Tag: Sarah Nixey (Page 2 of 2)



They all appeared on the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ which acted as a springboard for their fame and fortune.

But the silent success story of the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ has to be Paul Statham; while his band B-MOVIE with Steve Hovington, Rick Holliday and Graham Boffey were unable to achieve a foothold in the mainstream like The Big Four, the guitarist later found considerable success as a songwriter and producer.

Working with personalities as varied as Peter Murphy, Jim Kerr, Billy Mackenzie, Dido, Dot Allison, Sarah Nixey, Kylie Minogue, Lisa Scott-Lee, Tina Arena and Rachel Stevens, Statham’s credits also include groups such as THE SATURDAYS and RIGHT SAID FRED.

Statham was also a member of cult electropop trio PEACH with Pascal Gabriel and Lisa Lamb, whose song ‘On My Own’ from their only album ‘Audiopeach’ featured during a key scene in the Gwyneth Paltrow movie ‘Sliding Doors’.

Although B-MOVIE reformed in 2004, Statham has continued his songwriting and production career in parallel. More recently, there has also been his dark country project THE DARK FLOWERS, while he has also been releasing a series of ambient electronic albums, as well as establishing his own label Loki Records.

Paul Statham kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his career outside of B-MOVIE…

What has motivated you to start Loki Records in the current climate?

Well, exactly the words “current climate”! I did approach some leftfield labels, but the response time was tragic! Also as a long standing writer through Warner Chappell, there is always the thought that the song has to be commented on or is specifically ‘aimed’ at something , even going through an experimental label. So setting up my own label means I can go sit in the woods filming the moon all night, then decide that will be the video as it was for the track ‘Who Won’t Wait’! Of course who sees the video is then down to you endlessly trying to put links up!

After years of songwriting, how did this move towards more experimental music come about?

I have been involved in writing or creating pieces of instrumental music since 2002 through an art curator friend Victor De Circasia to run alongside writing more commercial music. My project THE DARK FLOWERS put a small element of experimental into traditional song using backdrops of wind or recorded atmosphere behind tracks, but my favourite album is Brian Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ and also I love reading about his compositional practice.

Your third ambient release is ‘Asylum’, how does this differ in concept from your first two releases of this type ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Installation Music 1’ which were given away on Bandcamp?

I did plan to do it this way. The first two are unaltered pieces that were actually used in two installations, ‘Installation Music 1’ is very specific to a sculpture ‘Diving Woman’ by Sottish artist David Mach. ‘Asylum’ took some installation music from the Asylum Chapel in Peckham and simply used it as the starting point to create an album that was added to and experimented on over time.

What do you get out of this more experimental direction that you wouldn’t get from writing pop songs?

Total Freedom. A real journey from going out and exploring sounds in the outside world to developing artwork / films and setting out and letting the unfolding music direct where it heads to with no thought of who may like this. That’s why sometimes I’ll give them away for free!

Any thoughts about trying to compose hour long pieces like Brian Eno has done?

I already have a 28 minute piece that was used in an installation. It involved 28 pieces of thirty seconds long, starting with one then adding to it the next piece every 30 seconds to create a collage of found sound, then after 28 minutes it reverses. I will locate it and put it out for free on Bandcamp now you have reminded me! It was accompanied by painter Daisy Cook’s series of 28 small paintings of the Australian landscape but taken from the air. We made a film but I’ve since lost it!

The B-side to B-MOVIE’s ‘Marilyn Dreams’ was ‘Film Music Part 1’, what ever happened to Part 2 and is composing film music a direction you would like to head in?

That was written by Rick and I really like it! I think it was Rick, although Steve wrote most things back then! Film music is something I would love to do and would offer the music for free to any budding or low budget film in need!

After B-MOVIE first ended, you started to work with Peter Murphy in 1988 and continue to do so today, how would describe your creative dynamic?

Slow development! No, it’s completely different than my usual co-writing and has been long distance, with us rarely or actually ever sitting down in the same room and writing anything together. ‘Love Hysteria’ was me sitting in his attic with a four track and a few instruments, then leaving it with him. ‘Deep’ was similar but in a studio room, with Peter adding stuff once I’d put any sort of sketch down. After his move to Turkey, I would visit Ankara but again go into his studio room alone and sketch ideas, whilst he would then go in after me later at night and really shape them up. Since the internet, we simply share files. Some people find this dynamic difficult but after such a long time, I find it easy to send him anything I feel will intrigue.


Photo by Pete Walsh

In 1996, you formed PEACH who you described as “ABBA Meets THE KLF”? What inspired this?

Hahahaha! That was meeting Pascal Gabriel who produced the Murphy album ‘Cascade’. After the ‘Holy Smoke’ album, Peter dropped THE 100 MEN (band) and I went back to co-writing the whole album via sketches and lots of different styles, but with a more electronic feel.

We all went to Spain to record, Peter, Pascal and myself and it was fairly high pressure. On returning to London, I began to hang out with Pascal and he suggested that we form a very up dayglo electronic trio… very different to my Murphy work and at the time, it was something I definitely needed to do.

How did getting signed to Mute come about? It appeared to happen quite quickly…

We signed to Daniel Miller’s Mute label after playing him two demos in his office with no singer and Pascal sorting of humming vocal ideas. I really respect Daniel Miller and how he got what we were trying to do immediately and offered us a deal on the spot! I will always be grateful to Pascal as he gave me studio keys and access to all these incredible synths and recording gear and simply let me learn my way around it, whilst we simply began recording with no agenda, other than kicking electropop tunes!

While your first single ‘On My Own’ wasn’t a UK Top 40 hit, it attracted positive responses…

It was a hit in the States and reached No 11 on the radio charts and also was a pop Top 40 hit. It was No 1 in Canada, Israel and bizarrely Singapore where Lisa Lamb and myself headed out to play the city’s 33rd birthday celebrations…v v odd!

How did you feel when ‘On My Own’ featured in the film ‘Sliding Doors’?

I remember being very excited, especially meeting Gwyneth Paltrow at the aftershow of the London premiere. Also seeing your name come up at the end of the film credits was worth it!

‘From This Moment On’ is a timeless pop tune…

I wrote the majority of that alone, picturing a sort of ABBA / ACE OF BASS crossover with a different rhythmic feel than the rest of the more uptempo songs.

