Tag: Valerie Renay


Valerie Renay, one-time frontwoman of NOBLESSE OBLIGE has recorded an icy synth laden cover of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES’ ‘Christine’.

No stranger to drastically reworked covers, with NOBLESSE OBLIGE, Renay recorded a stark funereal cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ in 2013 on their album ‘Affair Of The Heart’.

Laced with layers of string machine, her downtempo take on ‘Christine’ comes from an upcoming Siouxsie tribute album entitled ‘Icon’; the collection also features the brooding reinterpretation of ‘Rhapsody’ by Jorja Chalmers which was included on her ‘Midnight Train’, one of the best albums of 2021 and Jay-Jay Johanson’s trip-hop flavoured stamp on ‘Tattoo’. Additionally, Berlin-based duos PYSCHE and NNHMN respectively contribute heavy electronic versions of ‘Cities In Dust’ and ‘Happy House’ while Italian Combo HIDDEN PLACE points ‘Dazzle’ in a frantic industrial goth direction to highlight how under-rated the song is within the Banshees catalogue.

To accompany ‘Christine’, Valerie Renay has produced a low budget, lo-fi, DIY video featuring German underground musician and model Steve Morell in a cameo; she spoke to ELECTRICITY CLUB.CO.UK about the Strawberry Girl and the Banana Split Lady…

When you get invited to cover songs on these tribute albums, do you get to choose or are you told what to perform?

I was able to choose, but my first choice, which was ‘Israel’, had already been chosen by someone else. Luckily, ‘Christine’ was still free!

What was the inspiration behind your arrangement of ‘Christine’?

I started by playing the song on the piano and jam with Theo Taylor, who co-produced the track. I wanted to create something slow, moody, dreamy, and sensual to depict this descent into insanity that is the story of the real Christine. I tried to construct a spacious and sonically sparse sphere like a hall of mirrors, where it’s hard to tell reality from fantasy, and you just find yourself drifting aimlessly.

You made the video on a zero budget. What is the story and how did you get it made?

We made the video in my old flat in the middle of the lockdown at the end of 2020, while it was still kind of illegal to gather in the same room unless the windows and doors were open. Theo Taylor also shot and edited the video. I knew he was leaving for New Zealand shortly after, and it was our last chance to make a video together.

The lyrics of the song were inspired by the book ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ which tells the story of Christine Sizemore, a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder. The names in the songs, Strawberry Girl, Turtle Lady, etc are actual names that Christine’s children gave to the different distinct personalities, of which there were 22 in all.

So, ideally I wanted 22 people to come into my flat and “be me”. In the end, I was happy to get hold of a handful of friends and get them to stand outside in the garden while we were shooting inside, one at a time, trying to respect the corona regulation as much as possible.

It was a very intimate affair. The atmosphere was relaxed, and we managed to have a lot of fun while shooting and drinking wine. I was honoured that Berlin living legend and supermodel Steve Morell was able to join us.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks

‘Christine’ features on the tribute album ‘Icon’ released on 18th April 2022 by Infrastition as a CD, pre-order from





Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th March 2022


Paris, London and now Berlin, performance artist Valerie Renay has worn many hats and not just the ones on stage.

Incorporating theatre, music, dance, acting, film, photography and much more, Renay first found fame in NOBLESSE OBLIGE, an abstract Weimer cabaret tinged duo with German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp.

The pair opened for IAMX in 2011 on the ‘Volatile Times’ tour.

Their last album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ in 2013 played with dark electro Chanson, featuring a musical tribute to Mata Hari and a lengthy funereal deadpan cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ which highlighted the chilling subtext of the lyrics to its macabre conclusion!

Exuding flamboyance, Renay has since released a solo record ‘Your Own Shadow’ that was an amazingly fluid and harmonious adventure in a departure from her work with NOBLESSE OBLIGE. From it, the exhilarating ‘Speed Of Blue’ was co-written with Ian Pickering whose notable musical contributions have included ‘6 Underground’ and ‘Spin Spin Sugar’ with SNEAKER PIMPS.

