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Our friends electric … Gary Numan and Little Boots. Photograph: Sarah Lee

Paul Lester

guardian.co.uk  3 December 2009 21.35 GMT

He arrived in 1979, bringing synthpop to the masses. She is part of the bold new wave reinventing the genre for the 21st century. So what happened when Gary Numan met Little Boots?

As far as Little Boots is concerned, only one thing happens at this recording studio in north London. “This is where I hang out with 80s legends,” she laughs. Earlier this year, she recorded a track called Symmetry, from her top five album Hands, with Phil Oakey of the Human League in this very room. And today she is going to be rehearsing here for a BBC 6 Music session with Gary Numan, synthpop’s prince of darkness, a man who 30 years ago was one of the most adored pop stars in Britain, even if the music press treated him more as a figure of mirth than menace.

His head full of Philip K Dick and JG Ballard, Numan was, to say the least, a different kind of pop star. He wore boiler suits, painted his face white and lined his eyes kohl-black; he coldly intoned songs about machines programmed to rape (Down in the Park), robot prostitutes (Are ‘Friends’ Electric?) and sci-fi ultraviolence (Cars) over icy keyboard patterns. Virtually unimaginable in this Simon Cowell age, his dystopian visions and songs of alienation connected in a big way with the British public, making him the strangest of teen sensations and the biggest solo artist in that period between punk and the arrival of the new romantics.

Little Boots and Numan have yet to meet, so Blackpool’s pop princess is a bit nervous. “He’s got such an aura,” she says. “You don’t quite know what to expect. His whole aesthetic is quite uncomfortable yet somehow enjoyable. There’s something really uneasy about it, a dark, unsettling vibe, that I really like.”

Read in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/dec/03/gary-numan-little-boots-feature



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