Thursday, 12 August 2021

The Story Of "Electrique Fabrique" By KRAFTman


“Electrique Fabrique”

The Album

Waiting For The Day

Electric Cafe


A Face I Knew

Gamma Rays

Call Me Up

Electrique Fabrique

Giro D’Italia

The Lonely Robots

Bundesautobahn 52


The Story Of The Album

The independent Machine-Pop label Plonk, based in Sweden, were putting together a special compilation, dedicated to Kraftwerk legend, Florian Schneider and at the same time, I was recording my own  tribute to Mr Schneider, simply called “Florian”. When it was completed I submitted it for consideration to be included on the compilation, the track was welcomed by the Plonk community and the track was included on “We Are Machine Pop 6 (In Memory Of Florian Schneider)”.

Following on from the positive feedback, I received about the track, I decided to release the song as a single and wanted to include some remixes and was delighted to obtain remixes from Maschine Brennt and 808 Dot Pop, in addition I had already recorded a 1980s style extended version of “Florian”.

Undoubtedly, a touching tribute, to a pioneer of electronic music, Florian Schneider, and of course “Florian”, was to be the catalyst for making this album.

Is there a concept behind the album? In a way there is, as many of the tracks, are influenced by the subject matter, used by Kraftwerk in some of their recordings, Telephones, Cycling, Radio-Activity, European Travel, Robots, Motorway Travel etc.

Waiting For The Day was the first track I worked on, after I finished the track “Florian”, from the outset, I decided that this was going to be a long track.

Everything developed from the main sequencer riff and lead synth, it is obvious that the track is inspired by Kraftwerk’s track “Europe Endless”, the only downside to the song being so long, it runs for nearly seven and a half minutes, was, I had to come up with a lot of lyrics!

The music was completed pretty quickly and I felt the song was something special, Passenger S of 808 Dot Pop and Metroland loved it straight away, he had heard the instrumental and could see the obvious Kraftwerk and OMD influences, so that confirmed I had something special, I began writing lyrics and then decided to put the track to one side and work on another song, once I returned to the track, I started from scratch with the lyrics, and decided to use the theme of European travel, as the core element for the song, and that was perfect, both musically and lyrically.

Electric Café is of course a Kraftwerk cover version, one of numerous I have recorded during 2020, it is however, very unique, as it has English lyrics, Kraftwerk never recorded an English language version of the song! I chose to include this track, as it is a version that suits the sound on this album, and of course, due to the fact it is an English version.

Atomkraft is a track that was developed, from an idea I had, whilst jamming, basically I played live drum patterns and bass-lines, whilst recording, in my music production suite, Steinberg’s Cubase, as I had a few ideas and wanted to see what I could create.

I recorded all sorts of snippets, saved my work, and put the recording to one side, then a couple of weeks later, I listened to what I had recorded and a bass-line caught my attention, and that is what you hear on this track, everything was constructed around the bass-line.

It is very rare, for me, to just record adlib; however, it goes to show that ideas based on an instinct do work!

For the vocal parts I used words and phrases, associated with Atomic/Nuclear energy, and decided to make the track dual language, English and German.

A Face I Knew is a song that dates back to 2009, I recorded a version, for what in the end, turned out to be an aborted attempt, at creating an album influenced by the John Foxx album “Metamatic”, this was the first song I recorded at the time, the lyrics came to me whilst I was out driving, unusually, for me, the lyrics came before the music. The song has been completely re-recorded and fits in nicely on this album; it still has some elements of a John Foxx influence, but has been given a major “Kraftwerk” makeover.

Gamma Rays is a song written by Sven Lauwers (808 Dot Pop & Metroland), he wanted a remix doing for a b-side of a single he was releasing, under the 808 Dot Pop name. I said I would have a go at doing a remix and this was the song in question and it was to be my first official remix, it was included on a 5 track EP called “Blackbodies (Radiation)”, I wanted to come up with a remix name to use, and immediately thought of KRAFTman, so now you know how the KRAFTman name came about!

My remix draws on the influence of both Kraftwerk, and Gary Numan and is a more upbeat version, than the original and I also decided to write some lyrics for the track.

Call Me Up is the last track that was recorded for the album, initially I had a melody for the chorus section of the song and worked the arrangement of the song around that, I struggled to get a verse section that flowed well enough in the song and in the end I swapped and changed the verse parts 3 times before I came up with an idea that worked well, the middle eight section of the song needed a melodic part and I came up with what you hear in the song pretty much immediately.