I started with the sequencer and then went back and wrote this long intro as I may have discovered a jazz chord or two from some book! Lyrically, I just liked the sound of the words / sentiment without it being particularly about anything! I don’t normally write lyrics, perhaps you can see why!

The eventual ‘Audiopeach’ album was one of the last recordings that the late Billy Mackenzie contributed to. His ad libs on ‘Deep Down Together’ are so unmistakable, how did you know him and what was he like to work with?

Billy Mackenzie was a friend of Pascal’s and I was a HUGE fan of ASSOCIATES. It was shortly before he committed suicide and he arrived very down to earth and humble with a few cans of beer. He simply opened his mouth and that voice exploded. I loved it so much, I owned a DAT tape of him simply singing his vocal line unaccompanied, it was so pure with such a range. He also sang on ’Give Me Tomorrow’, replacing the high sampled opera vocal. I have read ‘The Glamour Chase’ biography twice now and recently have started listening to him a lot.

By the time ‘Audiopeach’ came out in 1998, the momentum appeared to have stalled, what happened?

Basically we didn’t all get on. Lisa proved difficult at the time, while Pascal and her were complete ‘Polar Opposites’ in just about everything. I think Lisa herself will admit she found it difficult and although we had success, our vision of what PEACH should sound like / appear like were pulling in two very different directions. I was sad as I had left a long running collaboration with Murphy, found success with this pop / electronic vibe, signed to Mute and then walked away from it all.

Photo by Joe Dilworth

PEACH supported ERASURE in London but did not play live much, could this have been a contributory factor?

I loved playing live, especially after some amazing live shows around the world with Peter Murphy, who was and is a great frontman and thrived on chaos. Pascal wasn’t so much a live musician and Lisa just got more outrageous, so it wasn’t really a live show at all, just playing a few chords over a backing track. We played three shows with ERASURE in London and before that, two in Hamburg. The German shows were a real success and very enjoyable, but somehow we’d lost enthusiasm by the time we played London!

PEACH appeared to help kickstart your next phase as a pop writer with artists like Kylie Minogue, Rachel Stevens and Lisa Scott-Lee?

Yes, that was only due to the fact I signed via PEACH to Warner Chappell and became great friends with my A&R man Mike Sault who began getting us co-writes with other artists and also, the great work that Sandy Dworniak at TMT Management did as Pascal’s and my manager.

Some might say your best known song is ‘Here With Me’ which you did with Dido, how do you look back on it?

It was so good as Dido had no expectations on her and I loved her voice; as a person and collaborator, she was great fun and wrote quickly and strongly in terms of her lyrics / melodies. We wrote quite a lot of songs and I remember vividly writing ‘I’m No Angel’ with her in about two hours!

So how would you approach a song for a singer, as opposed to artists like Dido, Sarah Nixey or Dot Allison who are more involved in the composition side? Is there a brief from the label?

Yep, sort of. It’s always strange as they give you a reference video by another artist, then the artist plays you something different and the management tell you they want something off the wall and different, so I just try and write the most interesting music I can and see where it goes. It’s so hard to get these things right and you end up with literally hundreds of very very good songs, but then so does everyone else who co-writes with them. It’s frustrating going back and seeing a huge iTunes library with lots of songs that you feel could be hits if the artist / A&R / manager had chosen to go with the song you co-wrote!!

You also worked with Jim Kerr on ‘Return Of the King’, a tribute to Billy Mackenzie for his LOST BOY solo project and subsequently, ‘Kill Or Cure’ for SIMPLE MINDS, what was that like?

Fantastic! I saw SIMPLE MINDS four times in one year when I was a teenager and was a HUGE fan of the first four albums. Not so much ‘New Gold Dream’ onwards, but ‘Reel To Real Cacophony’ and ‘Empires & Dance’.

So writing with Jim Kerr in my small bedroom sized home studio was one of those moments you think if I could have told my 18 year old self that, he wouldn’t have believed me! Also we share a lot of great music references in Bowie, Bolan, Roxy and certain literary styles / books. Jim is a very optimistic and supportive friend, he encouraged THE DARK FLOWERS and we have written a lot of material that may or may not see the light of day!

So what’s happening with THE DARK FLOWERS, which has featured Jim Kerr, Peter Murphy and Dot Allison amongst others?

I have all the music… it’s like herding cats trying to get a song or two from each person as they are all involved constantly in their own work. However I’m getting excited about the second album as its shaping up well… darker in tone than the first (deliberately) and featuring David J as well. Lloyd Cole was interested and started a track, but as of yet???!!!!

In all, are you quite happy with how your music career has turned out in its various guises?

I’m very happy… more so than ever. I re-signed to Warner Chappell in January and balance my week with running a course at BIMM in London once a week and heading up the songwriting workshops at Solent University (sixth year now) once a week too. This leaves me plenty of time to work on my own stuff and collaborate with long standing friends / artists

What’s next for you in whatever guise?

– The continued release of experimental music via Loki Records
– AFTER THE RAIN (my new sample / DJ Shadow style project)
– New B-MOVIE album
– New Peter Murphy collaborations
– A new KRAFTWERK / vaporwave project with film composer Magnus Fiennes out in LA
– And continued co-writing via Warner Chappell’s, particularly with electro R‘n’B singer Billie Black.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Paul Statham

‘Asylum’ is released on CD by Loki Records, available from https://www.lokirecords.com/shop







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22nd February 2018


“The medium of reinterpretation” is still very much present in the 21st Century.

There have been albums of cover versions from the likes of SIMPLE MINDS, ERASURE, MIDGE URE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN celebrating their influences, as well as numerous various artists collections paying tribute to particular acts.

However, a newish phenomenon of covering an entire album has appeared in more recent years, something which MARSHEAUX, BECKY BECKY and CIRCUIT 3 have attempted on works by DEPECHE MODE, THE KNIFE and YAZOO respectively.

On the other side of the coin in recognition of the cultural impact of the classic synth era, the Anti-Christ Superstar Marilyn Manson covered SOFT CELL’s cover of ‘Tainted Love’ but added more shouting, while David Grey took their own ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and turned it into a lengthy Dylan-esque ballad.

There has also been a trend for girl groups to cover songs from the period with GIRLS ALOUD, THE SATURDAYS and RED BLOODED WOMEN being among those introducing these numbers to a new younger audience.

So as a follow-up to the 25 Classic Synth Covers listing, here is ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s selection taken from reinterpretations recorded from 2000 to the present day, restricted to one song per artist moniker and presented in chronological order.

