Tag: Sin Cos Tan (Page 1 of 6)


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

JORI HULKKONEN There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows

“For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something a bit special” said Jori Hulkkonen, “however, the list of realistic projects quickly narrowed down on yet another album. I did manage to invite some friends and heroes to be featured on it, though.”

With words and music written by the ace Finnish producer at his Alppi-Houz Studios PT in Turku, Jori Hulkkonen has assembled an impressive supporting cast including Ralf Dörper, Jake Shears, Jon Marsh, John Grant and Tiga for his new album ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’.

Although he released his first solo album ‘Selkäsaari Tracks’ in 1996 , it was with Tiga that Hulkkonen first found international fame as Zyntherius with an electroclash cover of Corey Hart’s ‘Sunglasses at Night’ in 2002. Since then, he has also worked with John Foxx, Chris Lowe and Casey Spooner, as well as doing numerous remixes for the likes of CLIENT and THE PRESETS. All this while having a number of projects on the go such as ACID SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, KEBACID, DRUMMAN, STOP MODERNISTS, PROCESSORY and since 2012, SIN COS TAN with VILLA NAH’s Juho Paalosmaa.

With over a dozen long players already to his name, Hulkkonen latest opus opens with ‘The Becoming’, a spacey ambient poem that sees Ralf Dörper of DIE KRUPPS and PROPAGANDA enigmatically offer his treated prose. With patterns accenting on the offbeats, ‘Under The Rug’ provides a stuttering trance piece voiced by the birthday boy himself but actually refrains from using any percussive attack.

‘Hard To Bite’ sees Hulkkonen partnered again with his most frequent collaborator of recent years, Juho Paalosmaa; over a speedy heartbeat, the SIN COS TAN and VILLA NAH singer provides his characteristic anguish over a moodily arpeggiated backdrop. Once the front man of SCISSOR SISTERS but now a solo artist on Mute, Jake Shears unexpectedly dials down his flamboyant falsetto for a deeper growl on the excellent avant disco lento of ‘May These Bruises Be My Only Tattoos’ while Hulkkonen provides its layers and hooks.

Continuing the mood with the surprise of jazz piano, ‘She’s A Hunter, I’m Just A Gatherer’ featuring Art Feynman (aka Luke Temple) plays with all manner of rhythmic textures but the cacophony of sound might prove confusing to some ears on initial listening. But recalling NEW ORDER when influenced by Ennio Morricone and locked to a baggy groove, ‘Fan Fiction’ sees the dulcet tones of Finnish singer Ty Roxy captivate over an expansive Spaghetti Western soundscape.

On the mellower filmic side with echoes of the previous Hulkkonen project PROCESSORY, ’Countless Other Lives’ sees Jon Marsh of THE BELOVED on one of his first released vocal performances since a guest appearance with WESTBAM in 2020. However, the body gets strong as a full-on dance workout makes its presence felt on ‘Cruise Control’ with Norway’s Naeon Teardrops, the new more electronica-tinged project of techno exponent Per Martinsen and it provides a punchy dynamic diversion from the other tracks on ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’.

Displaying Hulkkonen’s love of PET SHOP BOYS, hearing John Grant on a house-driven pop track like ‘I’m Going To Hell’ is pure joy on the final straight before he reunites with old mucker Tiga on the sparse cosmic ballad ‘When The End Comes’ which hypnotises via its sequencer passages and eerie soundscape before coming to a sudden end.

While not all of ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ hits the spot and some tracks are perhaps too long, all are interesting to the ear and the production cannot be faulted. With a number of outstanding highlights, Jori Hulkkonen proves once again why he has been one of the best electronic music producers in Europe for nearly three decades.

‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ is released by Blanco & Tinto Recordings, available on the usual online platforms





Text by Chi Ming Lai
28 September 2023


Photo by Tapio Normall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd December 2022


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

But as during The Cold War in its breakthrough years, it read the room again with the onset of worldwide and domestic conflicts, both armed and political. There were times in 2022 that were as if The Cold War had never ended and in amongst the turmoil, artists reflected their anxieties on top of those already existing.

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

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

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

ANNIEE featuring VON HERTZOG Danger Electricity

Bubbling with a dynamic thrust, the angelic voice of Anniee evoked the excitement of a night clubbing while Von Hertzog provided the hypnotic backing and beautiful soundscape. “I was jogging in London and came across the words in the sidewalk ‘danger electricity’” she said, “I had always wanted to create a dance track – something that reflected my love for EDM”.

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



For Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder, the ongoing world tensions were a symbol of ‘Life Everywhere’. Like a Harry Palmer film given an electro soundtrack and hidden behind the facade of love songs, they poignantly made a statement on life during wartime. With a speedy conga mantra and a dominant digital clap, ‘All You Need Is Love’ entered funky electronic disco territory.

