Suffocation (2010)

Named after a line in ‘She-Ra: Princess of Power’ and capturing a gritty lo-fi electronic sound, Toronto’s CRYSTAL CASTLES were a world apart from other modern duos with chaotic live shows that had an almost demonic energy. With Ethan Kath’s deliberately distorted synthetic goth-punk and Alice Glass’ afflicted vocal presence, ‘Suffocation’ was haunted, yet captured an understated beauty. But in October 2014, Glass announced that she was leaving to pursue a solo career amid acrimony.

Available on the album ‘(II)’ via Fiction Records

https://www.crystalcastles.com/


AUSTRA Spellwork (2011)

Named after the goddess of light in Latvian mythology, Toronto’s  AUSTRA deliver a stark, baroque form of arty electronica fuelled by the sexual tension. Like a gothic opera which successfully blended light and darkness with fragility and power, Katie Stelmanis and friends borrowed from classic DEPECHE MODE and crossed it with THE KNIFE for ‘Spellwork’, their most accessibly brilliant synthpop offering from their debut album ‘Feel It Break’.

Available on the album ‘Feel It Break’ via Domino / Paper Bag Records

http://austra.fyi/


GRIMES Oblivion (2012)

While Claire Boucher might be now more widely known for being the girlfriend of Elon Musk, she began as the kooky Montreal sensation GRIMES, sounding like LYKKE LI fronting KRAFTWERK. Presented in a fun leftfield lady meets pop princess fusion, ‘Oblivion’ was a sumptuously infectious tune that despite the almost unintelligible vocals and weird noises, was probably the most immediate track on her ‘Visions’ album which also featured less immediate but equally enjoyable ‘Genesis’.

Available on the album ‘Visions’ via 4AD Records

https://grimesmusic.com/


PARALLELS Moonlight Desires (2012)

Behind PARALLELS is Holly Dodson and on their second long player was a lovely synthpop version of GOWAN’s 1987 rock tune ‘Moonlight Desires’. She said of her love for the song: “We hear the original version it all the time in Canada. It’s always fulfilled all the necessary criteria – incredible hooks, the moon, magic melodies, nostalgia. I just recently learned that GOWAN’s actually heard the cover… and approves!! Which is SUCH a relief haha…”

Available on the album ‘XII’ via Marigold Productions

http://www.iloveparallels.com/


TR/ST Gloryhole (2012)

TR/ST began as the project of Robert Alfons and AUSTRA’s Maya Postepski. Although Postepski left to return to AUSTRA, the debut ‘TRST’ made a slow burning impact as Alfons toured his “Eeyore gone goth” electro template around the world. From it, the filthy ‘Gloryhole’ was a wondrous combination of sinister portamento and hypnotic dance beats. Postepski returned to the fold for the recent double album opus ‘The Destroyer’, but Alfons still remains something of an awkward character.

Available on the album ‘TRST’ via Arts & Crafts

https://tr-st.xyz/


FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY Killing Grounds (2013)

Bill Leeb formed FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY in 1986 after his short stint with SKINNY PUPPY under the name Wilhelm Schroeder. With Rhys Fulber as the other long standing member, they were influenced by acts such as CABARET VOLTAIRE, PORTION CONTROL, DAF, TEST DEPT and SPK. Having integrated guitars, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY returned to making exclusively electronic music on their fifteenth album ‘Echogenetic’, the highlight of which was ‘Killing Grounds’.

Available on the album ‘Echogenetic’ via Dependent Records

http://www.mindphaser.com/


ELECTRIC YOUTH Without You (2014)

Hailing from Toronto, ELECTRIC YOUTH‘s collaboration with COLLEGE entitled ‘A Real Hero’ was included on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack’ in 2011. Their debut album ‘Innerworld’ finally came out in Autumn 2014 and one of its highlights was another collaboration, this time with ROOM8 called ‘Without You’. Echoing Aussie combo ICEHOUSE  and ‘Great Southern Land’ in particular, its bridge and chorus were particularly tremendous with a nostalgic Brat Pack movie presence.

Available on the album ‘Innerworld’ via Last Gang Entertainment / Secretly Canadian

https://electricyouthmusic.com/


PURITY RING Begin Again (2015)

With CHVRCHES having had success borrowing PURITY RING’s electro template, the Edmonton duo’s sophomore album ‘Another Eternity’ was more focussed than its predecessor ‘Shrines’. Still utilising glitch techniques, booming bass drops and Corin Roddick’s rattling drum machine programming, ‘Begin Again’ made the most of Megan James’ sweet and dreamy voice. The pair off a major surprise by working with Katy Perry on three songs for her 2017 album ‘Witness’.

Available on the album ‘Another Eternity’ via 4AD Records

https://purityringthing.com/


DANA JEAN PHOENIX Only For One Night (2018)

Self-described as a “Retro Synthwave Singer”, Toronto’s DANA JEAN PHOENIX isn’t a stranger to synthylicious ditties. Having moved away slightly from pure Synthwave styles, as one of the best live solo synth performers currently, she enjoys rocking out onstage with her keytar Jareth. The sparkling template of one of her most rousing numbers ‘Only One For One Night’ brought along a youthful escapism that reminisced about first loves and first disappointments.

Available on the album ‘PixelDust’ via New EmPire Entertainment

https://www.danajphoenix.com/


MECHA MAIKO Apathy (2019)

Behind the quirky avant pop of MECHA MAIKO‬ is the talented Torontonian, Hayley Stewart. The delightfully odd ‘Apathy’ from her second album ‘Let’s!’ was an inventive oddball fusion of jazz swing Charleston, frantic techno dance beats and vibrant synthpop hooks. It showed she was not afraid to blend seemingly incongruous influences to get an end result and with a slight sprinkling of Japanese instrumentation to close, the eclectic creative cycle was complete!‬‬‬‬‬

Available on the album ‘Let’s!’ via ORO Records

https://www.mechamaiko.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Simon Helm
17th February 2020

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