Dublin-based synthpop artist, Circuit3, has long been a favourite here at EP. I first met Peter Fitzpatrick, the man behind Circuit3, back in 2017 during our first “Irish Roadshow”, which saw me interview a number of Irish artists, as well as take in some concerts during my stay. Peter and I connected on a number of levels, and became firm friends, remaining so to this day, and meeting up every so often to chat when I’m in Ireland. Sadly we’ve not been able to meet up in person this time around, but thankfully, technology was there to help us out.
Technology is also a pivotal theme in Circuit3’s latest album, ‘Technology For The Youth’, out tomorrow, July 15, and I was privileged to be able to listen to it before its release. Out through Manchester label, AnalogueTrash, it’s been mastered by Richard Dowling, who’s possibly the most experienced mastering engineer in Ireland, and has done work for the likes of Paul McCartney, Christy Moore, David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Foo Fighters…and as I was to discover, Circuit3 – Richard has so far mastered all of Peter’s releases.
Preceding the release of ‘Technology For The Youth’, Circuit3 released the EPs ‘Overview Effect’, and ‘Future Radio’, with the lyrics to the songs inspired by the experiences of astronauts and cosmonauts when viewing Earth from above, and the former EP’s name taken from the term first coined by author and space philosopher Frank White, in his book, ‘The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution’. Peter explains:
“After observing our planet from space, astronauts felt obliged and responsible for the care of this tiny fragile ball of life, shielded only by a paper-thin atmosphere. The cool kids are going to space. It’s all the rage. Maybe we should protect what’s left of this planet before playing space tourists? The universe isn’t going anywhere. The earth certainly is. Our house is on fire.”
‘Technology For The Youth’ feels like a slightly different direction for Circuit3, while maintaining the gorgeous multi-layered synth-pop composition fans know and love. Opening with the ambient, cathedral-like, ‘Light Breeze’, we are awe-struck by the immense and consuming instrumentals, which serve as a fantastic introduction to the album. This opulent sound is revisited in track 3, ‘Satellite’, which, with the addition of slightly alien-like chimes, rises, swells, and falls, all within less than 2 minutes.
There’s an anthemic quality to many of the album’s tracks, no less so than in ‘Blinded By The Sun’, with its call out to the puppet-master who is pulling the strings, wanting to be king, while the world is eating itself. Further on, in ‘Transmissions’, we begin to feel the plight of the space traveller; ready to come home but knowing that things aren’t quite right.
With references to the pioneers of the Space Race, including the Soviet dogs, Laika, and Chaika, and a song dedicated to the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova – it’s made abundantly clear that while we were forging our way into space, things were not quite so happy at home. Valentina and her cosmonaut sisters preceded female astronauts by more than 20 years; racial inequality was and is still very much an issue: do we have the right to go mess up the universe when our own house is a complete mess? For these answers, let’s move on to our interview with Circuit3.
Hi Peter, thanks for chatting!
I’ve listened to your album ‘Technology For The Youth’ today and it felt like a record of three parts: an homage to David Bowie; the space race, with a special focus on the Soviet space programme, and a clarion call to save our planet. Do I come close? And if so, are these three things necessarily separate, I mean…there could be a Venn diagram drawn up with this album at the centre…
Well, firstly thanks for listening! I’m intrigued by the David Bowie dimension – do tell me more about that. Yes the album uses the hidden stories of the space race and is a commentary on what we have actually learned or achieved since the 1950s. We’re closer to destroying our planet and seem to have learned nothing. The Soviet imagery definitely informs the aesthetic but I think it shows up so much in the album because we in ‘The West’ know more about the US NASA story when there are some fascinating and heroic feats by Soviet cosmonauts. Such as Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space.
Ah yes I was going to say about Valentina! There’s definitely a lot of shout outs to the females in the early space race – not just Valentina but the OG, Laika!
But…back to Bowie –
In ‘50 Years Ago’ there’s a line that’s super close to one in Bowie’s song, ‘5 Years’ – “news guy wept, the earth is really dying”
Super close? It’s a direct lift ! You’re the first to spot it 🙂
If you’re going to steal? steal from the best!
I think his says “news guy wept and told us…”
But indeed that’s not the only one! There’s a couple of instances I’ve written down, “is this Major Tom?”
I don’t think so. Anything Major Tom would be really subconscious on my part.
Ahh! Well subconscious or not it worked for me. So tell me about Valentina. She was the first and youngest woman in space, having flown a solo mission on the Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. But is that the only reason you wrote a song about her? I wonder if she knows about your song!
I do wonder if she’ll hear it. Unfortunately her politics are on the wrong side of history these days. As I was thinking about this album I wanted to try and join together some themes and create a cohesive collection of songs and instrumentals. One of those themes is the ‘untold’ stories of the space race and while people with an interest in science and space travel will likely know of Valentina they won’t see Hollywood movies about her. If we stop and think for a moment not only did she make it to space in the earliest most risky days of space travel but she did it in a world that had yet to take even the most basic steps toward addressing inequity toward women. Perhaps the communist system supported her where a so-called democratic system didn’t. Even with the notional equality under communism she will have faced obstacles no man would have had to face. So, the story stuck in my head. I read a few things about her and filed those away. One day I started writing an instrumental piece which developed into ‘Valentina Fly’. I’ve played it on my livestream shows back in 2020 and 2021 where fans have said it is quite OMD-like in sound and production which is of course a huge compliment.
