Tag: Peaches

PLASMIC Interview

Hailing from Orange County, PLASMIC describes herself as “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”.

Detonating infectious lo-fi synth bombs while full of femme rage fuelled by childhood anxiety, a hybrid of CRYSTAL CASTLES, DEVO, MINISTRY and DIVINE forms various parts of her artistic DNA.

Lauren Lusardi is the precocious talent behind PLASMIC. Offering a burst of delightfully odd escapism with a portable Yamaha Reface strapped round her neck, her recent appearance at at The Islington showcased her as a feisty live performer.

Displaying an energetic punk attitude like Siouxsie Sioux genetically mutated with Molly Ringwald if she was into Gothic Lolita fashion, she is already a veteran of three EPs releases.

The undoubted standout from her latest release ‘Validation Nation’ is ‘Baby Machine’, an immensely catchy feminist electropop anthem utilising a mixture of vintage Casio and Yamaha sounds that challenges the expectations of women to bear children.

And as the song’s brilliant accompanying video produced by Mental Pictures and directed by Kenneth Lui shows, she will NOT say yes to this monster of a dress!

While she was in London, PLASMIC chatted about her music and independently minded ethos…

You describe yourself as “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”, what was it like for you growing up in Orange County and how did it shape who you are?

I was born in Los Angeles where my parents met, we then moved to Mission Viejo shortly after my brother was born. Growing up in Orange County sounds like a dream, but the more south you get, the more conservative. We know what that means for anyone who is even remotely different. I learned very early on the problems with our country and violence towards women, queers and people of colour.

Where I live you see a trump sign or confederate flag every couple of houses. People protest in front of Planned Parenthood every Sunday. It’s shaped the person I am today and I will always stand up for what’s right.

You studied electronic music at a local community college, what did that involve and how did you realise this would be a good tool for your artistic expression?

I had been toying with production since I was 16 so when I arrived I had realized I taught myself everything.

I took the three only classes that applied to my interests: Ableton 1&2 and audio engineering. I had an awesome professor in my audio engineering class.

I knew being the brain power behind my art was the only way to go. I was eager to learn new recording techniques to bring to my little home studio.

It must have been quite interesting when you brought your portable Yamaha into class? And now Yamaha themselves came calling?

Yeah, I’d been tagging them on Instagram and Facebook with the Reface. Then the NAMM shows came around at the Convention Centre in California where all the musicians are seen and Yamaha asked me to demonstrate their new keytar so that was really exciting!

Which particular electronic acts drew you in and became influences on PLASMIC?

I really love PEACHES, FEVER RAY, CRYSTAL CASTLES and Alice Glass in particular. When I was growing up, I remember I was listening to DEVO and I was like “OH MY GOD!”; it was what really made me want to make music, Mark Mothersbaugh is my favourite.

Your most recent latest release is ‘Validation Nation’, is it a concept EP of sorts?

I guess it’s conceptual. PLASMIC is super confident and fiery, but off the stage validation is what I seek to move forward. I have trouble believing in my work. That’s what sparked ‘Validation Nation’. I didn’t intend for all the themes to go hand in hand, but I guess that concept worked out! On the title song, one of the lines is “I’m gonna wear colour that once segregated me, to prove your words never meant a thing”, that’s kinda my life right there, everything is pink. I wasn’t always this pink, but I’ve embraced this femininity like a happy chaos. *laughs*

From it, ‘Baby Machine’ is catchy feminist electropop anthem… what inspired that?

The song is about the expectations upon female presenting folks to settle down, have babies and conform to the American dream of being a housewife. But where does that leave queer folks and those who cannot conceive?

‘Baby Machine’ is an anthem against pro-lifers and strict parents who have preconceived notions of what their child will do for them. It’s an anthem for anyone who feels pressured to have kids.

Does ‘Compliance’ confront the longstanding issue of patriarchy?

Actually ‘Compliance’ is about opioid use.

You’ve described ‘Revenge’ from your self-titled EP as cathartic?

Writing ‘Revenge’ was the moment I turned my life around. I never stood up for myself, I always felt like my abuse was my fault and that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t a #MeToo movement when I wrote the song. People told me I should apologize for my rapist going to jail (for only a week. Lame.) Instead of continuing to feel sorry myself, I said f*ck it. I’m aloud to be angry. I want other people to hear this and know that their feelings are valid. You need to be your own hero, you bleed when you create art, that’s how I coped.

You recently issued a delightful cover of ‘Female Trouble’ to celebrate the birthday of the late actor and HI-NRG diva DIVINE?

