80s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Rob Stuart is Back with Electronic Dream Factory (EDF)

Excellent music never dies; sometimes it just goes away for a while. And, like a treasured loved one, its return evokes strong emotions of joy, relief, and a reconnection with the universe. That’s what’s happening here, folks. And, I am delighted to be the bearer of the fantastic news.

Rob Stuart first graced Rave and Roll’s pages exclusively as a featured artist back in November 2009. Earlier that year, I had published an article about his Toronto-based band SLAVE to the SQUAREwave, followed by a review of their then-latest smashing release, The Money Shot. Earlier this year (Feb. 2014, to be exact), I was privileged to announce Slave’s return with a jaw-dropping, in-your-face collection of tunes called Asphalt, Sex & Rock ‘N’ Roll. Now, I am thrilled to deliver the trifecta: Rob Stuart’s long-awaited re-emergence featuring an entire catalog of synthesizer-driven musical goodness from his band, Electronic Dream Factory (E.D.F).

Rob agreed to be interviewed so that I can share with you all a little bit about the beginnings of E.D.F., its evolution, the inspiration for the music, and the reason for the decision to re-release the catalog.

When did E.D.F. make its debut in the world?

EDF studios circa 1983

EDF studios circa 1983

Originally E.D.F was and still is the name of my home recording studio. I stole the name from a small British synthesizer company called Electronic Dream Plant which built a very cool monophonic synthesizer called “The Wasp.” My earliest recollection of my first home studio was back in 1981. I decided very early on in my “music career” that rather than pay other people to record in their studios, that I would just build my own and teach myself how to record, engineer and mix.

I was only sixteen back then and gear was incredibly expensive, so my first studio was nothing fancy. I would work three summer jobs to save up enough money to buy studio gear. I still remember purchasing the first real synth I ever owned, a Korg MS-20 for $595.00 at Steve’s Music Store in Toronto. I was so proud walking home with that synth tucked under my arm that day. It was once I started writing original music when I decided Electronic Dream Factory would also serve as a good band name.

Who were the original band members?

Greg Fraser, Rob Stuart, Rob Tennant (1992)

Greg Fraser, Rob Stuart, Rob Tennant (1992)

There have been many incarnations of the “band”version of E.D.F. Version 1.0 is me alone as a solo artist . Long time friend/musician/ artist, Greg Fraser was the first person to become an official member. Our first full-length self-titled album was just Greg and myself. Version 2.0 included Rob Tennant, who was the live drummer.

We soon added Maxx on guitar. Version 3.0 included Emerich Donath on stick bass and Rude Van Steenes on electronic percussion and vocals. I knew Rude back from the Vis-A-Vis days as I was an original member of that band .

EDF Version 3.0

EDF Version 3.0

Why synthesizers and electronica vs. guitars and…?

I’ve always been a synthesizer nut. Ever since I first heard early synth-based music like Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Gary Numan, John Foxx, and early Human League, I knew I wanted to get into synthesizers.

First of all, they looked so cool and they could make sounds that you’d never heard before. That was really the appeal to me. I would spend hours messing around with my MS-20, plugging in cables, twiddling all the knobs, to come up with unique and different sounds. I’ve never been a person who is comfortable jamming in a rehearsal studio or in a band situation, which is why I don’t really consider myself a musician. I still don’t play that well, but writing, recording, and producing came fairly naturally to me. Writing music always was and still is a personal journey for me, so when MIDI came along it allowed me to create all parts of the music by myself, which I thrived on.

Having said that, I’ve always been a guitar fan, so when I couldn’t fake a guitar part by myself or find the right guitar sample I’d have to bring in a guitar player. Of course nothing can replace the thundering sound and look of a live guitar player on stage. That’s where Maxx came in. He was a cool-looking dude with a great head of hair and a killer guitar sound which added to the live element and gave the studio recordings a little extra grit.

Was E.D.F. mainly a studio band, stage band, or both?

I’ve always been a studio guy, but you have no choice but to play live if you want to promote your product seriously. It’s a great feeling playing your own music live with 3 or 4 other people on stage with the lights, smoke, and (hopefully) crowds of people in the audience grooving to your tunes; however, I also derive immense pleasure spending hours in my studio just writing or playing music by myself.

That’s were the “other” side of E.D.F comes from, as I also record and release ambient, chill out, new age music which I never intend to play live. Our finest moment was playing at Pine Knob in Detroit, Michigan in front of 10, 000 people for a big end-of-summer music festival.

What or who inspired the music?