SCHNEIDER TM va KPTMICHIGAN The Light 3000 (2000)

Morrissey was once quoted as saying there was “nothing more repellent than the synthesizer”, but if THE SMITHS had gone electro, would they have sounded like this and Stephen Patrick thrown himself in front of that ten ton truck? Germany’s SCHNEIDER TM aka Dirk Dresselhaus reconstructed ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ to a series of minimal blips, blops and robotics to configure ‘The Light 3000’ with British producer KPTMICHIGAN.

Available on the album ‘Binokular’ via https://mirrorworldmusic.bandcamp.com/


GOLDFRAPP Yes Sir (2003)

A breathy Euro disco classic made famous by sultry Spanish vocal duo BACCARA, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s take on this cheesy but enjoyable disco standard came over like The Cheeky Girls at The Nuremburg rally! Now that’s a horrifying vision! All traces of ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ apart from the original lyrics were rendered missing in action as the stern Ms Goldfrapp played the role of the thigh booted dominatrix on this highly original cover.

Available on the single ‘Twist’ via Mute Records


INFANTJOY featuring SARAH NIXEY Ghosts (2005)

When BLACK BOX RECORDER went on hiatus, Sarah Nixey recorded a beautifully spacey cover of JAPAN’s Ghosts with INFANTJOY whose James Banbury became her main collaborator on her 2007 debut solo album ‘Sing Memory’. The duo’s other member was ZTT conceptualist Paul Morley. MIDI-ed up and into the groove, Nixey later also recorded THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘The Black Hit Of Space’.

Available on the album ‘With’ via serviceAV


DIE KRUPPS featuring CLIENT Der Amboss (2005)

Of this mighty industrialised cover, Ralf Dörper said: “When I first heard ‘The Anvil’ (‘Der Amboss’) by VISAGE, I thought: “what a perfect song for DIE KRUPPS” – it just needed more sweat, more steel. And it was not before 2005 when DIE KRUPPS were asked to play a few 25-year anniversary shows that I remembered ‘Der Amboss’… and as I was a big CLIENT fan at that time, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Fräulein B for assistance in the vocal department”.

Available on the album ‘Too Much History Vol1’ via Metropolis Records


FROST Messages (2007)

Comprising of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST have described their music as “upbeat space-pop”. Much of their own material like ‘Klong’, ‘Alphabet’ and ‘Sleepwalker’ exuded a perfect soundtrack for those long Nordic nights. Meanwhile their ultra-cool cover of OMD’s ‘Messages’ embraced that wintery atmosphere, while providing a pulsing backbone of icy synths to accompany Peterson’s alluringly nonchalant vocal.

Available on the album ‘Love! Revolution!’ via Frost World Recordings


ONETWO Have A Cigar (2007)

In this “Pink Floyd Goes To Hollywood” styled rework, Claudia Brücken revisited her ZTT roots with this powerful and danceable version of Roger Waters’ commentary on music business hypocrisy. ‘Have A Cigar’ showed a turn of feistiness and aggression not normally associated with the usually more serene timbres of Claudia Brücken and Paul Humphreys’ ONETWO project. But by welcoming pleasure into the dome, they did a fine cover version.

Available on the album ‘Instead’ via https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/


BLACK NAIL CABARET Umbrella (2008)

Budapest’s BLACK NAIL CABARET began life as an all-female duo of Emese Illes-Arvai on vocals and Sophie Tarr on keyboards, with their first online offering being a darkwave cover of RIHANNA’s ‘Umbrella’. Already very synthy in the Barbadian starlet’s own version, it showcased their brooding form of electro which subsequently impressed enough to earn support slots with COVENANT, DE/VISION and CAMOUFLAGE while producing three albums of self-penned material so far.

Available on the album ‘The Covers’ via https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/


CHINA CRISIS Starry Eyed (2008)

Liverpudlian easy listening crooner Michael Holliday was the second person to have a UK No1 written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the first being Perry Como with ‘Magic Moments’. His second UK No1 penned by Earl Shuman and Mort Garson was a romantic guilty pleasure. CHINA CRISIS pledged their Scouse Honour with this jaunty synth / drum machine driven rendition of ‘Starry Eyed’ layered with reverbed synthbass warbles and harmonious vocals.

Available on the album ‘Liverpool – The Number Ones Album’ (V/A) via EMI Records


LITTLE BOOTS Love Kills (2009)

LITTLE BOOTS gave a dynamically poptastic rendition of Giorgio Moroder and Freddie Mercury’s only collaboration from 1984, retaining its poignant melancholic quality while adding a vibrant and danceable electronic slant. The recreation of Richie Zito’s guitar solo on synths was wondrous as was the looser swirly groove. While Blackpool-born Victoria Hesketh didn’t have the voice of Mercury, her wispy innocence added its own touching qualities to ‘Love Kills’.

Available on the EP ‘Illuminations’ via Elektra Records


PET SHOP BOYS Viva La Vida (2009)

Yuck, it’s Chris Martin and Co but didn’t Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe do well? Merging possibly COLDPLAY’s best song with the synth riff from their own Latino disco romp ‘Domino Dancing’, ‘Viva La Vida’ was turned into a stomping but still anthemic number which perhaps had more touches of affection than PET SHOP BOYS‘ marvellous but allegedly two fingers Hi-NRG rendition of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. So altogether now: “Woah-oh, ooh-ooah!”

Available on the album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Records


DURAN DURAN Boys Keep Swinging (2010)

No strangers to raiding the Bowie songbook having previously tackled ‘Fame’ in 1981, DURAN DURAN however blotted their copy book with their 1995 covers LP ‘Thank You’. They refound their stride with the return-to-form album ‘All You Need Is Now’, but just before that, this superb reinterpretation of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ reconnected them to their New Romantic roots with washes of Nick Rhodes’ swimmy Crumar string machine and John Taylor’s syncopated bass runs.

Available on the album ‘We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie’ via Manimal Vinyl


LADYTRON Little Black Angel (2010)

This frantically paced cover of controversial neofolk band DEATH IN JUNE was recorded for the LADYTRON ‘Best Of 00-10’ collection and purposely uncredited. The antithesis of the midtempo atmospherics of ‘Gravity The Seducer’, this cutting four-to-the-floor romp was the last of the quartet’s in-yer-face tracks in a wind down of the harder ‘Velocifero’ era. With the multi-ethnic combo subverting the meaning of ‘Little Black Angel’, it deliberately bore no resemblance to the original.

