Words: Caroline Morris
Bynatone are: Rachael Elwell and Alan Wallace (sampler / synth / sequencer)
The current sound of Manchester music could be explained as follows; beep...beep... beeeeeeeep!!! In other words electronica is back but as ever approaching it from a new angle 2002 Manc electronica gives us cheap beats, dirty bleeps and heavy beeps!!!! The ‘fuse fuelled’ scene has been growing since the introduction of live based club nights in venues such as Night and Day since the beginning of the millennium. Working as a community of musicians under several aliases and group unions. These people have the philosophy of keeping your fingers in as many pies as possible, this way they keep the scene alive and hopefully everyone can stumble upon success. With a real DIY approach you’ll see plenty of DJ’s and musicians establishing their own nights, complete with visuals so, hopefully providing a more stimulating gig experience than usual.
Introducing new noise makers...Bynatone, being encouraged and hyped by fellow community members ‘Superstring’ the duo make some quirky, stimulating tunes that create the ultimate retro soundtrack reminiscent of recent 80’s revival by the likes of Les Rhythm Digitals and Add N to X.
First things first what exactly is Bynatone? ‘Well, it has three meaning’s really’ begins Alan ‘It’s an electronics company from the 70’s who produced cheap radio’s and games consoles but the way we spell it is the name for a vitamin they give to cows to make them fat before they slaughter them!‘ Although Rachael would like to add that she is actually vegetarian! ‘There is another meaning but we can’t remember it at the moment!’
Bynatone’s music may have a strong connection to machines, electronics and virtually anything that makes a noise but it still offers that ever-important melody so where does this come from and what exactly is there musical history? ‘Well I’m classically trained in Piano and Clarinet, which I like to let everyone know by wearing my “I Passed Grade 1” badge at our gigs!’ states Rachael and Alan? ‘ Well, I tried to start a band but couldn’t really be bothered learning guitar so I started to make computer based music on my Omega, I put stuff together under the name BETAMAX, which I did pretty well with as I was reviewed in FUTURE MUSIC in April’99! This was more Kraftwerk style stuff, a bit more sharp and not as melodic!’
So, what made them want to make music together and form Bynatone? ‘ I wanted to get involved with the stuff Al was doing because I love bands like Add N to X, but I couldn’t work out the code on the Amega’ explains Rachael ‘ so, we decided to buy some equipment that would let us make music together!’ Alan’s answer ‘BORDEM!’
As the pair have explained the music they make now is considerably different than anything they have produced before so why is this, what are their inspirations? Quickly summed up in one long sentence constructed equally by both the answer included ‘Computer game music, Commodore 64’s, Co-Co Pops, the Star and Garter, playing live’ and musically ‘ Add N to X, Fat Truckers, Superstring, New Order and Les Rhythm Digital’.
For all you ‘tech heads’ I thought it might be interesting to find out exactly what Bynatone use to make their sounds but the ever- simplistic duo explained as follows ‘All you need to know is we use a sampler, a synth and a sequencer, even when recording, we have tried adding other things but at the moment this works best!’ And were as reluctant to reveal the cost of these items the best we could get was ‘ at the moment it’s worth about £1000 if we insured it!’
After only their first gig at the Roadhouse the duo has gained local support and interest from press, musicians and industry. Although Manchester’s history would suggest it’s acceptance of new and experimental music these days it is becoming increasingly dismissive, so why so much interest so soon? ‘Because were a bit different, I don’t know of anyone in Manc who are really getting into electronic as much as we are. Also, I think having just a man and a woman on stage with three pieces of equipment making a load of racket is quite interesting, so it’s probably mainly a visual thing’
Talking of visuals, you’ll like this link...the pair at some point have been art students and this seems to be a big influence over there music, what is the connection between art and music for them? ‘You can’t have music without a visual’ states Alan ‘when were playing it could be pretty boring for people to watch, the same with any electronic band that’s why people like ‘Fat Truckers’ put on a show, it’s kinda like performance art’ Rachael ‘In a practical way we are going to be using video installation for our next gig, it’s very much inspired by the electronic thing as it has a digital feel to it but we didn’t write them specifically for each other but the music is obviously very urban and so are the visuals’.
Apart from putting on their own nights, making movies and playing gigs what exactly does Bynatone want, as a band and individually? ‘It’s not what I want it’s what I don’t want, a real job!’ Alan with the ideal of our generation!!! And on a similar note ‘ I don’t want to work at Belle Vue Race Track anymore’ Musically ‘ a no1 in America, Top of The Pop’s, Pepsi Chart and CD UK appearances, a non-recoupable advance’ But seriously the band would love to release a 7” single and take it from there, and word has it there is one on the horizon so they are going to need your support to afford what Rachael believes will make her truly happy ‘ a theramin...you know one of those things that makes funny noises when you wiggle your hands at the sides of it!’
One last very short question for you both, what do you feel Manchester music is about?
Alan ‘ Being the underdog, competing with London’ Rachael ‘Tony Wilson’s checkbook – hehehe!’ All turn to see Tony’s smug and haunting portrait above the bar in Oldham Street’s Dry Bar – Laugh’s all around!’
Bynatone play ‘Music is Better’ Monday 27th May 8pm-2am @ Big Hands, Oxford Road, Manchester. An electronic showcase brought to you by Roger who will also being playing a set on the night alongside Danny Webb and Vespertine & Son, with other live sets by New Media and Greta Garbage N.Y.
Tickets are £2.50 / 3
Also look out for them at the HMV Showcases and Club Suicide over the summer months.
For more information; firstname.lastname@example.org
Also e-mail for a copy of the bands recent demo for only £2, which comes with a lovely badge and shiny sticker!!!
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