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Faithless

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Date of death : -
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Nationality : English
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-05-02

Faithless was a British electronica band consisting of Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Rollo. The group is best known for their dance songs ("Insomnia", "God Is a DJ" and "We Come 1"). During their career they sold over 15 million records worldwide.The band have now officially split up after the climax of their Passing The Baton dates at Brixton Academy which was on the 7 and 8 April 2011.

Faithless is "unique among dance acts in excelling at both high-octane club tracks and fully-rounded, satisfying eclectic albums," according to Q magazine. The London-based trio has sold more than three million albums--including Reverence, Sunday 8pm,and Outrospective--and four million singles worldwide with hits such as "Salva Mea," "Insomnia," "God Is a Deejay," and "We Come 1."

Sister Bliss, a classically trained pianist and the group's keyboardist, was born with the first name of Ayalah. She is hesitant to reveal her last name publicly for fear she could be stalked. Before joining Faithless she was deejaying at the London club Heaven and making demos on her synthesizer. Faithless' deejay and rapper Maxi Jazz was born Maxwell Fraser in Brixton, England. He has been a clerical officer, hip-hop deejay, singer, and drummer. He has performed in numerous groups of varying genres, from soul, blues, funk, 1950s-style rock 'n' roll, to the Soul Food Café Band, which landed a deal with the popular Acid Jazz record label in the early 1990s. He is a devout Buddhist who confessed to a passion for "hugely powerful cars" and automobile racing an interview with Q. "Maxi is a modern day preacher," Sister Bliss told the magazine. "He tries to illuminate life and share what he's learned."

The group's producer, Rollo Armstrong, has admitted that he "can't play an instrument, can't dance in time, and can't remember any melodies," according to the band's biography on the group's website. Q called him "the musical genius who can't play or dance." Born Roland Armstrong, he is the brother of Dido, the popular British singer. (Dido has sung lead vocals on songs on all three Faithless albums, and Armstrong coproduced his sister's chart-topping solo record, No Angel.) Armstrong studied philosophy at York University and worked summers at the Why Not? bar on the Greek island of Ios. While traveling as a student, he negotiated a $30,000 advance from an Australian record company. The result was the 1992 dance hit "Don't You Want Me," which he released under the name Felix. Maxi Jazz credits Armstrong with having an ear for hit songs. According to Maxi Jazz in Q, "Rollo has this genius of the common touch. If my boy likes it, you can pretty much guarantee that a lot more people will."

Ironically, Sister Bliss bought the Felix record before she ever met Armstrong, and returned it to the record store, unsatisfied with its sound. Naturally, she was reluctant when a mutual friend suggested she record a track at Rollo's studio in 1993. Though she was frank with Armstong about her feelings--"I told Rollo the Felix record was remedial," she recalled in Q--Armstrong liked her demo. Hers became the first record to be released on Armstrong's independent record label, Cheeky.

Faithless came together when the same friend introduced Maxi Jazz to Armstrong and Sister Bliss in 1995. They got along well and recorded their first single, "Salva Mea," which was released to little fanfare later that year. Feeling definite chemistry between them, Armstrong wanted the group to record a full-length album; the result was Reverence, which took 17 days to complete and was released in 1997. The relationship between the three in the recording studio is "telepathic, symbiotic," Sister Bliss said, according to the band's online biography. "In Faithless there's a real sense of giving," she elaborated in Q. The album and its first single, "Insomnia," were released on Armstrong's record label. Because there was no budget for marketing or promotion, neither the album nor the single received much notice until the "Insomnia" single was rereleased and became a top-five hit in England. Reverence ultimately sold more than one million copies and was R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe's album of the year.