Presenting a palette of guitars, synths, vintage drum machines and her effervescent personality, Valerie Renay is a captivating live performer where literally anything can happen including invites to join her onstage!

With a new video for her song ‘Melancholia’ from ‘Your Own Shadow’ now public, Valerie Renay kindly chatted from Berlin about her solo career to date and more.

What inspired you to become a performer?

I like to create my own world. My world has a soundtrack, an aesthetic, everyday poetry, everyday fantasy, a choreography, a smell, a taste. As a performer you are able to share your world, it’s a great privilege!

Do you dream in French, German or English?

I mostly dream in English because I mostly think in English, after more than 10 years living in Berlin, I still don’t speak much German, I start thinking and dreaming in French when I read more French books or watch French films.

I have now lived outside of France longer than in France, I don’t feel I have roots in a particular country but I surely left my heart in London.

You released your first solo single ‘Living In Germany’ in 2016…

‘Living In Germany’ was an ironic take on life in Berlin. It started as a drunken challenge with a friend. I said I could write a Punk song without really knowing how to play any instruments, when I left the bar at 4am, I went home and wrote this song in 5 minutes.

It gave me a taste for writing solo and exploring new territories. I started developing my production skills further, and taught myself how to play instruments better at the same time as I was writing songs. Everything had to happen simultaneously, I had no time to waste.

Your debut solo album ‘Your Own Shadow’ developed organically by being road tested in front of live audiences around the world, that is an interesting approach…

I’m impatient. I come up with a new idea for a song and before it’s finished, I already want to share it with an audience. I often play early versions of songs, unfinished, sometimes lyrics are missing or half the chorus, it doesn’t matter. I’m excited to share something new and try it live. I often find new parts for songs while playing them live. This is how the album was written. For me, songs are never finished, they’re evolving constantly with a life of their own.

Despite the daunting prospect of creating solo, you retain your sense of humour and outgoing personality, has this been an important quality to complete the task?

I’m in love with life. I take every opportunity to dance and jump around my flat (mostly naked) listening to loud music. You can’t take yourself too seriously. The whole point of life is finding pleasure in each moment. Making music solo is challenging, empowering and really exciting! An intense face to face with yourself.

Which are your own favourite tracks on ‘Your Own Shadow’ and why?

The album is a journey, just like a concert. Each song is like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, it makes sense in the context of the album.

But each song is also an individual moment in time, like a slice of life. ‘Speed Of Blue’ is special because it was the first track I wrote.

I posted the demo as an instrumental and on my Soundcloud page, when Ian Pickering heard it. He offered to write lyrics and a vocal melody for it. It’s the only collaboration on the album and feels very strong.

At your recent London solo show, you confessed that you are still learning, what did you mean by that? 😉

You never stop learning, it’s part of the creative process. As an artist, you have endless possibilities to explore. I am very curious by nature and get really excited to learn new instruments and understand new technology. I can spend a whole week, night and day, reading the manual of a vintage drum machine. It’s very rewarding!

You continue to act and appeared in the DAF video for ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’, how was the experience?

Acting is my first love! I love the thrill of performing live more than anything in the world. It represents the essence of ‘Here & Now’! Being fully present! Being fully in the moment!
The exchange of energy you experience with a live audience could never be recorded and can never be twice the same. Being on stage is like an intensified version of life. Pure adrenaline.

It was great fun to appear in the DAF video, sadly I didn’t get to meet the band as our shooting dates were different. Obviously playing a Dominatrix in a DAF video is a job to kill for and I’m very happy they offered me the part!

You have an interesting story about how you met Bernard Sumner for the first time in London?

Ahaha yes, it was a long time ago and a bit too personal to share here. It was a beautiful chance meeting which I will never forget, somewhere near Tottenham Court Road. We ended up in the club Heaven, definitely a night to remember.

What are you own career highlights so far, whether solo or with NOBLESSE OBLIGE?

My solo career is still young but playing in South Africa was an incredible experience, the crowd was so beautiful and loving. Pop Kultur Festival in Berlin was very rewarding too. More recently my concert at Stockholm Museum of Modern Art was very special.

