Tag: Hanna Rua


Photo by Tapio Normall

It was hoped to be a year of positive electricity but with the oddball burst of negative waves, 2022 was summed up by the title of its best album.

The product of Finnish duo SIN COS TAN, ‘Living In Fear’ captured the anxieties of living with The Bear Next Door in a post-pandemic world. With billionaires taking over social media with the intent of allowing the extreme right wing an increased voice, it was as if the lessons of Trump and Bolsonaro had not been learned.

‘The Wolves Are Returning’ warned xPROPAGANDA on a track from their excellent album ‘The Heart Is Strange’, the message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation “did nothing” and had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis was extremely poignant.

It was as if The Cold War had never ended; the poetry of one who has escaped ethnic genocide and been separated from next of kin as a refugee has substance. So for Alanas Chosnau on his second album with Mark Reeder, this was ‘Life Everywhere’ and provided a deeper statement on life during wartime. Meanwhile China’s STOLEN presented their ‘Eroded Creation’ and explained ‘Why We Follow’.

Battles both worldwide and personal were being reflected in music everywhere with ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE being another example. Things did not get much cheerier with Rodney Cromwell whose long-awaited second long player ‘Memory Box’ provided commentary on a sadly post-truth world, the so-called “alternative facts” as Donald Trump’s extremely dim advisor Kellyanne Conway liked to put it.

The decade so far has not been a barrel of laughs and the likes of UNIFY SEPARATE, BOY HARSHER, O+HER, NNHMN, VANDAL MOON and ADULT. captured the zeitgeist of the past 3 years.

Meanwhile, MECHA MAIKO maintained it was still ‘NOT OK’, I AM SNOW ANGEL felt it was now a ‘Lost World’ and Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO made their comeback by reflecting on ‘Sad Cities’.

As sardonic as ever, DUBSTAR presented their second collection of kitchen sink dramas since they reconfigured as a duo with ‘Two’ and reunited with producer Stephen Hague for their most acclaimed record since their 1995 debut ‘Disgraceful’.

On a more optimistic note, Italians Do It Better brought their cinematic world to London with headline shows by DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who each had new long form releases to air, while shyness was nice for the most promising breakthrough act of the year Gemma Cullingford who got all ‘Tongue Tied’ on her second long player. Meanwhile DAWN TO DAWN, ULTRAFLEX and H/P offered electronically escapist solutions to the year,

But KID MOXIE was happy to ‘Shine’ with the best video of 2022 while CZARINA got mystical with ‘Arcana’, Karin Park looked back at her ‘Private Collection’ and Patricia Wolf explored ambience on ‘See-Through’. Other female talent that shone brightly in 2022 included Norway’s SEA CHANGE, Sweden’s Hanna Rua, Alina Valentina from The Netherlands, Mexican Valentina Moretti and Anglo-French avant songstress Julia-Sophie but sister / brother duos MINIMAL SCHLAGER and SPRAY proved siblings could continue to work well together in synth.

40 years after the release of their debut album ‘Happy Families’, BLANCMANGE returned home to London Records for a ‘Private View’ while mainman Neil Arthur was keeping himself busy with FADER too. Having being shelved for 30 years, the second ELECTRIBE 101 album ‘Electribal Soul’ finally saw the light of day. And some 39 years after it was first conceived, the lost Warren Cann and Hans Zimmer opus ‘Spies’ was released in a new 21st Century recording by the HELDEN Project’s lead vocalist Zaine Griff.

Although PET SHOP BOYS celebrated their career with the magnificent ‘Dreamworld’ tour for the best live event of 2022 and joined SOFT CELL in the ‘Purple Zone’, Marc Almond and David Ball presented the disclaimer ‘*Happiness Not Included’ before announcing that they would be performing at a run of outdoor events in 2023 despite having stated their 2018 O2 extravaganza would be their last.

Also having declared a final album in 2014, RÖYKSOPP returned with the triple volumed ‘Profound Mysteries’ that featured Susanne Sundfør and Alison Goldfrapp.

Veterans Howard Jones, William Orbit, Jean-Michel Jarre and Wolfgang Flür as well as long-standing Nordic combos LUSTANS LAKEJER and A-HA released new albums but while the quality across the releases was mixed, fans were loyal and happy. After various trials and tribulations, TEARS FOR FEARS returned with ‘The Tipping Point’ and erased memories of the lacklustre 2004 comeback ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, but the duo were unable to capitalise when the majority of the UK concert tour of stately homes was cancelled due to an unfortunate accident that befell Curt Smith.

