Tag: The Modern (Page 2 of 3)

A Short Conversation with KID KASIO

Nathan Cooper, the man behind KID KASIO has been extremely busy of late.

As well as basking in the critical acclaim for his impressive second album ‘Sit & Wait’, the former frontman of THE MODERN has opened a recording complex in Central London with his actor brother Dominic.

The air conditioned Fiction Studios includes a 36 track Soundtracs IL 3632 desk, an ambient room and a library area to provide a relaxing writing space. Among the classic synths available for use are a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, a Korg Poly 800 and a Yamaha DX7.

Meanwhile, KID KASIO will be performing alongside MARSHEAUX and RODNEY CROMWELL on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER at Norwich Epic Studios, with a supporting DJ line-up of James Nice from Les Disques du Crépuscule.

Unashamedly wearing his pop credentials on his sleeve as ever, Nathan Cooper chatted about attempting DEPECHE MODE covers, his sibling studio venture, the art of collaboration and his thoughts on the current music scene…

Now you’ve had some distance, how do you think the ‘Sit & Wait’ album has been received?

Everyone who’s heard it seems to like it. The problem is, I don’t think many people have heard it. That’s the issue I have. I know that the songs are catchy and could appeal to a wide audience, but the vast majority of the population won’t ever hear it. We seem to be drowning in this sea of music, the bulk of which is mediocre, and this is ruining it for the people who are actually creating something decent.

I can’t seem to get my head above the parapet in an ocean of people who think its ok to throw a beat down and then release it to the world on Soundcloud. When I started out making music in my teens in the late 80s and early 90s, you had to have a certain amount of stamina and steely ambition to succeed in music. I’d practice hard with my band five nights a week. We’d go round London pasting our own posters up in the middle of the night.

Then we’d be organising our own gigs and invite record companies until we finally got management. Then there’d be the huge costs involved with hiring a professional recording studio so we could make a decent sounding demo. We got to that stage because we were good. None of that would have happened if we’d been sh*t. We would have fallen at the first hurdle. Now it seems anyone can make music, literally anyone can turn on a laptop and make it sound half decent and professional and then load it onto Soundcloud. They can effectively skip all the hurdles.

None of the steps that used to sort the wheat from the chaff exist anymore, it’s just boom! And it’s out there for the world to hear. I despise Soundcloud more than anything else. Who ever thought it was a good idea to look at the waveform of a piece of music?? It’s completely counter intuitive to how we should enjoy music. It completely ruins the enjoyment of a song knowing where the drops and the builds are before they’ve happened. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, in answer to your question I’m pleased with the response for the album, but I’ve also got to be realistic. It’s not going to set the charts alight which is a shame, but I had fun making it and that’s what counts and that’s why I do it.

‘Sit & Wait’ seems more relaxed and benefits from that stance?

I guess when I made the first album I had more to prove. I’d just left THE MODERN and felt like I had to validate myself, to show I could do it alone. I’d spent so many years in bands never really being able to follow my musical vision 100 percent without certain levels of compromise.

It was like “Yeah here I am! And yes I like HOWARD JONES! So f***ing what! And yeah I think NIK KERSHAW has a ton of better songs than JOY DIVISION! And yeah I actually think Stock Aitken and Watermen were good producers and songwriters! Put that in your f***ing pipe and smoke it!”, that’s actually what my whole first album was screaming.

I think I was just very angry, and making the whole album was a kind of purgative experience that I had to do.
By the second album I’d calmed down a lot, I just took my time with it. There’s a lot more collaborations on ‘Sit & Wait’ which is maybe what gives it a more relaxed feel. I’m probably the least relaxed person in the world so I think the energy of another person can help take off some of my neurotic edge maybe!!

In hindsight, your debut album ‘Kasiotone’ almost feels like you may have been trying too hard?

I’ve not thought too much about this before but now you mention it, when I was making my first album between 2008-2011, I was quite keen to be involved in that wave of Synthpop that was emerging at the time with LA ROUX and FRANKMUSIK.

By the time I’d started making ‘Sit & Wait’ in 2013, I didn’t feel like there was a particular bandwagon existing for me to jump on, so I was just doing stuff more instinctively and from the heart. I guess that comes over as being more true to myself, and perhaps more relaxed with who I am. There was a ton of Autotune on my first album too, which I think in hindsight can make things sound a bit less natural and more forced sometimes.

‘Full Moon Blue’ is something of a triumph…

Why thank you! It came about in a kind of round about way that one. A friend of mine, Chris Smith (who’s part of THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE who’d done some remixes for, and managed THE MODERN), emailed me and said I should do a cover of the DEPECHE MODE song ‘Two Minute Warning’. I’ve really no idea why he suggested it, but I listened to the song and thought maybe if I did, that they’d remix my album for me or something! It really was just an experiment in self-promotion. I just did it in the hope I’d get something out of it!

