John Fryer and Rebecca Coseboom Take A Dark Drive on the West Coast
What do Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Xmal Deutschland, Clan of Xymox, Nine Inch Nails, Love and Rockets, Cradle of Filth, Fields of the Nephilim, Swans, Die Krupps and, one of this writerâ€™s personal favorites, This Moral Coil all have in common? Besides being some of the biggest and most influential artists in their various genres, they all had John Fryer sitting behind the control board during the recording sessions. Since starting his career as an assistant mixing engineer at Blackwing Studios in London, Fryer has amassed just under 500 verifiable mentions in the liner notes of releases with over 225 of them being production credits. And while many will find the mix of genres (Synthpop, industrial, metal, gothic, darkwave) surprising, they too all have one thing in common: Good Sounds and for John Fryer, itâ€™s all about the good sounds.
So after almost 30 years as an engineer and producer, Fryer has teamed up with American vocalist Rebecca Coseboom and released Noise in My Head under the moniker DarkDriveClinic. Coseboom and her decidedly delectable voice may be unknown to many, but she knew exactly whom John Fryer was when she answered his call looking for a vocalist.
But we need to back up a moment here, back almost two and half decades before Rebecca joined DDC as that is how long Fryerâ€™s been working on the composition of the music. He admits that as much as this project was a labour of love, it had to take a back seat to working on projects for others. There was always some project for 4AD, Mute, Rough Trade, Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills or the mass of labels and artists lining up for his attention. I think we can all related to the need to put aside a personal project, no matter how special, to take on a job for someone with cash in hand. In the off hours, the times when John wasnâ€™t focused on helping another artist realize their dream, he slowly worked on his own material. Even with the time constraints upon him, there was never a rush to complete the tracks. After all, he was doing this for himself, not anyone else.
There were some obvious benefits to working with the variety of musicians seeking his production talents during the time Noise In My Head was percolating. Perhaps primarily, working with such a diversity of artists has allowed Fryer to expand his musicological foundation. Fryer readily admits that most of the artists heâ€™s worked with have influenced him in one way or another and that influence can be heard in the sound of the album. Of course, influence is a two-way street and you can hear just as much â€œJohn Fryerâ€ on the albums he has helped birth. Another benefit of the glacial pace of production was the three decades of experimentation on getting the sounds right rather than subscription to some tried and true method. And really, with the changes in technology over that span, what method could be trusted to work. When John started this project, the music world was totally analogue, now we all live in a digital world. Back in the days of analogue, if Fryer wanted to rearrange a songâ€”something he admits to doing frequentlyâ€”he either had to resample the instruments and record the new arraignment or actually cut the physical tape. Now, it is simple as a few click s on a to make these changes in a matter of minutes. Back in the early 80s, guitars were plugged into amplifiers and miked to record. Now, guitars plug directly into a computer or special digital amps created specifically for the purpose. Studio Control boards used to be mammoth machines that dominated a room, now Johnâ€™s favorite tool is an Apple Mac running Logic Studio. All of this was mastered over an unparalleled thirty-year career.
During the majority of his career, the music for Noise In My Head was brewing. Processes and ideas Fryer played with worked their way into the music as others were discarded or resurrected. It was his dream to finish this album and as the music took shape only one thing was missing: a voice. There had been many potential singers over the twenty-five plus years John had spent composing the music. Most of these singers were encountered during production of other artists work who were more concerned with getting their own projects realized to take the music seriously. When he decided it was time to complete the project John did something only the new digital world allowed, he placed a call out on Facebook looking for a singer. Although he naturally received several replies, John states that Rebecca Coseboom was the obvious choice. When prompted to expand on why, he explained that although all of the singers were talented only Rebecca really immersed herself in the music and connected with it at the core. She totally got the songs and instinctively knew the sound of voice that was needed to make it all work. For her part, when Johnâ€™s offer to be the voice for his dream, she thought she misunderstood not fully realizing what he had said. Once Rebecca comprehended, the collaboration began.
This wasnâ€™t some producer/songwriter finding a singer he could control and use to propel his music into the spotlight, it was a true collaboration. While John had lyrics for the track â€œLove’s Lost Crossâ€ prior to Rebecca joining him and the verse on â€œStill Contagiousâ€ was based on a conversation the two artists had, all of the lyrics for the other songs are Rebeccaâ€™s composition. John produced the album and made suggestions, but really he wanted her to put herself into and own the music. One of Rebeccaâ€™s hopes was that her voice to humanize the songs, fill them out and gave them an organic element to help people connect to the music. It is Rebecca singing, but she gives a lot of credit to John for her performance on the album. By asking her to sing on his project, he instilled a great sense of confidence into her. Just knowing that that the man who told some of your favorite singers how to improve their performances wants you to sign for him can do that. The results speak for themselves. Her voice melds perfectly with the sounds becoming another instrument.
With the music and vocals complete, the hardest part of forming a project came: finding a name. DarkDriveClinic was chosen simply because it sounds cool in full and abbreviated to DDC. Fryer feels that the music should drive the project name and this writer agrees that the name chosen fits perfectly. There are definite moments of darkness to the music, but mostly what I notice is the creativity and melding of the sounds. Layers upon layers of tones mix and contrast, highlighting themselves before retreating behind other elements and Rebeccaâ€™s vocals. In short, what John Fryer and Rebecca Coseboom have brought out is a sonic work of art.
With their debut performance at the largest dark music festival in the world Wave-Gotik-Treffen on May 25th, another aspect of the project was completed. Performing the music live was always one of Johnâ€™s intentions and the response was greater than he and Rebecca could have expected. While waiting for some quality video from the show, Rebecca comments that the performance itself felt great. The size of the crowd impressed John who modestly refers to DDC as â€œa relatively unknown bandâ€ and seeing people singing along put a smile on his face. They are touring the West Coast hitting Santa Cruz, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Hollywood. And they want to tour more! The hope is this mini-tour of the US West Coast will show promoters everywhere that they can pull off the live show and want to book them. As far a John is concerned, DarkDriveClinic has no boundaries, it can go anywhere in the future.