Available on the album ‘Life Everywhere’ via MFS




Despite questioning selective memories on his second album ‘Memory Box’, with ‘The Winter Palace’, Rodney Cromwell was wanting to forget a former beau because “I dream of you regardless, whether I am asleep or awake”. With hints of classic NEW ORDER and OMD, the wonderfully icy number embraced motorik mechanisation and a glorious synth solo for a hopeful uplift.

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


BOY HARSHER Machina featuring Ms. BOAN

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

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


CIRCUIT3 Valentina Fly

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

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



If Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ had been reconfigured as a Balearic friendly electronic disco number, then it would have come out like ‘Tongue Tied’, the title track of the second album by Gemma Cullingford. With a nonchalant but sensual vocal style reminiscent of Sarah Nixey, ‘Tongue Tied’ exuded a positive if nervous energy in a purer metronomic adoption of electronics. Shyness is nice…

Available on the album ‘Tongue Tied’ via Elmo Recordings



Canadian danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN celebrated the joy of music in times of adversity with ‘Stereo’. Driven by a Roland TR909, the song touched on the acceptance of confinement where “I wait for no one to ask ‘when do we go?’”. In its romantic reflection of good times, a breezy infectious allure was captured with a promise of better things to come.

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



Since Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie reconfigured DUBSTAR as a duo, there was always the impression that the comeback album ‘One’ was a warm-up. Opening album ‘Two’  was ‘Token’; co-produced by Stephen Hague, it pointed to his work with PET SHOP BOYS and ERASURE. Its narrative about leaving behind abusive relationships and minor gestures was a topic that many could relate to.

Available on the album ‘Two’ via Northern Writes


EMMON The Battle

Since releasing her first sassy pop album ‘The Art & The Evil’ in 2007, Emma Nylen has got progressively darker and harder while still retaining an enigmatic presence. While most of her ‘Recon’ album headed in an EBM direction, synthpop was the sound on the ‘Black Celebration’ inflected mission that was ‘The Battle’, a timely commentary on world and deomestic events.

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


FADER Serpentine

As with previous FADER works, Benge worked alone on the instrumentation in Cornwall while Neil Arthur did his lyrics and vocals. Their third album together ‘Quartz’ was inspired by incidental atmospheric music used in vintage TV shows. Minimalistic structures provided a reflective and elegiac backdrop. The icy waltz ‘Serpentine’ opened the album with its sparse keys like Gary Numan meeting Brian Eno.

Available on the album ‘Quartz’ via Blanc Check Records



A reinterpretation of THE CARS’ mournful classic’, this chilling version of ‘Drive’ by THE GOLDEN FILTER simply captured the zeitgeist in amongst the turmoil of world events… the work of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman, the duo defied people not to well up on hearing the words “Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late? Who’s gonna tell you things aren’t so great?”.

Available on the single ‘Drive’ via The Golden Filter


H/P Vicinities

H/P were formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, issuing their first album in 2008. For their H/P debut ‘Programma’, the trio not only shortened their moniker but also adopted a minimal synth approach. Acknowledging the debt of influence to cult French act MARTIN DUPONT, ‘Vicinities’ appled a complex spiral of delicate blips, while was enclosed is an emotional centre that recalled OMD.

Available on the album ‘Programma’ via BOREDOMproduct



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

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


KAREN HUNTER Don’t Call My Name

Karen Hunter was a Gary Numan live band member between 1984-85 and recorded a wonderful cover of the ballad ‘Don’t Call My Name’ in support of The Ced Sharpley Drumming Bursary. The original was on the 1988 album ‘Metal Rhythm’ and given a serene feminine twist. Produced by music veteran Steve Hunter, Numan associates Chris Payne and Andy Coughlan also contributed.

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



Vincent Belorgey aka Kavinsky made his name with ‘Night Call’. But it was featured in the cult movie ‘Drive’, the Frenchman found it was an albatross around his neck. He upset people when he said “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it”.  Now ‘Reborn’, channelling his inner Moroder circa ‘Midnight Express’, ‘Outsider’ was a magnificent instrumental laced with orchestrated drama and tension.

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



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

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


KITE Panic Music

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

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



From Vancouver in British Columbia, ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett continued with her more synth focussed solo project LEATHERS. Not completely divorced from the main band family, frontman Jason Corbett acts as producer and collaborator, just as Daniel Hunt did with Helen Marnie on her solo work during the LADYTRON hiatus. ‘Runaway’ was gorgeous dreamy synthpop to elope to.

