cEvin Key

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About cEvin Key

Best known as the founder of industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy, cEvin Key has been involved with numerous projects since the early 1980s, spanning many genres including new wave, techno, ambient, IDM, and dub. Throughout all of his myriad ventures, Key has been praised for his inventive approaches to production and composition, including innovative usage of sampling and dense, complex arrangements of rhythm, melody, and distortion. While a member of successful Canadian synth pop group Images in Vogue, he started Skinny Puppy as an experimental side project in 1982. Nivek Ogre became the group's frontman, and the group quickly earned a reputation for their shocking performances and music videos, which often brought attention to issues such as animal testing, as well as their equally confrontational music, which fused industrial, funk, electro, and noise. Albums such as Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse (1986) and Too Dark Park (1990) have remained seminal influences on the electro-industrial scene, as well as favorites of the group's rabid cult fan base. During Skinny Puppy's initial run, Key formed other projects such as the psychedelic group the Tear Garden (with Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots) and the experimental collective Hilt. After Skinny Puppy broke up in 1995, Key concentrated on the techno/ambient-influenced Download and platEAU projects, in addition to releasing the occasional solo effort, such as 1998's Music for Cats. Skinny Puppy reunited in the early 2000s and resumed touring and releasing albums, including 2004's The Greater Wrong of the Right, while many of Key's other projects remained active, primarily issuing material through independent label Subconscious Communications. During the 2010s, Key formed experimental dub project Dubcon with Ryan Moore (Twilight Circus), releasing albums such as 2016's Martian Dub Beacon. Kevin William Crompton was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He had experimented with synthesizers and drums as a teenager, and had played in a few local bands, but his first full-time gig was as the drummer for Vancouver-based new wave group Images in Vogue. A successful group in their home country, Images in Vogue scored hits such as "Lust for Love" (1983) and "Call It Love" (1985), and opened for Roxy Music and Duran Duran. Crompton started Skinny Puppy as an experimental side project in 1982, and Kevin Ogilvie soon became the group's vocalist after the two met at a party. The pair adopted pseudonyms (cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre) in order to avoid confusion over having the same first name. Skinny Puppy's debut recording, a self-released 1984 tape titled Back & Forth, attracted attention from Nettwerk, who released mini-album Remission that year, followed by full-length Bites in 1985. Key left Images in Vogue, as he felt the group was too commercial, and concentrated on Skinny Puppy full-time. Joined by additional members such as Dwayne Goettel and engineer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, the group were restlessly prolific throughout the '80s and early '90s, averaging an album a year and scoring club and alternative radio hits such as "Dig It" (1986) and "Testure" (1989). Key formed the Tear Garden with Legendary Pink Dots leader Edward Ka-Spel after the two met in 1985. More psychedelic and sometimes poppier than Key's main group, the Tear Garden debuted with a self-titled 1986 EP, followed by 1987's Tired Eyes Slowly Burning. The project's second album, 1992's The Last Man to Fly, is often regarded by fans as an overlooked classic. Key also participated in experimental collective Hilt (initially known as the Flu) and one-off side projects such as the cinematic Doubting Thomas (with Goettel) and the Wax Trax!-signed Cyberaktif (with one-time Puppy member Bill Leeb, also of Front Line Assembly). Following 1992's Last Rights, Skinny Puppy signed with Rick Rubin's American Recordings and relocated to Malibu, California to record their next album. However, numerous problems within the band delayed the recording of the album, and Ogre quit the group; after Goettel was found dead of a heroin overdose in 1995, the rest of the band reconvened and finished the album. Issued as The Process in 1996, it was announced as Skinny Puppy's final release. Following Goettel's death, Key took control of Subconscious Communications, a label founded several years earlier by Goettel and Phil Western. All three musicians had been involved in the experimental electronic collective Download, which then became Key's main venture following the dissolution of Skinny Puppy. Featuring input from musicians like Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air) and Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV), the project's albums, including The Eyes of Stanley Pain (1996) and III (1997), were often much closer to IDM and ambient than industrial. Key and Western also formed platEAU, a druggy techno offshoot which premiered with 1997's Music for Grass Bars. In 1998, Key released solo album Music for Cats (which featured appearances by several other Download contributors), followed by The Ghost of Each Room in 2001. In 2003, Key and Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall reworked several tracks recorded during the mid-'80s and released them as The Dragon Experience. While still active with many of his side projects and Subconscious Communications, Key unexpectedly returned to Skinny Puppy during the early 2000s. The band played a reunion gig at a German Festival in 2000, released the following year as Doomsday: Back and Forth Series 5: Live in Dresden. Key then toured as the drummer for Nivek Ogre's ohGr solo project, and Skinny Puppy began recording new material. The Greater Wrong of the Right was released in 2004, and the group continued regularly touring and releasing albums. In 2009, Key released Zombie Battle 2019!, the debut album from his Japan-inspired solo project BananaSLOTH. Key and longtime Subconscious associate Ryan Moore (Twilight Circus) formed dub project Dubcon, making their debut with 2013's U.F.O. Pon di Gullyside, which was followed by Martian Dub Beacon in 2016. Brap and Forth Vol. 8, a collection of mostly unreleased outtakes and demos from the mid-'80s, was released as a cEvin Key solo album in 2018. ~ Paul Simpson

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
13 February 1961
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