MiXE1 – Starlit Skin

Starlit Skin

The Lights Out EP last year confirmed the kind of evolution undergoing within the music of UK electro rockers MiXE1 whilst also hinting at the potential of the band’s impending and eagerly anticipated debut album. Uncaged June 1st, Starlit Skin shows that those suggestions were strong and truthful whispers to its new and enthralling tempest. Originally the band started as a solo project by vocalist/songwriter Mike Evan, a ‘soft spoken’ proposition which caressed and seduced the senses whilst growing in strength and stature not forgetting reputation with every release. Now with the album as its evidence, the Hatfield trio without losing any of its mesmeric passion and floating melodic persuasion has transformed into a snarling bordering on ravenous provocateur of synth rock.

Starlit Skin is a masterful encounter which plays like an eye of a storm, its evocative peace and radiant beauty encircled by a tempestuous incitement of intimidating guitars and imposing rhythms encased in a turbulence of passion and intensity. In hindsight you can see its triumph was an inevitable landmark on a continuing journey but at first touch it is a surprising and dramatic proposition which swiftly has hunger bred and intrigue lit for its emotive adventure. It is a striking flight for the band which began in 2010 as mentioned with Evans (ex-guitarist of alt-metal band Broken Butterfly X). Experimenting with electronics aligned to his smoothly lying and emotionally expressive vocals, Evans released debut EP Module 01 to strong reactions especially sparked by the eagerly devoured track Breathe. Linking up with Static Distortion Records, the Module 02 EP followed in 2012 again to eager acclaim as the richly personal songs showed a growth in confidence, maturity, and sound. It also marked the start of a more aggressive essence to MiXE1 epitomised by This Is Not Goodbye, a song which became a firm favourite with fans and the underground media. That same year the band expanded with Evans bringing in guitarist Lee Towson and drummer Lee O’Brien (formerly of Indie-Rock band Load), the move the signpost to the exploration of a rawer rock element to the band’s music. The Lights Out EP provided potent signs of that evolution but against Starlit Skin, was just a mere suggestion which is now vivaciously vocal in the eleven track all-out electronic rock encounter.

The album opens with a warning, a declaration of a wide spread evacuation which opens the way for voracious riffs and rampaging rhythms to charge down the scenery, sinews resonating and nostrils flaring as Talking In Our Sleep explodes in the ear. Immediately gripping the band’s new single soon settles into a more ordered gait upon which Evans unveils his vocals and narrative. His voice is as melodic and warm as ever but certainly caught in the thrust of the energy around him. As the track expands with Evans’ synths shaping the atmosphere as both Towson and O’Brien keep on their sturdy course, the track brings thoughts of Ghost In The Static meets Johnny Wore Black. Its chorus is pure infectious virulence, an anthemic call flush with enticing melodies perfectly contrasted and accentuated by a guttural growl which creeps in the vocals, all creating a roaring moment to craft a climactic treat within the otherwise compelling body of the impressive opener.

Break You Down swaggers in next, keys and guitars weaving a transfixing yet intimidating dark haze to which Evans croons magnetically whilst again slipping in the caustic squalls as introduced in its predecessor. Riffs and hooks capture the imagination as much as the melodic breezes evocatively colouring the intensive breath of the track, each combining for an easily accessible but unpredictable incitement. Though the natural warm delivery of Evans is the lead lure to songs, the use of abrasive textures and expulsions in his voice is an inspired and exciting twist which is matched and coaxed eagerly by the guitars and rhythms.

Both the emotive We’ve Changed and the following title track keep the imagination thrilled whilst offering new diversity to the release. The first soars across the senses with elegant charm and invasive melodies framed by a muscular appetite, though one happy to simply skirt the sultry smouldering heart of the absorbing personal venture whilst its successor explores a slight eighties synth pop spice within its reflective melodic wrap around the senses. There is a tint of Modern English and Depeche Mode to the song which only enhances its poetic wash of sound and expression, whilst again with more restraint than the first song it brings crescendos which infectiously grip and inflame thoughts and emotions.

The next up Plug Me In Tonight with its discordant brew of electronic agitation and probing within a mist of melodramatic synths makes a promising entrance but one which whilst growing into a thought provoking canvas lacks the impact and spark which caught ablaze within the previous songs. Nevertheless it has attention and appetite healthily poised for the pleasing electronic stomp of Here, a song with techno tendencies and synth pop revelry. It is another where the chorus recruits the listener’s feet and vocal chords, though around these moments the track’s shadows are more of a portentous breath, which Towson lights up with his invention, than an incitement to dance. It makes for a richly satisfying and appealing fusion which is then put in the shade by the bordering on antagonistic Image. Thumping rhythms and voracious hues assault first as keys spot their provocation with electronic shards before without losing its stalking ferocity the track opens with the continually impressive tones of Evans and fiery strikes of guitar imagination. It is a tremendous web of invention which instantly has ears gripped and passions sparking. The best track on the album it is unrelenting in its force, invention, and predacious hunger whilst providing a bewitching landscape of thought and imagination.

The Show takes the raw rapacious side of its predecessor to new levels whilst merging it as expected with mouthwatering melodies and vocals courted by electronic sunspot. Riffs and rhythms seem bestial as the synths seduce and smooch their evocative colours upon the senses, thoughts of The Browning freeing themselves in some ways to the predation. It is another glorious pinnacle showing the depths and suggesting the potential of the band still to be fully explored and exposed which All 4 U in its own distinct way supports. It is not as potent as certainly the previous two tracks but employs all of the already unveiled strengths of the album in another captivating storm, though the truly guttural vocal spewing which occasionally erupt arguably do not work. It is the beauty and the beast delivery from Evans which is an unbridled success for us not the demonic causticity, his voice just too nice to succeed.

Airwaves brings the album to an excellent absorbing and emotionally haunting end, though there is a decent enough Beat Version of Talking In Our Sleep as a bonus track with great female vocals from Amie Morandarte-Evans for extra spice. Starlit Skin is a commandingly impressive and thrilling encounter; a major step forward for MiXE1 but one suggesting there is still plenty more to come, a rigorously and irrepressibly exciting thought for us and the electro rock scene.

Starlit Skin is available @ http://mixe1.bandcamp.com/album/starlit-skin

www.mixe1.com

Check out an interview with MiXE1 @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/brewing-melodic-fire-an-interview-with-mixe1/

9.5/10

RingMaster 25/05/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Entwining shadows, breaths, and sound: an interview with Defeat

defeat

The industrial/electro scene in the UK is aflame right now one with emerging creative and imaginatively accomplished bands and musicians of whom, Hertfordshire band Defeat, is one of the most stirring and promising examples. A duo comprising of Anthony Matthews (Vocals) and Gary Walker (Synthetics), the band has released one of the best of year album challengers in the genre with their striking confrontation [Seek Help]. Eleven tracks of immense, sinister, and fire bred tracks, the release confronts the ear with invention spawned enterprise and compelling provocative mastery. Making up for lost time to learn more about Defeat, we had the pleasure of finding out about the origins of the pair of musicians as well as the band, their thoughts on the industrial scene, personal inspirations, and much more with the help of both Ant and Gary. This is what they revealed…

Hi Guys and welcome to the site.

You two have known each other for a very long time, when did you first meet?

Gary: We met in at secondary school when we were 13 in French class. We were both completely uninterested in the subject being taught and just talked about the music we liked; girls and other stuff teenage boys are into.

Ant: Yes, it was a school in Harlow where we grew up. Although, with regards to exactly when, as ever I have to yield to Gary’s fantastic memory on that score!

When did music come into the relationship?

Gary: Almost straight away if I remember correctly. Part of the class involved making up a conversation in French and telling each other about ourselves and what we liked. We found we had the same taste in music then.

Ant: I remember once we had talked music we would swap lyrics written on scrappy bits of paper in school. I think we immediately had a similar sense of humour as well as musical tastes. There weren’t too many people in our school into putting a band together at our age so it was all kinda hush-hush!!

What were your early influences musically and have they remained still a potent inspiration now or has that evolved like your music?

