John Richards explores the idea of Dirty Electronics that focuses on shared experiences, ritual, gesture, touch and social interaction. In Dirty Electronics process and performance are inseparably bound. The 'performance' begins on the workbench devising instruments and is extended onto the stage through playing and exploring these instruments.
The Dirty Electronics Ensemble is a large group that explore these ideas and whose members are often made-up of workshop participants. The workshop is central to the Ensemble in that all of the musicians have to build their own instrument for performance. The group has performed pieces specially written for the Ensemble by, amongst others, Japanese noise artists Merzbow, Pauline Oliveros, Howard Skempton (founder member of the Scratch Orchestra), Gabriel Prokofiev, Anna Meredith and Nicholas Bullen (ex-Napalm Death and Scorn). Other notable collaborations include working with Rolf Gehlhaar (original Stockhausen group), Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle, Keith Rowe, Anat Ben-David (Chicks on Speed), Kei Miyata (Karas/Teshigawara) and STEIM (Amsterdam). In 2011, Dirty Electronics created a specially commissioned hand-held synth for Mute Records, and, in 2014, a follow-up release, the Mute Synth II, that included a hand-held synth and an album with artists associated with Dirty Electronics and Mute. The album features, amongst others, Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Simon Fisher Turner, Dominic Butler (Factory Floor), Kidanevil and Dirty Electronics. The artwork for both Mute Synths was done in collaboration with the designer and writer, Adrian Shaughnessy. There have been a number of other significant artwork/sound circuits produced by Dirty Electronics: the Sonar 20th Anniversary Synth for the electronic music festival Sonar; collaboration with graphic designer Jack Featherstone and Artists & Engineers; and circuits inspired by the artwork of William Morris for the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Workshops and performances with Dirty Electronics have taken place internationally including: the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (London), Sonar (Barcelona), FutureEverything (Manchester), Roundhouse (London), Bent Festival (Los Angeles), Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) (Germany), Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) (London), Supersonic Festival (Birmingham), Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan), University of the Arts (Berlin), and IRCAM (Paris). Significant contributors to Dirty Electronics have been Stu Smith (ASMO), Jim Frize, Steph Horak, Neal Spowage, Max Wainwright and Amit Patel.