British Electric Foundation at Rewind Sunday 23 August!
"An extraordinary thing to experience"
For British Electric Foundation’s performance at Rewind, Martyn Ware has assembled a stellar line-up featuring the full Heaven 17 band performing songs made famous by the stars themselves and cover versions in the inimitable BEF electronic pop style.
The gig will feature Robin Scott (M), Thomas Dolby, Eddi Reader (Fairground Attraction), Peter Hook (New Order), Shingai Shoniwa (The Noisettes) and of course Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17.
This one-off performance promises to be a hit-packed highlight of the entire weekend – don’t miss it!
“The internet’s probably the greatest invention since the wheel”…OX interviewed Robin Scott!
For those that know British Electric Foundation as individuals, what is your creative aim when playing together?
Well, Martyn Ware sort of brought everything together, but we’re a collective of like-minded people who have a similar idea in terms of the history and the evolution of electronic and digital pop music.
When I spoke to Martyn earlier, he spoke about how the synth-pop style that you championed influenced modern music. How do you think what you did back in the day shaped recent sounds?
I think everybody was tuning in to the possibilities at the time, but a lot of the ground had already been broken. In the classical field, the avant-garde composers like Varèse and Stockhausen had been really on this sort of thing back in the 60s. In terms of when it began to surface with real interest in the mainstream, you have to give a nod to Kraftwerk of course. The ground-breaking moment was when it was possible to sequence music and use MIDI and so on, and essentially put the computer in the centre field and use it as the conducting element in making music. It made it possible to make a tight, disciplined performance, taking out the human error in a way. In one hand it was fascinating, but on the other hand it was contrary to what everybody liked in music at the time. It became a very useful tool and that’s how it emerged in popular music.
On that subject, what’s your opinion on how music has changed in terms of accessibility to digital audio workstations and software? Does it help or has it made it too easy?
I think from the creative point of view, it’s fantastic because it’s kind of levelled the playing field. It’s given so many people access to making music and it’s all to do with the ground-breaking moment when the internet arrived. The internet’s probably the greatest invention since the wheel, how it’s given us democratisation of information, empowering creativity. That’s become quite explicit in how music and images are delivered. It’s something which everybody can have access to and play their hand in, but I don’t think it’s taken away from the creative process. If anything I think it’s given people greater ability to express their own feelings in a wide landscape of sound. It’s a great time.
In the past you’ve collaborated and made music with your son. What’s it like working with the younger generation of musicians?
It’s really inspiring, because their take on things is very different, but they’re still charged with the same passion and enthusiasm that we all have when we start out. In this instance, there’s techniques which didn’t really exist in the period when I was emerging like beatboxing, which is simulating drums and manipulating sound with a mic. That’s what my son does, and he makes really great material. He’s also turning into a producer and blossoming in his own right, writing songs and so on. I’m doing my best to encourage him without treading on his territory! I’m really excited to see what’s emerging. I’m constantly working with people who share the same enthusiasm. There’s a producer I’m working with at the moment, who’s a little bit older than my son, and he’s similarly tapped into the emerging network of artists.
Going back to British Electric Foundation, you’re playing at the Rewind festival this summer. What sort of performance can we expect?
Well, the line-up is all down to Martyn, he’s putting together the show in terms of the interpretation of the material. For my part, I’m quite happy to sit back in that sense and deliver a vocal, that’s where I’m coming from. That’ll be a real luxury and it’s always a pleasure to work with a band that has its roots in the same period as myself. I’m sure Martyn will be looking to accommodate all the people that are part of the collective.
Is it nice to have a reunion of all the people you were working with when you were younger?
For me, it’s kind of an opportunity second time round to mingle with my contemporaries or peers, whereas at the outset I think I missed out on that because I spent so much time in isolation doing my own thing! It’ll be a great opportunity in that respect.
'Pop Muzik', your biggest track back in the 80s, was and is a massive hit. How do you feel listening back to it now, from the perspective of all your recent work?
To be absolutely honest, I feel like it’s not mine anymore. It’s like it’s in the public domain, and I can’t say it’s something I can listen to objectively. I love all the different versions and interpretations of the track, that’s the most interesting side of it. Everyone’s put a different spin on it from Tricky to U2. It’s quite an extraordinary thing to experience, to have someone pick up your original piece and irreverently take it apart. I’m always open to that. That’s probably more interesting to me than listening to the version that I put together at the outset.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m right on the cusp of completing what will probably be my next album, and I’m really quite excited about it because over the years there’s been several projects which I’ve initiated and for whatever reason have derailed and never come to fruition. But more recently, I’ve suddenly felt a surge of inspiration, perhaps because the challenges that we go through in life suddenly strike a chord and it’s a place we can go from a creative point of view to review and reflect. That’s what I’ve been doing over the last few years, and I’m probably going to be able to deliver something by July, before the festival. It’s quite a radical departure from anything I’ve done before, and from an expressive point of view I feel like I’ve found my voice finally, in every sense of the word. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to share this with people, because people have wondered where I’ve gone. It’s a return back from the wilderness, which indeed is a title of one of the tracks! I’m looking forward to seeing how it’ll be received and this appearance at the Rewind festival is certainly welcomed, and any exposure at this point is going be very helpful.
What name will the new project be written under?
It will be Robin Scott. I think “aka M” may be something I might drop from my own name.
- Jack Rayner
Top Image - Robin Scott (M)
Middle Image - Shingai Shoniwa (The Noisettes)
Bottom Image - Peter Hook (New Order)
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Thanks to Noble PR