My friends at synthpop website The Electricity Club are hosting their first ever live event next month in London, featuring Vile Electrodes and Curxes – two brilliant new bands, both of whom I’ve featured on this blog before. I got in touch with TEC head honcho Chi Ming Lai and asked him to tell us a bit about “TEC001” and what to expect.
Why did you decide to put on a live TEC event: doesn’t editing and writing a website keep you busy enough?
The year’s been quite successful for things like Back To The Phuture, Short Circuit Presents Mute and the Vintage Festival’s Electronic Phuture Revue. Plus there’s the long established Infest which caters for more gothic and industrial tastes. But there doesn’t appear to be anything around at the moment for unsigned or newer synthpop bands. I’d been writing about all these new acts and I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to see them play on the same bill. But as no-one else was going to arrange it, I thought I’d better do something about it myself! So this is like the first step in a sequence…“Book them and they will come” as the ghost of Jim Morrison said in Wayne’s World 2 *laughs*
But it doesn’t feel like a big ordeal at the moment, I’m writing as normal… it’s just the emphasis has shifted to promoting the event and doing extra features on the acts that are playing. In many ways, a live event is a natural extension of The Electricity Club and the people involved within it, whether they are musicians, writers or music fans. It can act as a platform for bands to showcase their music live and for like minded people to gather together in support of that…in fact, it’s a bit like what the site does now but as a tactile physical entity.
What will make TEC001 different from other club nights?
Synthpop often gets blurred with the dreaded 80s thing or dance music: only the other day, someone asked me whether The Electricity Club covered David Guetta or Calvin Harris (we don’t) So it’s important that if TEC is going to take the plunge with an event, the focus has to be on synthpop as a genre and to stick with it. Therefore the mandate of the site will be reflected by the bands and the DJs on the night. What that ultimately means is that there will no bizarre diversions into Swing Out Sister or Florence & The Machine with the playlist, and none of that bangin’ techno R’n’B which now passes for electro!
Two of my frustrations as a punter whenever synthpop acts play live is that they either have to share the bill with a load of landfill indie bands, or perform as part of a club night so don’t come on stage until almost midnight! The intention with TEC001 is to start early and finish at a reasonable hour so that people can actually get the last train home. I’m not knocking clubbers, but there is a whole type of audience that isn’t catered for: people who go out and enjoy their music but do like to be in bed by half past midnight! With all that in mind, that’s why The Electricity Club has referred to TEC001 as a “live event” rather than a club night. Doing an early evening Sunday event is a risk but it’s been carefully thought through. I think it’s a risk worth taking.
How did you decide on the bands you wanted to perform?
VILE ELECTRODES I’ve known for over a year now and they are a really good live act. With their great pop songs, vintage synths, playful manner and outrageous outfits, they were a natural choice as headliners. I’m looking forward to their EP and album being released too. Meanwhile CURXES are simply the best new act of 2011; their Siouxsie meets Depeche sound really resonates with me so I’d like more people to hear them. Actually, it’s thanks to Pansentient League that I was introduced to their music in the first place so I owe you one!
How did you decide on the venue?
The Electricity Club’s technical partners Arc23 have organised events at The Bowery before in its previous incarnation as The Fly. I’ve been to a few gigs at there and it has this basement area where the bands play. It also used to host the Pretty In Pink club night which Human League enthusiast Sean Turner ran. The Bowery is in a nice central London location about 5 minutes walk from Tottenham Court Road tube and near the retail outlets in Oxford Street. So people can do some Christmas shopping and then hopefully come to TEC001 afterwards!
How will you overcome the challenges that may have hampered the potential of similar events that have been run in the past?
Unlike say a club night that starts out and sets up a website to promote it, The Electricity Club already has a steady readership built up from its interviews with a host of classic artists from around the synthpop world. Among the people we’ve spoken to are members of Depeche Mode, New Order, OMD, Ultravox, Heaven 17 and Ladytron as well as John Foxx and Thomas Dolby. So it makes sense to engage that audience to promote your own event; they trust your brand and know what it stands for. Now whether they’d actually be interested in coming to London to see new bands is another thing!
There will be a series of articles and stuff over the coming weeks featuring VILE ELECTRODES and CURXES as part of TEC001’s build-up. Even if people are curious, they will still need gentle persuasion to physically get on a train and come along. So a warm, inviting welcome will be very important. I am very keen for TEC001 to do well and I will be putting in my best efforts. I‘ve been amazed over the years to have actually witnessed people not bothering to promote their own product or even take an interest in the logistics of what’s happening been around it…it’s lazy and not really a recipe for success!
What do you hope to get out of it?
I’d love VILE ELECTRODES and CURXES to increase their fanbases and not just with people who come on the night. Hopefully, the exposure they’ll get as part of the build-up to TEC001 will mean that people who aren’t able to come because they are in at the other end of the country or whatever will become aware of them both. Also, I would like TEC001 to help raise The Electricity Club’s profile so that synthpop fans who might not have heard of the site can find out about it through all the various social networks before and after the event. It will hopefully reinforce its reputation and therefore help it en route to some bigger exciting things.
What should people who go along expect to get out of it?
Hopefully those who come to TEC001 will enjoy a nice voyage of discovery with two excellent new acts and some compatible DJ sets plus maybe meet a few people along the way to realise they are not alone in their enjoyment of synthpop. Also, both VILE ELECTRODES and CURXES will have their CD EPs on sale at the event so those who like to invest in their physical formats will appreciate that. The Electricity Club hopes to be selling some items from the Undo Records catalogue too.
It’s planned for the night before Halloween – are you expecting any ghoulish antics?
I know that VILE ELECTRODES love dressing up so expect their singer Anais Neon in particular to be wearing some kind of sexy fetish related rubber gear and whipping her drum pads like some dominatrix! I’m not expecting CURXES to get into fancy dress but as they describe themselves as “a decorative set of bones, channelling the ghosts of discothèques past”, they are already perfect for the occasion.
From the name I’m guessing this may be the first of many TEC events. Do you plan to make this a regular occurrence?
I’m not intending on making this a monthly or even quarterly event if that’s what you mean? But we’ll see how TEC001 goes. If there’s a good turnout, who knows? Since it was announced, several bands have approached The Electricity Club about playing ‘the next one’ including one highly regarded electronic act with three albums to their name! The most important aspect about TEC001 is that the live line-up of VILE ELECTRODES and CURXES is one I truly believe in. If the opportunity arises to put together a bill of this quality in the future, then I don’t see why TEC002 shouldn’t be a realistic possibility…
The Electricity Club’s TEC001 live event featuring VILE ELECTRODES and CURXES will take place on SUNDAY 30TH OCTOBER 2011 at The Bowery, 36-38 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1E. Nearest tube station is Tottenham Court Road (Northern and Central Line). Doors open at 7.00pm. The event itself will close at 11.00pm with the last band finishing their set by 10.30pm.
- Tickets can be purchased in advance at £5 via Ticketweb, or £7 on the door
- The TEC001 Facebook Event page