Gary: I got the music bug seeing Howard Jones on Top of the Pops playing all those synths and thought “I want to do that”.  I’d say that was my biggest early influence as I pestered my parents relentlessly for a keyboard for Christmas, and they got me a Casio keyboard. I then taught myself a few chords and scales and learnt to play some songs by ear.

Ant: The early-eighties electronic explosion and new romantics must have subconsciously influenced me. At that age it was all chart music, but I suppose I was looking for something to follow. Howard Jones was that first big inspiration. I never really know what inspired me to listen to darker electro-bands but I always loved a bit of controversy I suppose. I had always followed Depeche Mode but it was when I discovered Nitzer Ebb and Nine Inch Nails that my head was turned to Industrial influences. I was always a collector of vinyl in those days so and once I’d found a band I had to have the entire collection. It’s been a curse ever since!

Your first musical project was Seek Help, where did that name come from and as we made the assumption that your new album also named [Seek Help] was seeded from then, is the album title just a nod to the past or holding a stronger meaning behind it for you?

Gary: The name “Seek Help” originally came from a joke. The track ‘Revenge’ had existed in some form right from those early days, and we didn’t have a name as such then. We had recorded a very rough and basic demo of the track and played it to friends, and their response was “You two need to seek help”. We looked at each other and laughed, and about 10 seconds later said “that’s our name”, and it stuck. For me, naming the album [Seek Help] is just a nod to that.

Ant: This is where I do have a clearer memory of exactly when it came about. A college mate had always added the phrase “Seek Help” to the chorus of ‘Revenge’. We went into our first proper studio sessions in Chelmsford to record our first proper demo as “Who Cares?”, but as Gary suggested it wasn’t a definite. The guy recording the demo heard the phrase and “Seek Help” stuck.

What brought Seek Help to an end and how long was it before Defeat emerged? 

 pic Malcolm Tyler

pic Malcolm Tyler

Gary: A disastrous gig in Romford did the damage. Technical cock-ups and apathy from the (very) small crowd that bothered to show up didn’t help. I basically had a meltdown live on stage and trashed my drum pads. Shortly after the gig Ant and I both came to the conclusion that the name Seek Help had run its course, and because of the sense that we’d been beaten, Ant suggested ‘Defeat’ as a new name. Musically, we didn’t really change anything and we just set about doing stuff under the “new banner”, as it were, a few months after we’d taken stock of what happened that night.

Ant: That was definitely the end for a while. And life, love, marriages and the day job kept us apart for a good few years. I’d just like to say that Seek Help never really ended. The songs from those days are now under the Defeat banner. And adding to the previous question it just seemed apt to name our début album as a nod to that fact. The name Defeat for me was perfect as a negative and positive. Those days it was only the name that changed. I suppose for me Defeat only really emerged fully in 2011.

There was a kind of hiatus for Defeat from its opening breath I believe, what brought that about and what was the spark to reactivate the project?

Gary: Basically as Defeat was starting up, I got married and had kids so my focus and priorities changed. Ant also had his own stuff going on, so although we still met up and dabbled with music a bit, the other things in our lives at the time had taken over. It continued pretty much that way until mid-2011 when I discovered after coming home from holiday that my mother was ill in hospital. She dropped the bombshell they’d found cancer in her liver and six weeks later she had passed away. I was beside her when she died, and although it was (and still is) painful for me, I am so glad she didn’t die alone. My mother was a person who lived life on her terms and did things as and when she wanted, and I remember at the time a little voice in me said “Seize the day. If you don’t do this thing now you never will. Life is too short.”, so shortly after my mother’s funeral I spoke to Ant about starting up properly again.

Ant: Yeah, I didn’t know at the time that Gary losing his mother was the catalyst for him but he was suddenly very prolific with sending me demos. The advent of new technology and social networking meant that we didn’t need to be that close to bounce stuff back and forth. The process was so much more instant and the spark had not gone.

How would you say the two bands differ in sound and in your intent behind them?

Gary: The sound is different, but only because technology and our own tastes have evolved – I would say it’s a natural progression really as we started listening to different artists too. The songs still come together in the same way they always have for me. In terms of intent, that has remained the same for me – to write, record and perform music I would personally like to hear myself.

Ant: I can’t disagree with that. It has always been about evolution. You cannot help being inspired by what you hear. For me it is an outlet. Music without passion or feeling is not music. You will notice that in our live performances. For me it could be a beat or a lyric or a melody, whatever type of music it is, if there is one or all of those elements, and it is well produced then you have cracked it. If we can do that, and I believe we have, then our work is done.

Was there a core lesson you learned with your first project that you took into Defeat to either avoid or embrace?

Gary: In Seek Help I was constantly worried that our songs didn’t sound hard enough, dark enough or industrial enough and may have been too lightweight and poppy. I don’t think that way anymore and if something is lighter in tone, then that’s how it is – I suppose you could say I’ve learned to trust my instincts more.

Ant: From my side of things, lyrically that is, the songs have always been formed in my head. As Gary says, how light or dark they come out is of no consequence. It’s just that most of the time we do like a darker twist! In terms of lessons learned – that implies a failure. I feel we have never failed. It’s just that in the early days we had no time to push what we wanted to do.

166719_571237349577479_1654124329_nThe four track Outbursts! EP was your first release as Defeats on Static Distortion Records. Did you have a particular idea and intent for the EP and its introduction of the band to the country?

Gary: Initially after getting Defeat up and running again in 2011, we’d put together a version of Outbursts for a competition on Side-Line.com. The track didn’t do anything as far as the competition was concerned, but the process of putting it together and actually finally sending something out gave us an impetus to record. So we hooked up with long-time friend Nik Hodges (Chas Hodges Band / Psykelekrik / Deletists) and we went to his studio. Initially it was nothing serious; the idea was to put a few tracks down (and for me also to have a chance to play with lots of lovely analogue synthesizers – lol). I played Nik a few rough instrumental demos and we started fleshing out the production of the songs musically from there – the lyrics were already written at this point.

Ant: I always knew we had some winning tunes. So we went in the studio with someone who knew the tracks and had the same passion as us for the songs. And I think Gary would agree with me that those few sessions in the studio with Nik have had a massive effect on how we work now. To be surrounded by some lovely old analogue kit, combined with new plug-in technology, I think really opened up our eyes. The original intent was for a self-release. In the digital age, once your work is out there it stays. I just wanted what I knew was a great group of songs out there.

How did the link up with Static Distortion come about?

Gary: We’d been noticed on-line by Steve (Fearon) when we posted the track for the Side Line contest, and he contacted us inviting us to join the label. We met with Steve and after an earnest and honest discussion with him, we joined SDR. At this point the EP was still unfinished, so we agreed this would be Defeat’s first SDR release, providing we could wrap it up reasonably quickly. A month after that first meeting, the EP was mastered and delivered to Steve.

Ant: Yeah, social networking and a lot of spamming around on various sites was where Steve heard of us. I was basically searching out any band of a similar style I could find. Outburst caught his attention and he contacted us. The rest is history.

How does the songwriting happen within Defeat and has that stayed the same from day one?

Gary: Although we do tend to have some lyrics as a starting point, how a song develops and comes together is never the same. Some songs we agonise over and we can and sometimes do argue vociferously over certain parts of a song. On the flip side of that, we have written tracks where everything just falls into place, although that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. One example of everything falling into place happened when we wrote ‘Ripcord’. I had a simple beat going in the sequencer and I started jamming a fairly minimal bass line over it. While listening to this, Ant was rifling through his lyric book and found some lyrics he’d written down that fit the vibe we had going on. I added the other keyboard parts while Ant fleshed out the lyrics he had written down, and in around 2 hours or so, ‘Ripcord’ was completed.

Ant: In essence, Gary is the musician and I provide the lyrics. Which way round a track develops is not always the same. As I alluded to earlier, I often write a whole song in my head. But I then need Gary to get it out of there and sometimes that is very simple and sometimes a drawn out process. Other times, Gary will put something together and I will remember a lyric and fit it to it. We haven’t jammed together for a while, as all the songs we have released so far (with the exception of ‘Scars’) were already there, but when we do I know the spark will always be there.

