Nov 15, 2019

For Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform — heck, I should know

The new Electronic Sound magazine features electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who is the best woman named after an English county after, er, Sarah Lancashire.

This edition comes with a particularly striking cover illustration by Adam Forster. A quick glance at his Instagram suggests he does a great line in hand snails, finger fries and skull worms. You'll have to scroll his Insta to discover I'm not making those things up.

It's a very nice issue with some good words in, and it even has Underworld talking about their Drift project, and Josh Wink talking about Higher State Of Consciousness.

However, some idiot came along to spoil everything. Hey, look, it's not my fault that I happen to know EVERYTHING about Delia Derbyshire and all you flopsies know absolutely nothing about her. Harrumph.

Here's the start of my new column about Delia Derbyshire in Issue 59 of Electronic Sound. I do apologise. By the way, as ever Joel Benjamin has done a brilliant illustration to accompany my writing - see here.
I envy Delia Derbyshire and all the music she magically made from toasters and wooden spoons and fart cushions. When I faff around all day, smearing my belly with guacamole to add texture to my sexts, I’m “procrastinating” and “avoiding my responsibilities” and “behind on my bills”. But for Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform: she’d whack some nipple clamps onto a lampshade and suddenly you’ve got Doctor Who. [read more by getting Electronic Sound issue 59

Further Fats: Electronic words (2014)

Further Fats: Delia Derbyshire: put a donk on it (2017)

Nov 13, 2019

I have been blogging for fifteen years and I'm probably never going to stop

Happy 15th birthday, this blog.

The Fat Roland blog began on 13th November 2004 with a rather weak post about dry cleaning. Although it meandered in content for a while, this website eventually focused on the twin pillars of (1) electronic music and (2) silliness — two wonderful constants in my stupid life.

That humble first post back in 2004 started something special for me. Blogging came to define my creativity and, ultimately, my career.

It opened up a new world of freelance writing and performance that simply didn't exist before. I owe my uber-cool job at the Burgess Foundation to the direction blogging sent me in. And I wouldn't be writing for Electronic Sound if its editors hadn't stumbled across my sexy blog waffles.

Under the title of Fat Roland On Electronica, this blog won awards and a tonne of clicks — before clicks were the in-thing. The word "electronica" quickly became passé and, after dallying with the rather poor title "Netloafer", these days this site is called Electronic Music Stuff With Fat Roland. Does what it says on the internet tin.

This blog gets fewer clicks these days because this isn't where the cool kids hang out anymore. For example, a post yesterday generated zero comments here but 66 comments and counting over on Facebook. Still, every now and then a post gets a zillion views and I remember what it is like to be alive again. *looks meaningfully into the distance*

Here's a treat for you. I used to have a separate blog and website, for some stupid dumb reason. What follows is a screenshot of my website front page from something like 2005. I was very into black backgrounds and I designed everything in Microsoft FrontPage. And following that is a screenshot of my blog back in 2010.

What about the future? I'm going to keep blogging, and more regularly too if I can help it. This is my home. Electronic music. Silliness. And a few diversions as we go. Same as it ever was.

Nov 12, 2019

Do you remember the first time (with your own money)?

Any group of friends socialising over drinks will, at some point, raise one very particular question. That question is: what was the first record you bought with your own money?

It's a good question because the key bit is "your own money". Spending your pocket change in a record shop was step towards independence, and a stride away from hand-me-down records from your goth sister, mod-obsessed dad, or creepy uncle who dresses as Gary Glitter. It's one of your first stamps of identity.

For young generations these days, this question is obsolete. They're saving up to buy limited Record Store Day vinyl box sets encased in walrus hide: the £10 punt on a CD is increasingly rare. The modern equivalent of this question is "what's your favourite shuffle button" or "how many times a day do you skip the YouTube premium trial".

My memory is as decrepit as an old wardrobe left in a hedge, but I think my first bought album was Five Star's debut. I can't even remember its name. I listened to it once then swapped it with a neighbour for A-Ha's Hunting High And Low. "There's no eeeend to lengths I'll gooooo."

A-Ha became my world. I had their lyric posters. I had their duvet set. I made an A-Ha photo book by cutting up magazines, which I left in the school library only to be destroyed by what I can only assume were jealous Wham! fans. A-Ha was the first album I owned, and the first one that turned me into a fanboy.

But it wasn't, was it. I never bought it. The true answer is Five Star, a record of which I have no memory at all. I'm not sure even they can remember what it was called.

I like a good chunky shuffle button, preferably with an orange background. But never mind that. What was the first record YOU bought with YOUR own money? And did you get the duvet set for Christmas?

Further Fats: Do you pay for your record collection? (2009)

Further Fats: While my guitar gently sods off (2010)

Nov 9, 2019

Performing Flash Fiction with Fat Roland - a workshop

Some people reading this blog won't have met me. For all you know, I'm some Pringle-guzzling keyboard warrior vomiting words at the internet from a mouldy basement, Family Guy t-shirt slowly rotting from my own sweat.

However, some of you may have seen me in real life, namely on stages around Manchester either performing my own material or compering other people. Prancing around on stage is something I have come to love more and more.

Although I had dabbled previously, performance isn't something I've always done. In fact, it's nearly nine years since I started reading material on stages in earnest, as evidenced by this tweet.

So it's not something that comes naturally: I have spent two-thirds of my adult life quite specifically prancing around on anything other than stages,

My confidence in the spotlight is something I have learned. It comes from observing other performers, both proficient and terrible, from testing the boundaries of what I can do, and from setting myself loads of challenges and rules to become better at what I do.

