classics : EMF

EMF are an alternative dance band from Cinderford, Gloucestershire. They came to prominence at the beginning of the 1990s.

During their initial eight-year run from 1989 to 1997, EMF released three studio albums and had gone on hiatus and reformed twice.

Their first single, “Unbelievable“, reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart,  and was a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Their debut album, Schubert Dip, went to number 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

The name “EMF” is believed to be an abbreviation of “Epsom Mad Funkers”, a name taken from a fan club of the band New Order.

The initials were rumoured at times to stand for something else.

The song, “Head the Ball”, which featured on the remix single release of “Lies,” featured the repeating lines “Electromotive Force” and “Ecstasy Mother F******” during the song, the two most commonly rumoured names.

On the album “Schubert Dip” from 1991, after “Longtime” there is a hidden track called “EMF”. In this, the chorus lyrics start off with “E for Ecstasy, M for my minds in my feet, F from us to you”.

They then move on to “E for Ecstasy, M for mother f***** mother f*****, F from us to you”.

The band was signed by EMI/Parlophone after four concerts, without even being asked for a demo tape.


James Atkin (vocals, guitars), born James Saul Atkin, 28 March 1969, Birmingham

Ian Dench (guitars, keyboards), born 7 August 1964, Cheltenham

Derry Brownson (keyboards and samples), born 10 November 1970, Gloucester

Mark Decloedt (drums), born 26 June 1969, Gloucester

Zac Foley (bass), born Zachary Sebastian Rex James Foley, 9 December 1970, Gloucester; died on 3 January 2002 of a drug overdose. The remaining members of EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002, before deciding to split up, until reforming again in 2007.

  • Milf (Dj scratcher), born 30 May 1969 Gloucester
  • Tim Stephens (guitars), born 23 January 1980, Bath
  • Stevey Marsh (bass guitar), born 15 August 1980, Portsmouth

They originally formed with the DJ Milf EMF, who then formed his own band called Stateside Hombres, who toured with James Brown and the Fun Lovin Criminals.

All the members were relatively well known in the local music scene before forming EMF in Cinderford, in October 1989.

Brownson had formed a band called Flowerdrum with his brother Leigh, but left to join Foley, Decloedt and Atkin as EMF.

Dench was last to join, having already tasted moderate success as a member of Apple Mosaic.

Their music mixed light techno elements with rockier sounds – EMF regularly used samplers and sequencers.

It has often been argued that EMF’s music was influenced by Jesus Jones.

In fact, the two bands formed a close relationship.  Their music has also been counted as part of Madchester and alternative dance.

They toured the UK in 1990 with Stereo MCs, who were at that point relatively unknown.

In 1990, their debut “Unbelievable” topped the charts in many countries around the world, reaching number one in the US in July 1991.

The single featured sampled utterances from comedian Andrew Dice Clay.

In 1991, EMF released their debut album Schubert Dip which went to number 3 in the UK.

The name was explained by songwriter Ian Dench, as “If ever I’m short of a chord sequence I nick one from Schubert.”

Successful singles from their debut included “I Believe“, “Children”, and “Lies”. “Lies” turned controversial for including a voice sample of Mark Chapman, John Lennon‘s murderer.

Yoko Ono achieved an injunction, and a modified version was included in future pressings.

In 1992, EMF returned with the Unexplained EP (including a cover version of “Search and Destroy“) and later Stigma, their second album.

Both of these releases did poorly in the charts. The singles were “Getting Through”, “They’re Here“, and “It’s You“.

Also in 1992, EMF appeared on the Red Hot Organization‘s dance compilation album, Red Hot + Dance, contributing an original track, “Unbelievable (The Hovering Feet Mix)”.

The album attempted to raise awareness and money in support of the AIDS epidemic, and all proceeds were donated to AIDS charities.

Until their 1995 album, Cha Cha Cha, EMF effectively disappeared from sight. This album featured the singles “Perfect Day” and “Bleeding You Dry“.

In 1995, EMF teamed up with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and recorded “I’m a Believer“, a cover of The Monkees song.

This single reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. The band then released Afro King which failed to do well.

After this, the band split for the first time. However, all members of the band continued to play music.

In 2001, EMF gave a reunion gig in London. They also released a best of album, Epsom Mad Funkers: The Best of EMF.

The band’s bass guitarist, Zac Foley, died on 3 January 2002  at the age of 31, due to an overdose of non-prescribed drugs.

EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002, before splitting up again.

In 2005, Kraft Foods used EMF’s “Unbelievable” in their Kraft Crumbles advertisement campaign.

The original song’s chorus, “You’re unbelievable”, was replaced with the product claim: “It’s crumbelievable”.

The advertisement was later parodied by Stephen Colbert on his show The Colbert Report.

In 2007, the band announced they would be reforming to play a one-off gig at the Scala in King’s Cross, London, on 18 December.

The place of Foley was taken by Richard March, formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself and Bentley Rhythm Ace.

In 2007, Hallmark Cards used EMF’s “Unbelievable” in their musical Mother’s Day Cards advertising campaign.

The mother was shown opening the card, heard the daughter say “Mom you Rock” followed by the music of EMF.

In 2008, EMF played the Portsmouth Festival on 9 October, and supported Carter USM at Birmingham Academy and London’s Brixton Academy in November that year.

In May 2009, EMF announced that due to personal issues, the band would not be doing any more shows in the near future, thus ending their second reunion.

In January 2012, it was confirmed  that they would be reforming to play at the upcoming festival Lakefest in Tewkesbury, alongside Levellers, Dodgy and The Swing Man on 18 and 19 May.

For the first time they will be performing every track from Schubert Dip live, in order to coincide with the 21st anniversary re-release.

The band is headlining at The Westbury Festival on Saturday, 25 August 2012.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Year Album UK US
1991 Schubert Dip 3 12

1992 Stigma 19
1995 Cha Cha Cha 30



Year Album UK US
2001 Epsom Mad Funkers: The Best of EMF


Year Album
2013 Long Live the New Flesh

Singles and EPs

1990 Unbelievable 3 5 9 20 3 6 4 9 8 8 12 1 3 9 Schubert Dip

Schubert Dip
1991 I Believe 6 2 26 6 28 32 54 35 10
“Children” 19 5 40 18 49 39 26
“Lies” 28 18 99 18 27 6

1992 Unexplained EP 18 16 Unexplained EP

They’re Here 29 27 5 Stigma
It’s You 23

1995 Perfect Day 27 Cha Cha Cha
Bleeding You Dry(UK promo only)

I’m a Believer 3 17 singles only
Afro King 51


2001 “Incredible” The Best of EMF: Epsom Mad Funkers
“Let’s Go”



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