THE RUDE AWAKENING – Your Wetness is My Weakness

Sinful synth-fuelled pop

With a packed schedule of roles and projects, it’s a wonder that electronic musician, promoter and radio host Johnny Normal can find the time to add something new to the mix.

2017 saw the debut of his latest musical venture, titled The Rude Awakening. ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ emerged as an anthem for all those who have come under fire in life (and which also became one of TEC’s Songs Of The Year). Its defiant tones seems to be a timely response for a man who had battled some major hurdles in recent years (Johnny had spent much of 2014 hospitalised in a coma), but also reflected on the need for anyone to fight their corner.

The Rude Awakening also appeared to be shaping up as a venture not too dissimilar to ELYXR’s approach to musical collaborations. As with Kasson Crooker’s series of releases, Johnny Normal seems keen to bring onboard other talents from the electronic music scene to give each outing by The Rude Awakening a unique profile.

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For ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’, that meant Brooke Calder’s vocal skills was brought onboard. But for The Rude Awakening’s latest release, the talents of Bridget Gray (Destination) were employed.

‘Your Wetness is My Weakness’ is threaded with strong sexual themes – a 21st Century love song that explores the boundaries of relationships through role-play and fantasy. On that basis then, it’s perhaps not surprising that elements of the new tune seem to reflect some of the sleazy synth territory that Soft Cell managed to dominate in years past.

Certainly the lyrical content doesn’t seem to shy away from fairly blunt expressions of sexual abandon with Mr Normal painting a very explicit image (“Approaching me with confidence she kneels before my feet/And sucks me with an energy that makes me feel complete”). Meanwhile, there’s a sensual backing vocal element from Bridget Gray weaving in and out of a sultry electronic miasma.

The result is a sinful hymn on the pleasures of the flesh hammered out on leather-clad electronics. There’s also a suitably slick production care of both Johnny Normal and Mr Strange.

Along for the ride are some sterling remixes which take the song into new territories. This includes a typically brash Parralox reworking where the whole affair is given an engaging workout that suggests a combo of Giorgio Moroder and Pet Shop Boys.


Your Wetness is My Weakness is out now on Pink Dolphin Music. Available from iTunes, Amazon and most digital outlets.

The Rude Awakening will be performing live at the forthcoming Synthetic City Reloaded event at The Water Rats, Kings Cross London on 22nd September. Also at Massive Ego & Friends on 15th December at Water Rats (full details on the TEC Calendar page).


Echoes of Electronica Event at The Flapper, Birmingham

An evening that’s Fast-paced, fun, celebratory, emotional… and everything in-between

Walking through the heart of Birmingham’s vibrant Canal network – there’s a biting chill now present in the early evening air, yet our welcome at one of the city’s most iconic venues – The Flapper – couldn’t have been warmer. Tonight, the venue plays host to the Echoes of Electronica event, featuring Def Neon, Johnny Normal (of Synthetic Sunday radio show fame), topped off nicely with headliners, and Birmingham’s very own, Among the Echoes (ATE) whom are all set and ready to induct new followers into their very own granite-edged blend of electro-synth rock.

Back Through Time

While tonight’s proposed soundtrack delivers heavily laden journeys that merge into the darker edges of the earth, it also brings with it a different kind of weight. It comes in the form of what will be a heavy heart for many – attributed only to the limited life-span of the pub and the current plans to replace it with a modern 66-flat apartment building.

On entering The Flapper, one cannot help but embrace an almost living, breathing, treasure trove of memories. Such historical significance had long manifested the heart and soul of what we have come to identify as the dynamic live music scene, that Birmingham in particular, has always been noted for.

It’s implied that the venue itself was born in 1968 and that it became a hub for live music some 25 years ago. The bar area is adorned with posters of music icons from eons gone by. Combine such ambience with the gritty live room located downstairs, and you start to feel the warmth in the textures of that grainy mental picture. The Flapper is where many a band first rested their foot atop a stage monitor and hailed dedicated music fans to follow their progress up and through the ranks. They were made here, cutting their teeth, honing their skills while making a huge contribution to what has made Birmingham so relevant today – you only have to delve back through musical history in order to see how The Flapper, and other similar venues – some long since closed – made that possible. Music did indeed breed more music; the scene thrived, and stories set alongside their soundtracks that provoked poignant feelings in many, were woven through time. However, the threads became weaker with the loss of more and more venues.

There’s a brief high note in that Among the Echoes (ATE) will film their video for their latest single ‘The Fear Inside,’ right here tonight, yet the real fear inside is the disintegration of our cultured identity expressed through organic, live music, at intimate venues such as The Flapper.

Birmingham’s contribution to the music scene is not genre specific, however; Sir Simon Rattle, one of the most prolific British conductors of his generation, worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) for 18 years – a partnership that placed Birmingham firmly on the orchestral map.

Living in the Moment

Def Neon are just finishing up their set when we arrive; a loud warm-up call to the crowd prior to Johnny Normal, who brings home a beat-driven, dance-paced electro set, including his noteworthy ‘Alive’ track, that dutifully reminds us of the fragility of life itself. It’s immediately obvious that the support acts have the approval of tonight’s audience, which is always good to see.

In no time at all though, it’s enter Among the Echoes, with their energetic synthesized gothic storm of an opener that is ‘Freak,’ off 2014’s Fracture album. It’s enough to raise temperature levels – just a touch – and get the crowd moving. It’s incredibly catchy and coupled with some of the most densely moody synth sounds. There’s lashings of light and dark in this track and the good news is, its urgency doesn’t fail to come across in the live environment – it all starts here.

It’s been a good while since I was first introduced to the music of Among the Echoes and the gig tonight makes for easy recollection of that initial fizz of excitement that registered on my radar upon first hearing their material. Tonight, their on-stage presence is as vibrant as any in-cloud lightening discharges splintering across a night sky, and what is also true of the set tonight, is that it represents a good cross-section of ATE’s identity, but in the raw form often associated with the live environment, offering plenty of intimation for what lies ahead. And hereon in follows the alternative progressive ‘This is a Love Song!’ complete with spikey-styled guitar work and a strong template of space-defying beats; an audio setting that evokes an eerie surrealist vision. Then there’s ‘Hate,’ featuring an all too common blunt reality in its lyrics – add to that the undisguised angst in the music. By now, the audience are edging ever closer to the small stage, keen for more. And more they get. ATE hit out with prominent album classics; ‘Fracture’ delivers an upbeat synthetic wash that’s dreamily expressive – a suitably dark track with plenty of opaque undertones – all mirrored in Ian’s vocal. The filmic synthesized and dramatized ‘Breathe’ features later.

