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It's music that started in London clubs and now Euro-dance music is hot even off the dance floor. Republica is one band that's crossed boundaries with their song "Ready To Go." Karen Douglas talked to them for this FC Groove Report. 

"We're not part of the scene," says Republica's lead singer, Saffron. "You know, we're not grunge or Britpop or dance act; we're not purists." 

Republica doesn't fit in with one music scene, so they came up with their own label. Saffron describes it as techno pop punk rock. "That was just something I said that followed me around the whole of America," she explains. "It's just elements of things that you find in our music." 

Basically they write dance music with melodies -- a combination that breaks with tradition. 

"We sit in there and try and write dance songs," says Saffron. "And we wanted to put there which you couldn't do in the music, so we changed it." 

Their primary influences are '80s New Wave, but judging from Saffron's current collection, nothing is off limits. At the moment, she's listening to Hole and Old Dirty Bastard. 

Their own music is also tough to categorize, and they think this is very British. 

Saffron thinks British bands experiment more with their music than American bands do, "In Britain it all starts in bedrooms and this sort of thing, so it's a bit more quirky." 

Tim Dorney, the band's main songwriter, agrees. "The thing is in Britain things seem to work a hell of a lot faster than it does over here. It's like in Britain you have two weeks to break a record." 

"There's only one radio station in England that really matters, and it's called Radio One," adds Saffron. "It's essential for new bands to get played on there or you really don't have a chance. We've actually been quite lucky that they've played quite a lot of our stuff." 

They're on their second U.S. tour in three months and they're still mastering the basics -- like what to bring on a trip. 

"I try to bring enough for a whole month without washing, but that's not possible," says Saffron. 

"I've been nicknamed the Imelda Marcos of techno, so I've got lots of shoes with me," she cracks. 

So what's the worst part of life on the road? 

"Changing in backstage toilets is probably the worst," offers Saffron. 

"Eating at Denny' another one," adds Tim. 

If their next single drops like "Ready To Go," it looks like Republica should be able to upgrade from Denny's to at least Chevy's. 

Republica's Official Website   Interviewed by Bernard MacMahon (17th July 96)

Have you been surprised by the initial reaction in America which seems to be really positive to the stuff you have recorded?  
SAFFRON Of course we were very surprised, but we were very very pleased about it. To be told that we were the number one group to be most added to modem rock radio play lists is great. We have only performed one gig in America and we just can't wait to get out there again. We were told that we were going to Texas, Las Vegas and places that we had only dreamed about. 

How do you think the people in Texas and other Southern states will take to the music? 

TIM They love it. They used to have quite a big punk scene out there. Groups like the Butthole Surfers are from Texas! 
SAFFRON I think Texas is quite open minded about music. There's actually a big techno scene and they are interested in English hard underground music. 

How did you rind it playing live at Laguna Beach, BMG Worldwide Managing Director's Conference? 

TODDY It was great! I feel they just like the band, irrelevant of whether it sounds British or American. They just like to see a real live band, doing their stuff. 

The new album has a lot more rock feel than your original material. How did you develop this new sound? 

TIM like guitars. We did start off as a dance band, but were always interested in the sound involving into a more rock thing. And think now we've got a great blend between dance and rock, guitars are an important part of our live act. 

You have played in a wide combination of venues for a band who are just on their first album. You have played from stadiums in France to seedy little clubs in Soho. 

TIM It is a case of we started big and we got smaller. We performed in the Royal Albert Hall and ended up playing in Madame Jojo's (A small strip joint, in Soho London). 

How does it differ for you playing in stadiums in France and the Albert Hall to playing in seedy clubs? 

TIM We work better on a larger stage. In our act we 'jump about a lot and we need a lot of space. 

How did you feel when you looked out at the huge crowds, when you played in the stadium in France?
TIM It is terrifying! You feel brilliant and you want to show off 
SAFFRON Yes, It does give you an opportunity to show off I actually felt quite nauseous before the show, because of our hectic traveling. We had lost almost a day traveling, as we'd just played Laguna Beach, flown for twenty-four hours arrived at the Stadium and had to do the gig. Having arrived at the stadium, we were greeted with twenty thousand people screaming and dancing in an atmosphere filled with fireworks. The whole idea made me feel sick. But it was great fun. 

Would you say that Toddy and Saffron are the more outgoing, confident characters on the stage, who enjoy big audiences? 

SAFFRON I think we are. 
TIM I feel the French show was a bit weird, as everything we saw on the monitors had been of boy bands in chiffon shirts with their dancers around them. We had turned up in Paris with clothes that we had been wearing for a week, it felt quite awkward. 

You have had a couple of 12 inches out and played live before you put this album together. When you got the master finished, did you realize that you had something special that people would be excited about? Or do you find it difficult to stand back and judge your work? 

TIM It is still difficult to stand back and assess it as we are still in the process of mastering it. 
TODDY It has all happened so quickly. After collecting the songs, you don't know how it is going to turn out. When you actually reach the point where you combine the tracks that you have worked on for a year and it is all complete, you realize how strong it is. It has identity, it has got a sound, it has got a vision and it does make sense. 

Were there problems in the studio and were you having to constantly consider how you were going to convert your material on the live stage? 

SAFFRON The thought was always in the back of our minds. We started out in the front of a living room in Catford in South London. Todd and Tim had a couple of keyboards and that is how we basically formed. Although we started from a small set up, we always wanted to be a live band. 
TIM We knew technically how to do it. It was a matter of theory being put into practice. It was a bit daunting to start off with. 
SAFFRON I feel no one had done what we wanted to do before, which was a good thing. We knew it would be quite a challenge for us. I think that is why it has taken so long for us to become as good a live band as we wanted to be. 

You have said that you started in Catford in South London which is a small area. And now you've got this large studio in North London. 

SAFFRON Yeah, we started out in a gritty old front room in Catford, which is best known for its dog racing, gun running and drugs basically. It was quite an evil place. 
TIM It is much nicer here and it is also a lot bigger. 

What bands are you into at the moment? What kind of things have you been listening to recently that you like? 

TIM The Beck album, Underworld, Garbage and The Smashing Pumpkins. 
SAFFRON Hole, The Prodigy and The Screaming Trees. I think that we have a wide base of musical interests. We love techno music and we are also into guitar bands as well as a mixture of other things. 

How did you come up with the name Republica? How did that come about? 

TIM After two months of trying to figure out a name, Dave, one of our managers locked us in the front room. We had to choose a name for the band as we had a deal but couldn't get it legally done until we had a name. Initially we tried picking names out of a hat, but one idea led to another. 

So there was not a particular train of thought? 

SAFFRON After using the hat method, which was not very successful we finally picked the name Republica. We all liked it. We just sat there and said 'yes'. It was a joint decision. We have been asked if the name is in any way political , but it is not. 

When seeing the band's name and some of the imagery on the album, some people will think that you are a fearsomely political act. Particularly when you use the Internationale as an intro to your live set. Would you say Republica are a political band? 

TIM No. I don't know what the particular individual politics are within the band. But we are not the Redskins or anything. 
SAFFRON We liked the symbolism element, it was quite important. We are all into pop culture and found symbolism an important part of it. 
TIM It is subversive. 
TODDY It is all about strong names. It is like saying Oasis - do they particularly sing about deserts? 

What is the method usually used to put your songs together? Is there a set way? 

TIM Up until now, Toddy and me usually run something up on the computer and then take everything from there in sections. The tracks get cast around between all of the band, until the track is ready for the adding of the lyrics. 

Does that usually start with a rhythms track?
TIM It varies. Sometimes we begin with the chord sequences and sometimes it starts from a bass section. It is not particularly fixed in that way. 
TODDY There is never one set method. Some of the tracks on the album started with a melody that had been run up for a month, then came the middle section and lyrics. 

Do these songs tend to take quite a long time until they are completed? Or does it vary from track to track? 

SAFFRON It depends. We had a few tracks in the back catalogue, but around Christmas time we had to produce the rest of our material quite quickly. 

If you had to explain to somebody who hadn't heard anything that you have ever done, what would they expect to hear on the album? How would you describe how the album sounds? 

SAFFRON It is a live guitar band with punk strong guitars and dance beats. It is a mixture of things. Half of the album is techno/pop, and half rock/beat. 
TIM We work out best as pop/rock. 
SAFFRON A guitar band, with a bit of a pop attitude and dance beats. Burnt glamour pop!!! 

The band has been going on for a while now. You have an album later to come out and you have also had a lot of live dates. What are the best things about being in the band? And what are the worst things about recording in a group? 

TIM We all like different things. Toddy dislikes the arrangements for performing live and prefers to work in the studio. 
TODDY It is not part of my department. It takes a lot of organizing and rehearsing. The band is more than the essence of the group of people. Arranging everything is pretty boring but the highlight is when you actually get to play and it is a brilliant gig, you play well and then it is over in half an hour. 

Do you get a buzz when you hear your tracks on the radio? 