That’s what occurred to me too – not just the OMD aspect of your track but also the fact of the soviets being equal opportunity employers back in even the earliest days of the space race, and when the US did eventually allow female astronauts they sent them with lipsticks and endless supplies of tampons for a 2 (or however short) day trip.
With the weather at the moment – sure it’s summer but it’s an intense one – ‘Technology For The Youth’ couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. What got you thinking about all these issues, the environment, wars etc – people just not getting along? What was your inspiration?
If you place the songs in the context of what has happened since 2018 it probably makes sense that the lurch to the right and science denial for example feature in the songs. I’ve been aware of the impact we have on our environment for over 30-years and it’s one of the reasons for example I’ve been vegetarian for that length of time and where possible I’ll try to make sustainable choices like driving an electric car or travelling by train or harvesting solar power. My politics are left leaning and while they’re not perfect by a long shot I have supported the Green Party. All of this feeds into the subconscious. Sometimes my writing process is to start with a legal notepad and write page after page of stream-of-consciousness. Whatever is on my mind will surface through that. I read it back and find interconnected words, themes, statements. I’m also angry. I’m really fucking angry. There are people out there who simply don’t give a shit but worse than that there are people actively pushing against progress whether that be in addressing racial, gender inequity or in saving this planet. Sometimes I write about what I’m passionate about and songs like ‘Spacewalking’ come out of it. Or ‘Blinded By The Sun’.
YES! I got that in ‘Spacewalking’! In my notes I said, “not literally yet in space; but we don’t have time to argue about our perceived differences – we need to unite in the fight for our own planet. Let’s go spacewalking. We’re dreamers and that’s not a bad thing – we can not walk alone – our freedom is bound to each other. Free at last – cut to MLK Jr – nice touch”.
LOL I love it when someone gets it!
In my live show I use video clips of interviews with Ed Dwight who was presented as the first Black African American in the NASA space program destined for space. The US government and NASA lied to him and shafted him. Shameful.
We can walk in space but we can’t address racial inequity? Oh please!
It was written around the time of the resurgence of the BLM issues in the US and elsewhere.
Ahh I can see that!
I was listening today to the whole album and I feel it’s one that would work really well in complete darkness. I had my headphones on and for a couple of songs I just put my hands over my eyes and really felt the song. Quite mesmerising, almost meditative…
Oh that’s great. Thank you.
My studio is quite dark with low level lighting. Also most space ‘video’ is…dark.
My dream is to play the album live at one of those planetariums.
Oh a planetarium would be perfect!
‘Star City’ especially – it was really wonderful – I could see swirling blues and greens spiralling in front of me (even though it was completely black).
Wow. Well that’s probably what you’d see in one of those cosmonaut training machines in Star City… spinning you around at all sorts of crazy speeds!
Amazing that you’ve been able to convey it in music form and it actually worked!
It’s part of the reason it has taken 4 years to get here. I had started working on these songs while midway through recording my last album.
Ah that’s a nice segue into my next question. Give us some sort of idea of what the writing/composing process is for you! What comes first, the music or the lyrics? You said about the legal notepad…
The simple answer is: all of the above. For example: ‘Future Radio’ came from lyrics sent by Brian McCloskey which I then wrote around…’Spacewalking’ was an instrumental where my daughter said it sounded like walking in space and I added lyrics later when I knew I wanted to write about Ed Dwight….’Star City’ came from the title when I’d read about the actual place named Star City and the words & music came together.
Sometimes if I can’t think of anything but I feel the need to write I’ll use the stream of consciousness method. That’s one that Tom Robinson taught me. It’s very effective. Similar to the writers tool of the ‘morning papers’.
I remember writing ‘Blinded By The Sun’ and the image of the sun being Trump who managed to blind these people into believing him… I added Putin by reading about his KGB-era codenames ‘dark moth’ etc.
Oh very nice!
Now ‘Technology For The Youth’ is out this Friday, I believe, through AnalogueTrash. It’s been mastered by Richard Dowling – he’s done work for an incredible line-up, McCartney, Bowie, Motörhead, Sparks…Foo Fighters…Kylie Minogue – now Circuit3! Do you feel humbled or do you feel that it was about time haha!
haha. Well Richard has mastered all of my releases. He’s a huge music fan which is not always a given in this business. He really gets electronic music and totally understands what I’m trying to achieve so I trust him. AnalogueTrash is a very cool co-operative style family of artists that I’ve known about for a few years and was keeping my eye on. I’m a fan. I wanted to try and elevate my presence with this release as I’d worked so hard on it and my measure of success is how many people I reach with this music. I had a chat with the label and they were onboard so I was really pleased with that. It’s great to have Ady and Mark there to chat through things and they’re a huge support in many ways.
I love that for you, I think it’s brilliant. And glad to hear that Richard is a fan of your music too (sorry I didn’t know about him mastering all your releases! Bad research on my part!)
Richard gets to more gigs than anyone I know and you should see his record collection!
Okay well we shall wind it up now I think as I know you’ve got things to do – but I just want to say thanks for talking to us tonight and I wish you all the success in the world with ‘Technology For The Youth’ because it’s well deserved.
Thanks so much for chatting it’s always great to meet up even if it is online.
True true! Until next time!
Circuit3 is online on SoundCloud, YouTube, Facebook Instagram, Twitter, and his official website. You can also pre-order ‘Technology For The Youth’, as well as all the rest of Circuit3’s music, on Bandcamp.