What have been your musical epiphany moments?
tF: For me it was seeing Aphex Twin on stage for the first time. He was playing live from inside a Wendy House. I could not believe the music he was making all came from just one guy with a bunch of synths. That was the moment when I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
dD: My parents were folk musicians, and so I grew up in a house surrounded by music and musical instruments, which I assumed was perfectly normal. As I grew up, I started to develop my own musical tastes, and started thinking folk music was uncool. Then I discovered the Pogues, the missing link between folk and punk rock. That was a musical epiphany for me. Folk music could be cool. You just had to play it louder and faster. And drunker.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
tF: We work in our own studios, and rarely get the chance to meet up, especially during the last year, what with one thing and another, but a new track starts with me creating an instrumental on GarageBand on my iPad, which I email to Damo. The next time I hear it is when he sends it back, complete with lyrics and vocals, sometimes just a couple of hours later.
dD: I get really excited when a new track drops into my inbox. So much so, we have had to make a rule where Timmy only sends new tracks on a morning, otherwise I will literally be up all night working on it. Once Timmy has given me the thumbs up, he sends me some feedback and the wavs, and I take all the individual parts and rebuild the track, which allows me to create space for the vocals, which I then redo once I am happy with the arrangement.
tF: He also adds his “sonic garnish” at this point, little bits and bobs like samples or extra layers of synths which make the track more sonically complete. I never quite know what to expect until I hear it. The last track he sent me had a sample of a woman saying “this number is not available” in German. Who has a sample of that on his hard drive? Damo does.
dD: I am a bit of a sample magpie. I have been collecting weird and wonderful legal samples and sound effects for years. From that point onwards, the track travels back and forth between us until we feel it’s ready to go. Then we upload it to our SoundCloud page, make a video, and upload that to our YouTube channel. Then it’s on to the next track.
tF: We are quite prolific. Since March this year, we have created three album’s worth of tracks.
Who has influenced you the most?
dD: Apart from my parents, obviously, musical influences have come from all sorts of people from solo artists like Gary Numan and Prince to bands like Soft Cell, OMD, Erasure and Depeche Mode.
tF: Some of my biggest influences have come from the Manchester music scene. Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, Happy Mondays… and of course we both love Kraftwerk.
dD: Without Kraftwerk, the electronic music scene as we know it would simply not exist. Pure genius. The first track we ever worked on together was a dance remix of The Model.
tF: That’s how it all began.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
tF: Musically, ideas come to me from all over the place, but I have found working on GarageBand on the iPad means that I can lay down multiple tracks and get a vibe going really quickly when inspiration strikes. The fact that it’s so portable means I can create anytime, anywhere, right when an idea comes to me, rather than wait until I am back in my studio.
dD: Our song lyrics are inspired by the things we see, hear, or experience as we go about our lives, and we have written songs about everything from failed relationships to drone strikes. Connected, our first single (available now on all major platforms!) is all about how wonderful it is to live in a connected world, but urges people to be cautious about how much time they spend consuming information, and to think carefully about what they are being told, who is saying it, and why they might be saying it. You really need to keep your wits about you when you are online.
tF: It all sounds a bit serious, but when you listen to it, it’s also a really enjoyable track to sing along and dance to. It’s the perfect combination of fun and fact.
We’re all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band’s hometown and how that reflects in the music?
tF: We both live up in the Yorkshire Pennines, not that far from each other as the crow flies, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep, trees and moorland. You either get creative round here, or you go crazy, as there isn’t much to do in the way of entertainment, especially at the moment.
dD: Of course, you can get creative AND go crazy, especially in the winters when you get snowed in sometimes for a few days at a time, but it’s something you get used to, something you learn to prepare for, and, if I am honest, something you end up looking forward to every winter.
tF: If there is food in the cupboard, wood in the log store, and the TV and internet are still both working, it can be a great place to be, but if some, or all, of those elements are missing, it can be pretty bleak.
Where’d the band name come from?
tF: When it came to choosing a band name, we wanted something that we both liked, something that described what we are all about to people who have never heard us before, and something that had some sort of meaning.
dD: Non Stop Erotic Cabaret was Soft Cell’s debut album, and when they started out, they were both at Leeds Polytechnic, which is where Timmy and I used to DJ. It’s also one of the few albums we both own and love. Did you know there is one those blue plaque things there now?
tF: For us?
dD: For them.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
dD: Well it would have been Tron 2, but Daft Punk beat us to it.
tF: Then we saw it, and realised they were welcome to it. It’s not a patch on the original.
dD: How about a synth pop version of the Wizard of Oz?
tF: Sounds good. Pass the iPad.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You’re going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
dD: Our second single, Mr. Moogie, which comes out in early 2021, is another one of those songs which, on the face of it, sounds like a relatively simple track all about being yourself on the dancefloor.
tF: To me it sounds like Kraftwerk meets the Pet Shop Boys. It’s one of my favourites.
dD: Its really about the sharks which begin to circle once you start having a bit of success in the music industry, who promise you the earth, and nine times out of ten fail to deliver on those promises. It’s kind of ironic that Mr. Moogie is the track which got us our record deal.
tF: We got lucky. We got the one time out of ten. The label has been nothing but supportive and, at least up to this point, have kept every single promise they have made to us.
dD: Long may it continue.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
tF: I once tried and failed to smash my electric guitar at the end of a set. I just gave up in the end, left it on the stage, and walked off. I did more damage to my pride than I did to that guitar.
dD: We got to hang out for an afternoon with Vince Clarke from Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure. People say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but he was awesome. Such a nice guy. It wasn’t exactly rock and roll, quite the opposite in fact, but there was tea and cake. It was all very civilised.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
tF: No two shows are the same, and each time we play a song it’s always different, because we remix the tracks on the fly depending on where we are playing, how long we are playing, and the audience response.
dD: That’s one of the reasons why we let Marvin the Magnificent, our home made robot, do the vocals on stage. As the tracks change every time, it would be a nightmare for me to have to stand at the front, not knowing when to come in, or when the chorus is going to happen.
tF: There aren’t many bands, especially in electronic music, who really perform truly live vocals, and a lot of them who pretend they do just Karaoke over the top of the single mix. We decided it would be much more honest to drop the pretence, and concentrate on the performance and visual aspects of the show.
dD: I do get very nervous before we perform live, but once I am in my space suit with my astronaut helmet on my head, and we go on stage and the first bass drum kick in… there’s nothing quite like it.
tF: Then it’s all over before you know it.
dD: Until next time.
What makes a great song?
tF: Great music
dD: Great words.
tF: That’s’ why we’re a great team.
dD: A great song has to make you feel something. Happy, sad, angry, joyful, curious, amazed, frightened, whatever…if the listener feels nothing at all, then it has failed as a piece of art.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
tF: I’m not sure it ever had a proper title. But it definitely had synths on it. And a drum machine.
dD: My first song was called “F*%k You!”. I wrote it about my maths teacher whilst I was still at school.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
tF: We are proud of everything we do.
dD: But pride comes before the fall.
tF: Fair point.
dD: Let’s just say we create what we like, and like what we create.
tF: Otherwise what’s the point?
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
dD: Gary Numan is still pushing the boundaries and creating new music. He is truly awesome.
tF: I’ve been listening to a bit of Billie Eilish lately. She is doing some really interesting stuff.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What’s your format of choice?
dD: Vinyl for the album artwork, CD for the audio quality, and digital downloads for their portability.
tF: Vinyl is great until you have to unload it from your car yourself, and carry it up or down a flight of steps into a venue. At that point you wish you just had it all stored on your laptop.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
tF: I do like a nice cold beer. Whiskey sends me doolally.
dD: Neither. I’ve never been much of a drinker. And I am already doolally.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What’s your home town, and when we get there, what’s the best record store to lose ourselves in?
dD: Despite living way out in the sticks these days, I still consider Leeds to be my home town, but my favourite record shop is Five Rise Records in Bingley, which is just up the road from where I live now, and is run by a couple of friends of mine. They have succeeded against all the odds, and nobody knows more about music than those guys. If you are into vinyl, take the time to visit them either in person or online and tell them Damo Devotion from Non Stop Erotic Cabaret sent you.
tF: I reckon Crash Records in Leeds is still my favourite, as I’ve been buying stuff from them ever since I can remember. Great bunch of lads, with a huge amount of music knowledge and a real enthusiasm for live music and supporting the local music scene.
What’s next for the band?
dD: Like everyone else in the UK right now, we are confined to barracks, so more music, more videos, more social media but, sadly, no live shows until we are allowed to be in the same place at the same time once more.
tF: Once lockdown is lifted, we are going to do some live performance videos from our studio, but what we really want is to get back out into the world and show people what we’ve been up to whilst we have been locked away.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
dD: Greetings, waveriders. If you are a fan of memorable, danceable, singalongable synth pop, and would like to find out more about what Non Stop Erotic Cabaret have been getting up to in their secret underground lairs, all you have to do is Google #nSECmUSIC, and join our #nSECnATION onFacebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Twitter and YouTube.
tF: Then get yourselves onto Spotify, and get Connected.