SAFFRON Oh yes, it is always brilliant. 
TODDY I play the keyboards, together with Tim. Jonny Male plays the guitar, he also helps with some of the writing. Dave Barbarossa is on drums, he used to play with Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant before working with us. Finally Saffron's on vocals. 
How did you originally get together? 
SAFFRON A girl called Jan Delahinty - a mutual friend introduced us. 

Did you decide very quickly that you were going to form a band?
TIM Me and Toddy got together a little before that. 
SAFFRON Toddy and Tim were writing together as a partnership. I told my friend that I wanted to start a band and asked her if she knew anyone. They had a track that they had been working on and they were looking for singers and it all worked out well. 
Why do you play the Internationale at the beginning of your live set? 
SAFFRON Our soundman, Jono, had this record he'd got from Moscow from a long time ago. He said that this track was a real Republica record, it had a big red gold star in the middle and Russian writing on it. We decided to put it on for a bit of a joke really. But the idea was if you started with the Russian national anthem and dropped into the Republica sound, a lot of people would think 'What is it all about?' 
You have left this song out off the album. Is this for political reasons? 
TIM No. We had it dropping into a heavy techno beat but it wasn't really suitable for the rest of the album. It would have stood out on its own. So we'll probably use it live. 
TODDY Yeah, it didn't go with the rest of the tracks. 
Saffron you have recorded some tracks recently with the Prodigy. How is it different to working in a studio with them to Republica? How were they different? 
SAFFRON I have known the Prodigy for a few years now. So it didn't feel like any other session, there was a good vibe, no pressure!! I got to sing with Keith in the vocal piece which was brilliant. 

Is it less stressful doing vocals for someone else's album than your own? 

SAFFRON Definitely. It's less stressful but I would have thought each of us would have said that. It was great to be asked to do this. 

Republica, to what you were doing with Flowered up? 

TIM I don't think so actually. I would say it is the same. I have not changed my style in writing or anything like that. I think it is still, to a certain extent it's a logical progression. I was listening to the album recently, after not hearing it for eighteen months, and listening to it the melodic element is still there, which is one of the basics of what Republica is doing now. However I'd agree that Republica is not as hard edged as Flowered up. 

Toddy you have worked on other remixes for a lot of acts. Do you find it easier when you are working on other peoples tracks. Is it easier to stand back than when you are working on Republica's music? 

TODDY It is easier working on other people's tracks, because you tend to work by yourself it is quicker. When I am working with Republica, there are three of us working on it and so it is a little bit tougher. You are working as a team. It is a lot more challenging because we have to put all of our influences together. 

What are your hopes for the future? What kind of things would you like to see happening in the next couple of years? 

TODDY Holidays, money, awards, lots of success and I would like to see the world. 
SAFFRON Obviously I would like to sell shit loads of records, if I didn't I'd be lying or a fool. But more to the point, when I grew up I went to see live bands and I did actually want to be Debbie Harry and Lousie Banshee and I think if you want something badly enough and willing to work hard enough you'll get there in the end. I think we are really lucky to be in this position, although for a long time it seemed that it was such an uphill struggle. It's great to have an opportunity to think that people might actually want to buy our records and like our music - it's just very exciting. Also touring in the States is something that I have always wanted to do, and hopefully that'll be happening later in the year. We also want to be on Top Of The Pops. 
What star sign are you? 
TODD Capricorn


 Seven years after acts such as The Beloved and The Shamen pioneered the indie-dance hybrid, London-based trio Republica demonstrate there are still fresh ways to merge guitars and beats with their forthcoming single Ready To Go. The song combines house rhythms with punky chords, an infectious chorus and spiky vocals in what the band describe as "techno pop punk rock". The combination is enough to persuade the band's label Deconstruction that the band has enormous sales potential. 

"A lot of our stuff comes straight out of the clubs but Republica offer a big potential for crossover, whether it be dance, indie, alternative or whatever," says marketing director Del O'Brien

Built around a songwriting nucleus of Tim Dorney and erstwhile Flowered Up keyboardist and engineer Andy Todd, the band formed in 1993. Dorney and Todd met originally during recording sessions for Soul Family Sensation and found the opportunity to pair up when Camden's baggy chancers disintegrated. 

"It all fell to pieces," says Dorney, recalling the drug-fuelled chaos of the times. "We struggled to get people together and we ran out of money. One day the singer, Liam, just walked out and that was it. I haven't spoken to any of them since." 

Dorney and Todd reconvened with the aim of doing "something underground and dancey". The result was Out Of This World, an instrumental friends suggested would benefit from a vocal. Enter Saffron, former singer with N-Joi, who topped it off perfectly and completed the line-up. 

That one track persuaded Pete Hadfield, joint managing director of Deconstruction, Saffron's former label, to offer them a deal. The songs they brought back convinced the label to make them a priority act this summer. "We feel the material they've delivered to us is so outstanding that we have to go for it," explains O'Brien. "We've had a fantastic reaction internationally to it as well - in particular RCA in the States who, it should be remembered, passed on M People and Take That." 

Part of the band's appeal lies in the ability to weld hooklines to sharp lyrics. Their debut single Bloke, released last March, was a swipe at wide boys driving flash motors - underlining the band's desire to steer clear of hands-in-the-air dancefloor vacuousness. "Our intention from the start was to avoid that 'I'll take you higher' bollocks that persists in dance music," agrees Dorney. "We decided if we were going to have lyrics they might as well say something." 

In Republica's case it's not just what they say, but the way they say it - in particular Saffron, with her bobbed hair and oriental looks. M People's Mike Pickering has described her as "Siouxsie meets techno" and her strident delivery and bouncy attitude make it easy to see what he means. 

The band have toured extensively, supporting The Grid, The Shamen and M People and building a significant grassroots fanbase - not least in Scotland, with appearances at T In The Park and Coatbridge's club Universe. "The last time we went up there, we had fans turning up in homemade T-shirts with pictures of the band and the name stencilled on them," says Dorney

Now augmented to a six-piece live outfit, including ex-Bow Wow Wow sticksman Dave Barbarossa on live drums, the band embark on a month-long Wednesday residency at London tranny club Madame JoJo's, starting on March 27. They head out to America in the summer to play several gigs, before appearing in June at the BMG worldwide MDs conference in LA. To give an idea of the faith placed in them, the other artist selected by the company to appear is ex-Take That mainman Gary Barlow, making his solo debut. 

Republica's debut album is scheduled for release in May/June. Recorded and self-produced in the band's Hoxton home studio, it lacks only one thing - a title. "We're terrible at coming up with names," confesses Dorney. "It took us months to come up with the name Republica, so long in fact that it held up the contract signing." Suggestions so far include Top Banana, a title suggested for that abortive second Flowered Up album. "Well it's only a suggestion," adds Dorney hastily. 
by Mike Pattenden


The following interview was conducted with Tim Dorney, synthesist with in-yer-face techno punk outfit Republica, on Wednesday 5th March, 1997. Many thanks to him and the band for the time spent in answering our questions.   

How did you get together as a band? 
I met Toddy working in France on Jonny's "Sensation" album while I was still in Flowered Up, when that had split me and Toddy started working together getting some tunes going. We decided it would be good to try a singer and through a friend we were introduced to Saffron who came down, did the singing and decided to join us. Jonny joined us later when Toddy was ill and we needed a stand in for a gig, he never left after that. Dave joined us a year ago through word of mouth(y). 
How does it feel (currently!) to be bigger in America than in your home country? 
We're much happier to have done TOTP (Top Of The Pops) than Conan O'Brien; the whole American thing seems very remote, like a weird dream, when you're not out there. We're really pleased with the way UK & Germany are going for us at the moment so we're not thinking about the USA for a while. 
Do you ever have "my old band's better than your old band" arguments? 
No, we know they were all crap. Actually we're all quite big fans of each other's back catalogues (except maybe Jonny's early demos). We do like to see a good photo of Dave when he was in Bow Wow Wow, naked & quiffed normally. 
What bands have been the biggest influence on Republica? 
That's a hard one really, we don't all have the same tastes really. The common ones are Beck and New Order but outside that the list runs into thousands. 
Being in Flowered Up looked like a lot of fun. Was that the case, and was baggy a good scene to be a part of?  
It had its ups and downs but the tours were completely demented, we used to lose it on a nightly basis. I suppose really it was fun but I didn't miss it when it had gone, the last few months were hell. The sad thing about the whole baggy scene is that short of Shaun Ryder and maybe The Charlatans it never really produced an act that had any sort of longevity, they'd all imploded within a year or two. 
Saffron is a dynamic front-woman to say the least. What do you think she'd be doing if she wasn't in a band?  
Management I should think! No I don't really know on that one, she's always wanted to be a star. 
Do you think Republica run the risk of falling foul of the female-fronted band syndrome - i.e. the rest of the band getting little or no attention, like the blokes in Sleeper?  
Why do people think that we want to get any attention, we're happy if we get a name check and moan when we have to do photos! We don't mind it at all as we don't have to deal with the recognition and the stalkers. There is the danger of getting labelled along with other bands that you sound nothing like purely because your singer is female but that's really just lazy journalism. 
What was appearing on TOTP like? Is it a big party, or more of a conveyor belt experience? 
A bit of both really, the Beeb carries on around you and you have to be certain places at certain times but we tend to socialise anyway. We've known Gavin the drummer from Bush for years and had played with them in LA so we chewed the cud with them for a while, we met the Spice Girls (I wish I had the camera on me when Mel B was kissing the top of Toddy's bald head!) and the Artist. In between we did what we do best and hit the subsidised bar. It was also Ric Blaxhill's last TOTP so there was a booze up afterwards. We decided it was a great day in pop for us lot. 
Finally, what are Republica's plans for 97? 
A month in Europe with the Fun Lovin Criminals starting in Amsterdam on Saturday. Back into the UK with FLC again and then we haven't really decided, we're booked to do quite a few festivals in the summer and maybe Japan will kick off. I need a holiday soon to recharge my pop batteries as well. All that and an album to write. There is no peace for the wicked. 
We've also just put the finishing touches to a version of "Are Friends Electric"? with The Numan hisself. It came out so well we're thinking of putting it out as a single, now if that doesn't start a backlash I don't know what will!