Available on the digital single ‘Runaway’ via Artoffact Records


MECHA MAIKO Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)

Hayley Stewart returned as MECHA MAIKO with ‘NOT OK’ to highlight the social-political flashpoints that emerged during the pandemic. But focussing on warmer moments and feeling the force of some mighty electro, ‘Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)’ threw in the iconic throb from the Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer hit for a glorious beat driven statement enhanced by an angelic delivery.

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



Sister and brother duo MINIMAL SCHLAGER began in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Based between London and Berlin, Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi began to develop a brand of synth heavy dreampop. While bubbling with glistening synths, ‘Submission’ was a more of a new wave number with subtle guitar and a rhythmic bounce that set it apart from the other songs on their first album.

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


R.MISSING New Present City

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

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



‘The Inevitable End’ in 2014 was said to be the final RÖYKSOPP album but after various singles and soundtracks, they returned with the ‘Profound Mysteries’ trilogy. Featuring Alison Goldfrapp, the delicious ‘Impossible’ was a mighty avant disco excursion with a seductive high soprano middle eight drifting into an intergalactic twist.

Available on the album ‘Profound Mysteries’ via Dog Triumph


HANNA RUA Light In Your Dark

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

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



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

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



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

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


SOFT CELL Nighthawks

The tense industrialised pulse of ‘Nighthawks’ recalled the sweaty alternative club overtures of one-time Some Bizzare stable mates CABARET VOLTAIRE. Featuring a deranged expletive laden rap from drag performance artist Christeene, SOFT CELL fans were even treated to the deep growly voice of Mr Ball himself alongside Marc Almond while ‘Staying Alive’ backing vocals provided another counterpoint.

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



Documenting a period of personal struggle, the new UNIFY SEPARATE album attempted ‘Closure’ which set the scene with a building atmospheric trance tune that simply mesmerised, especially when front man Andrew Montgomery hit his trademark falsetto. Instrumentalist Leo Josefsson cited influences such as MODERAT, NITZER EBB, UNDERWORLD and FRONT 242.

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



With shades of Alison Goldfrapp, Hannah Peel and the often forgotten Stella Grundy, the positively feline and angelic ‘Cold Breeze’ was the London-based Aussie Bella Unwin’s best song yet. The additional production and mix by Finlay Shakespeare boosted the punchy and immediate machine funk that was laced with wispy and alluringly coy vocals.

Available on the single ‘Cold Breeze’ via GOTO Records


THE WEEKND Less Than Zero

THE WEEKND again reminded the mainstream of the emotive beauty that can come from classic synthpop with ‘Less Than Zero’. ‘Less Than Zero’ itself sounded not unlike Michael Jackson produced by Tony Mansfield. The cross of catchy hooks, glorious counter-melodies and acoustic strums were reminiscent of Mansfield’s own combo NEW MUSIK who went produced most of A-HA’s debut album.

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


xPROPAGANDA The Wolves Are Returning

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

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


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2022 is featured in its ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2022

Vintage Synth Trumps with SIN COS TAN

A contender for one of the best albums of 2022, ‘Living In Fear’ is SIN COS TAN’s most accessible and immediate body of work since their 2012 eponymous debut.

A prolific period between 2012 to 2015 saw the Finnish duo of Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen release three albums ‘Sin Cos Tan’, ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Blown Away’ in quick succession. But the creative intensity over took its toll and while the pair continued to work together on other projects, SIN COS TAN went into hiatus.

Paalosmaa returned to his other band VILLA NAH for 2016’s ‘Ultima’ album which Hulkkonen co-produced. Meanwhile Hulkkonen continued his solo career, releasing a number of solo albums, EPs and singles to continue a tradition in music making which had begun in 1995 and even hit the mainstream when as Zyntherius, he scored a 2002 Top30 UK hit with a cover of ‘Sunglasses At Night’ in collaboration with Tiga.

Inspired by the experiences of separation during the pandemic, a toe dipping exercise between Paalosmaa and Hulkkonen led to the ‘Drifted’ EP, the first SIN COS TAN material in six years. However with current world events and the bear next door looming like The Cold War had never ended, SIN COS TAN became creatively re-energised and presented their fourth album, the aptly titled ‘Living In Fear’.

Jori Hulkkonen took up ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s invitation to chat over a game of Vintage Synth Trumps about the making of ‘Living In Fear’ and the workings of SIN COS TAN…

So the first card is a Multimoog…

The thing about Moog synthesizers is I’ve always been a bit scared of them… I never felt like I was a keyboard player and I’m still the same. My approach to making music has always been programming and sequencing stuff in the studio, I always felt Moogs were more like a keyboards player’s synth, a more traditional instrument- like a violin. With the panel layouts, you could play it with one hand while controlling it with the other… it was made for live performance but I can appreciate that.