You have just released your excellent debut album which we mentioned earlier, [Seek Help]. It is a record which builds on the EP, its sound and songwriting, whilst lying just as easily alongside it, how do you regard it in comparison?947044_603508886350325_1407494312_n

Gary: I see it as a natural progression from the EP in terms of production. I’m always keen to learn new production techniques and use them wherever possible. A couple of the songs on the album were actually written before some of those that are on the EP, so from that perspective the EP and the album dovetail each other quite nicely.

Ant: You could almost merge the two. When we put the ‘Outbursts! EP’ together we had enough material for two albums but an EP was suggested as our first introduction to SDR. So the album is a direct continuation. I think we have forged a clear sound for ourselves which is evident in both releases; I am hugely proud of them both. To finally get them out there is fantastic.

What is the biggest evolution of change in your sound for you since making the EP to now?

Gary: I’d say we’ve probably got more layers in the sound now, and everything sounds a little bit sharper and brighter on the album compared to the tracks on the EP, as I’ve gained more confidence in using new plug-ins and trying out production techniques I’ve picked up in the time since the EP was released. For example many of the lead sounds I use now are made from several sounds stacked and layered together, rather than trying to make one massive sound on one particular synth. It does make replicating those sounds for live gigs a bit trickier, but I’m more relaxed about the live sound now than I used to be, and providing the sounds I play are close enough to those on the recording, then that’s fine. And I like to think I’m proficient enough to recreate those sounds without too much difficulty.

Ant: I defer all tech-based questions to Gary! But I would like to praise Gary’s growing proficiency in mixing and production. His work will soon be seen in various other projects around the scene.

Do you have a particular method in recording your songs and especially with the album this time around?

Gary: With this album, most of the songs were musically complete as demos from around Christmas 2012. We then set aside time to record the vocals in early 2013. We work very quickly when the ideas flow and we were able to track about 90% of the vocals for the album in a few sessions. We tend to get the music tracked first and then record Ant’s vocals. I also did some backing vocals on this album, unlike the EP where vocally it’s all Ant, and I was able to do those bits fairly quickly in those same sessions.

Ant: Yeah that’s basically it. Like I said earlier, the tracks just needed fleshing out and adding our vocals. Gary puts the tracks down and I will lend an ear. These were long-standing songs for us so I had a lot to say in terms of how they sounded. Two tracks that we thought were a shoe-in for the album were dropped from the album sessions due to us not agreeing on a final mix. But these are finally the definitive versions for us.

The album has a building malevolence to loosely describe its intensity of breath and seeming nature as you venture deeper into its provocative presence track by track. Is this something you see too and was it intentional or a rewarding by-product of the albums natural progression?

Gary: I think it was a bit of both. We always knew the album would start with ‘Fear’. The album actually starts with ‘In Vestri Genua Descendamus’, but this track is in fact made from parts of ‘Fear’ and is the intro we use for live. On the album it could be seen as a longer intro to ‘Fear’. We also knew that ‘Scars’ was going to be the final track and we just had to put the remaining tracks into an order that ebbed and flowed as naturally as possible. It’s that flow, which is part-planned and part-accidental that imbues the album with this sense of building malevolence.

Ant:  I’m glad you picked up on that because I always had a plan to weave a pattern throughout the album. When ordering the tracks we treated it how we would a gig set. ‘Fear’ was always the big intro; ‘Ripcord’ was always track 2 live. ‘Defeat’, again, had been used as a gig opener. ‘Revenge’ through to ‘Cry At Your Funeral’ was always going to be grouped together. ‘Scars’ was originally an instrumental that was always going to end the album.

There also feels, certainly on the album, at times a strong personal element to songs, is this the case? How close to home are the inspirations for songs?

Gary: Everything lyrically is either from a situation Ant or I have experienced, or from an observation we’ve made of the world around us. I tend to leave the lyrical side of things to Ant, although I do write lyrics sometimes. Whenever I do write lyrics I always then give them to Ant, and he will invariably twist them and take them in a different direction.

Ant: Yeah I always get blamed for the cynicism in the lyrics! Gary never complains though! Following on from the last question, the bulk of the album is from personal experiences. If you don’t get a feeling from a song then no-one will connect to it. I don’t apologise for how personal the lyrics are. It’s what I believe is the core to our identity. All the best songs I have ever known come from the heart, however light or dark they are.

defeat coffin  video stillIs there a particular moment or aspect of [Seek Help] which gives you an extra tingle or glow of satisfaction?

Gary: For me, the satisfaction comes when someone else really likes the album or says “that song is great”. For me that’s the greatest compliment. Of course I still get moments when I hear certain elements in a track and I’ll think “damn, I like the sound of that!” One such example is the intricate “clicky” percussion at the beginning of ‘Scars’.

Ant: The compliments have been fantastic. What amazes me is that when I listen to it now there are elements in there that jump out that I’d even forgotten about! For me, that shows that we have produced something that will not get stale quickly. The ominous opening bass on ‘Ripcord’ gives me a great thrill, the urgency of ‘Cry At Your Funeral’,  the fantastic synth lines across all the tracks still excite me. And I was really happy with the vocals. ‘Scars’ was a real treat at the end as it was always an instrumental with one vocal line so to finally get a full track was a huge bonus. Proud is an understatement.

What comes next for Defeat?

Gary: We’re working on putting a free download single for “Coffin” together which will include a few alternative takes on the song. There’s also a video of the track in the pipeline too to coincide with the single release, but we’re not working to a particular deadline on either at the moment. I think after that, we’ll look in 2014 at doing either another EP or the traditionally-labelled “difficult” second album. At the moment I’m also involved with mixing the new album for D.E.P feat. MiXE1.

Ant: 2013 will hopefully come to a close with the single release. A lot of remixes are surfacing now so there will be some form of remix collection. 2014 will bring that second full album. No dates are set but it is going to be an exciting times as new tracks will need to be written alongside some older ideas. We will also be looking to gig a lot more regularly throughout the coming months.

Many thanks for taking time to chat with us, anything you would like to add?

Gary: I’m just very grateful for the chance we’ve been given to get our music to a wider audience – and huge thanks must go to Steve Fearon for giving us that chance. In addition, I’d also like to state for the record that despite the oft-documented drama that occurs in the industrial scene, everyone I’ve come into contact with in the scene since joining SDR have been some of the friendliest and welcoming people I’ve met.

Ant: I echo those comments. I think I’d just like to say that there is a lot of good music out there that we all need to support if we are to keep this scene going. It doesn’t matter if it sounds old-school or like someone else. If it stirs something in you and is well put together then cherish it. Take a risk on something new. You might surprise yourself!

And finally what are the five most important songs or releases that you feel guided or lit your own musical mind-set?

Gary: Oh, that’s a tough one – and this may seem like a cop-out – for me there are just too many songs that have had some sort of influence on me, and the list changes constantly.

Ant: I know it sounds clichéd but for me it is ‘Violator’ and ‘Masses’ (DM), ‘Pretty Hate Machine’/’Broken’/’Downward Spiral’(NIN), ‘Belief’/ ‘Showtime’/’Ebbhead’ (NE), ‘Headhunter’/’Welcome to Paradise’ (242) and more recently ‘Gelb’ (Neuroticfish). Yes, I know I’m old but those were my early dark inspirations! We are influenced every day by what we hear, see and experience. That’s what inspires me to write but all the above artists and more are guiding the feel of the music.

Go download the EP / Album and come see us live soon – I assure you it is worth it! Cheers.

Something we at the RR wholeheartedly agree with. Checkout the review of [Seek Help] @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/defeat-seek-help/

Questions:  Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 03/09/2013

Brewing melodic fire: an interview with MiXE1

mixe1 pic 2

   The journey of electro rock pop band MiXE1 has been a striking and thrilling rise for it and its fans; from a solo project of founder Mike Evans to a full line-up with the addition of Lee Towson and Lee O’Brien, the band has brought a fresh and vibrant breath to the UK electro scene as confirmed by the excellent just released new EP Lights Out. With an album in the works and the new EP lighting up a hunger, it was time thanks to the members of MiXE1 to find out more about the band and its members. So pry we did…

Hi Guys and thanks for letting us explore the world behind MiXE1

Mike: “Our pleasure, Pete! Fire away :)”

Shall we start right at the beginning…give us some background to yourselves before MiXE1.

