80′s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Karl Hyde / Freur/ Underworld

~July 13, 2012~

Imagine a world where gifted artists from your favorite music decade continue to create brilliant music for over 30 years. Not tired, recycled retro; but new, reinvented, and cutting edge. That’s what I love so much about Gary Numan. And that’s also what I love about Karl Hyde, formerly of Freur and currently of Underworld.

For me, the past year and a half has been, in a word, stressful. Music is the salve for my tortured soul, the magic medicine that sees me through each day. During this period, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to travel back in time and rediscover some of the finest music the 80’s had to offer. One such “discovery” is Karl Hyde, front man for the unpronounceable group Freur. The iconic song “Doot Doot” is the stuff classic 80’s electronica is made of.

Freur – “Doot Doot” via YouTube user AreFriendsElectric:

In 1987, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith moved on from Freur to start the group Underworld, along with  bass player Alfie Thomas and drummer Bryn Burrows. Hyde and Smith have been the constant members over the past two decades. Underworld was an experimental band from the beginning. Karl Hyde used his electronic roots in a very unique and cutting edge way, establishing a strong foothold and forging ahead with dance/techno music. “Underneath the Radar” is an excellent illustration of Hyde and company’s successful segue from New Wave into this new genre.

Underworld – “Underneath the Radar” via YouTube user AussieFive:

Underworld continued to push the limits of their creativity, landing in the techno/trance realm with a breakthrough hit named “Born Slippy” which was featured in the critically acclaimed movie “Trainspotting.”

Underworld – “Born Slippy nuxx (Live)” via YouTube user bandulu:

Underworld – “King of Snake (Everything Everything) via YouTube user 3xrymek:

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this incredible band perform live. But, I can’t get enough of watching Karl Hyde onstage via YouTube. His enthusiasm for his music is eminently evident and contagious. The privilege of experiencing a live Underworld concert must be something similar to a religious transformation. The level of euphoric participation that Hyde exudes cannot be faked. He literally loses himself in the music, and no matter how many times he performs, his excitement and love for his music shines through. It’s almost as though his face is a window to his soul as his body moves of its own accord on its own spiritual plane.

“Scribble” from 2010’s CD Barking is my go-to song when I need a lift. It’s infectious upbeat is difficult to resist. I highly recommend exploring the phenomenon that is Underworld. Very few 80’s-based artists have successfully survived a tough and unforgiving music industry. When they do, they definitely have a gift that’s worth adding to your treasured collection. And when you’re down, spin a few of Underworld’s tunes.  In addition to bouncing up and down to the beat, you just may get that same Hyde-esque euphoric look on your own face.

Underworld – “Scribble” live from KCRW radio via YouTube user Alin82:

Underworld – “Scribble” via YouTube user UnderworldLiveTV:

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules ~ Introducing Martin Eve

I have had the great pleasure of meeting Martin Eve through our mutual love of 8os electronica. I was searching for Fiat Lux’s “Photography” on YouTube, somehow Martin found out, and he ended up uploading a copy for my enjoyment. In getting to know Martin, I have found him to be charming, engaging, and an extremely talented electronic musician. Martin has graciously agreed to be interviewed for Rave and Roll, while waiting for the imminent release of his latest collection of music. Be sure to check his music out on SoundCloud, under the user name 4th Eden. I believe you’ll be very impressed.


How long have you been a musician?

Well, I guess since my teens, as I studied music at school which was in the late 70’s. I really started writing in the early 80’s, the time of the electronic music explosion. So, I wrote music with my friends on our synthesizers.

What/who inspired you to become a musician?

I have to say my first music teacher inspired me to begin with when he played me Tomita’s – The Planet Suite. Ok, written by Holst, but all done with synthesizers…awesome. He also played in class a guy called Mike Oldfield. So, Tomita and Mike Oldfield are an unlikely inspiration together, but that’s how it began.

Tell us in what way that inspiration influences your music.

I try not to be influenced by music I listen to but it’s always going to be there in your subconscious. Inspiration however, is all around me, particularly where I live in Mid Wales. One moment I will write about the Welsh Hills and the next about a burial chamber. Real life and people inspire me, as well. I was recently inspired to write a piece about George Mallory (the man who almost made it to the top of Everest).

How would you describe the genre of music that you create?

I don’t stick to one genre, so I guess I genre-hop. With my influences from the 80’s with bands like Ultravox, there will be the electronic pop feel; but then I really like the folk/new age side. However, I do enjoy writing in a Cinematic dramatic way, where possible.

What current artist/group do you listen to most often?

At the moment it’s Ultravox – “Brilliant” the new album after 28 years away! But I also am listening to School of Seven Bells – “Ghostery” and Polica – “Give You the Ghost.”

Which decade of music do you feel is the most influential on current up-and-coming artists, and why?

The artists I listen too are influenced by many different decades of music. They then make it their own to make it sound bang up-to-date production techniques.

If you could spend your time doing anything at all, what and where would that be?

Hmmmm…. walk, live by the sea, and write music…as I say on my forums, “Composing Until I’m Decomposing.”

Do you prefer the studio or performing live? Why?

I’m a studio musician…the thought of performing scares the hell out of me.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve ever received?

I rarely get compliments!

What type of equipment do you use?

I use a variety of software based instruments and samplers with my Digital Audio Workstation, Sonar. These are all connected to my Korg MIDI keyboard. Favourite instruments are probably Omnisphere and Kontakt. Once a track is finished then my preferred location for publication is Soundcloud where fellow Soundcloud members can comment on my tracks.

Do you work alone, or do you collaborate with anyone? If you collaborate, what is their role?

I mainly work alone but recently I have been collaborating with a singer in Los Angeles, a musician in France and another musician in Sweden. It’s great collaborating; it pushes you further out of your comfort zone, but can be more time-consuming.

I generally find that my role will be mainly to write the songs and then produce them, but this depends on the other artist. If they want more involvement, then I’m happy for a role-reversal.

Where can we go to listen to/purchase your music?

