Tag: S.P.O.C.K. (Page 1 of 3)

S.P.O.C.K Interview

Swedish electronic pop veterans S.P.O.C.K celebrated their 35th Anniversary in 2023.

Standing for STAR PILOTS ON CHANNEL K, S.P.O.C.K began in 1988 to perform ‘Star Trek’ themed songs at a birthday party. This well-received performance unexpectedly led to further local live bookings and a record deal.

S.P.O.C.K’s breakthrough came with the catchy and amusingly morose 1992 single ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ which became a cult favourite not just on their home planet but in Germany as well. The 1993 debut album ‘Five Year Mission’ showed they were more than just a novelty act with the long playing follow-ups ‘Alien Worlds’, ‘Assignment: Earth’ and ‘S.P.O.C.K: 1999’ expanding their audience and allowing the band to tour the world including the US in 1999.

Despite having not released any new music since ‘2001: A S.P.O.C.K Odyssey’, the band remain a draw on the live circuit in Europe. 2023 became their busiest year since their heyday with appearances at festivals such as Amphi, NCN and V2A as well as sold-out headlining club shows. There was even a S.P.O.C.K beer brewed in their honour called ‘Alien Attack’.

While various crew members including Captain Eddie B Kirk, Plasteroid and Crull-E have come and gone over the years, Yo-Haan and Val Solo currently man the engine room. But the constant at the helm of S.P.O.C.K has been Android, better known to his family by his earth name of Alexander Hofman.

With his characteristic boyish grin and phasers set to fun, Android hailed frequencies and chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the band’s inter-galactic adventures in Spock ‘n’ Roll via his communicator…

How on earth did this ‘Five Year Mission’ become a 35 year one?

I don’t know, it just went on and on and on to paraphrase the ABBA song. There was never any intention or plan, we just kept doing it because it’s possible. The first 13 years or so, every second year there was a new album. But when we released our last album ‘2001: A S.P.O.C.K Odyssey’, the music industry changed due to the internet, MP3s and all that.

At that time, it was virtually like a full time job although it was with the support of the Swedish government. So it wasn’t like we were driving Rolls Royces or drinking champagne for breakfast. So we needed to change and it was time for us to get regular jobs. But it was impossible to just quit, a lot of bands quit but for S.P.O.C.K, it was never an option or even mentioned.

What was the moment when ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ was out that you realised you would not be able to take conventional shore leave again?

That’s never really happened to us, ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ was our breakthrough and is still an underground classic; this is the sub-cultural thing, we had an underground hit but we could still walk the streets without getting attacked *laughs*

At the time of its release, it didn’t feel like a breakthrough. During the years when we released albums, it all just felt natural, “OK, let’s do a song, let’s do another song, let’s do an album, let’s tour” and we kept repeating that cycle for a few laps. So yes, 2001 was when we had to change our lives and we never got round to doing another album… I know the question is always “will there be a new album?”, I don’t know… “will there be new music?”, I hope so…

Perhaps the question is “how is it possible to still keep going?”… well it’s because it’s fun, that would sum it all up. You’ve seen us, we are a bunch of guys who are tons of fun on stage… just to get invited to do those shows and take that responsibility and have a bunch of people showing up to see us, that’s energy enough. That’s the reason we didn’t quit, who would want to miss out on all that? You were at Amphi Festival, there were like thousands and thousands of people there, everybody wants to be appreciated and get some tender love and care. I would be stupid to say “let’s call it a day” *laughs*

The addition of dialogue by William Shatner as Kirk from ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’ gave ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ some camp but simultaneously a poignant resonance. Did it take Paramount much convincing to let you use the sample?

We never asked them! *laughs*

We did ask Paramount about other things like to do with our name but not that. That was first released in 1992 and at that time, everyone was sampling stuff. That was the era when it was still being debated as to how much you were allowed, if anything, to sample. A lot of artists sampled like crazy and we were doing what everyone else was doing. But had it been today, it wouldn’t have been possible but back then, it was!

‘Charlie X’ is an interesting song as that is the story of a disturbed teenage boy who develops a crush on the lesser known ‘Star Trek’ character Yeoman Janice Rand who had an incredible beehive, have S.P.O.C.K had any stalkers?

Yes and no but “stalker” is the negative version… there have been people who have shown a lot of interest but it’s never been scary or anything so in that sense. I would say no, let’s call them very devoted fans… I’ve never been afraid that someone would stand outside the stage door waiting for me or the crew 😀

Did you meet any Orion girls on tour? Or were they more Astro Girls?

Dude! You know that what happens on the tour bus stays on the tour bus! *laughs*

There was that time in 2020 in London when your uniforms got lost en route to the show! What’s your favourite funny memory in the Captain’s Log?

There are a lot stories, many I have forgotten from being old or being drunk! *laughs*

There was this incident when we actually bumped into William Shatner at a ‘Star Trek’ convention! We were touring the States in 1999 and paid a lot of money to do it to buy ourselves into the market. Two of those shows were at the start of the tour in Pasadena at the biggest ‘Star Trek’ convention in the world. For some reason, they put us on a bill where attendees had to pay extra as they do at these things, but we said no, we wanted to present ourselves to attract an audience… anyway, we had the biggest number of aliens attend a S.P.O.C.K show, they were dancing around and it was amazing because nobody knew us *laughs*

I remember William Shatner was there on one of the days we were playing and people were standing in line along a wall in our concert hall because he was signing books and photos. So some people couldn’t help but see us and Shatner was backstage on our stage. When we were done with our show, the event promoter asked if we would like to meet William Shatner so his manager and the event promoter talked and we got to meet him.

William Shatner didn’t care that much but we asked if we could have a picture with him… he’s not that tall and certainly not as tall as we were, so when the photo was being taken by our sound engineer, being a total professional, just before the shutter clicked, Shatner stepped up on his toes to make himself as tall as us! *laughs*

Talking of uniforms, the cover of ‘Alien Worlds’ portrays Plasteroid as a dead redshirt… there was that ‘Star Trek: Every Redshirt Death Ranked From Worst To Best’ list, do you have a favourite death scene?

That was a great article but no I do not, I’ve never ranked them in that sense myself. Maybe it’s because we loved our version of the redshirt death on ‘Alien Worlds’. I had to apologise to Plasteroid aka Johan Billing because when he came aboard, we treated him not too nice *laughs*

He was very young, me and Captain Eddie B Kirk had been in the band for 5 years and told him he had to do some hard work as we’d paved the way, he wasn’t going to get things served to him on a plate. So the first thing we do when we show him on the cover of the album, he’s shot! We killed him! He’s cool with it nowadays and we hang out every so often and have become good friends since *laughs*

What’s your favourite original ‘Star Trek’ episode?

Oooh! When we performed as a band in the late 80s, the original series was shown on a quite new Swedish network at the time so wasn’t available to all, and this was the first time since the 70s. So we had gatherings at my place to watch those episodes and drank beer… some episodes are cheesy right? *laughs*

YEAH! 😉 *laughs*

Even by the late 80s, the special effects were so-so and the acting was “hmmm” so there was a lot of laughs of course. But I remember there was this one episode ‘The City On The Edge Of Forever’, there was dead silence in the room because it was such a great episode. I saw it again 2 months ago, every time I have some sort of anniversary, I watch an original series episode. It’s a time travelling story and I don’t usually like those but I liked that. Doctor McCoy goes insane and jumps though a forever portal which can talk! So he lands in the 30s and meets a good looking lady…

That’s the Joan Collins one and she gets run over by a car? *laughs*

Exactly… and in those time travel stories, something changes so Kirk and Spock have to go back as well and sort the situation! And that means sacrificing the love interest of Kirk! *laughs*

It’s amazing how S.P.O.C.K continues to be embraced by the darker alternative music community in Europe, what do you put that down to?