Creating a dehumanised technologically dependent Sci-Fi world, DIE KRUPPS opted for more machine than metal under their EBM pseudonym DIE ROBO SAPIENS. With NASA making its first steps back to the moon with the Artemis project, fittingly Italian producer EUGENE spent ‘Seven Years In Space’ and Ireland’s CIRCUIT3 looked back at space travel’s past on ‘Technology For The Youth’. Back on earth, THE WEEKND was still being accused of stealing from synthwave while coming up with the song of the year in ‘Less Than Zero’. In the meantime, having infuriated audiences by saying “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it” in 2018, KAVINSKY was ‘Reborn’ with a second album that had much less of the wave and expanded into broader electronically generated templates with the occasional funkier overtones.

Celebrating ‘40 Years Of Hits’ on a sell-out arena tour and issuing a new album ‘Direction Of The Heart’ which featured a guest appearance by Russell Mael of SPARKS on the single ‘Traffic’ with the obligatory ‘Acoustic Mix’, as the excellent book ‘Themes For Great Cities’ by Graeme Thomson highlighted, the best years of SIMPLE MINDS are now well behind them. They are a poor facsimile of the great band they once were and as a special Summer concert in Edinburgh in honour of ‘New Gold Dream’ proved, Jim Kerr and Co can’t even play their best album properly.

Music-related books continued to be popular with Martyn Ware and Karl Bartos respectively writing their memoirs ‘Electronically Yours Vol1’ and ‘The Sound Of The Machine’. In a wider historical context, that crucial 1978-1983 period where electronic pop was more or less invented got documented in the encyclopaedic ‘Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ by Richard Evans.

2022 saw several prominent figures depart for the jukebox in the sky; Vangelis, Manuel Göttsching, Angelo Badalamenti, Julee Cruise, Dave Smith, Herb Deutsch, Terry Hall, Robert Marlow and Andy Fletcher will be sadly missed but ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was particularly devasted by the passing of German electronic legend Klaus Schulze only 4 days after he gave a rare interview to the site.

Meanwhile Dave Gahan and Martin Gore announced yet another tour of underwhelming arena shows plonked into stadiums for an as-yet-unfinished album that at least had a title ‘Momento Mori’. Ticketscalper took advantage with so-called dynamic pricing (or legalised touting) as hapless Devotees were fleeced thousands of dollars in North America… all this just to see a continually ungrateful frontman (who didn’t even sing is own words on a DEPECHE MODE song until 2005) gesture with a microphone in the air on a catwalk rather than actually singing on it and to possibly hear a pre-1985 song performed that will inevitably ruined by The Drumhead and The Noodler!

As Juls Garat of Massachusetts goth band PILGRIMS OF YEARNING observed via social media: “If you’re spending a kidney on DEPECHE MODE tickets and not attending a local show this weekend, I don’t wanna see you complaining that there’s no scene, local venues or new music anymore”. With the lack of curiosity amongst audiences who were content with nostalgia and the like, it was a difficult year for independent acts.

There is no easy answer and as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. But one promoter that did hit on an innovative idea was Duskwaves who came up with afternoon synth gigs. Hosted at various locations in the South East of England with the aim of drumming up daytime weekend business at venues, events started at 2.00pm and ended by 6.00pm to allow for an easy journey home or possibly dinner afterwards. Artists such as YOUNG EMPRESS, INFRA VIOLET, STRIKE EAGLE and AUW joined in the family friendly fun and while the concept was unusual, with classic synth audiences not getting any younger, it has potential.

While the worldwide situation remains uncomfortable and unsettling, for The Cold War generation, it all seemed strangely familiar. As Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said in an interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK recently: “It feels kind of comfortable to be back in that same state of mind that you grew up in!! It’s like you grew up in not a nice place, but you get 20-30 years out of it and then you get drawn back into The Cold War state of mind. It’s where I come from and there’s nothing good about it, but somehow feels very familiar so you can handle it in a different way”.

The Cold War inspired songs such as ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Fireside Favourite’, ‘All Stood Still’, ‘Let’s All Make A Bomb’, ‘I Melt With You’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ and ‘Five Minutes To Midnight’ which encapsulated the nuclear paranoia of the times. So if the current tensions go on any longer, how will artistic expression be affected and driven?

But as Synthesizer Patel actor Sanjeev Kohli wittily remarked of the UK’s 41 day Prime Minister aka Mad Lizzie following her successful leadership bid: “Liz Truss has now been trusted with the nuclear button. I honestly wouldn’t trust her with the bossanova button on a broken Yamaha keyboard”.

In a year which saw the bizarre scenario of a black vicar worshipping Enoch Powell on the repulsive gammon TV channel GB News and the truth about Tory PPE scandals becoming clearer, Richy Sunak, Ugly Patel, Cruella Braverman and Krazi Kwarteng continued to be the ultimate race traitors in their Westminster tribute band A FLOCK OF SIEG HEILS. Failing to look in the mirror, their role as collaborators was all as part of a wider self-serving mission to help keep the whites Reich and line the pockets of their already loaded banker mates instead of paying nurses a fair wage. Nurses are for life and not just for Covid. So what did happen to that £350 million promised for the NHS by that pompous lying posh boy Boris Johnson if Brexit happened? As Tim Burgess of THE CHARLATANS summed it all up rather succinctly on Twitter: “Worth remembering that the real enemy travels by private jet, not by dinghy” ✊😉

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2022 playlist ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist can be listened to at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Mw0Fn10yNZQcrGzod98MM

Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd December 2022


During lockdown, electronic music displayed its emotional empathy with isolation and solitary working.