Also back in the 80s when I started out, you needed CV/gate to control the stuff and there were a few different systems. I preferred the systems that Roland were using… Moog was different from that so having the CV/gate stuff didn’t really support it. The Moog was also more expensive than Japanese equipment, they were always out of my reach. The Japanese stuff I had was very small and tight so not so great for the live environment but that wasn’t my thing anyway, especially back in the day.

I had this strange fear of anything Moog and they sound amazing and beautiful, I’ve heard them in other people’s studios and I’ve worked with Moog stuff, but I’ve never actually owned anything by Moog.

When the first self-titled SIN COS TAN album came out, social media photos had it placed in front of a Minimoog, who did that belong to?

That’s Tom Riski’s, the boss of our label Solina; he used to be in some bands in the 90s and he was a keyboard player and collector. He sold pretty much all of his stuff when he gave up being an active musician, but he still had that when the album came out. I did buy something from him *laughs*

You’ve mentioned fear, and this new SIN COS TAN album is called ‘Living In Fear’, how did you and Juho come up with the title?

This album came together rather quickly, the first session was in January this year and finished by the start of May as that was the deadline for mastering. There were some ideas and songs but at the time of recording, the Russia / Ukraine conflict started and obviously in Finland, that was a big thing. So we suddenly realised we could make that a motif for the album. It was Juho’s idea to call it ‘Living In Fear’ and that felt like it defined a lot of the songs we had there. The album even ends with a song called ‘War Time’.

There’s also a lot of commentary with the fears and pressure people have in this day and age from social media. Artists, what we are supposed to do these days is be like Instagram stars and promote our music online. But people like Juho and me aren’t into that, so it kind of scares us in a way. So that’s one level, another is the change in the world right now environmentally but another is the dawning of AI; Artificial Intelligence scares a lot of people, is it going to take away our jobs? It’s going to change a lot of things and funnily enough, we did an music video for ‘Endless’ which was AI based… a year ago, a video like that would have cost a million dollars and now AI is doing it for a few pennies.

Then of course, there are personal fears you might have and there are some quite personal songs on the album from Juho and me. Fear is a really strong motivation in people’s lives and we realise that was something that the album could reflect. It’s not a theme album as such, not like ‘Blown Away’ was. But it’s an album that does have a theme and something we wanted to focus on because it was there.

I can imagine in Finland, you have that 1200+ km land border with the Bear Next Door and on your website bio, it mentions how growing up, music was your escape from The Cold War, Chernobyl and imminent nuclear destruction… so in your head with everything going on, has it been like “NOT AGAIN!!”?

Definitely, but at the same time, it’s weird and probably not very healthy either, it feels kind of comfortable to be back in that same state of mind that you grew up in!! It’s like you grew up in not a nice place, but you get 20-30 years out of it and then you get drawn back into The Cold War state of mind. It’s where I come from and there’s nothing good about it, but somehow feels very familiar so you can handle it in a different way, compared to others. Our generation grew up with it and it’s interesting how the 90s generation grew up very optimistic and open, while the Millennials were free to travel all over Europe and suddenly it’s a big change.

I totally get where you are coming from, because where I live, it was the centre for UK missiles so was a nuclear target. As an ULTRAVOX fan, you will know ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, ‘All Stood Still’ and ‘All Fall Down’ were songs about Armageddon while there were other similarly themed songs such as ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Fireside Favourite’, ‘I Melt With You’…

Yes, for us, it been like “well, it’s back to the norm”, it’s something we became accustomed to growing up in the 70s and 80s, it’s like the baseline…

Do you anticipate if this tension goes on any longer, it will affect the artistic expression? Do you see art as channelling that angst again?

I think I’ve been channelling that through the years anyway! *laughs*

But overall, this decade has been a real downer with the pandemic and now the war, so if we are trying to look for silver linings here, I think it will be interesting for the creative community to get something out of it, the frustration, the fears and all that. For sure, it’s going to do something for music, for the arts, for anything creative. It remains to be seen, it’s not going to happen overnight.

Like now at the end of 2022, people are starting to release all the music they did during the pandemic and the lockdowns, so now we are getting the pandemic music. Yes, some people released stuff during the pandemic but now we can play gigs and people can travel, so the records are coming out.

Something we discussed during the making of the album is, has the pandemic affected how we listen to music? Suddenly you’re stuck for 2 years at home, so do you listen to a different kind of music? Is it stuff to calm you down because you’re not in the mood for party music because there’s nowhere to go as the planet was closed! So did it change how people react to music, what kind of music they want to listen to? Did they dig up some old records for comfort? That remains to be seen, I hope there’s some real studies out of all this.

The return of The Cold War is going to be a big thing for a lot of Europeans. Obviously in Finland, we follow a lot of this but even though NATO is more or less involved in the conflict at some level, in America or Asia or Africa, this is like this local thing that’s happening in Europe. Let’s hope it says that way, we don’t want World War 3! I think the effect will also be local and probably affect the Scandinavian music and arts. There will be a big impact.

