DISLOCATION – A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FOXX
John Foxx was born as Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, North England, just at the right time to become one of the most innovative figures in popular music today.
John Foxx's first band, Tiger Lily, released their first single in 1975. Tiger Lily eventually became Ultravox! in 1976, and together they recorded three albums – Ultravox!, Ha! Ha! Ha! and the influential Systems of Romance. The lineup included Foxx on vocals, Chris Cross (bass guitar), Billy Currie (keyboards/violins), Robin Simon (guitar/vocals), Stevie Shears (guitar) and Warren Cann (percussion). When dropped from Island Records in 1979 on the verge of commercial success, Foxx quit the band and went off to work on solo material. Ultravox would re-emerge a few years later fronted by Midge Ure.
A NEW KIND OF MAN : 1980-1985John Foxx's debut solo album Metamatic emerged in 1980, helping to pave the way for a generation of electronic musicians. Metamatic spawned a successful single with ”Underpass”, and is today regarded of one of the most pionering albums in electronic music.
Foxx however, changed direction for his 1981 follow-up album, The Garden. He returned to a full band line-up and reunited with Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon, to create a more organic sounding album, not unlike Systems of Romance in style. The Garden followed in the footsteps of Metamatic in the UK charts with the singles "Europe After the Rain" and "Dancing Like A Gun".
In 1983, Foxx released The Golden Section, an album of contrasting styles to the previous two, drawing its influence from Foxx's 60s' psychedelia roots. Foxx also embarked on his first solo tour, although nothing from his debut album would be performed, and fans would have to wait a long time before hearing the likes of “Underpass” played live. That same year, Foxx started an ambient musical project, Cathedral Oceans, but lack of record label interest at the time would mean that the project would not see completion until 1995.
Foxx's fourth solo album, In Mysterious Ways was released in 1985, and was another album of contrasting style. However, increasingly frustrated with the music scene at the time, Foxx soon retreated from the public eye, instead concentrating on graphic design, art, and college lecturing under his real name.
FORGOTTEN YEARS: 1985 - 1995
During this time Foxx continued to write, and took on production duties for various other artists. He also continued to work on his Cathedral Oceans project, and although no album was released, he performed the music live in churches and outdoor locations, on several dates between 1986 and 1988.
In 1989 Foxx collaborated with Tim Simenon of Bomb the Bass, on a musical project called Nation 12, and although two singles were released, the album never saw completion, although one track, "Into the Wonderful" was sampled for a popular video game, Gods.
In 1993, Foxx got itchy feet, and contacted his former bandmate, Robin Simon, about forming a new band. Blitz consisted of Robin Simon on lead guitar, with his brother Paul on drums, Sue Rachel on bass and Foxx on vocals and rhythm guitar. Studio sessions in London and Wales resulted in five demo tracks: “Meeting Venus”, “Sailing On Sunshine, “Dancing Like A Gun”, “Eurotrash” and an early version of “Through My Sleeping” which would later appear on Foxx's own Shifting City album. A proposed live performance in the summer of 1993, sadly never happened, and the Blitz project was soon abandoned, as Foxx once again decided to change direction. This new direction came the following year, when Foxx met and began working with Louis Gordon.
A LONG TIME: 1997 - 2008After more than a decade away from the public eye, John Foxx re-emerged in 1997 with his long-term project Cathedral Oceans and the result of his collaboration with Louis Gordon, Shifting City. This was Foxx's first full studio album since 1985, and harked back to the electronic, minimalism of Metamatic. In 1997 Gordon persuaded Foxx to tour for the first time since 1983, where the now rare Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour CDs were originally on sale.
Modern Art, a compilation album of all Foxx's singles and later album tracks appeared on the shelves in 2001, ahead of CD reissues of Foxx's first four albums, complete with bonus tracks. Modern Art also provided a taster of the duo's next album, The Pleasures of Electricity.
Foxx and Gordon continued the momentum, and released the acclaimed Crash and Burn in 2003. They toured again to promote the album, and also performed as support act for The Human League. That same year also saw the release of his long-awaited collaborations with instrumentalist Harold Budd, Translucence and Drift Music.
In 2005, Foxx released Cathedral Oceans III - the third volume in this ongoing project, and in the same year, the Nation 12 recordings were finally released in the form of the Electrofear album.