Available on the album ‘Best of 00-10’ via Nettwerk Records


GAZELLE TWIN The Eternal (2011)

‘The Eternal’ from ‘Closer’, the final album by JOY DIVISION, was one of the most fragile, funereal collages of beauty ever committed to vinyl. But in 2011, the mysterious Brighton based songstress GAZELLE TWIN reworked this cult classic and made it even more haunting! Replacing the piano motif with eerily chilling synth and holding it together within an echoing sonic cathedral, she paid due respect to the song while adding her own understated operatic stylings.

Available on the EP ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records


MIRRORS Something On Your Mind (2011)

On their only album ‘Lights & Offerings’, MIRRORS revealed an interesting musical diversion with this haunting take of a rootsy country number originally recorded by Karen Dalton. Written by the late Dino Valenti of psychedelic rockers QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, ‘Something On Your Mind’ was a touching ballad with its tortured yearning suiting the quartet’s pop noir aspirations. Ally Young said: “It was very nice for us to be able to apply our aesthetic to someone else’s song.”

Available on the album ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Skint Records


OMD VCR (2011)

Indie stoners THE XX had a minimalist approach to their sound which Andy McCluskey said was “really quite impressive”. This bareness made their material quite well suited for reworking in the style of classic OMD. ‘VCR’ had Paul Humphreys taking charge of the synths while McCluskey dusted off his bass guitar and concentrated on vocals. McCluskey added: “People go ‘how did OMD influence THE XX?’… but have you listened to ‘4-Neu’? Have you listened to some of the really simple, stripped down B-sides?”

Available on the EP ‘History Of Modern (Part I)’ via Blue Noise



As I SPEAK MACHINE, Tara Busch has been known for her haunting and occasionally downright bizarre live covers of songs as diverse as ‘Cars’, ‘Our House’, ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’. For a JOHN FOXX tribute EP which also featured GAZELLE TWIN, she turned ‘My Sex’, the closing number from the debut ULTRAVOX! long player, into a cacophony of wailing soprano and dystopian synths that was more than suitable for a horror flick.

Available on the EP ‘Exponentialism’ (V/A) via Metamatic Records


NOBLESSE OBLIGE Hotel California (2013)

French theatrical performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp are NOBLESSE OBLIGE. Together, they specialise in a brand of abstract Weimer cabaret tinged with a dose of electro Chanson. Their lengthy funereal deadpan cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ highlighted the chilling subtext of the lyrics to its macabre conclusion! The synthesizer substitution of the original’s iconic twin guitar solo could be seen as total genius or sacrilege!

Available on the album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ via Repo Records


I AM SNOW ANGEL I’m On Fire (2014)

I AM SNOW ANGEL is the project of Brooklyn based producer Julie Kathryn; her debut album ‘Crocodile’ was a lush sounding affair and could easily be mistaken as a product of Scandinavia were it not for her distinctly Trans-Atlantic drawl. Already full of surprises, to close the long player, out popped a countrified drum ‘n’ bass take of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’! Quite what The Boss would have made of it, no-one is sure but it was quietly subversive…

Available on the album ‘Crocodile’ via I Am Snow Angel


MACHINISTA Heroes (2014)

Reinterpreting any Bowie number is fraught with the possibility of negative feedback and MACHINISTA’s take on ‘Heroes’ set tongues wagging. Recorded as the duo’s calling card when experienced Swedish musicians John Lindqwister and Richard Flow first came together, electronic pulses combined with assorted synthetic textures which when amalgamated with Lindqwister’s spirited vocal, produced a respectful and yes, good version of an iconic song.

Available on the album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Analogue Trash


NIGHT CLUB Need You Tonight (2014)

Comprising of frisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks, NIGHT CLUB simply cut to the chase with their enjoyable electronic cover of INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’. Here, the familiar guitar riff was amusingly transposed into a series of synth stabs before mutating into a mutant Morse code. It wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll but we liked it! Purists were horrified, but history has proved the best cover versions always do a spot of genre and instrumentation hopping.

Available on the EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ via http://nightclubband.com/album/black-leather-heart


MARSHEAUX Monument (2015)

The MARSHEAUX reworking of DEPECHE MODE’s second album ‘A Broken Frame’ shed new light on Martin Gore’s first long form adventure as songwriter and affirmed that numbers such as ‘My Secret Garden’ and ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’ were just great songs. But ‘Monument’ was an example of a cover outstripping the original and given additional political resonance with the economic situation close to home that the Greek synth maidens found themselves living in at the time of its recording.

Available on the album ‘A Broken Frame’ via Undo Records


METROLAND Close To Me (2015)

Needing to be heard to be believed, this rather inventive and charming cover of THE CURE’s ‘Close To Me’ by Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND utilised a selection of male and female computer voice generators to provide the lead vocal, in a move likely to upset the majority of real music purists. Meanwhile, the hidden melodies shone much more brightly than in the goth-laden original, thanks to its wonderful and clever electronic arrangement.

Available on the album ‘A Strange Play – An Alfa Matrix Tribute To The Cure’ (V/A) via https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/album/a-strange-play-an-alfa-matrix-tribute-to-the-cure


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Jerusalem (2016)

One of DAILY PLANET’s main inspirations was cult UK synth trio WHITE DOOR, who released just one album ‘Windows’ in 1983. So when their chief synthesist Johan Baeckström was needing tracks to include on his ‘Like Before’ EP, the almost choir boy overtures of ‘Jerusalem’ was a natural choice for a cover version. Of course, this was not the first time Baeckström had mined the WHITE DOOR back catalogue as the more halcyon ‘School Days’ adorned the flip of his debut solo single ‘Come With Me’.

Available on the EP ‘Like Before EP’ via Progress Productions


THE FRIXION Under A Cherry Moon (2017)

Forming in 2016, seasoned vocalist Gene Serene and producer Lloyd Price’s combined sound delightfully borrowed from both classic synthpop and Weimar Cabaret on THE FRIXION’s self-titled EP debut. From it, a tribute to The Purple One came with this touching take of his ‘Under The Cherry Moon’, highlighting PRINCE’s often hidden spiritual connection to European pop forms and recalling ‘The Rhythm Divine’, YELLO’s epic collaboration with Shirley Bassey.

