Manchester’s SkinjoB has been an active, cornerstone of the North West EBM and Industrial music scene since the 90s, performing along the likes of Sheep on Drugs, Icon of Coil and Front Line Assembly during their long and varied career. We chatted with SkinjoB mastermind Fitz about his influences, history and the future of the project.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind SkinjoB and how would you describe your sound?
It actually started back in the early 90s – a friend from college and I were in a metal influenced band and decided we wanted to start a ‘post-industrial dance’ project. This was in the days of Nitzer Ebb, FLA, Puppy and the just emerging Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine blew us away and we considered this the future of what would become electro-industrial. We had some lyrics and song ideas, and we spent time with different musicians and in different rehearsal studios trying to come up with what exactly it was that we were after, but we never really found anything we were really happy with (I’ve got the old tapes somewhere). It didn’t help that none of us were rich and the most advanced computer we had was my Commodore Amiga and a copy of Music-X; I had to lug a TV around as a monitor. (The EBM influenced ‘Insects and Metaphors‘ and ‘Move‘ from the last album were originally ideas from this period which I would finish years later.)
People moved on and the project got shelved however I always maintained a studio, and at some point it was agreed that I could carry on the project alone. It was years later I met my keyboard player Susana through a mutual friend, and decided to update the old material, write new material and put an album together. We played quite a few shows including festivals Summer Darkness and Infest, and supported bigger bands such as Front Line Assembly, Sheep on Drugs and Combichrist, and did a lot of remixes for others such as XPQ-21 and had a lot of fun doing it.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
I suppose like many artists I have the urge to leave my mark on the world; I get inspired by great music and I am the kind of person who likes to try and have a go myself, plus to be honest I think it would be harder to not write music – I just have the urge and I’ve played piano since primary school. We have always aimed for a dark and mostly danceable sound which I suppose is largely due to my personal musical taste and influences, and performing live we try to put a lot of energy into the performance and keep the audience interested. It seems to work and we tend to be well received live.
Of all the live shows you’ve played as SkinjoB, what’s your most memorable and why?
There have been a few but I think when we played Infest stands out in my mind, mostly as we were the first band on that day, and I was honestly expecting about 30 people to be in the audience – I was genuinely surprised to get on stage and see the venue was filled. (Also we had a phenomenal rider which is never a bad thing…)
Honourable mentions would be getting to support Front Line Assembly in Glasgow, and supporting Sheep on Drugs in Dublin purely because they were old school names I used to listen to when I was growing up which was pretty cool to get to do.
Through your music and past exploits as a radio host and DJ you’ve been a big part of the Manchester electronic music scene for as long as I can remember. What’s your opinion on electronic music in the city in 2016 and how do you feel it’s changed over the years?
Firstly that’s very kind and appreciated – thank you.
I think the biggest change is just how accessible creative technology has become. Back in the 90s the only way to get professional sounding recordings was to get signed to a decent label, invest a lot of money in expensive recording hardware or to pay expensive studio fees. Now you just need a laptop, software, an audio interface and a decent microphone if you are singing (and of course to know what you are doing, but that comes with experience).
Such accessibility levels the playing field with regard to talent. As a result in 2016 we have a large number of great ‘back bedroom’ creative artists able to realise ideas that simply would not have been possible back in the early 90s. The only down side (if you consider it a down side) is there are that many artists as a result of this, it can saturate the market, however in a small scene it seems to work out ok so long as you don’t expect to make a huge amount of money doing it.
What are you listening to at the moment? Give us a musical tip.
Recently I’ve been listening to the new Filter album which is really great. Couple of nice recent track discoveries have been the Rob De Large remix of 3Teeth’s Degrade and also the Seraphim System remix of NWA’s Chin Check.
I’m also really looking forward to Sound Mirrors by Covenant which is out soon.
Your last album Selfish Discipline came out in 2011 and was a great release that was well received, but you’ve been a bit quiet of late on the musical front since then. Have you been working on new material and can we expect a follow up release? What’s next for SkinjoB?
Thanks – yes Selfish Discipline seemed to be received well, but shortly after it was released Susana (keyboard player) and I were in the back of a taxi that crashed and I nearly fractured my skull. Susana was also hurt but fortunately not as badly. I forgot how to speak for a while in the emergency room which was scary but it left me scarred and needing some time to recuperate. We took it easy for a while; I’ve completed a number of remixes since the album of course, and we supported Icon of Coil on several dates during the last UK tour, but yes – there is new material in the pipeline and we may play again at some point, but I can’t give any firm timescale at this time. We’ll see what happens.