You can listen to my music on my SoundCloud page at http://soundcloud.com/quietman. A new CD is imminent, but I cannot mention where it can be purchased from yet until it’s finally released by the record company. However, it will be available in our cafe’ (that’s the day job) at the ‘Wye Knot Stop’ Cafe/B&B in Llyswen in Wales.

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules – Independent Music Productions

One thing I’ve learned from David Marsden and Ed (Ed-FM) Cooke: some of the best music in the industry has been overlooked because the stuffed suits in the record company/radio station boardrooms have given themselves the power to determine what us members of the poor, unwashed masses should listen to.  I have been a rebel my entire existence, listening to what moves me, not whatever is the flavor of the moment. If I didn’t feel that way, I would have missed out on some outstanding music without which my life would have been just a little more wretched. Can I imagine a world without Gary Numan, Slave To The SQUAREwave, Autocondo, Electronic Dream Factory, Vladymir Rogoff, Benjamin Russell, and so many others? No. Had I relied on what commercial radio force-feeds us, would I have enjoyed the moving and life-enriching creations of these fabulous musicians? Not likely.

The champions of bringing superior music (besides DJs like David and Ed) to the masses are generally folks in the marketing side of the independent music industry. I’d like to call attention to one such company, Independent Music Productions. The title of this music marketing outfit pretty much says it all.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some of the artists that Independent Music Productions promotes and feel they are worth the time to listen to. Here are a few to discover:

Rooftop Runners

From Independent Music Productions:

Forging a mix of menacing mood and moving melody out of their adopted city of Berlin, Germany, RTR are Canadian singer-songwriter brother duo Benedikt and Tobias MacIsaac. An internationally accomplished choreographer and dancer respectively, the brothers are no strangers to performing-arts success, having toured and performed extensively with world class troupes in Europe.

From: Berlin, Germany
Album: We Are Here EP (rel date April 3, 2012)

“Bang Bang” by Rooftop Runner via YouTube user rooftoprunnersmusic:

Style: Alternative / Indie / Trip pop
Members:Benedikt & Tobias MacIsaac
Production: Angela Seserman
Tracklisting: Streets, Energize, Bang Bang, She Devil
Official Website
Highlights: 2012 European tour successfully completed, performed at Club NME
“Streets” electronic remix“Streets” Music VideoStreaming Link

From Independent Music Productions:

Sounds Like: Jeff Buckley, James Blake, Radiohead, Massive Attack

Bio: “Crippled in my youth, crippled in my youth, crippled in my youth and I’m trying to breathe”

Francis Bowie

From Independent Music Productions:

Francis Bowie is a metrosexual whirlwind of creativity within the Danish music and art scene; aside from his singing and songwriting,  he’s a painter, sculptor, designer, writer and gallery owner. Indie  Music Musings calls him “a positive rush of inspiration and  celebration inspired by new wave and electronic music. Picture Duran Duran and Unkle with dreadlocks.”

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
CD: Francis Bowie EP
Release date: Oct 17, 2011
Label: Interscope Digital
Production: Michelle Djarling & Kasper Larsen (Kay & Ndustry)
http://francisbowie.bandcamp.com/, http://francisbowie.com, http://soundcloud.com/francis-bowie, http://www.facebook.com/FrancisBowie

Style: Intelligent Pop Music
Streaming linkMusic video links

“Sunny Day” by Francis Bowie via YouTube use FrancisBowieOfficial:

Press contact: James Moore (james@independentmusicpromotions.com)
Artist contact: music@francisbowie.com

Monks of Mellonwah

From Independent Music Productions:

A four-piece alternative rock and indie band based in Sydney, the Monks draw on a variety of influences driving each member to create a fresh and unique sound, blending elements of classic blues & rock with modern indie and alternative rock. Their first E.P., Stars Are Out, is testament to such a unique blend, and has been highly praised since
its release in 2010.

Location: Sydney, NSW
CD: “Neurogenesis” EP (Advance rel May 24, 2012)
Streaming Music

“Swamp Groove” by Monks of Mellonwah via YouTube user MonksOfMellonwah:

Members: Will Maher (vocals), Joe de la Hoyde (backing vocals/guitar), John de la Hoyde (bass), Josh Baissari (drums)
Production: Jeff Bova (Michael Jackson), Ryan Miller (John Frusciante), Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, RHCP)
Style: indie rock, alternative rock
Similar to: The Black Keys, Muse, Incubus
Press contact: James Moore (james@independentmusicpromotions.com)
Band management contact: Chris de la Hoyde (cdelahoyde@yahoo.com)

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules – Alabama Shakes

This is a side-step from the usual obscure/80s/Numan/etc.  features normally found on Rave and Roll.  I’ve been known to talk about current artists that either emulate 80s New Wave/Postpunk, or in this case, give a heavy-hitting dose of soul-wrenching, gut-stirring blues.

A friend posted “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes on my FaceBook page, and I have not been able to get enough of this band. In the past, I’ve made no bones about the fact that 1) I am not a fan of female vocalists, and 2) I don’t believe there are a whole lot of up-and-comers that are worth their salt.  Brittany Howard, and her band Alabama Shakes, have shattered both of those long-standing rules.

From Wikipedia:

Alabama Shakes is an American rock band formed in Athens, Alabama in 2009. The group consists of lead singer Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson.

The band was originally formed when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard approached bassist Zac Cockrell during a high school psychology class and began meeting after school to write songs. Howard and Cockrell experimented with many different styles of music including roots rock, progressive rock, soul music, country music and classic rock.

If you have ever loved the blues, if you have ever loved Janis Joplin, you must give this band a listen. I’m going to let Alabama Shakes, and more importantly, their edgy, bluesy, hard-rocking singer speak for themselves. They just released their first full-length album titled Boys and Girls this month. Check out the Alabama Shakes homepage, listen to them on YouTube, and buy their music. This is definitely a life-changing experience you do not want to miss.