Available on the EP ‘The Frixion’ via https://thefrixion.bandcamp.com/


KALEIDA 99 Luftballons (2017)

Moody electronic duo KALEIDA first came to wider attention opening for RÓISÍN MURPHY in 2015. Covers have always been part of Christina Wood and Cicely Goulder’s repertoire with ‘A Forest’ and ‘Take Me To The River’ being among them. KALEIDA’s sparse rendition of NENA’s ‘99 Luftballons’ earned kudos for being very different and was included in the soundtrack of the Cold War spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’, hauntingly highlighting the currently relevant nuclear apocalypse warning in the lyric.

Available on the album ‘Tear The Roots’ via https://kaleida.bandcamp.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st January 2018


The Year Of Capacitors

It was a year which saw classic and new stand side-by-side as comrades in arms for the synthesizer. In possibly the event of the year, April’s ‘Back To The Phuture ­- Tomorrow Is Today’ at London’s Troxy saw godfathers GARY NUMAN and JOHN FOXX supported by the best new UK synthpop act for many years, MIRRORS.

The Brighton quartet reappeared in the summer over on the South Bank when the Vintage Festival Electronic Phuture Revue gave us a celebration of synthpop cool with performances by ONETWO, RECOIL, THOMAS DOLBY and HEAVEN 17. Speaking of the latter, they premiered ‘The Luxury Gap’ at The Roundhouse in 3D sound no less while their production alter-ego BEF presented ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction Live’.

Meanwhile, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse featuring ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY in the same set, plus acts such as RECOIL, NITZER EBB and LAIBACH. With an electro documentary weekend before Easter on the Sky Arts TV channel featuring GARY NUMAN, DURAN DURAN, JEAN MICHEL JARRE, NEW ORDER and the late ROBERT MOOG, electronic music’s cultural legacy was being recognised the world over.

Indeed, GARY NUMAN’s Inspiration Award from Mojo magazine finally acknowledged those trailblazing Synth Britannia years. There were complaints by one well-known blog however about wrinkly electropop but without these pioneers who changed music, where would we be today? As KRAFTWERK’s Ralf Hütter said: “From all over the world comes inspiration. We have been very lucky, because the music we envisioned, the ideas we had of The Man Machine and electro music, have become reality and technology has developed in our direction and electro is everywhere”.

Shouldn’t the imperial phase of Synth Britannia and its earlier Germanic influence therefore be celebrated in the way that senior blues musicians have been revered within the world of rock ‘n’ roll? Missing from the Mute evening’s proceedings as a collective were DEPECHE MODE who gave the world a U2 cover and a second instalment of their remix collection as part of their year’s work.

One rework that provoked enormous debate was Alan Wilder’s improved rework of 2009’s ‘In Chains’ which added speculation as to whether he would be rejoining the band. Certainly, it would induce some much needed creative tension that has mostly been missing from DEPECHE MODE since the start of the noughties.

But one act truly excelling in the darker side of electronic based music was IAMX who continued to conquer Europe while remaining largely ignored in the UK. Martin Gore could seriously learn from Chris Corner about how to make melodic, accessible music that doesn’t compromise artistically and retains a gritty edge. Meanwhile, Gore rekindled a working relationship with Vince Clarke on a techno project under the banner of VCMG.

Monday 21st March was an interesting day as it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX. As concert celberity Mr Normall amusingly recalled in his Facebook status “this is 2011, not 1981”!

At least two of those albums were the best and most immediate bodies of work from those artists for many years. The bar has certainly been raised for acts such as ULTRAVOX and VISAGE who both announced forthcoming new albums.

BLANCMANGE made their welcome return with Neil Arthur’s sense of humour as sharp as ever but sadly, he was unable to be joined for the live shows by his bandmate Stephen Luscombe due to illness. One hopes Stephen is making a good recovery.

MIRRORS showed their promise and delivered the superbly seamless long player ‘Lights & Offerings’. While the band themselves admitted it may have been a touch derivative, it was enjoyed by a small but loyal fanbase who embraced their whole intelligent pop noir aesthetic. However, just as they were about to make a breakthrough, a second high profile tour supporting OMD in Germany was cancelled along with an appearance at Bestival.

Then founder member Ally Young announced he was leaving the group. The situation has been likened by some observers to when Vince Clarke left DEPECHE MODE. Of course, the end result of that was both parties mutated into highly successful acts and ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is hopeful something similar may occur here. Certainly an excellent new darker tune called ‘Dust’ from the remaining trio indicates MIRRORS are not finished yet!

The similarly smartly attired HURTS continued their domination of Europe and while not as adored in the UK, they still did the business touring wise with sell-out shows at Somerset House and Brixton Academy with KYLIE MINOGUE making a surprise guest appearance at the latter.

Of the ladies, BETH DITTO went superbly electronic with her debut solo EP while CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN went jazz for the soundtrack of ‘LA Noire’, but not before celebrating the electronic part of her career with a fine retrospective Combined and a fantastic show at The Scala which saw a three quarters reunion of PROPAGANDA plus special guests ANDY BELL and HEAVEN 17.

Another acclaimed German chanteuse BILLE RAY MARTIN returned with her new project THE OPIATES and an album ‘Hollywood Under The Knife’ while LADYTRON released a definitive Best Of ’00-10′ and a new album ‘Gravity The Seducer’. The latter was a glorious, lush masterpiece of aural subtlety which was not universally embraced by their fanbase but is likely to become a cult favourite in the future.

Meanwhile, the spectre of FEVER RAY’s Karin Drejer-Andersson lurked, both musically and politically, within several darker female fronted combos such as AUSTRA, THE HORN THE HUNT and GAZELLE TWIN. The brooding unsettlement of this Hauntronica (or witch house as it was sometimes referred) won favour with some while JOHN FOXX named GAZELLE TWIN’s ‘The Entire City’ as his album of the year. However, this fairly uncompromising strain of electro wasn’t for everyone although it was definitely more preferable to dubstep, the trendy new dance form that even the usually club friendly Chris Lowe of PET SHOP BOYS was having trouble embracing!

But Nordic influences weren’t just about tonal gloom and witchery. Greek maidens MARSHEAUX adopted some FEVER RAY styled percussive moods on their only song of the year ‘Can You Stop Me?’ but remained synthpop while American duo NIGHTLIFE borrowed SALLY SHAPIRO’s sweeter template.