Because funds were still lean, the trio took the grassroots approach to promoting themselves--they packed up and hit the road to tour. So eager were the three to promote Reverence, the group "literally took their music to any place that had shown an interest in the record," according to their online biography. They played the Arctic Circle, Puerto Rico, and under armed guard in Turkey, among many other exotic locales. The Reverence tour would be Armstrong's first and last with the group; for subsequent ventures and media appearances he elected to stay in his studio and let Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz be the public face of Faithless. After three years of nonstop touring and amid the breakups of each member's romantic relationships, Faithless recorded its second album, Sunday 8pm.

Sunday 8pm created as wild a furor as Reverence had. It featured former Culture Club vocalist Boy George and sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide. With the dance hits "Bring My Family Back," "Why Go?," and "God Is a Deejay," Sunday 8pm "established Faithless among the dance music elite," according to Q. The album received nominations at the BRIT, MTV Europe, and Mercury Prize awards in 1999. The use of the Faithless single "If Lovin' You Is Wrong" on an ad campaign for British beer propelled the group's popularity even further.

After another rigorous performance schedule for Sunday 8pm, the trio spent 18 months apart, each pursuing his or her own interests. For Armstrong, that meant building a new recording studio and releasing a single, "Always Remember to Respect and Honor Your Mother," and album, When We Were Young with keyboardist Mark Bates under the moniker Dusted. Maxi Jazz spent his time off racing cars. Sister Bliss released the dance singles "Bad Man," "Deliver Me," and "Sister, Sister," and spent her time off from the group as a globetrotting deejay. She spun records in some of America's biggest clubs, including New York's Twilo and Crobar in Chicago and Miami, as well as clubs in Southeast Asia, South Africa, and Brazil. "Few women in dance music have risen to the ranks of Sister Bliss," fawned one critic in DMA magazine.

After a year and a half apart, the three were more than ready to enter the studio together again. Outrospective was written and recorded between the summer of 2000 and spring of 2001. Even before they had finished, Sister Bliss had high expectations for Outrospective. "I want this next album to be a groundbreaking one." she said, according to the band's online biography. "I want this to be the peak of our creative powers."

Outrospective hit big. DMA critic Sam LaBelle noted that Faithless was treading unfamiliar ground with Outrospective and that the result was an album of "epic grandness." Sister Bliss stated as much in an interview with Mixmag: "Bliss says the band will deliberately go out of their way not to repeat past successes by just following a Faithless formula; they will always try something different." Critic Steve Baltin called it a "superb collection of genre-crossing grooves" in the Los Angeles Times. Billboard critic Michael Paoletta called the album "wickedly smart" and "steeped in life's emotional depth charges. Said another way, it's the human condition put to words and music."

Regardless of its intelligence or depth, the album was also danceable, including such tracks as "Tarantula," "Liontamer," "Machines R Us," and "One Step Too Far." It debuted at number four on the Music & Media European Top 100 chart, in the top ten on the charts in Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, and Finland, and climbed to number two in Holland--all in the same week. The album's anthemic first single, "We Come 1," was already a dance hit in several parts of the world as it climbed the American Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. "It's a juggernaut of a record," Sister Bliss told Q about the single.

On 29 September 2006, the first single "Bombs" from their album To All New Arrivals made its debut on BBC Radio 1's Pete Tong show. The album was released on 27 November 2006. "Bombs" generated moderate controversy with its music video, as demonstrated by MTV's refusal to air it. The single, "Not Going Home", was released on 4 May 2010, whilst the latest album The Dance, was issued on 16 May 2010.

They played two nights at Brixton Academy on 7 and 8 April 2011. The latter date would be the last ever Faithless show and was transmitted live via satellite to cinemas across Europe. However, the Faithless Sound System (a stripped down version of Faithless consisting of Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Sudha Kheterpal) gave final shows on 22 July 2011 at the Tomorrowland festival in Belgium, at the Waterford Music Fest in Ireland on 30 July and in Split at the Riva Discothèque on 12 August.

Discography:
-Reverence (1996)
-Sunday 8PM (1998)
-Outrospective (2001)
-No Roots (2004)
-To All New Arrivals (2006)
-The Dance (2010)


View the full website biography of Faithless.
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