is a British band based in Sweden
that makes happy synthpop with an
almost sixties touch to the vocals,
but with strong early Depeche Mode
They have recently released their
debut album "Lost in a Maze"
on SubSpace Communications, produced
by two thirds of Elegant Machinery,
so we wanted to know what the fuss
is all about.
Welbourn - interviewed.
could do this"
Mark Welbourn and Steve Ellam had
known each other for a long time when
they decided that they would start
making music together. Said and done,
they started out and shortly after
they found Chris Cross who helped
– It started as a sort of joke
between Steve and me, Mark Welbourn
says. We were listening to a lot of
Elegant Machinery, like “Shattered
Grounds”, and we just said to
one another: “we could do this”.
So we started to make out some material,
even though we didn’t know how
to play keyboards. I actually think
“Converted” was our first
song ever (now released as a downloadable
single). Then we met Chris, who sort
of started to work out stuff on the
keyboard. We made some demos, and
we basically just started with singing
the vocals on to a tape, and then
putting music to it.
From the beginning they were based
in London, but when Mark met a Swedish
girl, he decided to move here. This
was in 1998, but he had a lot of contact
with Swedes before that.
– Yeah, I was very pleased with
the Swedish electronic scene. You
don’t get laughed at just because
you listen to synthpop here. However,
people mostly stay within the scene,
and never look into other stuff like
trance and techno, which is what I’m
mostly into these days. It’s
all electronic, you know. However,
it seems to be a very happy scene,
where people are interested, active
and hopeful about new stuff. I don’t
keep up much with the current scene
though, my interest lie in the old
Ellam - aka Zammo.
Johan Malmgren and Robert
Enforsen from classic Swedish synthpop
trio Elegant Machinery (Johan is also
in S.P.O.C.K and Aaron Sutcliffe and
Robert in Hype) have produced the
debut album "Lost in a Maze",
together with Univaque themselves.
Mark and Johan have known each other
since the early nineties.
– I met him through a friend
of a friend. Actually it was his girlfriend
at the time. It was mostly our mutual
interest in The Beatles that brought
us together, and synthpop of course.
We talked about doing something together,
but it never worked out.
I moved here, I had our demos with
me and played them to Johan. We decided
to go through with it. It’s
actually been ten years now, since
we started working on them, Marks
The songs are mainly the same, Mark
– But Johan did a lot of things
with them; he’s very skilled
with harmonies and such. He’s
a really good musician, Mark says
Univaque are mostly using virtual
– You can do almost anything
with them these days. Johan has a
lot of old analogue stuff, but he’s
working with virtual synthesizers
as well nowadays. We wanted a retro
kind of sound on the material, but
done with today’s technology.
The guys see the band as fun thing,
and they don’t work with music
– Nah, it’s just a hobby.
It’s not going to be big enough;
the scene is really too small for
the album to be big. For example,
I really thought S.P.O.C.K’s
last album was going to make it for
them, but it never happened. It’s
a shame. It’s well produced,
and it’s got great songs.
Cross - not the hip hop variety.
it "Univaque style"
The name Univaque has a nice futuristic
sound to it, but I had no clue what
it meant. It almost makes me think
of vacuum cleaners… What
does it mean?
– Good question, Marks laughs.
It comes from Johan, who read in an
Elvis book about an American DJ who
called himself that in the fifties.
He played lots of different styles
of music, and it started what he called
the “univaque” style.
After a well-received album, most
bands go out and play on stage. Univaque
is no exception.
– We’re working on a couple
of dates this autumn, towards Christmas.
And Germany in the spring, as well
as Mexico, actually. I’ve heard
there’s a quite healthy electronic
scene there nowadays. We also want
to come back home to play in London.
S.P.O.C.K played in London last year,
but not many people turned up unfortunately.
Let’s hope we can wake the pessimistic
bastards up a bit!
Another single will be pulled from
the album, but it’s so far a
secret which one it will be.
– Yeah, there will be one more,
but I’m not sure if I can tell
you yet. It’s quite an obvious
choice anyway, even though I think
almost all eleven tracks can do well
on their own.
I don't entirely agree on that, but
many of the songs sure could stand
the single treatment. We'll soon find
out, I'm sure. Meanwhile, you can
always get your retro craving satisfied
while listening to the album, and
gasp at the perfect "Speak and
Spell" kick-drums and Yazoo-esque
synth leads, the way it was in the