Mike Evans: “Before MiXE1, I was the guitarist in an alternative metal band called Broken Butterfly X. I’d been involved in a bunch of bands and projects before (most of those with Lee T), none of them actually got to the gigging stage apart from BBX though. We got a stash of recordings from those projects somewhere (a lot too embarrassing for public consumption)! But yeah BBX was my last band; I basically wrote the music and contributed some vocal melodies.”

Lee Towson: “I’ve actually known Mike since pre-school and we’ve been writing music in some form or another for the best part of about 12-13 years now. We started off, I think, just as secondary school was coming to an end; so we were about 15 or 16 years old and we’d regularly meet whenever we could (including class time) to write and record together.

This continued into College and through University and gradually expanded to include more outside musicians. Up until this point, while we were putting together music that was coming from a serious place, most of our lyrical output was built up around all these incredibly personal jokes or references to specific situations we’d experienced, particularly during school, and it just didn’t make sense to include anybody else. A lot of my most favourite songs of ours are completely nonsensical in subject matter and often spiralled into some of the craziest stuff you could imagine; maybe one day we’ll get the bright idea to release some of it somehow (and then promptly regret it!).”

Lee O’Brien: “Self-taught drummer. Practice!? What’s that? Just don’t have enough time! Played in a few bands over the years… My last band Load went through numerous line-up changes. We managed to record an album which had a few tracks featured on Classic Rock (Track of the day) and some cover mount CD’s for their monthly magazine. In the end we split due to lack of commitment and enthusiasm.”

What sparked and inspired not only the project but your experimentation with electronics and songwriting?

Mike: “Songwriting in general – I can’t even recall how it started! A love of music, a desire to create 🙂 What inspired the project was wanting to try a different sort of music. In terms of how MiXE1 started…Well a few years ago I was in BBX which was alt-metal. The vibe in general was heavy and some darker vibes, influenced by bands like KoRn…Dir en Grey. It had come out exactly how I planned it but I wanted to try some electronics and the big factor for me – the lyrics were quite dark, melancholy, angry – which worked and sounded great in the songs. With my changing life views and stuff, I wanted to try something more uplifting though…More positive and with a hint of romance. So I fired up Sonar and wrote the first MiXE1 song 🙂 And from there MiXE1 has just grown and grown. I feel the songwriting is only getting stronger. Fast forward to now, we’ve got the Lee’s adding their guitar and drum input to the songs. It’s always exciting to see how a song will evolve.”

Lee T: “It just felt like a natural progression really. Though I’m actually a bass player by nature, playing guitar for MiXE1 felt like a comfortable shift due to the amount of music we’ve written together before; the familiarity in the recording environment was a big deciding factor, I think. To be honest, I’m fully aware of my lack of guitar playing knowledge and if it were any other band asking me to take up the same role for them I’d probably have refused! As for the electronic side, we had tried our hand at a fair amount of synth driven rock in the past so slotting into this project was easy enough and I do feel like I can use my more rhythmic, bass-playing tendencies to my advantage in a genre that generally demands these driving low-end parts. That said though, as we push on with recording beyond the EP, we’re adding a lot more lead guitar parts too – which is really pushing my boundaries and has been a pretty fun challenge so far!”

Lee O: “I love to keep busy with music especially writing. I’m a drummer so not very musical. I didn’t want to rely on people to come up with stuff for me to add my drum parts… end up sitting round waiting for ages (although I can’t say that for MiXE1 as we always seem to have something on the go). I decided to have my own little project MiNiMAL FiLTh. It’s all electronic, samples and stuff. I got great enjoyment out of this and it helped with my song writing skills.”

What were/are the strongest inspirations to your creativity either musically or personally? mixe1

Lee O: “For me I’m really inspired (for this type of music) by Linkin Park, Pendulum, Prodigy, Leftfield, Celldweller and Rammstein. It’s their samples, synth sounds, vocals and song writing ability that makes me want to bop :)”

Lee T: “I guess my very first influence was my parent’s record collection! I grew up listening to bands like The Damned, UK Subs, The Clash and a hundred other bands across the punk spectrum; add to that a healthy dose of reggae, new wave, Sabbath and Zeppelin and that was more or less my start in life. I still remember thinking I was the coolest kid in primary school singing Guns n Roses songs in the playground! These days my inspirations come from a wider variety of media; films, books and life experience, the people around me and of course music is always there. The palette is ever changing really! It’s a lot more fun that way, I find. Over a bunch of genres across the board, 2013 so far has been amazing for music in particular for me.”

Mike: “I’m inspired by life, my wife, my family and friends all sorts 🙂 My wife in particular and things we’ve gone through has been a bit inspiration for the songs. In terms of other bands, too many to say really – a lot of music inspires and sometimes influences come from unexpected places!”

The band initially was a solo project for yourself Mike, was this always the intention or even early on were you looking at expanding the band, as you have since of course.

Mike: “At the time of starting the project, I thought it was always going to be a solo thing! I had no real intention of it becoming a band or even playing live – I was quite attracted to doing my own thing and not having any of the creative concessions you can find in bands. But this really was fuelled by wanting to go in a more electronic and lyrically positive direction than the main band I was in at that time. Since setting the foundation of what MiXE1 is, what it’s about and particularly with these guys – that’s not a problem at all. Everyone’s really open about the music and how it comes out.

How we became a full band… Essentially I was looking for some live band members to play a gig or two. The Lee’s joined the mix and I encouraged them to put their own spin on the songs, add their own stuff to their parts and not just to follow the recordings to a tee. We actually played some album songs in rehearsal and what they were adding was really cool and most importantly really fitting to the songs. I remember thinking that I’d love to have this stuff on the actual recordings! From there, it just made sense and felt right to become a band. We’re fortunate in that everyone really adds something positive to the songs. We were looking for a live bass player for ages too afterwards and we finally found Marcos who tears it up live. He’s really talented too but the important thing is everyone gets along. It’s a laid back atmosphere when we’re all together, fun times…exactly how it should be ;)”

Your previous bands were more guitar based how did you find creating music different with electronics, apart from then obvious, and did it open up a more expansive field to explore than before?

Mike: “Oh for sure! Even in my BBX I was using a lot of guitar FX pedals, so it wasn’t always a straight guitar sound – I was always looking to modify the sound to give it atmosphere and diversity rather than driving every song with the same sound. Moving to electronics just gives you a much wider palette. With synths, there are so many different sounds which can give each song a unique texture. The songs have more layers and get even more epic!”

Lee O: “Mine were also more guitar based. I wanted to move more into the Electro scene, maybe creating a British Rammstein. For me, being an Electro group, I can write more as I have the use of midi programs where I can create synth tunes as I’m not very good at playing the keyboards… hey it’s all creativity at the end of the day ;)”

mixe1 pic 4 Your debut EP was Module 1, tells us about it and what you learnt in its creation which helped with subsequent releases.

Mike: “My attitude for Module 01 was kind of experimental! It laid the foundations of the project – the theme which is essentially all based in a futuristic city called MiXE1. There are some references to that in the lyrics and more in the general sound of the music. But yeah it was very much a case of just seeing what I could do on my own with synths and my vocals on the first EP. I learnt a lot actually. The main thing I learnt was what my voice can do, discovering how to use it and what I can do. That was exciting. I learnt a bit about the importance of mixing through the process too. After I wrote the first MiXE1 song, my attitude was very much like…I have this song I think is cool but it’s just gonna sit on hard drive, I’ll release it so even if it’s not the most polished, people can actually hear it and maybe be affected by it. So I wrote and released the EP. These days I’m more picky about having a good mix to represent the songs well but still have that mentality of if I don’t release it, no-one’s gonna hear it so get it out there!”

There feels like your songs hold a deep personal core lyrically and musically especially in Module 2 your second EP, is that the reality and what inspires your songwriting?

Mike: “Yea definitely! Module 02 is a very specific story with four specific songs/chapters of a couple being separated, dealing with a long distance relationship, remembering a time before and finally being reunited – and the story stems straight from my personal life. The reality (without going in to the long story…or trying not to!) is that I’d met the love of my life, Amie – we were super happy but she was on a student visa and when it was about to expire, she had to leave the country (day before Valentine’s Day if you can believe it). We spent a year February to February doing the long distance thing before I finally got her back and she’s now my wife. So it all worked out well but that year was mental…All the emotion, money, stress of immigration, life changes and long distance relationship-ing etc. We communicated every day, some teary phone calls to boot. We kept positive and it’s all worked out! It was a lot of hard work but infinitely worth it. So yeah that situation comes in to so many songs – those on Module 02, Lights Out and Starlit Skin for sure.”