The “who” is endless. See all the bands named earlier. Inspiration can come from anything, really. It could be a unique industrial sample, synth patch, drum and bass groove or simply a nice chord progression. It’s piecing all of those elements together that makes it fun and challenging.

Did E.D.F. originally get the airplay it deserved, and if so, by whom?

The first E.D.F release was actually a cassette-only; but, believe it or not, we used to get airplay on the radio. CFNY 102.1 in Toronto was the first station to play our music. That station was a huge supporter of local independent music, led of course by the one and only David Marsden who still plays my music to this day on his new station http://www.nythespirit.com. With open-minded people like David and the good folk at CFNY, the song “So, What of Tomorrow” ended up being a winner on a CFNY talent search contest and was released on a compilation CD, which to us at the time was unbelievable.

Other places that would play our music would be University radio stations like CIUT (University of Toronto), CKMS-FM in Waterloo, and CKLN (Ryerson University) who were always great supporters of ours. Local DJs like Ronno Box and Craig Beesack would play us at clubs like Catch 22 and local promoter Billy X was also an early supporter of E.D.F

What’s it like to translate a concept in your head into music that you share with the rest of the world?

It’s fun at first, but it can quickly become frustrating when the business aspect kicks in. I won’t even talk about the music business these days as no one has a clue what’s going on; but back in the early 90s there were still labels you could shop your product around to. For our first album we had some interest from TVT Records which had just signed Nine Inch Nails. For the second album, “Drama Dream” we signed a deal with a label in Montreal, which went bad. For the album “Number 3” I had a distribution deal with Toronto’s The Record Peddler. Financially that was probably the most success I had with an EDF album as they managed to get distribution deals in quite a few different territories worldwide.

What made you decide to resurrect EDF?

One word: “Tunecore.”

Tunecore is a great service that distributes your music around the world to digital music stores and streaming stations. It’s really cheap and allows you to keep 100% of the earnings. They really do get the music out all over the world! E.D.F had a pretty strong following in its heyday, especially in Europe.

As I mentioned above, the album “Number 3” was released and distributed internationally by The Record Peddler. I used to get royalty cheques from airplay I received from places like Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and many other countries. Over the past few years I decided to post some old E.D.F videos on YouTube and found that people were actually looking for the old releases. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to re-master and re-release the whole collection in a new package.

Hence “Industrial Catalogue:” All four E.D.F albums in one, 64 songs in total, reasonably priced at $8.99. I did the same with my ambient/chillout/down-tempo E.D.F music, as well. Four albums in one package under the title ˜Noise Control” with 60 Songs in total.

Are there plans for live shows, and if so, where?

At this point, definitely not. SLAVE to the SQUAREwave takes up all of my spare time with live performances and recording. The last time E.D.F played live was at a rave in the middle of a farmer’s field in Oakville, a suburb of Toronto. This was actually where I met Colin Troy from S2TSW, as we were both playing at the rave that night. I was performing my more “techno” E.D.F material while Colin was doing his Smokin’ Jehovah project, which was a mix of middle eastern music and house. Really cool stuff. We chatted through the night about our love for Bowie, Roxy Music, and electronic dance music. We became instant friends and SLAVE to the SQUAREwave was born.

Do you have any examples of E.D.F. music online that people can preview?

Here’s some of my ambient/chill-out music taken from “Noise Control”:

Will the entire catalog be available for purchase? Where?

“Industrial Catalogue” is available via Amazonmp3.

Picture-#-4.-EDF-Industrial

 

 

 

 

 

“Noise Control (Vols 1 to 4)” is available via Amazonmp3.

Picture-#-5.-EDF-Noise-Cont

 

 

 

 

 

Both albums are also on Spotify, Rdio, Shazam, iTunes, Google play, Wimp, Deezer, beats music and many, many more on-line stores.

Can folks buy single tracks?

Yup! Single tracks are the standard 99 cents.

Will this inspire you to go back into the studio and create new E.D.F. tracks?

E.D.F has never really stopped. It’s just come in many different shapes and forms over the past 32 years and will continue to evolve. I’m getting more and more into the chill-out/ambient stuff as I get older, so you can most likely expect some more music in that vein.

What’s next?

I’m considering releasing some music by a duo group I was in back in the mid 80s called “silent GREEN.” It was an ambient project where the music was ad-libbed and recorded live. I played synthesizer while Bruce Bentley played “ambient” guitar. Bruce and I also had a synthpop band called “Ear Candy,” which was another CFNY-supported band. Tragically, Bruce passed away last year, so I’m thinking of releasing it in his memory. Some of that music is pretty magical.

Thanks so much!

