Vile Electrodes

There’s something very enticing about Vile Electrodes. It could be the kinky clobber. It could be the great synthpop tunes. It’s probably both, actually 

Vile Electrodes are Anais Neon and Martin Swan, a colourful South Coast duo who formed because of an unhealthy obsession with analogue synthesisers and a desire to escape reality through dressing up. Yes, that kind of dressing up.

“It’s just who I am!” declares statuesque singer Anais. “I’ve been going out on the fetish scene for years, so I have a wardrobe full of latex, and being in a band has given me even more opportunities to wear it. I want to make myself look as out of the ordinary as possible.” 

Ms Neon’s interest in the fetish scene goes beyond clubbing, though. She occasionally works as a model as well. “I work for a couture latex designer, Lady Lucie, so it means I’ve got a wealth of amazing outfits at my disposal,” says Anais. “I’ve also got friends who are amazing creative designers, plus a couple of very talented female photographer friends. They all work with some incredibly beautiful women, so I’m flattered that they want me to work with them.”

Does she ever worry that her image may detract from the music? “Yes, I do worry that people will assume I’m just a floozy who’s been invited to ‘front’ the band, rather than give me credit for my musicianship,” she says.

That would be a shame. Vile Electrodes have some great tunes to match their striking look, the best of which is ‘Deep Red’, a gorgeous seven-and-a-half minute synth ballad that comes over like Client B fronting Dindisc-era OMD. There’s also the dark neo-rave of ‘Empire Of Wolves’ and the shiny indie-electro of ‘Play With Fire’, which is how The Smiths would have sounded if Johnny Marr had picked up a Roland instead of a Rickenbacker. 

Vile synth man Martin Swan was part of the ‘Oramics To Electronica’ curation team at the Science Museum and has a big analogue set-up that would make an exhibit of its own. The band have had to be more practical for their upcoming tour supporting OMD in Germany, however. “We are making some concessions and taking a few more modern and easily replaceable synths to Germany in place of some of our huge and ancient bits of kit,” concedes Martin.

Within days of the OMD tour finishing, Vile Electrodes will be performing with John Foxx & The Maths in Brighton. “It’s a fabulous opportunity and a genuine surprise,” notes Anais. “It may sound like a fawning cliché to say it, but they have honestly been our two favourite musicians and have been naturally huge influences on us. When he was younger, Martin bought every OMD record he could lay his hands on and we’ve been avid fans of John Foxx & The Maths since they started out.” 

Vile Electrodes come into their own when they play live. The way Anais whips her syndrum into submission on ‘Headlong’, a track from their eponymous debut EP, adds some dominatrix tension to vindicate the visual context. But has her latex wear ever impeded her operating electronic machinery, so to speak? “Well, I can’t wear latex gloves with fingers on, because I can’t operate my Kaoss Pads, hence my mega-sleazy ‘STAY VILE’ fingerless gloves. Martin says he doesn’t have too much trouble either, but that’s because his latex wear isn’t on display.” 

And it all only gets better when we discover that Anais was, until recently, the Gillian Gilbert of the New Order tribute act Re:Order. “It’s been great fun,” she says of her role as indie’s favourite electronic auntie. “It really helped with my confidence building as a performer, too. I’ll miss it, but I think I’ve got plenty of Vile activities to be focusing on at the moment. Now if only we could finish that album…”

You May Also Like