Yes, rules. I've had loads of them, from how to cope with nerves, how to handle a microphone, and what works best for certain audiences. I made rules, I perfected them, I broke them and now a tonne of that has become muscle memory, making performance feel easier than before.

On November 23rd, I will reveal some tips and tricks on how to be a better performer for LitMacc in 'Performing Flash Fiction with Fat Roland'. The two-hour Saturday afternoon workshop focuses on performing flash fiction (i.e. very short stories), but it'll be a useful workshop for beginners and just-past-beginners on how to be stronger on stage in any context.

Even better, the tickets are really cheap. If you're within a train-jaunt of Macclesfield later this month, do come - tickets here.

Now do excuse me. I need to finish these Pringles because the sweat chemicals on my t-shirt are turning Quagmire's hilarious quote into something quite illegible. *guzzle guzzle guzzle*

Photo: Mark Croasdale

Further Fats: Not much coming up (lie) (2015)

Further Fats: This is what happened on stage tonight (2017)

Nov 6, 2019

Aphex Twin as lampposts - an illuminating thread

I made a meme. I did it all by myself.

Me attempting something as modern as a meme is a bit like your grandfather skateboarding a fidget spinner over a bitcoin. But honestly, I'm a proper modern guy - I've got a mobile phone and everything.

The meme I created is one of those "x-as-y" threads on Twitter. For example, Olly Alexander as cakes. One thing looks like another thing - that's the joke.

So here comes Aphex Twin as lampposts. Scroll down to see.

Two caveats. Firstly, calling this a meme suggests the tweets went viral. They didn't. And I really should have found a lamppost that looks like the famous Aphex Twin logo. I didn't. Dammit.

The images are small for blog-loading purposes and so that I don't frighten any passing Lilliputians, so do sneak a peek at the original thread here.

This is rather reminiscent of Otters that look like Rustie. Why not create your own meme? Boards Of Canada as postboxes? Bjork as vegan sausage rolls? DJ Casper as the concept of ennui?

Nov 3, 2019

"Acid house - it's not real music, is it" said the idiot

I'm no stranger to a filter-tweaking acid house night, so I'm delighted to see that the latest Electronic Sound is dedicated to acid house records.

Along with pieces about 808 State and Luke Vibert, they're selling a t-shirt dedicated to this issue of the magazine. You'd probably assume if I wore that t-shirt clubbing, it would end up ripped from my sweaty body and left in a pool of beer and poppers. Actually, I stay fully clothed on dancefloors in case I poke someone's eye out with an errant nipple.

Flick to the back of the magazine and you'll find my regular column Banging On: 600 words of finely-hewn waffle-cabbage dedicated to the wonders of acid house.

Well. I say dedicated. The piece I submitted contains the following contradictory phrases:
"Acid house. It’s not real music, is it."
"Acid house is for losers."
"How dare anyone besmirch the glorious name of acid house."
"People who don’t like acid house are the worst kind of fart-faces, and I’ve met Jim Davidson. "
What's going on? Has my brain melted from all the acid drugs? You can find out by getting issue 58 of Electronic Sound, and while wearing the corresponding 'acid sound' t-shirt.

(Additional note: it's now too late to order that limited edition t-shirt, so forget you ever saw it.)

Further Fat Roland: A ticket to ride: bumbling into MC Tunes and putting the green suit away (2007)

Further Fat Roland: I love acid and the acid loves me (2015)

Oct 31, 2019

Pop Pourri: have a go at these pop star anagrams

If a pop star anagram knocked on your door, you'd be horrified. Peter Andre's face, 5 Seconds Of Summers' hair, Crazy Frog's body. No thanks.

However, if you saw a pop star anagram on Twitter, you would be delighted. At least, I hope that's what happened when I foisted a game called Pop Pourri on my Twitter followers this afternoon.

Why don't you have a go too? Here are five pop star anagrams to solve. They are all acts that had a song in the UK top 40 singles chart at Halloween 1989. The first, third and last are solo artists, and the other two are groups. The number of letters of the acts' name is in brackets.

Good luck, and no cheating. I'll post the answers as a comment on this blog post in the next couple of hours.




NIX A NOB VIGIL (6, 2, 1, 3)


Further Fats: Ardently foul, wet flies: do my angry anagrams, you fart-hole (2010)

Further Fats: 5 great new dance hits from January 1989 (2019)

Oct 29, 2019

This is the best album of the decade, you b*stards

I got asked a difficult question the other day. The question was: what was your favourite album of the past decade. It's a humdinger, right?

It's probably the most vexing question ever to be asked of a member of the public. Worse than Brexit, worse than gold dress or blue dress, worse than Gareth Gates versus Will Young.

The people asking were Picky B*stards, a name I've had to censor so my blog doesn't fall foul of swear filters. I have to be honest: a few brain cogs fell out. Choosing the best album in a ten-year period is like choosing which puppy to shove into a blender, but in a good way. That said, when the answer came, it came easily. It hit me like a bl*ning fl*pd*bble.

In fact, there are few other albums so closely woven into my life over the past few years than the album I've chosen. It's Kiasmos by Kiasmos (pictured), a work I once rated as the third best album of 2014 but have now very much promoted it to legendary status inside my own noggin.

Read more about my choice of Kiasmos among the Picky Bs list here.

Further Fats: The 5 best electronic music tracks of the decade so far (2017)