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Never Heard of Zenana? Turns Out Their Forgotten 1986 Song Might Just be Europe's Next Club Banger

After recording one single before splitting, the all-female trio are making the most unlikely comeback, thanks to a chance find by a Bristol DJ.

zenana
Source: Facebook / zenana

The 80s synth trio are set for an extraordinary comeback.

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It has to qualify as one of the longest and most unlikely comebacks in pop history, but for Zenana, a Milton-Keynes band who recorded one single before splitting in 1987, a second shot at stardom could be on the way. Or first shot, strictly speaking.

The all-female trio, made up of Anita Gabrielle Tedder, Penny Griffiths and Ruth Elder, have been signed to an Amsterdam record label nearly 40 years after releasing their sole recording – and the only single they released together is proving a smash in clubs across Europe.

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Source: instagram / zenanawiththespelloflove

Zenana, whose name is Persian for “of the women”, formed in 1983 and after building a cult local following around Milton Keynes, signed with the independent record label PRM and in 1986 recorded their sole single, “Witches”, a synth-heavy number that drew on the emerging Chicago House sounds while keeping a firmly poppy sensibility (imagine Bananarama after a visit to the Hacienda).

Sadly for the band, the single failed to trouble the charts and the trio disbanded shortly after.

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Fast forward 35 years, and in May 2022, Tedder was contacted through Facebook by Bristol-based DJ Kiernan Abbot, who at 24, would not even be born until 13 years after Zenana’s demise. He explained that whilst holidaying in Dorset, he had stumbled across “Witches” in a second-hand record shop and bought it on a whim.

“It’s quite strange, almost a bit spiritual, the way it came about,” he told the Daily Mail. “For the past ten years I’ve been involved in an underground scene collecting 80s music from synth bands. People are always looking for new music from groups that have been overlooked.

“So I was in a record shop doing my thing and I saw this single, ‘Witches’. I bought it without any idea how it would sound and then listened to it when I got home. Once I heard it, the drum beat and the synth kicked in, and I thought, ‘This is something I can really play to people!’”

Source: instagram / zenanawiththespelloflove
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True to his word. Abbot began playing the song at his own DJ nights, before sharing the single with other DJs, where it picked up a following in clubs in Los Angeles, Vienna, Paris and Amsterdam… and has now led to the Dutch label Rush Hour signing Zenana on a fresh deal.

“Witches” is now set for a fresh release on remastered 12 inch vinyl and digital, along with an extended remix by Bedmo Disco (DJ Matt Anniss and Gareth Morgon).

Speaking to the BBC about their unlikely resurrection, Tedder said: “It’s been a roller coaster,” adding, “If you’d told me in my 70th year I would ever be signing a record deal, I would have never have considered it. It’s amazing.

“I couldn’t have seen it coming. I can’t get over how unexpected it is. You just never ever know quite where life is going to lead you, so I think we’re really just taking one day at a time. We’re just going to enjoy every moment.”

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