Electropop outfit Future Perfect share some insight into their darkpop delights…
Future Perfect have carved out their own niche in the world of electronic music via the brooding dancepop of ‘Hunter’, ‘Paradise’ and more recently ‘Fall’ – culled from their 2015 album After The Fall.
Consisting of Simon Owen and Rebecca Owen, Future Perfect have managed to combine darkpop perfection with a talent for melody and intriguing lyrical composition. Their 2010 album Dirty Little Secrets was packed with solid tunes and made for an impressive debut.
Future Perfect have also become a regular fixture on the electronic live scene and are due to make an appearance at the Silicon Dreams Festival this July. Simon Owen kindly took time out from preparing for the event to chat to The Electricity Club.
How would you describe Future Perfect’s evolution of sound?
Future Perfect’s sound has evolved greatly over the years. We actually started in 2009, so since then I’ve learned so much and with the increased availability of software synths there’s so much we can do nowadays. Plus, back then, we were still learning how to write songs.
A lot of the first album came from the leftovers of previous bands that we’d both been part of, plus I didn’t have as much equipment. I was mainly using Garageband, a few softsynths and a few bits of hardware that I had. The results of this became Dirty Little Secrets.
For the “difficult” second album, times were very very different indeed. We had both split up from our respective marriages and we were starting a relationship together. The issues surrounding all of this turmoil would go on to inform what would become Escape, which was quite an appropriate title considering our circumstances at the time. Plus, I was also taking vocal lessons to help add to our sound and to express what I was also writing songs about.
We originally received a small amount of flak for the new change in direction. We were vilified in certain quarters and lost a small percentage of our fanbase in the UK. But for what we lost at home, we gained in multiple other regions and the album also got us signed to Conzoom.
We were also thinking that the guy keyboard player and female vocalist thing had been done to death and was becoming a cliché.
I was listening to a lot of European EBM/Futurepop at the time as it really appealed to my musical sensibilities. Neither of us came from that Synth Britannia thing from the early ‘80s or had any exposure to it – and I in particular only got into electronic music around 1986 when I discovered Jean-Michel Jarre and then the Acid House/Rave/Dance Music explosion between 88-92. Prior to that, I was into everything else but electronica.
A lot of the above informed our 3rd album, After The Fall, which has a much harder feel to it and has a lot of dance music influences.
We like to shake things up between albums to keep ourselves interested and not to repeat ourselves too much. We also like each album to have its own concept or theme.
To put it in a nutshell, our sound is a mixture of Pet Shop Boys songwriting style mixed with a bit of Joy Division lyrical gloom mixed with a bit of Apoptygma Bezerk/Eisfabrik – and a bit of Jean-Michel Jarre for good measure. We’d classify ourselves as “Dark Dance” and have now crafted our own distinctive sound of catchy grooves, dance beats added to soundscape synths and layered male/female vocals. That’s Future Perfect’s sound.
You’ve augmented your lineup with the addition of Noel Canney. How does his input fit into the Future Perfect dynamic?
With regards to Noel, he’s an amazing guy. Extremely talented and has had success in his own field of Dance Music. The original idea was to have Noel playing with us in a live capacity as this would take the pressure off us both during performing. However, as he lives in Northern Ireland, this was found to be completely impractical. Noel’s contribution now is as a collaborator. He occasionally sends us over some rough incomplete demos/ideas. I take those ideas and then develop them and write a song/arrangement around them.
Examples of this are ‘Fall’ and a track from our new album called ‘Rip’, both of which are completely amazing tracks and we can’t thank him enough for his contributions and remixes.
What is Future Perfect’s typical live gear setup?
Our usual live setup consists of the good old Roland JP8000, which is still extremely versatile and sounds amazingly epic. I also bring the Access Virus C and occasionally, my EMU Emulator 2, and though it weighs a ton, it looks great onstage. I also have an onstage mixer which contains a built in Minidisc player which contains the backing sequences. I’ve had a few misses in the past with my Macbook Pro almost being smashed when taking it out live. As it’s the real heart of my studio, it’s probably wise to leave it at home.
Rebecca plays the Akai Miniak on stage as it’s a very versatile synth and I got it for pennies. Sounds great and was super cheap.
Like Parralox, you’re signed with Conzoom. Has that made a big difference to Future Perfect’s profile?
Being on Conzoom has definitely opened more doors for us that we could have ever thought possible. To have a good label behind you is essential if you really want to have more widespread exposure. We have a great relationship with Ingo Moller and allows us complete artistic freedom with the music – and that also includes the artwork.
Conzoom promotes our albums through multiple blogs, magazines and websites worldwide. We signed for a 3-album deal where we retain all digital rights and Conzoom manufactures the CDs and we take a share of those to sell as a wish. This co-operation deal suits us perfectly. Since signing with them, both albums we have put out on Conzoom have charted in the European Alternative Music charts and have been at least top 3 on the Poponaut sales charts.
Do you think music festivals such as Silicon Dreams are an important component for the electronic music scene?
I think it’s absolutely essential for the UK to have its own electronic music festivals. Events like Silicon Dreams in Liverpool and what Analoguetrash are doing in Manchester are fantastic and helps to promote the genre. I personally think that it’s been in the domain of the South for far too long and to have people promoting electronica in the North will bring more awareness to what’s on the underground electronic scene up here.
I think one of the problems electronic music has is that it’s still pigeonholed with the ‘80s. If you tell someone that you make music with synthesisers, a lot people still say “Oh, like the ‘80s? “!!!! Not withstanding the fact 95% of modern pop music is made with synths, either software or hardware or both and usually on a Macbook Pro! This typical view can be a hindrance to the scene if it wants to attract a younger audience.
Having more electronic music festivals will certainly bring an awareness of what’s happening on the different UK scenes. It seems that each region has it’s own particular take on the genre. I’ve found some southern-based bands to be more retro in their approach, taking elements from bands of the ‘80s and marrying it with a slick modern production style. Whereas the more Northern-based bands like ourselves and Promenade Cinema seem to be a bit more edgy and harsher in our sound. Not unlike the late ‘70s/early ‘80s when you had the original Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and OMD in the North and you had Gary Numan and early Depeche Mode in London. It’s the same genre, all worthwhile, but a different take on it
What does the future hold for Future Perfect?
We have quite a few gigs lined up for the year, Silicon Dreams included, and we’re in the middle of writing our 4th album.
We would really like to get out into the European circuit as well as at home as our sound is now more in the Futurepop/EBM genre as well as at home. We still have passion for music and playing live and I personally would like to get into soundtrack work in the future and we’ve both expressed an interest in writing for other people as well as ourselves. If someone had asked us back in 2009 if we’d still be making music as a duo and we’d both be married to each other in 2017, we’d have said that they were mad, but here we are…..
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Simon Owen.
Future Perfect are performing at Silicon Dreams on 8th July 2017 at Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room (tickets via http://silicondreams.org.uk/).
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.