The Millenium: end of the world or dawn of a new age? 
We're not too sure yet, I think either could happen, without a major revolution I can't see the new age coming, if Nostradamus was right we'll all be fighting the yellow army, take your pick. 

What song will you be listening to on December 31st, 1999?
One of ours hopefully, if not "1999" by The Artist will do if I have to be topical. 

And (assuming we're all still here) on January 1st, 2000?
"Nostradamus was wrong" by Republica 
How would Republica change the world for the better? 
Now that's a tall order, we could list the old standards, world peace, nuclear disarmament, no pollution etc. but we're of the opinion that its arrogant to think that pop music can change the world in the slightest of ways, if they ever existed those days are gone. We'd just like to think that we pushed the envelope a little further. 
What do you think the next big musical movement will be, and what will it be called? 
Novelty Rock (Thanks to Denim for that one), all those horrible Lieutenant Pidgeon & "Birdy Song" records will be covered by currently major artists. 
If one of you became the sixth Spice Girl, what would your nickname be? 
Are the aliens already here? 
Yes, we've got one playing keyboards! I've got a feeling one of our roadies doesn't come from this planet either. 
Are they Republica fans? 
Fans, they're in the sodding band! Of course they are, we don't claim to be Bill & Ted but there's something in there for everyone. 
Who are Republica fans? 
Melissa Hart (Sabrina the teenage witch!), and believe it or not the Spice Girls who have just asked for our autographs (we're sitting around waiting for Top of the Pops to start filming and they've just asked us!) After that we really do have quite a cross section, I get emails from 8 year olds who like "Ready To Go" to 45 year old parents whose kids have blasted them with the album when they've been on their way to school. And Iggy Pop
Thank you for your time and effort in completing this questionnaire. Finally, if you had to sum up Republica in 3 words, what would they be? 
In the words of one Karl Underworld : LAGER, LAGER, LAGER

I can't remember where this one comes from --Juerg-- 

Tim Dorney can't believe it. There it is, the cover of Republica's debut album basking in the floodlights outside the Virgin Megastore in New York's Times Square. 

All the keyboardist and his band mates, lead singer Saffron and keyboardist Andy Todd, can do is stare. 

"I never, ever in my wildest dreams believed I would be standing in the middle of Times Square and there's the cover of our album up in lights," Dorney said recently from RCA Records' Broadway office. "It's incredible. The first time we saw it, we were in just absolute fits of laughter. We couldn't believe we have come this far." 

Reality has sunk in now that the British alternative-dance quintet's first single, the hook-savvy "Ready to Go," is at No. 68 and climbing on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Dorney has come a long way from his stint in Flowered Up, a U.K. "flavor of the month" in the early '90s. He is taking nothing for granted with Republica. 

"Flowered Up fell to pieces, basically," he said. "We ran out of money and things, and things just got harder and harder to work. A few lineup changes lost the edge of what the band was about. 

In the end, the singer quit. He was having a lot of personal problems himself, and he couldn't take the pressure." 

Poor management didn't help matters either. 

"What we went through, I learned a lot of lessons that would help put another band together," Dorney said. "I wasn't nervous about (starting Republica) at all. I had already seen the pitfalls of what a band could go through. I wasn't about to let that happen again." 

Dorney teamed with Todd, who had produced tracks for acts ranging from Bjork to Barbra Streisand, to form an upbeat, techno-oriented dance group. They wanted to add some vocals, and after a few auditions, they picked Saffron, whose resume included backup work for The Shamen, N-Joi and Jah Wobble. 

"She's a fiery animal," Dorney said. "We wanted somebody with a bit of a personality, rather than just a dance diva. And she already had a track record as well. She's a consummate performer. She amazes me every day." 

They added guitarist Johnny Male and former Bow Wow Wow/Adam Ant drummer Dave Barborossa to solidify its live sound. 

After finishing their first song, "Out of This World," they already had a label itching to sign them. For the U.K. indie Deconstruction, there was only one problem: The band needed a name. "They had this deal on the table, ready to pay us loads of money," Dorney said, "and they said, 'Look, this is a legal document. You've got to have a name on it.' We tried for ages to try to think of a name, but eventually our managers just locked us in a room and said, 'You are not coming out until you come up with a name for this band.' 

"About three and a half hours later, after some complete soul searching and some completely ridiculous ideas, we eventually came up with Republica. It's been great ever since."


Hotstar Of The Week, September 2, 1996  

The founding members of Republica formed the group three years agowith ambitious plans in mind.The British bandmates had grown tired of the mainstream music coming out of London's clubs and wanted to do something about it. They made it a point to attack the stagnating scene with a fresh sound in hopes of reigniting the kind of excitement that hit with '80s new wave music. What they came up with is an industrial, hard hitting, in your face dance style that's been termed techno-pop punk rock. 
And don't dare to call it Britpop. 
Republica frontwoman Saffron said she and her bandmates had fond memories of London's club scene in the '80s with bands like The Jam and Blondie. "Those are our icons really", Saffron told Pollstar, "but a lot of the music [recently] had become very mainstream and had become, we felt, made without a lot of thought into it. And especially the lyrical side was very bland and very sort of, always talk about 'high' and 'take me higher' and ecstacy and all that shit", she said. 
The band members thought there were other issues pop music could address. "You've still got problems on Sunday morning, you know", Saffron said. The cynism and wry sense of humor that comes across on Republica's self-titled debut on DeConstruction/RCA has been well received in England and is now making quite an impression in the U.S. with the catchy single "Ready To Go". 
"Ready To Go" was the most added track at alternative radio for its first two weeks at the format. Though the band members aren't quite tuned in to the importance of radio play in America, they know in their country, it's essential. "We've only got one radio station here", Saffron said, "we've got lots o flittle ones in different regionsbut Radio 1 is basically the one. And if you don't get played on there, then you really haven't got  a lot of chance." She said it's very hard for new bands to break in England. 
"You get one week to get in the chart and if you don't get in there in one week, than that's it. It's very cutthroat." she said. "So, obviously, it's very important for us to get on the radio becausethat's the only way we 're gonna get anywhere." At the same time, Saffron said Republica is not a Britpop band and would never modify its music to fit the mainstream. "We don't really fit into the current sound but we're not gonna change our sound just because it gets us in the papers and stuff." 
As for American radio, Saffron said, "We just got the list of [stations] that are playing our record and we're just like 'Great!'... You can't believe that someone on the other side of the world is playing your record. It's great, really. We've just been told that KROQ (in L.A.) has added our record and we've been told that that's a very good station", she said. 
Though the mebers of Republica are somewhat new to the concert business in America, they've played the music game for a while in their country. The three founding members, Saffron and keyboardists Tim Dorney and Andy Todd, have all previously worked with other bands. Saffron sang with the bands N-Joi and The Shamen before joining Dorney and Todd in their songwriting partnership. Dorney had achieved some success as the primary songwriter with British media darlings Flowered Up. And Todd's credits include producing songs from Björk to Barbra Streisand. 
The trio hooked up three years ago and immediately got a record company deal with DeConstruction based on the first track they recorded. Saffron had previously worked with DeConstruction when she sang with N-Joi and said the alternative/dance indie was Republica's first choice of labels. "I'd always held them in high regard", Saffron said. "They seemed to be in it for the right reasons and they were very much behind us from the beginning." She said the band had its own plans of eventually expands with a couple of new members to better bring the music to a live audience. "It's difficult with our setup because there's a lot of electronica that we deal with. Developing and using the guitars and the live drums took quite a while for us to do." But she said DeConstruction was willing to let the band develop in its own time. "I don't think many record companies would have let us do that." 
Today, the trio has developed into a dynamic quintet with lead guitaris Johnny Male joining the mix along with former Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant drummer Dave Barborossa. Theirs is a sound that "jumps right out and grabs you by the throat", according to one critic. Republica's live performance has been reviewed with the same kind of enthusiasm. 
Up until now, the band has been playing mostly club dates to audiences of 500 to 1000 people. But one highlight came last year when Republica played England's "T In The Park" festival on front of 80'000 music fans. We were very down on the bill", Saffron said laughing. "It was a great atmosphere there and I think sometimes at those things, if you play in the afternoon, you get the best crowds. The crowds are more open because otherwise, they've been standing there all day." 
As to whether the band prefers large or small venues, Saffron said it doesn't matter. "We're just very lucky to get on the bill anywhere... I think it's just as important that people get to know you whether you're playing to three people or 3000", she said. "We have playd to about three people", Saffron quipped. Then she admitted to exaggerating: "Maybe [it was] about five." 
Republica has played only one gig in the U.S. thus far and for the members who hadn't been to America before that, they can't wait to come back. "It's such a big country", Saffron said. "We're just excited to tour all the way around and get to go and see Memphis and Nashville. We hope to get to Graceland and to get to go places like that and play. It's very exciting." 
Republica will kick off its U.S. tour with a free Z100 concert in New York September 6th and then go on to support Gravity Kills. 
Marty Diamond at Little Big Man is handling U.S. bookings while Davis Jaymes and Diane Wagg of Rise Management handle U.K. dates and management duties.


