The story so far…
Alien Skin music is British forged, post-punk era, old school synth-pop from underground Australia. “Anguished crooning, raw with haunting darkness” (Jamsphere Magazine).
Electronically eclectic – if you check his back catalogue – Alien Skin’s been likened by reviewers to UK synth-pop artists like early versions of Depeche Mode, OMD, The Legendary Pink Dots, John Foxx, Yazoo, Fad Gadget… quirky, atmospheric, melodic, on the fringe yet accessible…you get the general idea.
But it’s his recent trilogy of albums ‘NEW ROMANCE:1984‘ ‘P.O.P. POP‘ and ‘1980 REDUX‘ that dig deep into that embryonic period of dark, authentic synth-pop before the mainstream slick & bland of the later 80s.
George Pappas, performing as Alien Skin, is a former member of Real Life. The Australian synthesizer band topped early 80s charts with their million seller, Send Me An Angel.
“Unlike most music performers I grew up with no interest in music while a pre-teen. But this changed upon reaching adolescence, especially my fascination with songs and songwriters.”
His pubescent excitement generated by 1960s pop was further reinforced by a wave of boundary pushing music in the 1970s.
“I developed a fascination with British music of that era especially David Bowie. In particular his Berlin Trilogy electronic albums with Brian Eno. For me, this dovetailed with Kraftwerk’s mechanical minimalism and the post punk synths of bands like Sheffield’s original The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, John Foxx, Gary Numan, Fad Gadget and OMD.”
Synthesizers & drum machines were, as for many of his generation, liberating, provocative and fresh. “From being a guitarist in 70s rock bands, my switch to all things electronic was complete by the early 1980s.”
“But the biggest shot in the arm for me was the Alan Wilder epoch Depeche Mode. Martin Gore’s songwriting and the electronic methods used and pushed to the limit by the band were exactly what I wished to achieve as well”.
Well before joining Australian synthesizer band REAL LIFE in the 90s, Pappas led various electronic bands of the 80s era working in a hostile, sometimes violent, pro-rock environment,. Real Life had already achieved chart success in 1983 and after a hiatus re-emerged with George as replacement keyboardist and co-writer. Revitalized, the band recorded 3 more albums and toured extensively before winding down in 2005.
“My years in Real Life were amongst my most exhilarating. Playing to enthusiastic fans in countries I’d never visited before was always a great reward not to mention sharing a stage with the likes of OMD and others”.
“Real Life (left to right) George Pappas, David Sterry, Allan Johnson, Danny Simcic.
With the release of Don’t Open Till Doomsday in 2008 the concept of Alien Skin was born. Signed to A Different Drum, Real Life’s US label, the album’s success with fans, especially in Europe and the US, validated the continuation of Alien Skin as a musical entity.
Asked how he sees Alien Skin within the general electronic genre framework he replied, “I’m forever asking people, asking myself even, where does Alien Skin fit in? I really don’t know. Like ‘The Legendary Pink Dots’ I can be a bit eclectic.”
“At times what I do connects with the Depeche crowd, other times the underground dance crowd, the electronic singer-songwriter-ballad crowd ala David Sylvian, the late 70s post-punkers, the Numanites, the new romantics, the grim goth lovers – Grave Concerns magazine referred to my Alien Skin album, The Unquiet Grave, as ‘goth with the rock bled out of it’. I’ve even been tagged experimental.”
“I don’t wish to confuse people, to me it’s simple…I write synth-pop music with recognizable song structures, melody and brooding, sometimes gothic, dark emotive atmosphere; it’s what first attracted me to the genre as the 70s crossed into the 80s. That glorious UK electronic, post punk era. Especially evident in my recent trilogy of albums. After so many years, decades in fact working at it, I’m still making it up as I go!”
[Alien Skin has released 11 CD studio albums. Current 2020 release is ‘NEW ROMANCE: 1984″ available from this website.]