You have just released your new EP, Lights Out, for us your finest and most mature work yet, though I believe the songs were written between your previous pair of EPs. Did you revisit them or take them further on from their inception on the EP?

Mike: “A bit of both really! The songs were all there structurally – with the exception of ‘Find You’ which was written up to the first chorus. I initially thought of it as a ‘band revamp’ – get everyone on the recordings and see what happens. I mean again, a song like ‘Find You’ for example, it originally had an extremely simple beat and Lee OB came in with this really dynamic and involved rhythm – basically stamping his style and personality on it. Similarly on guitars, the song had none and now it’s soaked in atmospheric leads and chords. Suddenly a song has a different vibe or something unexpected has happened and we’ll feed off of it.”

Lee T: “If you were to go back and listen to the demo versions of each track (good luck tracking them down!), it’s actually mind blowing how far some of them have come.

Largely the structures remained the same throughout, but sonically you could just sense each song coming to life and taking on these whole new personalities as everyone found their groove and these new ideas started bouncing from one person to the other. It was a pretty global affair actually; each part was written and recorded over a number of days, in completely different places and then attached at the end of the day into a group email session we had set up, where we proceeded to nit-pick each song to death before shipping it on over to Lawrie at Studio X in Australia. So the whole recording process was this great experience of finishing a guitar part off one day and then receiving a new drum layer the next, maybe followed by a new vocal idea or synth and just layering this crazy musical Jenga as we went along – I must have about 8-10 versions of every track on the EP sitting on my computer with something SLIGHTLY different about each one.”

Lee O: “From what I know the basis of the songs was already there (which made our lives easier). It was just a case of adding, changing and tweaking to get them to where they are today.”

The release is the first with you all involved.  Do you think this expanded line-up and mix of ideas played a big part in why the songs have lights-out-ep-coverarguably leapt above your previously released songs, though they themselves have all help make impressive releases?

Lee O: “Without a doubt… ha-ha!  :^o ===(   trumpet, blowing 🙂 ”

Mike: “Ha, yeah I would say so for sure. I mean the songs were always there – the synths, basic structure, vocals, the basic riffs…The core of the songs. What we have now is a bigger sound, a more ‘live’ one thanks to some big drums and big guitar.”

Going back a bit for clarity how did you all meet and how has the additional skills and instrumentation impacted on the songwriting?

Lee O: “At The Pink Flamingo Club, we were wearing our crop tops and chaps…. oh wait, I’m getting confused! ”

Mike: “Lee T and I have been friends for years like he said earlier – think we met in the school playground playing Ninja Turtles or something! How we met Lee OB, we put an advert out for another Lee I think, right? ”

Lee T: “Yeah, we felt the dynamic of communicating with each other wasn’t QUITE confusing enough so we had to actively put an end to it. So, like many relationships these days, we found O’B via the internet, on the shadiest musician network we could find and then eventually met in person in the practice room one day. The rest is, as they say, geography… or something.”

Lee O: “I suppose I’d better come clean now…. my name isn’t Lee, its Rupert………….. I’ll get my coat!”

Lee T: “You should have said Richard – we could have called the new album The Crystal Dome!”

Mike: “But yea these guys have taken the songs to the next level! Lee OB is coming in with all these creative drum ideas that blow my mind. He gives the songs so much life and added dynamics. His ideas aren’t always restricted to drums – for example, having that extra bit of verse 2 guitar without vocals on Find You was his idea. Same with Lee T, he’s coming in with some amazing guitar ideas – lots of weird chords, lots of lead guitar stuff. I never really saw MiXE1 as having much lead guitar, I always wrote riffs very rhythmically in the past. It totally works; it’s a different vibe and stamped in his style/personality. On the EP, Find You and Pulling You Back To My World had no guitar written for them at all on the demos so it was a clean slate. Now guitar is a bit part of the songs.”

Is it a three way writing creativity for new songs now or still Mike at the core of that aspect?

Lee O: “I would like to say 3 way, but I would always want Mike (The Overlord :)) to have the final say as he has driven the sound and style to a certain place and wouldn’t want to upset that. He has done a good job in getting MiXE1 where it is today.”

Mike: “Yeah everyone is contributing for sure. I would say at this exact moment in time, I’m writing the core of the songs. That’s because we haven’t really tried writing anything from scratch as a band yet, it’s all been working on existing songs and demos penned before we became a band! There’s been plenty in the backlog 🙂 ”

Lee T: “Plus a bunch of rough demos and random recordings we keep finding from about 10 years ago!”

How do you personally approach your songwriting?

Lee O: “On tippy toes whilst wearing my lucky pants…..oh wait, I’m confused again!!”

Lee T: “In regards to Lights Out, I suppose we approached the songwriting in the same way we have always done and that’s with an open mind and a good sense of humour! The advantage of the way we work is there are no preconceived notions on how things should be done and there isn’t a certain standard expected from one another, so it leaves room for a real casual, yet productive atmosphere. This actually helped a lot for me over the last year, being the admittedly amateur guitar player that I am…

A huge majority of the guitar sessions for both Lights Out and the upcoming album have been in burst of about two hours at a time, 2-3 times a week and in a way I feel like it really helped shape some of the sound of everything you’re about to hear over the coming months. It was this real quick fire situation where ideas could be made or broken in the space of minutes and there was a hell of a lot of improvisation throughout, where we’d find ourselves picking out a great sounding part and building sections around these tiny sparks of ideas.

One of my favourite recording experiences so far was actually with an album track where I tried my hand for the very first time at soloing (spoiler alert!), and we literally had this one section of song repeating for nearly 2 hours while I repeated the same part with slight tweaks over and over again. It’s that level of fun and sheer patience that I really can’t imagine finding recording with anyone else.”

Mike: “Note – not all 2 hours of solo are on the album! 😉 Yeah, as a band we are very relaxed, in the rehearsal room or recording. My personal approach to writing… Well I always have the music first and that will spark off the vocals. I’ll usually cycle through various synth presets until a sound speaks to me or some songs I’ll start writing on guitar and later convert to synths – the 2012 single A Spark In The Air was like that. I just write songs that I want to hear, music I’d love to have on my own mp3 player and blasting out my stereo! I do have a self-imposed lyrical rule that I try to keep things positive or if there is some subject matter on the darker side, lace it with hope. For sure MiXE1 has always been quite open in terms of what sort of songs. ”

mixe1 pic 3There is a certain harder rock element and snarl to the electro sounds of the band now, was this something you ha in thoughts for a while or a thrilling consequence of the full line-up?

Lee O: “I don’t know, but I like it 🙂 ”

Lee T: “Good answer.”

Mike: “I’d say for sure being a band brings out the rock elements though I’d say it’s happened very natural rather than as a conscious decision. There’s always been rock vibes to some of the tracks – listening back to ‘Module 01’ there’s rock guitars there. The majority of synth parts on the EP were already written so I wouldn’t say the intention is brand new as a result of becoming a unit – what’s happened is the band have amplified this hard and it’s come out naturally. There are more guitar parts and these are more prominent. Having an actual drummer typically means you’ll be getting harder hitting rockier drum kits more often than the very electronic ones. It gives us an even bigger sound. I definitely feel the EP has a bit of a darker tone sonically than the previous material though as said, the core songs were written a while ago so the direction isn’t a result of that – however the band definitely accentuate the rock and edge of the songs. Balances nicely with synths to my ears :)”

Has the quality of and acclaim upon the EP changed your intent and thoughts  of the direction of MiXE1 or is it still on course for your original intention?

Mike: “Acclaim-wise – It’s a fantastic feeling to get positive feedback from reviewers and fans – we’re really appreciative and super grateful for it! In terms of impact on songwriting direction – there is none. Personally speaking I always write the music I want to write and be true to myself and what sort of songs I want to make, which is a very wide range and quite open. But it needs to feel right. If anything, the EP doing so well is an indication to keep doing that 🙂 There’s nothing greater than hearing from a fan that the music has connected with them and has been with them through times in their lives. Those messages keep me smiling for days on end!”

