'The edge of the analogue-digital divide, sometimes dreaming, always dancing...'
Factory Acts are a Salford-based post-punk dark-electro duo whose sound is grand, filmic and intense. Incredibly, all this drama is created by a line-up of two: Susan O'Shea on vocals, synths and analogue digital devices, and Matt Davies covering bass guitar, beats and mixes.
They are billed as occupying, 'the edge of the analogue-digital divide, sometimes dreaming, always dancing.'
After an impressive debut EP Thirst in 2014, Salford's underground, post-punk maestros released their highly-anticipated follow-up, the Second Amendment EP, in April 2017. They are held in high regard by all who have encountered their unique sound. Last year their track Leave the World to Us was Stephen Doyle's number one of 2017 in his Top 50 Sonic Diary show.
Matt discussed the inspiration behind the band's formation; "a mutual love of all things post-punk and electronic: Susan had been helping to promote female-fronted bands for festivals such as Ladyfest Manchester...Susan blew the dust off an old Casio keyboard and played it through a Korg Monotron, and very soon we were having a jam to a live audience in Salford Lads Club.
"We got infected by the performance bug, and the amalgamation of electronic gadgets and bass guitar seemed to make an impression on our early audiences" he added "We rattled out a couple of singles recorded in an afternoon in one take...and soon started to get local radio play."
Factory Acts seem to bang in the middle of a creative purple-patch with gigs and releases on the horizon. They've already acquired a reputation as formidable force on stage and have featured with some great bands...
"Memorable ones so far included being one of two support acts for Brix and the Extricated first ever gig - both of us massive Fall fans - alongside The Fall founder member Una Baines' Poppycock at the Ruby Lounge" Matt recalled "Our music tends to cross a number of genre boundaries so we get asked to play with punk and post-punk style bands, 'goth' and electronic, which is great! Some of the best gigs though are the DIY ones organised on a shoestring by local music obsessives such as our own record label Analogue Trash and Ian Moss and Bob Osborne's German Shepherd Records label."
It's not just locally that Factory Acts have made waves, having played in London, Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Dublin and Susan's native Cork. FA have supported Kite Base (Savages), Brix and the Extricated, The Skeletal Family, Tom Hingley (Inspiral Carpets), Clan of Xymox and have upcoming support slots in Manchester and London with electro-Goth legends Naked Lunch.
Having heard the complex, swirling brilliance of their recordings, I had to ask how difficult it is to recreate the music live...
"That is a very good question, because actually much of the time it is the other way round!" Matt explained "We do, to a certain extent rely now on backing tracks because Susan has to sing, play keyboards, twiddle loads of other knobs, but depending on the sound system and environment we are usually very happy with the live sound. It is translating that into a studio recording that can be problematic. Thankfully John Tatlock of The Box Mobile Recording Studio did an amazing job of our last EP – Second Amendment - and managed to recreate as closely as possible how we like to sound live."
Catch Factory Acts on Sunday at Aatma from 8pm...
Factory Acts plus 1919 and Society
Sunday 6th May 8pm
1 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB
For more details see the Facebook event page - click here
Another date for your diary is 7th June when they appear with Salford Star faves Patchwork Rattlebag along with éntha/Code: Marla and Ethereal at The Peer Hat £4.
Find out more about Factory Acts - see the Facebook page - click here
Words by Ian Leslie