In LA, I perform a lot of shows but my favourites are the Lethal Amounts ones. There was this DIVINE Ball where a bunch of queens were competing to be the best DIVINE and I was invited to perform this cover. I did it differently like if it was on her ‘Jungle Jezebel’ album. It was really fun, Traci Lords was there.

On the other side of the coin, there was also a cover of ‘Every Day Is Halloween’ by MINISTRY, is there anything else you would like to have a go at reinterpreting?

I have a huge list that I want to redo, but that one was a big one for sure, I’m a huge MINISTRY fan and it was a homage to them, they helped shape my sound as I was growing up and learning about drum machines and stuff.

You opened for Marc Almond in LA at Sex Cells, what was that like?

SOFT CELL are the gods of synthpop, every song is so good. Meeting Marc Almond was a big milestone for me. I owe it all to Lethal Amounts for having me on the line-up!

There were a lot of artists on that bill and Marc was the most humble and the kindest person. He was so professional but also so down to earth, not a diva at all, so nice and awesome. I got to see his soundcheck.

It was the first time I played a set with dancers and they killed it. Vladonna and Crystal Pallace were my epic dancers. I still can’t believe I got to dance on stage with Marc when he closed out with ‘Sex Dwarf’. A bucket list moment for sure.

Is it true you are related to Linda Lusardi?

So here’s the story! I was at the airport going through customs and they looked at my name and asked “Are you related to Linda Lusardi?” and I’m like “WHAT?”, I didn’t realise she was a household name in the UK but it’s cool! All the Lusardis from Italy are related, so there’s a good chance that most likely we are. I can’t really do a DNA test! *laughs*

What are your personal hopes and fears as PLASMIC?

I think every musician is not in it for being a hobby, they really want to quit their day job and do what they love, right?

This is truly what I love, it’s my dream, touring the world and inspiring young women and queers to just be awesome.

I have a bit of social anxiety and have trouble speaking up for myself when I’m not on stage, so my biggest fear is probably convincing A&R people, but I think I’m pretty stern with what I do.

What’s next for PLASMIC?

There’s a lot of music and video coming so stick around…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to PLASMIC

‘Validation Nation’, along with other PLASMIC EPs are available via Devour Records as downloads direct from https://plasmic.bandcamp.com/





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
16th April 2019

JEAN-MICHEL JARRE Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Jarre-electronica2Released last October, ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ was JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s first album since 2007’s ‘Téo & Téa’.

It was a worldwide collaborative adventure where the French Maestro “had this idea of merging DNA with musicians and artists of different generations, linked, directly or indirectly, to electronic music in a kind of sharing process in a world where we’re more isolated than ever by our smartphones and the Internet”.

During its five year mission, the ‘Electronica’ sessions produced an excess of tracks, thanks to the number of willing contributors who embraced Jarre’s ethic to write in the same room, as opposed to remote working via the web.

“Electronic music is all about connections” he said, both practically and figuratively. ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ featured AIR, TANGERINE DREAM, MOBY, VINCE CLARKE, JOHN CARPENTER, LITTLE BOOTS and LAURIE ANDERSON; so for those who were unaware of any electronic music before AVICII, it came as something of an education.

The second instalment ‘Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’ has no less impressive a cast, with PET SHOP BOYS, GARY NUMAN, HANS ZIMMER, THE ORB, PEACHES, YELLO and SEBASTIEN TELLIER all willing conspirators in one of the ambitious music projects ever undertaken.

JARRE BW2015‘The Heart of Noise, Pt. 1’ featuring French techno kid RONE begins with an almost Morricone aesthetic, as if the Italian composer had used synths.

After a marvellous impressionistic start with an enticing filmic ambience, the more uptempo second part sees Jarre taking classic trance melodies along for the ride, utilising steady beats and percussive mantras without being obtrusive.

‘Brick England’ with PET SHOP BOYS is classic mid-tempo Euro disco, with Tennant and Lowe not breaking ranks with a rockabilly tune or anything. But Jarre’s ribbon controlled lead synth does sound as though it might break into ‘The Final Countdown’!

Following on, ‘These Creatures’ with experimental singer / songwriter JULIA HOLTE takes things downtempo with a gentle blippy soundscape. Holter provides some wonderfully angelic vocals and voice samples, as the dreamy build swims along seductively.