Over at The Finland Station, producer JORI HULKKONEN’s PROCESSORY project delivered an 18 track electronic Sci-Fi concept album entitled ‘Change Is Gradual’. TIGER BABY from Denmark returned with the dreamy single ‘Landscapes’ while from Sweden, both THE GIRL & THE ROBOT and EMMON delivered enjoyable new material. There was also the mysteriously kooky IAMAMIWHOAMI but best of all from the region were THE SOUND OF ARROWS with the cinematic crystalline pop of their debut album ‘Voyage’.

At the pure pop end of the spectrum, LADY GAGA plotted her next move into world domination with new album ‘Born This Way’. With religious lyrical imagery were very much in evidence throughout, this was her ‘Like A Prayer’ with a Eurocentric sound being very much the dominant factor in the music. With her ear firmly on the inventive UK music scene, GOLDFRAPP, HURTS and MIRRORS were commissioned to deliver remixes of ‘Judas’.

LITTLE BOOTS returned with a bouncy house number called ‘Shake’ while SUNDAY GIRL had her album delayed again and didn’t appear to know whether she wanted to be a singer or a fashion designer. Her pop thunder has now potentially been stolen by the similar raspy timbres of LANA DEL REY whose pair of remixes by NIKONN became favourites with many electro enthusiasts.

Embracing couture but with her head fully focussed on the music, QUEEN OF HEARTS brought some intelligent sparkle to electropop. With mentions in The Guardian and The Times, her superb EP ‘The Arrival’ realised the potential that was apparent in her earlier girl group days.

Several acts introduced by ELECTRICTYCLUB.CO.UK in 2010 gained prestigious supports slots as a sign of their steady progress. SHH were billed with former BLACK BOX RECORDER vocalist SARAH NIXEY, THE VANITY CLAUSE opened for a solo ANDY BELL performance while Electro Weimar songstress KATJA VON KASSEL did the same at two of ERASURE’s shows in Germany.

VILLA NAH were due to play the biggest gig of their career with DURAN DURAN but Simon Le Bon’s illness, which also caused the postponement of the entire UK tour in May, unfortunately put paid to that.

So it could be said that “Synthpop’s Alive” and this was exemplified by Essen based American act MAISON VAGUE who gave the world probably the best wholly independent release of the year.

Clark Stiefel’s wonderful cross of GARY NUMAN and DEVO was the work of a man brought up in the avant-classical world with hands-on experience of vintage Moog and Buchla modulars. Using the concept of “living in a dream since 1983”, despite the vintage influences, it was electronic music as imagined by the eccentricity of Oscar Wilde crossed with the thoughtful demeanour of late classical composer Franz Liszt.

Over the year, American based electronic acts were starting to come to the fore with XENO & OAKLANDER, SOFT METALS, TARA BUSCH, HIGH PLACES and THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND all gaining notable acclaim.

A question that has to be asked though is whether there is too much synth based music at the moment? Interestingly, THOMAS DOLBY and SARAH NIXEY moved away from the electronic world and released new albums that had a more personal, organic quality. Some observers were complaining about “synthpop by numbers” and “Synth Britannia throwbacks”, but as OMD’s Andy McCluskey once said on that very programme, if there was a magic button for a hit single, he’d have pressed it more times than anyone else.

While improvements in technology have made it much easier for the public at large to make music and interesting noises, not everyone has the ability to write proper songs. Not only that but the iPod/notebook generation have been listening to compressed mp3s on tinny speakers for such a long time now that they have no grasp of dynamics. This has hampered many new acts who have taken to doing everything themselves and as a result, produced some average pieces of work.

There is nothing like a second opinion and creative tension to help a new piece of music along. And it is this willingness to understand the cores of songwriting, production and arrangement that ultimately separates the good from the bad, and ultimately the outstanding from the good.

ELECTRICTYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2011


Best album: MUERAN HUMANOS Mueran Humanos
Best Song: VELVET CONDOM Rouge City
Best Gig: KRAFTWERK at Die Alte Kongresshalle, Munich
Best Video: LADYTRON Mirage
Most Promising New Act: MUERAN HUMANOS


Best album: GARY NUMAN Dead Son Rising
Best Song: TENEK What Do You Want?
Best Gig: Back To The Phuture – Tomorrow Is Today at The Troxy, London
Best Video: DURAN DURAN Girl Panic!
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


Best album: MIRRORS Lights & Offerings
Best Song: VILE ELECTRODES My Sanctuary
Best Gig: Back To The Phuture -Tomorrow Is Today at The Troxy, London
Best Video: TIGER BABY Landscapes
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


Best Album: SANDWELL DISTRICT Feed Forward
Best Song: JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Summerland
Best Gig: KRAFTWERK at Die Alte Kongresshalle, Munich
Best Video: LADYTRON Mirage
Most Promising New Act: MUERAN HUMANOS


Best album: MIRRORS Lights & Offerings
Best Song: JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Shatterproof
Best Gig: HEAVEN17/BEF Weekender at The Roundhouse
Best Video: QUEEN OF HEARTS Shoot The Bullet
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


Best album: AUSTRA Feel It Break
Best song: MIRRORS Into The Heart (Greek Girls Are Not Easy extended remix)
Best gig: AUSTRA at Stockholm Debaser Medis
Best video: EMMON Ghost Dance
Most promising new act: LOUISE (ex-THERMOSTATIC)

Text by Chi Ming Lai
31st December 2010


Sarah Nixey first became known as the lead singer of BLACK BOX RECORDER, a trio of mischievous popsters who succeeded in being banned from both Radio 1 and MTV in 1998 with their second single ‘Child Psychology’ and its bluntly delivered line: “Life is unfair. Kill yourself or get over it”.

From the debut album ‘England Made Me’, other titles such as ‘Girl Singing In The Wreckage’, ‘It’s Only The End Of The World’ and ‘Kidnapping An Heiress’ showcased the dark but sexy, ice maiden allure of this Dorset born ex-drama student and only added to her appeal.

Recruited by THE AUTEURS’ Luke Haines and former JESUS & MARY CHAIN drummer John Moore into the band because “she had the ability to make all men fall in love with her”, Sarah Nixey raised blood pressures as she delightfully recalled the traumas of many an adolescent boy in 2000 on their Top 20 hit ‘The Facts Of Life’, a track apparently inspired musically by Billie Piper’s ‘Honey To The B’!