I have no idea, in a way it surprises me. When we started, in the heydays of the 90s, it was the natural thing, ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ and the first album were much more rough, there was a big scene at that time for such music. But along the road, we got more sleek and polished, had better production and drifted away from this dark scene. I have this theory that the dark scene don’t appreciate quality as we introduced more and more choruses and harmonies. *laughs*

In the dark scene, there used to be more electronic pop bands, nowadays and in the past decade or so, there are hardly any “pop” bands within the dark scene. Yes, there are electronic pop acts now and have been in the last 10 years like the ones you feature but it doesn’t fit this scene at all. So how do we fit in? Nostalgia I guess, I don’t mind. There’s a difference in Sweden and Germany where we mostly do our shows, as there are living scenes with festivals. The UK, I don’t know, is there that much left? We do challenge that dark scene because everyone there is dressed in black, and we dress up in white!*laughs*

I do that almost on purpose to tease them and make them think it’s possible to be happy. So much of that scene is so negative, full of death and angst and all that sh*t. We just want to be happy, have fun and party, that’s why we do it and apparently, people at these events appreciate it. There is hope for these gloomy persons out there. And since we haven’t released anything in 22 years, that means we mostly do festivals and it’s kinda easier to ride on the other bands’ success so people show up anyway because they are there anyway and they know we are a good live act. It’s happiness, joyful, dancey, it’s their few minutes of fun… maybe that’s the reason we can still be appreciated by that audience, it creates some balance in the universe *laughs*

S.P.O.C.K are not that well-known in the UK but you were invited to do festival in the Autumn. How did that go?

This festival was organised by V2A who are a scene band and have this Mad Max theme. They play at all the major Mad Max post-apocalyptic festivals, they love S.P.O.C.K and they said we needed to play their festival. We were concerned that nobody would know us, but they told us not to worry because they were so open-minded.

So for the first time in many-many-many years, we stood in front of a crowd who absolutely did not know about us and that was a challenge…. but we convinced them all and I’m so happy that we still have that in us. Because we have so much experience, we tell ourselves it’s OUR stage and we own this stage and we do what we’re good at, which is expressing our enthusiasm and professionalism about our work. Even though they are not the best songs in the world, it’s the overall package with S.P.O.C.K and although it was a small festival, the crowd were blown away, people were dancing and screaming and shouting and having a lot of fun. I would say the rate of positive comments after the festival compared to how many people were there was very very high.

So I was super happy and also it was the most wicked experience in my life. The whole weekend was totally crazy, we lived in cottages that looked Hobbitland run by a guy who was renovating a dinosaur mini-golf course and had a double decker bus on his drive with a Thai restaurant called ‘Thai In The Sky’. It was just the weirdest wonderful experience and I’m still wearing the wristband from that festival! I’m gonna wear it for a little longer 😉

The Sci-Fi notions of S.P.O.C.K meant that it could only have been an electronic act, or could it have been formatted for a rock audience?

NO! *laughs*

We grew up with electronic pop music in the 80s and it just went to our hearts, it was the natural thing to do for us to explore electronic music. Maybe we could have dreamt about it and become more successful being a rock act. I know that at times back in the day, I would joke that we should have been a sleaze metal act, then we would have got more girls and become a bigger thing. I mean, the heavy metal or rock ‘n’ roll scene, to me it’s a bit like electronic music, there are a wide range of styles within… so in electronic music, it could range from ERASURE to RAMMSTEIN… and in metal, there can be this sophisticated stuff to well, actually RAMMSTEIN! So there is so much in between. The rock scene is very much alive and has been always, whereas the electronic scene is unfortunately declining-declining-declining.

Well, I think 2023 was one of the worst years for electronic and synth music since 2012, one observation I’ve made is there are acts now that say they are “synth” or “electronic” who are anything but, they are actually funk, pop and rock acts etc. Have you come across yourself?

No, I haven’t but that does not mean that doesn’t exist, it’s more about me not keeping up to date, I have no idea what is going on anymore. I often joke I have not listened to any new music since the turn of the millennium. I haven’t spent a day listening to any new music released in 2023 and I know that sounds stupid but I only have so much time.

I think that’s understandable, in our age group, we’ve reached a point in our lives where we know what we like and finding new music is just not No1 anymore… but let’s talk about more fun stuff… S.P.O.C.K had the ‘Alien Attack’ beer brewed in its name recently?

There’s no short answer to this one so thank you! *laughs*

I’ve been a beer nerd for 7 or 8 years now, I met someone who was very into the IPA revolution when I was only into drinking lousy backstage beer. With him, I stumbled across a sour beer and that blew my mind. That was a shift in life and I have since tried a few sour beers. I don’t collect but I have ended up with a substantial collection at home because I buy more than I drink.

S.P.O.C.K continued to do shows and we actually have done a show every year except the Corona year. But it occurred to me on tour drinking that backstage beer that it would be fun to do a beer, because I love beer and I love my band. Knowing the beer community, it has such a happy smiling atmosphere, the opposite of how I see the wine snobbery world… I’ve never been a wine drinker, you need to be so super snobby to do it and that’s not me! The beer community has a lot of creativity and a lot of fun, I felt this was my world.

There’s a lot of micro-breweries who do collaborations so I had two choices. Either I pay someone to do my beer or I do a collab. I wasn’t into paying someone and it wasn’t about earning or business, I wanted to find someone who was eager.There was this local brewery near where I live called Rocket Brewing which was a perfect name. I approached them at a beer festival on the common theme of space, beer and local connections… and their response? It was just emptiness, void! *laughs*

So I approached another brewery in town named Elmelevel via a friend, their labels were amazing pieces of art and with their titles were pure science-fiction, but they replied and said no as they didn’t know the band. I appreciated their answer, at least they were honest and I needed to find someone that wanted to do this.

So still no S.P.O.C.K beer, what happened next?

Time went on and I went to another beer festival a year ago walking amongst other beer nerds and down this aisle, a guy with a long beard who pulled me aside to his taps and went “You’re Alexander from S.P.O.C.K, I grew up with your music and you made such an impact on me, can I offer you a beer or two?” – so he was totally enthusiastic, he met the superstar of his life and while we were talking, along comes another guy who goes “WOAH! IT’S YOU! You’re Alexander from S.P.O.C.K!” And this carried on, there was a third guy and then a fourth guy… usually I can walk around the city quite anonymously but then I come to a beer festival being mobbed by beer nerds who know about my music!

So back to the first guy who pulled me aside, I told him that I wanted to do a beer and how the breweries had rejected me and he gave me his card. His brewery Ten Hands Brewing was in a city 400 miles north of me in Sweden, but there was a nearby club who had noticed I was more active on social media with S.P.O.C.K and asked us to do a show. Then I remembered this was the brewery city, it was the stars aligning so I called him. I told him we were doing a show in his town in a few months and asked if there was any chance they could do a beer. His reply was “WE CAN DO IT!” so we did a beer.

How did you complete your beer mission?

Two months later, I stepped on a train and brewed the beer, I don’t know anything about how they brew a beer but I can tell you what I like or don’t like, I can’t tell you what a beer is, except it’s something that makes me drunk. The brewer asked me what kind of beer I wanted and it was a sour beer. When he asked about flavour, I suggested elderflower. We sat in the kitchen of the brewery and it was like a chemistry experiment with plastic bottles and pipettes, I poured something into something and that’s how I made it… that was fun and as a bonus thing, we developed quite a friendship and he confirmed all the love in the brewing world.

