Richard X vs Liberty X 'Being Nobody'
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
So who is he- Well, do you remember 'Freak Like Me', Sugababes' Number One from April last year- Richard was the brains behind that record. But he didn't plan to produce a hit single. He didn't have a plan at all. He still doesn't. It just sort of happened that way, as the best things often do.
It's easy to see why Sugababes liked what Richard had done. He invented a new style of pop music. He blended early-'80s British synth-pop with soulful US R&B a cappellas. In the case of 'Freak Like Me', Gary Numan provided the music while early-'90s diva Adina Howard performed the vocal. Richard merged two distinctive sounds
and styles into one new track, yet managed to retain the spirit of the originals. The result was an instantly familiar single that sounded deliciously alien at the same time.
"At the end of the day, what I try to do is make a good new record. It's pop with a bit of history," says Richard, an unassuming, curly-haired chap in his mid-20s. He hails from Lancashire and today lives in south London.
The Richard X story begins at the start of 2001, when he accidentally instigated the short-lived craze for making bootleg records. Secretly working under the name Girls On Top, Richard released a limited seven-inch featuring, on one side, the Whitney Houston-meets-Kraftwerk contemporary classic 'I Wanna Dance With Numbers'. On the other, Richard placed his all-time favourite track, The Human League's 'Being Boiled', beneath TLC's 'No Scrubs', creating 'Being Scrubbed'. These two fresh-sounding, icy electronic R&B anthems took swinging London by storm. Tastemakers raved about them - this was novel, not a novelty. For a month or so, with-it DJs played the tracks to death.
That August, Girls On Top surfaced again for the second and final time with another seven-inch. For the record, an all-girl rock group who'd been performing as Girls On Top for a while took umbrage at Richard's use of "their" name; by then, Richard felt his Girls On Top project had run its natural course, had said all it had to say. The A-side was 'We Don't Give A Damn About Our Friends', a version of which the Sugababes would later take to the top of the charts. The flip, 'Warm Bitch', married The Normal's 'Warm Leatherette' to Missy Elliott's 'She's A Bitch'. Amid an avalanche of wacky bootlegs conceived with little thought or attention to detail, Richard had again produced a couple of magical modern pop moments. The Face noted at the time: "If talent borrows and genius steals, Girls On Top commits the perfect crime, every time." These tracks worked not just because the original records complemented each other musically and conceptually, but because you sensed that Richard genuinely loved the raw materials he used.
"I am proud of them," he admits, "but I only made four tracks because that's what I wanted to do. The idea was not to trawl through my record collection pairing unusual tracks together. It was to find things that were important to me, my personal reference points. And unlike most bands, my reference points are very, very blatant."
Now newly signed to Virgin, and following his (let's be honest) unexpected success with Sugababes, Richard X has teamed up with another of the nation's top pop groups, Liberty X, in a logical extension of his Girls On Top activities. Their collaboration, 'Being Nobody', finds Richard once more mining his Eighties archive for personal pop gems. If the styles and sounds of the Eighties, however mutated, are a recurring theme in Richard's music, that's simply because he grew up in that decade and developed an undying affection for synth-pop, R&B and heavier electronics.
This time, Liberty X perform Chaka Khan's 'Ain't Nobody' over Richard's faithful instrumental version of The Human League's 'Being Boiled'. For a certa Tags