Q&A With Derek Anthony Williams
of the Jan Doyle Band
Q. Hi Derek. When did you start your career in music?
I initially started writing a ridiculous and arty story-like description of this which was only partially real but I’ve changed my mind and decided to play it a little more straight. Time is of the essence after all as I’ve still got a million things I’m procrastinating about. Or something. So yes this bit is actually being written after I’ve completely pretty much the rest of it hence a rather odd tone to it. Well that initial bit anyway. But I digress (Hang on wasn’t I saying something about time is of the essence? Get to the point man!).
Career in music... when did that start? Has it started yet? When I did I start making music? Pretty much all my life in various ways but if you’re talking when did I actually start presenting it to other people properly then it would be about 1994. I started writing music on the commodore amiga utilising the Octamed tracker program which I’d moved onto from the Sinclair spectrum soundtracker program. Shortly after that synthesisers entered my life after one was found at the car boot sale – a Yamaha CS5 for £25 (“No one wants these anymore”). Shortly after Rit-C (Rave Is Talentless Crap) started to create somewhat odd analogue instrumentals (well after a Juno 6, Teisco S-100p and Boss DR-110 were added). Then Jan Doyle Band started recording a year later with Guitars, a Casio CT650 and a piano that happened to be in the corner of the room. However it wasn’t until 1997 we performed live at all and then there was a hiatus in live stuff until 2011. Apart from some Free Market Economy productions.
Oh hang on there’s something else that happened... I got recruited into doing a feature called Free Market Economy for One Life Left video games radio show (Europe’s only FM broadcast games show). More on that later.
So er. You decide when my ‘career’ in music started. It’s a bit complicated if you ask me.
Q. Who were your influences?
The influences are many and varied. In the very early days of Jan Doyle Band it was Siouxsie and Sisters of Mercy mainly. I’m not entirely sure the music reflected Siouxsie so much or The Sisters. I think it was possibly we were too incompetent to really create that sort of style. Duncan Timiney – the unseen co-writer of nearly all the JDB songs took influences from the classical world too. The early songs were very improvised and had a lot more guitars in them. The sound wasn’t necessarily that influenced by artists but more whatever happened to occur when we got together and made noise with the equipment we had to hand.
Later influences included more Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft, David Bowie’s Outside and Earthling albums and Front 242. But that is of course just the Jan Doyle Band influences. The influences for other projects include all kinds of other things like Tangerine Dream, Human League, Kraftwerk and far too much to list.
Q. When did you and Michael become the Jan Doyle Band?
It is said that is not dead what can eternal lie and such is seemingly proven by Jan Doyle Band have lied in the shadows awaiting resurrection from 2003 to 2011. The trio had become a duo, the duo had become a solo, the solo had become a hiatus. 2006 brought new hope; new musical productions hit the airwaves under the Free Market Economy moniker. Video games the theme and One Life Left the host for these 2-3minute segments of original music every week. Around 40 different pieces of music were composed every year. A live performance or two happened under the name (video evidence of these exists but should be forgotten) and the project gained certain fans. On twitter a fan James Weaver who goes by the name of Liquid City (who happens to make music as Gyratory System) connected and introduced Weirdgear. Weirdgear introduce Vile Electrodes. Vile Electrodes inspire the revival of JDB and introduce Richard Holland (Sheffield based music fan) who introduces Mike once he knows I wish to start a band. The rest is the future...
Q. You are involved with other artists too?
Is not every artist involved with other artist? The artist in isolation is a miserable concept. But I should dispense with this facetious disposition. You wish to know about my many and varied music endeavours.
DEFILE is my extra dark gothic/industrial themed project with Julie Thielen (who lives in America and sadly we’ve never met). She recites her hugely emotive poetry over my music with spine chillingly wonderful delivery. It is a project that tends to use more guitars than my others but there’s no restrictions and variety is key. Our last work Blitzkrieg has met with lots of praise. Which has been nice.
I often perform in the studio with Matt Handley as Voltage Controlled Music where we improvise things on my array of analogue synths. It’s interesting to do something that is of the moment and never to be repeated. I’ve performed it live twice but only once with Matt. I hope to do it again sometime. I really like it being done in amongst people rather than being on stage. http://facebook.com/vcmuk
Izzie Voodoo and the People is my synthpop project because despite being drawn to the dark side so often I do adore pop music. I’m off to see Kylie live in November after all. Never be afraid of a great fun song with an excellent melody. Music can be just about dancing and feeling great. I usually create a tune then send it over to Izzie Kirk (who is known for her project Tokyo Witch Hunt which is how I know her) to come up with a great vocal melody and a bit of extra production. We’ve performed one track live together ages ago and I’m itching to do a full set but we haven’t got enough songs yet and I’m so busy I’ve not had a chance to write any more tunes yet.