Lee T: “In light of the positive feedback we’re getting about the EP so far, I just wanna say a quick, but huge thanks to anyone and everyone out there who has taken the time to check it out, review it, spread the word or simply messaging positive vibes back via social media. The reaction to Lights Out so far has been way above and beyond what I expected and as my first “proper” release, the ride so far has been mind-blowing.”

Does the Lights Out EP give a strong taster of what to expect from the album you are currently working on, Starlit Skin?

Lee O: “No, not really. The album is becoming a beast. We have played more of the songs from the album in the studio than the EP, so I think that helped shape it into what it’s become.”

Lee T: “For me, I’ve gotta say that it doesn’t. The songs themselves are definitely coming from a similar place and space in time, but each track we finish up at the moment is just leaps and bounds ahead of Lights Out. That’s not to take anything away from the EP, of course, but I get a real sense of pride that I didn’t quite get with the EP. The best way I can describe it, I think, is in my own performance; not being well-versed in the art of guitar, I think my style can best be described as “winging it” and I definitely play with a ‘heart-not-head’ mentality. I think it works to our advantage, really – but you’ll have to decide when the album drops!”

Mike: “Yeah the songs on the album are sound huge. I’d actually say yes it’s a taster in the sense that we have big drums and big guitars and of course my voice and style. It’s very much MiXE1 with the new MiXE1 band vibe. So for me, it’s a taster in that respect for sure. Although I do feel the same as the guys in that the songs are coming out even better than Lights Out definitely! I’m proud of Lights Out but the songs on Starlit Skin are some of our best yet. There are a couple of more chilled songs on the album and a couple which are our heaviest yet, there’s a lot of emotion and exploration.”

Can you tell us more about the album, any spoilers 😉

Lee O: “Spoilers shmoilers…. it’s gonna have 10 original songs…. there ya go! ;)”

Lee T: “Expect to be head banging one minute and holding your hands aloft and swaying the next.”

When can we hope to see it?

Lee O: “That’s the trickiest question so far 🙂 Well it’s nearly finished…. we have a video shot for one of the tracks (just waiting for that to be completed). We’ve only just released the EP so wouldn’t be wise to release the album too soon. Think we were really going to promote, review and tease this album before release… so at a guess, towards the end of the year.”

Mike: “What Lee said! The plan is most likely the end of the year – we’ll be sitting on the album for a while sorting promo ideas for it and things for the next release. We need to give Lights Out time to air first 😉 ”

Certainly the songs on Lights Out at times give suggestion of inspirations from eighties and nineties artists and sounds, we mentioned being reminded of the likes of Modern English, John Foxx and even Blancmange, as well as more current people like Celldweller and Static Distortion stable mates Ghost In The Static, but is that older period one which has impacted on you most to spice your music would you say?

Mike: “Y’know what – I can’t actually think of any bands that come to mind as a big influence on the EP… At least not intentionally. I listen to a lot of music and I have so many influences – over time they become so integrated it’s sometimes hard to tell what influences are being channelled! So for sure older stuff has had an influence on me in some way and possibly on the EP though it wasn’t conscious ;)”

Lee T: “I’m similar in a way. While there were wasn’t any particular road map to writing these songs, I guess you’re always going to be influenced by whatever you’ve enjoyed previously whether you consciously want to or not. My music collection is so chock full of bands that make me say “I’d love to be involved in something like this”, it’s no doubt having some effect on my own output and it’s interesting so far seeing how other people are interpreting that. Being mentioned in the same sentence as some of the bands that people are reminded of, while listening to Lights Out, is just crazy to me I can tell you that!”

Lee O: “I feel I’m more influenced by current music, but who knows whether 80’s / 90’s music / bands like Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Pet Shop Boys, Adam and the Ants, Madness and Genesis influence me sub consciously. They probably do in a small way.”

You have and probably are involved in other projects and collaborations, can you fill us in on those too?

Lee O: “Maybe…. maybe not :)”

Mike: “Those which are public are ‘DEP featuring MiXE1’ – a project with Mark Haigh of Draconic Elimination Projects which we started last year. We shot a video as well for one of the singles earlier in the year, currently being edited. And also ‘M3SSAGE’ which consists of myself, Gary from Defeat and Steve from Ghost In The Static. The songs are sounding great though we’re very slow as we have our main projects as priorities. Some seven string guitar action in that one!

In terms of collabs, I’ve done a few guest vocals! I don’t really get to talk about them so I’ll talk about each of the public ones! Ghost In The Static’s song ‘Lost’ was the first. A kick-ass song, I was very honoured to be on their album (it’s awesome check it out). Steve had all the lyrics and vocals written I basically sang them and added my style and threw a few extra bits in there.

Cease2Xist’s song ‘Still Not Dead’ – that came out amazing, Dayve Yates absolutely nailed that song. He told me the lyrical theme he had in mind so I just sang some bits with the idea in mind, did a few backing screams and wrote the chorus – though only Dayve is singing that bit and added his embellishments (e.g. mental high scream :D)

Most recent is Cryogenic Echelon’s ‘From Comatose’ – basically Dayve linked me up to one of Gerry Hawkin’s releases which sounded really great and we got talking. Next thing you know I was working on a track with them. The track is awesome and Gerry was really encouraging to let me do my own thing. Really great bunch of guys, seriously talented and I’m proud how the song turned out! Bonus of that collab was Gerry introduced me to Lawrie (of CE and Studio-X) who mixed Lights Out.”

What apart from finishing the album and working on the EP promotion is next for MiXE1?

Lee O: “World domination of course. Oh, and a cup of tea with a nice biscuit on the side.”

Lee T: “Next on the agenda for me is a remix of one of the album tracks. Should be interesting as I’ve never really put one together with the intention of it actually getting out there so it’ll be an experience working on it knowing it’ll be promptly ripped apart by all the guys out there who are actually good at it! ha-ha.

Other than that, we’ve been toying with the idea of how to promote the future album release when the time comes. I produced the Lights Out trailer with my video production venture: Shooting Satellite and we didn’t really want to rinse and repeat that idea for promoting the album; so we’re currently bouncing some ideas around for something far more interesting…”

Thanks so much for sharing time to talk with us guys, anything else you would like to add?

Mike: “Thanks for the interview, Pete. We just want to say thank you for all the support – every listen, every share, every purchase, every bit of feedback. It means a lot and we are very grateful!”

Lee T: “Also thanks for the great review!”

Lee O: “This is going in OK magazine, isn’t it?”

And finally, it is becoming known that I do not get on with or understand the need for remixes, though the one of  your track Part Of Me on the new EP by the great band Defeat  did impress. So finally try to convince me of the worth of remixes as a valid proposition alongside original writing J

Mike: “I feel it serves two purposes – firstly a reimagining of a song, maybe taking it in a direction not explored in the original. A good remix for me takes the song to a new place but also very much has the sound of the remixer. Secondly, it gets bands names out – if you find a remix you like, you can check out the band who remixed and maybe you’ll like their stuff. So I feel it’s a way to promote your project as well. Personally speaking I do very few remixes, I’ve only done two. Takes me a bit of motivation as with my music time, I’d prefer to just blast new material! 😉 ”

Lee O: “I had a crack at a remix, it was my first as I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of remixes myself…. but boy it’s hard. I found it harder than writing an original song. You have to do the original justice (even though it’s probably never going to be as good as) and feel like there is a pressure there for it to be real good. People think it’s easy as the song is already written and all you have to do is jig it about a bit. It’s like redesigning something that is good and functional…. it can be done, but will you come up with a better design than the original? Hmmmm!”