With her scarlet hair and rock-chick attitude, Republica's Saffron is the queen of power-pop. But under that hard exterior is a girl who just wants to have fun...

In the strange world of celeb-dom, the fact that Saffron bumped into Courtney Love backstage at a Versace fashion show is part of the course. 
"She came in screaming like a crazy woman. She's totally overpowering, but I love that," laughs Saffron. "She gave me some matriarchal rock-chick advice and told me where I was going wrong, but she meant it in a good way. She looks fab and although she's now this big Hollywood star she's still into her music. I thought she was brilliant." 
Saffron laid-back response to encountering Courtney just about sums up the character of this petite pop phenomenom. Although she looks like a scary cross between punk icon Siouxsie Sioux (her idol) and Morticia from The Addams Family she's actually a softly spoken home girl, who likes to have a laugh with her mates - and write great pop songs. 
Not only that, this role model to a new generation of girrrrls with attitude is on a big love vibe. After a number of disastrous love affairs, Saffron's bagged a goodie. She's been seeing Fast, bass-player with the Fun Lovin' Criminals, since January, and it's all hunky dory, she says, grinning like a Cheshire cat. 
"It's a really weird story. I met him when we were touring America last summer. He remembered me from a gig I'd done in New York in 1991 and said he'd got all my records. I thought he was spinning me a line, but he actually has! He bought them all on import." 
When they met, Saffron was in a "terrible relationship". "I know that this sounds crap, but I consider Fast to be my first real boyfiend. I've had a catalogue of disasters, one of them culminating in Drop Dead Gorgeous, so at least I've learned from my mistakes," she says. "But I feel very lucky that I've found a good man." 
The couple started off as friends. "I didn't realise I was in such a bad relationship until I met someone nice," Saffron says. "I'd sit there thinking 'I wish I could meet someone like Fast', and then it all happened." 
So what does she look for in a man? "My boyfriend is so honest and well-mannered, and that's really important," she says. "I don't think girls should stand for less. Women put up with too much crap from men, when they shouldn't have to." 
Now that's girl power for you. But then Saffron has always gone after what she wants. She was born in Nigeria. Her mum is from Hong Kong and her dad is English. She lived in Brighton, studying ballet, until her late teens, when she moved to London to pursue her music career. In the early Nineties she tasted chart success with a dance act called N-Joi, but struck out on her own in 1993. 
"I went to DeConstruction, the record company, ant told them to give me a deal. They said 'Get a band together and we'll see', so I did." 
Republica are songwriter Tim Dorney, who founded Flowered Up; keyboard player Andy Todd, who's worked with Björk; guitarist Johnny Male and drummer Dave Barborossa, who was with Adam And The Ants back in the Eighties. 
Saffron explains, "They were looking for a singer when I met them. But I didn't want us to be like all the girly dance band rubbish. They agreed and that's how we started." 
Since then, Republica have broken America big time, and have make their mark over here with Ready To Go and Drop Dead Gorgeous, which was used on the soundtrack of Wes Craven's film Scream. 
"Making it in the US was great, but what's important for us is to be in the British charts," Saffron says, "We all live here and have grown up here. It's all very well doing big things in America - but we wanted to be on Top Of The Pops!" 
That doesn't mean to say that Republica aren't getting used for the fame game. Earlier this year they playedat at one of Donatella Versace's fashion shows, after the designer spotted them on TV. 
"She liked us, so she asked us to play a gig at a show and there we were on the catwalk with Naomi and all the other supermodels," laughs Saffron. "I looked at the front row and there was Leonardo DiCaprio, Courtney Love, Prince and The Fugees. I just thought 'Aaaaaaaah!'." 
But it's not just the rich and famous who are taking notice, thanks to Saffron's distinctive hair. "In America, MTV unifies the whole country, so we'd be in truck stops in Kansas City and people eating their burgers would come over and go, 'You're awesome, your music rules!' They've seen us on MTV and recognised my hair." 
Saffron loves the attention. And she's especially proud of the way that their music seems to lift people's spirits. 
"Our music is so up and energetic that we get a great reaction. In America, the audiencs go crazy. We had all these mad girls following us around. They'd get on stage, dance around, then jump into the crowd and crowd surf," she says. "I haven't done it myself, although a couple of the guys have. When you see people having such a great time, it gives you a feeling of power, knowing that you can have such an effect on people." 
There's no danger of that power going to Saffron's head, though. Her sarf London mates are more than happy to put her back in her place if she becomes too big for her boots. 
"I'm very happy to have a group of very close girlfriends. I hang out with them when I can and they come to the gigs and tell me what they think. They definitely keep my feet on the ground," she says. 
And she's excited about showing her mates a good time at the festivals Republica are playing at this summer. 
"It's going to be a great laugh; all our friends are coming in the van," she grins.  "We've always loved going to festivals, and this year it's even better because we are performing at them." 
But there will be one thing missing - and that's Fast. The couple have just spend a week together in Florida, but their schedules mean that they've got to spend a lot of time apart this summer. 
"We have massive transatlantic phone bills," she sighs. "But we've been very lucky considering we're so far apart. We've seen each other every three or four weeks - I don't think I could manage for any longer." 
But then Saffron's not the kind of girl who'll put up whith something she's not happy with, especially as her life is going so well these days. 
"I'm having such a great time at the moment, and although we're working really hard, I'm not complaining," she says firmly. "It could all end tomorrow, but you live for today. And even if it does end tomorrow, we'll still carry on doing it because it's what we want to do. Even if no one wants to listen!"


Issue 41 ©1996  By Tamara Conniff

 IS ALTERNATIVE ROCK DEAD? It has reached its pinnacle, an unprecedented heyday, and become the common language of the mainstream. It is perhaps a beautiful thing that White Zombie is practically a household name, and Punk a la Sex Pistols has been fully revived, but there isn't much a group of guys with guitars (except Marilyn Manson) can do that hasn't already hit the charts, conquered MTV, been used on a movie soundtrack, or somehow infiltrated national television (the Goo Goo Dolls did play "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the World Series). 

 So, if Alternative Rock has become the broken record of the mainstream, what has the underground been listening to? Electronica. Techno. House. Rave Music. The camps are divided - Rock on one side, Electronica on the other. Technoheads don't mosh. Rock-heads don't rave. Well, maybe that's about to change. 

 Back in the Eighties there was this thing called New Wave - Rock plus Electronic Music spurned Depeche Mode, The Eurythmics, Human League, and later, Nine Inch Nails. Dance Culture and Rock found a meeting ground. Now, a decade later, the average Alternative crowd, having seen the revolutionary bands hit the mainstream, is looking for something new. In the CD collection of a fringe Hardcore connoisseur you might find a Meat Beat Manifesto or Chemical Brothers CDs neatly placed in-between Government Issue and Jane's Addiction - a meeting of extreme Electronica and extreme Rock. But there is a newer wave that crosses over smack in the middle of Pop Alternative. It comes straight out of the UK and it's called REPUBLICA and SAFFRON, the lead singer, is ready to take on the world. 

 Born in Nigeria, Saffron has a very exotic ancestry. Her mother is a Hong Kong native of Portuguese descent, and her father is English-born. Saffron lived in West Africa, where her father worked for the British American Tobacco Co. until the Biafran War broke out, and the family moved Brighton, England. Her early music roots are firmly planted in New Wave, Goth, and Punk a la New Order, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and The Clash. While living in Brighton , Saffron took every opportunity to check out the steady influx of New Wave bands like The Jam and Human League that passed through. 

 She then spent her early twenties as part of the London Rave Scene. She eventually got tired of the stagnating Club Culture that just played pure Techno, and found some solace at a club called the Heavenly Social where DJs like the Chemical Brothers and Monkey Mafia mixed Electro with Rock and Hip Hop. 

 While she was working with N-Joi and The Shamen, a mutual friend introduced her to the writing/engineering duo of Tim Dorney (formerly with the British group Flowered Up) and Andy Todd. Saffron was looking to create something new musically and they were looking for a singer. The roots of Republica were established. Guitarist Jonny Male soon joined, and with the addition of Punk veteran Dave Barborossa (formerly with Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant) on drums (who can play in the time at 130 beats per minute), Republica was complete. They structured themselves as a band with a vocalist and songs - a fusion of Punk with an Electronica backbone, a crossover. 

