Genrecising music...... It can hit the nail on the head but, it can be the final one in the coffin. Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that my taste of music is reasonably wide and open minded, but I do have my likes. Over a 35 year period, it could be said that on numerous occasions I seem to have become quite obsessed with quite short lived and often mocked music styles and genres. Whilst objectively true, in reality i've been picking up on stuff that is different, then all of a sudden some music journalist gives it a name and all of sudden, everyone likes it...12 months later, everyone is taking the piss.
Now, Ring Modulator doesn't need to do any research on Electroclash, but whilst I was electro-surfing, I came across this from Phinnweb in 2002...tongue in cheek most definitely, but weirdly pretty much on the ball.....I'm not here to dis the genre...I'm here to stand up for it, because whether it had ever got named or not, I'm sure we would be where we are today regardless...so it's nice to have a name to call it.
Electroclash (which describes it exactly as it is), came about in Detroit and New York at the end of the 90's and continued until about 2005. As a reaction against Techno based genres that were predominantly instrumental and without a particular song type structure, there was a shift in attitudes, keep the electronics (that Techno was originally influenced by), add vocals and song based structures and importantly, keep it hard and dance orientated.
What goes round...comes around...it's the 80's again...there's nothing wrong with that, because all dance orientated music trend cycles having been coming and going and returning for years now...the only thing that is changing...is the length of the cycles are ever decreasing. But artists were (and still are) synthesizing those 80's electronic sounds and let's not deny that "Electroclash" as a named genre was around for a good 7 years.
It's not all about me...however....... it's 2001 - Ironically, being already resident for a long term Brighton Club night who initially said "you can DJ, but don't play any 80's shit", I was given permission to play "80's shit"........I was already playing 80's shit, except it wasn't 80's shit....most of it had never even been heard yet....yeah I know....I'm so retro-futurist, BUT........About 2001/2002 saw the 1st incarnation of Ring Modulator as a pre club night in BTN UK.....it didn't work. Luckily Ring Modulator as a DJ realised this and continued various different themed pre club nights that did work. I met up for a few drinks with fellow DJ Wanker who had invited Johnny (Specimen) Slut down to discuss what was needed for a specific electronic music club night in BTN. Johnny had just started the infamous Nag! Nag! Nag! night in Soho, praised me on the name Ring Modulator and then gave DJ Wanker and myself a few tips that would be of no use whatsoever in a tin pot town like BTN.
Back in Berlin and it seemed that DJ Hell's International DJ Gigolo label was doing most of the hardwork in promoting the scene......Gigolo was specifically a Tech label, but Hell's taste in music went beyond your usual 4 to the floor simplistic tech track. He had been involved with Munich's Disko B, which was pretty much doing the same thing prior to the naming of Electroclash...and then Hell had his lynchpin.......(don't waste your time Wiki'ing Hell, his page is dull, but I do recommend checking out the We Are Gigolo compilations of which there are 12.......and any other compilation that came out Gigolo.
It didn't stop at there......Hell put out other compilations to truly make Gigolo a clash of Electronic Genres...
"Happy Hour, Sun Shower, 808's ...gives you power"
Not just the sounds were being used......why not throw in a few classic 80's covers? Sometimes it worked and other times it didn't........as we were in 82, but Caroline (Sex Kitten - Miss Kittin) Herve's deadpan european vocals were reminiscent of not just "No GDM Gina X" style Eectro Disco, but emulating Minimal Wave (with The Hacker) with the same sounds and synth-tech as 20 years previous). Kittin's a true survivor of the electroclash movement...a couple of albums with The Hacker, Felix Da HouseKat, and two of her own solo albums...all outstanding and to give her credit, probably the most used (mauvais verbe) female vocalist of the genre...as I said, she's survived and is an International DJ....bigger than Hell, who gave her the break she needed at the time (and she's way more sexier than Hell).
Infact, Felix can be credited with creating one of the most brilliant albums of the ElectroClash Genre...Kittenz and Thee Glitz, with a host of already known DJ names that were ready to either jump in the bandwagon or propel themselves forward and to currently existing fame. Felix still continues to create music in this vein, in the hope that it will be as good a K&TG, let's hope he keeps trying....
There are other ElectroTech DJ's and bands at the time who created brilliant music and are still brilliant in their own right, some of them tend to dis the genre, but without it, surely their role in current trends would be either diminished or completely different.
