Mix It Up was formed in the autumn of 1985 by two ex-members of psychedelic garage-punk quartet The Difference. Bass player Simon had just bought a Fostex four-track cassette recorder, a drum machine and a Casio CZ-101 synthesizer, and vocalist/songwriter Anthea had lots of ideas for new material, so they got together in Simon's bedsit and started recording demos. Simon found that he was able to easily fit chord structures, drum programs and keyboard and bass arrangements around Anthea's soul- and folk-influenced melodies, and before long they had several tapes full of songs. Now the question was how to perform them...
The pair discussed putting together a new band, this time with Simon on keyboards, but the distinctive sound of the demos was in danger of getting lost in a conventional band lineup. Eventually Anthea and Simon decided to use the four-track live, with Simon playing bass and Anthea singing. Each song's backing track would be on its own 4-track cassette, allowing flexible set lists, and no bass or vocals would be on tape. Simon set to work re-recording the backing tracks, overdubbing drum machine, piano, Hohner Pianet electric piano, Casio CT-202 and CZ-101 synths, chromatic harmonica and percussion. Anthea bought a portable but adequately powerful PA system, and Mix It Up were ready to hit the road in Anthea's tiny Fiat 126!
There was no adverse response to the band's use of backing tapes - the 4-track was placed centre-stage, and it was obvious to the audiences that vocals and bass were being performed live. A year of successful gigs around London followed, culminating in the recording in late 1986 of an independent 12" EP, "Mickey Reform", containing four songs.
The bouncy title track was co-written by Matthew Dodd, The Difference's erstwhile guitarist. The other songs were the Motown-influenced "Closet of Silence" with Fender Rhodes and multi-layered synth strings, the minimalist "4U My Love" and the piano ballad "Cloud 9", featuring a synthesized orchestral arrangement and no drums (the song was actually written while the band's drum machine was being repaired!)
The artwork was designed using Letraset (anyone remember that?) and a marker pen and enlarged with a photocopier. The real-life hairstyles were never quite as wacky as that!
Here, for the first time on the Web, you can hear Mix It Up's debut record!
Mickey Reform (Wormington/Dodd/Beck)
Closet of Silence (Wormington/Beck)
4U My Love (Wormington/Beck)
Cloud 9 (Wormington/Beck)
Recorded at BTW Studios.
Produced by John Borthwick and Mix It Up
Released by Antworm Records; ANTWORM001
Artwork by Simon Beck