The live synth sounds continue to create essential emphasis towards the hair-raising atmospherics that fuel their signature sound; it’s steeped in anxiety, there’s plenty of sentiment, while alternate guitar tuning delivers that overall intensity and depth to the music. In fact, their overall sound wouldn’t be out of place on a Gary Numan record and all things considered, it’s no surprise then that ATE, by popular request, offer up such an authentic rendition of Numan’s ‘Pure.’

‘The Fear Inside’ brings us to ATE’s very latest offering and it features twice this evening, significant in that the video to accompany this recently released single is being filmed. Consequently, Ian encourages the audience to look to be having themselves some fun – and in this instance, nothing’s too much trouble. ‘The Fear Inside’ is a notable record, made up of suitably heavy riffage, swathes of eerie shadows, plenty of subtle embellishments from the keyboards, plus the kind of electro beat that means no one is standing still for long. The reprise is a grand finale, of sorts, until the next time that is.

Among the Echoes have definitely established their own model for a personified and uncompromising blend of synth rock. The intertextual elements of their songs work evocatively with arrangements that portray plenty of suspense, the result being a unique blend of dark gothic-inspired danceable anthems. And it’s easy to hear the influences as cited by keyboard player, Steve Turrell (see our interview). What’s also refreshing, is to witness that fun element – one that’s not lost on ATE – they don’t take themselves too seriously. When Ian’s not bantering with the crowd, or getting horrified at the thought of the band’s very own take on Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ – which, incidentally, goes down very well and is closely followed up with the Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’ – he’s kindly requesting the audience sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Mesh’s Richard Broadhead, who got up on stage, happy to accept his cake and well, if you can have your cake and eat it then why the hell not?

Among the Echoes definitely possess a supreme entertainment factor and the live environment of course, is nothing new to them, given they’ve played support to the likes of Toyah, The Birthday Massacre and Cruxshadows, to name but a few.

Tonight, it’s been both immense fun and a pleasure; we’ve bathed in synthesized ambience and swooned over Wayne Page’s guitar sound; there’s a real friendly vibe in the venue, so much so, we don’t feel like we’re gate-crashing a private house party, and not least, we’ve become part of the legendary Flapper’s history – if not only briefly – but sadly, it’s not without the downsides that surround the controversy over the future of the venue itself.


All Things Echoes

Prior to the Echoes of Electronica event, Among the Echoes took time out to chat to The Electricity Club and reveal a little more about their darker selves.

Ian Wall (IW) – Steve Turrell (ST) – Wayne Page (WP).

TEC: Can you give us some background about how the band was formed and what your ultimate vision was at that time?

IW: The band formed in 2012 as a project to enable a few friends to write songs together and maybe demo a couple of tracks. Fairly quickly we had a number of completed tracks so agreed that we should consider playing a couple of gigs together to see what reaction we would get. Well the ATE beast was soon unleashed and world domination seemed the next logical step.

As a collective we didn’t have an ultimate vision – rather a passion for writing and recording the music we enjoyed ourselves and a hope that it would connect with others.

ST: As Ian says, we got together to write songs. Personally, I’d been looking for someone who could sing and write lyrics to the musical ideas that were buzzing around my head at that time and it just seemed to click.

TEC: ATE were born in Birmingham. There’s a lot of notable music history in Birmingham – from the days of the Rum Runner Club to Duran Duran and beyond. How do you feel about sharing a home with some of Birmingham’s notable history?

IW: Birmingham has a fantastic rich history, music being just one part of it. We have really enjoyed adding to that history by playing some of the great music venues around the city. We are thrilled that friends of the band from around the UK and Europe have travelled to our gigs and enjoyed this wonderful City of ours. Obviously, we have enjoyed taking ATE on the road around the UK too and are hopeful the invites to play across Europe come really soon – we are waiting by the phone!

TEC: You’ve recently released a new single ‘The Fear Inside’; can fans expect a new album in the near future? Can you tell us more about your plans?

IW: Well we have written lots of new material since we released the Fracture album and yes, we would really love to release another album. Personally, I think an album should be enjoyed and promoted for (at the very least) two years, even longer if it’s good enough! Are we overdue an album? Absolutely yes! However, it’s a costly process and we need to be sure that there is enough interest in releasing an album and that we are not just satisfying our own egos. If the demand is there, then yes, we will record an album.

TEC: How has your musical journey evolved so far? Is there an ultimate direction for the band?

IW: As I said previously – very fluid and to keep enjoying what we do. We have never wanted to fit into one set genre or try to please everyone, how boring would that be? The band would really like to play live across Europe and if we get to achieve that then we’ll be very happy. We’ve had the privilege to share the stage with some amazing bands over the last few years and made some wonderful memories. If the next year brings an album, more dates across the UK and some invites further afield.. We’ll be a happy band!

TEC: Out of the ATE catalogue, do the band have any personal favourites? And if so for what reasons?

IW: With most bands it is usually the new material that is your current favourite and in that respect we are generally the same. To be honest, I look back at some set lists from past gigs and can’t believe there are songs I thought we’d always play that don’t even get played at rehearsals. I wrote the lyrics to ‘Freak’ in about 20 mins and I have always been proud of them. For me, ‘Breathe’ is probably the track that just feels so natural and I enjoy performing it live.

ST: I love playing ‘Freak’, and lyrically, I think it’s Ian’s best. I’m afraid I get bored quite quickly and I’m quick in moving onto the next idea or tinkering with our older songs, much to the band’s annoyance! There are a couple of songs that are quite personal to me that I still love but rarely listen to. ‘Heart of a Machine’ was a song for my wife and ‘Flowers and Plastic Butterflies’, which is one of our very early songs, will always mean a lot to me.