I’m utterly ashamed to say I wasn’t that familiar with the song, but it instantly appealed to me because, although I thought the arrangement was fantastic, I kind of felt like it certainly wasn’t one of their best songs, and I only like to attempt a cover if I think I can improve on it in some way.

Anyway I started by copying it exactly, and then kind of started writing my own song over the top. A lot of my songs begin that way, where I’ll start by replicating something and then gradually manipulate it until it becomes my own. Unfortunately with that one it still retained a lot of the original DM flavour. To the point where I really ought to speak to Alan Wilder who penned that one! I’ll give him 50 percent when it goes straight in at number one!

I’m working on a track at the moment, which began by emulating ZARA LARSSON’s ‘Lush Life’ (which I love by the way!). The thing is, after I’ve had my way with it, its ended up sounding more like ‘Cruel Summer’ by BANANARAMA! That’s the hand of KID KASIO at work!

Another highlight from ‘Sit & Wait’ is ‘One Chance’, what’s the story behind that one?

That was written with a friend of mine Liam Hansell. We’d actually met up one afternoon to write the poppiest song we could. That was the intention.

We had some crazy notion we could sell it to a boy band or something, this thing was literally going to be our pension plan.

I wouldn’t normally recommend starting a session with such lofty ambitions. But it was working out ok and I think about halfway through recording, I felt like I wanted it for KID KASIO and it was too good to give to anyone else. The song was actually about Paul Potts and the whole X Factor/ Simon Cowell machine. It’s about someone auditioning and how they pin their whole life on this one moment.

The infuriating thing was, about six months after we wrote it, James Corden, who I’ve met several times on account of him being best friends with my brother, starred in a film playing the character of Paul Potts!!! And guess what the film was called? ‘One Chance’!! We were absolutely gutted! I’m absolutely positive if I’d told my brother about the song, he could’ve played it to James, whom he was flatmates with at the time, and we could’ve got it in the film. It would’ve been absolutely perfect for it.

Liam and I wrote another song together on the album which was called ‘Human Beings’. The original lyric I came up with in the studio was “We’re just European”, but we changed it to “We’re just Human Beings” although looking back now, I think with the original lyric, it could have been some kind of Anti-Brexit anthem!

You’ve continued your working relationship with Ricardo Autobahn and collaborated on the track ‘It’s Not Enough’ for SPRAY’s album ‘Enforced Fun’. Are there any other artists you would be interested in collaborating with in the future?

I can’t help but collaborate with Ricardo Autobahn. He’ll send me something and for some reason it will just immediately inspire me. He sent me ‘It’s Not Enough’ and wanted me to sing a bit of it. I tried but it was quite wordy, and I’m all lispy and can’t get my words out, so I kind of simplified it a bit. I felt a bit cheeky sending it back and saying “I’ve sung it but I kind of changed a few words, and the melody a little bit, oh and can you change the key as well”, but he was gracious as always.

I don’t really have a list of people I’d like to work with. I’m such an anxious person, the thought of working with someone famous and successful just fills me with such fear and dread I just couldn’t do it. I think I’d prefer to work with someone new and up and coming so I could be the nurturing one. The old sage in the corner, offering my tuppence worth.

There’s a few new artists I like, but in general I’m just more of a song addict. There’s not one album on my iPod. I just listen to singles from the Top 20 – 1978 to 2016. I have to absolutely adore a band to venture into their album tracks. That’s reserved for DURAN DURAN, JAPAN and a small handful of others. In terms of new music, I just tend to go online and scour the different countries in Europe for what’s coming up in the charts.

Having said that, there are certain producers I’d love to work with, Trevor Horn obviously, and I’m always intrigued to see how Max Martin worked. I’ve been such a fan of his ever since I spied his name on the back of a Eurodance CD I bought in France in about 1994.Even then, I knew there was something really special about his writing. I’d bore people to death about his band E-TYPE. Now he’s the biggest songwriter in the world!

You’ve opened a new recording facility Fiction Studios in Central London with your brother, what brought this about?

We’d both been keen to do it for ages. In fact he’d been bugging me about it for about two years, and I was really reluctant to give up my home studio.

There’d been an incident while I was producing a track for the film ‘Miss You Already’ when the star Toni Colette had to come into my studio to sing some vocals. The problem was, myself and my writing partner Benjamin Todd had kind of augmented our credentials, shall we say, with the intention of getting the gig. We’d delivered on it in terms of what we’d put forward, but we knew our cover would be blown if she’d walked into my little flat in SE London and seen my studio in the corner of my bedroom!! It just wasn’t very Hollywood. I guess that was the turning point for me.

I’ve been there everyday since the 1st of January, wiring up mixing desks, painting, laying carpet, It was really somewhere I could put my own stamp on. Carpet everywhere!! I’m obsessed with carpet! Don’t invite me into your home if you don’t have carpet. I’ll just walk out again, I love carpet. It must be something to do with acoustics. I’ve even got carpet in my kitchen and bathroom!