Montreal's Tiga had been DJ'ing and creating mixes for Gigolo and has his own label TURBO RECORDINGS
Tiga and Zyntherius' cover of Corey Harts Sunglasses at Night was a staple Clash track, but Tiga had a knack of creating vocal based tracks in numerous Electro genre styles, from a cover of Nelly's Hot in Here..(just as good as the original) to Chicago House on Louder than a Bomb and teaming up with Scissor Sisters Jake Shears for the classic Gonna Want Me...all on the brillant album Sexor. Tiga is a survivor, he now has 3 albums all worth checking out.....
and talking of surviving the scene, Jake Shears and the Scissor Sisters were probably one of the only acts to touch global chart fame from the scene. Blatant disco soul electro 70's scene stylists who in the early days weren't afraid to admit their electro influences....they were filthy and they were absolutely gorgeous, but if they wanted to appeal to everyones mum, they had to tone it down a bit. Jake's Gibb-Brothers vocal range was a hit and got them top 10 status, the album was in every parents CD collection, but after two albums, contemporary status had worn the scissors to a point of being comfortably blunt.
Just before I write Scissor Sisters off, there was a record label called A Touch Of Class
ATOC really was a label that was influenced by Disco, there was a pre fame Scissor Sisters catalogue and a host of other artists that were producing ElectroDisco of such high quality. The link is dead, but the artists live on through more commercial monetery download sites....back in the day..ATOC put all their tracks up for free...those were the days....DISCO SUCKS
At the same time, UK's Goldfrapp were also rehashing the 70's in an ElectroGlam style, blatant yet cool, their 1st album was a Basseyesque tear jerking soundtrack that wrenched your emotions.....then two albums of Superb waistcoat wiggling sex lubed electroglam......Black Cherry and Supernature......Goldfrapp still know their influences and still know how to create both atmosphere and rhythm
One of the 1st great synth bands of Y2K was Ladytron, coming out of the incredibly cool and forgotten Invicta HiFi label....infact Ladytron were too cool for their own good, their influences were so obviously retro, their look was retro futurist...and they were in complete denial or was it flippant arrogance...Ring Modulator had the honour of being able to provide DJ Support for Ladytron, he also has a Ladytron story which involves too many Margueritas, tranvestites, large breasts and a pile of vomit in the back of a NY cab...if you ask him nicely, he might tell you if you buy him a Marguerita.....(Hey!! I'm so Electroclash).....anyway...Ladytron totally deny the existence of Electroclash, want nothing to do with it and have a back catalogue of lovely music that you should listen to.....ha ha...they were seventeen once
Doing it cheap was the punk rock aethetic, it could be done well, but it could also be pure shite and there was plenty of that just bubbling under the greasy surface.
Even looping a Moroder sequence and adding a beat (something that I did back in 89) was considered ok....check out Fillipo Naughty Moscatello's album Disco Volante.....simple loop fest...but it works
So having chucked a few 80's samples and loops around, it was time to dust off some of the originators from the time...Punx Soundcheck dug up Steve Strange, Marc Almond and Boy George for brilliant , but grossly overlooked album When Machines Ruled The World.......at the same time all aforesaid artists were on a bit of a revival.......looks like i'm keeping it a bit UK orientated in this bit....
Marc had rejoined with Dave Ball as Soft Cell and released Cruelty Without Beauty whilst being involved with the BeautyCase Records crew in Germany releasing a load of great electronic dance tracks that most people never heard. George teamed up with a few people and cashed in on the scene (as usual), but created a brilliantly perverse project called The Twin which seemed to be influenced by Leigh Bowery........and as a pre-cursor to the Visage revival prior to his recent death, Steve Strange was propped up to provide vocals for the fantastic In The Dark single, emulating Foxx strings with a Ultravox Mr X bassline. Even the Pet Shops got a Hell makeover on the Flambouyant 12" and even Jonny Slut's new band Atomizer got a release on Gigolo ... Hooked on Radiation with the iconic Cowboy logo (and a Pet Shop Remix included....how incestuous??)
Fashion?? Well there's no point in taking a brand new look and throwing it around town....it seemed that the kids wanted to acknowledge the 80's...so why not emulate that fashion...everyone was an extra from Liquid Sky, which then went on to spawn a heavily Liquid Sky Electroclash influenced film about Michael Alig called Party Monster......Money, Success, Fame, Glamour.......here we go....
Ofcourse, if you were ArtSchool orientated like Fischerspooner, you were going to fit in really well...infact, I'm not aware of any artist who emerged at the time that could pull image off and produce some of the best videos around...ok, so they lost their record companies a lot of money, but if you listen to their 3 albums and singles that go with them, they've stood the test of time really well..
Fischerspooner came into the world at the right time, tantalised appropriately and used their underwear to explosively good use...(remember that Kylie remix/performance??........more pornographic than a red hot tango).
