TEC004 is coming up soon. On Saturday, 5 November 2016, the UK’s synthescenti will gather in Norwich to dance to artists hand-picked by The Electricity Club. We asked TEC’s Chi Ming Lai to give us a preview of the show and his views on the current UK scene.
What can visitors expect from TEC004?
Well, it’s an electronic music event curated by electronic music fans, for starters, and it’s perfect for people who love synthpop; i.e., pop music with synthesizers! The line-up is the most important thing, as opposed to the event itself.
It’ll be Marsheaux’s first UK gig since they played TEC002 in 2012, so that will be a nice welcome return. The live versions of tracks from their new album Ath.Lon sounded great in Düsseldorf at the Electri_City_Conference, a few weeks back; and, who knows, they might even sneak in a Depeche Mode cover.
There’s a great supporting bill from Kid Kasio and Rodney Cromwell, too; plus, for early arrivals, there’s a free Depeche Mode and Gary Numan memorabilia exhibition in the venue café at 3pm; so, if Dave Gahan’s jacket from The World We Live In and Live In Hamburg video and a Living Ornaments 80 gold disc are your thing, then this is for you.
Why did you choose Norwich as the site?
My TEC004 partner, Stephen Roper from The Touring Principle, lives there and knows the people who own Epic Studios, so it was a natural choice. It’s where Anglia Television used to be – they filmed Sale of the Century, presented by Nicholas Parsons, there. The facilities there are fantastic and the infrastructure suits a multi-band event, from the availability of things like dressing rooms for the acts and a café for pre-show activities to the staff handling the sound and the management of the evening. Okay, Norwich is not a natural place to hold a gig, but it’s a beautiful cathedral city which is perfect for a weekend break. People came out to see the Wolfgang Flür and Analog Angel gig which Stephen organised a few years ago, so let’s see how this one works out.
The show is on Bonfire Night. Which recent release would you throw onto the pyre and which would you light up the skies for?
I would throw a load of music that is just a bit too normal onto that pyre; however, Villa Nah’s Ultima is my favourite album of 2016, so far.
James Nice is DJing. Will there be an Anna Domino megamix?
Anything is possible! James has promised a Les Disques du Crépuscule set, so I’ll be happy if there’s some Paul Haig and Marnie lurking in there. Caroline Rose, who was born in Montpellier, is TEC004’s compere, so we also have someone who can pronounce “Les Disques du Crépuscule” properly, too.
Tell us about the CD curated by TEC. Will this be the first of a series?
The tracklisting was put together by myself and Undo Records to reflect the excellent music that has continued the synthpop tradition since The Electricity Club was founded in 2010. I’m so happy that veterans like Erasure and OMD are on it, while more recent acts like Sin Cos Tan, Night Club, Mesh, Tenek, Metroland, and all the acts performing at TEC004, are also on it. The running order of two CDs works really well, too. Think of it as a journey from the battlecry that is “Synthpop’s Alive” by Maison Vague to the artful eloquence of “Deep Red” by Vile Electrodes.
This has taken quite a few years to put together for a number of reasons. Since it was announced, quite a few tracks by artists that aren’t on this one have been offered, and there’s already enough for CD1 of a second compilation. Never say never, but don’t hold your breath, either!
In your view, what is going on with the UK synth scene at the moment?
As I said to Swedish blog synth.nu, I think the UK independent scene is alive but wounded. Unfortunately, those who shout loudest seem to be garnering a lot of undeserved attention. It’s suffering from “big fish in small bond” syndrome, but the crème does eventually rise to the top. There are plenty of talented people out there, conducting themselves in the correct manner – some go on about not wanting to “play the game,” but if not “playing the game” means slating the very media you want to be featured by, then that’s going to get you nowhere fast.
The people who are not actually into electronic music for the right reasons are the ones really ruining it, in my opinion, be they artists, promoters or journalists. With the latter, the electronic music press needs to snap out of this over-intellectualisation of Kraftwerk to validate the more backward forms of dance music and focus on the good electronic acts who are actually producing new quality material, as opposed to exploiting their legacy forever and a day.