I also spent days attaching velvet drapes to the ceiling! I bought so much velvet from ‘Rolls & Rems’ in Lewisham, I’m sure they think I’m opening a harem or something. The thing about the space that really attracted me right from the start were the books. The owners of the space had built a kind of film set of an old library in the corner with fake brickwork on the walls, fake piping going into a fake boiler in the corner, there’s even a fake staircase going nowhere!

And lots of books, literally thousands of them. They had intended to film a ‘Jackanory’ type thing down there, but the project had stalled. I just took one look and said this would be perfect! So you had this incredible ‘Harry Potter’ style film set in one corner but the rest of the room was in bad shape, it was just a store room really, so that’s where I got into Laurence Llewelyn Bowen mode.

The interior design paid off though because we invited Roland to come and have a look and as soon as they walked in, they said they would give us whatever we wanted as long as they could film in there every now and again.

I’m hoping the studio can offer a creative space to musicians in the heart of London where there’s not really that much else around. It’s all very exciting.

You have a nice collection of synths of various vintages. What do you have and are there any interesting stories about any these?

Yeah I have a bit of a collection but there’s still plenty more I want! Obviously the collection won’t be complete without a Jupiter 8 and Oberheim OBX-a, but these things seem to be sky rocketing in price. I remember going to Thornton Heath to buy an SH101 for £80 from someone in Loot and thinking that was a bit expensive, so I bought some chips on the way and only gave him £79!!!

My Juno 60 is like an old friend. My original one was purchased, again through Loot, in 1989 for about £150. In 1992, we were recording in the same studio as JESUS JONES, this grotty place on Commercial Road which isn’t there any more called Ezee Studios with a producer called Nick Tauber who’d produced TOYAH and MARILLION. I left the Juno there, thinking we’d be back the following week to finish the recording, and we didn’t return for about a year.

On our return no-one knew where the Juno was! I still check the underside of every Juno I ever come across in the hope I’ll see my 14 year old etchings on the bottom: “Nathan Cooper, Belmont Hill Lewisham SE13”!! Anyway I gave up hope of ever finding it, and bought a new one in about 1994. It’s still with me to this day.It’s literally never gone wrong. It’s just the best synth ever.

You did well to find the Crumar Performer…

Myself and childhood friend Gabriel Prokofiev were in a band together, and were both massive fans of the first DURAN DURAN album. He bought his in about 1991 and a few years later, because I was renting a studio space from him in Hackney, I sneaked it off him and stashed it away in my studio for a long time until he wanted it back.

By the time I returned it to him, it was too late for me, I knew there was absolutely no way I could live without one. I was a Crumar addict!! It really is the most special sounding thing you’ve ever heard. It does a brass sound which is appalling, but those strings are to die for. I met Mark Ronson back stage at a Duran gig a couple of years ago and had a good chat with him about it. He’s even named a song on his first album after it!

The studio has plenty to offer to musicians of all persuasions… what facilities does Fiction Studios have to tackle that tricky issue of recording live drums for example?

We did our first session with live drums the other day, which I was dreading, but it turned out brilliantly. Fortunately we’ve got a massive collection of good mics and I was able to play around until I got a really good sound that the drummer and the client were really happy with. We ended up recording in an area of the studio which isn’t carpeted and has a little more of a live sound.

Obviously if I had my way, every drummer in the world would just use a DMX drum machine or play a Simmons kit (both of which we also offer!). But I realise to make this venture work, we have to cater for all styles of music. Actually I’ve got to say, the live drums sounded so good, I may be using some on my next album. With lots of gated reverb obviously!

You’re playing with MARSHEAUX and RODNEY CROMWELL at Norwich Epic Studios in November, are you planning anything particularly for that show?

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a gig. We were all on such a high after the iSynth Festival in Lille back in May that we literally can’t wait for this.

There’ll be lots of new songs from the ‘Sit & Wait’ album and definitely some serious keytar action. I’m thinking of resurrecting my ‘Brookside’ theme tune show opener! Last time I played it, none of the rest of my band knew what it was!! They thought it was a tune I’d composed.

It was only a few months later that my drummer called me up and said “they just played your tune on the telly, it was on a programme about 1982”, I said “were they talking about something called ‘Brookside’ by any chance?”.

Will the yellow Simmons drum kit be coming along with you?

Of course!! I retired the Simmons kick drum for the last gig in France because we were travelling in a tiny Ford Fiesta, but I’m hoping we’ll have something a bit more roomy for this gig so the whole kit can come along.

Synthpop is been going through a tricky period domestically at the moment, although CHRVCHES seem to be our saviours of synthpop. You’ve been in the music business a while, why do you think they succeeded while say, MIRRORS didn’t?

I think MIRRORS were fantastic and I think they befell a similar fate as THE MODERN. They didn’t have timing on their side and they suffered from a distinct lack of serendipity. The business is all about luck. It’s almost impossible to sustain a band at that semi-professional level. That point where things are teetering on the edge of full blown success. Every decision you make is so loaded. It becomes make or break at every juncture and it’s impossible to continue a creative relationship in that kind of environment, it’s too destructive, the band will eventually implode.