Thanks for your support. I love what you do. You don’t know how important things like this are to a band/artist. You’re really doing a great thing here and it is most appreciated. XOXO

Gary Numan ~ The Amazing 80s Icon is Back Stronger Than Ever

From the “it doesn’t get much better than this” department….Gary Numan’s live set presented by KCRW in its total exquisiteness.

This was merely a warm-up for the mini-eastern US tour he was about to embark on, and the later more extensive UK tour.

Unfortunately, I missed Numan in Sunrise, FL when he opened for Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails on October 30. I had a ticket, but circumstances way beyond my control prevented me from attending.

Next time…and there WILL be a next time, so I hear. Perhaps in March 2014.

Until then, there are always quality videos such as this–and my dreams–to sustain me.

With thanks to Andrew Lister for calling my attention to this video.

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:

Gary Numan Live in London and Manchester ~ April 1 & 2, 2011

Copyright (c) Mimi 2011

Gary Numan gave phenomenally great performances billed as “Back To The Phuture” last weekend at the Troxy in London and the Manchester Academy. In Manchester on April 1, Gary Numan and band shared the stage with Recoil, Motor, and DJ Mark Jones. At the Troxy, on April 2, other artists included legendary John Foxx, Mirrors, Motor, DJ Daniel Miller, and DJ Mark Jones.

There are some fantastic fan videos of various songs Gary Numan performed, including one that he penned just that week (“Obelisk/Everything Comes Down To This”). I’ve linked to some of the better ones below. Enjoy!

Gary Numan’s Official website.

Pure (Live)” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:

The Fall (Live)” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:

Obelisk/Everything Comes Down To This” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

I Die You Die” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

That’s Too Bad” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

Haunted” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Pure” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Halo” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Crash” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Zero Bars” via YouTube user TamTamster:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ (Much More Than) One-Hit Wonders

It’s time to go on a rant about extraordinarily gifted artists and bands who were unfairly labeled “one-hit wonders.” Oftentimes, these artists were not properly promoted after charting; although they continued producing incredible music, the powers that be at the record companies and radio stations turned a deaf ear in order to promote the next flavor of the month. We, the listeners, were the big losers.

So much fantastic music from the 80’s has since been unearthed, that it’s not even necessary to listen to the contemporary repetitive swill out there. My iPod has 10 days’ worth of obscure 80’s listening gems. Each week, when I listen to the champions of the little guys, David Marsden and Ed-FM, I am treated to even more music that wasn’t promoted, that should have been, and that absolutely rocks.

This week will showcase three wrongly identified “one-hit wonders.” I urge you, if you haven’t already done so, to explore and enjoy their music. You will discover music your ears have been longing for, that will soothe your soul, and make you fall in love with your speakers all over again.

Gary Numan

Numan’s first group, Tubeway Army, scored big hits with “Cars” and “Are Friends Electric” back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Since then, Gary Numan has been a very busy man, working hard to reinvent himself and finally finding success with a move to a decidedly Goth/Industrial/Dark Wave genre. Starting in the mid-90’s, Numan hit his stride with the albums Sacrifice, Exile, Pure, Hybrid, Jagged, and the latest, Dead Son Rising (sheduled to be released later in 2010). Never heard of them? If you enjoy Dark Wave, do yourself a huge favor and check them out. Both Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson have cited Numan as an influence. Exile and Hybrid are personal favorites of mine. Gary Numan has transcended Tubeway Army in a huge way and deserves much more than the limited success of the past 15 years.

 

“Absolution” via YouTube user Patrickingham21:

“Exile” via YouTube user MollyClark4430:

“Haunted” via YouTube user Industrial82:

Modern English

Modern English scored a big hit in the 80’s with “I Melt With You.” If you haven’t taken the time to listen to any other of their eclectic 80’s tunes, you are cheating your ears out of pure pleasure in a big way. Their four 80’s LPs were Mesh and Lace (1981), After the Snow (1982), Ricochet Days (1984), and Stop Start (1986). My personal favorite is “Someone’s Calling” from the After The Snow LP. Definitely take the time to go back and check out any Modern English music you may not have heard the first time around. This band deserved to be more than a “don’t blink or you’ll miss them” phenomenon.

“Someone’s Calling” via YouTube user ealdrett:

“Ink and Paper” via YouTube user delahuerta:

Blue Peter

Virtually unknown outside of Canada, Blue Peter enjoyed a couple of hits with “Don’t Walk Past” and “Radio Silence.” The band, led by Paul Humphrey, continues to play in and around Toronto to this day. If you like the style of David Byrne, front man of Talking Heads, you’ll love Blue Peter. Humphrey embodies all that is great about Byrne, with a little David Bowie and Bryan Ferry thrown in for fun. Criminally underrated doesn’t even begin to describe Blue Peter’s talent. Even if you were lucky enough to have heard either of their hits back in the 80’s, chances are you missed out on gems such as “Falling,” “Take Me to War.” “All Your Time,” “Unchained Heart,” and “Video Verite.”