 Which label is going to take a chance on a band like that? None other than one of the hottest UK Indie Alternative/Dance labels, Deconstruction. With only one track complete, "Out of This World" (reworked on their self-titled debut album as "Out of The Darkness"), they were signed. Deconstruction's artists top the UK Dance charts practically every week. The label has been a consistent supporter of pure Electronica artists like Dave Clarke, Fabio, M People, and Roger Sanchez, and has put out various UK Club compilations featuring the Chemical Brothers, Paul Oakenfold, Nick Warren, James Lavelle, and Monkey Mafia. Even though label had worked with Saffron before when she sang with N-Joi, Republica is a risk for Deconstruction because the sound does not fit into the label's roster. As opposed to being Techno (which is all sound fusion and beat devoid of vocals) or Dances based, Republica as Saffron describes it, is a Techno-Pop Punk Rock band. She intends on pushing the crossover between Rock and Dance one step further than other UK bands like The Prodigy and Underworld, and deconstruction is giving her the chance. 

 Is the US ready for Republica? Dance Culture is certainly more ingrained in the UK psyche than in that of the US. The division between Rock and Dance has always been very defined in the US- separate camps that scoff at each other. The Eighties New Wave explosion did originate in the UK- and now Republica is brining a new wave to American ears. 

Will Rock-heads rave and Techno-heads mosh? You bet. During the East Coast leg of their U.S. tour opening for Gravity Kills, Saffron brought the house down at New York's Irving Plaza. Sexy, wild, energized, playful, and cocky, Saffron seduce the audience and flippantly asked the crowd, "Well, aren't you going to mosh?" The dazed crowd happily indulged Saffron. When the band played their hit, "Ready to Go," the pit was as lively as at any Hardcore show. 

 Saffron is part of a new generation of female singers. She has thrown away the waif Folk persona or the sloppy Grunge look, and has embraced a sexy neo-Punk attitude. She will- all at the same time. What does Saffron want? She has a Rock & Roll/Techno dream, and she is going to shout it out until everyone listens. 


Where does the name Republica come from? It brings up images of Communism and Fascism .....  
 It's got absolutely nothing to do with that, believe it or not. I can tell you, it's the hardest thing ever to think of but we couldn't think of a word to go before or after it. Our manager locked us in a room and said, "You've got to think of a name or I'll think of one for you." 
What did you like about "Republica"? 
I don't know ... there's a New Order album called Republic. We just liked the name. The "a" was female thing. We had so many other names that were really crap. 
Like what? 
I can't remember now. Oh, they were dreadful! Stupid names. 
What about the imagery? 
We liked the Russian Constructivist artwork in a Pop Culture sense. We use big banners with lots of flags for our live show. We just like the art rather than the politics. I was wearing a big Russian hat with a little red star. It's a Pop Culture thing. 
Considering that New Wave came from a mix of Punk and Electronic, do you see Republica as part of a New Wave movement of the Nineties?  
A journalist said we were " New Wave Rave," which we thought was quite funny. In England, people get pigeonholed into these things- it'd probably be better if we made up our own pigeonhole. We prefer to be in a new genre than lumped in with Brit Pop - we're obviously not that. 
Where do the Punk and Techno elements meet in Republica? 
When we started our three years ago, all of us had come out of the London club scene. There were these seminal clubs called Spectrum and Future, very small places where they played a New Order song back-to-back with a Detroit Techno song next to a Blondie song. It was very mixed. It was a mixture and a melding of ideas, different people from different backgrounds getting together and having a party. We've stayed with that aesthetic and we hope people are open to new sounds and new ideas. I sang in a band called N-Joi, and there was The Prodigy and all those bands that came out of the big Rave scene. They're a huge band, really massive. I know Prodigy when I was in N-Joi and a few months ago they asked me to sing backing vocals on a track. It was a real honor that they asked me after all that time. It was fun and exciting but when anything underground goes mainstream it feels like you've been betrayed - "This isn't what we wanted." People make music just to get in the charts. As far as Republica goes, we wanted to be a band. We grew up with all the Eighties bands- The Clash, The Jam, Siouxsie And The Banshees - but we also loved Electronic Music. We felt it was quite challenging to write songs. The Punk thing comes in because we wanted to do the opposite of what we heard at the time, which was happy. That's find, but on Monday you've still got problems. We were a bit down on our luck and didn't have much money. The songs came out of that. "Picture Me" is about telephone boxes in London. You know how you get flyers at Raves? Well, these telephone boxes advertising prostitutes, They're all brightly colored, saying, "Call me. I'll bring you happiness." I thought, "If one of those cards came to life, what would they really be saying?" The girl behind that card is probably sad. 
On your album you have "Picture Me" and then "Drop Dead Gorgeous," where your objectifying the man ..... 
You say to your friends, "He's really pisses me off but he's so gorgeous." I'm sure everyone's got one. The song's about an ex-boyfriend of mine. 
What goes on at Spectrum and Future? 
Spectrum was on a Monday night at a club called Heaven in London. Future was on a Thursday night - we have a club for every night - and I've still got the membership card with "Dance You Fuckers" written on it. Shoom was on Saturday. Danny Rampling and his wife used to run it. It was very underground but the most "party" of all of them. People would walk out of there at six a.m. and there'd be a mist surrounding them. All sorts of mad things used to go on on in there and people would go dressed as flowers. Those are the times I'd like to remember. In a few years, it got out of hand and the big partied got money-oriented and criminality set in, which spoiled it. Light attracts dark, doesn't it? 
How did you feel when that happened? 
That's when we started the band. We felt jaded and that's why the lyrics have so much attitude as opposed to talking about love and happiness. Something that people can relate to in there real lives, rather than it just being some hedonistic dream which doesn't come true. People died and went to jail - it's not the happy dream you thought it was going to turn out to be. The same thing with Punk or any of those things. It promises a lot and a few years later... 
Republica is making both Electronic Music and Pop Music, and attracting both audiences- 
The purist people don't like what we're doing, but maybe if they saw the band live it would be a different thing. We understand the purist aesthetic and we love that type of music and we're not trying to bastardize it. We love Techno -that's where we're from - but we just decided we wanted to be a band. We'd like to hope we're not jaded in any way, because we love music. It doesn't matter whether Techno or Punk or whatever - just listen. That's what I thought the whole Rave scene was based on - open mindedness and lots of different cultures going on. That was what got me interested in it in the first place. 
What are all the logistics of a live Republica performance? 
It's all running off a live sequencer. There's no tapes or anything like that. We spent nine months trying to do it - that's probably why people haven't done it before. The challenge is taking what you hear on the record and taking what you hear on the stage and melding it with a live guitar and drummer. Now, we think studio and that' s what we wanted it to be. Dave works with a click track in his monitor because it's so fast. When we first started, we didn't have any money to get the right computer stuff. 
Do you see Republica as a band taking a risk? 
It was a big challenge. We knew that people may not have liked what we were doing. It wasn't our intention to bastardize Dance Music - our main concern was to be a band. It just so happened that we love Dance Music and wrote electronics. Our main concern was to write good songs. Maybe we did take a few risk, and in England, it has taken a while for people to know us. We haven't changed, we just carry on. We will stay very Electronic. That's what people find different here in the States. People like it because it's a new sound . They might have never heard a Techno record before but they like the vibe of it. 
How was the Dance scene changed since you were in N-Joi? 
I think it's grown up in a way. It was a revolution in England because it changed the laws. The Government actually passed laws to stop these Raves. There were Raves upwards of twenty, twenty-five thousand people, all private, and I don't think the Government liked it . It was a threat, really. What happened is they changed the licensing laws in Britain and now it's gone back to clubs and become more localized, where before they'd travel to the big one. To us, "raving" is part of the language. The music's become quite fractured, which I think is good, but now you either go listen to Techno or you go listen to House. The club I go to is called the Heavenly Social, which is the place The Chemical Brothers DJ. They mix Hip Hop with Electro, Techno, Rock. It's changed a lot but it really is integrated into the culture now. Kids go Raving every Friday and Saturday. 
What's the role of Drug culture in the Rave scene? 
People have said that "Republica's the vomit of the E generation." That time was amazing for us. You'd go off and try new things - it was the right time for stuff like that. Anybody should be free to try whatever they like if it makes them happy. When we started the band, I had two friends die, and things had started to go downhill and people were looking highs that weren't there anymore. Certain drugs were cut with shit and rat poison and I had to draw the line and say , "It's not worth swallowing that poison, is it?" 
Do you think when you started the band that you were "growing up?" 
Definitely. It's shifting gear and making something positive. If you want to experience highs in life, then you've got to experience the lows too. If you go out every night and have a great time, you're going to have to come down. Then it's not so happy anymore. The whole idea is to enjoy it but don't overkill- 
Do see Republica as bringing the happiness back? 
In the live music arena, what we enjoyed when we were younger was going to see bands like The Clash, Siouxsie And The Banshees, and Human League. We loved Pop Music and going to see a group give something to people that have paid for a ticket. With Raves, the tickets prices were getting so high and I felt, "where's the band?" You want some entertainment thrown in, not just the DJs , you know what I mean? 
Pearl Jam has been fighting high ticket prices in the States- 
It makes it something elite, which it isn't supposed to be, you know? 
Who do you think opened the doors for Electronica? 
I have to say Kraftwerk, obviously, and people like New Order, Human League, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Yazoo - people melding Electronic with Pop- 
Nine Inch Nails? 
Nine Inch Nails, certainly. Of course, the people who came out of Detroit like Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, and Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, Darren Emerson - people who started from the beginning playing this new sound. That was quite courageous to play this weird music in London clubs. Those people have gone on and made great records and formed new bands ..... 
Is Deconstruction just a label or is it also a scene? 
Deconstruction started at the same time as everything else and it's run by Pete Hadfield and Keith Blackhurst, who have always supported me over the years, even when I was a wild thing. They were two guys from up North who starting putting out classic one-off Electronic records. They started the company by themselves and now it's a huge thing, They've helped a lot of new artists and they've taken a chance with us. We're a bit of a wild card. They're used to getting House tracks into the charts every time. They've got M People, who have done extremely well. Even though we have a Dance element, we're not what the label normally has on their roster. They had belief - a lot of record companies would have dropped us a long time ago. Putting out one track a month is fine but we're looking for something more than that - the Rock & Roll/Techno dream we want to believe can happen for us. 
What's happening musically in England? 
The reason the music is so cutting-edge is because it's hard to get on. There's so many bands, it's quite cut-throat and quite fashion-oriented. If you're not part of a scene, you don't get written about. It's almost good because it makes it a quest for perfection. You have to be great and maybe that's why there's so many factions of experimental music coming out. 
Over there, Dance Music is ingrained in the cultural psyche ..... 
That's another thing. England is more bi-cultural. Here, I find it a little bit ... not segregated, but I haven't seen a gang of Black kids with a gang of White kids. If you came to meet me with my friends, there'd be Black kids. That's how we grew up- 
What I like about Dance Music is that it comes from Disco - 
I'm a huge Earth, Wind & Fire fan. Chic is one of my favorite bands of all time. We have a mix ready to go that's pure Georgio Moroder and we really like that. 
What about your work with Jah Wobble? 
David is one of Wobble's best friends and meeting him was a turning point in me getting confidence. After meeting Jah Wobble, for months afterward I was like, "I can do it." N-Joi had been someone else's thing and I felt like a hired hand, do you know what I mean? I thought, "I can do this myself." I knew I did need some help and Wobble phoned up and said, "I've written a song for you." He's my hero. He really is a genius, because when you first meet him, you think, "He's going to be psycho" - and he is! But he's genius psycho and he's so funny and totally spiritual and totally calm now. He was mad before, you know. He's such a nice person to work with ..... 
So how do you rebel against - or buy into - the House Diva stereotype? How do you see your persona? 
When I was growing up, the pictures on my wall were Debbie Harry, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Annie Lennox - really strong characters. I went to all their concerts and I wanted to be them. That's why I'm here. I'm not Mariah Carey, I can't sing House Diva music. My icons were more the Poly Styrenes and Siouxsies - do you know what I mean? 
You said you can't sing like Mariah Carey, who is different from a Debbie Harry or Siouxsie or you. Your stage persona is very sexy and powerful. How do you see yourself fitting into the spectrum of female artists? 
I'd much rather be in the Siouxsie camp than any other camp. Mariah Carey's got fantastic singing qualities but it's so far removed from my life. Siouxsie or Courtney Love - that primal screech is what I want to hear. That's what I got excited about when I got excited about when I went to first see shows with glamorous women with a strong persona. That is what I love about those women. 
What things in your life in sculptured your persona? 
As any girl would know, if they try very hard ... what are those things in the Olympics? Hurdles. You jump over every hurdle you meet. You say, "Fuck it. I'm going for this no matter what the consequence." I think any girl finds it an uphill struggle but you keep on jumping those hurdles. It's hard to do it with your soul intact. I heard something when I used to train as a ballet dancer: "Be nice to everyone on the way up because you're going to meet them on the way down." I've always been around boys, as well. If you're in a band, people ask, "How'd you do it with those smelly boys?" Well, they're my boys. 
Where are some instances in your life when you had to climb over these hurdles? 
I came from another country and when I first started school, I had a bit of hard time because I was a new girl. I was born in Africa and went to one school and then I moved to another school. Trying to integrate yourself when you're a newcomer can be quite hard. You have to have a certain amount of courage to fit in eight people because kids at school be very nasty if you look different, which I did. I was bit darker than most kids at school, because my mom's Chinese-Portuguese. 
Is your mom in England right now? 
My mom's actually in Hong Kong. She's gone there for a reunion with all her friends after twenty years. 
Hong Kong's right about to change over...  
People have come back there from all around the world because it may be the last time to see it. My mom feels it will change from inside out. You won't see the changes but you'll feel it. It's such a fantastic place that it's in the Chinese's interest to keep it that way. There's a small island called Macao, which is forty miles off Hong Kong, and it's a Portuguese colony where my mom's ancestors are from - she's actually Portuguese but with Chinese way, way back. Vasco De Gama or one of these travelers dropped off loads of Portuguese there. Now, it's a famous gambling island. It's a real East-meets-West type place. Rickshaws and stretch limos. It's like a James Bond movie... 
I love the way you dress. How do you choose your clothes? 
I choose my clothes based on what I can afford, unfortunately. It's funny, we did the MTV fashion thing and I said, "I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about these designers. I just buy what I can afford." It has to be something I can jump about in and get sweaty. I like to wear short t-shirts, little boyish things, with a hint of femininity. I think a girl should wear what they feel good in. Personally, I like trousers. If I wear shorter skirts, I'll wear a Punk kilt with boots, so it doesn't look too girly. 
Do you find yourself drawn to thrift stores? 
I do. I grew up with jumble sales every Saturday and you can find some amazing things. Mixing old and new I quite like. I found some amazing boys' suits actually. Jackets and trousers with pinstripes, what you'd buy for a boy for his first wedding.


