An interview with Randall Nieman of Fxa

 

Electric Sound of Summer is the first Fxa album for a decade. Its release seemed to make this an appropriate time to chat to Randall Nieman about the album and Fxa in general. The interview below was conducted by David Bourgoin via email. Thanks to Randall for his answers and to Sean at Mutante for setting the interview up. 

 

PR: It's been quite a while since the last Fxa album. Why has there been such a long gap between the Supercharged and The Modified Mechanics Of  This Device albums and the Electric Sound of Summer?

RN: Soon after the release of Supercharged I joined Sonic Boom's group Spectrum for 5 or 6 years. I also did some work with the Telescopes, Martin Rev and many others on my label Mind Expansion. There are many other reasons beyond the aforementioned that made the gap between albums so long but, that would take a books worth to really fully explain. A lot happens in 10 years. Let's just say not only do some things last a long time, some things also take a long time.

PR: I had heard or read somewhere that you were working with Ryan Anderson but he isn't on the album. Have you been working at all with him and do you have plans to release any new Fxa recordings with him on them?.

RN: Yes, Ryan and I have been working on a few songs together and he will make his return soon on several songs on the next album titled "Dirty D."

PR: There's quite a large number of people involved in Fxa on this album. Is that a reflection of the time period it's been recorded over or did you just feel all these people would fit together well?

RN: All the guests on the album are my friends as well as musical heroes. Most of which I've worked with and known for many years. To me, building songs with my friends is the best part of all of this. I take one song at a time and then decide what I feel it needs at that point, I usually ask whoever I feel could take the song to the next level to give it a go and see what happens. I'm very lucky to have such wonderful friends and heroes to help me out.  

PR: Are there any plans to tour the album?

RN: I would love to tour this album. I'm currently finishing up the next album with Tom and the gang. Then hopefully we can do some live shows later in the year. Bringing everyone that is on the album is a very tall order obviously. I hope this record has a good enough response to where we can eventually do something.

PR: who would be performing it in the live line up?

RN: The line up will change show to show. Tom and myself will be there of course. Mark Refoy and Jonny Mattock will be in the mix also for most shows (if not all) overseas. You'll have to show up every night to see who is there. Sarah Peacock could be there one night and then the next night could be Dean Wareham or maybe even Martin Rev. You'll just have to be there to see.

  PR: Our Lips Are Sealed is quite an unexpected choice of track to cover. It's worked out really well but how did you come across it I wouldn't have thought Fun Boy Three had that high a profile in the USA  

RN: It didn't start out that way. At first I was just spacing out playing 3 chords on the organ slowly - and then it popped into my head - this  sounds like the Go-Go's Our Lips are Sealed. I dug up the lyrics and thought  to myself, this is perfect and it has to be done. The lyrics are so dark and  in my opinion even more relevant today with social media the way it is. 

I recorded the track and sent it to Sarah Peacock of Seefeel fame for vocals. I've always been a big fan of Seefeel and even more of her project  Scala. She had done a version of Blondie's Heart of Glass that is just amazing and I knew she was the one to pull it off perfectly vocally. Several  months passed and eventually Sarah sent the song back with vocals. It was perfect! She nailed it. Tom Meade and myself knew we really had something with this one. Tom added the finishing touches synth wise, gave  it it's final mix and our version of olas was born. 

Regarding Fun Boy Three, they weren't well know over here in the States at  all. it was the Go-Go's version of olas that had the most success here. Since releasing this version, I've been lucky enough to meet and briefly talk to the co-writer of this song Jane Weidlen of the Go-Go's. She's awesome!  Live long and prosper Jane!

PR: You were doing quite a lot of work with Sonic Boom at one point and the  cover of Cheree sounds quite close to how a           Spacemen 3 interpretation of it might sound.. Are you still working with  Sonic or are there any plans to do anything in the near future?

RN: I still talk to Sonic from time to time and it is always possible that we  could do something in the future. As of right now there are no plans but, you never know what could pop up. I can tell you this. I have been sending Sonic song parts here and there that he may or may not use. One thing is certain. When Sonic does eventually release the next Spectrum album, it will be well worth the wait.

PR: How did you go about recording the tracks for Electric Sound of Summer? Was it studio based or do you record at home?

RN: This album was recorded all over the place. Detroit, Buffalo, San Fran,  England, NY and New Zealand. I started the first few songs in the studio here outside Detroit on the last day of the Supercharged session. (Thank You Jesus and Electric Sound of Summer) from there it was either done by sending files back and forth via internet or in private or home studios when I was on the road visiting the gang. I do record at home constantly and that is my preferred place to work. It provides a stress free environment for the music to come naturally.

PR: Was there much other material recorded during these sessions that might see the light of day?

RN: There were many songs recorded. Not only for this album but, the next  album as well. There are close to 90 songs in the works at the moment. 6.4 hours in total of new material. How much of it will be released has yet to be decided.

PR: Anything that you were listening to that influenced you at all for the tracks on this album?

RN: Hard to say a specific group or anything like that being that it took me 10 years to complete this album. I do listen to a lot of Krautrock, Suicide, Brian Eno and that kind of stuff. They have no doubt all influenced me greatly.

PR: SWF Twenty - 0 - Two is probably the most unusual track on the album.  It's almost like a blend of Tangerine Dream, New Age music and Expo 70 can you give some background as to the germination of this piece?

 

RN: SWF Twenty - 0 - Two was a synth soundscape I made with added  flute in 2002 hence the title... SWF (synth with flute) and twenty - 0 - two ...(recorded in 2002). I had been sitting on the track for years and in 2009 or  2010 I sent the song to Mark Refoy to play on. It was shelved years back because I always felt it needed something more. Mark got a hold of it and really brought the song to life with his guitar parts.

PR: What's next for Fxa?

RN: Right now we're finishing up the next album titled "Dirty D" and a few singles. One single will be a Fxa split 7" with Cheval Sombre and then the first single for Dirty D will be released titled "Sun is Shining" (featuring Ann Shenton from Add N to (X) ). From there we hope to tour the 2 albums for a while.

PR: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions

RN: Thank you. hope to see you out there.

 

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