Sebastian and I made music and performed live around the world for about 13 years. We released four full length studio albums (about 50 songs), many remixes and cover songs as well. Our creative process was very personal and intimate, we never worked with a producer.

It was just the two of us. It is only natural that at some point, we felt like trying something different.

The highlights of NOBLESSE OBLIGE probably are receiving the Steppenwolf (Journalists’ Choice Awards) in Moscow from Artemy Troitsky (the Russian John Peel) and the concerts we played in Brazil.

Sebastian and I remain very supportive of each other’s work. We are scheduled to play a double bill concert with DIE WILDE JAGD (his new project) and myself solo at HAU2 Hebbel Am Ufer Berlin as soon as the Coronavirus bans are lifted.

We have also been booked for a NOBLESSE OBLIGE concert in Portugal in the autumn. Future live dates are uncertain at the moment due to the restrictions, but I’m hopeful we’ll get through this crisis soon, stronger and wiser.

So what are your future plans in music?

I am happy to release a new video for my song ‘Melancholia’. The style of it is very different to my other videos. It’s a hand held camera, one take, no editing, video. It creates a dreamy, almost surreal quality which adds to the ethereal atmosphere of the track sung in French.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Valerie Renay

‘Your Own Shadow’ is available as a download direct from https://valerierenay.bandcamp.com/







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
23rd March 2020


2018 saw Jean Michel Jarre celebrate 50 years in the business and whether the world really needed another of his compilations, ‘Planet Jarre’ was probably one of the better collected representations of his work for casual admirers.

But not standing still and releasing his fourth new album in three years, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ continued the story as the French Maestro tuned 70.

SOFT CELL made a totally unexpected return for a huge one-off farewell gig at London’s O2 Arena; and with it came a boxed set, the ‘Northern Lights’ single and other new recordings which have raised hopes for a new album.

From the same era, FIAT LUX announced plans for their debut album ‘Save Symmetry’ with an excellent lead track ‘It’s You’, while B-MOVIE came up with their most synth-propelled single yet in ‘Stalingrad’.

But one act who actually did comeback with a brand new album in 2018 were DUBSTAR; now a duo of Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie, as ‘One’ they reminded audiences as to why they were the acceptable face of Britpop with their bridge to Synth Britannia.

IONNALEE finally released her debut opus ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ and her tour which included choice cuts from IAMAMIWHOAMI, proved to be one of the best value-for-money live experiences in 2018, one that was even endorsed by Welsh songstress Charlotte Church.

CHVRCHES offered up their third album ‘Love Is Dead’ and continued their role as international flagwavers for quality synthpop, while EMIKA presented her best album yet in ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, an exquisite electronic record with a Bohemian aura.

JOHN GRANT was on an artistic roll both solo and in partnership with WRANGLER as CREEP SHOW with two new albums. However, he was beaten by Neil Arthur who managed three albums over a 12 month period as NEAR FUTURE and BLANCMANGE including ‘Wanderlust’, possibly the latter’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation.

It was a busy year for Steve Jansen with a new solo ambient work ‘Corridor’, the well-received vinyl reissue of JAPAN’s two Virgin-era studio albums and his epic, more organically flavoured band project EXIT NORTH with their debut long player ‘Book Of Romance & Dust’.

Sarah Nixey went on some ‘Night Walks’ for her best solo album yet, a wonderful collection of everything she had ever been musically all wonderfully rolled into one.

Meanwhile Tracey Thorn went back to the ‘Dancefloor’ with her ‘Record’ which content wise was right up there with some of Alison Moyet’s electronica output from the last five years.

Those who liked their electronic music darker were well served with NINE INCH NAILS, IAMX, KIRLIAN CAMERA and HELIX, but after experimenting with the single only format for a few years, Daniel Graves announced he was taking the plunge again with a new AESTHETIC PERFECTION album.