But as during The Cold War in its breakthrough years, it read the room again with the onset of worldwide and domestic conflicts, both armed and political.

There were times in 2022 that were as if The Cold War had never ended and in amongst the turmoil, artists reflected their anxieties on top of those already existing.

Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said: “Overall, this decade has been a real downer with the pandemic and now the war, so if we are trying to look for silver linings here, I think it will be interesting for the creative community to get something out of it, the frustration, the fears and all that.”

As further pandemic songs were released as well, what emerged were songs of varying moods and while there was fresh optimising in the air, there were calls to arms and resignation looming too. Overall, 2022 saw many great individual tracks issued and mention must be made of NNHMN, NATION OF LANGUAGE, O+HER, DIE ROBO SAPIENS, DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who were among those shortlisted for this year’s listing.

As ever on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, rules help control the fun… so restricted to tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are the 30 SONGS OF 2022 in alphabetical order by artist…

ANNIEE featuring VON HERTZOG Danger Electricity

Bubbling with a dynamic thrust, the angelic voice of Anniee evoked the excitement of a night clubbing while Von Hertzog provided the hypnotic backing and beautiful soundscape. “I was jogging in London and came across the words in the sidewalk ‘danger electricity’” she said, “I had always wanted to create a dance track – something that reflected my love for EDM, what I felt when I first heard it as a teenager, visiting clubs in Mallorca. Also the feeling I still get now taking the train to NYC and the energy of the city”.

Available on the single ‘Danger Electricity’ via Anniee and Von Hertzog



For Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder, the ongoing world tensions were a symbol of ‘Life Everywhere’. Like a Harry Palmer film given an electro soundtrack and hidden behind the facade of love songs, their second album together poignantly made a statement on life during wartime. With a speedy conga mantra and a dominant digital clap, ‘All You Need Is Love’ entered funky electronic disco territory with roots in Reeder’s SHARK VEGAS days to emulate the propulsive air of NEW ORDER.

Available on the album ‘Life Everywhere’ via MFS




Intended as a soundtrack to a sadly post truth world, Rodney Cromwell returned with his second album ‘Memory Box’. Despite questioning selective memories, album closer ‘The Winter Palace’ was all about wanting to forget a former beau because “I dream of you regardless, whether I am asleep or awake”. With hints of classic NEW ORDER and OMD, the wonderfully icy number embraced motorik mechanisation within a hypnotic electronic backdrop and providing a glorious synth solo for a hopeful uplift to savour.

Available on the album ‘Memory Box’ via Happy Robots Records


BOY HARSHER Machina featuring Ms. BOAN

BOY HARSHER made a short horror movie ‘The Runner’ and a soundtrack to go with it which stood up in its own right. Although comprising of their usual dark and danceable electronic pop, it proved to be their most diverse collection yet featuring several special guests. Sung in Spanish and English, ‘Machina’ featuring Ms. BOAN aka Mariana Saldaña was aimed at the dancefloor, recalling the Latino electronic disco of Bobby Orlando, particularly PET SHOP BOYS ‘A Man Could Get Arrested’.

Available on the album ‘The Runner’ via Nude Club / City Slang


CIRCUIT3 Valentina Fly

For his third CIRCUIT3 album ‘Technology For The Youth’, Peter Fitzpatrick presented a retro-futuristic narrative on the world before the space shuttle. Valentina Tereshkova whose 1963 adventure in Vostok 6 made her the first woman in space was celebrated with ‘Valentina Fly’, the minimal structure and string machines of the wonderful piece evoking OMD. “She’s not a celebrated as Yuri Gagarin” said the Dubliner, but “in some respects, what she achieved was much greater.”

Available on the album ‘Technology For The Youth’ via https://circuit3.bandcamp.com/



If Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ had been reconfigured as a Balearic friendly electronic disco number, then it would have come out like ‘Tongue Tied’, the title track of the second album by Gemma Cullingford. With a nonchalant but sensual vocal style reminiscent of Sarah Nixey, ‘Tongue Tied’ exuded a positive if nervous energy in a purer metronomic adoption of electronics. “My boyfriend provided the lyrics knowing that I often get tongue tied and mince my words so he knew they’d mean something to me” she helpfully added. Shyness is nice…

Available on the album ‘Tongue Tied’ via Elmo Recordings



Canadian danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN celebrated the joy of music in times of adversity with ‘Stereo’. Driven by a Roland TR909, the song touched on the acceptance of confinement where “I wait for no one to ask ‘when do we go?’”. Embracing the notion that “you’re here – on the stereo”, in its romantic reflection of good times, a breezy infectious allure was captured while maintaining an understated synthesized danceability and a promise of better things to come.