It’s fine at the other end of the scale, if you have no success. If you’re a few mates rehearsing in your garage living in a constant state of expectation and hope you can go on for years like that. I certainly have! It’s the same if you’re super successful, if everything’s going well that’s just fine. The problems come with that in-between stage; it’s that ‘almost ran’ situation that’s impossible to sustain.

CHRVCHES are great, I thought their Glasto set was excellent. I thought YEARS & YEARS were great too. While I don’t think it’s a particularly golden age for synthpop, I think there’s a general synth sheen to pop music at the moment, that isn’t a bad thing. It could be worse, it could be the bloody 90s!

What’s next for KID KASIO?

Fiction Studios has taken over everything for the last few months but now I’m back on track. I’m already planning the next video for the next single later in the year, possibly the last release from the album, we’ll see. I’m constantly writing, that’s the key. I’m mainly writing for other people, but I often come up with something and go “that’s a bit KID KASIO” and keep it for myself!

‘Sit & Wait’ is available as a download from the usual digital outlets




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th July 2016

TOM WATKINS Let’s Make Lots of Money

Secrets of a Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard

TOM WATKINS Let's Make Lots of Money-book“I told a TV Crew it was ‘an absolute fallacy that we tell people what to wear and do’. Guess what? I lied. That was exactly what we did.”: TOM WATKINS

‘Let’s Make Lots of Money: Secrets of a Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard’ is the frank autobiography of Tom Watkins, the Pop Svengali best known for managing PET SHOP BOYS, BROS and EAST 17.

Co-written with Matthew Lindsay, the title is provocative. But then, Watkins has always been that kind of a personality. Called “A big man with a loud voice” by Neil Tennant, his high profile as a manager came with a bolshy ability to extract favourable deals, whether it was for his various charges or himself; it is rumoured that Watkins took 20% commission on gross income from PET SHOP BOYS and BROS.

With his earlier success founding the design agency XL, it could be argued that Watkins helped shaped an era in modern pop. Watkins first met the future PET SHOP BOYS vocalist at Marvel Comics, before Tennant moved on to become Deputy Editor of pop rag ‘Smash Hits’ in 1982.

In the book, he recalls gleefully about hearing how Tennant got into an argument with then-NME journalist Paul Morley at the launch party of Dave Rimmer’s book ‘Like Punk Never Happened: Culture Club and the New Pop’, and settled the dispute by kicking the belligerent scribe in the shins!

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Two Tribes - Annihilation Mix 12Watkins was to cross paths himself with Morley. Having spent his younger years as a design student, later working under Terence Conran and Rodney Fitch, he eventually established XL.

Their artwork adorned the sleeves of KIM WILDE, OMD, NIK KERSHAW, WHAM! and most famously Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT), the label founded by Paul Morley, Trevor Horn and Jill Sinclair with which THE ART OF NOISE and FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD shot to stardom. XL were later to employ a junior designer named Mark Farrow.

Of his relationship with ZTT, Watkins says Trevor Horn was “an adorable space cadet” while Paul Morley was patronising, rude and miserable. Back in 1983, there was no Google so eager to learn, Watkins asked what Zang Tuum Tumb actually meant; Morley’s sneering answer was “It’s the sound the snare drum makes” before sniggering at him. So when Watkins eventually found out about its origins with the Italian Futurists, he felt humiliated, with the assertion that “Only a real prick ridicules someone for asking a question…” – Watkins had the last laugh though when Sinclair and Horn commissioned him to design the interior of Sarm West Studios.

In hindsight, the two brash characters were unlikely to have ever got on and Watkins concedes now “Maybe Zang Tuum Tumb was supposed to be like the sound of a drum machine as well. Maybe I was just being a big, pretty diva…” – but the strange thing is today, even with Google to hand, there are still music journalists who can’t tell their tape recorders from their drum machines.

pet_shop_boys-west_end_girls_7inch epicIt was under the XL umbrella that Watkins began his professional relationship with PET SHOP BOYS, designing the sleeve of the original Bobby Orlando produced version of ‘West End Girls’ released by Epic Records in 1984.

But after it flopped and PET SHOP BOYS were dropped, Tennant asked Watkins to manage them, impressed by his FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD associations. Watkins loved ‘West End Girls’ and in particular, a sweeping piece of grandeur entitled ‘Jealously’ which Tennant had written in response to a friend who had resented the time he was spending with musical partner Chris Lowe.

Watkins happily accepted, safe in the knowledge that WHAM! and JAPAN manager Simon Napier-Bell had already declined to listen to a demo tape Tennant had given him containing ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’, ‘West End Girls’ and ‘It’s A Sin’.