The Sacred Bones stable provided some quality releases from Hilary Woods, Zola Jesus and John Carpenter. Meanwhile, providing some fierce socio-political commentary on the state of the UK was GAZELLE TWIN.

Hungary’s BLACK NAIL CABARET offered some noirish ‘Pseudopop’ and promising Norwich youngsters LET’S EAT GRANDMA got more deeply into electronica without losing any of their angsty teenage exuberance on their second album ‘I’m All Ears’.

Less intense and more dreamy were GLASSHOUSE, the new duo fronted by former TECHNIQUE singer Xan Tyler.

Aussies CONFIDENCE MAN provided some wacky dancey glitz to the pop world and after nearly four decades in the business, Canadian trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH finally played their first ever concert in London at ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’ alongside dark wave compatriots PSYCHE and Numan-influenced Swedish poptronica exponents PAGE.

Sweden was again highly productive with Karin Park, Johan Baeckstrom and Val Solo while Norway took their own approach with FARAOSOFT AS SNOW and ELECTRO SPECTRE setting their standard. Veteran Deutschlanders THE TWINS and PETER HEPPNER returned with new albums after notable recorded absences while next door in Belgium, METROLAND presented themselves as ‘Men In A Frame’.

While the new HEAVEN 17 album ‘Not For Public Broadcast’ is still to be finished, Glenn Gregory teamed by with live keyboardist Berenice Scott as AFTERHERE. Their long-time friend Claudia Brücken performed as xPROPAGANDA with Susanne Freytag and partnered up with one-time TANGERINE DREAM member Jerome Froese, releasing the ‘Beginn’ album in the process.

It was a year of interesting collaborations all-round with UNDERWORLD working with Iggy Pop, U96 linking up with Wolfgang Flür for an excellent single called ‘Zukunftsmusik’ and German techno pioneer Chris Liebing recruiting Polly Scattergood and Gary Numan for his Mute released album ‘Burn Slow’.

Based in Berlin, THE KVB offered up some brooding gothic moods with ‘Only Now Forever’ while Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE released her first solo album ‘Your Own Shadow’.

Highly appealing were a number of quirky Japanese influenced female artists from around the globe including COMPUTER MAGIC, MECHA MAIKO and PLASMIC. But there were also a number of acts with Far Eastern heritage like STOLEN, FIFI RONG, DISQO VOLANTE and SHOOK who continued to make a worthy impression with their recorded output in 2018.

Heavy synth rock duo NIGHT CLUB presented their ‘Scary World’ on the back of tours opening for COMBICHRIST and A PERFECT CIRCLE while also from across the pond, NYXX and SINOSA both showcased their alluring potential.

At the poppier end of the spectrum, Holger Wobker used Pledge Music to relaunch BOYTRONIC with their most recent vocal incumbent James Knights in an unexpected twist to once again prove the old adage to “never say never” as far as the music industry is concerned.

Meanwhile, Chris Payne co-wrote and co-produced the excellent ‘Walking In West Berlin’ EP with KATJA VON KASSEL while also revealing plans for an autobiography and opening for his old boss…

The surprise album of the year was Chris Catrer with his ‘Chemistry Lessons Volume One’ while using a not dissimilar concept with their second album ‘Hello Science’, REED & CAROLINE took their folk laden synthpop out on a US tour opening for ERASURE.

IMMERSION provided a new collection of their modern Motorik as SHRIEKBACK, FISCHERSPOONER, THE PRESETS, HEARTBREAK and QUEEN OF HEARTS all made comebacks of varying degrees with audiences still eager for their work.

Steven Jones & Logan Sky harked back to the days when Gary Numan and OMD would release two albums in one year by offering ‘Hans Und Lieselotte’ and ‘The Electric Eye’ in 2016. Those veteran acts themselves celebrated their 40th anniversaries by going orchestral, something which SIMPLE MINDS also did when they opted to re-record ‘Alive & Kicking’ for the ’80s Symphonic’ collection although Jim Kerr forgot how a third of the song went!