Available on the album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’ via SSURROUNDSS



Since Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie reconfigured DUBSTAR as a duo, there was always the impression that the comeback album ‘One’ was a warm-up. Opening album ‘Two’  was ‘Token’, possibly their most overt synthpop statement yet. Co-produced by Stephen Hague, it pointed to his work with PET SHOP BOYS and ERASURE. A song full of resilience, its narrative about leaving behind abusive relationships and minor gestures was a topic that many could relate to.

Available on the album ‘Two’ via Northern Writes


EMMON The Battle

Since releasing her first sassy pop album ‘The Art & The Evil’ in 2007, Emma Nylen has got progressively darker and harder while still retaining an enigmatic presence. While most of her ‘Recon’ album headed in an EBM direction influenced by NITZER EBB and FRONT 242, synthpop with a syncopated backbone was the sound on the ‘Black Celebration’ inflected mission that was ‘The Battle’, a timely commentary on world and deomestic events. With an absorbing metallic chill, it was the highlight of her fifth long player proper.

Available on the album ‘Recon’ via Icons Creating Real Art


FADER Serpentine

As with previous FADER works, Benge worked alone on the instrumentation at his Memetune Studios complex in Cornwall while Neil Arthur did his lyrics and vocals at his home studio. Their third album together ‘Quartz’ was an understated artistic statement inspired by incidental atmospheric music used in vintage TV shows. Minimalistic structures provided a reflective and elegiac backdrop. The icy waltz ‘Serpentine’ opened the album with its sparse keys like Gary Numan meeting Brian Eno and reminiscent of the former’s ‘Dance’ album from 1981.

Available on the album ‘Quartz’ via Blanc Check Records



A reinterpretation of THE CARS’ mournful classic from 1984 which had already been a hit in its own right before becoming associated with Live Aid, this chilling version of ‘Drive’ by THE GOLDEN FILTER simply captured the zeitgeist in amongst the turmoil of world events… the work of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman who released their first album ‘Volupsa’ in 2010, the duo defied people not to well up on hearing the words “Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late? Who’s gonna tell you things aren’t so great?”.

Available on the single ‘Drive’ via The Golden Filter


H/P Vicinities

Based in Limoges, H/P were formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, issuing their first album ‘Remove Or Disable’ in 2008. For their H/P debut ‘Programma’, the trio not only shortened their moniker but also adopted a minimal synth approach. Acknowledging the debt of influence to cult French act MARTIN DUPONT, their bassist Alain Seghir guested on the glorious album closer ‘Vicinities’. Applying a complex spiral of delicate blips, it was enclosed is an emotional centre that recalls OMD for possibly the album’s stand-out song.

Available on the album ‘Programma’ via BOREDOMproduct



Adopting the dishevelled persona of a satanic Libertas, ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE was another album that captured the zeitgeist, although the lyrics were much more personal to Tara Busch. Short and sweet with hints of Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, the screeching title song opener set the scene and the album’s intentions with a rumbling backdrop. “It definitely has ‘Metal’ in there as an influence” she said, “It came about from me messing with my Casio SK1 and then running that through a Moogerfooger ClusterFlux to make it all bendy and provide actual notes from the feedback.”

Available on the album ‘War’ via https://ispeakmachine.bandcamp.com/


KAREN HUNTER Don’t Call My Name

Veteran singer Karen Hunter was a live band member on Gary Numan’s ‘Berserker’ and ‘The Fury’ tours and recorded a wonderful cover of the ballad ‘Don’t Call My Name’ in support of The Ced Sharpley Drumming Bursary. The original was the closing track on the 1988 album ‘Metal Rhythm’ and the haunting song is given a serene feminine twist. As well as being produced by music veteran Steve Hunter who played with Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed, Numan associates Chris Payne and Andy Coughlan also contributed.

Available as a digital single ‘Don’t Call My Name’ via Living Ornaments



Vincent Belorgey aka Kavinsky made his name with ‘Night Call’ featuring vocals by Lovefoxxx of CSS. But after the track was featured in the cult movie ‘Drive’ in 2011, the Frenchman found it was becoming something of an albatross around his neck. He upset people when he said “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it”. Seeming taking an age to record his follow-up to the ‘OutRun’ album, he made a statement to be ‘Reborn’. Channelling his inner Moroder circa ‘Midnight Express, ‘Outsider’ was a magnificent instrumental laced with orchestrated drama and tension.