The arrangement of the song was changed a few times too, as I felt the original chorus and verse parts were too long, despite re-working the song quite a bit, there was actually very little of the instruments and sounds I actually used in the demo on the final version.

Initially this was going to be an instrumental track, however, I then thought about making telephone communication the subject of the song, so I wrote some lyrics and created some voice samples, tailored to fit that concept. It is a song that was inspired by the situation we face with the COVID-19 Pandemic, people on lockdown and having to self-isolate, only having a telephone, as a means of communication, with people, of course, not everyone has friends and family, and would be alone and would love to hear a friendly voice on the end of a telephone.

All in all, quite a lot of changes along the way, with this track, it is melodic and best described, as pure “Pop”!

Electrique Fabrique is another recording I wasn’t planning on making, I had no thoughts to record a title track as such, so this is something of a surprise inclusion, and was created whilst “jamming”, I recorded the main drum beat and left it running and recorded any bits of keyboard parts I came up with!

A lot of what was recorded I didn’t use, however, the melody parts you hear before the voice sections was one idea that I kept as I liked the simplicity of the melody and I worked through a lot of different sounds before getting something I was happy with.

One thing I had decided was that the track would be quite minimalistic, as I wanted the rhythm section to be the focus of attention, as It sounds quite powerful. I also decided to make the track dual language with voice sections in both French and German.

Funnily enough, I had recorded the voice parts some time ago, as “Electrique Fabrique” was always going to be the title of the album, so I played around with different language voice parts and recorded them, I had previously attempted to record a track to include them but it wasn’t working out, so glad I kept the vocal parts, as they fit in well, with this song.

Giro D’Italia is a track that came out of nowhere, I came up with the melody line you hear in the verse on this track, I liked the melody and it remained in my head for days and thought, hell why not create a song around it, as it was taking shape, it was clear to me it had a “Soundtrack” feel to it, I don’t know why, but I just felt it would make an excellent soundtrack for a cycling race, but didn’t want to go down the route of the “Tour De France”, as Kraftwerk had already done that, so I decided to read about the history of the “Giro D’Italia” cycle race, which inspired the overall direction of the track, especially the spoken parts in the verses, which give an insight into the history of the race.

The Lonely Robots is a track that nearly got lost in the archives, when I get ideas, especially at night, I tend to hum a melody or sing some words into a portable voice recorder, and recently I came to use the recorder, however, the memory on it was full, so I decided to go through the recordings on it, to delete stuff I no longer needed, and one recording had me singing “You are a robot, I’m a robot too”, I don’t even remember recording it but thought, why not record a song built around that vocal melody and the result is this track.

I have made good use of voice samples I created, that tell you all about robotics and robots, robots are there to replace humans, however, they cannot replicate human emotions, hence the title “The Lonely Robots”.

Bundesautobahn 52 A song I have wanted to try and record for a number of years, a song about a motorway, sound familiar?? Yes it is influenced by Kraftwerk’s track “Autobahn”. I should explain, that the title is the name of the motorway, that goes to Dusseldorf, the spiritual home of Kraftwerk.

I first came up with a melody line and then the bass sequencer section, again I wanted to make this a long track and make it feel like you were on a journey to Dusseldorf, so lots of cars and traffic effects, courtesy of the BBC Effects Archive, which you can download and use freely. The spoken vocal simply sets the scene and works really well; it is the longest track on the album, at almost 9 minutes, but it does hold your attention throughout.

Florian is of course what started this whole album process, sad that it was written as a tribute after the passing of Florian Schneider in April 2020, however, in a strange way Florian Schneider has had a massive influence on this album, something I will be forever grateful for, his passing has driven me to write some of my best ever songs.

I get most of my ideas in bed at night when I can’t sleep, I have had insomnia for years, and the night after Florian died I kept getting this melody in my head and the words “Florian We Miss You, Florian We Do”, the next day I started work on the track. It has been well received and rightly closes this album, of course the lyrics I had in my head became the chorus element of the song, and in the verses I pay tribute to Florian.

So that is the full story behind the album "Electrique Fabrique".

The album is officially released on August 13th 2021.

The album is available on CD (with 5 bonus tracks) and as a Digital Download from Bandcamp here

It is also available from the leading Digital Download Stores, such as Amazon. ITunes, Apple Music etc here

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