Yes...it's hot, it's what Electroclash was all about...infact, Fischerspooner had a bit of a reputation for explosive indecent exposure on TOTP ......
Fischerspooner....check out all their 3 albums and you'll realise there is more to them than Electroclash......
At the time you could have got away with it (I'm talking 2000), back in the 80's there were too many homophobic, electrophobic, dwarfphobicmeateatingtitlovingballgropingphobicphobists .......(don't even try it now it's 2016 and we've all regressed)
Pornographic imagery sells....it's simple and liberating and it is supposed to shock...shove in some rudes words and shouty lyrics, then call it Electropunk (although Portion control were the Electropunk pioneers back in 81)...it wasn't just all about electro-disco-tech-pop....Peaches just happened to be around at the right time and rightly or wrongly got lumped into the Clash Gash movement...Fucking the Pain Away in a polysexual straight in your feminist riot grrl face sort of way. It really was a load of hardcore electro feminism on your face (i'm not sure what I may have unleashed with that comment, but no offence intended).......Fuck You Baby.......think Rhythm King, Le Tigre, Chicks on Speed, with a load of Germanism chucked in to make it more agrro....
It seemed that all you had to do was just stick the work "Electro" on front of anything. Ofcourse it was syllable based, you had to have a double first and not a single last and that's where it all got a bit pretentious by those who were feeling a bit left out and having taken the piss out of Electro all their lives whilst prancing about in their guitar bands decided to jump on the electro-Wagon and say Hey!! we've become an Indie-Electro band.....ffs.
I recall so many people telling me that they were Metalheads and that Electroclash got them into dance music......pinch of salt syndrome if you ask me mate!!!
Actually it didn't matter if you got Stuart Price in to remix as The Thin White Duke, anything would sound good, so he could always be relied on to polish a turd........but those turds were jewels (there were quite a few bands from the the UK or the US who you had never heard of who were ripping off that early 80's New Wave sound but needed a producer or remixer to make them credible)....even Madonna didn't need to make any apologies did she?? One FTPA, we got chucked a promo of Hung Up at us 6 weeks prior to release...I was told...don't listen to it to cue...just play it......we did...I'll never forget the dancefloor....one of those moments forever...still no idea who that guy was who threw it at us!!...and he didn't need to say Sorry either.
Across the pond (again) Tim and James set up DFA Records about 2001...I'm sure they never wanted the word Electroclash asscociated with them, but if you look at their whole catalogue, the retro influences were undeniable, they were hip...so hip it hurt (but it didn't stop them losing their edge, there was no jealousy from others...only complete admiration from lovers).....they were more NU NO Wave than Electroclash, but their catalogue was club favourites throughout 00 to 05, whether it be LCD Soundsystem or experiencing The Juan Maclean.
Juan took blatant 80's melodies and merged with up to date dance themes...LCD (despite being so hip and cool) ripped off 70's and 80's tracks to the point of annoying annoyance...the irony grated (for me anyway)...although it doesn't stop me playing them. DFA still continues with a Clash of styles and are gold-worthy of still checking out.
The ElectroClash enabled Belgian "Rock" band Soulwax to utilise their 2 Many DJ's moniker and create mixes of varying mashed up genres and keep the Electrobit. In turn, Soulwax were able to use some intelligence and interesting frequencies when asked in to remix, of which their are a plethora of high quality frequency busting tracks. Infact, the whole 2 Many DJ's thing made DJ's that already were proud of genre mixing within one set, a more acceptable concept. As good as Soulwax/2 Many were/are, they certainly weren't the 1st to adopt this style and this should be remembered before prasing them as innovators.
So, Electroclash..(if it ever happened), fizzled outand left us with that yearning for more after finishing the whole bag of sherbert dip....without a doubt, it would have happened, regardless of it being christened by Larry Tee.
It left us with ElectroHouse...which is a big shame, because that means it left us in exactly the same place we started 7 years previous....bland, grey, commercial, no edge, no artistic integrity in a sort of art school DIY punk ethic.....leaving the only excitement in your local ElectroHouse club being in that filthy cubicle in the toilets.
It left us with the continuous promise of an Italo Disco Revival that never happened...apart from a few clubs in gentrified areas full of check shirt, beard wealding pseudo types.
It left us with the abiity to put on a good mashed up dance party night.
It left us with a yearning to go crate digging for unheard of Minimal Wave classics.
But it doesn't matter, because it was so long ago, that you can play all those tracks again...and everyone comes up asking"Hey, das hort sich gut an, es fuhlt sich gut an, es zu aussieht. Was ist es, ich habe, bevor es noch nie gehort...ES IS NEU??"