When it came to naming, he had a shortlist of a hundred names, all sci-fi and space related like ‘Space Flower’ but I didn’t want something as braggy as IRON MAIDEN or MOTÖRHEAD as a branded thing. I wanted something that was cool and laid back that was an apparent S.P.O.C.K beer but not call it S.P.O.C.K, because if I had called it that, it would be a merchandise product. So I thought, let’s go for a song title so that was a possible 60 songs. Although ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ is our well-known song within the scene, our biggest hit outside of it and especially in Sweden where we have all sorts people coming to our shows is ‘Alien Attack’; we performed it on the Swedish equivalent of BBC TV a thousand years ago so ‘Alien Attack’ it was!

You mentioned that you got noticed recently because you had become active on social media, so what was the motivation to use it more to maintain S.P.O.C.K’s profile? Do you enjoy it?

I enjoy it to a certain extent and I need to now, every artist does… we had a website once that took ages to update and when we changed the host, everything disappeared so that meant I had to do Facebook. It’s free but I read a book by George Takei about using social media so I thought, if he’s doing it, so should I.

Although we are doing it for fun, S.P.O.C.K is a professional product and even though that word might be the wrong word to use, we need to nurture S.P.O.C.K and show to promoters and fans that we are alive. Although it takes a lot of time, there is a creative touch to it and it’s fun. I am eager to be creative. I will write a summary of 2023 which has been amazing and it’s important to show we are here and there.

As S.P.O.C.K, are you interested in utilising the possibilities of AI for anything, whether that’s in music, video or promotion?

It’s a very good question and it’s a valid one. I don’t know much about AI but I would never close that door. 2023 is the AI year right and I’m not up to speed yet, but after I’ve taken a breather, I want to see what AI can do, apparently it’s anything and everything. Do I think it’s a big no-no? Of course not, it’s highly interesting… isn’t that what the electronic scene is about? To push the frontiers. So let’s do it but it’s too early to tell, ask me again in a year *laughs*

You cannot change the laws of physics, but is there anything you would have liked to have done differently with S.P.O.C.K?

In the past 22 years, it has not been as creative and up until 2001 with the fifth album, nothing was planned and we kept working-working-working even though there were changes in crew but the product continued to develop… up to that point, there is nothing I regret because it was all natural development. However, if I were to change anything, then I could have pushed harder in the few years following ‘2001: A S.P.O.C.K Odyssey’ to see what we could have done creatively. At that time, we did sell less and had to take regular jobs just to be able to pay the rent at all. Perhaps we could have found a balance but that’s easy to say now. Every now and then when I get asked that question, I reply as I mentioned earlier, I wish we did sleaze rock instead *laughs*

What are the future missions of S.P.O.C.K?

We will continue! *laughs*

The 35th Anniversary has been amazing, we did 10 shows in 2023 which I know doesn’t sound much…

…it’s more than a lot of bands!*laughs*

That’s true! I haven’t done 10 shows in a calendar year for 22 years either! We worked out we had 21 travelling days this year with S.P.O.C.K so it’s a lot of travels and we have daytime jobs to attend to. Every show has a week of preparation and there’s administration plus of course there’s social media traction etc, it’s a lot of work. But it’s very encouraging because all 10 of those shows were more or less sold out, it was 7 club shows and 3 festivals. So we are super tired but I feel that we get better and better, we are a frakkin’ good live act right now so we should continue. But we are taking a break now because no-one else has booked us and I haven’t reached out to any promoters! *laughs*

Will there be any new music? I prefer not to answer that one because if I say something, expectations will go up, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes so I remain silent… so if there is something, there’s going to be this huge bang, it’s better that way. We have had a few jamming sessions so let’s see what happens with that… 🖖😀

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its fascinated thanks to Alexander Hofman

‘Assignment: Earth’, ‘S.P.O.C.K: 1999’, ‘2001: A S.P.O.C.K Odyssey’ and the compilation ‘Another Piece of the Action: The Best of the SubSpace Years’ are still available via SubSpace Productions on the usual download channels




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
6 January 2024


As the Yule Tide season gets into full swing, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents a collection of modern seasonal tunes with a more artful slant…

With a song to play on each of the 25 days in December until Christmas, some are covers with a modern approach while others gather their thoughts and emotions into original compositions. But each has their own take on the holiday period, whether happy or sad or both.

Synths at Christmas are not entirely new; ‘Last Christmas’ by WHAM! was primarily made with a Roland Juno 60 while BAND AID’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? was dominated by PPG Wave 2.2 with a percussive sample taken from ‘Memories Fade’ by TEARS FOR FEARS also being key to the intro.

However the traditional nature of Christmas often dictates traditional instrumentation in its songs, which means that Christmas synth songs are comparatively uncommon and a more recent phenomenon.

Whatever your plans whether with the family or in the studio, please remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas… may it bring you lots of cheer! The 25 songs are presented in yearly then alphabetical order within…

BE MUSIC Rocking Carol (1982)

A Be Music production given away as limited edition flexi-disc of 4400 given away at The Haçienda on Christmas Eve 1982, with the greeting “Merry Xmas From The Haçienda And Factory Records”, this was NEW ORDER covering the traditional Czech seasonal tune also known as ‘Jesus Sweetly Sleep’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ as a robotic electronic tone poem.

Available on the compilation album ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past (Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule


EURYTHMICS Winter Wonderland (1987)

Recorded as part of an album on behalf of Special Olympics that featured U2, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Alison Moyet among others, EURYTHMICS’ glistening electronic take on romance during the winter season was cited by ASCAP as now the most played version of the song which was made famous by Darlene Love.

Available on the compilation album ‘A Very Special Christmas’ (V/A) via Universal Music


S.P.O.C.K White Christmas (1992)

Originally recorded by S.P.O.C.K for Energy Rekords’ ‘Virtual X-Mas 92’ EP and then a bonus song on their 1995 compilation ‘A Piece Of The Action’, this cover of the Irving Berlin standard made famous by Bing Crosby was suitably melodramatic as the holiday season was celebrated in The Neutral Zone while under threat of an alien attack.

Available on the compilation album ‘Virtual 2020 X-Mas’ (V/A) via Energy Rekords


SAINT ETIENNE Featuring TIM BURGESS I Was Born On Christmas Day (1993)

Delightfully catchy with a house-laden bounce, ‘I Was Born on Christmas Day’ was written in acknowledgement of band member Bob Stanley’s birthday for an EP ‘Xmas 93’. Featuring a duet between Sarah Cracknell and special guest vocals by Tim Burgess from THE CHARLATANS, the joyful narrative saw the couple elope, confusing some fans and press.

Available on the SAINT ETIENNE album ’A Glimpse Of Stocking’ via PIAS


DEAD OR ALIVE Blue Christmas (2000)

Originally recorded as a sparse ballad for the B-side of 1990 single ‘Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness’, Pete Burns’ foray into the music for holiday season was given a dancier makeover in 2000 and in hindsight, now sounds like a stylistic blue print for PET SHOP BOYS ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’. The two would later work together on the excellent ‘Jack & Jill Party’ in 2004.