With SIMPLE MINDS also performing a horrible and barely recognisable ‘Promised You A Miracle’ during BBC’s ‘The Biggest Weekend’, making up for the live joke that his former band have become was one-time bassist Derek Forbes with the album ‘Broken Hearted City’ as ZANTi with Anni Hogan of MARC & THE MAMBAS fame.

Other former members of high-profile bands were busy too with Ian Burden, formally of THE HUMAN LEAGUE returning with the Floydian ‘Hey Hey Ho Hum’ while A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS reformed briefly for an orchestral re-run of their catalogue.

With the release of their second album ‘Kinetik’, EKKOES handed over THE HUMAN LEAGUE support baton to SHELTER who came up with their best body of work yet in the more introspective shades of ‘Soar’

That darker approach manifested itself on singer Mark Bebb’s side project FORM with Keith Trigwell of SPEAK & SPELL whose debut long player ‘defiance + entropy’ also came out in 2018.

Having been championed by RÖYSKSOPP, Wales’ MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY returned with ‘Infinity Mirror’ while riding on the well-deserved momentum from opening for OMD, Ireland’s TINY MAGNETIC PETS embarked on their first headlining tour.

Representing North of the border were Ryan Vail and HANNAH PEEL, but hailing from Scotland were WITCH OF THE VALE who proved to be one of the most interesting new acts of 2018 having supported ASSEMBLAGE 23 on their most recent UK visit. There was a good showing from UK acts in 2018 with RODNEY CROMWELL, ANI GLASS, THE FRIXION and FAKE TEAK all issuing some excellent synth tinged songs for public consumption.

NINA’s long awaited debut album ‘Sleepwalking’ was a fine hybrid of synthpop and the currently fashionable Synthwave aesthetic; her live double billing with Canadian synthpopsters PARALLELS was one of the hottest tickets of the year.

The sub-genre was indeed making waves and there were some very enjoyable artists coming out of it like GUNSHIP, Dana Jean Phoenix and Michael Oakley.

However, the endless AOR excesses, moonlight sax breaks and highly unimaginative band monikers using numbers between 80 to 89 affixed to an archaic technology reference, illustrated by yet another neon sunset, VCR grid and Lamborghini, were becoming tiresome.

As Synthwave cynics, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s touch paper was being lit big time! The whole point of the synthesizer’s role during the Second British Invasion of the US was to fight against the insipid overtures of AOR like TOTO, CHICAGO and JOURNEY, NOT to make music coated with its horrid stench as THE MIDNIGHT did in 2018 with their long player ‘Kids’.

But there was naivety within some quarters too; electronic music did not begin in 2011 with ‘Drive’, an above average film with a good if slightly over rated soundtrack. However, its cultural influence has led to a plethora of meandering tracks made by gamer boys which sounded like someone had forgotten to sing on them; perhaps they should have gone back to 1978 and listened to GIORGIO MORODER’s ‘Midnight Express Theme’ to find out how this type of instrumental music should be done?

Many of the newer artists influenced by Synth Britannia that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has featured have sometimes been accused of being stuck in the past, but a fair number of Synthwave acts were really taking the soggy biscuit with their retro-obsession.

Rock band MUSE’s use of glowing artwork by Kyle Lambert of ‘Stranger Things’ fame on their eighth album ‘Simulation Theory’ sent sections of the Synthwave community into meltdown. There were cries that they had “stolen the aesthetics and concept” and how “it’s not relevant to their sound”!

But WHAM! had Peter Saville designed sleeves and never sounded like NEW ORDER or OMD, while electropop diva LA ROUX used a visual stylisation for ‘In For The Kill’ that has since been claimed by Synthwavers as their own, despite it being from 2009 when Ryan Gosling was peddling graveyard indie rock in DEAD MAN’S BONES 😉

This was one of the bigger ironies of 2018, especially as MUSE have always used synths! One of Matt Bellamy and co’s biggest musical inspirations is ULTRAVOX, indicating the trio probably have a better understanding of the fusion between the synthesizer, rock and classical music, as proven by the ‘Simulation Theory’ bookends ‘Algorithm’ and ‘The Void’, than any static laptop exponent with a Jan Hammer fixation.