Alabama Shakes – “Hold On” via YouTube user AlabamaShakes:

  • Brittany Howard – lead vocals, guitar
  • Heath Fogg – guitar
  • Zac Cockrell – bass
  • Steve Johnson – drums
  • Ben Tanner – keyboards

Alabama Shakes – “You Ain’t Alone” via YouTube user NowWaveManchester:

80’s Music Rules ~ So Does Bobbi Style and the Access 2 Foundation

That sound you hear to the north is not the rumble of a summer afternoon thundershower. It’s not the roar of a fast-approaching tornado, nor a slow-moving, yet powerful hurricane. That whirlwind off in the distance is the sound of a dynamo going from the usual thousands of revolutions per second to about a million.

The dynamo has a name—Bobbi Style—and the source of his energy is Access 2.

I showcased this perpetual-motion musician last fall (check out the post here). The article discusses Bobbi’s dream of “Bob-friendly” disabled-accessible studios to accommodate all musicians comfortably, no matter their physical limitations. Since then, Bobbi has formed the Access 2 Foundation, sent out a call for help to a world-wide music community, and the responses have been overwhelming. He is closer to realizing a dream that will benefit countless of musicians who would otherwise be physically deterred from sharing their creativity.

Bobbi has asked people like me to get his vision out there, to see if there are folks who can help to make it happen. He has shared with me that to even get one studio up and running, along with all of the special considerations needed to make the equipment and the location itself handicapped-accessible, it costs a minimum of $30-60,000. But, being the driven and optimistic man that he is, he has not let that daunting proposition stop him.

Already, he has completed work on a studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. There are further negotiations in process for studios in California, Nevada, Florida, and several in his native UK. He needs assistance to make these visions a reality. All he is asking for is a donation of time, talent, or treasure, whatever you feel comfortable with, to make his dream come true.

Time – Volunteers are needed to promote, advertise, and help with setting up the studios.

Talent – Bobbi plans release a compilation CD of songs that musicians have donated for the cause sometime this August. All proceeds will go to fund the foundation. Bobbi himself is busy writing and recording for this project. He reports:

“There are currently 38 bands/artists committed to the CD Synthetic Frequencies (it’s an industrial/EBM album). We’re now looking for more mainstream and multiple-genre artists/bands.”

Treasure – Items needed include: music equipment and accessories, instruments, memorabilia that can be auctioned, studio space, and cash.

It’s even helpful to go to the Access 2 site on FaceBook, “Like” it and leave a comment. Bobbi appreciates any show of support for this important cause. Whatever you feel you can do, please contact Bobbi directly at bobbi.style@access2foundation.com.

Access 2 site on FB: http://www.facebook.com/Access2Foundation
Access 2 Website: http://www.access2foundation.com/

Be sure to familiarize yourself with this amazing artist.

“Like A Bullet” via YouTube user Bobbi Style:

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules ~ Vladymir Rogov (ARKITEX)

I have had the absolute pleasure of making Vladymir Rogov’s acquaintance through the magic of the Internet. He graciously agreed to provide an interview. Much to my delight, he put a whole lot of effort and energy into his answers, making this a fabulous learning experience for us all. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy absorbing all there is to know about this personable and highly gifted artist.

Vladymir Rogov- In Sound and Vision

Where do you originally come from?

I usually start with “when.” I was born in West Germany of Russian parents. My first languages were Russian at home, Polish on the street and German at school. At age 11 I went to England and attended an English school. I was put in a class full of English kids until I started to understand what the teacher and the other kids were saying. That’s how I learned English, by deep immersion. I lived there for 16 years, during the 60’s and the early 70’s British music and cultural revolution. England was quite a contrast to Germany, which was ominously divided. Everything was in ruins, everyone was in transition and we were the “refugees.” After 16 years of English culture, I immigrated to Canada in ’75. This was a new world which sounded exciting. I lived in Toronto for 8 years. In ’83 I moved to San Diego, California.

What made you decide to go into music?

I think that I got swept up by music at a very early age and never brought down. Some of the first music I heard were Polish and Russian folk songs. The songs were deep, many were dark and many were funny. The Poles & Russians have a particular way of poking fun at their conditions. As a kid I would see people playing guitars and singing. It was uplifting and I wanted to do that too. I could not afford to buy a guitar, so I decided to make my own. By age fourteen, I had designed and built my own electric guitar. I plugged it in and it worked. This was in England, and the song I played was, “In Dreams,” by Roy Orbison. Who would have thought this was going to be my ultimate calling in life — music and design, sound and vision.

At first, I was directed into studying engineering, but I switched to art and design, and graduated from Guilford School of Art. I also played in a band called Red Earth all through Art School. We played all around the south of England. Later in London, I was designing slick furniture for Conran and the Habitat shops, while writing songs for Mickie Most (producer of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” Herman’s Hermits, Donavon, etc.). In Canada, I was designing things from car interiors to gas stations and recording songs that were played on the radio.

Who were your strongest musical influences?

As I mentioned, in Germany during the 50’s, the Polish and Russian folk songs. And Freddy Quinn, a baritone from Hamburg who sang about sailors, mothers, lost love, and the open sea. In England it was Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, and Hot Chocolate. During my Canadian years I liked the sound of Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Talking Heads, the Cars, and Pink Floyd.

Where did the name for your first band – “ARKITEX” – come from?

I was preparing to play the HEATWAVE music festival in September of 1980 — as the opening act in a lineup that included the B52’s, Pretenders, Rockpile, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, the Kings and more. I was rehearsing a backup band. We had to call the band something. Someone suggested “Vladymir and the Architects,” and it evolved into “Vladymir Rogov and his band Arkitex.” Eventually ARKITEX became my design project for the 80‘s, which resulted in the album in 1981.

What was your most exciting moment as a musician?

There have been many: hearing my first record on the radio; working with Mickie Most; playing a big outdoor concert like “Heatwave.” As a song writer, having a song covered by another artist – when Long John Baldry, (a legend) covered “Love is a Killer.” But these are the external moments. The internal moments happen when no one else is listening, while I’m playing alone. Getting that perfect combination of space between what my voice and what the guitar is doing. It’s unexplainable. When you fall into the perfect groove, it feels as if you can’t sing or play a bad line. Music is so much about the timing and swing. And when everything is in its place, it seems to defy gravity — gives me goose bumps!

What have you been doing since you disbanded ARKITEX?