Available on the DEAD OR ALIVE album ‘Fragile’ via Demon Music Group


SALLY SHAPIRO Anorak Christmas (2006)

With their naïve wispiness, understated cinematics and disco beats, if there act who are ably suited to Christmas pop music, it is Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. A cover of a song by fellow Swede Nixon, the lines “The first time that I saw your face on a cold December night, it was a Tuesday on a gig with a band that we both liked” captured an innocent romance and the aural warmth of the named apparel.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO album ‘Disco Romance’ via Paper Bag Records


PET SHOP BOYS It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (2009)

Pet_Shop_Boys_-_ChristmasOriginally recorded in 1997 for an exclusive fan club single but remixed in 2009, ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’ was a suitably cynical offering. Famous for keeping THE POGUES ‘Farytale Of New York’ off the 1987 UK Christmas No1 spot with their cover of ‘Always On My Mind’, while this didn’t hit those commercial heights, it provided a very PET SHOP BOYS take on the madness of the festive season.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS EP ‘Christmas’ via EMI Records


CHEW LIPS When You Wake Up (2010)

CHEW LIPS might have disbanded but in 2010, on the back of their only album ‘Unicorn’ and its subsequent tour, they were on a productive high. ‘When You Wake Up’ was a bonus tune recorded and given away as a Christmas gift to fans at the end of that very successful year. Delivered with lead singer Tigs’ usual feisty panache, listening back only highlights how much CHEW LIPS are missed.

Originally released as a free download


HURTS All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day (2010)

Hurts-christmasWith their TAKE THAT dressed as ULTRAVOX template, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson turned their attentions to memories of “the worst Christmas of our lives”. In true Bros Go To Bavaria style, despite the mournful start, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ transformed itself into a hopeful anthem with a big chorus and lashings of tubular bells.

Available on the HURTS album  ‘Happiness’ via Major Label / RCA


LOLA DUTRONIC Another Christmas Without Snow (2010)

Lola Dutronic-Christmas without snowIn the UK, a wet Christmas is always more likely,  but LOLA DUTRONIC’s ‘Another Christmas Without Snow’ resonated with its melancholic yet pretty demeanour. The project of Canadian producer Richard Citroen and using a flexible roster of wispy female vocalists, the tones of Lola Dee came over all dreamy like SAINT ETIENNE and conveyed the season’s mixed emotions.

Available on LOLA DUTRONIC single ‘(Another) Christmas Without Snow’ via Lola Dutronic


ERASURE Gaudete (2013)

ERASURE GaudeteAndy Bell and Vince Clarke’s version of this traditional Ecclesiastical Latin carol continued an ERASURE tradition that had begun with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ for the CD edition of the ‘Crackers International’ EP in 1988. With a precise electronic backbeat, ‘Gaudete’ was taken from its 16th Century origins and thrown into the new millennium with a cheeky ‘Ice Machine’ reference for good measure.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Snow Globe’ via Mute Artists


HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for Christmas (2013)

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for ChristmasWhether it was a Casio, Yamaha or Roland, everyone wanted ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’. Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE took that enduring memory and turned it into a delightful synthpop ditty that could resonate with electronic geeks from 8 to 80 the world over. Short but sweet, it was another joyous “cartoon automaton symphony” from Jess and Jeff.

Available on the HYPERBUBBLE single ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’ via Socket Sounds


VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of Christmas (2013)

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of ChristmasIf ‘Twin Peaks’ met ‘Leader Of The Pack’ under the mistletoe, it would sound like this. Possibly the best Christmas tune of the last 10 or so years, VILE ELECTRODES’ harrowing tale of a departed loved one is strangely enticing, with the beautifully haunting echoes of Julee Cruise’s ‘The Nightingale’ lingering over the frozen lake.

Available on the ILE ELECTRODES EP ‘The Ghosts Of Christmas’ via Vile Electrodes


HANNAH PEEL Find Peace (2014)

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace‘Find Peace’ was a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension. The off-kilter analogue buzzing and almost random sequences made for a striking listen as a frantic percussive death rattle and an emotive synth drone take hold to provide an appropriate backdrop for the eerie but beautiful voice of Hannah Peel.

Available on the HANNAH PEEL single ‘Find Peace’ via Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club


MARSHEAUX We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night (2015)

GHOSTS-OF-CHRISTMAS-PAST-twi158cd‘We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night’ was a wonderfully whispery synthpop number that was classic MARSHEAUX. The lyrics were constructed from the song and album titles of NEW ORDER to provide an imaginary narrative on Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou surreally bumping into the Manchester combo’s lead singer at a Yule Tide function.

Available on the album ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past (Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule


SPARKS Christmas Without A Prayer (2015)

SPARKS Christmas Without A PrayerOn 1974’s ‘Kimono My House’ album, the Mael brothers recorded a song called ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’, a typically perverse SPARKS romp that had nothing to do as such with the holiday season. After their FFS collaboration, Russell and Ron ended the year with ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’, a fitting offering which also amusingly outlined that albums by WINGS were actually unwanted gifts.

Available on the SPARKS single ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’ via Lil’ Beethoven Records


VICE VERSA Little Drum Machine Boy (2015)

“A twisted cover of a cover of a cover”, this synth laden reinterpretation of the tune based on a traditional Czech carol made famous by a bizarre but highly enjoyable version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, saw former ABC stalwarts Mark White and Stephen Singleton reconvene as  VICE VERSA to wax lyrical about 303s, 808s, 909s and a “shiny new Roland toy”. It was a fabulous combination of sleigh bells, squelching arpeggios and of course, drum machines…

Available as a free download via Soundclod


ASSEMBLAGE 23 December (2016)

When you’ve had enough of Christmas shopping and the in-laws, there’s probably nothing better to let off steam than a bit of ASSEMBLAGE 23. While not exactly seasonal, Tom Shear’s Futurepop discoscape captured many of the mixed emotions endemic with the final month of the year, all “Silent and alone, trying to make sense”.

Available on the ASSEMBLAGE 23 album ‘Endure’ via Metropolis


SIN COS TAN Dead By X-Mas (2016)

A cover of Finnish metal glamsters HANOI ROCKS, this take on ‘Dead By X-Mas’ from the nocturnal synth duo SIN COS TAN aka Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen came over a bit like Billy Idol gone electro, but with an elegiac twist. Bizarrely in 2006, the former William Broad issued his own collection of seasonal themed tunes entitled ‘Happy Holidays’ … it’s a nice day for a ‘White Christmas!

Available as a free download via Soundcloud


FERAL FIVE I Want U (2017)

With female empowerment lyrics like “I don’t need any money or a new handbag, I just need a kind of thing I’ve never had, who says you have to have some shabby gifts”, FERAL FIVE attacked tacky commercialism in a sonic cacophony of crunchy bass guitar, big beats, sparkling electronics and chilling string machines for an alternative take on festivities.

Available on the FERAL FIVE single ‘I Want U’ via Primitive Light Recordings


CIRCUIT3 I Believe In Father Christmas (2018)

Made famous by Greg Lake, CIRCUIT3 used analogue synths such as a Sequential Pro-One, Roland JX10, Korg Wavestation and Moog Sub37 to add an eerie chill to the already cynical song protesting at the commercialisation of Christmas. The lyricist was Peter Sinfield who later wrote the words to BUCKS FIZZ’s No1 ‘The Land Of Make Believe’ which warned against the evils of Thatcherism.

Available on the CIRCUIT 3 single ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’ via Diode Records


WAVESHAPER Walking In The Air (2020)

Written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film ‘The Snowman’ which later added a cameo intro by David Bowie, ‘Walking In The Air’ became a hit for Aled Jones although the original version was actually sung by choir boy Peter Auty. Tom Andersson is the Swedish synthesist and retro gamer known as WAVESHAPER and his symphonic instrumental synthwave cover was both respectful and beautiful.

Available as a free download via Soundcloud


RODNEY CROMWELL Cold Christmas (2022)

If ACTORS did Christmas songs, then it would have probably sounded like this gothic motorik number from the ever cheerful Rodney Cromwell. Written for by Cherryade Records’ ‘A Very Cherry Christmas’ compilation, its chilling ARP synth strings and driving bass guitar was in total antithesis to Cliff Richard with bleak observational lyrics “like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ turbo-charged for 2022”.

