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Review and Interview: Fenech-Soler

We sent our writer, Ben Cullen, along to Hoxton Bar and Kitchen earlier this week to see Fenech-Soler. He tried his best not to, but in the end he had a great time. Here’s how he got on.

24 hours ago I’d never heard of Fenech-Soler, writes Ben Cullen. The name sounded like some cheap and unreliable electronics’ brand you would encounter on your trip to the Tottenham Hale branch of Asda’s. I also wasn’t that familiar with the clothing line Henri Lloyd, with my only recognition emerging from the murky depths of my childhood, when the oafish school bully adopted this brand as his ritual uniform. It was obvious then, that I should be the ideal candidate to review/interview a band I’d never heard of, for a fashion event that evoked harrowing memories of my playground adversity.

Dismissing this dilemma, I trudged to the perpetually trendy venue, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, and immerse myself amongst the youthful throng of meticulously-styled dwellers. Henri Lloyd is obviously shedding its former lout-about-town image through a series of Pioneering New Music events in association with PRS, a project which aims to celebrate and promote up and coming or unknown talent nationwide – the first being the Northamptonshire four piece with the odd name.

Initially underwhelmed by the couple of songs I’d listened to beforehand, my expectations were rather low, but rather than be a crushing bundle of negativity, I decided to submerge my inexperienced ear towards their brand of bedroom synth-pop. Watching Fenech Soler conjures the blissful euphoria of being at a summer festival – it’s a joyful racket of thwarting synths, complimented with an exuberant scatter of carnival percussion and anthemic choruses. If Calvin Harris penned songs for Delphic, this is what it would sound like.

Lead singer Ben Duffy exudes a dynamic pomp and exhibits irrepressible energy on stage; if he is not draped over the mic bellowing his radio-friendly vocals, he is seen smashing drums or jerking across the stage in frantic abandon. His frenzied energy is heightened with the backdrop of pulsing strobe lights that abrasively beam into the jigging faces of the crowd, subsequently bludgeoning our delicate retinas.

Overall, you cannot help but feel jovial or prevent yourself from dancing to their thrilling floor-fillers. Fenech Soler delivers uncomplicated, euphoric disco anthems that sound better live than on record. Heavy with infectious hooks that crave, and have achieved, Radio 1 airplay, it seems they are on their way for commercial success, probably playing T4 on the Beach in no time. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my damaged eyes.

Planet Notion: You are the first headliners for this Henri Lloyd Music event which promotes the brand, alongside up and coming talent. Henri Lloyd is an established heritage line, which is renowned for its baggy nautical wear, which couldn’t look any further from your elaborate image. Be honest, do you really like the clobber – Will it appear on eBay soon?

Fenech-Soler: I do like the clothing! Put it this way, we were given a couple of tops a few weeks ago and we haven’t stopped wearing them, it’s brilliant – there’s no way they will be going on eBay.

PN: How did tonight’s gig go for you guys?

FS: It was good fun. A bit rusty maybe – but it’s like riding a bike – we knew how to do it, but we definitely weren’t up to scratch. Even though the album has come out, and we’ve been playing for the last three years, were still finding our feet in learning how to create an electronic record live.

PN: Your new single, Demons is out February 7th. Do you have any personal demons, things that trouble you, and keep you up at night – maybe the fear of getting dropped by your record label, male pattern baldness, or the stark possibility of a nuclear holocaust?

FS: I think getting dropped is a worry, but it’s just one of those things. I think recently it’s the worry of being bored; we haven’t been playing since December and over the last month we’ve been writing, but I think we’re going a bit stir crazy – it’s been nice to get out of the village.

PN: In 1985, Henri Lloyd was given an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. What would you rather be awarded with – a knighthood from the Queen, or a night of passion with Kate Middleton?

FS: I’d get knighted. I think it would be a great chat up line if I was a knight – it opens the door doesn’t it?

PN: Henri Lloyd is a brand that has particular ties with the football subculture of the 1980’s. The hooligans of this period indulged in senseless acts of violence, from fist-fights and bottling, to tipping over burger vans. Have you resorted to violence while playing a gig?

FS: I have hurt someone whilst playing, but it was purely by accident. We were playing and I accidently kicked a monitor off the stage, with it falling on someone’s foot. I didn’t feel that good, because it looked like I did a kind of rock star, ‘kick the monitor of the stage’ thing, which wasn’t the case at all.

PN: Henri Lloyd also revolutionising the world of sailing, by pioneering such innovative designs like the introduction of a Velcro closure in waterproof garments. What accomplishments would you like to be remembered for in 50 years time?

FS: Just being remembered for a song or an album would be lovely- I think many bands are lucky to last more than six months these days, so to be recognised in twenty years would be amazing. You’re lucky to get a month, let alone a year. I’d like a legacy- ten albums, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

PN: Henri Lloyd worked alongside some of the most intrepid explorers, one being Sir Francis Chichester, who was the first man to circumnavigate the globe. Who would you like to work with?

FS: I’d love to work with Bjork. If she could do some vocals on one of our tracks or even came to our show and said she liked it that would be amazing. I’d love to do a remix with her. We also really like Bloodshy & Avant – we’ve never worked with a producer before so that’ll be interesting.

PN: Like those intrepid explorers, you have travelled all over the globe and are at the moment, embarking on a tour. Where was the best place you have performed, and where are you looking forward to playing in the future?

FS: Probably London we did our first headline gig at Heaven recently, which was amazing, but I think London is one of those places where we’ve had our best and worstgigs. Travelling has been the best thing we’ve done -we did a few shows in America which were great. We are lucky to play in San Francisco and L.A, even if the shows are terrible.

PN: If you could remix any song from the past, what would you remix?

FS: I have thought about that a lot – it would be a track by George Benson called Give Me the Night. I think it could be good if we just sampled that vocal. That would be great, I love that song.

PN: Personal question now – In your song Lies, the lyrics goes, well you know it,You’re telling me sweet lies sleeping with everything’. Who is this about? Take your revenge by naming the sleazy bint.

FS: I wouldn’t be in the best place to answer that question because I didn’t write the lyrics, but it’s definitely something to do with Ben’s past, it would have to be about a girl or something that happened.

Fenech Soler’s new single Demons is out on February 7th, and their debut album is out now, available to pre-order or buy here, both on B-Unique. If you want to see them tour, live dates and other information can be found on their official website.

-Ben Cullen

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