Q. And you are a live music organiser?
Indeed. Of sorts. This largely came about because many people were complaining there’s no scene for electronic bands. I was often complaining the live venues were too full of boring guitar bands who all sound the same so I thought – can I fight back against it and put on my own nights? So I put on a night at West Street Live in Sheffield with The Gifted and Tokyo Witch Hunt (or Eyes/Lips as they were known then). It was very sparsely attended but got me into the idea. So then I started putting on nights at the Vintage Rock Bar in Doncaster under the Donkaster Elektronische Freundschaft moniker. First night was Tokyo Witch Hunt, JDB and Analog Angel. It was a pretty good night, was able to pay the bands pretty well. We always achieve a great atmosphere when we all get together for these nights.
The next night is the 6th one I’ve done and is on the 25th of October. It’s a bit of an electropunk special featuring The Webb, Syd.31. Kurt Dirt and John Merrick’s Remains followed by electro djing. There’s a video trailer for it at http://tinyurl.com/def6trailer It’ll only cost you £4 for an advance ticket from http://defsynth.com and you’ll get a free CD if you do that as well. If you’d rather, you can turn up on the night and pay £5 on the door and not get a free cd. The choice is yours...
Q. You have a Radio Show too?
Yes, currently titled Donkaster Elektronische Freundschaft Radio, unsurprisingly. I play a mixture of new and old music but the main thing I consider sets it apart is each week I try to include a live phone interview of around 15 minutes or so from an artist. I’ve had all kinds of people as phone in guests like Factory Acts, Vile Electrodes, Geoff Pinckney, Martin Bowes of Attrition, Spacebuoy, Eurasianeyes... so many. Lately I’ve managed to do some live sessions in the studio. First one was Doncaster’s Manga Bros and the most recent one was John Merrick’s Remains.
The show usually goes out at 9pm on Mondays (though it can vary). If you join the facebook group you’ll always get notified of when it happens and you can listen live and chat at http://tinyurl.com/defradio
Q. Have I missed anything Derek?
There’s Donkaster Elektronische Freundschaft Recordings too, my sort of record label on bandcamp. Currently on there are three completely free albums that were given away at DEF events and a Voltage Controlled Music + Eigenfrequenz collaboration called ‘Movements’. The latter is 3 tracks long and lasts about 70 minutes. It’s also really rather good if you like the Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze kind of thing.
The free download albums are largely full of cover songs but feature many great artists like Jan Doyle Band, Pulse Lovers, Meter Bridge, Phil Marsh, Tokyo Witch Hunt, The Alpha Video and loads more. There’s no excuse for people not to go investigate at
Q. What do you prefer, Keyboard Player or Vocalist?
It entirely depends on the project. Both have their merits. I love being the front man of JDB but with VCM I love tweaking the synths. When I did the live performance of Izzie Voodoo and the People it was great to be the keyboard player and allow Izzie to do her thing. Horses for courses. As they say. Whoever THEY are. I reckon it’s probably the Illumanti who are secretly manipulating world affairs behind the scenes to bring about the New World Order. Which they are apparently doing by making up phrases. Or something.
Q. How would you sum up the live circuit at the moment?
The bands are there and the bands are superb. There’s a huge vibrancy and variation in the scene. There’s immense passion from many camps. Problem is trying to find the audience. I think a lot of the trouble is that the audience is somewhat fractured throughout the country so it’s pretty hard to bring everyone together. It seems to work pretty well for The Electricity Club though so maybe it’s really just a matter of getting the right bookings. I’m trying to promote bands that are new and unknown to the area which is possibly a mistake without having a ‘significantly popular in the area’ band to attract people. Unfortunately I don’t know of a huge number of local bands that really attract an audience.
Q. When you see a low turnout, Do you ever think 'F*kk It'! ?
I wonder what word you are censoring there... certainly can’t think of a word ending in two Ks. Fokk maybe. But that’s German. Are you speaking German now? Why do people bother censoring words anyway when everyone knows what the word is so it basically reads the same. But anyway to answer the question, of course I feel that. I’ve been trying to give up both putting on events and performing since I started. I’ve somehow failed to do so thus far.