It is interesting to note today how electronic music has split into so many factions, but there’s still the assumed generalisation that it is all one thing and that synthpop fans must also like Synthwave, Deep House, EDM, Industrial and those tedious beach chill-out remixes.

Back in the day and even now, some fans of THE HUMAN LEAGUE didn’t like OMD, DEPECHE MODE fans only liked DEPECHE MODE and rock fans had a token favourite electronic band.

Out of all the acts from the Synth Britannia era, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had very little time for THOMPSON TWINS despite their huge international success, but their leader Tom Bailey’s 2018 solo recorded return ‘Science Fiction’ was warmly received by many.

Just as COLDPLAY and SNOW PATROL fans don’t all embrace ELBOW, it is ok to have preferences and to say so. Not liking the music of an artist does not make you a bad person, but liking everything does not make you a better person either… in fact, it shows you probably have no discerning taste! In 2002, SOFT CELL warned of a ‘Monoculture’, and if there is no taste differentiation in art and music, it will spell the end of cultural enhancement.

Taste is always the key, but then not everyone who loves chocolate likes Hersheys… and with that analogy, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK bids farewell to 2018 and looks forward to a 2019 that includes the return of TEARS FOR FEARS and the first full live shows from Giorgio Moroder, plus new releases by VILE ELECTRODESKITE, VILLA NAH, I AM SNOW ANGEL and LADYTRON.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2018


Best Album: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Infinity Mirror
Best Song: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette
Best Gig: TANGERINE DREAM at London Union Chapel
Best Video: THE SOFT MOON Give Something
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


Best Album: BLANCMANGE Wanderlust
Best Song: ELECTRO SPECTRE The Way You Love
Best Gig: OMD at Glasgow Kelvingrove Park
Best Video: NYXX Voodoo
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


Best Album: DUBSTAR One
Best Song: PAGE Start (Poptronica Version)
Best Gig: DIE KRUPPS + FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY at O2 Academy Islington
Best Video: FIFI RONG Horizon
Most Promising New Act: ZANTi


Best Album: EMIKA Falling In Love With Sadness
Best Song: FIAT LUX It’s You
Best Gig: SOFT CELL at London O2 Arena
Best Video: FAKE TEAK Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


Best Album: GUNSHIP Dark All Day
Best Song: SHELTER Karma
Best Gig: IAMX at London Electric Ballroom
Best Video: JUNO REACTOR Let’s Turn On
Most Promising New Act: MECHA MAIKO

Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th December 2018


When Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE decides to release a solo project, she creates “music for fast moving clouds”.

Conceived in a moment of deep transition, ‘Your Own Shadow’ is an amalgamation of organically developed raw sounds, haunting vocals and tribal inserts, enveloped in delicious synth and simplistic melodies.

NOBLESSE OBLIGE’s last album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ in 2013 featured a stark funereal cover of ‘Hotel California’, while the duo also opened for IAMX and were championed by Mark Reeder.

Whilst walking the path alone can be challenging, Renay rises to the occasion with innate power and the need to discover her real self: “The desire to explore my own limits and share intimate sensations motivated me to write these songs. I started this solo project to exorcise private demons. Writing songs alone is such a beautiful but lonely path, you are faced with yourself, your own fear, your own doubts but also the incredible feeling that everything is possible and options are endless. The choice is yours, you’re the pilot flying that plane. I needed to get those songs out of my system because they inhabited me like unresolved, fragile tales that I wanted to share, to understand better who I am.”

The exhilarating ‘Speed Of Blue’ was penned by Ian Pickering of SNEAKER PIMPS and Renay delivers it with a poise and passion, which bubbles underneath, waiting to be expelled. Her vocal, styled on that of Ian Curtis brings gloom and hope at the same time, while ‘Sailor’ soothes with its bluesy textures à la John Fryer on his BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project.

‘Hollow’ releases deep sadness, in keeping with ‘Darkest Lake’, where deeply hidden vulnerabilities come to the surface. This closing song is beautifully ethereal and delicate, floating lightly with the unlimited weightlessness of filmic qualities.