With prominent use of the creepy instrument known as ‘The Saw’ and various synthesizers, the similarly titled album also featured ‘The Art of Driving’, a story that brilliantly used road safety metaphors to describe the brash attempts of a hapless boy racer to bed the object of his desire. The Roadcraft manual had never sounded so arousing!

Her well spoken sexy school teacher demure was taken a step further in 2003 on the more electronically driven long player ‘Passionoia’ with ‘The School Song’ and its unforgettable array of classroom catchphrases like “wipe that idiotic smile off your face – when you’re here you do what I say!” and “line up by the pool… yes I know it’s February – you lot need a bit of toughening up!”.

Other highlights included a stark observation on the pre-internet dating world of personal ads ‘GSOH QED’ and the now prophetic, highly humourous synth girl anthem ‘Andrew Ridgeley’.

As BLACK BOX RECORDER went on hiatus, in 2005 she recorded a beautiful cover of JAPAN’s ‘Ghosts’ with INFANTJOY whose James Banbury became her main collaborator on her 2007 debut solo album ‘Sing, Memory’.

Meanwhile the duo’s other member was none other than ZTT conceptualist Paul Morley and ‘Sing, Memory’ was released via their ServiceAV recorded media company. MIDI-ed up and into the groove, she even included an enjoyable cover of THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘The Black Hit of Space’, thereby confirming her affinity with GOLDFRAPP, LADYTRON and CLIENT in paving the way for acts like LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX.

BLACK BOX RECORDER reunited in 2008 but announced they were splitting for good in 2010 following the release of a final single, ‘Keep It In The Family’ b/w ‘Do You Believe In God’. Now combining a busy family life with a music career, Sarah Nixey has released a brand new independently released album ‘Brave Tin Soldiers’. Moving away from electronica, this collection is more organic with guitar, piano and strings comprising the subtle palette.

With sonic similarities to GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Seventh Tree’ and Julee Cruise’s ‘Floating Into The Night’, this is an album of reflection, down tempo but gorgeously accessible despite the macabre subject matter. However, this isn’t a complete break with her past as John Moore contributes ‘The Saw’ and there are smatterings of string machine on several tracks such as ‘The Homecoming’ and ‘Love Gets Dangerous’. Overall, it is a wonderfully emotive record reflecting the mood of the times.

With the imminent release of ‘The Homecoming’ as an EP, Sarah Nixey kindly spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about her career and her move into a more naturalistic aural environment. So, this is Sarah Nixey talking…

You inadvertently became a cheerleader for the synth girls who appeared from the mid-noughties onwards with the BLACK BOX RECORDER song ‘Andrew Ridgeley’. Were the words “I was brought up to the sound of the synthesizer – I learned to dance to the beat of electronic drums” autobiographical?

It’s true that I listened to a huge amount of electronic pop music when I was young, along with lots of other genres too. I grew up during the eighties and you really couldn’t get away from the synthesizer then.

This song, however, was written to tease me. John Moore knew I liked George Michael and WHAM! when I was 10 years old so he wrote the lyric: “I never liked George Michael much”, he’s very cruel! The song is about growing up in the eighties to early nineties (from Blue Monday to Black Wednesday), the political and economical landscape at that time coupled with the idolisation of eighties popstar Andrew Ridgeley.

Of course you went the full hog with your debut album ‘Sing, Memory’ which included a cover of ‘The Black Hit of Space’, plus you did a cover of JAPAN’s ‘Ghosts’ with INFANTJOY. What stands out for you about the music of that Synth Britannia era?

Stand out artists for me at the time were ROXY MUSIC, HUMAN LEAGUE, GARY NUMAN, SOFT CELL and PET SHOP BOYS. The artists I was listening to from outside the UK ranged from KRAFTWERK to early MADONNA, whose song ‘Into The Groove’ made a huge impression on me. What a great pop song!

So what happened to BLACK BOX RECORDER? You got back together in 2008 but then made your ‘Final Statement’ last year.

We’re all grown up now, in our thirties and forties, and too old to be in a pop group! BBR died a natural death. When all members of a band start working on solo projects, there really isn’t much they can bring to a group situation, as we discovered.

I think once a band member goes off to work on something solo, it’s pretty much over. There are exceptions to that rule but mainly I think all band members have to be committed to the one project for longevity, and that was never the case with BBR.

You got on Top Of The Pops with ‘The Facts of Life’ and were a poster girl in Melody Maker. How did you find being in the limelight as a popstar?

I never felt like a popstar. I was a singer in a band and really didn’t see myself as anything more than that. I was enjoying myself, going to lots of parties and spending a lot of time doing press and radio interviews and playing shows occasionally. I was living right in the centre of London, next to the BT tower and Soho was right on my doorstep, when it was fun to hang out there. I had a good time for a while and didn’t take any of it too seriously.

How do you feel about the sexy school teacher image that has been projected of you over the years?

That all started with ‘The Facts of Life’ video when I played the role of a biology teacher. The image has never really gone away, I suppose because it’s been entrenched in some journalists minds. I will probably always be that person to some people and it does no harm. It’s a fantasy and I have played up to it in the past, which makes me a willing accomplice in the projection of this image.

You’re seen as the epitome of Posh Englishness but there’s a French side to you as showcased by your gorgeous cover of ‘Le Temps De L’Amour’. Also, BLACK BOX RECORDER’s songs like ‘These Are The Things’ often had a distinct French sounding flavour. Where do your Gallic influences come from?

I love Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainbourg, Edif Piaf and Jacques Brel. I was also a big fan of AIR and more recently I’ve been listening to Sebastien Tellier.

‘When I’m Here With You’ has a French version entitled ‘Ici Avec Toi’. Which came first?

I wrote ‘When I’m Here With You’ first, quite early on in the writing process for ‘Sing, Memory’. ‘Ici Avec Toi’ seemed the perfect B-side to ‘Le Temps De L’ Amour’ which I released a couple of years later and so we simply translated the lyrics and re-recorded the vocal. I like the sound of French words, even if my accent isn’t accurate. I’m an English woman who sounds very English even when singing in French.

You also did Jacques Brel’s ‘Le Moribond’ aka ‘Seasons In The Sun’ with BLACK BOX RECORDER, but most people probably thought you were doing WESTLIFE?