PRIMAL SCREAM are a surprise inclusion although their flirtation with harder electronic forms on ‘Autobahn 66’ and their cover of ‘Some Velvet Morning’ justifies their presence. However the basis of ‘As One’ is a speeded up take on ‘Come Together’ from ‘Screamadelica’ and sees pitch shifted voices alongside vocoder processed tones that could easily be mistaken for GRIMES going happy hardcore.

The unlikely friendship between GARY NUMAN and JEAN-MICHEL JARRE has resulted in ‘Here For You’, possibly the most purely electronic work Numan for many years. Significant in its absence of crunching guitars, Jarre himself amusingly described this stomper as “Oscar Wilde Techno”. Whatever, it is certainly the darkest thing Jarre has ever recorded

‘Electrees’ sees an eagerly awaited collaboration with award winning soundtrack composer HANS ZIMMER epic. Jarre’s father Maurice of course won Oscars for his work on ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Dr Zhivago’ and ‘Passage To India’. Zimmer has a varied CV including BUGGLES, HELDEN and even producing a single for THE DAMNED, but first worked on fusing the traditional orchestral arrangements and electronic instruments in 1980 with English composer Stanley Myers who wrote ‘Cavatina’, the theme to ‘The Deer Hunter’.

With a cinematic sheen, ‘Electrees’ harks back to Zimmer’s synth roots with choral samples and synthesized strings, recalling MOBY’s ‘God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters’.

A non-musician collaboration comes in the form of ‘Exit with National Security Agency whistleblower EDWARD SNOWDEN. Frantic and tense with a stop / start structure, it slows for a monologue by Snowden. The track’s political slant is thematically closer to 1988’s ‘Revolutions’ with a chip tune influence that soundtracks a spy chase and “finding a way out”.

On the other side of the coin, the brilliant ‘Gisele’ with SÉBASTIEN TELLIER is very melodic and unsurprisingly Gallic, the gathering of two French talents sounding not unlike Serge Gainsbourg gone electro. THE ORB’s distinctly spacey textures make their presence felt during ‘Switch On Leon’. They actually first worked with Jarre on a remix of ‘Oxygène 8’ in 1997, but it was said at the time that he was unhappy with the results so the track was subsequently issued as ‘Toxygene’ by THE ORB themselves. Whatever the story, water must have passed under the bridge for the two parties to reunite.

‘What You Want’ has the unmistakeable snarl of PEACHES over an electro hip-hop backbeat. With her characteristic diva humour coupled with some asexual madness, it’s a diversion from Jarre’s usual template that will horrify fans of ‘Oxygene’ with its dubstep and rap elements.

Meanwhile, ‘Circus’ with German producer SIRIUSMO is very dance pop with DAFT PUNK robot voices in abundance; while good fun, it begs the question as to what a collaboration with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter would sound like. No questions as to how a YELLO versus JEAN-MICHEL JARRE co-write would turn out like as ‘Why This, Why That and Why’ delivers the expected; Dieter Meier gives his distinct droll while Boris Blank and Jarre provide an airy blend of soothing atmospheric backdrops.

‘The Architect’ with house trailblazer JEFF MILLS is hypnotic, orchestrated Detroit techno that provides an accessible entry point to the genre. But more appealing to a handbag filled dancefloor is ‘Swipe To The Right’. Possibly another politically coded piece or the use of Tinder, the brilliant song partners Jarre with CYNDI LAUPER. No stranger to electronic forms, particularly with her under rated ‘Bring Ya To The Brink’ album of 2007, there are big bass riffs galore for a great poptastic exploration that is both catchy and danceable. A sample from the Minipops rhythm box that appeared on ‘Oxygene’ even drops in for possibly the standout track on this collection.

To close, the album finishes with two solo compositions ‘Falling Down’ and ‘The Heart of Noise (The Origin)’; the former floats a vocodered vocal over a distinctly harder-edged mechanical pulse, while the latter is a third variation on the title track. It would be fair to say with ‘Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’, the results cannot help but be mixed.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was told by GARY NUMAN that JEAN-MICHEL JARRE “is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life” – so obviously he didn’t want to upset anyone and decided to release everything!

However, such is the method of modern music consumption, the listener can be more brutal and from the two volumes, a great 16 track ‘Best Of Electronica’ playlist can easily be constructed. While Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’ is not as consistent as the first instalment, there is something for anyone remotely interested in electronic music. The choice is yours.

Jean-Michel-Jarre-Electronica-uk-Tour-2016‘Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’ is released by Columbia / Sony Music

The ‘Electronica’ World Tour runs from July to December 2016, please check JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s website for more details





Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th May 2016