One of Watkins’ best lines in the book is “you can’t make chicken soup out of chicken sh*t” and he was well aware that a unique selling point was vital to an act’s success. Reflecting one of the issues that could be applied to today’s UK electronic music scene, EMI A&R man Dave Ambrose told Watkins of GIGGLES, his previous foray into band management: “There isn’t anything wrong with them. But there’s not a lot right with them either”.

Pet Shop Boys - Opportunities 1st issueDespite having some killer songs, Watkins now had the dilemma of how to sell PET SHOP BOYS visually. The first PSB gigs in 1984 at Brixton Fridge and in Luxembourg saw Tennant trying to do his best Bowie impression, while Lowe gyrated and pelvic thrusted his keyboard; neither were particularly comfortable with their actions.

Meanwhile as the “mean (if hardly lean) bullsh*t machine”, Watkins went back to Dave Ambrose with ‘West End Girls’ as the perfect show reel. The man who had signed SEX PISTOLS, DURAN DURAN and TALK TALK to EMI welcomed PET SHOP BOYS into the empire.

Tennant departed ‘Smash Hits’ and at his leaving party, his colleagues presented him with a mocked-up front cover which read: “HOW I LEFT BRITAIN’S BRIGHTEST MAGAZINE TO FORM MY TRAGIC POP GROUP, WENT DOWN THE DUMPER AND ASKED FOR MY JOB BACK” – little did they know that Tennant would grace their front cover within nine months!

Watkins’ attempts to get PET SHOP BOYS to “sex it up” fell on deaf ears though. Tennant and Lowe wanted to be enigmatic; they exuded a Northern contrariness that was the antithesis of DURAN DURAN, SPANDAU BALLET and WHAM! Still not entirely convinced, Watkins recalls the horror of seeing their first ‘Top Of The Pops’ appearance in late 1985: “They don’t do anything. How are people going to go for this?” – but go for it they did!

Despite realising he had a phenomenon on his hands, Watkins did exert his management veto on a few occasions, notably when the duo had the rather pretentious idea of issuing a manifesto called ‘Two In A Million’ to the UK press in Italian! His defensive response in these situations was to become his catchphrase “What would Edna in Huddersfield think?”; but quite what Edna made of the 1988 art movie turkey that was ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ is debatable.

PET SHOP BOYS’ dialectic of “east / west. Posh / rough. Irony / sincerity. Pop / anti-pop” led to what Tennant himself would later call their imperial phase, which included four UK chart topping singles and a US No1 in ‘West End Girls’. But despite their seemingly unstoppable success, Watkins’ assessment is that ‘Domino Dancing’ with its AIDS narrative and sexually ambiguous promo video was what stalled Tennant and Lowe’s Stateside momentum.

Just one listen to the ‘Discography’ singles collection is a timely reminder of what PET SHOP BOYS achieved under Watkins’ stewardship. But his contract was not renewed and while he states in the book he was gutted at the time, Watkins admits that he has missed working with Tennant and Lowe, even though in his words: “Unlike Neil Tennant, I could mould Matt Goss and his brother with complete control”.

And so it was that Watkins continued on, looking after ELECTRIBE 101 whose high point was supporting DEPECHE MODE on the ‘Violator’ tour. Fronted by Billie Ray Martin, they split due to good old-fashioned musical differences, but Watkins found success masterminding the careers of BROS and EAST 17, before eventually both acts imploded too.

Misguided self-delusions of talent plagued the former, particularly as Watkins co-wrote all of the BROS hits with producer Nicky Graham under the pseudonym of The Brothers. Indeed, the episode was amusingly documented by PET SHOP BOYS on ‘How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?’.

Meanwhile the low brain cell count of Brian Harvey sealed the fate of EAST 17. Some have considered band management to be akin to looking after children and whatever one’s feelings on Watkins, he certainly earned his commission dealing with these Primadonnas.

Undeterred, Watkins persevered with FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY, 2WO THIRD3, NORTH & SOUTH, DEUCE, THE MODERN and even an animated character named KULKARNI who couldn’t answer him back! However, while these acts were not themselves successful, they did spawn TV presenter Dani Behr, songwriter Richard ‘Biff’ Stannard and retro flavoured electro artist KID KASIO, so he must have spotted something…

But the pop world was changing and now occupied by reality TV talent shows (Watkins amusingly describes ‘The X Factor’ as like “a Nuremberg Rally on pink drugs”!), bland indie rock and brainless dance music, Watkins’ loud and proud approach no longer had a home. For him, that was it as far as the music business was concerned.

While not for everyone, ‘Let’s Make Lots of Money: Secrets of a Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard’ is an amusing and entertaining account of an excessive, yet innovative period when mavericks were embraced and the bland were shunned. In today’s world, the opposite is true.

The music industry is not what it was and while Watkins is a polarising character whose career path has been seemingly driven by a combination of shouting, artistic nous, lust and low self-esteem, he has certainly achieved much more than most.

‘Let’s Make Lots of Money: Secrets of a Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard’ is published on 7th July 2016 in hardback by Virgin Books



Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd July 2016, updated 19th January 2017


KID KASIO and THE SANFERNANDO SOUND have released the fruits of their recent studio collaboration as a single called ‘Letters Of Love’.

