Acid Klaus is the new collaborative solo project from Sheffield electronic artist Adrian Flanagan, who you may know from The Moonlandingz, International Teachers of Pop or Eccentronic Research Council. (He was also briefly in The Fall.) His debut album, Step On My Travelator: The Imagined Career Trajectory of Superstar DJ & Dance-Pop Producer, Melvin Harris, is out this week via Yard Act's ZEN FC label and features contributions from Sheffield legend Richard Hawley, actress Maxine Peake, Charlotte Kemp Muhl (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Uni), Sink Ya Teeth's Maria Uzor, his ERC bandmate Dean Honer, and more.
As the mouthful of a title might suggest, it's also a concept record. "There is a sub-story that plays out via the imagined career trajectory of fictional musician and DJ, Melvin Harris," he says. "In many ways, I am Melvin where unwavering creativity and ambition, mental illness, and a persuasive addictive personality merge heartedly with the R&R (Rave & Roll) dream. A dream-cum-nightmare that is perpetuated and encouraged by an industry that reaps the benefits and feasts on the clotted blood of its fallen and broken troubadours and almost always – like an age-old cautionary tale – ends in cliche."
Just ahead of the album's release, Acid Klaus has shared "Elevate," a banger which features Charlotte Kemp Muhl. She also directed the video, which was shot with interactive 360 VR technology. “I’ve known Charlotte for a good 7 years now, she's this super talented multi-instrumentalist and video director," says Flanagan. "I met her for the first time down a subterranean basement bar in Sheffield when she was on tour in the UK with her then band, Ghost of A Sabre Tooth Tiger, where she impressed me verily with a swift roundhouse kick to the side of my head whilst whooping the asses of a congregation of drunken Yorkshire men at Ping Pong. It was impressive and it left an indelible mark, nay a footprint, on my cranium. From that moment she got the job producing several videos for my then-music project, The Moonlandingz. When I started this new concept album I wanted to do a track that felt heightened, vampiric, and of the Twilight, so I asked Charlotte as I knew it would appeal to her sordid and wayward humor. Not only did she do a killer lyric and vocal, but she also made a video for it, a 3D/360 video – shake the screen brothers and sisters – and then shake your body, ELEVATE!!” Watch the video below.
We talked to Adrian about the album, asking him to tell us a little more about the specific dance music influences behind it, which include acid house classics, Add N to X, A Guy Called Gerald, and more. It also includes great stories involving the heyday of UK rave culture, the late Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, and more. If you have any interest in dance music, it's a great read. Check it out below.
ACID KLAUS - INFLUENCES BEHIND MY DEBUT ALBUM
Cybertron - "Clear"
“Clear" by Cybertron is one of my favourite records ever made - Juan Atkins is a Don, there’s a little nod to this track in my opening album track ‘Step on My Travelator’.. Everything should start with Juan. He’s The number Juan! I just noticed he’s got Cybertron back together, wonder if he needs a support band, or a drum machine roadie?!
Add N to X - "Plug Me In"
My co-producer Dean Honer actually recorded and produced all the Add N To X records when they were all based up in Sheffield - which was around the time I started working with Dean so I was hearing a lot of these records before they were even released. They were a great but a bonkers band - kind of the wild art school perverts of scuzzy synth bands, I think actually Dean co-wrote this record "Plug Me In"! Funnily, half their videos you can only watch on hardcore porn sites...I’ve certainly ‘come across’ a few whilst browsing for Christmas gifts for the family on the internet. I remember going to an Add n to X gig when I first moved to Sheffield 20 odd years ago and standing with Andy Votel from Finderskeepers records, he was giving me a hilarious running commentary as we watched a 30 minute girl-on-girl ‘hardcore art film’ that Barry 7 had directed for a extended version of this track. It was a bit more interesting than the usual support bands you have to endure, at least I had somewhere to rest my pint!