Available on the album ‘Reborn’ via Record Makers / Protovision



Compared with the previous works of KID MOXIE, there were darker and harder aesthetics at play on ‘Shine’ in collaboration with German EBM producer FADERHEAD. Taking both musical and lyrical inspiration from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, front woman Elena Charbila assertively declared “I’m taking the lead in the back seat”. “We definitely channelled some DM vibes” she remembered, “it was even a running joke while we were in studio recording it with FADERHEAD”.

Available on the album ‘Better Than Electric’ via Pasadena Records


KITE Panic Music

As the wait for the ‘VII’ EP continues, “Sweden’s best kept pop-secret” returned with an interim single. ‘Panic Music’ exuded a fierce anxiety with front man Nicklas Stenemo presenting his characteristic screaming delivery. Over an epic neo-gothic backdrop now associated with KITE, Christian Berg continued his fascination for electronic drones and swoops while there was also the surprise of a guitar solo in the middle eight. The stress and strain of the past two years and a very uncertain future was effectively captured in song.

Available on the digital single ‘Panic Music’ via Astronaut Recordings



From Vancouver in British Columbia, ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett continued with her more synth focussed solo project LEATHERS. Not completely divorced from the main band family, frontman Jason Corbett acts as producer and collaborator, just as Daniel Hunt did with Helen Marnie on her solo work during the LADYTRON hiatus. ‘Runaway’ was gorgeous dreamy synthpop to elope to, “About breaking free and letting go, it provides a pop of color against the mundane routine of everyday life”.

Available on the digital single ‘Runaway’ via Artoffact Records


MECHA MAIKO Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)

Hayley Stewart returned as MECHA MAIKO with ‘NOT OK’ to highlight the various social-political flashpoints that emerged during the pandemic. But focussing on warmer moments and feeling the force of some mighty electro, ‘Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)’ threw in the iconic throb from the Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer hit for a glorious beat driven statement enhanced by an angelic delivery. “There’s a weightlessness to her song that I wanted to have play through the listener’s mind at the same time that they were listening to mine” she said.

Available on the album ‘NOT OK’ via New Retro Wave



Sister and brother duo MINIMAL SCHLAGER began in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Based between London and Berlin, Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi began to develop a brand of synth heavy dreampop. While bubbling with glistening synths, ‘Submission’ was a more of a new wave number with subtle guitar and a rhythmic bounce that set it apart from the other songs on their first album ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ with an exhilarating chorus is that declares “For a second, I know I can win!”

Available on the album ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ via Duchess Box Records


R.MISSING New Present City

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released some fabulously ethereal singles in the shape of ‘Verónica Pass’, ‘Placelessness’, ‘Saturnining’ and ‘Crimeless’ in the past 18 months, New York-based darklings R. MISSING presented the sinister beauty of ‘New Present City’. In their embracement of the fragility of life with gently propelled soundscapes swathed in icy melancholia, this slice of electronic pop noir fittingly filled a gap left by the now disbanded CHROMATICS.

Available on the digital single ‘New Present City’ via Terminal Echo



When RÖYKSOPP released their most recent long playing opus ‘The Inevitable End’ in 2014, it was said to be their final album and made a fine farewell. But after various singles, archive releases and soundtrack commissions, they returned with the ‘Profound Mysteries’ trilogy. Featuring Alison Goldfrapp, the delicious ‘Impossible’ was a mighty avant disco excursion that was both seductive and functional. With the uplifting high soprano middle eight drifting into an intergalactic twist, it could be rightly considered one of the songs of 2022.

Available on the album ‘Profound Mysteries’ via Dog Triumph


HANNA RUA Light In Your Dark

Swedish songstress Hanna Rua has a dreamy electronic pop sensibility with the emphasis on the pop, but her debut EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ also demonstrated her scope and capability using darker aesthetics. With a wonderfully gritty austere, the title song played with gothier influences while remaining melodic, coming over like a Nordic NINA in her more recent work. A battle against the demons, the brooding presence recalled unga moderna veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER and their 1999 single ‘Cynisk’.

Available on the EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ via Aztec Records



Although they announced a retirement of sorts in 2016, Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO joined the Italian Do It Better family in 2021 to make an unexpected return. ‘Fading Away’ was an epic dance tune to close the ‘Sad Cities’ comeback album. Perhaps unexpectedly originating from an ambient improvisation session, this atmospheric template was merged with a relentless disco synthwave hybrid, utilising a glorious plethora of trancey electronics and thumping rhythms across its seven minutes.

Available on the album ‘Sad Cities’ via Italians Do It Better



With the bear next door, the title of SIN COS TAN’s fourth album ‘Living In Fear’ resonated with anyone resident in Finland or anywhere in the civilised world; “Do you fear the dark, love, war, or yourself? Whatever the answer, you can be certain: Fear is a powerful thing.” The windswept electro-motorik of ‘Endless’ used the melodic synthy highs of OMD to counter the melancholic expression and drone laden backdrop, acting as a burst of escapist optimism despite surrounding tensions.

