Alien Skin is George Pappas -- formerly of classic '80s Aussie new wavers Real Life -- in a one-man solo project. The music very much mines the territory of turn of the century Real Life -- combination of synth pop and darkwave, only with the emphasis on ominous. Pappas joined Real Life through a mutual girlfriend with band drummer Danny Simcic and replaced Steve Williams (who replaced founder Richard Zatorski) as Real Life's keyboardist. For a band as electronically grounded as Real Life, these were huge shoes to fill. Yet David Sterry encouraged Pappas to be as innovative as he could be and to add his own touch to Real Life's signature sound. The result was a much darker, scarier band -- still based on synth hooks and singalong choruses, but now based much more in industrial-themed rhythms and goth overtones.
Pappas was instrumental in the construction of Real Life's reinvention on the Happy album in 1997, and was then given the daunting task of programming all of Real Life's music for their sensational 1998 world tour. Again, Sterry gave him complete creative freedom and encouraged Pappas to add his own sensibilities as the co-founder of the "new" Real Life. His sensibilities are definitely reflected in the changes Real Life underwent from Zatorski in the '80s to Pappas in the '90s.
After returning from a tour, Pappas -- feeling constrained by the boundaries of playing the songs of others night after night -- decided he wanted to create a solo project. The seeds of Alien Skin were planted then, but the project would not come till years later. The next matter was creating Real Life's follow-up to Happy, Imperfection. And it was while creating Imperfection that Pappas began to do serious battle with the chronic Crohn's disease, threatening his health and the future of Real Life. Despite his illness, Pappas did his best to finish Imperfection -- even completing some of the bonus remixes -- and the result is a tense, life- or death-sounding record. The night before Pappas was hospitalized, he came up with the concept of the song "Alien Skin" as a way of describing his condition to others. The name stuck and became the name of his eventual side project as well.
Alien Skin released its first album, Don't Open Till Doomsday, in 2008 and Pappas started up a website devoted to Alien Skin and electronic music in general. He feels Kraftwerk are the template for electronic bands and the minimalism of the German band shows through in his own music, which ranges from dark and brooding ("The Outer Limits") to darkwave dance ("The Spirit Is Willing"). Pappas is a true gentleman, a courageous fighter, and a fantastic musician. Expect remarkable things from him on the heels of Don't Open Till Doomsday. It is most likely only the beginning of Alien Skin, which warrants Pappas a hardcore fan base worthy of his phenomenal work with Real Life. It will be quite interesting to see which direction he goes with his next project.