Arty dark synth duo WE ARE REPLICA are back with a new video for the song ‘Miami’, a highlight from their debut long player ‘Cleared Vision’.
“After the music was written and recorded I thought it sounded like Miami and improvised the first verse whereas the other verses came together the day after”, said Martin Kinz, the German half of WE ARE REPLICA about the song, “There is no particular meaning to the words. It’s all about matching sentences, that eventually become poetry. The chorus was written a bit later, and has more of a message, as in ‘every day’s a holiday’ is a state you can choose, that’s why we go on to ‘choose to go Miami’”.
“We wanted to show the apparent fake of a place like Miami, designing a set to create an atmosphere with plastic which represents the vibe of this kind of world” recalled Nadège Préaudat in her deep Gallic tones, “It could be found in many places but Miami sounded like a good example for this stereotype.”
“We wear masks and similar outfits to show the lack of individuality where everyone in society has to fit in. The real paradise that Miami is in many people’s minds is projected into a safe with a poison apple.” she clarified on the concept of the striking visual accompaniment, “Like the words of the song, the video is very abstract and we did not want to tell a story, so the viewer or listener can create their own meaning. The use of hands signifies the obstacles that we come across in day to day life. We finally face the truth by washing off the masks.”
Sharing the vocals, ‘Miami’ is musically a mix of post punk and pop with a rather suitable psychedelic influence. to confirm Kinz’s analysis that “our sense of reality is only in our heads”.
“The shoot was very DIY and the shots really came about quite organically. My take on the song is that it’s quite nonsensical in a way, but it’s like Miami becomes this fantasy place” director Tamsin Kavanagh remembered on the realisation of the video, “Thanks to Jorge’s amazing make up, and Ieva’s styling, Mart and Nadège became a bit like two aliens to me, that seem a bit out of place in the world, but then really come alive in the inner world, so the contrast between these two felt important.”
It proved to be an interesting experience technically for Cavanagh too: “All of the outside shots are quite smooth – shot with a stabiliser, and there is not a lot of movement. But then the inside shots (made possible by The Steamship PS allowing us to use their amazing space), that were shot in the basement, is where they really come alive, and I shot a lot of these with no stabiliser to accentuate that sense of dynamism and letting go. Similarly with the lighting – outside we made use of the natural lighting, which was quite stark compared with the colour gels I used inside- so it was a contrast between cold and warm, static and dynamic.”
It was something of a sign for 2020 when WE ARE REPLICA’s first attempt at a full length album was lost when a feral cat got into their studio over the New Year holidays and urinated all over their computer!
But the London-based Franco German dark synth duo of Nadège Préaudat and Martin Kinz soldiered on and now have ‘Cleared Vision’.
“We always liked heavy music as much as electronic music and therefore often use synths like electric guitars” said Kinz while Préaudat affirmed “That helps to capture emotions in its rawest state”.
So it is something of a pleasant surprise amongst all the intensity from life in isolation during a difficult 2020, WE ARE REPLICA have introduced an enchanting avant pop element to their sound. With a muted down aggression towards the mindset that the album’s title suggests, is this possibly some optimism finding its way in through the back door?
‘Only The Best’ brings in some piercing noise but there is a refinement to provide some accessible punky synth. ‘Miami’ though unexpectedly offers a comparatively sunny disposition with Kinz almost perky like a German Eno, although Préaudat offsets all that but even she sounds less intense compared to WE ARE REPLICA’s previous work.
‘Sanitize Me’ is kind of business as usual though and will connect with anyone affected by the lockdown. It may be a bit too close to home, but it is an honest statement and Préaudat is still strangely sexy despite the doom and gloom. Some relief comes from a delightful closing section of cascading keys.
Previous singles ‘Parallele Universen’ and ‘Angel’ feature lyrics in German and French respectively as a homage to Neue Deutsche Welle and French New Wave. But the language is no barrier, acting more like additional instrumental elements.