After a particularly long and cold Canadian winter in 1983, and inspired by my song “First World Calling” from the ARKITEX album, I married my girlfriend and we drove off to California in my red VW bug — on a mission to elevate function to fine art, we opened a design studio in San Diego, and brought high-touch to the world of high-technology.

Do you currently have a band, or are you solo?

Technology has come up to a level where one person can be all the members of a band. Mozart was an individual who created music, but it took an army of players to reproduce what he heard. Today, it can take one or as many players or collaborators as you want, to capture a performance. On the new ARKITEX album, Glass Man, I am the band, with very special guest musicians, that came into my life.

Tell us about the latest tracks that David Marsden has been playing in recent months.

“First World Calling” – is from ARKITEX 1981, a “tongue-in-cheek” prediction about computer connection possibilities. Now we can do what l sang about. In fact billions of people are connected, globally. So, what began as a computer technology muse has become our reality. During the past 30 years, computers have created social media, internet radio, video and global connections on an unprecedented scale.

“Lincoln Walk” – ARKITEX 1981 was composed during the end of a stormy, winter when Torontonians are anticipating spring. A long walk along Queen Street East, developed the groove and it took off… a celebration of going outdoors without boots, coats, scarves, gloves…

“Where is the Love” – is a tortured love-lost rock ballad, from recording sessions I did back in Toronto (December 1994) with legendary producer, John Punter. This song includes Sam Reid from Glass Tiger, playing most of the keyboards. On guitar is the legendary Chris Spedding, and Liz… on background vocals.

“Everybody’s Crazy” – is from the new ARKITEX album, Glass Man. Based on the first song I ever wrote, back in 1969 in England. I sing and play all the instruments through the entire song.

“If a Tree Falls in the Forest” is also from the new ARKITEX album, Glass Man. It is a muse about true friends.

What inspired you to go back into the recording studio?

It’s been 30 years since the release of the first ARKITEX album. The process of recording is different from playing live concerts. I have been recording, starting with tape recorders, since the age of thirteen. Although my first two albums were recorded in Toronto studios, after moving to San Diego, I started creating my own studio and began recording again. Thirty years has to be some kind of a record, no pun intended, but recording studios have evolved for the better. There’s more time to experiment and learn new things. We have come up to a level where one person can be all the elements in a composition or band. Today I can go direct to play and record — sing the melody, set up a drumbeat, play a bass line, fill spaces with strings, play guitar, in any order that feels good, until I’m happy with the results.

Which comes first – lyrics or melody?

One, and the other. Sometimes simultaneously. On “If a Tree Falls in the Forest” from the ARKITEX album, Glass Man, the music came first. It started with an interesting piano chord progression — which I played over and over again. One day I thought I’d give it a try on my recording work station and it just took off from there. The music inspired the lyrics and it evolved very quickly. Those are the moments that I live for — experiencing a song/design that evolves from nothing to something. It’s magical. Some songs take years, even decades.

Each song tends to evolve out of itself. I’m often as surprised as anyone else with the final result. One can say things in songs which can not be said in any other medium. Michael Jackson once said that writing songs is like channeling an energy that is actually doing the writing. I feel the same way. One is not really in charge of what is happening. The skill/thrill is in going along with it, and capturing what shows up.

With “First World Calling”, the lyrics came first. I was reading an article in Canada’s Macleans Magazine (1979) about computers. The author was introducing these technology words that sounded cool. The article inspired the song. This has turned out to become a prophecy, a future vision about computers, in my amused way. The lyrics still make me laugh. I have since worked for many computer factories and today, computers are a window into other people’s lives. The song goes, “I got a job at the computer factory, exactly what I do has never bothered me. I feel at home with my computerized toys, don’t need to get around, nor do the rest of the boys…” Some prediction, eh? Here we are 30 years later and billions of people are connected via computers. Before that, we were individuals in countries, socially and spiritually isolated islands. Now, we can have friends on Facebook world wide. “We got communication at the speed of light, information of a laser’s byte. You can compute it, you can dilute it or turn it all into a ga, ga, game.” We can instantly share and explore ideas, dreams and convictions, on a global scale. It’s a magical time to be living.

Besides music, your other passion is design. What do you create, and how does it relate to music?

Although we are used to separating the disciplines, I wouldn’t be surprised if a formal study showed that more “modern musicians” have come out of art schools than music conservatories. Here are a few: The Beatles (John Lennon), The Rolling Stones (Charlie, Keith and Ronnie), The Who (Pete), The Kinks (Ray), Roxy Music (Eno, Bryan Ferry), David Bowie, The Clash (Mick, Paul, Joe), REM (Michael Stipe), Echo and the Bunnymen (Ian McCulloch), Pink Floyd (art & architecture), New Order / Joy Division, The Stone Roses, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Underworld, Radiohead, Kraftwerk, Linkin Park, and so on. On a recent trip to London I was in Harrods, an upscale department store, and was surprised to see watercolor paintings by Bob Dylan, for sale. I know him as a musician, but there were his paintings… Cool!

We live in a designed world. Making music is designing with sound. In the past, the amount of tools and equipment required to be able to create sound and vision side by side made it difficult. When I lived in London for example, I was designing slick furniture at Conran’s studio in one part of London, then I would take the tube over to Mickie Most’s offices across the city and write songs. In those days, those two activities could not occur in the same space. Today, neither activities need to take up a lot of space. This means that I can be designing a product, while creating the music to go with it, and produce a video about it at another computer station, all at the same time. That’s my evolution in design. I also follow the theory that “a change is as good as a rest.” So, when I need a rest from one project, I switch to the other, as a way to relax and re-energize. It also sets a pace of moving to my own rhythm — that’s my way of resting.

Over the years, I have designed everything — from musical instruments to luxury vehicles. Medical instruments to exotic lifestyle products. Military equipment to trade-shows for mega-brands like Chrysler, Fiat, Ford. Sleek home products from glassware to lighting. Coolers for Coleman; luxurious bathroom systems for Boeing; exotic seating for Aston Martin; self-serve gas station for Exxon; printers for Hewlett-Packard; motion capture cameras for Kodak; point-of-purchase displays for Yamaha; TVs for Samsung; clocks and musical instruments for CASIO.