WP: For me it would be our latest track ‘The Fear Inside.’ I just love that Celtic vibe (private band joke).

TEC: Can you give us some detail about the creation of your synth sounds – what you try to achieve with synths and what specialist equipment you use and/or prefer? It would be interesting to get a technical aspect on this element of your music.

IW: I’m interested to read what Steve answers!

WP: What Ian said!

ST: In the studio, I use Cubase to record. All the instruments are software, I love Omnisphere. It has some great sounds. Drums and percussion are usually Addictive Drums and Izotope iDrum. I also use Alchemy and a few Native Instruments synths.

I start with a basic drum beat and build the song from there. Obviously, I have an idea for a melody to start with and I just see where the mood takes me. I love to ‘layer’ sounds to try and achieve a big sound. With ATE, I’ve learnt to write from a more ‘Pop’ angle, even though we do still sound quite ‘dark’.

Live I use Roland FA06 and Gaia. The FA06 has the function to play the backing tracks and has great piano and choir sounds. The Gaia is just a great synth!

TEC: Do you have any big influences – both modern day and also historical? Your music is quite industrial sounding at times – any interest in krautrock at all?

IW: I just have a very eclectic taste in music. I must admit a lot of what we have written in the band evolves from sounds and bands that have influenced Steve. I just look for a platform to deliver the words that spin around in my head. I call Steve the “accidental genius” for having created so many great tunes for me to write to. Obviously I know it’s not accidental, however we must manage his ego!

ST: I love most music, but I guess my main influence is Gary Numan. Music that has a ‘dark’ edge will always be at the forefront. My ‘go to’ playlist will have Numan, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, John Foxx, NIN to name but a few. Recent bands I’ve loved are Mr Kitty, Empathy Test, Celldweller, Hearts of Black Science & IAMX.

TEC: How do you think the use of synths has evolved over the decades?

ST: Wow, tough question. You can hear synths everywhere now. Bands that have historically been ‘anti’ synth use them all the time. The technology has advanced so quickly. You can write and record everything from your bedroom nowadays. Whole orchestral pieces can be written using software.

TEC: Sometimes during gigs you play with a live drummer but not always. Many fans think the live drum aspect adds a heavier edge to the music. Do you have a preference?

IW: I love playing with a live drummer. Unfortunately, the best drummer we have had in the band is our current guitarist – how did that happen? Fusing the electronics with live drums can sound immense, however if you don’t get it right it sounds .… erm, not so immense. Currently we play without a live drummer, however who knows what tomorrow will bring.

WP: With our music style, I don’t think a live drummer is really necessary. Our last couple of singles have been recorded with programmed drums, so our live performance is an honest reflection of them. I’ve seen Depeche Mode twice now and in my opinion, there was only one track that benefitted from having a live drummer.

TEC: What is the fundamental driver behind your songs and your lyrics – how does the writing process work for you? Do you have any significant influences?

IW: Influences can and should come from all directions. I absolutely love writing lyrics and I passionately believe that there should be a narrative in a song, especially if I am writing and singing it. Every day I see, hear, feel and live many emotions that I can put into a small story and deliver it through a song. To see a crowd singing my words back to me is priceless and something I hope I get to experience on many more occasions!

ST: Writing music is cathartic for me. At the end of a stressful day I can go to my tiny studio and create the music that I love. It’s not always good music, but I can just disappear into a world of sounds. That sounds a bit pretentious, but it’s the only way I can describe it. I create music that makes me excited. There’s nothing quite like coming up with a melody that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

WP: Is that synth porn Steve? And does Cybill Shepard still play her part in your mucky moments?

TEC: Some common debates include Analog v Digital. Vinyl v MP3. What’s your views/preference?

IW: While it’s being debated, it’s not being listened to. Just enjoy it all!

ST: Ditto what Ian has said. I listen to both MP3 and vinyl. Recording music, I will always favour digital. It makes the process so much easier.

WP: Analogue is an expensive way to record and requires a very skilled studio engineer/technician. Many music fans do not understand the variable methods for recording – it’s about their appreciation of the sound of the track and probably rightly so. I definitely prefer records to high definition sound, and believe a recording should be about the blending of sounds rather than being able to hear each individual component.

TEC: Tonight’s gig at the Flapper in Birmingham has something of an emotional attachment for the band – can you tell us why this venue is so important to you?

IW: We played our second ever gig at The Flapper and this show will be the tenth time we have played here. Far too many small venues are closing down and I shall shed a tear when we lose this venue to the developers this coming June. Whatever the politics behind the decisions to close venues, if we don’t support live music and the venues that give bands the stage on which to play their new music, then we can have no complaint when they are all gone.

It’s such a small cost to see bands play at these small venues, however the rewards to the bands, the venues, music lovers and the music scene is absolutely priceless.

TEC: What do you think the long-term impact on local music will be due to the loss of this venue – including bands such as ATE?

IW: Take all music that has shaped your life and imagine it never happened. All memories and emotions attached to it are all gone! All those bands started their careers playing at venues like The Flapper. ATE may not follow the path of some of those acts that have influenced us all, yet we have been very fortunate to share the music we write with so many amazing people, and made many new friends, heard some brilliant bands play live and hopefully influenced a few more people to follow their passion for music.

WP: I’ve been playing gigs at The Flapper for over 20 years (I know I don’t look old enough). Nothing replaced The Old Railway so The Flapper was the only venue of its kind left. It has been instrumental for supporting up and coming bands, but has also catered for generations of rock fans. It’s incredibly frustrating that more flats and apartments are being built instead of an investment supporting the Birmingham music scene, aka “The Home of Metal”.

TEC: What has been the biggest challenge for the band so far?

IW: Answering these questions! Seriously, probably far too many challenges to be honest. Whatever level you play at there are always people who work against you for their own gain. That said, you get out what you put in and we’ve had some great fun over the last few years. Would we like to achieve more? Yes. Would we still like to share our music to a bigger audience? Absolutely Yes!

ST: Trying to stop Ian talking so much!

TEC: What can fans expect at your gigs? What has been the best gig for you so far and why? Any unusual experiences while being part of a band?

IW: Expect us to give you a great performance. To absolutely love the privilege of standing on the stage. Turn up, have fun and stay for a drink with us after!