Available on the RODNEY CROMWELL single ‘Cold Christmas’ via Happy Robots Records


SOFTWAVE featuring Barney Ashton-Bullock Will It Ever Be Christmas Again? (2022)

Presented as “Probably the first synthpop Christmas song in Danish music history”, SOFTWAVE provided a hopeful message to hold back on overindulgence. ‘Andy Bell Is Torsten’ writer Barney Ashton-Bullock made a cameo as Santa Claus to remind everyone that “Self-service, doesn’t mean self, self, self…” and that joy comes from being able to give to others.

Available on the SOFTWAVE single ‘Will It Ever Be Christmas Again?’ via Softwave


GEMMA CULLINGFORD In The Bleak Midwinter (2023)

Something of a tradition having covered ‘Walking In The Air’, ‘Lonely This Christmas’ and ‘Deck The Halls’ in previous years, Gemma Cullingford took Christina Rossetti’s poem and Gustav Holst’s musical arrangement of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ into darker and colder electro dance territory, reflecting today’s divided world in a cost of living crisis.

Available on the GEMMA CULLINGFORD single ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ via Elmo Records


A further varied collection of seasonal synth based tunes compiled by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7vIIjZkGd3cVOSarUPvX85

Text by Chi Ming Lai
2 December 2023


“It’s such a strange day, in such a lonely way” sang NEW ORDER on ‘Truth’ in 1981.

The coronavirus crisis of 2020 put the entire live music industry into limbo as concerts were postponed and tours rescheduled.

The situation was affecting everyone with several musicians like Bernard Sumner, Andy McCluskey, John Taylor and Sarah Nixey publicly stating that they had contracted the virus. Even when all pupils returned to schools in the Autumn, there was a ban on indoor singing in English classrooms. It was an indication that out of all professional fields, the arts was going suffer the most.

To make up for the absence of live shows, online streamed events become popular. Two of the best live online gigs were by Swedish veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER from the KB in Malmö and Sinomatic techno-rockers STOLEN with Lockdown Live From Chengdu. Not strictly a lockdown show but available for all to view on SVT was a magnificent live presentation of KITE at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm recorded in late 2019 combining synthesizers, orchestra and choir, proving again why Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg are the best electronic duo in Europe.

Concluding his ‘Songs: From the Lemon Tree’ series, Bon Harris of NITZER EBB presented a wonderful set of four electonic cover versions including songs made famous by Joan Armatrading, Connie Francis and Diana Ross. Meanwhile among independent musicians, Dubliner CIRCUIT3 led the way with an innovative multi-camera effected approach to his home studio presentation and Karin My performed al fresco in a forest near Gothenburg.

Taking the initiative, ERASURE did a delightful virtual album launch party for their new album ‘The Neon’ on Facebook with Vince Clarke in New York and Andy Bell in London, talking about everything from shopping to classic synthpop tunes.

Demonstrating a possible new model for the future, Midge Ure launched his subscription based ‘Backstage Lockdown Club’ which included intimate live performances and specials guests like Glenn Gregory and Howard Jones.

Other streamed forms of entertainment came via podcasts and among the best was ‘The Album Years’ presented by Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness. Their knowledgeable and forthright views on selected years in music were both informative and amusing. It was interesting to note that at the end of the 1976 episode, the pair nominated ‘Oxygène’ by Jean-Michel Jarre as the most important album of that year while for 1979, it was ‘The Pleasure Principle’ by Gary Numan.

Many artists who had scheduled releases in 2020 went through with them, although in some cases, there were the inevitable delays to physical product. But a few notable acts couldn’t help but abuse the situation, notably a certain combo from Basildon.

There were already “quality control issues” with the lavish ‘MODE’ 18 CD boxed set, but there was uproar even among the most hardcore Devotees with the ‘Spirits In The Forest’ release. The cardboard packaging was reported to be flimsy and prone to dents, while there was continuity errors galore as Dave Gahan rather cluelessly and selfishly wore different coloured outfits over the two nights in Berlin that the live footage was filmed under the direction of Anton Corbijn.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was an Anton Corbijn official illustrated history of DEPECHE MODE entitled ‘DM AC’ in the form of a coffee table photo book published by Taschen which retailed at €750; even though it was signed by Messrs Gahan, Gore and Fletcher, the price tag was a mightily steep. The increasingly ironic words of “The grabbing hands grab all they can…” from ‘Everything Counts’ were not lost on people, who are people, after all!

But Andy Fletcher did provide the most amusing and spot-on quote of the year; during DEPECHE MODE’s acceptance speech into that dinosaur institution The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, when Dave Gahan remarked to his bandmates that “I dunno what the hell I would have been doing if I didn’t find music to be quite honest…”, the banana eating handclapper dryly retorted “YOU’D HAVE BEEN STILL STEALING CARS DAVE!”

There were lots of great albums released in 2020 and Berlin appeared to be at the creative centre of them.

There was ‘LP II’ from LINEA ASPERA who made a welcome return after eight years in hiatus and  the playful debut by ULTRAFLEX, a collaborative offering from Berlin-based Nordic artists SPECIAL-K and FARAO which was “an ode to exercise, loaded with sex metaphors badly disguised as sports descriptions” .

The DDR born Jennifer Touch told her story with ‘Behind The Wall’ and resident New Yorker DISCOVERY ZONE was on ‘Remote Control’, while Lithuania’s top pop singer Alanas Chosnau made ‘Children of Nature’, his first album in English with Mark Reeder, who himself has lived in the former walled city since 1978; their collected experiences from both sides of the Iron Curtain made for a great record with the political statement of ‘Heavy Rainfall’ being one of the best songs of 2020.

Synth-builder and artist Finlay Shakespeare presented the superb angst ridden long player ‘Solemnities’ with its opener ‘Occupation’ tackling the social injustice of unemployment. A most frightening future was captured in musical form by New York-resident Zachery Allan Starkey who saw his home become a ‘Fear City’, while WRANGLER got themselves into ‘A Situation’.

SPARKS discussed ‘The Existential Threat’ and ‘One For The Ages’ while pleading ‘Please Don’t F*ck Up My World’ on their eclectic 25th album ‘A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip’, just as NIGHT CLUB reflected what many were thinking on ‘Die Die Lullaby’ with ‘Miss Negativity’ looking to ‘Die In The Disco’ while riding the ‘Misery Go Round’.

ASSEMBLAGE 23 chose to ‘Mourn’ with one of its highlights ‘Confession’ illustrating what DEPECHE MODE could still be capable of, if they could still be bothered.

But it was not all doom and gloom musically in 2020. With the title ‘Pop Gossip’, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP did not need to do much explaining about the ethos of their second album and drum ‘n’ synth girl GEORGIA was happily ‘Seeking Thrills’.

Veterans returned and 34 years after their debut ‘Windows’, WHITE DOOR teamed up with the comparative youngster Johan Baeckström for ‘The Great Awakening’, while CODE made a surprise return with their second album ‘Ghost Ship’ after an absence 25 years.

‘The Secret Lives’ of German duo Zeus B Held and Mani Neumeier illustrated that septuagenarians just want to have fun. Along with Gina Kikoine, Zeus B Held was also awarded with Der Holger Czukay Preis für Popmusik der Stadt Köln in recognition of their pioneering work as GINA X PERFORMANCE whose ‘No GDM’ was a staple at The Blitz Club in Rusty Egan’s DJ sets.