Issue 54 March 1997 Story: Matt Overton 

 They're a band from over here who have done rather well over there. With synthesizers. And guitars. Matt Overton asks, "So what exactly is 'techno-pop-punk-rock'?" 

 Every so often a band gets signed to a record company on the strength of a dodgy demo. Like Republica, "deconstruction signed us with three vocals samples and , 'Um-da-da, um-da-da, um-da-da, um-da-da', says Tim Dorney, keyboard player and programmer, miming the piano break of what sounds like a house track played on a home keyboard. "It was really basic and the recording wasn't brilliant." 

 Well, I console myself, the law of averages means it must happen to someone, somewhere, occasionally. "But I'm used to that", he continues. "In Flowered Up, the same thing happened; we'd had three covers - Sound, NME and Melody Maker - before we'd put our first single out." Arse. 

 It's a cold Monday morning January, somewhere in a trendy part of London N1. And Republica has just come back from 63 dates in the USA. 1996 was a great year for them stateside: a support slot with industrial merchants Gravity Kills led to them headlining their own tour; Drop Dead Gorgeous was made the theme song of the new Wes Craven blockbuster "Scream;" and their debut single "Ready To Go" even out-sold Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger". But in 1997 they're heading for Europe and home. 

 Republica were formed in 1994 around the vocals of Saffron and the keyboards of Tim and Todd. Saffron had acted on stage and TV, and sung with N-Joi and Jah Wobble. Tim played keyboards in Flowered Up, as well as being the main songwriter (You might recall the epic 12 inch Weekender which was one of the tracks of the burgeoning dance music scene). Toddy - Andrew Todd to his mum - was an experienced engineer, producer, remixer and "filter expert", as Tim describes him, who'd worked with artists as diverse as Björk and Barbra Streisand. 

 To this nucleus has been added Jonny Male, one-time guitarist with Soul Family Sensation and hit writer, and Dave Barbarossa, formerly drummer with Bow Wow Wow. A traditional band, you might think? Not according to Tim: 

 "No, 'cos we'd never have a bass player. We used to have one, but we didn't like it and went back to machines again-we preferred them. We've only got a drummer who can play in time with it all. We're stuck with machines-it makes us sound a lot more powerful live." 

So what's a band with origins in dance music (their 'demo' "Out Of This World" was remixed by The Chems while "Bloke" has been remixed by Way Out West) doing using guitars? It's like you've been infected by touring the USA. Are you turning into a guitar band? 

 "We'd been that before we'd gone there, actually: the last eight gigs we did in this country. Jonny had been in it for a while anyway on the live side, but Dave joined us over a year ago. We did Hotel Babylon [the late night TV show with Dani Behr] with him, the Madame JoJo's gigs, the Splash Club before we went to the States." 

 Their current single "Ready To Go" was first released last year, but reached only No. 41 in the Charts. So Republica took their already-recorded album and toured it around the USA, quickly notching up a hit and a name for performing. 