‘Parallele Universen’ nods towards Robert Görl and sees Kinz in previously unheard territory actually singing. Meanwhile despite the sinister discomfort of ‘Angel’, Préaudat is wonderfully alluring with her deep Gallic tongue. Like Siamese Twins thanks to their common concept, they are separated by the brooding ‘Opus 5’ which is more abstract like a schizophrenic gothic art piece.
Kinz and Préaudat have a deadpan exchange on the creepy and monotone ‘For Whom The Dove Cried’ for the most foreboding and experimental track on ‘Cleared Vision’, before the mantric drone-laden ‘Isolated Star’ screeches with sharp synth lines and a steadfast rhythmic lattice over a concluding eight minutes.
Heavy music for heavy times, ‘Cleared Vision’ is like life, up and down and up before descending into a mental breakdown after a pop focussed start.
This album won’t be for everyone but in its enigmatic expression and artful sound sculpture, it reflects our strange dark times. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but whether that light is an escape the other side or a truck heading towards you is another story!
WE ARE REPLICA present an uncomfortable if slightly alluring visual accompaniment for their song ‘Angel’.
The London-based Franco German dark synth duo of Nadège Préaudat and Martin Kinz have always been into the idea of translating the intensity of the world into music. “That helps to capture emotions in its rawest state” said Préaudat while Kinz added “We always liked heavy music as much as electronic music and therefore often use synths like electric guitars.”
From the unforgiving electronic post punk twins recently released EP ‘Parallel Angels’, ‘Angel’ is a homage to French New Wave and features Préaudat on lead vocals in her native tongue. “I always found that voice is just another instrument” she said, “Listen to a song in a different language you don’t understand. It becomes an instrument.”
The video directed by LUXXXER is art reflecting life and the state of not just the nation, but the entire world. Having lost her mind, Préaudat is sectioned and a patient in a new dimension, yet in her confinement, bound in a straitjacket, she is disturbingly sexy. Meanwhile Kinz is an angel who maintains a sinister voyeurism as he watches her bathe… but of what kind of angel? As Préaudat stares into a crystal ball, is she foreseeing her fate?
The ‘Angel’ audio visual presentation is a powerful statement. “What I like in art and music is the atmosphere and feeling” added Préaudat, “Therefore I always try to replicate that in my life using music, art as well as fashion to express myself.”
Reflecting his musical partner’s ethos, Kinz affirmed “I generally find bands with a strong image more interesting than those that don’t care about that. And in our case there is a lot more to come in that respect. No boundaries!”
WE ARE REPLICA’s debut album is currently being mixed again following the first attempt being lost when a feral cat got into their studio over the New Year holidays and urinated all over their computer!
A pair of unforgiving electronic post punk twins, London-based Franco German dark synth duo WE ARE REPLICA are resilient and determined if nothing else.
Comprising of Nadège Préaudat and Martin Kinz, after mixing their debut long player, a feral cat got into their studio over the New Year holidays and urinated all over their computer.
Luckily, they had not lost any of their recorded material and after the replacement of the motherboard and sorting some software compatability issues, they were able to get back on track and mix their album again.
With a captivating live presentation that can come over like one heavy aural barrage, WE ARE REPLICA will not be an immediate proposition to some, but others will find their experimental Pan-European approach and sado-masochistic presence strangely appealing. The unbelievably photogenic Préaudat acts as the alluring bohemian seductress with the deep Gallic utterances in contrast to Kinz’s more mysterious but powerful supernatural persona.
Having released three singles ‘Africa’, ‘Angel’ and ‘Parallele Universen’ in almost as many weeks, WE ARE REPLICA kindly spoke about their own artistic brand of erotic deviance…
There is an intensity to WE ARE REPLICA, where does this come from?
Nadège: We are translating the intensity of the world into music and we like the energy of punk and that helps to capture emotions in its rawest state.
Martin: We always liked heavy music as much as electronic music and therefore often use synths like electric guitars.
Nadège: We really like using layers of sound effects in our music…
Martin: …and that makes it a very dense sound.
How did WE ARE REPLICA come into being as a distinct artistic entity?