I think my best gig would be the first time we supported The Birthday Massacre in Birmingham in 2015. I just felt that the crowd totally engaged with us. Although we were there as one of the support bands, they totally embraced us, and I literally floated off the stage that night. I’m not sure about unusual, however there have been many surreal moments and I’ll be sure to mention them all when I write my book!

ST: For me, the tour with The Birthday Massacre was a blast. Especially the Birmingham gig. The tour had its challenges but was so much fun.


Words, interview and live photos by Jus Forrest.
The Electricity Club would like to thank Among the Echoes and Carol Canfer.

Among The Echoes play the London Cav Club, 18th May and support Jean Genie at Wolverhampton’s Robin 2 on the 21st July, with more gigs to be announced shortly. The single ‘The Fear Inside’ is out now.

http://amongtheechoes.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/amongechoes/
https://twitter.com/amongechoes


SYNTHETIC CITY LONDON 2018

Electronic music magnificence descends on London…

As ever, the Synthetic City music festival keeps things ambitious with an all-day event boasting 11 acts. The 2018 affair offered up a range of styles and approaches, while also throwing a nod to the more diverse ends of the electronic music world. Once again, host and promoter Johnny Normal has managed to pull together a live bill that promised some heavy hitters, but also threw some wild cards into the mix.

Despite some teething problems with the timing of the performances, there was a palpable air of anticipation in the pub end of The Water Rats (the venue of choice once again for the event). Conversations between a variety of musicians, promoters, bloggers and assorted figures managed to touch on some intriguing topics over the course of the evening. Whether or not acts should employ an element of performance art into proceedings proved to be one of the most engaging debates (the general consensus being “Yes”, although as it was mostly members of anarchic outfit LegPuppy arguing the case, it was a foregone conclusion!).

As ever, the reliable Mr Rob Harvey (Synth City) slotted in some perfect DJ setlists around the stage performances. In fact, over the course of a very long day he seemed to offer up a concise history of electronic music for the gathering crowd.

Kicking things off on stage, Tenedle offered up a solid performance which merged a Eurocentric taste of electropop with subtle guitar elements. Keen to get an atmosphere going, Dimitri Niccolai (aka Tenedle) encourages some audience participation through clapping. Niccolai’s vocals deliver a laid-back warmth across a foundation of busy electronic elements. It’s an approach which lends songs such as ‘Stranger In My Own Tongue’ and ‘Sentenced To Death’ (from Tenedle’s polished album Traumsender) an easy appeal.

Tenedle’s performance is also given an additional attraction with the addition of guest singer (and radio presenter) Bridget Gray, whose own vocal talents give songs such as ‘Sparkle’ a particular impact.

The combined talents of Erik Stein and Jon Boux come together under the banner of Cult With No Name. Although on stage they present a lounge quality to their performance – with Boux effortlessly tickling the ivories and Stein presenting a stoic confidence on stage – there’s a potent energy to tunes such as ‘Wasted’.

Subtle synths slide in and out of ‘Swept Away’, a tune with perhaps a timely political note in its lyrics (“Inside this rain-soaked mess/lies the president elect”). A buzzier collage of electronics comes with ‘Everything Lasts An Age’ (“for people celebrating their 18th birthday today”), a pulsing collage of electronic effects through which Stein’s vocals soar. Meanwhile, there’s a slow-burning power to ‘When I Was A Girl’ with its layers of synths and choral effects.

Straddling the gap between the UK and Denmark, Ian Harling and Martin Nyrup form the nucleus of electronic outfit Perpacity. The duo have attracted acclaim for their recorded output in times past, including their 2016 album Arise, and have their eye on a forthcoming new studio album The Order Of Now on the horizon. On stage, Perpacity offer up some serviceable synthpop, including the sturdy power of new single ‘Rule The Day’.

By now, there’s a busy, thriving crowd filling the venue. The merchandise stall is doing brisk business and artists still waiting to grace the stage are discussing plans and ideas for the future. A few funny stories come out of the various conversations, including a drama with a can of Pringles concerning Derek Anthony Williams (Defsynth, Jan Doyle Band) and an intriguing suggestion for YouTube called The Glowstick Challenge which is probably best left in the bar of The Water Rats…

Meanwhile, on stage, things take a heavier direction with the strident tones of La Lune Noire. There’s a thumping presence to the duo’s live show, with Sven Vogelezang’s muscular percussion and Victor Verzijl’s dynamic vocal delivery offering a trip into darkwave territory.

The Circuit Symphony brought a dazzling laser show with them for their stage performance. Joined by Ladywolfe onstage, there’s some nice nods to Jean-Michel Jarre in the mix which delivered tunes care of some E-mu Emax strings, LinnDrum and PolySix elements. ‘Warrior’ in particular had a potency to its clean lines, while the effective laser light show gave the stage an amazing backdrop.

Later, the duo of Palais Ideal deliver a raw energy to proceedings with a little gothic flavouring whipped up in their gritty post-punk tunes.

Johnny Normal, taking time out as host for the evening, also takes a turn on the stage. A particularly powerful ‘Miss Razorblade’ is one of his set’s highlights, along with a robust cover of OMD classic ‘Enola Gay’. One of tonight’s performers (in the form of Mr Strange) also joins Johnny on stage for a strapping live performance of ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’.

For his own stage show, Mr Strange provides it loud and heavy. There’s a sleazy electro-rock delivery for tunes such as ‘Disco Bitch’ and a song inspired by the late great Pete Burns (“I want to do it like Pete Burns/My gender you can’t discern”).

Berlyn Trilogy can always be relied upon to present a solid live show and tonight is no exception. An effectively bassy ‘Tokyo Rooftops’ wins over the crowd very early, followed by a languid ‘Rain’. Things go darker for the emphatic tones of ‘The Drone’, with James and Simon alternating vocal duties. Faye, meanwhile, has switched out her trusty bass to take on keyboard duties.

A dynamic rendition of ‘Synthetic Love’ also features in the setlist, but the trio also have a treat for the Synthetic City audience with the unveiling of new song ‘Simone Nicole’. A siren-like intro opens up the new outing, which also employs a lighter melodic touch against repetitive brass sounds. The contrast between lighter and darker elements suggests an evolution of Berlyn Trilogy’s sound and is a nice touch to their live show. Meanwhile, the trio close the set out with another new number ‘Domus Aurea’ which has a more classic Berlyn Trilogy feel to it with its sombre lyrics (“building my empire/on poison and desire”).