 But Tim isn't worried about being afflicted with the curse of Bush: "It's just one of those things. You can't predict what's going to happen in the UK. You can either go over there and come back, and people will go, 'Oh, they're massive in the States', but they don't like you particularly for that reason. Then you could go over there and come back here, and it does very well. It's completely hit and miss. But I think we're in with a chance and I prefer this version of Ready To Go to the one we put out originally. I think it worked better for what the band is now, because we've moved more in that direction." 

 Grosse decency 
He's referring to the fact that "Ready To Go" had been remixed by Ben Grosse of America industrialists Filter (along with three other tracks on their debut album) to give a more guitar-driven sound. Tim thinks the band's dance roots make it easier to accept being remixed- it's standard practice. But what about the UK audience? While their blend of 'techno-pop-punk-rock' (that's Saffron's description) has been successful on the other side of the Atlantic, there's a risk people this side won't embrace dance music with guitars. Ask the The Shamen or Sunscreem. 

 "We're no mainstream dance, we're not drum'n'bass, we're not fucking Britpop, we're not indie-pop, we just sit slapbang in the middle of everything," admits Tim. "But in the States, that's one of our strengths, from talking to people after gigs and stuff, what people like is the technological dance element of what we're doing; the guitars dress it up and make it more acceptable to them. They're not blown away by any of the guitar playing or anything like that, it's what's going on underneath." 

 First and foremost, Republica are a technology band. Despite the early dearth of equipment, they've accumulated a lot of gear, as a quick scan of their kit list shows. This is partly due to the demands of touring and the necessity of back-ups. But it's also the result of never selling or trading in: 

"We've always kept virtually everything we've ever bought - that's why we still have an S1000 kicking about, that's why I've still got my [Kawai] K1, my [Yamaha] DX7, that sort of thing. They still come in handy somewhere along the line. I'd rather have the keyboard there than a dodgy sample of it which can't manipulate to fit quite what you want. All of it has a use." 

 The other method is buying with an eye for a bargain or before something analogue becomes popular and starts to rocket in price. Like their Yamaha CS-5, which they bought cheaply after touring with the Grid... "We'd never seen one before so we thought it must be fairly rare. The Grid swore by it and it's got a great selection of filters." 

 Though it's not technology for technology's sake, there's plenty of low-tech stuff here. The complete contents of the effects and outboard rack, for instance, could be picked in FM's Marketplace. The Novation BassStations have just been joined by a Roland MC-303 Groovebox which has provoked much debate in FM's Howl round. And Tim's as happy programming a K1 as a new wondersynth. Ask him which pieces of equipment he considers essential and you get a revealing answer: for filtering and shaping through its external input, it's the Yamaha CS-5 and, for effects, it's the Melos delay: two analogue bits of kit. But for generating sound, as opposed to modifying it, it's 100% digital: the Kurzweil K2000. 

 Keyed in 
Tim needs no prompting to explain why it's better that everything else ("it just is, its interface, sampling, everything"), pointing out its battle scars ("see that key? It's raised a bit raised 'cos that's where I nutted it. I got a little over-exuberant playing live. So it need a bit of service now") and defending its honour ("I nearly had to jump into the audience in the States - this bloke kept chucking water over me"). But, surprisingly, the K2500 doesn't interest him: "I'm not trained or anything so weighted keys would be a bit of a waste." 

 Despite the CS-5, Tim doesn't rate Yamaha synths in general. "I never got into the SY-series. I used to own a DX9 and it did my head in." What about the CS1x, and FM fave? "That blue one? I've not had a go." So what about the new synths? "I'm not bothered by them. We've got pretty much all that we need at the moment sound-wise." I brought him up to speed on last month's cover exclusive, the Roland JP-800. "OK, it had faders, but it still wasn't that easy to change things in real time." 

Samplers are important for taking some of the sounds out live so they don't have to rely on 'old technology'. But they're also used in the song writing process to record guitars, rather than slaving up the Tascam reel-to-reel. 

 The reason's historical, says Tim: "It depends when the songs were done in Catford, where we didn't have any recording facilities. A lot of them were done here even before we had the Tascam. It's still an easier way for us to work sometimes: Jonny can sit there and we can sample him strumming." 

 Sample guitars: that's heresy to purists. You'll be saying samples are better than real guitars next. "The sampler sound is better than some of the guitar sounds we've got. Once we got it, we didn't have to fiddle around with it and do it again. But we have tried to take longer loops. A lot of it comes from the demo stage; we start producing when we start writing. We like it flexible enough to be able to move everything around without committing ourselves to tape." 

 So what role does the Akai MPC3000 play? "It's just for live work. All rhythm programming is done in Cubase. We used it on the album for drums, before we had a drummer. We found that if we recorded everything into it and lock it up with Cubase, it runs so much tighter than just triggering it or running S1000 stuff." 

 No plans to get Dave to hit pads to trigger samples then, capturing the feel not the sounds? But Tim's adamant: "No, we have a real drummer - we can get him to do it. We've got a good drummer with a good drum kit. Percussion-wise we still use loops and he plays along with it. But the dynamics of a real drummer: you can't replace it with programming, no mater how many thousands of samples you layer up to heft your dynamics. It's fucking brilliant to get someone like Dave on a kit so that you can pick up timing differences, the way he hits it each time - I much prefer it." 

 This is characteristic of the Republica sound: live rhythms meshing with loops. There's a drum'n'bass feel to "Get Off." They've got the drummer. What about the bass? 

 "It's the BassStation; I've got three only 'cos they keep breaking. We used the [Waldorf] Pulse for an advert we did a while ago. It's the only time I've really got round to using it 'cos it causes me all sorts of hassle. When you edit it, if you go and change a page, the knobs will suddenly jump position while you're editing. You don't know which one's jumped. Before you know where you are, you're up your own arse with it. It's down to the operating system and can be cured with a new chip. But I love the sound of it, I adore it, it's fucking excellent." 

 What about the MC-303? "We had this really clichéd idea of taking my new notebook PC, the MC-303 and some small powered speakers on the road so we could demo tracks. Be we never wrote anything. Our roadie ended up playing with it all the time. One morning, the bloke he was sharing with woke up to find him in the next bed slumped over it, asleep - he'd been up all night playing with it!" 

 So there's no chance of you spending £1000 on a TB-303? "No, there's little things I like, but I've enough to be going on with. I haven't got time to get to grips with half the stuff, anyway. We've got stuff, anyway. We've got enough stuff now that I like. I can do pretty much everything I know I want to do with it. And we've got fantastic facilities. We didn't want somewhere that was small, that was just a control room, where you're restricted, where you could just do demo vocals, nothing more than that." 

 Atari baby 
The Atari 1040STE has handled all MIDI duties until now. But Tim's planning its retirement reluctantly: "No-one's supporting it, basically. Cubase v3 works fine, but it's so slow; you can be waiting a minute for it to redraw the screen. And Steinburg doesn't do ReCycle! for the Atari. When we set up the studio we didn't have the money to a buy a Mac. But I really want to buy ProTools so we can shift guitars around." 

 But a complete, top-notch hard-disk recording system doesn't appeal, Even the newly acquired Alesis ADAT XT was bought for touring, not recording: "I still like tape. I like to be able to turn it over and do something stupid. And editing it as well. After we've mixed we normally hire a rack of ADATs and run all the tracks straight down to tape so they're there if someone needs to remix it." 

Republica are the epitome of a modern band: they've sunk their advance into their own studio (which they hire out when they're touring), they're self produced, and they have the obligatory website ( But what sets them apart from other bands is an ability to mix styles with genres, vocals with dance music, live drums with samples and guitars with technology. 

 "Somebody might have a vocal melody. Or we might work something up from the drums and the bass, and we'll put something on top of that. Or a chord pattern. But never guitars - at the end of the day, it's always machines." 

 Never a truer word said.