Incidentally, Rusty Egan announced that Zaine Griff would be joining him with Numan cohorts Chris Payne and David Brooks in a live presentation of VISAGE material, although the announced dates were postponed, pending rescheduling for 2021.

Swiss trailblazers YELLO were on ‘Point’ and continuing their occasional creative collaboration with Chinese songstress Fifi Rong, while one time YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA collaborator Hideki Matsutake returned as LOGIC SYSTEM and released a new long player ‘Technasma’, his project’s first for 18 years.

It was four decades since John Foxx’s ‘Metamatic’ and Gary Numan’s ‘Telekon’, with the man born Gary Webb publishing ‘(R)evolution’, a new autobiography to supersede 1997’s ‘Praying To The Aliens’. Meanwhile, the former Dennis Leigh teamed up with former ULTRAVOX guitarist Robin Simon plus his regular Maths collaborators Benge and Hannah Peel for the blistering art rock statement of ‘Howl’ as well as finally issuing his book of short stories ‘The Quiet Man’.

2020 saw a lot of 40th anniversaries for a number of key albums including ‘Vienna’ by ULTRAVOX, ‘Travelogue’ by THE HUMAN LEAGUE and ‘Closer’ by JOY DIVISION.

Back in 1980, it was not unusual for bands to release two albums in a calendar year as OMD did with their self-titled debut and ‘Organisation’, or JAPAN did with ‘Quiet Life’ and ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’.

It appeared to be a tradition that BLANCMANGE were adopting as Neil Arthur delivered the acclaimed ‘Mindset’ and an enjoyable outtakes collection ‘Waiting Room (Volume 1)’.

PET SHOP BOYS and CERRONE proved they still liked to dance to disco because they don’t like rock, but the year’s biggest surprise came with THE SMASHING PUMPKINS whose single ‘Cyr’ crossed the templates of classic DEPECHE MODE with DURAN DURAN.

Interestingly, Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS and Michael Rother of NEU! used sketches recorded many moons ago to inspire their 2020 solo creations, proving that if something is a good idea, it will still make sense years later. Veteran Tonmeister Gareth Jones released his debut solo album ‘ELECTROGENETIC’ having first come to prominence as the studio engineer on ‘Metamatic’ back in 1980, but Jah Wobble was as prolific as ever, issuing his ninth album in four years, as well as a run of download singles over lockdown.

ANI GLASS had her debut long player ‘Mirores’ shortlisted for Welsh Music Prize and OMD remixed her song ‘Ynys Araul’ along the way, while SARAH P. was ‘Plotting Revolutions’. NINA and a returning ANNIE vied to be the Queen Of Synthwave with their respective albums ‘Synthian’ and ‘Dark Hearts’, although Canadian synth songstress DANA JEAN PHOENIX presented her most complete and consistent body of work yet in ‘Megawave’, a joint album with POWERNERD.

RADIO WOLF & PARALLELS contributed to the soundtrack of the film ‘Proximity’ released on Lakeshore Records and from the same label, KID MOXIE made her first contribution to the movie world with the score to ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ that also featured a stark cover of ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Big In Japan’. Meanwhile gothwavers VANDAL MOON made their most electronic album yet in ‘Black Kiss’ and POLYCHROME got in on the kissing act too with their new single ‘Starts With A Kiss’.

It would be fair to say in recent times that the most interesting and best realised electronic pop has come from outside of the UK; the likes of TWICE A MAN explored the darker side of life, although TRAIN TO SPAIN used the dancefloor as their mode of expression, 808 DOT POP developed on the robopop of parent band METROLAND and ZIMBRU preferred disco art pop.

In Scandinavia, there was the welcome return of UNIFY SEPARATE (formally US) and HILTIPOP aka Magnus Johansson of ALISON who finally released some music in his own right; once he started, he didn’t stop with 9 releases and counting in 2020! APOPTYGMA BERZERK released ‘Nein Danke!’, their self-proclaimed return to “New Wave Synthpop” and out of that set-up sprang the very promising PISTON DAMP.

Within the PAGE camp, Eddie Bengtsson continued his Numan fixation on the ‘Under Mitt Skinn’ EP although his musical partner Marina Schiptjenko teamed up with LUSTANS LAKEJER bassist Julian Brandt to ride the Synth Riviera for a delightful second helping of their electro crooner concept cheekily titled ‘For Beautiful People Only’.

Over in Germany, U96 teamed up Wolfgang Flür while RENARD, the solo vehicle of Markus Reinhardt from WOLFSHEIM teamed with Marian Gold of ALPHAVILLE and Sarah Blackwood of DUBSTAR. DUBSTAR themselves released a striking corona crisis statement entitled ‘Hygiene Strip’ which saw reconfigured duo reunited with producer Stephen Hague. Meanwhile another poignant song on the topic ‘Small World’ came from SNS SENSATION, the new project by Sebastian Muravchik of HEARTBREAK. In lockdown, TINY MAGNETIC PETS recorded an entire album which they called ‘Blue Wave’.

Of course, 2020 was not full of joy, even without the pandemic, as the music world sadly lost Florian Schneider, Gabi Delgado-Lopez, Chris Huggett, Andrew Weatherall, Matthew Seligman, Dave Greenfield, Rupert Hine, Tom Wolgers, Harold Budd and Ennio Morricone.

An introspective tone was reflected the music of female fronted acts such as and ZANIAS, PURITY RING, WE ARE REPLICA, KALEIDA, LASTLINGS, NEW SPELL, WITCH OF THE VALE, REIN, BLACK NAIL CABARET, GLÜME, GEISTE THE FRIXION, FEMMEPOP and SCINTII. However, countering this, the optimism of RIDER, ROXI DRIVE and NEW RO presented a much brighter, hopeful take on life and the future.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrated 10 years as a platform and affirming the site’s intuition about synth talent in anticipation of them achieving greater things, SOFTWAVE opened for OMD on the Scandinavia leg of their ‘Souvenir’ tour. The Danish duo became the sixth act which the site had written about to have become part of a tradition that has included VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND and TINY MAGNETIC PETS.

On a more cheerful note, S.P.O.C.K beamed down to Slimelight in London before lockdown for their first British live performance in 17 years. Meanwhile on the same night, LAU NAU and VILE ELECTRODES did modular sets at Cecil Sharp House, the spiritual home of English traditional music.

At that event, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK took delight in curating a DJ set comprising of John Cage’s 4’33” in variations by DEPECHE MODE, GOLDFRAPP, ERASURE, NEW ORDER and THE NORMAL from Mute’s Stumm433 boxed set. This defiant act of silence even caused a curious Jonathan Barnbrook to raise an eyebrow, this from the man who designed the artwork with the white square on David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ 😉

The final live event that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK attended before the March lockdown was an informative lecture at Queen Mary University in London presented by noted cultural scholar Dr Uwe Schütte, in support of his book ‘KRAFTWERK Future Music From Germany’.

Also attending was Rusty Egan who held court at the reception afterwards by having a debate with another musician about the state of UK synth music. He then loudly beckoned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK over and mentioned how the site was only interested acts that scored “9 out of 10” before admitting that a number of acts he supported only scored “6 out of 10”, with his reasoning being that if acts aren’t supported, then there will be no synth acts existing at all. After a decade in existence, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK remains proud that it is still extremely selective.

In 2020, the notion of reviews being needed to achieve a promotional profile underwent an existential crisis among media platforms. With streaming now being the main method of music consumption, why would anyone want to read a blog for an opinion about an album when they can just hit ‘play’ and hear the thing for themselves on Spotify, Amazon, Tidal or Bandcamp?

