Alex Gardner will be supporting Whitney Houston tomorrow night (Saturday, May 1st) in Glasgow at the SECC.
Alex is currently on tour with Scouting For Girls, which will last throughout May. In July he will be touring with JLS. Go to his website for details.
Don't forget to register on his website to get access to the members area, where you can watch exclusive acoustic videos (the most recent is "I Wanna Be With Her"), interviews, webisodes, tour diaries, etc.
"Japan" is the song that would eventually become Girls Aloud's "Memory Of You". It was released in 2004 by a trance project called Cadence. "Japan" was written by Xenomania and produced by Cadence, with vocals by Louise Griffiths.
Girls Aloud's "Memory Of You" (2009) retained the melody and lyrics, but everything else changed: new verses were added on the second part of the song and the backing track is also completely different.
Cadence consisted of Mike Koglin (Grammy-nominated producer, remixer and DJ), Darren Edge and Paul Woods. At one point, Paul Woods was also part of the Xenomania team, having co-written and programmed a few Girls Aloud tracks, as well as Frank's "All I Ever Do" and Kylie Minogue's "Giving You Up".
They released three 12'' singles between June and July 2004, on Famous Inc, a label set up by Xenomania. The 12'' of "Japan" included two versions: the "Club Vox" and the "Koglin Dub".
"Japan" was written by Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Giselle Somerville, Tim Powell and Mike Koglin. It was the third and final release by Cadence, after "Don't Say It's Over" and "Stay Tonight".
English pop singer, songwriter, model and actress, Louise Griffiths was a contestant in the BBC television series Fame Academy in 2003.
Louise was also a member of the girlband Orchid, who originally recorded Girls Aloud's "Sound of the Underground" in 2001. Orchid's version was never released, but their voices can still be be heard on the chorus of the Girls Aloud single.
Orchid were Louise Griffiths, Eve Bicker (the female voice on the Xenomania-produced "7 Ways" by Abs Breen) and Giselle Sommerville (who co-wrote "Japan" and several Xenomania songs, besides being one half of the pop duo Mania).
"Memory Of You"
Written by Brian Higgins, Girls Aloud, Giselle Somerville, Miranda Cooper & Tim Powell and produced by Brian Higgins/Xenomania. "Memory Of You" was the b-side of the single "The Loving Kind" (2009) and initially was only available on a limited edition 7'' vinyl picture disc, sold exclusively through Girls Aloud's online store.
Girls Aloud's fans were disappointed that the song was only available on vinyl format, which led to the creation of campaigns for the release in CD or digital form. The Sun even ran a story about Girls Aloud's fans having "gone mad" for the b-side.
It was later included in high quality on the official Girls Aloud singles box set.
Florrie keeps on spoiling us with free remixes. The latest is by d. Franklyn, who has reworked "Call 911". RCRD_LBL premiered the remix - here's what they say: "d. Franklyn’s touch on 'Call 911' is wicked-lite, flirting with a soft dub beat and breathy hooks."
DEKADE, the group formerly known as NiteVisions (who were formerly known as The Electric City), will play their first show on Wednesday (April 21st) at Gold Dust.
DEKADE play their first London show since emerging from the pop incubators Xenomania. Andy Taylor Jr. and James Taylor proffer dark synths and heavy beats, sounding like "classic early electronic pop soaring over the Berlin Wall in 1984".
The London electronic noise duo is currently sculpting their debut album DECODE with Flood - producer of the Depeche Mode classic Violator.
Alex Gardner is going on tour across the UK supporting One Republic, Scouting For Girls and JLS.
He is giving away tickets to every single show on the tour. The winners will also get to meet Alex on the night.
To be in with the chance of winning you just have to go to his website, click on the date you would like to go to and fill in your contact details. Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email. Good luck!
You can watch 'on the road webisodes' on the members area of his website. Sign in/register now to view. Also, new Alex Gardner acoustic videos will be uploaded over the next few weeks and you can decide which one to see first. Head over to his Facebook to vote now.
19/04/10 Norwich UEA - Supporting One Republic - Norwich 20/04/10 Shepherds Bush Empire - London 28/04/10 Royal Centre - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Nottingham 30/04/10 O2 Academy - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Birmingham 02/05/10 City Hall - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Newcastle 03/05/10 HMV Picture House - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Edinburgh 04/05/10 O2 Academy - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Glasgow 06/05/10 O2 Academy - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Leeds 07/05/10 Apollo - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Manchester 08/05/10 Empress Ballroom - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Blackpool 10/05/10 O2 Academy - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Sheffield 11/05/10 Oasis - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Swindon 12/05/10 Colston Hall - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Bristol 14/05/10 Solent - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Bournemouth 15/05/10 Pavilions - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Plymouth 16/05/10 Guildhall - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Portsmouth 18/05/10 Winter Gardens - Supporting Scouting For Girls - Margate 19/05/10 Hammersmith Apollo - Supporting Scouting For Girls - London 24/05/10 Brighton Centre - Supporting Scouting For Girls 15/07/10 Dingwalls - MTV PRESENTS ALEX GARDNER & ELIZA DOOLITTLE - London 16/07/10 Westonbirt Arboretum - Supporting JLS - Gloucestershire 17/07/10 Escot Park - Supporting JLS - Devon 18/07/10 Sound City Festival - Supporting JLS - Peterborough 24/07/10 Ynysangharad, Memorial Park - Supporting JLS - Wales 25/07/10 Quex Park, Sound Island Festival - Supporting JLS 07/08/10 Belladrum Festival
"One Touch" has been remixed by Tom Neville, Wideboys and Christian TV. You can now listen to the mixes on Mini Viva's MySpace. The single will be available to download from May 9th, and on May 10th you can buy it in the shops.
Tune into Koko Pop, the new TV show on Channel 4, on May 1st to catch Mini Viva promoting their new single "One Touch".
You can catch up with old episodes of Viva Mini Viva on YouTube (thanks to Vivapedia). And don't forget to tune in every Friday at 4.30 pm to get your weekly fix of Mini Viva on their Ustream channel: http://ustream.tv/vivaminiviva.
Recent reviews of "One Touch":
» The latest single from the sassiest duo around is a bit like Madonna's Vogue re-visited for 2010. In fact, we love it so much that we've already been trying to perfect the girls' moves in this video. Hmmm... perhaps we should have kept that last part to ourselves! 4Music
» This latest single is perhaps their best so far, and carries all the verve and originality that is to be expected of a Xenomania production, along with a nifty video chock-full of the girls’ trademark dance moves. Popbitch
» Their new single ‘One Touch’ is set to be one of the pop highlights of the year, fo sho. (...) Check out the amazing dance moves – you’ll be imitating them in your boudoir and on the dance floor as well as coveting the dee-lish looking cakes. The Sassy Minx
» Just by looking at these two fiery & feisty chicks you can just tell their music is good! They are slowly but surely taking the Pop world by storm. (...) This is Pop music at its finest. The beats are sublime and these girls don’t need to wail over the tune to prove they got the goods. I really love this song and the video is just above and beyond GLAM! Aamyko
The girls are currently on tour with Diversity. Here's a nicely put together backstage video from the tour:
Mini: "We've got a different sound to most of other girl bands like The Saturdays. We like to spice it up a bit with our attitude and our different personalities. Me and Frankee are very different girls but still a team. Like the Spice Girls, you had your favourite, it's nice to have a role model in each of us with different aspects people like or see themselves in. It makes us stand out."
Viva: "It really is a good time, the girl band scene is not as big as it was. The Saturdays do the five-piece thing, then we slot right in. It's great for us. It's just us and them now."
"I Wish" flopping in the charts
Mini: "Tokyo put pressure on us. You do wonder how to follow it and keep the standards up. But to have a No.7 hit was such an incredible thing for a new act on the first single. People didn't know us. Our second one didn't do that well but we are still working hard to push the rest of the album out there and you just have to keep going really". Mini: "With I Wish flopping, it was good to have Xenomania and our team there, we have great support to reassure us. They still 100 per cent believe in us and that gives us more of a boost."
Viva: "The first track did so well we were blown away. (...) Obviously the second was not quite so popular but it showed us we don't get it all on a plate. Every artist will have a little fall, it's not all ups. It made us stronger and made us realise it doesn't all come at once, you have to crawl before you walk. We are very confident about the next one though. We've had lots of good feedback. We've had to step the game up a bit."
Mini: "The album is just about finished, we have one more track to write. It will be out around August so there will be another single then the album. It's an amazing feeling, pretty out there. I never thought this would happen to me so to have an album out is really, 'wow, is this mine?'. I can't wait for it to be on the shelves so my friends and family can go buy it and see what we have been working hard on for the last three years."
Going to Tokyo
Viva: "We want to go to Tokyo, the plan is to do it in a few months. People keep saying it will be huge for us. One of the big label bosses came over to meet us and said they want us out there because they love the song. "The fans are mad there so will be crazy once they hear the word Tokyo they will love us. I can't wait!"
[Flashbacks from Xenomania's past. We start in 1996, the first year of Xenomania.]
"How Do You Kiss?" was the single that was never released by British duo Sexus. One of the promos had four remixes done by Xenomania, who at the time consisted of Brian "Higgo" Higgins and Matt Gray (with production assistance by Stuart McLennan and "Mad" Tim Powell).
Popjustice mentioned this 12'' yesterday in a post about Record Store Day and independent music shops. It was Sexus' third and final record, only available as promotional copies. Besides Xenomania, the track was also remixed by Trevor Horn and Narcotic Thrust, without Sexus' knowledge (and they weren't happy with that).
There were also two CD promos with the b-sides "Joe January" and "Beaten Up By Girls". You can still find most of these releases on second-hand shops like eBay.
Sexus were a duo from Manchester comprised of David Savage and Paul Southern. Their first independent single "Edenites" sparked the attention of a manager who signed them to ZTT. The follow-up single, "The Official End Of It All", was critically acclaimed, being chosen as "Best Single" by both Smash Hits and Melody Maker. During their time with the label they recorded a full album with Trevor Horn, which remains unmixed and unreleased. You can download some unreleased Sexus tracks here. The duo would later team up again musically under the name Psychodelicates.
The Romo movement
Romo ('Romantic Modernist') was a short-lived music movement in the mid-'90s. It was essentially a derivation of New Romantic-era bands such as Visage and Soft Cell. The name first appeared on the cover of November 25, 1995 Melody Maker.
Inside, Simon Price lavished an unheard crop of bands with an eight-page spread. Yet six months later, Romo generated little recorded music and most of it unremarkable.
Sexus were the first Romo band to get signed, being snapped up by Trevor Horn's ZTT, the label that was originally home to Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The most successful project associated with Romo ended up being Orlando, who released several singles and an album, Passive Soul.
Besides Sexus, Xenomania also remixed another Romo song, "Apocalypse Kiss" by female duo Hollywood (Hannah Edgren and Stacey Leigh).
The webzine PonyStep has published an extensive interview with Xenomania's Brian Higgins, conducted by Andreas Soteriou. Read it here. A few highlights from the interview:
The current state of pop and the need to reinvent «The world is pop mad now. (...) The ease for us to stand out is a lot harder now, so we have to re-appraise where we go sonically, which is fine. (...) In 2001, when we emerged, pop music was on its backside and indie music was about to rise, through The Strokes and everything else. We were an independent company and we were as indie as the other bands around us. (...) The difference was that we didn't sing our own songs and loved female vocals. It was easy for us to stand out (...), to dominate and dictate. All we had to do was make sure that every time we worked with either of the two girl groups that we had [Sugababes and Girls Aloud], that we didn't ruin it or cock it up. We took it so seriously, it was life or death because we knew that if we let it go with either Sugababes or Girls Aloud, there wasn't an obvious replacement because we were surrounded by a sea of bands.»
The (uncertain) future of the Girls Aloud/Xenomania partnership «Obviously that the rise of Cheryl Cole as a superstar is a phenomenon in itself, which is great for her. I think that everyone's got to wait and see where that takes Cheryl because it is obviously profoundly altering her life and how she sees her life. If she goes to America and does X-Factor and everything, then that is going to create a situation. They are all creating solo records, therefore they're all working with lots of other producers and stuff. It would be foolish for me to sit here and say that in a year's time, they'll definitely come back to us. (...) I guess there's three options, really; They will come back, they won't full stop or they'll be back and work with other people. I have a completely open mind to the way that is. I certainly don't think that we have any ownership over them or anything like that. (...) If the band continues it will be a small miracle, but then, every album was for me anyway. That's why we put so much into it, because we couldn't believe that they'd come back to us. We never assumed they would, ever.»
The early years of Girls Aloud «We initially only did two songs on the original Girls Aloud album; Sound of the Underground and No Good Advice, then I heard the other ten tracks and said, "This is a disaster". (...) They'd sent them off to these other Swedish guys and different people in the UK who were about to be rubbed out by what was coming - the rise of indie and our sort of pop. I heard this stuff coming back and I said, "There are two completely separate groups on this record. We need to get rid of six tracks and I'll replace them". We did that and allowed the album to stand up as a body of work. (...) When the second album came round, the label said, 'Listen, we're not going to do this group any more if you don't do it". I think my initial reaction was to do a few tracks and he said, "No, you have to do this because I think you're the only person who understands exactly what it is". So, that's how we took it on.»
Girls Aloud weren't accepted but gave two fingers up to everybody «'Sexy! No, No, No' sounded ridiculously challenging because we thought that radio wasn't going to play them anyway. It was like two fingers up to everybody. You're not going to play them on the radio, anyway, so we'll give you something that you couldn't play. (...) [Girls Aloud] loved the hostility that was in all their records because they realised that they weren't accepted. At TV studios, always treated really badly, unmanaged for years, having to do it all themselves. There is a great book in the Girls Aloud story, really. There is so much that people just don't know, about how much they were shunned at the start. We loved working with them, loved them as girls and their voices. They met a group of people that wanted to make a statement musically more than they wanted to make money. If we made the right statement and it was melodically as good as possible, then something good would come from that. (...) We’re lucky in the sense that we met a group that had various voices within it that could really inspire excellent records, and they met people that were obsessed about wanting to have an expression through pop music that was as avant-garde as it was commercial, looking to combine those two things.»
The Xenomania set-up «We're a fairly small group of people here. If ever we feel that there is a lot of thinking to be done, we contract people. In 2006, Xenomania was four people. Writing Sweet About Me, Call the Shots, Something Kinda Ooooh, there were just four of us. Then we sold a load of records and expanded, signed some acts and expanded again. It is a bit like a squeezebox, really. It opens and contracts accordingly, it doesn't show off by its size. There are eight people and some specialists that come in every now and again. I think we need to be that size.»
Between rural Kent and industrial Shoreditch «I‘ve never lived in London and never wanted to live in London. Although, I‘m probably closer to feeling more comfortable living there than I have ever done before because of the place we have in Shoreditch. There is a big studio there and a big flat so I‘m going to probably live there maybe a few days a week and then live here for the rest of the time. Split myself between Shoreditch and the countryside. I like Shoreditch because it is like a Northern town, very industrial. It is like a town, so I don’t feel like I am in a city and I like that, because I don’t like cities very much.»
Building an online presence for new acts «It’s no surprise that Ellie Goulding has got off to the quickest start this year, because she did the most work online last year, all the pre-label work, if you like. (...) I think she is a very good example of what needs to happen before you go on, you have to build it properly. The artist needs to be hands-on in doing that. (...) If I’d known then what I know now, I would have added a full online presence with Alex [Gardner], any number of different releases out into the marketplace prior to going anywhere near a label, so that there was a very healthy underground aspect and online presence for that artist and I didn’t do that, because I didn’t believe I needed to. (...) If you service a record to Radio 1, the minute you go in with it, they’re on Google, looking to see what the online presence is. They are now using that as a determination of how hip or cool something is. Regardless of the quality of the record or the act, if that presence isn’t there, they will not play the record. It is basically making it clear that if you haven’t built up the online work through the blogs and with Facebook fans, Twitter fans, then you can forget about it, unfortunately.»
Florrie Arnold «Florrie is interesting. I took her out of our group. She is not signed to a major label. She has got the majors trying to sign her, but I think that we have to build her world online. We're not signing her to a label, which I think is really important. Because the minute she is signed, someone on high will say, "Right, ready or not, let's get her on a schedule", and that isn't working. I think she is amazing, she has got a great story. She is only twenty, was a fantastic session drummer for us and then there was her emergence as a singer. She has got amazing things going on in her life.»
Stepping outside of the "Xenomania sound" «I guess whenever we have stepped outside of whatever people consider to be our sound, which is uptempo, electronic, exciting, imaginative and enthusiastic (...) lyrically interesting, original, with a shock in it somewhere, you won't know what it's going to sound like before you put it on... If ever we have stepped outside of that, it hasn't worked. 'Sweet About Me' wasn't your typical Xenomania record, and that was a huge worldwide hit, but I think that if you take the Rexola sound away from it, then it isn't successful. It needed that sort of thing to allow it to sink in to people's psyche and then they were able to judge it as a record as opposed to a Xenomania record first. I think that Vagabond was way outside what we would normally do because the guy's voice lead me into that particular area. I think that the truth of it is that it's probably a lesson in everybody sticking to what they're really good at, as opposed to doing things competently, because competently isn't going to get you anywhere. We're lucky in that we've found an area of music that we cen excel in, or call our own and I guess that's where we should stay. Naturally, sometimes we go outside of that, but it doesn't seem to work very often.»
What went wrong with Vagabond «If you look at Vagabond in the context of the single 'Don't Wanna Run No More', it's a good song, a very good song and a decent record and everything else, but it's not brilliant. It's not vital or unique or standalone. When we were actually looking at the record and seeing that it was going to struggle, it didn't sound remotely like anything else around it at that time, but it certainly wasn't leading anything else. As a result of that, it was a record that didn't make a connection with anybody. We have to accept that part of our job here is to connect with people. And if we're not doing that, it doesn't matter how good the record is, then we're not doing it right. Our other choice is to blame everyone else that the records aren't connecting and I think that 's a waste of time.»
Collaborating and creatively debating with the Pet Shop Boys «I thought that they would be hard work. I won't compromise on what I'm doing. I won't water it down and I won't dilute it, because that defeats the object of working with me in the first place, really. I don't like collaborating unless I am in charge of the collaboration. (...) Neil told me that they very wilfully checked their egos in every morning they came into the studio because they decided that they were going to trust me to do it. I would say that 98 per cent of the time that worked and the two per cent that it didn't were natural creative debates, really, between me and Neil, with Chris acting as mediator, "Break it up, lads. Break it up!" (Laughs). That was fine. Neil is ever so bright and visionary and all those things. We sort of worked out the rules of engagement before we made the record and then were able to make it well. And they came in with a lot of really good material that I liked, as well.»
The end of the decade and the future of Xenomania «It was an amazing ten years, an incredible period, but I think it is over. And I think the fact that we were able to end the decade with a hit that was very like us in “I Left My Heart in Tokyo” is fine, a really good thing. (...) It feels like we've come back to how we started in a way. Putting remixes out and watching them go up the charts. It feels like I'm back there again in a funny sort of way. I've been working with Kylie, Alesha... Nadine's been coming in, so its not like I'm not active in the world of trying to create mainstream hits. It's just that I feel like I need challenges and I find them in tough situations. Looking for adversity, in a way. (...) I think that everything needs to be thirty per cent better now if you want to even consider having a similar level of success. I think for myself and Miranda, that our average songwriting has to increase by thirty per cent within the next 5 years. We have to get back to audacity within our records and making statements and all the things that we are used to doing, I suppose. Challenging things.»
ALEX GARDNER's "I'm Not Mad" debuted in the UK Singles Chart this week at number 44.
As Chart Rigger puts it, "'I'm Not Mad' will go down as another sadly lost gem that was touted in the blogosphere — and one that truly deserved the hype! — but overlooked by the general record-buying/music downloading public".
Someone went through the trouble of transcribing every single word of the articles that were published on the latest issue of the PET SHOP BOYS fanclub magazine Literally:
MIRANDA COOPER is in the latest issue of Red Magazine talking about new singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé. Miranda says: «She's part of an exciting new generation of producers and writers, and I am always hearing great things about her.» Emeli Sandé wrote Chipmunk's "Diamond Rings" and also appears on Wiley's "Never Be Your Woman".
New Xenomania protégée BROOKE X has been finishing her debut album, so it won't be long until there's new music out there. Meanwhile, here's the top 3 Brooke X tweets from the past week:
-- "If I like my record anymore I'd marry it, have lots of song babies together and live happily ever after in the rock and roll hall of fame." -- "Holy shit, we are KILLING this album! I'm on aural pleasure overload!" -- "I've just heard the sound of love, and it's on my goddamn album."
Through some intensive Twitter investigation, Popjustice discovered that there is a GIRLS ALOUD cover of The Go-Go's' "Our Lips Are Sealed" hidden somewhere in the Xenomania vaults.
MINI VIVAtalk about the pressure of working with/for Xenomania:
«There’s always that little bit of pressure because they’re well known for the Girls Aloud stuff and it’s always in the top ten. We just wanna have the same success if you know what I mean. We just wanna do well for them and we want people to love ‘em [the songs] as much as they love Girls Aloud songs.»
"Jump Off" by the BANNED OF ST TRINIAN'S has been remixed and re-recorded by Almighty and J.K. The track has been released as a download, CD-R and is now on the compilation Almighty: Definitive Collection: Volume 8. Listen to clips and buy it here.
Former Xenomania songwriter Carla-Marie Williams (most recent co-writes: Mini Viva's "One Touch" and "Left My Heart In Tokyo", Sarah Harding's "Too Bad") was the tutor in a workshop about songwriting. There's a video on YouTube with a bit of footage from the workshop:
Important things you'll learn from the video:
Having less vocal ability allows you to focus on the song: "it's not about the sound, it's about the feel of the song".
There are no rules in songwriting, but the milkman and the housewife need to be able to whistle the tunes.
For the whole two and a half years that she was at Xenomania she would write nearly every day.
The important thing is having motivation - once you see that your name is on the records you just keep going.
Girls Aloud's "The Promise" is nominated for an Ivor Novello award for Most Performed Work. The song is running up against Lily Allen's "The Fear" and James Morrison's "Broken Strings". "The Promise" was written by Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Kieran Jones, Jason Resch, Carla-Marie Williams, Tim Powell and Nick Coler (published by Warner/Chappell Music).
"The Promise" is Girls Aloud's fourth number one single in the UK Singles Chart and won "Best British Single" at the BRIT Awards 2009. It was the first single to be taken from the group's fifth studio album Out of Control.
Brian Higgins said that Xenomania knew that "The Promise" was "the piece of music Girls Aloud needed to announce them as a supergroup in this country": "'The Promise' was the sound of a big group, a group about to be huge. They needed the theme tune to the biggest girl group on the planet".
In the past, Xenomania have been nominated for Gabriella Cilmi's "Sweet About Me" and Sugababes' "Hole In The Head". In 1999, Cher's "Believe" won three Ivor Novello awards for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, Best Selling British Single (decided by sales) and International hit of the year.
The Ivor Novello Awards recognise the best British songwriting and composing. The ceremony will take place on Thursday 20th May 2010 at the Grosvenor House, London. See the full list of nominees.
Xenomania is a songwriting and production house based in Kent, England. It was founded by songwriter and producer Brian Higgins.
Since 1996, Xenomania have written, produced and remixed tracks for a string of successful artists including Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys, Sugababes, Dannii and Kylie Minogue, Saint Etienne, Cher, Gabriella Cilmi and many others.