A Guy Called Gerald - "Voodoo Ray" (live at a swimming pool in Manchester)
Again, another long long time favourite from another Don who doesn’t really get the credit he deserves. Gerald was definitely an influence on the more minimal electronic tracks on my album like "Party Sized Away Day." I saw AGKG loads of times when I was a teenager in Manchester. One of my favourite ones was put on by Factory Records supremo Tony Wilson for a TV show called The Other side of Midnight -- it was filmed at Granada Studios one summer afternoon in some big TV studio that was turned into a faux dark warehouse, with Gerald, Happy Mondays and T-Coy all playing live sets. It was great, loads of teenagers and adults doing Ecstasy for the first time, doing the Bez dance... I remember just before Tony Wilson died I had a band that was managed by Shaun Ryder's dad, Derek, who introduced me to Tony who immediately invited me down to the Hacienda after some music conference thing we were all at. When we got within 100 yards of the Hacienda doors, Tony turned to me.. “Adrian, if you have any drugs on you - now is the time to put them in your sock, otherwise, my boys will have them!!” In hindsight Wilson did so much for the North of England, he had great vision, most people in Manchester thought he was just a joke TV guy though at the time !”
Who Killed the KLF (documentary)
I’ve forever been a fan of The KLF - I like the way they operate. Anarchic Situationists who understand that all great pop music should be a throw away medium, they conceptualised their music like a piece of art, released it to the world, then deleted it, set fire too it, destroyed it!! I love that attitude. They are pretty much the only people who have worked in music whom I relate too really. They, like me, are far too clever for the music industry!! Over lockdown when I was making my album I watched that new documentary about them, which is brilliant. During the height of their fame not only were they banging out great dance pop records but the whole back story & myths behind the songs or the ‘happenings’ they curated were just fantastic. If you want to learn about how to make and present a record, don’t listen to Ed Sheeran, strip off and listen to the teachers, Mr Drummond & Mr Cauty. Proper music industry terrorists!!
Chris & Cosey - "Synaesthesia"
I wanted my album to be a little bit of a nod to the past 50 years of electronic music be it new wave/electro pop/acid/Detroit house/experimental/soundtrack stuff. There’s a track called "Bad Club Bad Drugs Bad People" where I go a bit gabba meets Chris & Cosey or Throbbing Gristle. I love Cosey Fanni Tutti -- I was blown away to find she’s a fan of my other band Eccentronic Research Council!
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - "Fire"
In the early noughties I was putting out tracks via a French label and they were also working on the distribution in France of all Lizzy’s solo albums on Ze, so they sent me her back catalogue which blew me away in how diverse the records were -- going from post punk, to No Wave, to jazz, to Disco in a blink of an eye. When ever I DJ I often play her cover of "Fire" - it’s a brilliant punk funk via Giorgio Moroder version, it was a bit of an influence on my "Nightclub Marilyn" track. Let’s face it -- if there was no Lizzy Mercier Descloux, The Fall, A Certain Ratio and New Order there would be no LCD Soundsystem...or ME !!”
Delia Derbyshire - The Myths And The Legendary Tapes (film)
Another permanent resident in my musical brain is the late great Delia Derbyshire. A great film came out about her during lockdown that I watched a few times whilst making my album. I like watching strange and almost psychedelic films or documentaries when I’m in the process of making albums, I find them incredibly relaxing. I liked that this film kind of made Delia this character who lived outside of whatever any one else was doing, she just existed in her own universe. Cool soundtrack too by the inimitable Cosey Fanni Tutti.
Jim Ottewill - Out Of Space: How UK Cities Shaped Rave Culture (Book)
This came out quite recently/after I’d finished my record - it’s a fun read and would make a nice companion piece to it, if only to give you a deeper and more concise view and understanding on U.K. dance & rave culture. I’s past and future, and shows how it spawned out of predominantly industrial working class cities. The sound of industry was many people's first introduction to a proto electronic sonic landscape!”