It was launched with a superb ‘Our Price’ pastiche TV advert and the first new material from Da Kid since his debut album ‘Kasiotone’ in 2012. KID KASIO is the brainchild of Nathan Cooper, one-time member of THE MODERN who had a Top 40 hit ‘Jane Falls Down’ in 2005 while THE SANFERNANDO SOUND is the moniker of Jason Persad who first came to wider attention with his remix of ‘Clouds’ for flamboyant duo DIVINE KNIGHTS.

Written via email over a period of a couple of months last year, ‘Letters Of Love’ features a video that looks like a long lost VHS tape of a forgotten artist performing on an old Italian TV show.

“This video was edited by a talented CGI expert called Ed Crofts who came forward when I put out a plea on Facebook for ‘someone who can stitch my head onto someone else’s body’!” said Cooper, “I wanted the video to look like It was I filmed my head in front of a green screen and Ed placed it onto the performer’s body, I think the end result looks pretty otherworldly”.

Indeed, KID KASIO looks like a strange amalgam of Russell and Ron Mael aka SPARKS. But Cooper remained coy as to who the source material was: “I won’t tell you who the torso belongs to in the video, he may not be too pleased that I’ve nicked his body!!!”. With hints of Stock, Aitken & Waterman in the percussive intro and backing, ‘Letters Of Love’ is a natural progression on KID KASIO’s brassy optimistic synthpop.

‘Letters Of Love’ is available now as a download single via Amazon and iTunes




Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th July 2014

KID KASIO Telephone Line

KID KASIO’s latest video ‘Telephone Line’ features an array of vintage technology and wires.

The Kid himself Nathan Cooper said: “The video has been a labour of love! It features a Commodore Pet, 2 reel-to-reels, the Prophet 5 and an old 6 foot tall patch bay I built!!!!” 

Also featured are a green two-tone pre-BT rotary dial Type 746 and a customised yellow Simmons drum set. The song itself is a bouncy holiday flavoured number with its funky bassline recalling LES RYTHMES DIGITALES’ ‘Jacques Your Body’.

Imagine if HOWARD JONES and NIK KERSHAW had an illicit affair in the dressing room of Top Of The Pops back in 1984? KID KASIO would be their resultant love child!

From his debut album ‘Kasiotone’, it also features the great LA ROUX meets RYUICHI SAKAMOTO ballad ‘I Miss You’ and the optimistic synthpop tunes ‘Not For Turning’ and ‘Living My Life’. Plus as if to prove his musical parentage, there’s even a cover of NIK KERSHAW’s ‘Dark Glasses’.

‘Kasiotone’ is available via Amazon and iTunes




Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th October 2012

KID KASIO Interview

KID KASIO is Nathan Cooper, once of THE MODERN who supported HEAVEN 17 at The Scala.

Signing to Universal via their Mercury subsidiary, brilliant songs produced by Stephen Hague such as ‘Jane Falls Down’ and ‘Sometimes’ showcased their electro potential. Indeed, ‘Jane Falls Down’ reached No32 in the UK charts in 2005.

However, a well-documented incident involving the next single ‘Industry’ led to a parting of ways with their label and necessitated the revised moniker of MATINEE CLUB. While the eventual album ‘Modern Industry’ was released in late 2007 on Planet Clique, the band’s promise was never quite fulfilled with only sporadic live performances during their twilight years.

But now in a much more sympathetic musical environment and with HOWARD JONES very much as the template, KID KASIO’s retro but contemporary flavoured pop sound on his debut album heralds a new era for one man and his synth. ‘The Reason’ is candy flossed danceathon, sort of like HJ’s ‘Life In One Day’ mashed-up with the soundtrack from Kevin Bacon film ‘Footloose’ while other previously previewed numbers ‘Not For Turning’ and ‘Living My Life’ are aspirational, riff laden ditties with catchy choruses reminiscent of DURAN DURAN.

Of the album’s other ditties, the wonderful ‘I Miss You’ resembles LA ROUX syncopating to ‘Forbidden Colours’ with an autotuned Nathan on lead while ‘One Heart’ is a terrific classic electro tune with pitch bent synths and clattering drum machine. And only some steel drums are missing from the bouncy holiday flavoured ‘Telephone Line’, its funky bassline recalling LES RYTHMES DIGITALES’ ‘Jacques Your Body’.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had the pleasure of speaking to Nathan Cooper about the KID KASIO project in a break during preparations for his forthcoming ‘Kasiotone’ album launch party.

This is your first full album project since THE MODERN / MATINEE CLUB, how has the journey been to go solo?

There wasn’t really another option for me. I’d been in bands since I was 12 and although I’d had many great experiences that came from being part of a group, there was always a niggling doubt in my mind that the reason things hadn’t worked out was because I’d always done what other people wanted. I felt I had never voiced my opinions strongly enough and backed my own ideas with enough conviction.