Once LegPuppy take to the stage, it’s a fair bet that something surprising or disturbing (or possibly both) will happen. Tonight’s performance features an ensemble cast (including stellar singer Voi Vang) who just about manage to fit on stage. The announcement that their ranks would also include a new dancer had people peering to discern her in the line-up, but in fact the new ‘dancer’ was stage-left in rollers and night dress ironing LegPuppy merchandise (because why not).

‘Paranoid’ elicits a neurotic theme through its dance-beat rhythms. Elsewhere, ‘Selfie Stick’ maintains its brooding, sinister menace as part of LegPuppy’s consistent live numbers. To drive the point home, LegPuppy’s Darren proceeds to smash an actual selfie stick on stage, which results in some worried looks in the audience.

Meanwhile, tracks such as ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ take on a spacey vibe. The combination of LegPuppy’s Claire and Voi Vang on vocals for some tunes provides the electropunk outfit with an effective harmonising quality that’s tough to beat.

Closing out this year’s Synthetic City event is the darkpop trio of Dicepeople, who can always be relied upon to deliver a heavy yet engaging live performance. Taking position stage centre, Zmora Monika bobs back and forth in a striking outfit that’s given a final flourish by a pair of wings arcing out from her back. Meanwhile, fellow members Matt and Rafael earnestly focus on their work stations either side.

The stage is almost total darkness with only the strobe-like lights lighting up the audience in time to the darkwave rhythms. In particular, a robust version of ‘Control’ is delivered with an effectively powerful vocal from Zmora. It seems like a perfect way to close out another successful electronic festival.

As TEC has said previously, Synthetic City represents an important element of the electronic music calendar that help to promote interest and growth in the grassroots scene. In a period in which there are so many new artists often struggling to find a platform for their music, Johnny Normal and his dedicated team are providing a valuable service.


http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html

http://dicepeople.com
https://berlyntrilogy.bandcamp.com/
http://legpuppy.net/
https://www.cultwithnoname.com/
http://www.perpacity.com/
http://www.palaisideal.net/
http://www.la-lune-noire.com/
https://soundcloud.com/mr-strange-official
https://www.facebook.com/thecircuitsymphony/
www.johnnynormal.net


SYNTHETIC CITY 2018 LINEUP

March promises a stellar billing for the annual Synth City Festival…

The Synthetic City Electronic Music Festival remains one of the most vital events of the year. Its combination of global acts lends the all-day event an intriguing and broad perspective on the many colours of the synth pop palette.

Hosted by Johnny Normal, an electronic music artist in his own right and also a well-known radio host, Synthetic City is an outing that manages to combine established artists alongside emerging acts. Once again, Synthetic City will be taking place at Water Rats in London on Saturday 24th March.

The 2018 line-up offers a strong list of contenders suggesting a packed day of electropop goodness. DJ duties for the event will be handled by Rob Harvey. Currently presenting a show for Phoenix 98FM, Rob presents the weekly Synth City show Tuesdays from 8pm.


Dicepeople

Dicepeople have been putting out their own brand of dark electronic pop since 2013. Consisting of Matt Brock (musician, songwriter and producer) and Rafael Filomeno (visual artist), the outfit have recently taken on board new vocalist Zmora and continue to dazzle audiences with their compelling live performances.

Their 2017 EP Synthetic was a stand-out moment, while the outfit also delivered a stunning cover version of Depeche Mode classic ‘Strangelove’. More recently, their team-up with Moi Saint produced the stunning ‘Shallow Under Skin’.

http://dicepeople.com
https://dicepeople.bandcamp.com/track/synthetic
http://www.facebook.com/dicepeople
http://twitter.com/dicepeople


Berlyn Trilogy


Staying themselves as “retro-futurist romantics”, Berlyn Trilogy offer up a darker approach to synthpop with some gothic elements weaved throughout their material.

Consisting of James Beswick, Simon Rowe and Faye Williams, Berlyn Trilogy showed their electropop chops on 2014 album A Perfect Stranger which delivered the percussive pop of ‘Synthetic Love’, the rolling moodiness of ‘Departed’ and the epic tones of ‘The Drone’.

Berlyn Trilogy proved one of the highlights at the 2017 Silicon Dreams event in Liverpool and their appearance at Synthetic City is a perfect opportunity to catch the darkpop trio in action.

https://berlyntrilogy.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BerlynTrilogy
https://twitter.com/berlyntrilogy


LegPuppy

There’s such a diverse number of ideas and influences in the music of LegPuppy that they’re difficult to pin down to any one niche. Combining dark electronic beats with a raw energy and a punk attitude, the outfit also add in a cheeky element to their lyrics referencing pop culture and social commentary.

The 4-piece outfit, which consists of Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Pups and Hugo Bamboo, originally came together by accident when someone at a house party asked Darren and Claire if they were in a band.

Since then, the electro punk quartet have kept busy via songs such as the brooding cynical commentary piece ‘Selfie Stick’ and the diversity of the material on new album You Should Be Paranoid (including the hypnotic dancepop of ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’).

ttps://www.soundcloud.com/legpuppy
https://www.facebook.com/LegPuppy
https://www.twitter.com/Legpuppymusic
http://legpuppy.net/


Cult With No Name

‘Post-punk electronic balladeers’ Cult With No Name, comprise the East London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux. Their first two studio albums Paper Wraps Rock and Careful What You Wish For were met with critical acclaim. Blaine L. Reininger of genre-transcending legends Tuxedomoon collaborated on their second album (on the stunning ‘You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself’).

In 2014, inspired by their track ‘As Below’, German filmmaker Peter Braatz commissioned the band to produce a soundtrack for his documentary Blue Velvet Revisited (Filmed entirely in 1985 on set during the making of David Lynch’s masterpiece). 2017 saw Cult With No Name return to songwriting with the magnificent Heir Of The Dog. Featuring the supporting cast of Tuxedomoon members and the talents of Kelli Ali, it saw the band explore touches of Americana, from disco to gospel to blues. The album includes ‘No News’, one of their most remarkable piano ballads to date, as featured over the closing credits of Blue Velvet Revisited.