 

“Don’t Walk Past” via YouTube user johnmcboston:

“I Walk Alone” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

“Video Verite” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Front Line Assembly

Bill Leeb (keyboards, vocals) formed the Canadian underground “band” Front Line Assembly around 1985 out of Vancouver BC, Canada. For a few months, Leeb’s attention was split with another band called Skinny Puppy, before finally turning his full attention to cultivating FLA.

FLA’s music is described as electro-industrial, decidedly cutting edge for a fledgling band in 1985. The synthesizers that were a vital part of the New Wave era were starting to turn a bit more serious and brooding mid-to-end of the 80’s decade. Even Gary Numan, considered by many to be the Godfather of Electronica, switched gears to create music that was moody and contemplative. New Wave’s popularity was showing signs of waning, while industrial, goth, dream pop, house, grunge, and shoegaze began to take hold.

Leeb recorded and produced a demo tape titled Nerve War in 1986. Only 50-100 copies of Front Line Assembly’s official debut were made and distributed. Shortly after, Rhys Fulber (keyboards, percussion) joined ranks with Leeb and together they produced a second full-length demo, Total Terror.

In 1987, Front Line Assembly debuted its first official album, The Initial Command. Michael Balch (keyboards) joined the duo about this time. As FLA’s popularity and name recognition grew, the trio ended up releasing State of Mind outside of Canada to a worldwide audience.

The three members continued their collaboration which culminated into releasing two EPs Corrosion and Disorder. These two compilations were later combined into a full album, Convergence.

The next album, Gashed Senses And Crossfire, netted a single “Digital Tension Dementia” which fueled the band’s underground popularity. Ed-FM played this song during this weeks’ Retrospect show from CFRC-FM, catching my attention and leading to this feature. About this time in the band’s evolution, Balch left Front Line Assembly to join Ministry.

Front Line Assembly has weathered many line-up changes over the years, and currently continues to record and perform live. I have listed only those titles in their discography released through 1991 because this blog focuses on 80’s music. For a full listing of their catalog and to find out shat FLA si up to today, check out Wikipedia and the Front Line Assembly MySpace site. If you prefer your 80’s electronica edgy, serious, and accompanied by a dollop of angst, FLA is definitely worth your time to discover.

“Digital Tension Dementia” via YouTube user djoscafox:

“Nerve War” via YouTube user Akira625:

“Total Terror” via YouTube user Akira625:

“Provision” via YouTube user MetalKael:

80’s Discography

1986: Nerve War
1986: Total Terror
1987: The Initial Command
1988: State of Mind
1988: Corrosion
1988: Disorder
1988: Convergence
1989: Gashed Senses and Crossfire
1990: Caustic Grip

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands – The Neon Judgement

The Neon Judgement is a post-punk duo from Leuven, Belgium that formed in 1981. Founding members were Dirk Da Davo (Dirk Timmermans) and TB Frank (Frank Vloeberghs). This duo produced music that was equal parts post-punk, New Wave, and goth/industrial. Ed-FM played a selection called “Tomorrow In The Papers” this past Tuesday night, and it instantly piqued my interest.

The unique fusion of styles sounds more like the recipe for a nightmare rather than artistic brilliance. But, The Neon Judgement pulls it off flawlessly, producing a sound that successfully crosses genres and sounds a lot bigger than that coming from a duo. Post-punk, New Wave and goth/industrial happen to be favorite music genres of mine, as evidenced by the many 80’s artists I have featured in this blog. Listening to The Neon Judgement satisfies all of those aural cravings wrapped up into one convenient package.

I think you’ll reach the same conclusion. It is definitely worth taking the time to listen to and be enthralled by The Neon Judgement.

“Tomorrow In The Papers” via YouTube user csabex:

“The Fashion Party” via YouTube user cornupedo:

 “1313” via YouTube user AntiMusick:

“TV Treated” via YouTube user infectodo:

Buy The Neon Judgement music here.

1980’s Discography

Mbih! (1983)

The Neon Judgement ’81-’84 (1984)

Mafu Cage (1986)

The First
Judgements
(1987)

Horny As Hell (1988)

Blood And Thunder (1989)

General Pain and Major Disease (1989)

The Insult (1990)