Arch, elegant British pop singer and songwriter Sarah Nixey is best known as the icy-voiced chanteuse of Black Box Recorder, a trio whose combination of melodic sweetness, bleakly cynical social commentary, and electronic pop eclecticism brought them a cult audience and some amount of (British) chart success around the turn of the millennium.
Nixey was singing in the folk band Balloon when her bandmates Luke Haines (formerly of the Auteurs) and John Moore (formerly of the Jesus and Mary Chain) proposed that she join them as the vocalist for a new pop project they had conceived, promising that it would make her famous. Black Box Recorder went on to release three albums and a B-sides compilation between 1998 and 2003, and thereafter went on hiatus without officially breaking up, although Nixey and Moore, who had married in 2001 before the release of the third album, and had a daughter together, divorced in 2006. (All three members of the group resurfaced in holiday season of 2007 for a one-of collaboration single with members of Art Brut, "Christmas Number One," which was credited to the Black Arts.) Also in 2006, Nixey emerged as a solo artist with the singles "Strangelove" and "The Collector," for which she collaborated with another ex-member of the Auteurs, producer/programmer/writer James Banbury. Throughout her tenure with the band, Nixey had served strictly as the singer for Haines' and Moore's compositions and sardonic lyrics (a disconnect played up when she intoned "this is Sarah Nixey talking" on Passionoia's "Andrew Ridgely"), but for her solo debut, 2007's dance-pop oriented Sing, Memory, released on Banbury's ServiceAV label -- which opened with the same spoken message -- she wrote the melodies and notably more emotionally empathetic lyrics for all but two of the songs, one of them a cover of the early Human League song "The Black Hit of Space." Nixey also contributed vocals for Banbury's abstract electronic project InfantJoy and Luke Haines' 2006 album Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi