Words: Poppy Richler
Produced by Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer, Eccentronic Research Council presents: Wayward Freaks from Synthetic Streets, Vol. 1 was released last month. Featuring a handful of eccentric, electronic (thus, eccentronic) artists including Maxine Peake, God Hole, Wet Man, Dimitri, Sean Lennon & many more, this compilation was overseen by the ERC but hands the baton to its collaborators. The album is a 13-track technetronic exploration of ambient, mind-boggling, danceable and cinematic avenues of synths and beyond. Wayward Freaks.. truly breaks the stringent mould of industry-pop electronica that’s been prone to hit listeners with deep frustration and at times, slight psychosis.
After witnessing this greatness for ourselves at the Desolate Spools label gig a few weeks ago, we caught up with one half of the ERC’s production duo – Adrian Flanagan. Featuring on the album with Adult Entertainment, Adrian is a seasoned explorer of the electronic realm, collaborating in various projects including International Teachers of Pop and The Moonlandingz. Adrian gave us insight into how this new project is all about supporting emerging artists, giving reign to the unpolished and nurturing the prolific creativity that comes with such endeavours. Accompanying this release is the launch of Desolate Spools – the ERC’s non-profit label for artists, by artists. We covered a lot, so read on to find out more. Entertainment guaranteed.
I wanted a word that was both electronic and eccentric – no word existed so I made one up!
The criminally overlooked, the disenfranchised.
We are literally the only council you can rely on to get culture done properly!
The first track on the compilation is entitled: ‘Where Have All The Wayward Pop Art Eccentrics Gone?’ Who represents these glory days for you?
I wouldn’t say they represent the glory days – but People like Vivian Stanshall, Mark E. Smith, Ivor Cutler, Kate Bush, John Cooper Clarke, Morrissey, Cate Le Bon. Every one of them are genuine British eccentrics walking their own path and giving zero fucks about trends or scenes!
Does the compilation provide the answer and could you give us your theory?
To a small degree I think it does, yes. Every artist on the label are all genuinely driven eccentric characters, but I also think as artists they are all very much the real deal. They’re all very different to each other but I guess as we/The ERC produced all the artists, it has a production sound that links them all together in a sonic, analogue, union of the soul! I think that’s the problem with musicians nowadays – they all seem terribly dull, contrived even, with nothing to say. It’s all a bit Brit School, you know? Learnt! Personally, I hate anything that sounds too accomplished…no one likes a show off!
The track features Maxine Peake who talks of the ‘daft post-modernist pool party.’ Who’s invited?
That line and track was quite a throwaway bitchy Wyndham Lewis-esque call to arms, beckoning my people, the genuine freaks! I see the whole music industry as a daft post-modernist pool party. It’s run by people who know nothing about music or art – just some guys sat around in a jacuzzi with their accountants doing coke off some rent boy’s back, whilst bemoaning the lack of jazz in contemporary pop music. I curse these people!
Adrian, you’re involved in many a project. What was the impetus for starting this one?
I know many creatives, ranging from very famous to people who don’t get any further than their own bedroom. Amongst them were a bunch of kids I thought should be getting more notice, yet were held back by lacking self-confidence or contacts. I thought I’d try my best to help some out, as I do! I took some of these demos that I had my eye on to my longterm co-producer and collaborator Dean Honer (Roísín Murphy, Jane Weaver), went through a bunch of songs and produced the ones we liked to a more palatable sonic landscape.
Our label Desolate Spools is totally non-profit – any money from it goes straight back into doing more physical releases for the artists. There’s no contract, no ‘we own your songs for 5-10 years.’ It’s more a collective of artists supporting each other and having each other’s backs, who are free to sod off when they want. Naturally, we want what’s best for everyone!
The compilation features a range of artists both new and established from Sheffield, London, Salford and New York. You’ve credited Damp Carpet for ‘putting London on the eccentric electronic pop map.’ London’s ethnocentric view of itself in relation to UK music would probably view this city as already being on the map. For those that need the wool pulled from their eyes, what was London lacking before and has it found it?
Being Northern, it’s almost in our genes to tease London. However, I genuinely love the place to visit and have a few good pals there. However, I’m always happy to leave and get back to civilisation, back to the fresh air! Damp Carpet is great. Lyrically, he is like the Ivor Cutler of electro – very dour.
I think for many years London had it easy. Labels would mainly sign musicians from the city and anyone North of Watford barely got a look in. But the North cannot be ignored – from Beatlemania to Punk to new wave/alternative music to electro pop, to Madchester, acid house, Brit Pop…the Arctic bloody Monkeys! The North has ALWAYS been at the forefront of musical cultural revolutions. In many instances the South has just watered down what goes on up here – it irons out any edge and sells it on as some cheery half-witted globule of nothingness! (laughs)
As you mentioned, the release of your latest compilation also accompanies the launch of the ERC’s label ‘Desolate Spools.’ What and who do Desolate Spools represent?
The ERC have released several records through bigger independent labels, but with us being incredibly creative, major indies can’t keep up with our output, ideas and side projects. We set up Desolate Spools around 8 years ago as place to put out ERC content as and when we want, rather than the usual messing about with lawyers and A&R guys for 6 months. Sometimes it’s important to have a bigger label to fund the more ‘visionary’ of ideas as they can cost quite a bit of money, but the ERC are a niche band with a hardcore following. If we can directly get our music to our fans, then that’s quite a lucky position to be in. People tend to trust that an ERC product is always going to be on the right side of inventive, fresh and never selling out its principles for an easy buck. So, we thought we’d pool our impeccable skills into some other artists and shine a shaky torch on them!
I like how your releases aren’t easily streamable via Spotify, Itunes etc. People have to make effort to source the music and buy it physically – something many find difficult in this simp era of streaming. Your latest compilation is available as a limited edition cassette compilation album, giving the music an air of the elusive. What’s the reasoning behind this format choice?
I simply think that streaming sites are utter thieves, which isn’t made any easier by millennials who were raised in the Spotify culture where music, film, books and art ‘should’ be free and consumed verily. You wouldn’t go in to a restaurant, eat a stroganoff and then walk off without paying for it, would you? You’d probably get arrested! Why? Because stealing is a crime!
I’ve always liked the tape as a music format, you can’t beat its analogue warmth. I’ve never been much a fan of digital music – it’s hard to cuddle a WAV file, but many people try.
Who’s to blame for the vinyl shortage?
I read something the other day that said people are blaming Adele for the vinyl shortage, but Adele seems to get blamed for everything, doesn’t she? Covid? That was Adele. England losing the football? Definitely Adele. They should leave her alone! It’s more likely to do with BREXIT (which was Adele’s fault too), drivers not able to get across Europe, all the red tape and new legislations and high costs. I curse Boris Johnson and his brains of a rocking horse set of cronies – they all need putting in prison!
In the meantime, where can people get the latest release and will they be able to see it live at any point?
I’ve been organising a few Desolate Spools artist roster showcase events, and our next one is at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge on Friday 17th December. After that we’re doing some late night takeover events as part of the Rockaway Beach festival in Bognor Regis on the weekend of January 7th-9th. Basically, I’m trying to get a bunch of these events across the country. If anyone’s interested in booking a Desolate Spools night, we’ll bring a fun, enlightening filled evening to your favourite hangout (for a price!).
Find the compilation on Bandcamp here.