The sound of classic synthpop does live on happily in today’s mainstream via singles by THE WEEKND, DUA LIPA and even STEPS! In that respect, the trailblazing kings and queens of Synth Britannia from four decades ago did their job rather well.

From SUGABABES mashing-up ‘Are Friends Electric?’ for ‘Freak Like Me’ in 2002 to ‘Blinding Lights’ borrowing a bit of A-HA in 2020, the sound of synth is still strong.

It is up to any potential successors to live up to that high standard of Synth Britannia, which was as much down to the quality of the songwriting, as much as it was to do with the sound of the synthesizer. It is a fact that many overlook and if aspiring musicians could pay more attention to the song, instead of making the synthesizer the excuse for the song, then classic electronic pop music may still be around for a little longer and continue to evolve.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2020


Best Album: LOGIC SYSTEM Technasma
Best Song: NEW ORDER Be A Rebel
Best Gig / Live Stream: NICOLAS GODIN at London Rough Trade
Best Video: POLLY SCATTERGOOD Snowburden
Most Promising New Act: RUE OBERKAMPF


Best Album: ASSEMBLAGE 23 Mourn
Best Song: DUBSTAR I Can See You Outside
Best Gig / Live Stream: WITCH OF THE VALE online Unplugged Live for SAY Women
Best Video: STEVEN WILSON Personal Shopper
Most Promising New Act: LASTLINGS


Best Song: PAGE Blutest Du?
Best Gig / Live Stream: LAU NAU + VILE ELECTRODES at Cecil Sharp House
Best Video: STRIKKLAND Dance Like A God
Most Promising New Act: INDEPENDENT STATE


Best Song: ALANAS CHOSNAU & MARK REEDER Heavy Rainfall
Best Gig / Live Stream: LUSTANS LAKEJER online at Malmö KB
Best Video: ULTRAFLEX Olympic Sweat
Most Promising New Act: LASTLINGS


Best Album: ERASURE The Neon
Best Song: DUBSTAR Hygiene Strip
Best Gig / Live Stream: IŻOL Koncert online at Ziemi Rybnickiej
Best Video: PET SHOP BOYS Monkey Business
Most Promising New Act: MENTRIX

Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st December 2020


Over the last 10 years, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has been a voice for the discerning enthusiast of electronic pop.

With a balancing act of featuring the classic pioneers of the past alongside the emergent new talent for the future, the site has become well known for its interviews and reviews.

It asks the questions people have always wanted to ask while celebrating the continuing development of the synthesizer in popular music.

All this while holding to account those who deliver below expectations, assuring the listener that if they are perhaps not hearing the genius that some devoted fans are declaring, then ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is there to assist in affirming or denying that assessment.

But when artists do deliver, they tend to build a strong relationship with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. So with the site celebrating its first 10 years, presented here are greetings and messages from some people who you might know…

Rusty Egan, VISAGE

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is 10 years old with the synth knowledge of a 50 year old. If I can’t remember something electronic I don’t Google, I visit ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK!

Glenn Gregory, HEAVEN 17

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK and its wonderful leader Chi is like the League Of Super Heroes for Electronic Music. Our future is safe in his hands.

I have been involved in electronic music making for 40 years, yet one half hour conversation with Chi makes me realise how little I know. From then to now, he’s knows!


Chi has been brilliantly supportive of BLANCMANGE, for which I am very grateful. We’ve always managed to have a good laugh during our interviews, as he would ask me about the darkness and gloom lying within a given BLANCMANGE song! I look forward to our next chat.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has a very important place and a role to play, in spreading the news of electronic music, new and old, far and wide. Here’s to the next ten years. Well done and good luck.


Thanks for all your wonderful support Chi, so glad someone has taken the time to ask some great questions…

Sarah Blackwood, DUBSTAR

I love the website. It’s a treasure trove of informative articles, both a very readable historical archive and a forward looking platform for encouraging new talent. In what can be traditionally and lazily categorised as a very male dominated scene, Chi encourages great music regardless of gender and I enjoy the updated Spotify playlist if I’m ever stuck for what to listen to whilst running.

As regards interviews, it’s always enjoyable – Chi is a bit too easy to talk to and his passion for music and synth geekery shines through – heaven forbid you try sneaking a (cleared) sample past him, he will spot it!

Is it 10 years already? Happy birthday ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK!

Chris Payne, DRAMATIS

With 18,000 likes and 12,000 Facebook followers; ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK under the guidance of its purveyor Chi Ming Lai, has become the leading place for the Electronic Music fan. Intelligent, well written and well researched journalism with a great team of writers presenting an array of brilliant fascinating new acts (and some older ones as well!), hopefully it will continue for at least another 10 years.


Congratulations to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK on ten years of brilliant reporting of, and support to, the electronic pop scene. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is the authoritative publication “of record” for fans and makers of synthpop alike and is the international rallying point and HQ for our music. We look forward to many more years of in-depth interviews and probing articles, all in the beautifully written style. Happy birthday ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK!

Mark White, ABC + VICE VERSA

Chi Ming Lai and Paul Boddy are two of the most learned, nay, erudite music journalists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, a rare experience indeed to be quizzed by a pair who know their onions. And unusual integrity. Chi promised me if we asked, he would turn off the tape recorder and it would never appear in print. And has been true to his word. This has literally never happened in my career. Also these two chaps are bloody good fun. I laughed til I cried. Go see the movie!

Rob Dean, JAPAN

10 years of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK? Only one for me (yes, I know…), but it’s heartening to know that Chi and the crew have created a site so cutting edge for us die-hard fans of electronica. Having read the highly entertaining VICE VERSA chaps interview, I was delighted to be asked to do my own, confident that the questions would be thoughtful and intelligent and yes, a little bit probing too. Here’s to the next 10 and thank you!

Richard Silverthorn, MESH

On several occasions I have done interviews for ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Every time I felt like they actually cared about the music and scene and put some educated thought into the questions. It’s good to feel that enthusiasm.

Tom Shear, ASSEMBLAGE 23

Congratulations on 10 years of covering and supporting the scene! Here’s to another 10 and beyond…

Sophie Sarigiannidou, MARSHEAUX

I first met Chi at Sparrowhawk Hotel, Burnley in November 2000 for an OMD convention. It took me 13 hours to reach by train to Burnley from London due to bad weather. I saw him playing live (!!!!) with his covers band THE MESSERSCHMITT TWINS, they were having their time of their life, dancing and singing, so so happy! Us too of course!! From that moment on we became friends. Then he supported our band MARSHEAUX from the very early beginning and I thank him a lot for that!

It’s always great having Chi asking questions for interviews. We as a band had our best interviews with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK! We spent a lot of hours talking about the history of electronic music and the future of synthpop. My favourite articles are the “Beginners Guide To…” series, you have a lot to learn from these pages!!! Happy Anniversary Chi, we’ve indeed had 10 amazing years with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. I hope and wish the next 10 to be even better.

Mark Reeder, MFS BERLIN

Congratulations and a very Happy 10th Birthday! Over the past 10 years, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has developed into becoming the leading website for all kinds of electronic synthpop music. It has become a familiar friend, because it is something I can personally identify with, as it is maintained by fans, for fans.

However, it is not only commendable, but can also be quite critical too, and that is a rare balancing act in the contemporary media world.

It has been a great source of regular electronic music information. I have discovered and re-discovered many wonderful electronic artists, and regularly devour the in-depth interviews and features.

Through ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, I have been introduced to and worked with some of the wonderful artists presented on your pages, such as QUEEN OF HEARTS or MARSHEAUX and in return, it has supported my work, my label and my artists too, and I thank them for that! We can all celebrate ten years of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK and together, look forward to the next 10 years of inspiring electronic music.