Martin: We met outside of my studio in Cable Street which was then a vibrant place at night. There was a gathering with drinks and we were introduced. After hanging out for a while, we decided to start a band, so we checked out each other’s art and music the same night.
Do you have any common musical interests with bands you like?
Nadège: Yes sure, we like the same kind of sound but we like to be surprised how different influences come together in one. I personally never had the intention to sound like someone I heard. I am also not into covers for example. I am more instinctive about what I create.
Martin: On the contrary, I take more direct inspiration from what I heard in the past. That ranges from PINK FLOYD via ULTRAVOX to NINE INCH NAILS but that’s just three names among many.
But then how do you use your differences in the creative process?
Nadège: We fight!
Martin: Yes. The arena is open and we are the gladiators! Haha… to be honest, our ways are not so different and it all just comes together in the process.
So what would be your creative dynamic?
Nadège: We both agree on a beat and then take turns adding the other instruments which is in agreement with the other one normally.
Martin: That’s why we never have one writer for a song. Whoever comes up with the first chords doesn’t matter as the sound really is the main thing and shapes the composition.
How do your other artistic interests influence WE ARE REPLICA?
Nadège: What I like in art and music is the atmosphere and feeling. Therefore I always try to replicate that in my life using music, art as well as fashion to express myself.
Martin: I think what Nadège says about art, fashion and music is true because they’re all part of the same sub culture. I generally find bands with a strong image more interesting than those that don’t care about that. And in our case there is a lot more to come in that respect. No boundaries!
Your stage set-up facing each other while sideways on to the audience is interesting, how did this emerge?
Martin: Our studio is very long and narrow and we had some friends over for our first test gig.
Nadège: … and the only way that they could see both of us was us facing each other. But it also has the same impact as being in a circle which is good for creativity, communication and connection.
Martin: That’s right, but we also like to dress up on stage and hiding two thirds of us behind synthesizers doesn’t help that purpose. But then, even the synths are much better to see for the audience which would definitely matter to me if I was in the crowd.
What synths and keyboards are you each using and what do you like about their functionality?
Martin: For our live rig, we use a Korg Micro-Preset which is our main bass. Then there’s a Korg Monologue and a Korg Volca FM (which is like a DX7) for the leads and a Casiotone MT-100 that we use as an organ. Now we’ve added three Volcas to be sequenced via MIDI, the models are Kick, Sample and Bass at the moment.
Nadège: So we added a laptop to control all of that. This new set-up gives us the possibility to even loop certain sections and extend songs, change the filters and have a chance to improvise and be more in tune with the night’s vibe. Electro avant garde will be a strong new direction for us. Now our set up will give us the opportunity to alternate between our songs and jams.
We can even play little sequences from the Volcas between songs while we change settings on the rest. We now have very little backing tracks left, so in general this set up helps us to play most of it live and not use many backing tracks, even less than before. We are now working on a smaller set-up for gigs abroad so we only need to add MIDI keyboards locally.
Martin: Yes, travel light! In the studio we also use a Yamaha SK10 string synth, a Yamaha DX21, a broken Roland D-10 for very disturbing textures, an old Lowrey organ and a Korg DW but we clearly can’t put all of that on stage.
Nadège: … but maybe one day!
But how much of the recording actually ends up being “in the box” for practical reasons?
Nadège: In the studio it’s mostly drums, like 808 and 909 plug-ins. And we record our own samples by hitting objects to use as drums, noises etc and sample them.
Martin: We also sampled analogue drum sounds from the Casiotone and the Lowrey organ and edit them “in the box”. But 99% of our synths used in recordings are hardware.
From the ‘Emergency EP, ‘1. 2. Free’ plays with the repeat function and the steeped octave dial on the Korg Micro-Preset, was that in blippy homage to OMD’s ‘Messages’ and OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING’s ‘Lawnchairs’?
Nadège: By chance, we recorded one night on psychedelics and it just happened. It’s a really good technique.
Martin: I was aware of OMD doing that and I even told Nadège that night but how it came about I can’t remember. Funny enough, we even played this together.
WE ARE REPLICA abbreviated is WAR, do you feel you are fighting sometimes?
