|Origin||Wibsey, Bradford, England|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, piano|
Born Susan Whincup in Wibsey, Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1959, Fassbender began studying classical piano, clarinet and timpani (later also playing synthesizer) at age 13. Eventually, she met up with guitarist Kay Russell who would become her songwriting partner throughout her career. Both women wrote lyrics and melodies together. Prior to their collaboration, Russell was with poet Nick Toczek in a Bradford based new wave outfit called Ulterior Motives.
Soon signed to independent record label Criminal Records after impressing their future manager Alan Brown at a musical instrument shop, Fassbender and Russell wrote "Twilight Café" which was released in 1980. Two appearances on BBC Television's Top of the Pops followed in January 1981, with a band also consisting of drummer Gary Walsh and bassist Mike Close. By this point ownership of the single had passed from Criminal to CBS Records owing to popular demand. In March 1981 Fassbender appeared on German television programme, Disco.
Two other singles followed soon after; "Stay" and "Merry-Go-Round". "Stay", the second single, was promoted by an appearance on Cheggers Plays Pop, a children's programme. Both tracks were collaborations between Fassbender and Russell. In January 1982, Fassbender and Russell appeared on another British TV show, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, to promote "Merry-Go-Round".
After the release of the latter singles, Susan Fassbender and Kay Russell both retired temporarily from the music industry, to marry and for Fassbender to raise three children. Further songs were written, separately and together, by both women, but no further interest was shown by the music industry in releasing the new material. A new album of un-released Fassbender and Russell demos was released on iTunes and Amazon on 30 April 2012.
Susan Fassbender committed suicide in 1991. Kay Russell did make some remarks via a chat site saying:
"Years ago, Susan was my best mate, and we wrote songs both together and separately. It was a bit weird and strange – we seemed to be able to write in ANY style, when we were writing together.
We did form the band, but the "powers that be" tried to tell us in which "style" we should write & perform, to make money. So, when there was a meeting of various A & R guys where we were rehearsing, these people said, "Give us something we can sell". So we tried to do it, & that's how "Twilight Cafe" came about.
We did get a recording contract, on the strength of this one song, and two further singles were brought out – "Stay" and "Merry-Go-Round". Because these didn't hit the charts in any big way, we got the sack before we could release our first album. After that, Susan and I both got married and had kids.
When we had the time, later, to get together and talk, we showed each other what we'd written and sung in our spare time... it was a bit sad, actually, because she liked my songs and I liked hers but nothing came of this due to the fact that we were both busy living a different life then. No matter... I continue to have ideas and to write songs, even though I'm 58 yrs old now."
- "Twilight Café" / "(We'll) Get Around It" (1980)
- "Stay" / "Comment Ça Va" (24 April 1981) – released as "Fassbender–Russell"
- "Merry-Go-Round" / "Reasons" (1981)
"Twilight Café" was released on Criminal Records and later CBS in both the UK and Germany, and on Lark Records in Belgium and the Netherlands, also later on CBS. The latter two singles reverted to Criminal and Lark. "Twilight Café" was also available as a 12" maxi single in Germany. All tracks were written by Fassbender and Russell.
- Twilight Café (April 2012, Platform Records)
In 2012, Platform Records released Twilight Café (The Demo Collection 1981–1985), a 20 track album of previously unavailable recordings from Susan Fassbender and Kay Russell. The collection included the original demo version of the duo's hit single, as well as other songs familiar to Fassbender/Russell fans, including several of those featured on the second and final of their CBS 7" singles. The release contained 70 minutes of music, remastered from cassette tapes preserved by Kay Russell.
- Record Mirror, Page 8, "Into the Twilight zone", 24 January 1981