In addition to their studio albums, the band have appeared on several compilations and have frequently collaborated with minimal techno artist Doudou Malicious. Erik Stein has also acted in several short films made by electronic music pioneer John Foxx as well as the 2011 short film Sonus, produced by Ridley Scott Associates, and Gustav (2012) which is on permanent display at Bletchley Park. The band collaborated with Kelli Ali, co-writing and performing on two songs for her 2013 solo album, Band Of Angels.

https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial/
https://twitter.com/cultwithnoname
https://www.cultwithnoname.com/


Perpacity

Straddling between the UK and Denmark, Ian Harling and Martin Nyrup form the nucleus of electronic outfit Perpacity. Each has over 20+ years of musical experience, ranging from writing music and live performance to studio work and music production. Their debut album The Sinner Inclination arrived in 2015 and the band have since issued some well-received singles. Their 2016 album Arise also received critical acclaim.

Perpacity released new single ’Rule The Day’ this March ahead of their forthcoming new album release The Order Of Now, due out later in 2018.

http://www.perpacity.com/
https://www.facebook.com/perpacity
https://twitter.com/PerpacityREAL


Palais Ideal


Consisting of John Edwards and Richard van Kruysdijk, Palais Ideal draw inspiration from the likes of The Cure, New Order, Joy Division and Sisters Of Mercy. The result is a mix that the outfit suggest offers “fragments of post-punk, new wave and goth”.

Their new album No Signal offers a showcase of their blend of romanticism and stark modernism, including the driving tones of ‘Crossfade/Dissolve’ and a raw cover of classic Iggy Pop number ‘Funtime’.

http://www.palaisideal.net/
https://www.facebook.com/Palais-Ideal-1587769398199336/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0HCpJRSn14kT2CgvwKMjr6?si=enfCedxWSXOAvLBhBlFiDQ


La Lune Noire

Taking inspiration from the likes of Gary Numan, Front 242, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode and early Simple Minds, La Lune Noire offer up their own unique music style.

Weaving in catchy synth lines, Gregorian choirs and punky guitars, the duo deliver thumping darkwave moments such as ‘Nothing To Fear’.

http://www.la-lune-noire.com/
https://twitter.com/LaLuneNoire_NL


Mr Strange

Mr. Strange is the titular singer/songwriter of a four-piece electro-rock outfit from the Isle Of Wight. From the goth/drum n bass stylings of first album Sounds From The Asylum through to 2015’s uncompromising The Bible Of Electric Pornography, Mr Strange has carved out an intriguing musical path.

Inspired by such eclectic influences as Gary Numan, IAMX, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Tom Waits and Insane Clown Posse, Mr Strange offers up a truly unique live show.

https://soundcloud.com/mr-strange-official
http://www.mrstrangemedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Official.Mr.Strange/


The Circuit Symphony

Oliver Davis and Samantha Adams form The Circuit Symphony, an outfit that draws from a wealth of influences from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. They teamed up with blues guitarist legend Bernie Marsden for the single ‘Christmas 1974’.

The Circuit Symphony have produced/remixed and programmed for artists such as OMD, Howard Jones and Take That and have received credits for work with The Human League, Steve Wilson, Ultravox, Howard Jones and more.

https://www.facebook.com/thecircuitsymphony/
https://twitter.com/CIRCUITSYMPHONY


Tenedle


Dimitri Niccolai is a songwriter, producer, performer and writer who operates under the name Tenedle.

Formerly a member of new wave outfit Laughing Silence, Tenedle has since pursued a solo career, clocking up 6 album releases. Although he originally hails from Italy, Tenedle now bases himself in Holland.

More recently, Tenedle has focused on new studio album Traumsender.

Tenedle’s performance at Synthetic City 2018 will also feature the vocal talents of Bridget Gray who will be appearing as a special guest.

http://www.tenedle.com/


Johnny Normal

Host and performer for Synthetic City 2018, Johnny Normal gravitates between presenting his weekly radio show for Radio Warwickshire (where he’s interviewed the likes of Gary Numan, Martyn Ware and Adam Ant) as well as writing and performing as an electronic musician in his own right.

In the past, Johnny has performed alongside the likes of Adam Ant, Edward Tudor-Pole, Blancmange, Altered Images, Deviant UK, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Nash The Slash and Wolfgang Flür among others.

His 2017 effort ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ (penned under the banner of The Rude Awakening and featuring Brooke Calder) offered a rallying call for those that have been beaten down.

www.johnnynormal.net
www.facebook.com/johnnynormalmusic
www.facebook.com/johnnynormalofficial


Synthetic City 2018 takes place on Saturday 24th March 20018 at Water Rats, Kings Cross, London. 2pm-1am.

Tickets from: https://www.abnormalproductions.rocks/synthetic-city-london-2018

http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html
www.facebook.com/pg/SyntheticCityLondon/events/
www.abnormalproductions.rocks/synthetic-city-london-2018


THE RUDE AWAKENING (feat Brooke Calder) – Let Nothing Take Your Pride

With the Synth City London 2017 event only finishing some weeks back, it’s a wonder that Johnny Normal can divide time up between promoting electronic music events, presenting a radio show and producing music himself.

But now comes a new project under the banner of The Rude Awakening, which sees Johnny bringing onboard the talents of Brooke Calder (Lolly Pop, A*O*A, POP INC) for ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’. Released as a 6 track EP, with remixes by various people from the electronic music scene, it offers a reflection of our times in its themes .

Lyrically, there’s a defiant tone to the track which deals with anyone who’s come under fire from life: “Struggling with your conscience I try to make you see/but all around your friends surround taking a piece of me”. Revolving around themes of resilience and fighting your corner, the song could be said to be a rallying call for those that have been beaten down. In many ways, this song also has a personal sentiment for Johnny, who spent much of 2014 hospitalised in a coma.

The track (which also saw its live premiere at September’s Synth City event) draws from the classic synthpop template with an anthemic pop approach peppered with synthetic brass stabs. With some polished backing vocals by long-time friend and collaborator Brooke Calder, ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ presents an electropop tune with some whack.

