THE REMAINDER are an electronic trio comprising Neil Arthur (vocals, guitar + synthesizers), Liam Hutton (drums, guitar + synthesizers) and Finlay Shakespeare (synthesizers + vocals).

The credentials of Neil Arthur and his work in BLANCMAGE are well documented, but Liam Hutton has a portfolio that includes Neneh Cherry while Finlay Shakespeare is an artist in his own right who also builds synths via his Future Sound Systems.

THE REMAINDER recently released debut album ‘Evensong’ has been many years in the making. Although both Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare are recurring members of the BLANCMANGE live family, the project began before either was involved in the headline act.

The sound of THE REMAINDER is crisp yet hazy, with Arthur relinquishing total control and relishing in the altered dynamic coming from two younger and very capable collaborators, as he has done previous in his other side-projects NEAR FUTURE, FADER and KINCAID.

‘Evensong’ is an immediately enjoyable affair that sits nicely in the wider Neil Arthur canon. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had the pleasure of a three-way online chat with Neil Arthur, Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare to discuss THE REMAINDER and its creative dynamic.

How did the idea of actually writing and producing music together come about, as opposed to just performing together?

Neil: Liam and I started work on the album in 2015, shortly after my manager Steve Malins introduced us. It wasn’t until a few years later that Liam joined BLANCMANGE on tour. We asked Finlay if he’d like to get involved later still. When was that? At that point, although Finlay had been a special guest with us, he hadn’t played with the Blancs.

Finlay: It was 10th November 2018 backstage at The Cluny, Newcastle!

Were the bones of the songs written together or by necessity due to your schedules, THE REMAINDER needed to a remote project?

Neil: Liam sent me his ideas electronically and I responded likewise. In fits and starts, eventually we had a body of work that we presented to Finlay to let his machines loose on. It was only then that we realised, “oh, we’ve got an album’s worth of noise here”. I think Liam and I got together in person only once before finally we went to join Finlay at his studio to fine-tune and mix the album.

Finlay: COVID didn’t help. I remember the dates of the mix session being set quite precariously, and a lot of my dabbling with the projects beforehand had to be done remotely anyway.

Did you set out any rules or restrictions in the way the music was constructed to set THE REMAINDER apart from your other work?

Neil: No, I think the three of us would hopefully be able create something uniquely different in the way each of us reacted to information / music / files / suggestion we in turn received from one another. A mutualistic 3 way symbiosis I reckon.

Finlay: Not strictly, but I remember using the opportunity to try some new techniques out. There’s a moment where a keyboard got played with my feet in ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’!

Was there anything that was applied more consciously, like for example live drum feels?

Liam: The decision to add live drums was definitely a ‘conscious’ one. All of the tracks began with programmed drums but ‘Evensong’ and ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ just felt like they needed that extra punch!

The ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ title has a goth rock air about it and that comes across in the music?

Neil: Oh, I hadn’t clocked that.

The ‘Evensong’ title track has this motorik backbone, how did that piece itself together and what influences went into the pot?

Neil: There was an intention to attempt towards that motorik drive, with NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF being a reference to an extent.

Finlay: With the drum machine stem being sent over, I remember going straight for the sequencers at the studio, sending clock to as much stuff simultaneously as I could, then tweaking everything with each pass. Haswell’s Taiko, ARP 2600 clones, MS20, plenty of fun. That rigidly clocked feel definitely helps the motorik aspect.

Liam: I think we all had our eyes / ears on similar influences for this one! KRAFTWERK, CAN, NEU! et al. The idea started with the repetitive arpeggio played on an electric guitar, using that muted-harmonics technique everyone does when they first start learning to play. Then the drums were added at first using a Korg Vulca Beats which is quite a rudimentary but a fun little drum sequencer, and bass notes programmed on a computer. Neil then added vocals and synths and it took shape from there, going to Finlay for some grit and character!

The album opener ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ has this LCD SOUNDSYSTEM vibe, any thoughts?

Neil: Well, if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words “LCD SOUNDSYSTEM” most of the way through the song. Maybe that’s got something to do with it. Subliminal suggestion. I can’t remember how I came to be singing that. Local amnesia possibly…

Finlay: The finger clicks and hand claps are pure Bowie, make of that what you will…

Was ‘Lift Music’ a track born out of frustration?

Neil: Lyrically, more monotonous repetition – hotels on tour. Forgetting where you are because once you’re in there, it may as well be anywhere or nowhere. Then there’s another level, get it? Lift music, to keep you calm in a small space. People get paid to curate a setlist of songs for lift travel. I want that job. CCTV watching your every move. Repeat and repeat.

Liam: I was messing around with the Ableton Looper and ended up making that sort of distorted, stuttery synth sound which you hear throughout. It has a sort of frustrated / anxious feel to it which wasn’t intentional, but it definitely informed the rest of the ideas that came after.

‘What Do You Want To Want’ asks existential questions?

Neil: Yes.

Jo Hutton provides electro-acoustic interludes between all the tracks on ‘Evensong’? How did that come about?

Liam: It was suggested that my Mum, being a sound artist / experimentalist and sound engineer, should make some interludes and she gladly obliged! She used the stems from each track to create their respective interludes.

Will THE REMAINDER perform live or will it be more likely that the occasional song might pop into the BLANCMANGE live set?

Finlay: We’d love to do it, it’s just a case of getting our heads together and existing in the same room for more than 20 minutes! It’s also a case of getting booked, though we could always do a small DIY tour. Tiny venues, 20 people, dancing shoes, job’s a good’un.

Liam: I hope so!

What is next for you each?

Neil: More recording, then a break before festivals in Europe.

Finlay: A studio move-out, then a potential studio build. A new album’s finished though, set for release in 2024.

Liam: Recording and touring mainly. Hoping to finish some new music before the year is up…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to THE REMAINDER

Special thanks to Steve Malins at Random Music Management

‘Evensong’ is released by Blanc Check Ltd as a clear vinyl LP, CD + digital download, available from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29 July 2023