(By our UK correspondent Simon Helm of Cold War Nightlife) A few days ago we posted a review of the first solo concert of Vince Clarke at the LSESU in London, with Sunroof (comprising Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones), and today we present you a review of the additional Q&A session featuring Daniel Miller which took place at Rough Trade East on Sunday, November 19th.
Vince Clarke needs no introduction, so Daniel Miller didn’t give him one. The mastermind behind Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, and Erasure, Clarke was in London to perform his solo album, Songs of Silence. A Q&A session at Rough Trade East allowed the Mute label boss to put some questions to Clarke and talk about their shared history.
When Vince Clarke met Daniel Miller
The first time Clarke and Miller met was a bit of a disaster. Dressed up in futurist clothes, Clarke had travelled from Basildon with Dave Gahan to pitch Depeche Mode’s demo tape to London-based labels. When they tried Rough Trade, the counter staff pointed them at Miller, who was in the back preparing the artwork for a Fad Gadget record. When the Mute man emerged, he took one look at the Mode boys and kept walking.
Miller chuckles at the lost opportunity, which he recovered from when Depeche Mode supported Fad Gadget at the Bridgehouse in Canning Town. He notes a controversy that has arisen because Stevo, the notorious Soft Cell manager and Some Bizarre label boss, has claimed that he “let” Miller “have” Depeche Mode for Mute. Rubbish. Depeche Mode did what they wanted – and, as Clarke confirms, that was to work with the genius behind The Normal, Silicon Teens, and the sound of Fad Gadget.
The lockdown stopped Erasure from working together
On to the new album. Clarke explains that lockdown stopped Erasure from working together. Inspired by repeated viewings of Bladerunner 2049, he decided to make the soundtrack for a sequel in his basement studio using modular kit. Drones provided the fluidity, while additional elements were layered on top. “It was never intended as a record,” Clarke said. “It was really just for me to learn to use the synthesizer.”
When Miller asked Clarke what he was up to, some tracks were passed across, and Miller suggested they become an album. “I was in total shock, because it wasn’t what I intended,” Clarke told the audience.
The only track with lyrics used a recording of a traditional miner’s union song, which Clarke had struggled to set to music previously. Miller explained that it proved impossible to track down the rights holder for the vocals – drawing a laugh when he explained that Mute would “Take care of them.”
New Erasure album in the making
Clarke revealed that there is a new Erasure album planned for release next year, but he has not played the music to Andy Bell, yet. “We never write remotely. It just doesn’t work for us. We have to be in the same room, at the same time, to make a complete song.”
Miller let on that there is more coming from the Erasure camp. “Andy [Bell] is also working on a solo album at the moment.” No word whether it will also feature Eurorack modules or found sound, but it will undoubtedly come with its own stories.
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