In contrast, ‘Kick Again’ and ‘Rough & Ready’ border on rebellious harshness, which suits Renay’s love affair with extremities. ‘Melancholia’ is poetically bare and delivered with minimalistic messages in French, where the choice of tongue adds to the romantic feel of the finished product.

A very different proposition from her work with NOBLESSE OBLIGE, Renay’s first solo product is amazingly fluid and harmonious.

“‘Your Own Shadow’, the title of the album refers to the feeling you have when you don’t recognise yourself anymore because you are made to feel small, insignificant, empty and lost” she said, “You know this is not the real you… Somewhere the real you still has fire and power but your very existence feels so meaningless. You forget how to be standing on your own two feet.”

With this opus, Valerie Renay definitely stands on her own two feet with a triumphant message of sensually charged, cinematic deliveries superbly put together and executed. Way to go!

‘Your Own Shadow’ is available direct from https://valerierenay.bandcamp.com/

VALERIE RENAY plays The Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DX on Friday 15th November 2019





Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
20th September 2018, updated 13th October 2019


NOBLESSE OBLIGE are French theatrical performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp, who released their debut album ‘Privilege Entails Responsibility’ in 2006.

Their name is French for “nobility obliges” and basing themselves in Berlin from 2008, the duo issued two further albums ‘In Exile’ and ‘Malady’. MARK REEDER loved their track ‘Duel’ from the former and included his Shot At the Crack of Dawn Remix on the 2011 ‘Five Point One’ collection alongside his reworks of highly regarded luminaries such as DEPECHE MODE and JOHN FOXX.

Around this time, NOBLESSE OBLIGE came to the attention of Chris Corner who invited them to support IAMX on the European leg of the ‘Volatile Times’ tour. Their abstract Weimer cabaret combined with a dose of electro Chanson impressed and this month sees the release of their fourth album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ recorded at Corner’s countryside studio near Berlin. Renay and Philipp have said the long player is “a romantic journey in the classic sense of the term. Our study of human passion from its most uplifting to its gloomiest…”

It all harks back to a time when EURYTHMICS actually meant “European rhythms” and not “sell out to the ‘States”. The lead single from the album ‘Runaway’ is a superb electronic ditty complimented by Renay and Philipp harmonising over Eurodisco arpeggios and danceable beats recalling ‘Some Great Reward’ era DEPECHE MODE. And to contuine the IAMX connection further, its accompanying video has been directed by Chris Corner…

‘Affair Of The Heart’ features several other highlights which combine the artful romantic sensibilites of HURTS and VISAGE with the sinister ambiguous sexual overtones of SOFT CELL.

New single ‘Mata Hari’ captures this tension marvellously by telling the story of the Dutch exotic dancer and femme fatale who was accused of spying for Germany during the First World War and subsequently executed by the French.

Meanwhile, ‘Burn’ with its pulsing synths and uptempo clattering percussion sees Renay vocalise in a higher register to provide a eurphoric lift to a track that will undoubtely go down well at Gothic discos.

‘Break Your Heart’ is a close relative to ‘Runaway’ but while not quite hitting the same heights, is just as enjoyable. ‘Vagabonde’ is more minimal and squelchy though but full of Gallic charm as Renay sexily oozes in her mother tongue.

It’s not all dancefloor material though as ‘Chasing Shadows’ explores more organic textures in more esoteric surroundings. And if that wasn’t enough, there is NOBLESSE OBLIGE’s funereal deadpan cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ in which the chilling subtext of the lyrics is now fully enhanced to its murderous conclusion!

With this latest opus, NOBLESSE OBLIGE “hope that this energy and emotion are felt by the outsiders, and will entice them into our world”. Despite a second half lull, ‘Affair Of The Heart’ certainly is as accessible and accomplished as any of the impressive electronic based albums that have appeared in 2013.

‘Affair Of The Heart’ is released by Repo Records on 24th May 2013 as a CD and download




Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd May 2013