Photographic (Depeche Mode Cover)

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Surprise! Guess who’s making music again in a big way?! I knew my first music video and return to music would be a Depeche Mode cover and I made it happen. “Photographic” is dark and robotic, the perfect soundtrack to an 80’s horror film. The synths are insane. I spent a lot of time recording vocals and filming/editing the video. You can see me arm dance, randomly adopt a British accent and bring out my inner Britney Spears. Yes, she’s responsible for any slut that jumps out of me. The process was so much fun. I sing and dance all the time in my bedroom. This video is simply that with a camera on.

You can download the cover for free on my Soundcloud page. I really hope everyone enjoys this. I’ll probably record a more modern song next time with just as much synth action and potentially less clothes. 😉

Yazoo

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80’s British synthpop duo Yazoo proved how polar opposites can join forces to create something completely unique. The duo formed in 1981 when synthesizer player and songwriter Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode and won over bluesy, soul singer Alison Moyet, who was not a fan of synths. Alison had placed an ad in a music magazine to find musicians interested in forming a blues band with her. Vince was the only response she got and he wanted to work with her because he knew what a powerhouse vocalist she was. Alison fell in love with Vince’s song “Only You” and the two released it as their first single, becoming a hit in the UK. This electronic ballad was truly groundbreaking as well as heartbreakingly beautiful. Vince thought Alison could deliver lots of emotion with her voice and he was spot on.

The pair continued crafting songs in uncharted territory and released their second single “Don’t Go” in 1982 just before the release of their debut album Upstairs At Eric’s. “Don’t Go” was a feisty dance track that highlighted the strength of Alison’s voice and the originality of Vince’s synth melodies. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I liked this song, but I quickly started to love it. It’s super fun to shout “don’t goooo!”. The spooky music video is also adorable.

Yazoo quickly rose to fame, but they split up as soon as their second album was released in 1983. The only single released from You and Me Both was “Nobody’s Diary”, my favorite Yazoo song. The song is very innocent lyrically and drives along with bouncy synths. To me, it almost feels like it should have been their first single ever released. I suppose that’s because Alison wrote it when she was just 16, when the fear of heartbreak is all too real, but not yet understood. There’s a sweet naivety to “Nobody’s Diary” that I adore.

Alison and Vince both found success after Yazoo. Vince went on to form Erasure (whom I love) with Andy Bell and Alison has had a successful solo career. It’s weird to think that there would be no Yazoo without Depeche Mode and no Erasure without Yazoo. I love all three groups so I can’t imagine that. Vince Clarke is a genius in my eyes and my number one dream music collaboration. He’s just so talented.

Thanks to Yazoo, I came to the realization that synthpop is my favorite music genre. Synthpop incorporates lyrical hooks and pop themes with the predominant synthesizers that set the genre apart. Often times, it can sound dark or mysterious. I believe synths can evoke emotions, too. Many synthpop stars are feminine men. I just think that’s really cool and inspiring. It’s as if this genre was created for me. However, I couldn’t resist gothing it up a bit.

There’s going to be a lot more synthpop talk on my blog moving forward. Over this past summer, I developed an obsession for 80’s synthpop music and it hasn’t gone away. Stupidly, I guess I never realized that some of my favorite artists, such as La Roux and Shiny Toy Guns, actually cite Yazoo as an influence. I remember hearing La Roux’s “Bulletproof” on the radio a few years ago and being mesmerized by the electronic sound of it. Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” also blew my mind. I didn’t know it was actually its own genre of music called synthpop until much later. Or that it originated in the 80’s. It’s embarrassing, I know. I only lived through three months of the 80’s, though, so forgive me. lol

I feel like it’s my duty to put synthpop back on the musical map. I can actually understand now why goth model Adora Batbrat named her children after synthesizers. lol I hope to introduce a synthpop cover series on my Youtube channel in which I sing songs from the past and present while dancing around with full glam garb on. Insane idea? Probably. That’s why I’m doing it! I’m so sick of being serious. No time for it anymore. 2015 is the year of FUN. Get with it or move along.

