My friend Neil once went to Fairlight HQ in Sydney. I asked him what it was like, and this is what he told me:
"As a teenager in the 80s, the Fairlight filled me with religious awe. It was the ultimate signifier of synth-pop stardom. I remember Nick Rhodes drawing waveforms with the light pen in Duran Duran's Arena live video, projected onto a gigantic screen so that all the audience could share the wonder. And then there was the sheer decadence of stars taking their Fairlights on Top Of The Pops, to mime with. Oh what a sleazy thrill. If only I could touch one, then greatness would surely be mine.
"My chance came when I was visiting Sydney, aged 16. I looked the company up in the phone book, and duly turned up in their reception the following day. I claimed to be researching a thesis on synthesized sound. Despite the fact that I was wearing a denim jacket with a corduroy collar, a rising-sun-of-Japan muscle shirt and MC Hammer pyjama pants, they appeared to believe that I was an adult.
"However, I abandoned any pretence of intellectual detachment when a charming Aussie led me into the Fairlight demonstration studio. It was lit like a harem, and full of seductive beauties. A Fairlight II, one of those huge Kurzweill keyboards, assorted Jupiter 8s and their ilk… and then I saw her. Shiny, new, and sheathed in the white plastic that everyone now has on their iPods. It was the Fairlight III. I emitted an audible squeak of joy.[This is Fairlight founder Peter Vogel with the same Series III Neil squeaked over, in the Fairlight demo studio, in 1986]
"My brain became so overloaded that I remember almost nothing of the subsequent demo. (Something similar occurred during the hot night in Bangkok a couple of years later when I lost my virginity) The only moment that I can recall was the last one: my host loaded up a sample of a 747 taking off, and stood back to allow me to press my sweaty fingers onto the mighty keyboard. A gigantic roar emanated from the studio speakers, panning viciously from left to right. I pressed more keys, and more mighty jets arced across the stereo field. Again… again… ggrrrraaarrrrrgghhh…
"Now, my rational side tells me that, given a bit of judicious downloading, I could achieve the same effect today using my laptop. But my heart tells me that, on that day, I heard the voice of God."... [MORE]
FAIRLIGHT WEEK CONTINUES