The EP presents 6 versions of the song, with the first by the Isle Of Wight-based Mr Strange. The Blott deliver a more stripped-down take on the song while French electro producers XMS offer a more punchy approach, yet keeping the vocal track loud and proud.

The Nature Of Wires remix opts for a dark electro take on the track. Finally, The Illustrial mix things up for a fractured electronic collage.


‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ is out now via https://johnnynormal.bandcamp.com/album/let-nothing-take-your-pride-e-p and available from all digital download sites.

www.abnormalproductions.rocks
www.facebook.com/johnnynormalmusic


SYNTHETIC CITY 2017 LONDON

Global electronic acts descend on London for this packed synthpop extravaganza…

Among the many electronic music events of the year, the Synthetic City Electronic Music Festival was certainly one of the more ambitious affairs. Boasting 11 bands and artists from across 8 countries, this all-dayer was determined to craft a memorable event.

Hosted by Johnny Normal, an electronic music artist in his own right and also a well-known radio host, Synthetic City is an outing that managed to combine established artists alongside some newer acts. This style of event, which was also successfully employed by Silicon Dreams earlier in the year, not only showcases bands that are going to draw an audience in, but also introduce people to emerging artists – a vital component for a growing scene.

The first acts to open up the festival were UK musician Paul Humphries and Milan from France. Having just recently released his debut album, this was Humphries’ first live performance which meant some trepidation in stepping on the stage. His material draws from the darker end of the electronic spectrum, but there’s a robust quality to many of his tunes and a confident vocal approach that will appeal to a broader audience.

Conversely, Milan pulls from the European tradition of electronic music. Here, the tunes are more orientated to a dancepop flavour with a delicate vocal that has touches of Pet Shop Boys in the delivery.

Hailing from Ireland, the electronic duo of Eden were surprisingly polished in their stage presentation (the spacey jackets were a nice touch) and on-stage banter. Consisting of Mark Power and Ian Henderson, Eden have some polished tunes, much of which is culled from the duo’s 2016 album Outbound To Wonderland. Songs such as ‘Don’t Wanna Lose You’ and ‘If I Was A Pet Shop Boy’ have both a charm and a synthpop sensibility to them and also an Erasure flavour at times. Power’s driving vocal style and his ease at being on stage were a definite plus.

Eden’s last song is introduced as “About religion, but don’t run out!”. ‘New Age’ is a heavier pop outing that weaves in some scathing (and possibly timely) commentary on the issues surrounding organised spiritual matters.

Next up was an act that had flown in from Germany with a distinctly unique style that’s difficult to adequately describe using mere words. Mr Vast straddles the line between musician and performance artist, but also has an element of unpredictability that made tonight’s appearance entertaining or unsettling depending on which way you jump.

Apparently, Mr Vast had been recommended to Johnny Normal by Gary Le Strange, an artist who’s no stranger to the world of eclectic musical performances himself. “If you think I’m strange” quipped Gary “wait until you see Mr Vast…”. The result is quirky tunes such as ‘Ecstatic Caravan’ and ‘Elemental’ (which features the winning line: “The sangria/made me angrier”). While Mr Vast is gearing up for these songs, there’s a lot of on-stage banter and a metric ton of stage props. This includes an entire wardrobe of ‘interesting’ clothes and a copy of The Guardian which becomes part of what appears to be the recreation of a famous Sinead O’Connor moment as he tears through it.

Starting off with one song, Mr Vast abandons it 2 minutes in. “I’m bored with that now”, he offers, before embarking on a new song. Others present similar challenges (“Fuck me, there’s a lot of lyrics in that track…”). When he does stick it out, songs such as ‘Problems With The Light’ (which opens with a combo of owls hooting and a spoken word segment) deliver a funky workout.

Austria’s The Lunchbox Surrender brought things back on track with a set of solidly electronic tunes. Ava takes care of vocals while Bobo focuses on the synths (which includes that sturdy workhorse the ARP Odyssey). The results are a very muscular brand of synthpop that employ some percussive electronic elements and a bass-heavy delivery. Meanwhile, Ava’s vocals have a mesmerising and at times sultry style that offer a contrast to the bassy synth foundations. At times, it calls to mind the dreampop of outfits like Au Revoir Simone while there’s also some more broody moments that suggest the Nordic melancholia of Sailor & I.

The crunchy electropop of ‘Spaces’ is a particularly fine moment as Ava gets into the zone, slipping into a series of stark dance moves. The next track is “a bit more upbeat” suggests Ava as the duo bust out the dynamic tones of ‘Alive’. It’s a song that has a particular sadness in its lyrics: “Find a soulmate in a lonely crowd/Put it down, put it down”.

Apparently, ‘Alive’ is also the tune that caught the ear of Johnny Normal, who played it on his show a year back – a moment that lead in time to this performance.

Closing things out is new song ‘Traumtanz’, which Ava suggests is the German word for ‘dream dance’. There’s a more dubby approach on this number which has a subtle, burning atmosphere.

Next up is the host himself as Johnny Normal takes to the stage with his own brand of electropop. This kicks off with a quite lively cover of Numan classic ‘I Die: You Die’, while later on ‘Time’ opts for a darker electro approach. The engaging synthpop of ‘Miss Razorblade’ also stands out from the set. Meanwhile, new single ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ also gets an airing – a polished slice of synthpop with synthetic brass stabs.

Taking us into the latter part of the evening is possibly the heaviest dark electro outfit of the night in the form of Deviant UK. They waste little time in waking the audience up with some heavy-duty tunes, which at one point prompts Train To Spain’s Helena in getting up for a boogie.

In fact, it’s the Swedish duo who grace the stage next. Regular UK visitors in recent years, Train To Spain have a robust style of electropop that’s immediate and engaging. Here they kick off with the muscular beats of ‘I Follow You’, with its cascading electronic melodies and shimmering rhythms.

Meanwhile, the bassy beats and perky synth melodies of ‘Work Harder’ offers a paean to the workers in the audience. ‘Blipblop’ is “about after work” suggests Jonas, before delivering a poppy side to the duo’s music. Elsewhere, ‘Passion’ gets things “more romantic” with a crunchy driving rhythm. 