Lee T: “Oooh, controversial subject! This is where I’m gonna plant my foot firmly in my mouth after telling you I’m working on one myself but I’ve gotta say it’s not often I actively seek remixes out to listen to. That said, I understand their importance in certain circles, especially in the genre we find ourselves in, as they widen the potential audience while serving as a sort of dragnet for people to check out the originals! Defeat did some awesome work with Part of Me and turned it into this awesome, dark, dance-y number that I’m sure everyone will really enjoy. It definitely sounds killer in my car!”

https://www.facebook.com/mixe1

Read the review of the Lights Out EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/mixe1-lights-out-ep/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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MiXE1 – Lights Out EP

mixe1

UK electro pop band MiXE1 started out in 2010 as the solo project of Mike Evans and took no time in impressing with the first two EPs Module 01 and Module 02. Creating a warm but adventurously impacting blend of electro and pop around a rock spine the pair of releases enchanted and evoked with their absorbing and seemingly very personal invitation. Since the summer of last year when the second EP was unveiled, Evans has taken the project up another level with further additions to its line-up whilst the already openly evolving and growing sound has blossomed into a sweltering and enthralling blaze of riveting potency.

Consisting of guitarist Lee Towson and drummer Lee O’Brien (formerly of Indie-Rock band Load) alongside Evans (former guitarist of alt-metal band Broken Butterfly X), with bassist Marcos Farias making the band a quartet for live shows, the Hatfield based MiXE1 release their new collection of songs via Static Distortion Records. Though we say new the songs themselves are revisited and explored further songs written between the two previous EPs but such the growing creative intensity and growth of the band they feel as if they are bred from a much later time whilst equally showing the strength of the songwriting from day one. With debut album Starlit Skin scheduled for later in the year, MiXE1 (pronounced Mikes 1) are set to have the rest of the year melting under a different kind of heat.

The title track opens up the release and immediately has the senses shielding their eyes under an electro radiance which shimmersLights Out EP Cover vigorously as a moody shadow lurks in the sun. The vocals of Evans are as compelling and inviting as ever, his warm seductive tones wrapping around song and emotions as drums and guitar revel in the invigorating breath of the electronic wash. At this precise moment the UK is in the clasp of a heatwave and Lights Out, song and release make the perfect soundtrack whilst intensifying the sultriness of the atmosphere. The song is a passionate affair for ear and emotions, one hinting danger but ultimately caressing with infectious charm and craft.

The outstanding Part Of Me follows and ventures into the rock suggestiveness which prowled its predecessor. From a short sonic blistering rife with temptation, the track leaps into a contagious stomp of crisp rhythms, scathing riffs, and electronic enterprise.  Like a mix of Celldweller and John Foxx with a snarl of Pendulum to its darker corners, the song is a thrilling riot down flumes of exhausting and invigorating imagination littered with appetising barbs and mesmeric kisses from music through to vocals. There is also a strong essence of label mates Ghost In The Static to its muscular addictiveness which only leads to greater ardour for its immense presence.

     Pulling You Back To My World instantly has an eighties electro pop feel to its touch, the initial wave of rich sound Blancmange like whilst the incendiary hook reminds of early Modern English. Another track which is virulent in its appeal and graceful in poise it seduces with each emotive note, the song simply growing in stature with each subsequent listen, the vocals of Evans wonderfully assisted by those of Amie Morandarte-Evans entrancing whilst the mix of guitar and synths is pure magnetism driven by the influential rhythms. Along with Part Of Me, the song steals top accolades on the release and alone makes the hunger for the forthcoming album greedy.

Both Find You and This Time continue the scintillating melodic and emotional fire of the release, the first a gentler though muggy in its ambience, encounter which tenderly walks along thoughts and imagination urging them with a muscular intensity into deeper reflection whilst its successor is an almost savage confrontation, in comparison to earlier songs. With fire in its eyes it prowls and challenges whilst still flowing with melodic beauty and sentiment. The track again shows the depth of exploration in the heart and creativity of the band which again makes Starlit Skin an exciting proposition.

Completed by a remix of Part Of Me by another Static Distortion band Defeat, Lights Out is a breath-taking encounter. The final song which challenges our personal natural reticence towards remixes with an inventive face to the track, though still the original holds it in its shadow, bringing one of the brightest and exhilarating aural massages of the year to a close. Released July 27th the EP sets MiXE1 as one of the forces which will guide UK electro pop to its greatest heights, hell, probably the world’s.

https://www.facebook.com/mixe1

9/10

RingMaster 22/07/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Defeat – [Seek Help]

Defeat pic

Our first introduction to UK electro/industrial duo Defeat came with their impressive Outbursts! EP, a release which marked the band as having the promise to be a prominent part not only national but the European industrial scene. Since that the release anticipation for their debut album has been keen to say the least but even that hunger fell short in expectation when finally feeling the might of [Seek Help]. The eleven track album is immense, a sinister and sizzling beast which whilst thrilling and igniting thoughts and passion still provides evidence that there is plenty more still to be discovered within the band.

Taking inspiration in the sound and area of music stalked by the likes of Nitzer Ebb, 242, Depeche Mode, and NIN, the pair of Anthony Matthews (Vocals) and Gary Walker (Synthetics) firmly gripped the imagination with their sounds and debut release, the album though shows the band has since taken a major leap forward not only in sound and composition but confidence and stature. Two school friends who from meeting were writing songs together, Walker and Matthews have realised the brewing strength and flavoursome imagination first indicated on Outbursts!, with [Seek Help], the album title incidentally the name of their first venture together, confronting the ear with enterprise and compelling provocative mastery. Seek Help the project, existed from 1992 to 95 with the duo playing several gigs before it came to an end, with Defeat  emerging from its ashes with a new intent and flavour to the already existing and subsequently reworked songs. The EP, released as the album through Static Distortion Records, thrust Defeat to wide attention but the suspicion is that their album will see them on the fullest lips of attention.

The Hertfordshire based pair draw the listener into the album with In Vestri Genua Descendamus, a brief piece of dawning epicAlbum Sleeve Final toned ambience and grandeur heralding vocal harmonies offering religious whispers upon air of cavernous magnificence whilst a seductive falsehood deviously leads right into the hungry jaws of Fear. The track flexes its muscles with a slowly opening swagger, melodic caresses firmly igniting the senses whilst the shadowed more rapacious spine of the introduction intimidates and seduces with equal voracity. Settling into an even pace with the wonderfully raw vocals of Matthews stalking the ear and prowling the lyrical venom, the track ignites emotive connections and flames of passion especially with its sonic eruptions around the chorus and the returning breath of church bred provocation. It is a stunning  track which sets up the rest of the album perfectly though also puts the following songs under pressure such its early benchmark.

Not that Ripcord and Defeat struggle in that respect, both songs offering individual stances with full unity in their contagion. The first of the two initially sizes up the listener with predatory concentration, the pulsating dark shards of electro probing testing the waters before opening up its grip for the emotive ambience and shadowed breeze of the song to envelope ear and thought. With Matthews gently pressing forward the menace of the narrative within the evocative sounds of Walker, thoughts of Fad Gadget easily invade, the conjuring of dark beauty here as impacting and irresistible as in the hands of Frank Tovey. The track soon announces it is one which will not settle in one corner and explodes with a fiery caustic rub to further the danger and malevolence brewing within the shadows, whilst the Tubeway Army sonic teasing which breaks out also only enhances the adventure and pleasure. The following track raps on the ear with thumping sinews whilst a scintillating abrasion threatens to break free, its taunts and grazes within the coarse groove at play challenging the nerve whilst similarly grained vocals leave no atom untested. It is an uncompromising mix of beauty and beast like sonics, a ferocity lurking with rabid intensity just waiting its chance to feed but held in check by the potent melodic toxin pervading the track.

    [Seek Help] does nothing but further impress as the likes of the toxic, lyrically and musically, Revenge, the brooding Tear Me Apart, and the insidious Wish You Dead, unleash their imaginative magnetic poison emotionally and excellence sonically. Though the latter pair do not quite rise to the heights set in place before them there is only the fullest satisfaction and hunger bred from their offerings whilst the outstanding Pedestal soon has the album touching the highest bar again. An industrial scourge honed into an immersive restraint of melodic and electro temptation, the track plays with passions and limbs like a satanic puppeteer, its control and insatiable fascination impossible to resist or not devour greedily.

