20 August 2014

Holly Johnson premieres new single In and Out of Love

Holly Johnson new single In and Out of Love

Holly Johnson premieres new single In and Out of Love

Holly Johnson has announced the next single from his first new album in fourteen years. 'In andOut Of Love', which premiered on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show this morning, is taken from 'Europa', which will be released on September 29  via his Pleasuredome label. This follows the success of early track 'Follow Your Heart', which featured one of the final ever remixes from Frankie Knuckles, and was playlisted at Radio 2. Video, live and remix plans will be unveiled shortly. 

'In and Out Of Love' was inspired by the closing lines of William Blake's haunting poem, 'Broken Love' ("And throughout all eternity / I forgive you, you forgive me"). It's an impassioned ode, says Holly, to "the elation and torment we put ourselves through, the dramas we live out in the name of love...and when all of that falls away in a single smile, or act of kindness." This wider sense of joy and optimism can be felt across the album, 'Europa': it's a celebration of love and enjoying life in the moment, while you can. 

'Europa' arrives exactly thirty years since Frankie Goes To Hollywood released their debut record 'Welcome To The Pleasuredome', featuring the iconic, millions-selling 'Relax' (famously banned by the BBC), 'Two Tribes' (which spent nine weeks at number 1) and 'The Power of Love' (a cover of which reached number 1 again just last year). Then in 1999,after releasing his third solo album, 'Soulstream', and needing a break from the music industry, Holly did what he'd intended to do before Frankie took off: he enrolled in art school. This completed a circle which began in 1983, when he had to turn down a place at Liverpool Art College because 'Relax' had taken off. Sixteen years later, Holly was invited to attend The Royal College of Art, where he painted and exhibited for four years and had his work repeatedly shown at the likes of the Royal Academy Summer Show and Tate Liverpool. It's a passion which persists, whereby the single artwork for 'In and Out Of Love', for instance, is in fact an original painting of Holly's. 

Johnson was lured back to music part-time in 2009, when Universal released a Frankie Goes to Hollywood Greatest Hits, though his distinctive voice was last heard on the 2012 Christmas number 1, The Justice Collective's 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother'. At the occasional live dates in-between, Holly realised "that I'd forgotten how much physical pleasure I got from singing my own songs. This is my teenage dream come true. I started to think, why did I ever stop?" Then, in 2012, Holly met the producer Mark Ralph via Raf from The 2 Bears: Ralph had worked with the likes of Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand, and recently completed the Clean Bandit album. The pair hit it off, and set about finessing the songs that would form Johnson's new album. "I'd pile my vintage synths into the back of a cab, head over to Mark's place, and we'd be up all night making this record.'

The result, 'Europa', is a euphoric, often-electronic-led return, celebrating love, dance...and chronicling exactly what Holly Johnson has been up to these last fourteen years. The title track began life with Vangelis in Paris over a decade ago, where Johnson - a 'Blade Runner' obsessive - teamed up with the legendary composer in an underground studio; a converted concrete bunker on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, which had been originally designed for Hitler's occupation. Some twenty four years later, Holly and Vangelis, together with long-time collaborator Mark Ralph, finally finished it off. Elsewhere, the record features contributions from Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera, Vini Reilly of Durutti Column, and the late, great Frankie Knuckles, remixing first single 'Follow Your Heart' alongside house legend Eric  Kupper.

And so he is - with a new single, a new album, and a passion for the music that first transported him from 1960s, working-class Liverpool to one of the pop stars of his generation. Holly Johnson describes 'Europa' as "a kind of retrospective of me as a songwriter. It's the product of a life in pop music. And one thing you learn is that, every time you make a record, it might be the last one. So you'd better make it good, you'd better make it positive, and you'd better enjoy it.”

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