I was involved in organising Ladyfest Newcastle which took place in September 2006 and one of things which gave me the most satisfaction was discovering new female performers and giving them a platform. I can't remember when I first heard of Gene Serene but I do know that as soon as I saw/heard her, I had to have her for our festival. The self-proclaimed Dada Goddess was inspired by the resurgence in electro music and now splits her time between the art scenes and nightlife of London and Berlin.
Although she has collaborated with other artists including Human League and S'Express, I believe this EP is her first solo release. It's a breathtaking slice of confident, catch electronic pop/dance music influenced by the driving beats of 80s music like early Human League. (Indeed, it includes a cover version of Sound of the Crowd). Songs like I Can Do Anything use simple lyrics to reinforce the repetitive beats that would make these songs great dancefloor fillers whilst other songs like The Hours go for a change in tempo to highlight more emotional lyrics. I think my favourite song has to be Black Rose which starts deceptively gently before coming to a bittersweet crescendo that is incredibly infectious.
When I saw Gene Serene perform live, she was solo onstage basically talking/singing into a mike over a backing track with mainly abstract/random images projected behind her. She still had the charisma and glamour to engage with the crowd in a way that reminded me of Grace Jones or Siouxsie Sioux. In a way it was a shame we put her on during the day as I could imagine she'd go down really well with a trendy club crowd and feed off their energy. If this CD has a drawback, it's that it doesn't quite do justice to the impact of her live performances or sheer presence but it still acts as a promise/threat of dark beauties to come. Gene (aka Louise De Fraine) now has her own record label, Dada Discs and is releasing more of her music on iTunes.
(One of my favourite songs of hers, 7 Dials is only up on her My Space not on this EP which is such a shame as it uses the riff from Manic Monday to create an insanely catchy electro-pop song).
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.