I was always asking; “what if I had done it my way?” which is a bit unhealthy really.

I kind of had to try it for myself so I could stop blaming other people. Now if things go wrong it’s much easier because I just say; “ok, I only have myself to blame, I’ll learn from that and move on!” It’s much easier!

There are many things I miss too. Writing is far easier in a group. If you write something crap, everyone tells you and you move onto the next thing. As a solo artist I have absolutely no way of knowing something’s rubbish. I could literally be working on something that’s terrible for like weeks and not even realise it’s awful!

What would you feel was your proudest moment with THE MODERN / MATINEE CLUB?

Signing a deal with Universal felt like the end of years and years of struggle for me and Chi Tudor-Hart, the other founding member of THE MODERN.

I’d been in bands and writing music for 15 years previous to that; myself and Chi had been struggling in the pop wilderness for 10 years with various groups and acts. We’d literally tried everything!! We’d done techno, euro-pop, boy-bands, rap; we even dabbled in the Britpop thing when that was big.

We’d done massive tours of schools and under 18s! Finally, I guess in about 2001 we decided to stop trying to jump on every bandwagon and form THE MODERN and just start making the music we had always loved. Luckily, it kind of coincided with the Electroclash thing happening and people started paying attention. Signing the deal felt like we had finally paid our dues!

There were a few great gigs too. Playing Ibiza Rocks with KAISER CHIEFS and doing Reading and Leeds festivals was amazing. Working with Stephen Hague who produced PET SHOP BOYS, ERASURE and NEW ORDER was another highlight.

I think for me personally, my proudest moment was sitting in a house in Peckham and turning on the Radio1 Top 40 countdown on a Sunday and hearing our first single enter the charts. That was a childhood ambition fulfilled, even if we did only go in at No35!

Are you able to discuss any of your frustrations during that period and the attempts to regain momentum after the ‘Industry’ single?

Basically a couple of weeks after being signed, everyone who had played a part in signing us and believing in us was sacked! Universal and Mercury in particular suddenly underwent a massive overhaul and everything changed. We were promised so much exposure, TV, magazines, a big budget video and suddenly all the people that were working for us were gone, and all the exposure etc went to a new band they had just signed called THE BRAVERY.

The first single staggered into the Top 40 after literally no exposure whatsoever and we knew that if the next single failed, we’d be dropped. Because of that frustration, I think our management then kicked into overdrive and made some seriously bad decisions, which resulted in us eventually being disqualified from the charts.

We were all just completely shell shocked. Suddenly we were without a deal again and the whole situation became much harder. It’s much harder to operate in a group when things aren’t going well and we began to blame each other and bicker internally within the group. In hindsight, it was really sad because I think we were a good group and had some good songs. We’re all still great friends, which is the most important thing.

KID KASIO is more obviously synthpop than you’ve been before?

I’ve always loved the term synthpop! It just wasn’t a very popular term for many years; you had to whisper it in hushed tones between about 1990 and 2009! In every band I’ve been in, I’ve always been the one pulling in the pop direction.

So when I finally decided to do a solo project, it was free reign to be as pop as I wanted. You won’t find any instrumentals or dark experimental tracks on my album. I’m all about the songs.

Who have been your main influences on the album?

Being in bands for so many years, there were always certain influences I was allowed to play on when writing, and others I was most definitely not. So I could come to the table with a song that was influenced by NEW ORDER, DURAN DURAN, JAPAN or perhaps OMD and that was fine. HOWARD JONES, ERASURE, NIK KERSHAW were a definite no no! So I had all these ideas for songs in that style which never saw the light of day.

My influences are always rooted in 80s music because I play synths, and that’s the era when synths dominated popular music. So I go through different stages of being influenced by different bands from that era. In THE MODERN / MATINEE CLUB, all my influences were from 1979-1982. Now with the KID KASIO project, I’m onto about 1984 so it’s SCRITTI POLITTI, HOWARD JONES and THOMPSON TWINS! I’m just discovering FM synthesis and I really want a Fairlight.

The environment does appear to be much friendlier now to someone who wants to make this kind of music?

That’s the other reason I’ve been more honest about my influences with the KID KASIO stuff. Six or seven years ago pre-THE KILLERS, you were just about allowed to like JOY DIVISION and that was as close as you could get to liking anything with synths in it. Now kind of since LA ROUX, I guess it’s perfectly fine for bands like HURTS and MIRRORS to rate bands like OMD, HEAVEN 17 and YAZOO, I’m just taking it to the logical next step; I’m predicting the zeitgeist and its got HOWARD JONES and SCRITTI POLITTI all over it! Synthpop goes funk! It’s the logical next step; everything moves in cycles, you heard it here first.

You’ve acquired quite a few vintage instruments for the album, what ones have you been using?

