4AD three piece group, Colourbox consisted of two brothers - Martyn and Steve Young - and the vocal talents of Lorita Grahame. The name of the group came about in 1982 when when Martyn, Steven and Ian Robbins, with vocalist Debian Curry, had come up with a tape and needed a name to go with it. Flipping through a film book, they came up with the title of a 1937 animated film, a name which equally apply to a TV set or a paintbox.
This lineup produced the single "Breakdown" before Ian left the group and the two Young brothers from South London started looking for a soul singer, who they found in Lorita Grahame. Influenced by scratch/rap records from New York and spaghetti westerns from their TV set, Martyn and Steven explored the possibilities of the recording studio with Lorita adding her classy vocals to the group's debut album "Colourbox".
The result is a fresh, yet familiar mix of pop styles. Colourbox were known for their willingness to explore new ideas and the ability to charge off in all directions at once. They were a group confident that their records can and do stand on their own.
At a time when he was even younger than his mid-twenties, Martyn was in several groups with some friends including Colourbox's manager Ray Conroy. He came across a synthesizer and spent a year learning how it worked along with other instruments and how to get the maximum number of sounds out of it. This led him to form the first Colourbox lineup with his brother Steven and Ian Robbins with singer Debian Curry. They recorded a tape which led to their signing to the 4AD label. Martyn had emerged as a key figure in the group through his writing, playing and production efforts. Having produced the debut album, Martyn is modest about his achievements, preferring to let the record do the talking.
Steven Young started his musical career in a "sort of punk band" The Nobodyz, doing support gigs for such groups as The Psychedelic Furs in the early part of their career. A multi-instrumentalist, Steven is a quiet partner in the group, co-writing the songs with his brother Martyn from such influences as Alfred Hitchcock, spaghetti westerns and reggae rhythms.
When Martyn and Steven put an ad in the music papers for a soulful singer, Lorita Grahame was one of about 30 singers who auditioned. She came from Leicester (where she still lives), armed with a background in church choir and one single - "Young, Free And Single" (Intense Records). Since late 1983 she has travelled to the studio adding vocals to the diverse music the group explores.
Colourbox released only one proper album, 1985's self-titled "Colourbox".
In 1987, 4AD records suggested that Martyn and Steven team up with AR Kane, another group on the label. They also brought in scratch master CJ Mackintosh and DJ Dave Dorrell and produced the underground dance classic "Pump Up The Volume" (1987) under the name M|A|R|R|S, which featured an urban flavored house beat and revolutionary scratching and sample-dropping. It was a breakthrough effort heralding sampling's gradual absorption from hip hop into dance music and ultimately the pop mainstream and it soon topped the British charts (and shot into the top 10 of other countries as well), the first 4AD release to accomplish the feat.
After "Pump Up The Volume", Colourbox disappeared. Aside from Lorita Grahame showing up on a couple random dance tracks and Martyn producing a few remixes in the early 90s, the members of Colourbox have not been heard from since apart from the 2001 compilation "Best Of 82/87", compiled by the band themselves.
The Young brothers also collaborated with 4AD's This Mortal Coil while Lorita Grahame joined Love Child Orchestra and Ian Robbins has been active in music, touring with Modern English in 1996 among other projects.
Steve Biggs played bass in the earliest version of Colourbox, to later be replaced by Ian Robbins. William Orbit (guitar), Steve Wright (guitar), Michael Smith (drums) and Bunny McKenzine (harmonica) appeared on the group's self-titled 1985 album.
The last official Colourbox recording was "Hot Doggie", a brash and fiesty song included on the 1987 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" (GAD 703 CD, and video cassette VAD 703).
in 2012, 4AD issued a deluxe four compact disc set of the entire Colourbox catalog, lovingly remastered and supervised by Martyn Young. This is a fitting tribute to a band that made such an uncompromising and memorable impression upon the music world.