Q. What bands are catching your ear on the Yorkshire Synth Circuit?
Obviously Tokyo Witch Hunt are from Yorkshire and utterly wonderful. Combining a stylish performance with a modern sound it baffles me as to why they aren’t attracting huge crowds. In terms of bands on the Yorkshire circuit, I have to mention The Webb despite them not being from Yorkshire. The thing with The Webb is that they seem to be constantly on tour in Yorkshire so I think it counts that they are on the Yorkshire Synth Circuit. They present a punky/goth image on stage but they have quite the variety of sound with many tracks being almost pure pop and extremely danceable. They’ve also started a new dance craze that is sweeping the nation. (See the video for Falling Down) They headlined a show in Leeds last night and the audience just wouldn’t let them leave the stage.
Q. If finances allowed you, What acts would you put on the stage on the same bill?
Good grief that’s a tricky one. I’d definitely get Meter Bridge to come over. I’d also like to have Vandalaze play with JDB too as I think we’d work well together (Vandalaze sound a bit Cabaret Voltaire, are decidedly arty and are thoroughly excellent.
In terms of big well known artists I’d like to have Front 242 and Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft who I think would still put on a damn good show despite being of the original scene. I do rather enjoy Republica so it would be nice to have them along as well. Also if I had infinite money I’d persuade the original Human League line up to get back together and do their synthing in the original style.
Q. I've met you a few times now and I've always admired your passion and determination for the scene. What keeps you ticking over?
Someone has to do it. I keep thinking of the future. If I give in now then it’s definitely the end but if I continue maybe it gets a reputation. Maybe word spreads. Someone has to look out for synth bands and the electro scene. We just need to make people who like it more aware of it.
Q. You use the phrase 'New Wave of Waveform' a lot, Please describe the N.W.O.W.
I have Dr Magic of Syd.31 to thank for that phrase. He came up with A New Wave Of Waveform but I just simply opted to make it more important sounding and changed to The New Wave of Waveform. The way I see it is that Yorkshire was a significant origin ground for electronic music in the 80s. That was the original wave of waveform but now I want a new one. Also if you have a tag line for something, it’s something people can latch onto. It’s an ethos to get behind. It’s about everyone coming together and working towards making something special. WE ARE THE NEW WAVE OF WAVEFORM.
Q. What are you working on at the moment EP/Album?
Too many things. A while ago I recorded 4 tracks with Nikki of the band Terror Bird whilst she was over from Canada. Due to everything I’m organising I’m finding it hard to find time to get those tracks properly finished and mixed. They’ll be released soon. At this present moment in time I’m trying to do a cover song for the next D.E.F. cd (which is a cover of a Eurovision song by the way). I’ve just finished a JDB song that will be released on the Let There Be Synth IV compilation album. I intend to get more JDB out by the end of the year too. And a track or two for the December D.E.F. cd. There’s more DEFILE and Izzie Voodoo and the People to come yet. Oh and I’ll also be returning to Free Market Economy soon...
Q. I know you are very 'Cautious' with your money so is it fair to say the hairspray is a burden on your finances? ;-)
Bulk orders certainly help save money. Sure it’s a large initial expense to buy by the palette but overall there can be quite the saving. Sadly thus far no hairspray manufacturer has responded to my requests for free hairspray in exchange for being their model, despite my immense beauty.
Q. Finally Derek, Thank You for taking time out of your very busy schedule to answer these questions. Is there anything I have missed or anything you would like to add?
I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who is being a part of THE NEW WAVE OF WAVEFORM. Those who are helping and supporting as best they can; turning up to gigs, sharing events on facebook, listening to the radio show, contributing tracks for free for the compilations, performing for me on the proviso that it’s just sharing the door take. I’m spending quite a lot of my non ‘work’ time doing all this so every bit of help and support I can get is really appreciated. I don’t make money out of it (it does all run at a minor loss as I often choose to ignore some of my costs in favour of covering band costs). Also please, if you like electronic music, give it a chance coming to the events in Doncaster – it might be a largely insignificant town but the NEW WAVE OF WAVEFORM is a friendly one and the events have a tremendous atmosphere. Live synthing needs you!
Next events: D.E.F. 6 – The Webb, Kurt Dirt, Syd.31, John Merrick’s Remains 25th October
D.E.F. 7 – Manga Bros, 3D, Jan Doyle Band, ATTRITION 6th December
Buy tickets from http://defsynth.com