Along with a plethora of criteria, the sounds that objects emit, play a critical role in our perception of quality. Beautiful things have desirable sounds and a certain rhythm about them. Over the course, my designs have helped improve the lives of people around the world. I have received numerous international awards, including two “International Design Excellence Awards” (IDEA) from the Industrial Designers Society of America.

On another level, as our worlds come together, people need a broader understanding of how to use style and design their lives. Towards this, I have also created a lecture called Parallel Universe ( http://www.rogov.com/Parallel_Universe.html) which demystifies the mystery of style. It explores a world where all styles coexist in parallel. I show that nothing really goes away, but carries forward year after year into the present. I give my audience five keys to help track the origins of design influences in architecture, furniture, products and fashion. From Modern through Goth, Medieval, Baroque to Ancient. Parallel Universe illustrates how it all is still evolving. And like music, it is all just a matter of preference. There is no latest or greatest; it’s all the latest if you have never heard or seen it before.

In 2010 I designed the Desk Architecture collection, with a view that elevates everyday objects to fine art and is focused on the social rituals and human interactions between people. Simple things like an ashtray, for example, is designed to last for generations and represent the social transactions occurring when people share a smoke — a ritual that has survived centuries. Instead of being disposable, these things will last for generations and pass on the karma.

In a nutshell, I teach art, culture and business and I speak through my creations — music and design. If I can continue to share that, I will have contributed something of value to mankind.

What is your favorite music decade? Why?

I heard recently that no matter who you are, if you were to pick up a guitar and strum it, you would settle into a groove that was popular in your high school years. The rhythm of “that” period tends to become our defining groove. Since every decade has its defining groove, for me, that would be the late 60‘s and early 70‘s. It shows, because I tend to know more songs from my high school days, than from any other period. However, there are some exotic new grooves that represent today, and good songs can work in any groove just as well. “New-Wave” from the 80‘s has now also become a genre, like heavy metal, country or classic rock. So, we can consider, “First World Calling” as an 80’s New-Wave Rap song. I would love to hear a current Rapper do it.

Any chance of an ARKITEX reunion?

That would be quite a nostalgic show. Particularly if it was the core lineup who performed at Heatwave: Statten Holly on guitar, Peter Goodale (Michael McKenna Band) on keyboards, Penty “Whitey” Glan (Alice Cooper Band) on drums and Ron Garant (Long John Baldry) on Bass.

Can we expect more music from Vladymir Rogov in the near future?

This is my calling. While I’m still breathing, I’ll be designing in sound and vision. I say, “never stop learning, the best is yet to come.” …ARKITEX lives!”


Vladymir Rogov – “Bring on the Dancing Girls” / “All Around the World” – 1978, (Single)
Vladymir Rogov – “There’s a Woman in that Child” / “Time Boy” – 1979 (Single)
Vladymir Rogov – Love is a Killer – 1980 (Album on iTunes)
ARKITEX – “Throwing my Heart to the Wind” / “Call it Love” – 1981 (Single)
ARKITEX – 1981 (Album on iTunes)
ARKITEX – Delight, 1995 released 2011 (EP on iTunes)
ARKITEX – Glass Man 2011 (Album on iTunes, June)

Fast Fun Facts:

Vintage Vladymir Rogov – Love is a Killer and ARKITEX vinyls are selling on Ebay, and other places.
“No Tracks for This Train” from the first album Love is a Killer 1980 is on an extended list of Canadian train songs.
“Throwing my Heart to the Wind” is in the Museum of Canadian Music.
Did U know?! That’s Vladymir sporting his Russian Czar’s hat, on the cover of Rush album Moving Pictures (1981).
Long John Baldry covered “Love is a Killer” from Rogov’s first album.
New World, Australian band, (A Mickie Most production) recorded “Jolson” a Rogov composition.
“Man I sure love the looks of this.” Stevie Wonder, exclaimed as he placed his hands over Rogov’s award winning music synthesizer.
BOOK, The Fifties and Sixties, A Lifestyle Revolution by Miriam Akhtar & Steve Humphries. Features a cover photo of Vladymir, age 12.
Desk Architecture, the collection of desk and personal space objects, designed to last way beyond our lifetime. www.deskarchitecture.com
ROGOV’s Desk Architecture collection “stars” with Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman in Trespass, a new thriller by Joel Schumacher. (releasing 2012)
Design Lecture – Parallel Universe 2011. Trailer is here: http://www.rogov.com/Parallel_Universe.html
Look forward to ROGOV’s design collaborations — pens and other collectibles with ACME Studios, Hawaii.

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules ~ Benjamin Russell’s CD “Rockhill”

 A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Benjamin Russell. Since then, I have had the equal, if not greater pleasure of listening to his latest CD Rockhill. I wanted to share my impressions of this expertly crafted collection with you.

From the first opening notes of “Starved,” I was hooked on the Rockhill CD. Most collections I listen to have a consistent and central mood that runs throughout. Nothing wrong with that; for many of us, the listening experience is reminiscent of a great movie or novel that keeps us riveted through beginning, action-packed middle, and satisfying end. Rockhill does this and more—not only does it bring us on a welcome journey, it runs the gamut of emotions to keep us a bit off balance (in a good way), and waiting in anticipation for the next track to see where it will transport us.

“December”’s earnest and energetic hooks make it impossible to not either chair-dance, sing along, or both. This is the high-powered introduction that grabs listeners and draws them in to a plot filled with exciting twists and turns.

“Magic” feat. Sandra Chechik is a whimsical, upbeat song. I dare you to remain in a sullen mood while listening to this track. It picks away at any bad feelings you may have until they crumble, sulking away and leaving your inner self feeling refreshed and renewed.

“Ghost” starts out in a mysterious, darkly-tinged way, until Benjamin’s melodic voice comes in and puts all our fears at ease. It’s not meant to frighten; rather it’s a bedtime story that allows imagination to wander until it’s time to switch off the lights and welcome dreamland.

