Dubstar Biography

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This UK band was formed in 1994 when Steve Hillier (songwriting/programming) met Chris Wilkie (guitar) at a club in Newcastle where he was DJing. They auditioned for singers and eventually recruited student Sarah Blackwood (Halifax, Yorkshire, England) after she sang over two acoustic songs for them. They began to write and record songs together, keen to produce a sound that was authentically ‘modern’. As Wilkie summarized: ‘We didn’t really know where we were going when we started, but it certainly wasn’t backwards.’ Their first demo tape, which secured a contract with Food Records, included a cover version of Billy Bragg’s ‘St Swithin’s Day’.

Dubstar’s debut album, Disgraceful, mixed club-orientated beats in addition to strong hooks and pop dynamics, earning several comparisons to Saint Etienne. Despite critical acclaim, it failed to produce a breakthrough, although it contained the Top 40 single ‘Stars’. That changed with the UK Top 20 success of ‘Not So Manic Now’ (a track which detailed a tower block sexual assault), which prompted a reissue of ‘Stars’ in early 1996. Their second album proper, Goodbye, contained more bittersweet songs and spawned two hit singles in ‘Cathedral Park’ and ‘No More Talk’. One further release long-playing release followed in 2000, but with Food being swallowed up the EMI Records conglomerate the band opted to call it a day. Blackwood resurfaced alongside Kate Holmes (ex-Frazier Chorus) in Client.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.