Musical Autobiography

(For promotors and publicists click here for the short bio package)

I am a musician and artist based in Leicester, UK. I was born in the northern UK steel town of Scunthorpe, where I lived and worked until 1997. I played piano from an early age but later found strings and percussion to be my forte. I was well known in the local music scene working with the likes of Duncan Chapman and Steve Bird and playing guitar and drums in many local bands and ensembles including The Beadles, Enchanting Alice, Mothers Fury, The Trippy Hippie Time Machine and Speed Needle. I was a regular ‘carpet sitter’ at the Baths Hall indie rock disco and at the now famous Lincoln Imp venue. I was also involved in producing a fanzine for The Beadles. I spent time with local coders and hackers writing music using the Commodore Amiga Soundtracker software; I created audio for the unreleased Amiga game ‘Space Hippies’, although as far as I am aware, my sounds did not make it to the final version. The game is now available as an Android App. Watch out for those space toilets!

In 1997-98, I spent a year in Derby studying for my Art Foundation before moving on to Leicester to study a BA in Multimedia Design where I took great interest in human-machine interaction and sound design. I began to DJ on the local indie and goth scene under the pseudonym of DJ Lostlittlerobot and ran a LGBTQ friendly indie/goth night called the Psycho Candy Club with fellow DJ Flowersdie (Jeremy Wiltshire). The night ran for four-ish years (2003-2007-ish) in various venues, finishing with a 2 ½ year stint at the legendary but now defunct Leicester venue ‘The Attic’ on Free Lane, managed by Paul Matts. Around this time I also DJ’d at the more ‘Rocky’ Merciless Retribution club night and played synths (namely my trusty Emu Orbit) in local electro band Conspiracy who released the single Electric Bitch. A fetish video was filmed for this track in The Attic but the band drifted apart and the footage was never edited to completion.

In 2006 I joined Post Punk Goth band The Screaming Banshee Aircrew within days of them finalising the mix on their second album ‘When All is Said and Done’. This led to me finding myself in the bizarre situation of being included on the artwork and member roster of said album without ever having played on note on the recording. This is where I took on the moniker of NealUnreal as my rockstar name, and by 2009 I had co-written, co-produced and appeared on the recording of our third album SUGAR (Produced and engineered by Jim Spencer at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire), which was released on the Resurrection Records label. We split in 2010 leaving a raft of unrecorded songs for a never to be produced fourth album that now only exist on youtube fan recordings of our final shows.

Immediately after the Screaming Banshee Aircrew disbanded in 2010, I joined the Nottingham based indie band Luxury Stranger and York based Berlin Black. I toured with Luxury Stranger across Europe supporting the Chameleons Vox. The touring schedule was merciless and I found I had to choose between Luxury Stranger/Berlin Black and my experimental work. In the summer of 2011 I arranged to meet Choreographer/Dancer Danai Pappa at the BEAM festival at Brunel University. This meeting expedited my departure from Luxury Stranger in the late summer of 2011 (Then later Berlin Black) and Danai and I have since developed a long term working relationship and still create performances together, most recently on our collaboration Ariel Ariel in 2018.

While in the Screaming Banshee Aircrew, Berlin Black & Luxury Stranger, I was studying his Masters, then PhD in Electronic Music Performance at De Montfort University under Simon Emmerson and John Richards. This led me to join the university experimental music group, The Dirty Electronics Ensemble, in 2007, with which I still work and perform.

During his time in various bands and ensembles, I have supported and worked with many musicians, choreographers and artists including Danai Pappa, Katie Hall, Michele Danjoux, Anat Ben David (Chicks On Speed), Makoto Namura, Mark Wastell, Audrey Riley (Virginia Astley band/Test Dept/Gavin Bryars) Ania Sadkowska, Joanna Moy (March Violets), Merzbow, Antonio De La Fe, The Agony Art Collective, Jan Jun, Duncan Chapman, Anna Meredith, Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Craig Vear (Wolfgang Press/Renegade Soundwave), Rolf Ghelar (Karlheinz Stochausen) and Jim Spence (Johnny Marr/The Cribs/Black Grape) .

I have also presented my experimental solo work and papers at numerous conferences including Noisefloor (2019) Staffordshire University, Sonorities (2018) Belfast Queens, ISSTA (2017) in Dundalk, Sounding Out the Space (2017) in Dublin, Art and Sound (2017) in Leicester, BEAM Festival Brunel University (2011), Sound and Music Computing Conference Copenhagen (2012) and Fascinate Falmouth Conference (2013).

I have had an article published in Organised Sound (2018) and papers published at New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference Brisbane (2016), New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference Pittsburgh (2009) and some of my instruments appear in the Nic Collins book Handmade Electronic Music (2009) 2nd Edition. I have been a resident artist at STEIM, Amsterdam (2010), been a visiting researcher at Newcastle Culture Lab (2011) and given artist talks and seminars at STEIM (2011), UEA Norwich (2009) and Bournemouth University (2012).