Despite the surroundings it was created in, ‘Living In Fear’ has turned out to be your most accessible album and possibly your poppiest as a form of escape? Any thoughts on that?

When we realised a lot the songs deal with pretty heavy issues as the lyrics were quite dark, we wanted to juxtapose that with some light production and make it chirpy even. I guess on our level, it’s light if you don’t look deep into it. I think it was the contrast of the lyrics and the easier approach of keeping the darkness inside, so it looks shiny and nice outside. But once you open the door, you realise it’s doom and gloom, it’s in there but not in your face. Only on a couple of songs ‘Not in the Business of Forgiving’ and ‘Killing Dreams’ did we let them drown on their way as they needed to sound heavy. But otherwise on the other tracks, we tried to keep it escapist, like that escapism of the 80s, the plastic innocence to hide the doom and gloom.

I’d like to highlight ‘More Than I Can Love’ which drops in ‘What Is Love’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’, there is this Eurodance with melancholy thing about it?

Juho had this demo and it was leaning towards early 90s, my guide if there was a song that had the right balance of uptempo dance beat and melancholy was ‘Disappointed’ by ELECTRONIC. I was aiming that kind of driving Eurodance but with this classic UK synth indie pop melancholy, that was the lead idea. We wanted to avoid sounding too much like 90s Eurodance but also we didn’t want to do the ‘Enjoy The Silence’ thing. It was like a balancing act, you don’t want to sound like you are just ripping someone off or doing an 80s rehash. You try to sound modern while staying true to the essence.

With the music we do and the influences we have, there are no secrets, people know… if you listen to our records, whether it’s SIN COS TAN, VILLA NAH or my solo stuff, it’s easy to figure out where we come from musically *laughs*

It’s really interesting that the technology at the time back in the day was moving so fast… compare the records people were making in 1980 and then 1990, how they sound and how they were made, it’s one of the biggest shifts we ever had in music in terms of production. I always felt like there wasn’t enough time for this sound to be explored enough because people were already moving onto the next thing.

Famously John Foxx said samplers ruined music and in a way I kind of agree, although I also disagree as I think samplers are great. But at the same time, the period of late 70s synthpop like the early stuff of THE HUMAN LEAGUE, it would have been interesting if that level of technology had been around for 10 years. People would have had more time to really dive into that sound and the different possibilities it offered… but it was all going so quickly and suddenly it was digital and samplers, going to the next thing.

So records started to sound dated within a year or two which was crazy. Pop music today, I think in the last 20 years, there hasn’t really been a sound in the sense of “a sound that you haven’t heard”. Modern music doesn’t date as quickly as it did in the 80s, but I still feel there are so many things that you can go into a rabbit hole of listening to with the 80s, stuff that could have been explored more.

One cool thing nowadays is something like Spotify and YouTube because you can find ALL the records that you never knew but existed but I don’t have enough time. There is so much more stuff I hear from the 80s that I would have loved to have heard back in the day. I keep finding “new” old records almost weekly that came out sometime in the 80s that I like. That’s the thing, things moved so quickly and people moved onto the next thing, so those records never really had a chance.

When it comes to what kind of sound you are looking for in a song, I think there is an endless bowl. SIN COS TAN has been put into this category of “80s synthpop” and all that, but “80s synthpop” is so much bigger than a lot of people realise and there is so much to explore. There’s so many things that could have become the next big thing but they didn’t because of trends, technology or whatever reason, the pace was just so quick.

Talking of technology, time for another card and it’s a Yamaha CS60…

I had the CS60 and the CS80 which was the big brother, it was one of the biggest and most expensive synths that you can still find, if you can find one. The CS80, in the late 90s, my friend and I were still living up north and found one in really bad condition. The guy who sold it to us said according to the serial number, it once belonged to Stevie Wonder; I don’t know if it was true… but then he didn’t charge extra and we got it super cheap. Me and my friend were both just doing dancefloor stuff and the CS80 was more of a keyboard player’s synth, even more than a Moog.

We had it for a while and realised because of its size and its weight that we couldn’t go back and forth to our studios with it. So it was stuck in one place and not used that much. Later on when I had my peak crazy synth collection period in 2006-2007 and had a really big studio, I had a CS60 there and that I did use quite a bit. I was more comfortable with my keyboard playing by then. I used it on a lot of records from that period, we used it on the first SIN COS TAN album, solo stuff and productions for Tiga. It’s another keyboard player’s synth and one time, I had Jimi Tenor come to my studio as he was doing a gig in Turku. So he was playing it and I realised it really is not about the equipment, it’s about the idea and your ability to play an instrument, those are the ingredients.

