Joy Electric -

About Joy Electric

There are bands that recycle their sound, and bands that reinvent their sound, but most importantly there are bands that continue to refine their sound until it is in its purest form. Since their first album in 1994, Joy Electric has consistently fine-tuned their pursuits, with a self-imposed and almost military rigidity, the end-result being starkly beautiful and eclectic synth pop.


Originally conceived as a solo project for Martin, Joy Electric featured bouncy pop songs with religious and whimsical lyrics set to sweet synthesizer melodies. The group debuted with 1994's Melody on Tooth & Nail Records, one of the premier independent Christian record labels, and home to Christian indie rock bands Velour 100 and MxPx. Melody and 1995's Five Stars for Failure EP were recorded with samplers, synthesizers, and drum machines, but on 1996's We Are the Music Makers Martin switched to using only analog synths for all melody and percussion parts.


After the release of 1997's Old Wives Tales remix EP, Joy Electric added the band's manager and keyboardist, Jeff Cloud, as an official member of the group. That year also saw the release of the band's most popular album yet, Robot Rock. Soon after, the group added another member, Caleb Mannann, and moved to the BEC record label. As growing interest from the secular music scene added to an already strong Christian following, Joy Electric continued gaining fans with 1998's The Land of Misfits EP and the following year's Children of the Lord EP and CHRISTIAN songs album. Along with their duties in Joy Electric, Cloud continued to run his Velvet Blue record label and promotion business, while Martin founded his own electronica label, the aptly named Plastiq Musiq.

As early as his teen years Martin was already recording music with his brother, Jason, under the moniker Dance House Children. When the two parted ways musically, Ronnie created Joy Electric, a labor of love that has consistently produced eight years worth of music, built up painstakingly, layer by layer on old-fashioned analog synthesizers. "The Art and Craft of Popular Music" culls some of the most memorable tracks from his musical career, including tracks from EP's like "Land of the Misfits" and full-length LP's such as "Robot Rock", and provides an entire disc of shimmering brand new tracks, as well as old demos that have been re-recorded. "I picked my favorites which probably coincided with other people's. The new songs are much more simplistic. They definitely fall in line with older JE stuff like 'Melody' or 'Old Wives Tales'. It's more like everyone will be getting a new album along with the older material. That was important to me, because I at least wanted people to hear the stuff they had never heard before."

The unique styling of Joy Electric may escape the understanding of the casual music fans, but behind the specific working technique that Joy Electric employs is the fundamental understanding that gadgetry and gimmicky sounds do not make up the backbone of a song. Just a few repeated listens clearly reveals that what Martin is aiming to create are perfect pop songs with a classic song structure. Even in his youth, his song-writing manifesto was reiterated in his mind by hearing the consistent strengths of bands like The Smiths, New Order and the Pet Shop Boys. Joy Electric uses the analog instrumentation as a means of delivery, but maintains that the songs would stand on their own, regardless of what instruments that they are played on. "I don't really mess with the synths until I have the song written out. That is kind of the rule. I make sure I have the song first. That always stays in focus."

With this kind of continued motivation, Joy Electric is more than deserving of a retrospective look.  The year 2001 saw the unveiling of The White Songbook: Legacy, Vol. 1, a high-concept synth rock album that showed the growing ambitions of Joy Electric.  In 2002 a new double-disc collection of old and new songs. Titled "The Art and Craft of Popular Music," it ardently affirms that Joy Electric is far from disappearing.


In 2003 the prolific synth maestro issued the clickety pop, glitchy sweetness of the Tick Tock Treasury LP, followed a year later by the chillier traditionalist synth pop of the Friend of Mannequin EP and Hello, Mannequin full-length. Martin also found time to tour Christian festivals and develop Shepherd, an experimental guitar side project. The fourth volume in the Legacy series, The Ministry of Archers, came out the following year, accompanied by an EP, Montgolfier and the Romantic Balloons. Both albums were produced at the newly revamped Electric Joy Toy Company studio. The fifth and final Legacy album, The Otherly Opus, arrived in 2007.

Given that diehard attitude, and passion for beautiful and unusual music, Joy Electric has the stamina and longevity for a long running in the music industry.