Icehouse

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I did almost nothing but discover and listen to 80’s synthpop music yesterday. It was a very enjoyable experience. During my exploration, I came across a very eerie song and music video by the Australian band Icehouse entitled “Icehouse”. The name alone caught my attention. There are haunting, unsettling parts of this song and also poppy components. As the title suggests, “Icehouse” is a cold, synth-filled love song of sorts. A girl is waiting for love that will most likely never come. As long as she stays within the Icehouse, love cannot find her. That is so hopelessly sad, yet beautiful.

The music video is a depiction of a little girl’s nightmare. It reminds me of both the movie Nightmare on Elm Street and Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” music video. However, Icehouse came out before both of these in 1981, believe it or not. I really think that it was groundbreaking and a grossly underrated music video. I’m genuinely scared by the “Icehouse” video, but it’s not gory or done in bad taste like some 80’s horror films. There is fire, hands reaching up through the water, many strange people trying to grab the little girl (including a very creepy old woman in a rocking chair), and a huge white cube made of white neon tubes of light. The nightmare never seems to end.

Perhaps most fascinating to me is the backstory behind the “Icehouse” song. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I read that in Australia icehouse means the same thing as insane asylum. Obviously, that makes me like the song even more. Iva Davies, the lovely lead singer/songwriter of the band, wrote the song about his time living in a flat in an old two-story mansion that was always cold no matter what he did. Being in his early twenties and a musician to boot, he kept late hours. Sounds a lot like me. I always feel more creative at night. Anyways, the dilapidated house across the street always had its lights on, even in the dead of night. People would come and go at all times and never stayed long. Apparently it was a half-way house for psychiatric patients and drug addicts. Hence, “Icehouse” was born. Iva is a genius.

Another fun tidbit is that the band started out with the name Flowers, but changed their name to Icehouse after the release of their first album, also called Icehouse. Everything comes full circle. I love their choice. The name is warm and cold at the same time, which suits the band’s sound perfectly.

Have a synthpop-filled day everyone!

Strawberry Switchblade

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Jill Bryson and Rose McDowall made up the 80s Scottish pop band known as Strawberry Switchblade. They are mostly recognized for their 1984 hit song “Since Yesterday”, which had upbeat instrumentation and melancholic lyrics. “Since Yesterday” became a huge hit in the UK and Japan, but Strawberry Switchblade quickly lost popularity and had disbanded by 1986. I guess people were not feeling all the polka dots.

I discovered Strawberry Switchblade while I was researching BubbleGoth. I came across a really cute site that categorized the different types of Goths. The site stated that Perky Goths would listen to Strawberry Switchblade. The name of the band itself intrigued me. Such a rad name for a band. Strawberry Switchblade is both cute and tough. So, I looked them up and I really liked what I saw/heard.

First off, these girls have a very unique fashion sense. I can see why they became popular in Japan. Their style is a little bit Lolita, but the girls still have that big 80s hair. I think they were also inspired by Goth fashion with their dark eye makeup and the black latex that Rose wore in some of their performances. I really love the fact that Rose and Jill made a lot of their own clothes, too. They would take a dress and cut it up, adding embellishments to make it one-of-a-kind. Two of Strawberry Switchblade’s staples were flowers and hair ribbons. Nobody else was rocking the look below.

Strawberry Switchblade’s music may not be for everyone. They were definitely marketed as a pop act and the music followed accordingly. What I find most interesting about their sound is its blend of light and dark. The synths and keyboards create a happy, energetic atmosphere. But, the lyrics are pretty depressing. There is a lot of pain and lost love  strewn throughout Strawberry Switchblade’s only album. The songs can be immature at times, too. “Let Her Go” is about a jealous girl who wants her best friend’s boyfriend out of the picture. The song is both empowering and silly. And the video sure is cute.

At this point I am starting to develop an affinity for polka dots. Strawberry Switchblade surely broke the mold with their look. Their music may not be anything special, but I enjoy it. I think that Jill and Rose could have honed their music into something really great if they weren’t pushed into a commercial pop sound. Why must record labels change artists? The label wasn’t able to take all of their creativity away, though. These girls were DIY queens until the end!