The magic that Jimi was able to get out of the CS60, it was mind-blowing but also depressing in a good way because you see people who are super-talented at an instrument… I’ve always been more of a programmer and classic producer type where I’m not great at anything, but can handle a lot of things to put it all together and make little tweaks.

When you work with people like Jimi who are super-amazing at playing or with Juho and his voice, you are happy that you know them and get to work with them. So there are keyboard players that can make those machines come alive. When choosing a synth, you have to think “what can I get out of this machine or is it wasted on me?”

I remember there was this classic ‘Top Of The Pops’ where John Foxx did ‘Underpass’ and the band had like three CS80s on stage which was crazy…

So how important then was “synth image” to you as a fan getting into this type of music, where your favourite artist uses a particular piece of equipment?

That was everything! That was kind of the whole thing, when setting up my first studio, it was like living this childhood dream being surrounded by synths. So yes, for sure, growing up in the 80s and seeing these pictures, watching the videos and reading magazines and all that, it seemed so futuristic and out of this world, especially all the drum machines and synths.

In Finland, most of the music you heard and saw was uninteresting rock and heavy metal so you would be lucky if there was a keyboard or even a piano player in a band. So this futuristic world with keyboards, flashing lights, LEDs, computers and all that, for me that was Science-Fiction. It was a really big part of the appeal that got me interested in electronic music. I did like electronic music even before I realised what it was, so it all ended up enhancing all those ideas.

Another card and it’s a Korg Poly 6…

I never had one but I’ve had a lot of Korgs; the thing with Korgs is a lot of my friends had the MS10 or MS20 but I never liked the sound. There was something about that sound that I never really took to, I appreciate it as a synth and I like that it is semi-modular.

But it’s also on a different scale than the Rolands with all the CV stuff so it didn’t work that well with them, so that was one reason. I think it was also something about the filters that I never really loved. I used a Yamaha CS15 for that sort of stuff, it was similar but duophonic and it also has audio-ins so you could use the filter and the filter was smoother than the Korg MS stuff.

Of the Korg polyphonic stuff, I hit the jackpot 20 years ago at an amazing synth store in Stockholm called Jam, the guy running it Johan was amazing and we became really good friends. I used to go there quite a bit. They are still going strong, I love them.

In Finland, we never had really good synth stores for vintage stuff. Although we are neighbours and Finland is bilingual with Swedish being our second language, the culture is so different when it comes to pop music. I was fortunate living in the north of Finland, I was close to the Swedish border so grew up with Swedish radio and TV.

In Sweden, they have an amazing scene with synthpop and electronic music, even from the 70s and 80s. There was so much stuff and variety and that’s how I discovered a lot of music. In the Swedish language, there is even a word “Syntare” for a person who listens to synth music and Italo disco. So I’ve always had really close relations to Sweden and because they had such a big culture in electronic music, there was more equipment going around. When I went there for the first time, it was like “WOW!”.

What did you buy at Jam?

I got this Korg PS3100 which is like a blown-up MS20; it had a patch bay and was semi-modular but a 48 note polyphonic analogue synth! It was again made for keyboard players but because of the semi-modularity, you could control the gates and outboard gear. So that became the staple of my sound for 15 years; I used it on so many records for the polysynth pads.

The Korg Poly 6 was one of the last of the analogue polyphonics of the 80s, I’ve had a lot of the drum machines and I had the Mono/Poly so I’ve had a lot of Korg stuff. Again, the Japanese stuff was cheaper to buy than Moog or Oberheim…

It’s interesting what you say about not getting on with the MS10 as Juho has one and used it in VILLA NAH who you co-produced…

VILLA NAH love the MS10 and they used it on the ‘Origin’ album, it was one of the key synths for their lead sounds and solos. It was fine by me; they get exactly the sound they want and it fits with their music. Me personally, it was never the kind of synth I wanted to have.

I take it that Juho might be less of a tech-head than you are, so within the dynamic of SIN COS TAN, does he stop you from going too far with that and gets you back on track with the song?

It’s a totally different hat that I’m wearing when I’m a producer for an artist. But when I’m working in SIN COS TAN with Juho, then it’s a band so it’s my project as much as it is Juho’s. However, when it comes to working for others, you forget about your mixed feelings about the MS10 and you embrace what they can do with that *laughs*

I really like the idea of having these different roles when it comes to making music, it really is a big part of the fun with a project. Even when I make stuff with Juho as SIN COS TAN, there really is this moment where I decide I’m not going to be the guy who writes music with Juho, I will be the producer and mixer and now take a different approach. I change the perspective that I have on those songs and it’s something that I learned when people have approached me to work with them. Remixing and producing other people are totally different animals but there is something similar. I like the idea where people reveal their music’s secrets to you in the studio, whether it’s a remix or a production to make it work on the dancefloor or whatever.