Available on the album ‘Living In Fear’ via Solina Records


SOFT CELL Nighthawks

Originally a Dave Ball instrumental issued as a single that came with the boxed set of his autobiography ‘Electronic Boy’, the tense industrialised pulse of ‘Nighthawks’ recalled the sweaty alternative club overtures of one-time Some Bizzare stable mates CABARET VOLTAIRE. Featuring a deranged expletive laden rap from American drag performance artist Christeene, SOFT CELL fans were even treated to the deep growly voice of Mr Ball himself repeating the title alongside Marc Almond while ‘Staying Alive’ backing vocals provided another counterpoint.

Available on the album ‘*Happiness Not Included’ via BMG



Documenting a period of personal struggle, the new UNIFY SEPARATE album ‘Music Since Tomorrow’ attempted ‘Closure’ and this epic album opener set the scene with a building atmospheric trance tune that simply mesmerised, especially when front man Andrew Montgomery hit his trademark falsetto. Instrumentalist Leo Josefsson cited influences such as MODERAT, FLOATING POINTS, NITZER EBB, UNDERWORLD and FRONT 242 for the sound while there was also inspiration from the movie ’28 Days Later’.

Available on the album ‘Music Since Tomorrow’ via How Music Group



Bella Unwin has been releasing music since 2018 but this year saw an artistic leap. With shades of Alison Goldfrapp, Hannah Peel and the often forgotten Stella Grundy, the positively feline and angelic ‘Cold Breeze’ was the London-based Aussie’s best song yet. With subtle rhythmic lattices and chattering synthesizer goodness, the additional production and mix by Finlay Shakespeare boosted the punchy and immediate machine funk that was laced with wispy and alluringly coy vocals.

Available on the single ‘Cold Breeze’ via GOTO Records


THE WEEKND Less Than Zero

After ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, THE WEEKND again reminded the mainstream of the emotive beauty that can come from classic synthpop with ‘Less Than Zero’. ‘Less Than Zero’ itself sounded not unlike Michael Jackson produced by Tony Mansfield. The cross of catchy hooks, glorious counter-melodies and acoustic strums were reminiscent of Mansfield’s own combo NEW MUSIK who had UK hits with ‘Living By Numbers’, ‘This World Of Water’ and ‘Sanctuary’ in 1980; Tony Mansfield himself later went on to produce most of A-HA’s debut album ‘Hunting High & Low’.

Available on the album ‘Dawn FM’ via by XO / Republic Records


xPROPAGANDA The Wolves Are Returning

One of the best numbers on the Stephen J Lipson produced ‘The Heart Is Strange’, a stark warning on rise again of the far right was highlighted on ‘The Wolves Are Returning’. Despite its bounce and sonic interventions, the message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis and “did nothing” was poignant. Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag provided a worthy follow-up to ‘A Secret Wish’ as xPROPAGANDA.

Available on the album ‘The Heart is Strange’ via ZTT Records


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2022 is featured in its ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Mw0Fn10yNZQcrGzod98MM

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2022

A Short Conversation with HANNA RUA

Hanna Rua is a potential new star in the making. Her bright demeanour and morning sun are just the tonic right now to overcome life’s various curveballs.

Debuting with the positive pop narrative of ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’, it was catchy and joyous in the way it hit all manner of scales.

But with her debut EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ released on Aztec Records, within the infectious innocence and messages of motivation, the Brighton-based Swedish songstress displayed some of her more introspective possibilities on the brilliant title song.

Hanna Rua kindly stopped by for a quick chat with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about opening herself to all sorts of directions, embracing electronic pop and going disco…

How did you become to be captivated by electronic-based pop, as opposed to R’n’B or rock?

I have always been into pop music, growing up there was a lot of ABBA (which there still is), Spice Girls, Aqua and Kelly Clarkson. I’m not pretentious when it comes to music, I enjoy it when it’s not too difficult, songs with catchy clear melodies that you can easily sing along to, it can be both an emotional ballad or a happy dance song, as long as I can sing along I’m happy.

It wasn’t until I met my co-writer and producer Sam Martin that I started doing synthpop. Sam was experimenting with 80s inspired synth music and I co-wrote a song with him just for fun. Our collaboration worked so well and I liked the genre, it was nostalgic and fun. I felt like it allowed me to be playful and imaginative with the lyrics and vocals and that I could be a bit cheesy and theatrical, which I love. We decided to keep writing together and stick to this style, and that’s how the EP became to be.

Did you have a more traditional music background?

I’ve always been a lot of pop, Disney and musicals. When I started the music program at the gymnasium / upper second school at 16 and I had my first vocal lessons, I was mostly focused on musicals and pop ballads. Back then, my plan was to either become a Broadway star, a singer for Disney movies, or the next ”Celine Dion” and sing heartfelt power ballads. Now the main focus for me is to just make great music that I myself would listen do, and songs that are fun for me to sing.

‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ was a fantastic first single, how did that come together lyrically and musically?

Thank you! Sam sent me a rough instrumental backing track of the song for me to write something for. I liked the melody and the synth lines so I gave it a try and came up with a topline. Sam then helped me polish the lyrics. I recorded the vocals in Sweden in my old room with my home studio equipment, Sam was guiding me on how to record the vocals properly. I then sent him the vocal stems and he put it together in Brighton.

How would you describe your creative dynamic with Sam Martin?

I think we complement each other well. My strength is to write toplines, and Sam is brilliant at creating soundscapes, melodies and arranging songs, he’s also good with lyrics. There’s been times when I’ve doubted myself and my abilities and Sam has been a great support in those times, he’s pushed me to believe in myself, to not listen to the gremlins in my head, and to also challenge myself vocally and sing in ways I’m not used to.

We actually wrote all our songs remotely. It was during the pandemic and Sam was in Brighton and I in Sweden. It was tricky but since we work the way we do (he sent me backing tracks for me to write to), it worked well for us.

Talking of Martins, what do you think of the more synthpop based material that Max Martin (with Oscar Holter of NECRO FACILITY) is doing with THE WEEKND?

I love THE WEEKND’s synth album, especially ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘In Your Eyes’. This album is actually something that Sam and I used as inspiration for the EP.

There was some confusion initially about what artist moniker to use? Was this prompted by the need for an online presence in the modern music world?

Hanna was just too generic, there were too many artists with that name which would make it hard for people to find me, and I felt it wasn’t exciting enough. Hanna is my real name and I wanted to have an artist name that would separate my personal self from my artist self. Therefore I added the Rua.

How have you been handling the social media attention you have received since ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’?

I was pleasantly surprised that so many seemed to love ‘DCYA’. Radio stations were playing it, it got great reviews from music blogs and friends and family were loving it as well. It was humbling and touching. However, it’s been harder than I thought it would be to spread the song further, maybe I had hoped that the song would get a ”life on its own” and just magically spread. I think it’s a great song that deserves attention, so I’m still hoping for that big break.

‘Tears On Your Pillow’, a song about unfulfilled dreams and encourages the listener to “get up again”, do you write from a personal perspective or in a narrative?

Like with almost all of the other songs for this EP, this song is about finding the light in the dark. I have written it from a narrative more than from my own experiences. I of course have days where I struggle like any other person, but I’m in general a joyful person with a positive outlook on life.

I think I have my spirituality to thank for that. I believe that we’re all souls living a temporary human life and when we die we just go somewhere else, we never actually truly die. I believe that things happen for a reason, good and bad, and that on a grand scale – all is well. This is what I’ve tried to communicate through these songs.

‘Hear Me Now’ is airy angelic pop which allows you to project a scaling vocal style, how big is your range and what do you consider in the studio when deciding how best you use your voice?

I have a wide range, I can sing alto, mezzo soprano and soprano, but I am most comfortable in the middle. The songs in this EP are quite up there though, so I’ve had to push my vocals more than I’m used to in order to reach the higher notes, it’s been challenging but worth it. ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ were initially in a lower key but it sounded much better higher, it made it sound brighter and more energetic.

Your debut EP ‘Light Up The Dark’ features a wonderful title track that recalls ‘Cynisk’ by Swedish veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER, are you familiar with their work or is this “unga moderna” something you would prefer to leave with your parents’ generation?

I’ve heard of them, but am not familiar with their music. I listened to ‘Cynisk’ now and you’re right, it does have similarities to ‘Light Up Your Dark’. ‘LUYD’ is an unusually dark song to be coming from me, but I think it’s nice to show some variation, even though I personally prefer the happy songs. And LUSTANS LAKEJER, I think I’d rather leave it with my parents 😉

You made an online video of you singing ABBA’s ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, what did you think of the return of Agnetha, Björn & Benny and Anni-Frid? Are you intending to see the ABBA-tars ‘Voyage’ show?

ABBA is my favourite band and I loved that they put out another album and was eager to hear it. I am not that eager to see the show though, maybe I will sound a bit old-fashioned but I like my artists to be present on stage, digital avatars scare me a little to be honest. If only I could have gone back in time and see ABBA in their heyday, that’d be something.

What is next for you? Are you intending to perform live at all?

I am currently working on new songs with a writer and producer called Villemann, and we’re going a slightly different direction. We’re making funky disco music, dance floor songs. I love dancing and I love disco music (the more strings the better) so this is something I think was bound to happen sooner or later.