I’ve really got into the big Simmons drum sound for this album. I actually bought a Simmons kit off the drummer from THE MODERN and sprayed it yellow! That’ll be coming out to gigs with me. My two staple synths which I use more than anything are the Roland Juno 60 which I’ve had since I was 14, and the Crumar Performer string synth which is on almost every chorus on the album. I think I used the SH101 for bass on two songs too. I bought a Prophet 5 this year which has been my most extravagant purchase; unfortunately for most of the album I had to use the Pro 52 plug-in because it kept going out of tune, so I’m getting it fixed.

My surprise find has been a Korg Poly 800 which a friend found in a skip years ago, I got it working this year and it’s actually surprisingly good for lead sounds. That makes two or three appearances on the album. Adrian Hall who mixed the album gave me a DX7 so I’m in mid 80s FM synth heaven now!

But it must be easier to use plug-in software now though?

There are some synths I don’t think I will ever be able to own like the ARP 2600 and the Yamaha CS80, so I use those plug-ins quite a bit. It really depends on what sound I have in my head when I’m recording. I’ll normally try the analogue synths first and then if I can’t find what I’m after, I’ll try a plug-in. The problem with plug-ins is rather than manipulating the sound as I do on an analogue synth, I will literally go through all 500 presets to make sure I have the best possible sound. For a perfectionist like me, that can be quite time consuming.

The videos you’ve made as an introduction to KID KASIO have been very much a tribute to past eras. Do you worry that some critics who might feel you are just being a revivalist?

I have loads of ideas for videos that don’t look 80s but unfortunately, they all require big budgets. When you have absolutely no budget, sometimes the best way to give it an air of quality is to make it look ‘retro’. Also I would hope that the fact that my videos have clearly been made on a shoestring lend them a kind of lo-fi DIY air that might ingratiate them to the ‘taste makers’ that would normally dismiss that type of music as un-cool or a guilty pleasure.

I think the majority of music now is a regurgitation of something that has come before. Luckily for me, the 80s is the fashionable era to mimic at the moment. I don’t think you can really be a revivalist unless you were there and I’m not that old! I just take elements just as JAMIROQUAI revived the 70s in the 90s, THE STROKES revived new wave in the early part of the last decade and HURTS etc are reviving the 80s now.

‘Not For Turning’, ‘Living My Life’ and ‘The Reason’ are lyrically very optimistic in the face of adversity?

‘Not For Turning’ was the first song I wrote for the KID KASIO project so it has that air of optimism lyrically. It represents a new journey, where I’m going to do things my way.

I guess ‘Living My Life’ has a similar sentiment, it’s saying “this is what I’m doing, I don’t care what anyone thinks”.

Weirdly, my main influence when writing that was a song called ‘Higher Love’ by Steve Winwood, it has this amazing air of optimism about it and I kind of wanted to capture that. I really couldn’t tell you what ‘The Reason’ was about!

Which of the newer tracks are your favourites on this album and why?

As a solo artist, it’s incredibly hard to work out which songs are good or not, it only takes one person to say to me “that song is crap” and I will instantly agree with them!

The songs that are my favourites are the ones that other people have said they mean something to them that is kind of what you strive for as a songwriter. I guess when I get them out live it will become even more apparent which ones work best.

At the moment there’s a song called ‘I Miss You’ which I like because it’s been working well live and one called ‘Over & Over’ which I wrote when I was 19 so it kind of means a lot to me.

Who do you think this album will appeal to?

I would like to think that if the songs were mixed by Max Martin and sung by KATY PERRY, they would appeal to everyone. But because I’ve produced them they way I have and I sing in a particular way, it limits my audience slightly. From the response I get on Twitter, I’d say it’ll appeal to anyone who likes synth music, anyone who likes good European pop, and probably anyone who like the 80s so hopefully that’ll cover half the population!

How is the live incarnation of KID KASIO coming along?

It’s so exciting, the whole band is excited, and it’s sounding huge. My set up is ridiculously elaborate but I’ve found a way of having an old sequencer trigger the backing tracks on a laptop and send MIDI notes to my hard tune voicebox and trigger visuals on a projector at the same time too. I’ve also got these huge fluorescent lights off a building site.

I also persuaded a drummer to play a yellow Simmons kit which is no easy task believe me. I’m going to take the Juno 60 out with me and I’ve purchased a Korg RK1 keytar to play some of the lead lines on. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Which of the newer electronic pop acts do you feel a kinship towards?

I’m feeling a particular bond at the moment with the bands with male vocals. There’s so many electronic acts with female vocals that the market feels saturated. I’m with HURTS and MIRRORS all the way. I saw HURTS at Brixton and they were amazing.

What are your hopes and fears for the future?

My only hope is that I can one day make a living from music, it’s getting harder and harder for musicians. When I was younger, I decided to follow music and my brother decided to become an actor, he’s managed to make a living from pursuing what he’s good at. I would like to be able to do that too, I’m pretty sure 2012 is the year that that will become a reality.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Nathan Cooper

‘Kasiotone’ will be released on 30th January 2012 via the usual digital retail outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.





Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th January 2012

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