Nadège: Yes and we are in a war like time. It’s good to not forget that.
As Europeans living in London, how do you feel about how the city has changed while you have been here, for better or for worse?
Nadège: I feel thankful for where I am. The only thing I can change though is my direct environment. We couldn’t vote in the referendum or in general elections. But… changes are everywhere in the world and there’s more to come.
Martin: London’s changed a bit. But not as badly as the rest of England. We feel welcome here to be honest. Of course rents go up, people get poorer etc. but there’s a stronger sense of community than in many other cities.
On the new singles ‘Angel’ and ‘Parallele Universen’, they respectively feature lyrics in French and German, what inspired you to use your voices in your native tongues?
Martin: They represent where we come from and are a homage to French New Wave and Neue Deutsche Welle. Also we want to introduce more of that in our music in the future. But it’s nothing new as also ‘Non’ on our first EP is in French.
Nadège: I always found that voice is just another instrument. Listen to a song in a different language you don’t understand. It becomes an instrument. I would like to share this experience in my UK project.
Martin: British people are not that used to this. Growing up in Germany, I listened to English, French, Italian and Spanish songs that were in the charts, and I couldn’t understand most of it.
The previous single ‘Africa’ was interesting as it is has emerged as possibly one of your most accessible songs yet?
Martin: It actually sounded like two different songs at the start, I even sung the verses on the demos but Nadège’s vocals and the production magically glued it all together.
‘Create’ was a stand-out song from your earlier live set, how did this track come together?
Nadège: It’s about freedom of expression.
Martin: Nadège’s chorus adds this freedom to my personal journey in the verses. A great tune! Fun to play live.
You chose the song ‘B Baby’ from their your second EP ‘Emergency’ to make a video for, why did you decide on that one?
Martin: We asked Lefteris and Martine who filmed it which one they wanted and they chose that.
The video featured an interesting desolate backdrop, how was the filming and production?
Nadège: Thanks to a friend of ours, we could use an old factory before it was converted. We had a very short time slot to do it, before the builders came.
Martin: And the shots on Thames beach were on the hottest day of the year. I was melting in vinyl trousers!
Are there any more videos or visual presentations planned for the new material?
Nadège: Yes. We’ve got three film makers interested in doing them.
Martin: We need to get stuff sorted with them first and get it going. Finding the right time is always a bit hard. We’re planning videos for all three new singles.
Nadège, during the lockdown, you actually did a remote modelling session, how was that?
Nadège: I had to move the computer around a lot so the photographer on the other end could get different angles and lighting. It’s Pauline by the way, the same person that took the pictures for our current artworks.
Both of you have solo projects in parallel to WE ARE REPLICA, how are these developing?
Martin: MAHADURGA ENSEMBLE was my lockdown project that I posted as a work-in-progress on Soundcloud. I still have to properly release it. It gave me chance to try new things I never did before, sounds, playing techniques, new ways of sequencing etc… I will do more solo work in the future but the next one will again be completely different.
Nadège: My solo projects are using different platforms. Music is part of it as much as still and moving images. I always make sure I keep that going.
So what’s next for WE ARE REPLICA?
Martin: The three singles are part of an album that we’re due to release, along with remixes and the videos we mentioned.
Nadège: Even if it’s a bad time for that, we are looking forward to playing more gigs.
Martin: … especially abroad.
Nadège: We would also like to do more collaborations with artists and musicians as intended on our immersive e-Dada event which we cancelled just before lockdown.
Martin: Indeed. We try not to get sucked into album / tour routines too much but take things project by project.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to WE ARE REPLICA
2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.
While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business. That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic… MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again.
HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.
Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.
Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.
As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.
Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.
After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.
Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.
To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.
But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.
QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.
On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.
Photo by Johnny Jewel
Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour. Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.
Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.
Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.
The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.
Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.
However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths.
DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.
Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.
However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.
While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…
Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019. It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.
Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount. This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.
Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?
Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?
Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.
It’s a funny old world, but as ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever. It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.
So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after attending two of its live events: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”
May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2019