That’s always been super-fascinating and again, we get into the cool things and the modern age where things on like Spotify, you can listen to classic records that are re-released as boxed sets where they have demos and works-in-progress. The idea of these different stages of a journey that a song takes, that really intrigues me infinitely as a musician, producer and fan. I don’t want to necessarily buy all these records and in some cases, there is stuff that I don’t even like, but I like to be able to hear how the demo became the song.

It’s nice that people are putting all this stuff out, like a cassette demo of the just-written song, then the band comes in and there’s a version with a producer that didn’t work out, and the remixed version that works, that is so fascinating.

You’ve always struck me as being a music fan first and professional producer or musician second…

For me, being a music fan is the No1 priority, that is what I am foremost… everything else is a category under that. Being a music fan is where it all comes from and that’s still how it is.

‘Own The Night’ from the album is very film noir and for Halloween, you synchronised it to the 1922 version of ‘Nosferatu’… did you already have images in your head while making the song?

That was another demo that Juho had, but it was clear from the first draft that I had this idea of how it needed sound. If there is a song on the album that sticks out as not being within the ‘Living In Fear’ theme in the more serious sense, then it’s ‘Own The Night’. It’s slightly tongue-in-cheek especially with the video and vampire, it’s was some very subtle comic relief. We were trying to strike a balance, like in the intro where Juho is doing the deep “hmmm-hmmm-hmmmmm” voice, there’s 16 tracks of him doing this gothic choir thing and then there’s the build up with the harpsicord, it sounded super funny. But at the same time, we didn’t want to push it too much so that it didn’t sound too comedic. We didn’t want it to come across as cheeky or too light-hearted.

‘Own The Night’ reminded me of Ennio Morricone, I don’t know if that is a suitable reference?

Yes, it is overtly dramatic like a lot of the Morricone stuff with all these changes before the big chorus. It does have that classic Morricone feel to it, it was one of the toughest songs on the album to get right. From the original demo, we knew it had a lot of potential. At the same time, the execution needed to be punchy enough for the dancefloor but to keep that ethereal spooky atmospheric thing that controls the vibe, it was all about the balance.

This has made me think of PET SHOP BOYS ‘It Could Happen Here’ which used a section of that Morricone track ‘Forecast’ that had that almost comedic Bowie-esque vocal by BLIZZARD…

Well for me, I am obsessed with both PET SHOP BOYS and Ennio Morricone, so they are always in the back of my head whenever I make music, especially when I do stuff with Juho where we go for this extra flair or drama, these things do come out….

‘You Again’ is a good example…

Yes, that was like HI-NRG mixed with this Morricone-ish riff, it was upper dramatic with the verses and then there were his upbeat, uplifting chorus and dark lyrics for this contrast before the ending focussing on the violin riff building up. It’s a mixture of PET SHOP BOYS and Morricone, but one particular song that also came to my mind when making it was ‘Sounds Like A Melody’ by ALPHAVILLE which also has this outburst of energy in the outro as well.

Was ‘Tightroped’ influenced by DAFT PUNK or is that just in my head?

It’s in your head… but then again, DAFT PUNK is in our heads as well so… *laughs*

‘Tightroped’ was based on a track we started 5 years ago… although we had this break where we didn’t release anything, we had some studio sessions every now and then. But things never really clicked to make us go “WOW”, there were some good bits but it never crossed that threshold to make it continue and work towards an EP or album.

Then when we started this album, there was stuff we had never used and ‘Tightroped’ had this synth riff that I couldn’t even recall when we first did it! We didn’t remember it, it was like “Is that us? Yes, it’s us!”. The track was this downtempo John Carpenter thing, so I decided to disco it up which is something I always do when we go to a dead end with a song, like I did with ‘Trust’ which was originally downtempo. So it was time to put on a four-to-the-floor kick and not exactly do an Italo disco, but more late 70s Patrick Cowley track with live sounding drums. That opened up a lot of doors for it and then I came up with the chord change for the middle part and there was a new lyric, it kind of clicked. So it’s like retro disco that was fun to put out there.

I’ve always liked the way how you’ve never been afraid of disco, either saying it or doing it…

I do a lot of dance and club music, if you do like dance and club music, you have to love disco and even though I started my career in house and techno, you have to acknowledge there is the legacy of disco. There’s so much stuff in house music that sounds fresh and futuristic, especially when it comes to crossing into more electronic stuff like Patrick Cowley or Gino Soccio… even today, their records sound ahead of the time.

I was never a big fan of the orchestral disco, it was always the more minimal stuff where it is all about the groove and basslines with minimal changes and gradual growth as well as the more electronic end of it. Yeah, those records defined my taste in music.