Both Coffin and Cry At Your Funeral lay an appetising and inflammatory impression deep within inciting and stimulating thoughts and emotions before leaving closing song, the smouldering Scar,  to waltz off with the last ounce of passion yet to be submitted towards the release. Released June 22nd, [Seek Help] is an album which sets the previous thought that Defeat ‘will become a major player in their genre’ in stone making it now a towering undeniable declaration.

www.defeatmusic.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 16/05/2013

 

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Machine Rox – Activate Your Anger

Machine Rox

© Alex Cooke Photography

After struggling to catch a breath after the riotous, energetic and overwhelmingly exhausting Activate Your Anger EP from UK industrial/electro band Machine Rox, you can only sit back with a satiated hungry appetite and contemplate basking immediately again in the feast of satisfying sounds. Like that favourite meal you may constantly choose in a restaurant, the release is a familiar and arguably unadventurous encounter for the palate, but one which brings the deepest and fullest senses ravaging pleasure.

Machine Rox began in 2007 as the solo project of Richard Kaltenhauser (aka Richard K), a member of industrial bands Meat Machine and Global Noise Attack (who supported the likes of Rammstein, Napalm Death, and Covenant). His ideas and sounds blended the potent essences of electro, industrial, and ebm with a corrosive metallic guitar bred attack for as subsequent releases show an impacting and incendiary brawl of a magnetic encounter. The arrival of Aga in 2010 on backing vocals and keyboards brought the project into a band stance with two years later joining Aga and Richard (electronics, vocals, guitars), drummer Nuj Farrow and guitarist Valerian Oproiu added their presence for the live aspect of the band. Since then Machine Rox has supported bands such as Leaetherstrip, V2A, and Deviant UK, and played numerous successful and acclaimed shows and festivals. Activate Your Anger follows a quartet of well received EPs which has increased their stature rapidly but with the new Static Distortion Label EP and its increased aggression, intensity, and contagious energy, expectations are of this being a trigger point to even greater awareness.

The London based band immediately coats the ear in a static cursed electro rub instantly joined by heavy caustic riffs, predatory 175430660-1beats, and burning sonics as opener Move Your Body (Until You Die) winds up its lethal dance. A thumping pulse driven rampage with devilment and rhythmic belligerence in tow is an easy persuasion especially with the dual vocals of Richard and Aga offering a devil and angel seduction. Whether from the acidic melodic venom of the guitar or the bewitching wantonness of the electro spotlights and their spearing shafts of warmth, the track is an unrelenting tempest which incites a full engagement and compliance to its irresistible call.

The following Night Riots is not just content to follow in the wake of its compelling predecessor without making its own contagious declaration on the ear which it does by initially provoking and caging the senses in commanding and synapse resonating throaty beats. Hitting the primal target which leads again to capitulation before the forceful and greedy energy as well as the infectious temptation beckoning and grinning from every note and corner of the track, the band without quite matching the potency of the first track holds the passions in its grasp and takes them on an invigorating irresistible ride.

Next Nothing steps up to offer a snarl to the release which reminds of Ghost In The Static, its bruising and scuzzy sound and intensive sinews the most imposing and threatening part of the EP. It like all the songs has hooks which deep root themselves in the listener for the most potent contagion though up against the following Where You Are still looks like a novice in that department. Taking centre stage with an instantaneous swagger and impossibly catchy lure, the new song is an intoxicating hypnotist with sparking crystalline seduction and an authoritative cogent rhythmic web which enslaves the senses and passions. Virulently infectious with a presence which is like Dead Or Alive meets Hanzel und Gretyl with Marilyn Manson and Angelspit in close attention, the track is electro manna for which there is no defence.

Bringing the release to an equally riveting and explosive conclusion is firstly Time To Survive, the track bringing back a thicker muscular wall of sound to further tease and exploit the now brewed ardour towards it with insidiously entrancing sonic enticement and ravenous heavy duty rapaciousness, and finally a remixed version of Next Nothing. Though Activate Your Anger does not offer anything dramatically new, it and Machine Rox unleash a tempestuous energy exploding experience which few recently have rivalled.

http://www.machinerox.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/04/2013

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Calming Cyclones: Various

     coverAccompanying their Moving Mountains compilation album, Juggernaut Services and its founder Nick Quarm have released a second album of artists working with the management and promotion company. Calming Cyclones brings together tracks and bands which reap the rewards of and flourish within calmer melodic areas of industrial/electro. Consisting of sixteen tracks the album is a warm and refreshing further evidence of the passion and powerful imagination and creativity within underground electronic music right now, something which has maybe always been the case but now with the likes of Juggernaut has an emerging voice to be heard by.

     Made up of tracks from ten artists, with some offering two entries, the album offers the dancefloor and emotions a vibrant alternative to unleash its passions to, a collection of new artists for which invention and original thought is as instinctive as breathing. The album opens with Burning Down from XP8, a duo from Italy, who also closes the release with the track Trip remixed by Cutoff:Sky. The song is a riveting expanse of golden electro kisses with an acidic heat coursing through the elegance but also offers a sinister intimidation across its embrace which is startling and unforgettable. Infectious and virulent to feet and passions, the track is a potent opening statement for the album, soon ably backed up by UK band MiXE1. The solo project of Michael Evans, the band engages and seduces the ear with the delicious embrace of Breathe, a song which smothers the senses in warmth and melodic mastery brought through emotive radiance. Originally released on the EP Module 01 via Static Distortion Records, the track like the first holds a menace deep within its heart which snarls from within the dazzling depths. Evans also offers a second song in the even more impressive electro tease of This Is Not Goodbye from Module 02, the song a union of extremes and unpredictability offering a NIN/ Celldweller meets Sonic Syndicate treat.

Another band which ignites the fullest rapture on the album is Oklahoma based electronic band, Pittersplatter who firstly with Necrotech enthrals and deliciously contaminates the senses with explosive cyber spawn melodies and an exhausting soundscape before returning again later to equal strength and addictive allurement with Mummies And Music Boxes and its invidious sonic theatrics.

Throughout its rich breadth the album continues to enchant and raise shadows with craft and enterprise. The album like its sister release has  impressive consistency in quality, imagination, and depth to all the tracks featured. Most single compilations waver within personal tastes but the pair from Juggernaut Services ignites the passions with every minute of their declarations. The likes of Manchester, UK band Cortex Defect with their two slices of future pop, Bliss Of Surrender and Heart Of Dust (Club Mix), the twin goth/darkwave offerings Messiah and Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain from Belarus band Kaltherzig, and Washington DC Retrogramme all cast their diverse and emotive sonic instigations upon the listener bringing the fullest rewards. The last of the three is a trio of musicians who create a tapestry of synthpop, darkwave, and ambience into a mesmeric and enveloping atmospheric encounter with a pop lit heart and electro voice. On Calming Cyclones their songs 911 For Locals and Heaven Is Closer Than You Think entice and infuse the most open of emotions and pleasure.

The likes of Revenant Cult from Australia and Canadians Psykkle with their dark electro continue the shifting infection upon the album whilst Scottish misanthropes Plastic Noose ensure the album ends on an elevated pinnacle in the sonic sedition Road To Perdition immediately backed up by Tactical Module and the Cortex Defect Remix of Dead Zone.

As with its companion compilation, Calming Cyclones in its own unique and distinct presence leaves the previously hidden shadows of industrial/electro underground with all it glorious detours an openly lit invitation, something which to ignore would be irresponsible to the passions.

Get the Name Your Price purchase @ http://music.juggernautservices.com/album/calming-cyclones

8/10

Tracklisting:

1. XP8 – Burning Down

2. MiXE1 – Breathe

3. Pittersplatter – Necrotech

4. Cortex Defect – Bliss Of Surrender

5. Kaltherzig – Messiah

6. Retrogramme – 911 For Locals

7. Revenant Cult – Spectral Heresy

8. MiXE1 – This Is Not Goodbye

9. Cortex Defect – Heart Of Dust (Club Mix)

10. Pittersplatter – Mummies And Music Boxes

11. Retrogramme – Heaven Is Closer Than You Think

12. Kaltherzig – Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain

13. Psykkle – City Of Nodes (Revenant Cult Remix)

14. Plastic Noose – Road To Perdition

15. Tactical Module – Dead Zone (Cortex Defect Remix)

16. XP8 – Trip (Remixed By Cutoff:Sky)

RingMaster 07/03/2013

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