Or maybe we were doing Terry Jack’s version…

You’re back with a new album ‘Brave Tin Soldiers’ which is a move away from the synthesis of ‘Sing, Memory’ and ‘Passionoia’?

It is a definite departure from what I’ve been coming up with for the past decade. I needed to find a new way of working and the sound for this album was really a result of that.

I may well go back to electronic music but for now, this is where I’m at sonically.

Can you tell us what is the title track is about?

The song ‘Brave Tin Soldiers’ is about girl gangs. I read a newspaper article about a gang in Birmingham who had stabbed a man in a bus shelter and wrote the song using that report as a starting point. It’s a mother talking to her daughter. There’s a huge amount of distance between them and the mother is trying to make sense of what has happened. A lot of my ideas come from reading newspapers, films, books or stories I’ve been told. They are great sources of inspiration for me and it beats writing about my life all the time.

‘Miss Sauvignon’ could be your own ‘Some Velvet Morning’, it becomes quite epic in the middle…

A friend confided in me about her husband’s drinking habit. She felt that alcohol was the mistress in their marriage and had named her ‘Miss Sauvignon’. Even though the song isn’t strictly about that particular relationship, ‘Miss Sauvignon’ makes an appearance in the middle, which is why it gets a bit excitable then. I wanted to bring the character to life and create a little whirlwind in the stillness and controlled lullaby nature of the rest of the track. The moral of this is, never trust me as a friend.

You’ve described ‘The Burial Of Love’ as the saddest song you’ve ever written?

Yes because it’s about the death of a period of time in my life I shared with someone, never to be repeated and lost forever. A death that I was not prepared for and didn’t want, but was ultimately inevitable.

And you’ve thrown in a murder ballad too?

‘Gathering Shadows’ is written from a story I was told when I was young about requited love. A man kills his lover and her teenage son then he turns the gun on himself. The person telling the story in the song is the man’s child and forever carries the burden of shame from this double murder and suicide.

It wouldn’t be a complete album for me if there wasn’t a murder. I watched far too many episodes of Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ when I was younger.

You have a new EP out of ‘The Homecoming’. On it is a minimal electronic styled dance mix by MICROFILM which is very different from your original version. How did you decide upon having a quite radical reworking for clubs, especially when the parent album is so organic?

MICROFILM are a band I’ve been collaborating with for a few years now. I think they’re brilliant and their remix is so inventive and poles apart from the original. They’ve created a whole new song really. That’s what I love about getting other artists to do reworkings. It doesn’t matter that it’s so far away from my track; in fact I like it all the more because of that.

The HALF COUSIN remix of ‘Black Rose’ almost sounds like avant-garde Bluegrass. How much freedom do you give someone when a remix is commissioned?

I like to give complete free rein as it doesn’t make much sense to me to stipulate what I want. I think it’s important to let the remixers do whatever they feel is within their capability and to their artistic taste. I asked Kevin Cormack from HALF COUSIN as I love his own songs and knew he’d do something really imaginative. His remix of ‘Black Rose’ really is very special.

Which recordings from your varied catalogue are you most proud?

I am proud of my new album, primarily because I put it together myself. Full creative control is immensely satisfying. I generally like the songs most people rarely comment on. ‘Frost At Midnight’ from my new album is a favourite and ‘Wonderful Life’ from ‘The Worst Of BLACK BOX RECORDER’ rarities collection. ‘The Collector’ was the first song I ever wrote so that is pretty special to me too.

BLACK BOX RECORDER’s version of ALTHEA & DONNA’s ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ has to be one of the most bizarre and amazing covers ever. You’ve always reinterpreted the work of others, would a covers album ever be artistically on the cards for you?

‘Uptown Top Ranking’ was recorded with a similar view to ‘Le Temps De L’Amour’. An English woman who sounds very English when singing / speaking in Jamaican Patois.

The general response to that song was people either loved it or hated it. I remember recording the vocal with a terrible hangover, in one take. I just couldn’t do anymore that day. In terms of a cover record, I wouldn’t rule it out. I think it would take some time to choose the right songs, but I’d enjoy it – I like working with other writers’ material.

You appeared on ITN news a few years back to voice your concerns about free downloading and now the music industry has changed radically, even since ‘Sing, Memory’. Many acts now issue any number of remixes or tracks free online as a promotional tool. How does an artist of your standing survive now with less physical product actually being sold now?

I think there is a difference between offering a free download when you’re promoting a record and someone uploading your album and letting the world know that it’s available free of charge, without the artist’s consent. Around seven years ago, one of my friends was producing a news piece for ITN about illegal downloading and asked if I’d give my opinion. My point at the time was that people were beginning to listen to music differently and that needed to be acknowledged. But I was also questioning whether the sharing of music in this way was going to help artists in a difficult and changing industry.

It’s nearly always been the artists who get the least out of any profits – see Steve Albini’s ‘The Problem With Music’ and with downloading on the rise, it looked like it would hit artists even more. Subsequently, I think the internet has almost put an end to 100 years of selling music as a physical commodity – whether it be vinyl, tape or CD. But even though many young music buyers will never go into a record shop with their pocket money and buy a single, legal download sales seem to be on the rise.

Technology has also changed the way people create music. So much can be done within the home now, on a laptop, which means it can be cheaper to put an album together, plus easier and quicker to release it. Recording studios are closing down everywhere and children are learning to use Logic at school.

I think now there are so many options for artists, it can be difficult to find the route that’s right for them. The old model of signing to a big label for an advance (but giving away creative control) still exists and works well for some, not so well for others.

I have chosen the self-written / recorded / produced / released path and Cargo Records distribute plus take care of the press and marketing. I retain the rights to my music and I have complete creative control. Not every artist can do this or has the interest in releasing their own music. They need to find their own way and get financial backing if they can.

Writing your own songs and getting them licensed are possibly the ways forward financially for artists. I’m not sure that there are any clear answers. Most musicians I know either have other ways of making money or now make records for their pleasure only. Thankfully, I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have any concerns about my situation and I can carry on releasing music as and when I want to, for the love of doing it.

So what next for you?

I have more gigs planned in London later in the year. I will release one more EP and then begin work on my next album. Who knows where I’ll go with that.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SARAH NIXEY

‘The Homecoming EP’ can be purchased from the usual online digital outlets. The ‘Brave Tin Soldiers’ album is available as a CD or download. All are released by Black Lead Records.




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
18th July 2011

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