Down with the old school dance monarchy -  there's a new republi on the way. They may have taken the beats, but that's where Republica's take on punk-flavoured dance floor chaos parts company with the rest of the heads-in-the-clouds Hi-NRG crowd. 
Not for them the 'take me higher' vibe - think The Jam's city cynism and you get some idea of the likes of 'Ready To Go', the anthemic single that has stamped its marks on the States and looks set to do the same in the UK this month. 
"We were just sick of all the stuff that was happening in the clubs a few yearys ago," says Republica's singer Saffron, ex of N-Joi and The Shamen. "We wanted to do something that was lyrically a bit more ineteresting." 
Though demure in person, there's little in the way mousiness when it comes to Saffron's Republican stance - "I'm gonny take you on," she yells on 'Bloke', and a million Loaded readers immediately spill their collective pint. 
Republica formed three years ago in a desire to kick a little realism into the E-dazed London dance scene. 
DeConstruction snapped them up after realising that Saffron's steely-tongued stage persona and lad-baiting lyrics made her a serious contender for Shirley Manson's crown of thorns, and a year on the road in America has seen them become US indie radio faves, much to their surprise. 
"We're totally amazed at how well we're doing in the States," says keyboard player Tim Dorney amid the Jack Daniels and Rizla-coated coffee table. "We've just been doing our own headline gigs out there to 1000 people a night. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger." 
And that's only the beginning. As well as launching a full-scale assault on the UK charts, Saffron has just finished recording with the Prodigy on their new track, 'Fuel My Fire'. Move over Garbage, because Republica are ready to go. (SD) 


by Scot Lang

From their humble beginnings in small room in Catford where you were as  likely to get shot as get a record deal, Tim, Toddy and Saffron composed hit and miss tracks with a sampler and a couple of synthesizers, playing small gigs when their transit van wasn't breaking down en route. One such in Scotland found them broken down and stranded for hours. Taking relief in a service station restroom some time later, Saffron recalls having  almost gotten into a rather messy fight with an impatient lady just  outside her door. "I'd been cooped up in this van for four hours, and  this bitch is pounding on the restroom door telling me to hurry up." It's episodes like these that explain songs like 'Bitch' and 'Wrapp'. She can 
be pleasant but don't piss her off. That means, among other things, don't get in her face and DON'T DRIVE SO SLOW! Finally, they hit upon one track that would define their sound and capture their attitude, and that was 'Ready To Go'. All of their diversity and appreciation for so many  different styles of music ultimately came together combining techno/industrial rythms with heavier rock guitars and vocals. 
It's turned out to be the winning combination, and after getting a record deal with DeConstruction on the strength of this one song, the last thing they felt obliged to do was pay a studio £700 a day to sit with some guy they had never met who would tell them how they should sound. So they built a small studio of their own, and several months later, they had an album. Thinking back, Saffron was surprised by how quickly DeConstruction took to Republica. "We went in there with one song and they went o.k., now write more. So we just went to it. We wrote all the songs together. I mean, the lads wrote most of the music, but lyrically we all had a go, and so the songs are relevant to all of us. It feels really good performing it as well. We're all looking forward to coming out in September and playing some dates. We'll be playing on the East and West Coasts, I'm not sure which will be first though." Either way, you'll hear them coming, so get ready.


By Lisa Fairbanks

Republica ready and rarin' to goShe's bubbly and bright and a joy to talk to. She's also a member of one of the hottest groups to hit American shores from England. She's Saffron, lead singer of Republica, wide-eyed and poised to see her group's new single "Ready To Go" shoot straight to the top of the American charts. 

Saffron's motor is clearly racing on this afternoon, a few scant hours before Republica hits the stage for its first United States gig. The singer refuses to classify the apparent tension as nervousness, rather restlessness to get out and play music. "It's more like nervous energy," she confides. "We've been here three days and we haven't done anything yet." 

What Republica has done is caused a buzz in the industry with its single, "Ready To Go". The "Daily Record" hailed "Ready To Go" as having "more guts than the rest of the charts put together." Industry print-heavies such as "Billboard", "Cashbox", "Pollstar" and "Hits" have all christened this UK-based quintet as the current surprise hit on the music scene. The surprise is based on Republica's dance / techno / rock / punk flavoring in an industry putting much of its energies into the alternative/rock listener. 

Radio has also received "Ready To Go" well in the States, which impresses band members' cohorts across the pond. "When we're back in England, people go, 'Oh, Z100 and W-this and 99-that.' But you don't realize until you get here actually what it means because there are so many different radio stations. Back in England there's only one." 

The three-year-old Republica rose out of the ruins of the 1980s dance and punk scenes. Saffron and fellow band members grew frustrated with the mainstream direction music makers had taken in recent years and longed for the days of bands like The Clash. "It had fragmented into the opposite of everything it was meant to stand for. I grew up in a village near Brighton, which is on the south coast of England. The first band I saw when I was thirteen was The Jam and I loved them. There was a lot of gigs happening in the 80s so I used to go down every weekend and see the Human League or Siouxsie and the Banshees or Blondie. It was a great time." 

Saffron originally hooked up with keyboardists Tim Dorney and Andy Todd (affectionately referred to as "Toddy" by the 28-year old singer) through an acquaintance of both parties. "A friend of mine knew I wanted to form a band," explains Saffron, "and she knew Tim and Toddy were getting together and they needed a singer so she introduced us. We got along straight-away. That's how it started and we've been together three years now." Republica is rounded out by guitarist Johnny Male and ex-Bow Wow Wow drummer Dave Barborossa. 

"When we got together we were so pissed off at the music we were listening to at the moment that we said, "Right, we're never going to write a love song," she says, laughing. "But that sort of whittles it down a little bit. I think we've touched on it a couple of times but we didn't want to write anything soppy or too sentimental. We wanted to write about real-life issues and things that mean things to people, that they can relate to in an everyday life sense rather than in a fantastical sense." 

The band name, like many aspects of Republica's history, came by chance. "We all liked the name Republic but we didn't want to call ourselves the Non-Republic. We couldn't think of anything to go before or after it. We were in a situation where we've got a record deal and we haven't got a name for the band. Our manager said, "Right, if you haven't got a name in the next half hour, I'm going to pick a name out of the hat!" That was more frightening than us thinking of a name. We had the name Republic and Toddy just put an A on the end of it and it was like, 'Yeah, that's it! Republica'. 

Republica's album was initially released on the English label Deconstruction, an dance/alternative label affiliated with BMG/RCA. "I think someone in RCA America heard our tape and they asked us to come over here. We had a talk with them and they decided to release our album (in the States). They put out the single ("Ready To Go") and that's why we've come back because it's been received quite well. So we're here for the next two months, on tour with Gravity Kills." 

Each member of Republica has a hand at writing the material. Saffron admits that the "lads write most of the music but we all have a go. Republica ruling is that everything along the line can be vetoed so that everyone is happy with it so there are no fights later on. You'll find that, say, "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is more my song whereas "Bitch", Toddy wrote most of that and "Ready To Go", we all wrote that. It depends on what song it is but we all have a say in it. I wouldn't like to say," her voice drops to a whisper, "Oh, I do it all." 

Saffron says she is proudest of the album's cut "Drop Dead Gorgeous", particularly because she had a major hand in writing the tune. "I felt that ("Drop Dead Gorgeous") was challenging and that I've achieved something with that. I quite like the sentiment of "Don't You Ever" and also "Pitch Me" because it's so different than any of the others. All of us would probably say that "Ready To Go" is our best song and the one we've most proud of." 

Johnny Male is credited by Saffron as the catalyst for "Ready To Go". The guitarist came to the studio one day singing the line and when matched up with a rhythm track that had been lying around for a few months, a hit song was born. The tune, she says, boasts an uplifting, positive message. "It's basically about forgiving someone and saying, "Hey, let's give it go again." 

When asked about the cut "Get Off", Saffron breaks into laughter. "Funny enough, when we got over (to the United States), it means a different thing, doesn't it? When we were told what it means we said, "Whooooo!" (Laughs). Over there, it's definitely quite innocent. Getting off with someone means having a little Schnapps with them behind the bike shed, your first kiss... that's really what it's about." 

Although Republica's sound is techno-based, the group uses a minimal number of sequencers to drive its live show. "Obviously our sound is a mixture of electronic beats with live guitars and drums but all that you hear is live. We've spent the last nine months getting it as close as humanly possible with our technology. There are sequences going and there are second techno sounds that Toddy will trigger off but most of what you'll hear is maybe 99.9% live." 

So as Saffron and company wait for their tour to kick off, she admits she's had time to think about the future. The feeling of success and freedom that a hit record can afford her group is wisely tempered with the acknowledgement that she is here to do a job. "I think I'm probably old enough and ugly enough to know that it might all go tomorrow," she says with a laugh. "I think it's more about how we're going to sustain it. That word's come up quite a few times in my head recently. Now we're here, feet on the ground, let's just sustain what we have. This is our dream and what we've wanted to do all our lives. Now we've got it and we want to hold it and keep it if we can so it all doesn't become a flash in the pan. So, yes, I'm very excited about the opportunities it could give us in the future but I think I'd rather keep focused on what I'm doing."

SeventeenMagazine / Scene

Quotes from the Band: 

Saffron: "I'm really into boy's suits. I've found some really great pinstriped suits in juniors. I sometimes think I look like Pee Wee Herman in these little suits." 

Saffron: (On dying her hair) "I carry around bits of foil and pots of colour [stargazer rouge] and make horrible messes out of hotel rooms." 

Andy Todd, Keyboards: "I let my best friends and girlfriends shop for meI'm too busy making my next million." 

Dave Barborossa, Drummer: "My Girlfriend dyes my hair with peroxide. When the black comes through and it looks too horrible, she does it again." 

Dave Barborossa, Drummer: "Saffron is a real perfessional. She practices all the time and never takes her talent for granted." 

Johnny Male, Guitarist: "I try to keep things co-ordinated. But it's not easy when you've been on the road for ten weeks and you've got a bag full of clothes that aren't washed." 

Johnny Male, Guitarist: "'Always a chore, never a pleasure' is a favorite expression of ours. If you meet someone at a party, they don't get it until they walk away." 

Tim Dorney, Keyboards:"I don't really go shopping in England. There's this one skatebording shop in Philidalphia where I spend 500 dollars in ten minutes."