Per Aksel Lundgreen, SUB CULTURE RECORDS

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is a highly knowledgeable and very passionate site! They are digging out rarities from the past as well as exploring and discovering new acts, giving them attention and writing about them often before anybody else around have even heard of them.

This makes ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK a very interesting page to follow, as their in-depth stories about older bands “missing in action” as well as the latest stuff “in the scene” gets perfectly mixed together, giving you all you want basically in a one-stop-site for everything electronic. I also love the way they give attention to unsigned / self-released bands and small indie-labels, giving everybody a fair chance as long as the music is good enough. Congrats on the 10th Anniversary, well deserved!

Jane Caley aka Anais Neon, VILE ELECTRODES

When VILE ELECTRODES were just starting out, we heard through the Facebook grapevine about a new electronic music blog called ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. We had a London gig coming up, and had recently made a promo video for our song ‘Deep Red’, so we dropped them an email about both, not expecting to hear back, since we were virtually unknown.

However it transpired they really liked our sound, likening us to “Client B born and raised in the Home Counties fronting Dindisc-era ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK”.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK subsequently gave this very description to Andy McCluskey, which piqued his interest such that he checked out our music. We were invited to tour Germany with OMD as a direct result!

George Geranios, UNDO RECORDS

Chi is a really rare quality of a man. He is passionate about music which is so obvious of course while reading ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Through our mutual love for OMD, we discovered that we have the same musical taste. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK helped us promote all of Undo Records projects and finally we ended collaborating and releasing this brilliant double CD compilation! Chi, I wish you health and to continue writing the best music texts in the industry!!


Some people say ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK doesn’t support the scene but I’ve not found that to be the case; having been a part of two gigs and the recent CD, I know how much blood, sweat and tears they put into what they do. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK might get a few people’s back-up, but they know their stuff when it comes to synth-driven music and I’m massively grateful that they have supported so many Happy Robots artists since 2010.

Stuart McLaren, OUTLAND

It’s no secret that the burgeoning new synthwave genre shares a common history with the great synthesizer acts and pioneers of the 80s, like Dolby, Jones, Luscombe, Wilder, Daly et al who created new soundscapes with what we now define as vintage synths.

These sounds are brought back to life by pioneers in their own right like FM ATTACK, GUNSHIP, ESPEN KRAFT and BETAMAXX to name a few.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK and Chi Ming Lai have always been at the forefront of championing, interviewing and reviewing the luminaries of this great instrument past to present, and are likely to remain the de facto voice of the synth scene well into the future… we agree on one thing and that is FM-84’s singer Ollie Wride is deffo one to watch as a star for the future!


Happy Birthday ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. thank you for your support. You never fail to impress with your encyclopedic knowledge of synthpop. Here’s looking forward to 10 more!

Mr Normall, NUNTIUS

I’ve been following most of my favourite artists since they were brand new and often this means it’s a period of 30+ years, yet when reading articles and interviews by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, I have learned every time something new about of my favourites.

Following ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK have made me pay attention to several new acts that I would likely know nothing about if they hadn’t appeared on the page.

Catrine Christensen, SOFTWAVE

An outstanding magazine supporting new and upcoming artists whom they choose carefully as they have great taste of music regarding to their huge knowledge within the synthpop genre, when it comes to their writing and promotion – there’s no one like them. Happy birthday ?

Elena Charbila, KID MOXIE

Happy 10th birthday ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK! Your love and commitment to the synth community is unparalleled and your support has meant a lot to me on a professional but also on a personal level. Here’s to the next 10 years! ?

Alexander Hofman aka Android, S.P.O.C.K

I’m a fan of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK for several reasons. You showed up when I perceived the majority of the electronic scene had turned more and more harsh; as much as I can appreciate an occasional emotional outburst, I’m a happy guy and thus I’m into pop – ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK showed, and still shows me that there’s still electronic pop music being made. Good electronic pop! Which makes me glad, as I find the greater part of the generally popular darker scene to be of lower musical quality.

Moreover, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK writes in an amazingly happy tone – remember, I’m a happy guy, so it’s right up my alley. Add the fact that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK regularly publishes interesting articles, using intelligent and varied vocabulary, shows enormous knowledge and interest of the theme, the style, the scene – and I’m hooked. Thanks for being around – keep up the good work, it’s much needed! And congratulations – let’s grab a beer again! ?

Text compiled by Chi Ming Lai
15th March 2020

S.P.O.C.K Live at Slimelight

Captain’s log, Stardate 020220…

STAR PILOT ON CHANNEL K, otherwise known as S.P.O.C.K beamed down to London to mark 25 years of Steve Weeks as a resident DJ at Slimelight, the world’s longest running alternative-dark scene nightclub.

However, a transporter malfunction and a change in the law of physics meant that their Federation uniforms ended up in Copenhagen.

It had already been traumatic time for the Swedish landing party of Android, Val Solo and Yo-Hann, what with the UK leaving the EU and cavity checks by hand now in place at the border instead of swift tricorder readings. Heading straight to H&M, the trio opted to temporarily join NASA.

While there were no Orions inhabiting Electrowerkz, Slimelight’s homebase since 1987, the regular bevvy of goths, cyberpunks with lasers, Lara Croft cosplayers, Tank Girls and emos were joined by a few rogue S.P.O.C.K fans. Happily dancing away together to APOPTYGMA BERZERK and their apocalyptic gothic rave tune ‘Until The End Of The World’, they were all about to witness the first UK live performance of S.P.O.C.K in 17 years.

Novelty act or not, S.P.O.C.K are a party band if nothing else, albeit one that has been carefully conceived for Trekkie conventions.

Opening appropriately with ‘Borg’ and ‘Mr. Spock’s Brain’, Android’s overwrought deadpan vocals with tongue firmly in cheek and playful stage manner were signs that proceedings were really not intended to be taken too seriously.

The space electro of ‘Astrogirl’ was weirdly NEW ORDER-like as Android camped it up, but S.P.O.C.K beamed back up to the USS Enterprise for some amusing renditions of ‘Doctor McCoy’ and ‘Trouble With Tribbles’.

‘ET Phone Home’ told of nice aliens but as the space tug Nostromo found out, ‘All ETs Aren’t Nice’ and ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’! An ‘Alien Attack’ is never welcome but when it is full of catchy electronic melodies, it can be rather fun.

Ending the main set with the frantic optimism of ‘Out There’, Android joined the Slimelight regulars on the dancefloor and fronted the cheerleading for the fake encore.

For it came ‘Star Pilot On Channel K’ which took the crew back to their Space 1999 flirtation with EBM, the electronic body of “duff-duff” and shouting outlining a Stellar phenomenon known as S.P.O.C.K ‘N’ Roll!

Concluding their 14 song set with ‘Never Trust A Klingon’, an alternative club favourite in both Sweden and Germany from 1992, this genius combination of bubbling synthpop and detached warnings about “evil barbarians”, who “if you ever give them a helping hand… can be sure they’ll chop off the arm”, is still their crowning moment.

And as the crowd unified with a smiling Android to chant the message loud and clear, it was time for him, Val Solo and Yo-Hann to re-energise in their quarters with a game of Tri-Dimensional Chess and some Romulan ale for medicinal purposes.

S.P.O.C.K originally formed to perform some ‘Star Trek’ themed songs at a birthday party.

And with what was an enjoyably illogical and escapist 14 song set, that essence still runs true on what has now become their 32 year mission.

Live long and prosper ?

‘The Best Of The Subspace Years’ is available as a CD and download album via Artoffact Records ‎




Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm and Chi Ming Lai
6th February 2020

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