“Space” has an ominous, atmospheric tone; Benjamin’s voice expertly hits the lower scale, introducing us to his amazing range, in case we weren’t already aware of and amazed by it. Clearly, this incredible voice is going to be the most important element that Rockhill has to offer.

“Hunger” feat. Fred Lemlin has an appropriately angry sound. He’s pissed off, and not afraid to share that with us, giving his soul a public cleansing that we can all identify with.

“Quiet” is reminiscent of the finest that Waterboys had to offer. Russell’s voice evokes the very best that Mike Scott gives as front man for the Waterboys, as well as Matt Johnson from The The. It has the right edge to keep us engaged and interested, yet soothes us through all of the highs and lows.

“Water” feat. JF Dumais spins a tale that draws us out of the shadows and “gives meaning to our lives.” If you have ever thought of giving up, this is the song that cheers you on to keep going.

“Breakaway” is a mellow trip down a winding road that brings the listener straightaway into the comforting, waiting arms of “Connection” feat. Peter Patrick. These two tracks hold a magic one-two punch that keeps the CD, and the listener, advancing through a melodic wonderland.

“Time” takes us on a journey through a different dimension underscored and highlighted with swelling electronica and a driving rhythm section. It feels like we are traveling, and the music is our vehicle for getting there.

“Slipping” is a beautiful ballad that pays homage to a love that’s slipping away. It works through the how’s and why’s of what is happening, and tries to recapture what once was.

“Believe” assures us there is more to life, and that we all need to have something to believe in, namely a true love that sustains us through all trials and tribulations. It’s a beautiful song with an equally beautiful, uplifting theme. The horns are a lovely and fitting accoutrement to the bounty this song serves.

“Garden” has a hint of C&W, that segues into Bowie-esque vocals, spinning a tale of where love comes from. The picture this song paints is a Monet splash of light and color, sure to cheer even the most down-hearted soul.

“Belong” urges listeners through the challenging pathways of life, letting us in on the secret that “hopeless situations aren’t so hopeless.” If we create a united front, together we can overcome anything life throws our way. What a fabulous messsage to hear, especially given the state of the world today.

“Deep Magic” breaks up the serious themes of the preceding songs with a perfectly executed falsetto against a hard-core background. It’s a song of contradictions, both lyrically and musically, that work incredibly well, evoking the CD’s earlier songs and tempos.

Rockhill closes with“Artist.” If the opening lines of this track don’t make you smile, there’s no hope for you. It starts out bordering on being the slickest pick-up line known to man, but Benjamin pulls it off as something pure and beautiful. It’s fitting that this eclectic, expertly written and executed CD collection should close on such a high note.

Do yourself a huge favor, and visit Benjamin Russell’s site: http://www.benjamin-russell.com/index.html

While there, use any of four available links to order Rockhill. If you are anything like me, you tend to select and cue up music that fits your current mood. Even so, sometimes it’s just downright magical to play a CD like Rockhill that will tickle the full spectrum of your emotions, leaving you feeling enriched and uplifted.

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Benjamin Russell

Quite often, listening to David Marsden and Ed-FM introduces me to fabulous music that I missed out on the first time around. Both DJs are committed to promoting underrated musicians, unearthing gems to share with their listeners. As a result, we are are always the winners.

Benjamin Russell is one such criminally underrated artist. I first heard his rare and obscure 80’s song “Miracle” on Ed-FM’s Retrospect show from CFRC. A while back, I attempted to research and write a “Criminally Underrated” article about Mr. Russell, but wasn’t able to find either “Miracle” or much information, at all. Lucky for me, he recently left a comment on one of the playlist postings; it lead to some  correspondence, culminating in today’s interview. So, sit back and take a few minutes to experience this uber-talented, charming, and endearing musician.

You can listen to “Miracle” here.

Benjamin Russell Interview ~ 4-1-2011 

QWhen did you know that you wanted to be a musician?
A – When I was about 2 years old, I heard “rock’n’roll” on the radio, loved it, and tried changing the channels to get the songs I liked. Ever since then, I dreamed of being the one making music, but never thought I could do it until my sister got a guitar and learned to play. I figured if she could do it, so could I. I never looked back.

QWhat/who inspired you to choose music as your profession?
A – It was the crazy days of the late 60’s, early 70’s when there were no rigidly defined genres. You had bands like King Crimson who did the heaviest rock imaginable, but they had sweet beautiful music on the same record. Elton John’s first record was all over the place. When I heard Dylan doing” Tambourine Man” and “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, I realized I didn’t need a band to get started, so I jumped in.

QWhat artist(s) influenced your music back in the beginning, and now (if different)?
A – I’ve always tried to be original, but I listen to everything I can. As Elvis Costello says, “It’s not IF you steal, it’s WHO you steal FROM.”

But my thefts always get filtered through my bent sensibilities. The best example is MIRACLE. My producer actually tried to get me to cover “Let the Music Play” by Shannon with the idea that our version would come out in Canada before hers and we’d basically steal the sales. But I just couldn’t do it. To appease him, I sort of turned it inside out and put my thing into it and that’s MIRACLE. Can you hear Shannon in there?

One HUGE influence was the B52’s. I can clearly remember walking down St. Laurence in Montreal and passing an open door with a jukebox playing “Planet Claire” and it was like a switch went off in me! Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, Gary Numan’s “Cars”, XTC’s “Respectable Street” – those were the magnets drawing me away from The Clash when I was doing my “Pop Modern(e)” album  for TGO.

QWho do you currently listen to?
A – I’ve got a long list and it just keeps on growing. I still love most of what I’ve loved since I was a kid, but there’s amazing new stuff every day. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to The Black Keys new CD. I really like the last couple of Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco CDs. K’naan is a big fav. Adele, Ray Lamontagne, Keane, Kenna. Geez, there’s just so much good music! One of my new discoveries is pretty old stuff, but it’s new to me – Shostakovich – I’m enjoying his string quartets. The guy had to write this stuff in secret because it wasn’t state approved in the Soviet Union. I relate to the underground aspect and the emotional intensity.

