London-based indietronica artist Rodney Cromwell has released his 'Memory Box' album via Happy Robots Records. Here is an exclusive interview with the artist plus scroll below for the official music video.
Memory Box was just released and is described as a European synthpop album. Where did the inspiration come from for this album?
To be honest the description of the album being rooted in a European synthpop tradition was really just marketing spiel; it was as much influenced by Silver Apples or Suicide or Polyrock as it was by Kraftwerk or Berlin period Bowie. But there has been such awful anti-European rhetoric in the UK in the last few years, I wanted people to know what side of the fence I am on.
The album written as a reaction to what was going on around me at the time; the pandemic, riots, wildfires, environmental collapse. Rather than write about those things, the album travels into our inner psyche, our memories to create a psychedelic world, where the mundane and magical meet head-on. That sounds terribly pretentious, it’s how I interpret it now, but I was very much just making it up as I went along and hoped it would make sense when I stuck it all together.
The music video for "Opus Three" is an awesome video. Where did you film it and what was the process like creating it?
Thanks. It was filmed at the Leagate Shopping Centre in South London. It’s a run-down and dilapidated shopping centre from the 60’s / 70s that hasn’t received any love for many years. A lot of local photographers use it when they want a grim-vista vibe. It was directed by my friend and super talented film-maker Abi Moore on a Sunday morning in early January.
Again, we were just making it up as we went along. It was a lot of fun, other than filing the long shot where I had to lie on the car park floor for about 10 minutes, it was freezing cold – I lay there thinking ‘if I die here, at least I will die for my art.’
The only idea that I brought to the video was the hazmat suit. People keep asking me where I got it from, like it was some sort of specialist kit, but I just bought it off eBay. I think it cost me £8.
What is the story behind the album title and track "Memory Box?"
Where the idea came from, I can’t exactly remember. But that’s the whole point. It was about how I couldn’t trust my own memories. I’ve always had a terrible memory for certain things, like people’s names. The track itself came from me messing around with a really simple marching drumbeat and then layering lots of atmospheric synths over the top of it. It had a proper chorus very early on, but I preferred keeping it simple and repetitious so that’s how it ended up. ‘Simple and repetitious’ are probably the words that will end up on my gravestone.
How did you get into electronic music? Have you ever made any other genres?
Yeah I started out in an indie band, who were always compared to The Sundays and Belle and Sebastian, but I just found myself drawn to the more electronic side of the genre. We bought a couple of old Moog synths and they ended up becoming the core part of my sound. You can listen to stuff that I recorded over a decade ago and in those records there are still loads of the sounds I use today.
Where can everyone find your music?
It’s on all the major digital platforms like Spotify, Apple Music as well as in the best record stores in the UK like Rough Trade, Resident, Radio / ON or Norman Records, or you can find the album on the Happy Robots Bandcamp page and order it there.
Are there any announcements for the rest of 2022 you would like everyone to know about?
Not really. I’m making this all up as I go along. Have I not mentioned that before? I forget.
Rodney Cromwell has announced the following UK shows for 2022
7 May, Brighton Fringe, The Brunswick, Hove
4 June, Brockley Max Festival, London
10 September, Just Dropped In, Coventry
Keep up with Rodney Cromwell
Keep up with Happy Robots Records