With my EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’, I wanted to encourage people to think positively, now I just want to make people dance and not think at all! I am putting together a live show at the moment and I already have two gigs booked for this autumn, location and date will be announced soon…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Hanna Rua

Special thanks to John Feltham at Aztec Records

‘Light Up Your Dark’ is released as a digital EP by Aztec Records, available via https://hannaruamusic.bandcamp.com/releases






Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
20th September 2022

HANNA RUA Light Up Your Dark EP

‘Light Up Your Dark’ is the debut EP from Swedish songstress Hanna Rua. Released on Aztec Records, the one-time home of BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT and NINA, is the native from Östersund the next artist from the roster set for bigger things?

Certainly Hanna Rua has a dreamy immediate electronic pop sound with the emphasis on the pop, but this EP also demonstrates her scope and capability using darker aesthetics. Currently based in the creative South Coast seaside hub of Brighton, she launched with the deliciously uplifting debut single ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ in Autumn 2021.

Included on ‘Light Up Your Dark’, the infectious optimism of ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ provided a YOLO anthem with shades of ABBA and yes, THE SEX PISTOLS! The warbling electronic bassline at points recalled the punk trailblazers but then ‘Pretty Vacant’ did actually borrow from ‘SOS’!

Continuing the supreme Scandipop template with a call to “get up again”, her next single ‘Tears On Your Pillow’ continued the good work at a more cruising pace. It was the sort of classic melodic synthpop that fellow Swedes Max Martin and Oscar Holter had producing with THE WEEKND. Acting as Hanna Rua’s own Max Martin is near namesake Sam Martin, a producer who served his studio and songwriting apprenticeship with XENOMANIA who worked with PET SHOP BOYS and GIRLS ALOUD.

Of the three new tracks on the EP, the ‘Light Up Your Dark’ title song is the best; with a wonderfully gritty austere, it plays with gothier influences, coming over like a Nordic NINA in her more recent work but remaining melodic. The brooding presence recalls unga moderna veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER and their 1999 single ‘Cynisk’ in particular and grows in stature with each play. It’s a battle against the demons where our heroine declares that she “Danced to your darkness, there in your arms, I told you, I told you, I’ll light up your dark”.

With its exotic piping moods, the breezy and serene ‘Hold The Light’ offers more encouraging messages to grow as souls and to experience love, while ‘Hear Me Now’ is airy angelic pop that allows Hanna Rua’s bright scaling vocal style to shine.

Overcoming life’s curveballs, Hanna Rua is a beaming new talent out to encourage the light within us all with her catchy tunes and positive personality. A fine debut, ‘Light Up Your Dark’ is a perfect pop collection for the summer.

‘Light Up Your Dark’ is released as a digital EP by Aztec Records, available now from https://hannaruamusic.bandcamp.com/releases






Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th July 2022

Introducing HANNA RUA

From Östersund in Sweden comes Hanna Rua, a dreamy new electronic pop artist based in Brighton who has just signed to Aztec Records whose past and present artists include BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT, NINA and BUNNY X.

With her bright and breezy vocal style, her uplifting debut single ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ came out at the end of 2021. Supreme synthetic Scandipop with a driving neo-Motorik beat, the Swedes do seem to be better at this kind of stuff than everyone else; ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ is a delicious YOLO anthem that sparkles with optimism like a danceable take on the love theme of ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ with its ringing overtones.

Asking “what happened to your lust for life?”, it reconnects to a child-like innocence when anything could be possible in life. What ‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ certainly does not lack is a infectious drive. At various points, the electronic bassline even feels like it is about to morph into THE SEX PISTOLS but then again, that is as not as daft as it sounds as they borrowed ABBA’s ‘SOS’ for ‘Pretty Vacant’. And with our young heroine having covered their recent single ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ and final UK No1 ‘Super Trouper’ on her YouTube channel, the circle is complete.

Hanna Rua’s collaborative partner is producer Sam Martin who served his studio and songwriting apprenticeship with XENOMANIA who worked with PET SHOP BOYS and GIRLS ALOUD. The lady herself said of her co-creation: “I want the song to feel like a sparkling ball of light that is growing and growing, and might eventually explode into a glow that could light up the darkest of corners. But to simplify it – I want it to just be a frickin’ nice tune for you to enjoy”.

Continuing the good work at a more cruising syncopated pace, her new single is ‘Tears On Your Pillow’, a song about unfulfilled dreams and disappointments. With the slight air of Aussie songstress Tina Arena is her collaboration with CLIENT LIAISON, this is the type of melodic synthpopwave that fellow Swedes Max Martin and Oscar Holter have been recently giving THE WEEKND a helping hand with and despite the tone of resignation, it rouses with a message to “get up again”.

Catchy, joyous and hitting all manner of scales, Hanna Rua is a potential new star in the making. Her bright demeanour and morning sun are much needed right now to overcome life’s various curveballs.

‘Don’t Cut Your Angels’ and ‘Tears On Your Pillow’ are released by Aztec Records, available as digital singles from https://hannaruamusic.bandcamp.com/






Text by Chi Ming Lai
5th March 2022