QWhich comes first – the music or the lyrics, and why?
A – That’s changed from when I first started writing songs. In the beginning, it was always words first, then music. But now I hear stuff in my head, try to grab it before it flies away, and often it’s the music first. Sometimes I have these amazing dreams where I’m writing a song and playing it for someone at the same time. I wake up and just write it all down – it’s like words and music spontaneously erupting together!

QHave you been recording steadily over the past 20+ years, or have you taken a break?
A – I have never stopped writing and recording. Simultaneously with me being nominated Most Promising Male Vocalist in the nationally televised CASBY Awards, I had “irreconcilable differences” with TGO, my label, and had to get a lawyer to get out of the deal.

To be fair, I don’t think Tony Green knew what he was getting into when he signed me. I’m fiercely independent artistically, and I was naive enough to think I could get away with it while suckling at the teat of the mainstream industry. I’ve made 9 albums since my 15 seconds of fame in the 80’s. The newest one, ROCKHILL has some stuff on it that my fans from back then seem to like, STARVED, DECEMBER, DEEP MAGIC, QUIET, GHOST.

QWhat do you think of the availability of music electronically?
A – Artistically it’s the best thing that’s happened to me! Now I don’t need to bend to label pressure and can do exactly what I want.

It’s not just that you can distribute online. Technology makes it easier to make music. I’m hearing amazing stuff from people that no one’s ever heard of. Back in the 80’s I had a huge investment in synths, drum machines and racks of gear. My laptop all by itself blows that stuff out of the water. But I’m perverse – now that technology is easy, the challenge for me is to play acoustically without it.

QIf you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A – Somewhere with palm trees, maybe the Acropolis or Delray Beach. Seriously, I love to perform and if you put me in front of an audience who loves music, I’m happy.

QNow the tough question: If you were on a desert island, which 10 albums would be must-haves?
A – That’s not hard. The island would be made of all my favourite music – you could just pile up all the albums from the floor of the ocean and make me my own private atoll.

Oh, you mean… I have to pick 10?!!! Whatever I picked I would seriously regret later because I would be missing something desperately. Assuming I’m not allowed to pick my own music (I make music I love, after all…)

1) Bob Marley & The Wailers – Rastaman Vibration
2) The Clash – London Calling
3) Beethoven’s 9 Symphonies by Herbert von Karajan (it’s a box set – that’s not cheating is it?)
4) Elvis Costello – Get Happy
5) Harmonium – Cinquieme Saison
6) XTC – English Settlement
7) Yma Sumac – Voice of the Xtabay
8) Art of Noise – The Seduction of Claude Debussy
9) Adele – 19
10) Chilliwak – Chilliwak


Buy Music:

iTunes – http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/rockhill/id358711824
CDBaby – http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/BenjaminRussell

On The Web:

Official Website: http://www.benjamin-russell.com
Facebook (just getting started with my music page – get a free song here): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Benjamin-Russells-Music-Page/242286627481?ref=mf

Video Links:

Video from 80’s: POWER OF LOVE 

STARVED (official music video)

GHOST (official music video) 

DECEMBER (live, opening for Gowan at Club Soda in Montreal, March 2011)

BROKEN-HEARTED LOVERS (live with band in 2010)

80’s Music Rules ~ Legendary DJ David Marsden and His New Broadcast Schedule

(Click the link for previous posts about David Marsden.)

Canadian DJ David Marsden has been an icon of free-form broadcasting for the past four decades. Imagine radio as you would personally program it, and look no further. David has given life to the word “eclectic” by successfully combining music that is multi-genre, spans different musical periods, and is usually found way under the radar.

Marsden’s most well-known accomplishment, besides being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was launching CFNY back in the late 70’s from a small yellow house in Brampton, ON. It was here that he gave life to little-known bands, and coined a name for his type of off-the-cuff broadcasting – “free-form.” CFNY became such a vital presence to radio broadcasting that it was the subject of Rush’s 1980 hit “Spirit of Radio.”

Recently, David has been a well-received and popular fixture at 94.9 FM The Rock out of Oshawa, Ontario Canada. Broadcasting live and streaming over the Internet, his show has had a solid seven-year run on Thursday and Friday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight (EST). Four years ago, “Sistahmar,” roving Ambassador for the Marsbar Theatre, opened a chat room located on a portalx server. While the show is in progress, fans from all over the world gather in the chat room to discuss life, the universe, and above all, music amongst themselves and with David himself. It’s a cheerful, warm gathering place for like-minded folks to kick back, relax, and form lasting bonds. The members of the “Marsbar Family” celebrate each other’s victories and hold one another up through life’s challenges. Newcomers are warmly welcomed and encouraged to visit.

So, you can imagine the international uproar as a result of last week’s announcement with David stating on the air he had something very important to share with all of us. He thought he would be able to make the full announcement this past Thursday night, but was foiled by a legal snafu. Instead, all he would share, before closing the show, was that it would be the last Thursday he would be broadcasting from The Rock.

This news stunned everyone, and spread like wildfire via email and social networking sites. Speculation abounded, not all of it positive. Was David going to retire? Was he only going to broadcast Friday nights? Was he leaving The Rock and moving on to another venue? Friday dragged by and stomach butterflies multiplied for many of us as we waited for 7 p.m. and the start of the show. Status statements on FaceBook were not encouraging as a number of fans came to grips with worst-case scenarios. Bottom line, no matter what David had decided, we all only wanted the best for him. After giving his entire life to making others happy, he more than deserves the same happiness for himself.

At approximately 9:20 p.m. last night, David finally shared his plan with us. In addition to the untold thousands tuned in worldwide, a record-breaking fifty-five fans gathered in the chat room to hear the news. It was awkward for those of us on time-delay (43 seconds for the broadcast to reach my speakers here in south Florida) as the comments in the chat room flew by. They started out being full of fear and consternation, and ended up as cheering and verbal high-fiving. As David’s words finally reached my ears, I was already overjoyed by the reactions I was reading as they scrolled by in super-fast motion. The announcement: David was staying on with The Rock and moving his two-night show to Saturday and Sunday nights from 7 p.m. until midnight, starting March 6th. What a win-win situation – for David, his fans, and The Rock.