Another card and it’s the Korg 800DV, otherwise known as the MaxiKorg, Dave Ball from SOFT CELL had one of these…

This would have been designed to sit on top of your organ where you would do chords on that and this would be the lead synth to do these melodies. Synths from this period, they were more aimed at this market so were slightly cheaper. That meant these types of synths were on a lot of interesting records that came out in the late 70s and early 80s. It was like a synth to add one layer or one riff or whatever.

What I love about this era was that each band had a particular sound because they could only afford one or two synths but they were explored more…

Yes, this is something I don’t think has been looked into in the documentaries… this will not sound very nice but there is too much credit being given to the people making the music, because a lot of the music was being made by equipment around at the time. The fact that people had their hands on 2 or 3 synths and they were at the mercy of these synths (not the other way round) and the records couldn’t sound like anything else than what the technology allowed at the time. So it was really about the imagination of the artists to abuse them and get the most out of them… it really was within the constraints of what the technology was at the time.

So I think the technology was what defined that music as much as the people who were making the music and it was true during that period, as it was later when techno came around. The records that people made were amazing but at the same time, if you get those certain pieces of equipment and you understand a thing or two about music and you know how things work, it’s very easy to get that sound, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get that great record. But the sound came from the equipment…

So are we talking Korg M1 piano here? *laughs*

No, we are talking about more about drum machines like the 808 or 909, the TB303 in acid house… things are defined by certain pieces of equipment. Like you couldn’t make a proper techno record if you didn’t have an 808 or 909. You really were kind of forced to have them or a sampler that could emulate a lot of that. If you had money, you could get the right equipment but that doesn’t mean you are going to make a great records because you still need to have some great ideas. But you could make these types of records without the equipment, you need the right drum machine to get the right dynamic in a club, you just can’t unless you have a million dollar studio with an engineer to make your record.

What I’m saying is the advent of the 808 or 909 enabled people to make a record in their bedroom that sounded good in a club, that for me was the big difference. It enabled dance music to become more direct for the people that were going to clubs, then going home and doing a record in their bedroom that sounded good in a club.

Obviously today, you can do anything with a computer so that has changed. But there was a brief period of time where you really did need to have certain pieces of equipment in order to make a dance record, regardless of how talented you were or what ideas you had or how great the songs were that you wrote. You couldn’t make a good dance record without a good drum machine. We sometimes forget the engineers who put all this stuff together … there was this documentary ‘808’ for example where even I was being interviewed, people are realising how hand-in-hand the technology and the changes in pop music just went super-fast in the 80s *laughs*

The final card is the EDP Wasp…

I never had one and I know there is a new version by Behringer… what makes the Wasp sound so interesting is the filter, so it’s on my modular system. I have an emulation of the Wasp filter, and I love the sound of it. But I think this was a really interesting time in the late 70s when these small UK and European companies doing these more limited weirder synths like the Wasp with its touch sensitive keyboard and Italian companies like Crumar that sounded different. There was this weird niche where people would be wanting something but couldn’t afford the American or Japanese stuff and would go for the weirder local products which adds something. I know in Finland, people had a lot of Russian stuff…

Oh, like the Polivoks? Did you have one?

Yes, I had one and I had a Faemi which was also Russian… so having stuff that’s not in the usual synth canon was great. There was a UK company that would sell synths as DIY kits and I got this CLEF B-30, a crazy, unpredictable little synth…

The kit company I remember in the UK was Powertran who made the Transcendent 2000, Bernard Sumner, Thomas Dolby and Ian Craig Marsh all had one…

There were a few different ones along with PAiA and I had a few of those, constructed by different people and put in different boxes, all sounding totally different and unreliable… you wouldn’t have wanted to go on stage with one! But in the studio, they were amazing and would provide those happy accidents. It was great that you didn’t know quite what was going to happen… the Wasp falls in some level into that category, with these giant companies doing their thing while these small companies doing their weird synths that are more punk in a way.

What’s your favourite synth that we haven’t mentioned yet?

I don’t know if it’s true, but I have a Roland Jupiter 4 which apparently used to belong to Simon Le Bon! The guy who sold it to me didn’t ask for anything extra but he said he bought it from him. I might as well continue my blissful life thinking that it is and for that reason, it is my favourite synth, if only because I get to share this story *laughs*

Otherwise, I don’t have any favourite synths, I had so much stuff over the years, I’ve come to appreciate them all, every synth I have ever owned or still own, had a purpose. They all do their own thing and they all inspire in a different way.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Jori Hulkkonen

‘Living In Fear’ is released by Solina Records as a limited edition vinyl LP and download





Vintage Synth Trumps is a card game by GForce packed with facts and statistics that features 52 classic synthesizers, available from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Rainer Geselle
23rd November 2022

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