June 2006 saw the release of another, very different instrumental concept album, Tiny Colour Movies. Foxx had composed music to accompany obscure film clips, which he had either created or found over many years. Foxx was, for the first time combining his love of film with his music and Tiny Colour Movies would prove to be a pivotal album in his career, followed by a string of international performances. In the summer of 2006, Foxx and Gordon embarked on another tour, this time premiering new songs from a forthcoming album, From Trash, which was released in November. 2006 proved to be Foxx’s most prolific year to date, with the release of more new material than ever before - exclusively on sale at the live shows were The Hidden Man interview CD and Live From A Room (As Big As A City) – both now highly sought after recordings. The remaining tracks that came out of the From Trash sessions were later released as an album in their own right, Sideways, which also came with an interview CD, in which Foxx describes the influences behind his latest music.
Eager to expand the audiovisual side to his work, Foxx premiered live versions of Cathedral Oceans and Tiny Colour Movies in late 2006 and 2007, accompanied by continuous visuals, and continues to perform them around the world, in cinemas, churches and any other inspiring or appropriate locations. September 2007 saw Metamatic remastered and reissued, to critical acclaim - and finally performed live.
Throughout 2008, John Foxx performed around the world, playing shows in Australia, Italy and Japan. There’s no doubt his art and music holds global appeal, and many fans had waited over two decades to see Foxx playing live in their country. Towards the end of the year, a new best-of compilation, Glimmer, was issued, soon followed by new two-disc sets of his early albums, The Garden, The Golden Section and In Mysterious Ways. The year came to a close with the release of more exclusive material, including a live album and a limited edition retrospective box set, Cinemascope.
D.N.A : 2009 AND BEYOND...
2009 saw the release of two long awaited collaborations, A Secret Life (with Steve Jansen) and Mirrorball (with Robin Guthrie), as well as My Lost City, a collection of archive instrumentals and The Quiet Man – an narrated CD of passages from Foxx's ongoing novel of the same name.
2010 saw the release of Metatronic, – a three-disc set celebrating John Foxx's thirty years as a solo artist, comprising a new compilation, a live album recorded on the Australian tour of 2008 and DVD of selected videos.
This release was soon followed by D.N.A – a double album/DVD of music and film combined.
Recognition for Foxx's combined work in arts and music finally came about in September 2010, when arts magazine Creative Review ran a six-page feature on his work as an artist and graphic designer.
2011 saw thelong-awaited release of Interplay, the first album by John Foxx And The Maths – a new collaborative project between Foxx and analogue synth guru, Ben Edwards ("Benge"), who runs Play Studios in Shoreditch, where the duo recorded the album, which also features Mira Aroyo from Ladytron. Interplay was released in the Spring of 2011 to rave reviews all round.
In April 2011, John Foxx also shared the bill of one of two "Back to the Phuture" shows, with fellow synth pioneer Gary Numan.
Two more new instrumental collaborations followed, of a very different nature; Torn Sunset with flautist Theo Travis, and Nighthawks with Harold Budd and Ruben Garcia.
Foxx established a live band for The Maths consisting of Benge, Hannah Peel and Serafina Steer – musicians he'd met through working at Benge's studio. They took to the road in October 2011 to promote the Interplay album as well as selling copies of the follow-up album, The Shape of Things.
The Maths added a third album into the equation in September 2012, with Evidence, a CD comprising new material, collaborations and remixes, working with artists such as Xeno & Oaklander, Gazelle Twin and Tara Busch (who supported The Maths live during 2011/12).
Since his re-emergence in 1997, Not only has John Foxx proven his worth and influence on a whole generation of musicians, but he has also demonstrated incredible staying power. Where so many of today's bands soon fade from the limelight and long-established artists leave increasingly longer gaps between albums, John Foxx continues to gather momentum and break new ground. Today Foxx is held with high regard in both the arts and electronic music circles.
While still lecturing in art and design and working as an exhibiting artist, Foxx’s music has been cited as influential from bands as diverse as The Klaxons and Goldfrapp, clearly indicating the relevance of his work and that it still maintains the mysterious magnetism and splendour that shaped a generation of music fans and bands alike, over the last three decades.