Transistor 6
(Originally appeared in Probemusic, April 2001)

Frances Castle is Transistor 6. That's not quite right. I should say that Frances Castle, her computer and her 4-track recorder are Transistor 6. She doesn't stand in shopping arcades playing a guitar and harmonica with a bass drum strapped to her back and cymbals on her knees. At least, she never mentioned it…

On current single, The Post Office Tower, Frances sings about her love of what's now the grubby carbuncle known as the Telecom Tower but once was a space-age London landmark with a revolving restaurant nestling amongst the (then) alien-looking satellite dishes. Around her timid nursery rhyme vocals eulogising the tower, sampled steel drums and a loopy loop battle for space. It's organic, charming and naïve. Like a less-confident Solex. " Sometimes I really wish my voice would come out American and male - which might be a bit difficult on a day to day basis as I'm British and female. I guess I have to get round the fact that it doesn't sound like I wish it would but I do have a need to express myself with some narrative." Most computer-generated music doesn't seem to need narrative though. "You're right. In some ways its like a return to those instrumental bands of the 60s. Music that is made for dancing doesn't really need lyrics. I don't think its a bad thing, but in another way I think it makes it a little one-dimensional. Words and music have always gone together from the minstrels of the Middle Ages on down, so I think the need to do it is always going to be there."

Much as people will always need to express themselves in a visual way. Frances is also an artist. "The art is the other side of things. I've been painting for ages but its kind of sped up a bit since I joined this art group called the Stuckists. Basically led by Billy Childish of Thee Headcoats fame, the Stuckists are trying to get away from conceptual art and back to painting." Does the music have a similar aim? "No not at all. I don't think my music is Stuckist at all." But you do try to steer clear of the breakbeat cliches and make a more natural sound. "I've tried to sample drums off old country records and a lot of old 60s stuff because the drums were recorded so beautifully in those days. I have to laugh at myself sometimes cos I love really old country music and I'm using a computer."

Look out for singles on Catmobile and Hub City in the near future and a full-length album for Black Bean and Placenta next year. The T6 website is at

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