‘You Gotta Do It’ is a new song from the duo, taken from Train To Spain’s forthcoming album. It’s a punchy tune over which Helena’s voice floats in and out and with a chorus that’s got a particular force to it. The pair close things out with the warm synthpop of ‘Believe in Love’.

Next up is Birmingham’s synth-rock combo Among The Echoes. Fresh from their Infest appearance, they deliver a set of dark electro tunes, including a muscular cover version of Human League classic ‘Being Boiled’. 

Portugal’s Hot Pink Abuse arrive next with their unique musical stylings, an outfit who opt for a full complement of live drums, bass, synth and vocals. The result is a surprisingly beefy set of tunes that’s picked out by some immediate rock-pop bangers.

Of these, ‘Bridge Of Wonder’ is one of the finest moments. It’s a track with a mesmerising feel to it dominated by swirling synths, with some sultry vocals care of lead singer Rebecca Moradalizadeh.

Keeping the crunchy electronic end up, there’s something powerful and captivating about ‘Sometimes’ with its bass-heavy synth melodies and driving rhythms. “Let’s shake a bit now with ‘Mysterious Souls’” offers Rebecca as they launch into an emphatic number that features a very solid vocal delivery and beefy bass lines. 

Closing things out, ‘Stranger To Others’ has a very punchy dynamic to it with a solid military percussion and a big, wide sound. 

Parralox, of course, need little introduction. The Australian outfit have already been guests at Liverpool’s Silicon Dreams event this year and their Synthetic City appearance marked their final UK performance this year. 

Once again, the combo of Johanna Gervin and John von Ahlen deliver a sterling set of powerful electropop to close out for this year’s celebration of electronic music. 

The powerpop of ‘Black Jeans’ is a suitable track to kick things off, followed up by the equally captivating ‘Hotter’ with its wry commentary on relationships and the search for perfection (“Think twice we’re all the same in different ways/But sometimes it pays to go your separate ways”).

“Hands up who likes The Alan Parsons Project” offers John before taking over vocal duties for Parralox’s take on the prog rock combo’s ‘Eye In The Sky’. The buzzy delights of ‘Wildlife’ also provides John with another opportunity to exercise his vocal chops.

As ever, ‘Sharper Than A Knife’ with its infectious electropop melodies, is received with relish from the crowd. The duo also drop in their surprising cover version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Here, the sparse melancholia of the original is given a much more muscular push in this electronic rendition (Johanna’s dropping in of a segment from The Hollies’ ‘The Air That I Breathe’ is also a witty comment on the original). 

Interspersed between the live sets was a suitable playlist of DJ sets, which included the talents of Rob Harvey (who runs the Synth City radio show). There were some choice tunes played, including possibly the first club appearance of OMD’s ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ alongside classics from Erasure, Visage, John Foxx, Gary Numan and Ultravox.

Synthetic City 2017 slots in smoothly with a calendar this year of electronic music events that have helped to promote interest and growth in the grassroots scene. At the same time, it offered an opportunity for artists to network and discuss opportunities. But perhaps most of all, it delivered an evening of good electronic entertainment – and one in which Johnny Normal and the organising team should take pride in.


http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html

http://www.johnnynormal.net/
http://www.parralox.com/
http://hotpinkabuse.wixsite.com/hotpinkabuse
http://thelunchboxsurrender.wixsite.com/official
http://traintospain.se/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/deviantuk/
http://amongtheechoes.co.uk/
https://www.eden-info.com/
http://www.milanmusic.uk/
https://paulhumphries.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cackrecords/


WIN Tickets to SYNTHETIC CITY LONDON!

WIN 2 tickets to the SYNTHETIC CITY LONDON event this September!

SYNTHETIC CITY features an all-star lineup of electronic music artists and bands, including PARRALOX, HOT PINK ABUSE, THE LUNCHBOX SURRENDER, TRAIN TO SPAIN, DEVIANT UK, MR VAST, AMONG THE ECHOES, PAUL HUMPHRIES, MILAN, JOHNNY NORMAL and EDEN. The event will also feature DJ setlists between bands.

A fantastically inspiring grassroots electronic music event you simply can’t miss.

Synthetic City takes place between 2pm and 1am on 9th September 2017 at The Water Rats, 328 Gray’s Inn Road, King’s Cross, London WC1X 8BZ

To be in with a chance to win 2 tickets, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/clubelectricity/ for all the details (Terms & Conditions apply).

Winner will be drawn at random at 12pm (GMT) on Friday 1st September 2017 (Terms & Conditions: http://www.electricity-club.co.uk/competition-rules/ )


http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html
https://www.facebook.com/pg/SyntheticCityLondon/events/
https://www.abnormalproductions.rocks/synthetic-city-london-2017


Johnny Normal in conversation with GARY NUMAN

Ahead of the forthcoming release of Gary Numan’s new album Savage: Songs From A Broken World, the Johnny Normal Radio Show will be hosting an interview with the synthpop pioneer this Wednesday.

Savage: Songs From A Broken World is the 21st studio album by Gary Numan, funded by a PledgeMusic Campaign and scheduled for release this September. The hard-edged ‘My Name Is Ruin’ was recently unveiled ahead of the album, complete with a video that depicted a bleak wasteland that illustrated some of the ideas and concepts that influenced the new material.

Johnny Normal managed to speak to the veteran musician backstage at the recent Leamington Assembly show to discuss Gary’s career, his family, the new Savage album and the current tour.

Johnny will also be playing some favourite Numan tracks on the show.

Don’t miss this special Johnny Normal Radio Show on Wednesday evening 2nd August 2017 from 8pm-10.30pm GMT (2100hrs CET). Listen at www.radiowarwickshire.com and click on the media player or on mobiles and laptops via TuneIn App at http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-Warwickshire-s202885/


Savage: Songs From A Broken World is due out on September 15th 2017.
Limited formats available from: https://GaryNuman.lnk.to/storeID
Stream, download or order here: https://GaryNuman.lnk.to/SavageID

www.radiowarwickshire.com
http://www.garynuman.co.uk/
http://www.johnnynormal.net/
https://www.abnormalproductions.rocks/