Here’s to the start of a new Marsbar Theatre era; one that is sure to be filled with laughs, fantastic music, warmth, good cheer, great friends, and above all, David Marsdens’s own unique brand of fan-centric free-form broadcasting. It doesn’t get any better than this.

To view David’s music lists, visit RalphD’s website.

Some music you might hear on David Marsden’s show from 94.9 The Rock:

“Japan – Quiet Life” via YouTube user ecallender:

“Slave to the SQUAREwave – Healing Hands” via YouTube user slavetothesquarewave:

 “Brendan Canning – Love Is New” via YouTube user artscrafts:

“Sisters Of Mercy – Lucretia, My Reflection” via YouTube user rhubarbcream:

“Timber Timbre – Lay Down In The Tall Grass” via YouTube user fluffywalrus:

 “Lou Reed – Dirty Boulevard” via YouTube user jasonjarvis1988:

80’s (and sometimes 90’s and 00’s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Kit Rumble

I have been so fortunate to meet some exquisitely talented people from all over the planet thanks to the magic of the Internet. A couple of years ago, I met Australian Kit Rumble’s acquaintance on YouTube because of some gracious comments he left on video montages I had made for Gary Numan songs. Unfortunately, I was forced to remove those montages because the greedy suits at Eagle Records decided they didn’t want free advertising, even though I had Gary Numan’s permission via Tony Webb, his father and manager.

At any rate, one happy consequence of all that drama was being exposed to Kit Rumble’s music. This genuinely friendly and humble man has been creating music since the late 70’s. He cites his very first influences as Suzi Quattro, Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, and, of course, Gary Numan. Once Kit heard Numan’s “Cars” for the first time, he was smitten with electronica. His tastes going forward ran the gamut of Numan, John Foxx, Kraftwerk, and Bowie, whose chameleon-like evolution and innovation he admired greatly. Iva Davies, Australian-grown like Kit himself, was another iconic musician whose work was highly influential.

Kit purchased his first synthesizer, a Roland System 100, in 1981. That was a defining point in his own music evlolution. The first Roland led to a Roland Jupiter and an Arp Odyssey. Kit reports that since then he has probably bought and sold at least 100 keyboards ranging from early analogues to “amazing machines like the OpenLabs Neko LX76.”

In the early 80’s, Kit moved from Melbourne to Sydney to start his first band called “Subway.” They mostly covered the work of their synthesizer heroes. The band broke up, double-teamed by the repercussions of a bad automobile accident and the arrival of the New Romantic genre. Kit returned to Melbourne to a self-imposed exile, where he shut himself up in a room full of synthesizers, drum machines, and multi-track reel-to-reel decks, and set about writing and recording demos.

Life intervened, Kit found himself caught up heavily in the party life, and creating music ended up taking a backseat as a result. After giving marriage an unsuccessful try, and fathering a child, Kit reordered his priorities and settled back into his first passion of writing and performing music. Unfortunately, given the time that had passed, he felt he didn’t quite fit into the music scene he found himself thrust into.

The early 90’s and the mainstream music that the corporate suits were foisting upon the masses was not Kit’s cup of tea. He couldn’t stomach “the Michael Bolton/Vanessa Williams/Whitney Houston dominated radio” and even found the 90’s Annie Lennox to be unpalatable compared to her brilliance in the 80’s.

Kit withdrew from the public eye and lay low until forming his next band, “The Factory Boys.” The line up was Kit Rumble (vocals/keyboards), Stuart Casey (lead guitar), Brad Hodge (drums), Little Wilks (guitar), and Darren Rosier (bass). Kit, in his own words, describes this period of life as “terrific fun as we played in the back of this large warehouse…..often local people would hear us start up and wander down, and eventually we had this thing going where it was OK to wander in, listen to us play, and leave. We hardly got to speak with any of these ‘fans.’”

Kit recorded his first CD at Soul Studios (Gold Coast Australia) with Anna Maria LaSpina (who later toured the world with Savage Garden), provided backing vocals. Darren Hayes, too, would often pop in and out, prior to his own success. This proved to be a turning point in Kit’s musical career. He writes, “The internet saved my creative life, to be honest. I discovered a website called Dmusic.com and began to upload my music. Suddenly, I found there were people who liked my sound from all around the world, but not so much in Australia. To add another dimension, I became interested in creating music video for my tracks which led to me winning the Dmusic video of the year award with my track ‘Sayonara Baby.’”

Currently, Kit reports that he is content with creating music and video for the Web. When he was young, his dream was to be heard on the radio. He has realized that dream with radio play throughout the world, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. Not only that, Kit’s music has found its way to one British movie soundtrack, Paul Easter’s film called “Stagger,” with another soundtrack soon to be added to his resume. He has recently teamed up with a brilliant artist from the UK, Dave Webber. Together they are producing some powerful dark industrial music with a view to producing a CD collection very soon. I, for one, can’t wait.

Kit has a fan base (of which I am very happy to be a member) who are very loyal to his sound. He offers his music for free download at the following sites:





Take advantage of this great opportunity and get acquainted with his music. Kit will welcome you into his circle of friends by treating you as though he has known you his whole life. It is this warm and selfless attitude, along with an undeniable talent, that will go far in bringing Kit the success he has worked hard for his entire life.

“Hostile” via YouTube user kitrumble:

“Sayonara Baby” via YouTube user kitrumble:

“Shame” (2009 remix with Dave Syn) via YouTube user kitrumble:

“Dull Reality” (using images of Gary Numan onstage) via YouTube user kitrumble:

“Always” (music by Dave Syn) via YouTube user kitrumble:

Kit Rumble Discography

Talk To Me – 1996
Ghost – 1997
Misguidance – 1997
Now I’m Alone – 1998
Say Goodbye -1999
Mayday – 2000
Intermission – 2000
Hymn for a mortal – 2000
I’m Silenced – 2001
You Drown Me – 2001
Sayonara Baby – 2003
Your Time – 2004
Save Me – 2004
Dull Reality – 2005
Shame – 2006
Make Me Bleed – 2007
Die for the Children – 2008
When You Move – 2008
Shame (remix 2009) – 2009
Always – 2009
Hostile – 2009