Martin Gore On Techno, EDM, New Depeche Mode Music, & Soccer In Cali
[pullquote quote="When I went back to writing normal songs, I went back with more energy and more enthusiasm and creativity. " credit="Martin Gore on VCMG's Influence On Depeche Mode"]“I’m into juicing now. Just mix up loads of stuff. Kale, spinach, loads of vegetables. Put a bit of juice in just to sweeten it up.” Essex, England-born, Martin Gore, the multifaceted musician and primary songwriter for Depeche Mode, divulged a little on his “healthier” lifestyle since he moved to California about twelve years ago.
Laughing, Gore said, “Believe or not, I play more soccer here than I ever did in England because you feel like playing it more because it’s hotter. You don’t have to deal with the cold and the rain.”
Not words one would expect from the writer of dark, sexy synthpop songs like “Everything Counts” and “Personal Jesus.”
Or from the current collaborator on a primordial, minimalist techno project called VCMG with founding Depeche Mode member, Vince Clarke, who is known best for his work with two other synthpop groups, Erasure and Yazoo. Their début album, SSSS, under their initialed moniker, comes out tomorrow.
In a brief chat, Gore elaborated on how, after about thirty years, he started making music with Clarke again, how Gore’s been “listening to techno for years,” his feelings on being a musical icon who can be “cited as an influence by people in really diverse musical fields,” and how the upcoming Depeche Mode album is coming along.
[pullquote quote="The whole album was made without us actually meeting in person without very many--well any--conversation."]“Making this album with Vince was very different way of working for me,” said Gore about his new album with Vince Clarke for the VCMG project.
Entitled SSSS (like the sound of a snake hissing), Gore said that despite the electronic influences in Depeche Mode, SSSS is the first real “dance” album he’s ever created. It’s also the first time he’s ever written an album through internet file sharing.
“I’ve never done the whole file-sharing thing before,” admitted Gore. “The whole album was made without us actually meeting in person without very many–well any–conversations.”
“That was a completely different process. Very liberating and quite exciting to wake up every day and go to your inbox and see if there was anything from Vince and what he’d done to the last incarnation of the track.”
With only a “handful of meetings since 1981″ when both Gore and Clarke were living in London, the pair didn’t physically touch base until after the “whole recording process” was finished.
They didn’t even have a telephone conversation until they needed to discuss things like what their project name would be, what the album would be entitled, and what the artwork would be like.
According to Gore, the two never knew each other well and Gore learned “more about Vince in two days last week” during the VCMG interview process than he’s “ever know about him.”
[pullquote quote="It was interesting in doing these interviews with Vince last week. I found out that he didn't really know that much about techno music. "]“When we were together in the band, the band was only together in that line-up from March 1980 to about October-November 1981 and we didn’t go on huge world tours at that time,” confessed Gore. “Our touring was twenty dates over a three-week period or something like that. Maybe a few less.”
“But, we didn’t live long periods of time together, so we weren’t really close friends, even when we were in the band back then.”
“So, it was interesting in doing these interviews with Vince last week. I found out that he didn’t really know that much about techno music,” continued Gore, telling the story of how Clarke got into the world of techno. “He really got into it a couple of years ago.”
“He was asked to do a remix for Plastikman. While he was doing that remix he thought that he should just do a bit of research into the genre, into more techno. He started listening to a bit of it and then he got into Beatport.”
“So, he thought that he’d try to do something in the techno field and then he started off working on a couple of tracks. He thought he should collaborate with somebody just to have a sounding board. And for some reason, he thought me,” concluded Gore. “He just sent me an e-mail. That’s how we started working on the thing.”
However, Gore isn’t himself isn’t a new fan of techno. The Depeche Mode songwriter said that he’s been DJ’ing for “quite a few years” which is “maybe why Vince thought of me as a possible collaborator.”
[pullquote quote="I've been listening to it for a long time. I even DJ occasionally, and whenever I DJ, I play techno music."]“I’ve been listening to techno for a long time,” elucidated Gore. “Since the early ’90s/late ’80s. I don’t even know when the first Plastikman album came out, but that was the first minimal thing I’d ever heard.”
“Mute, our record label, had a techno subsidiary called Novamute that had a load of techno music. I’ve been listening to it for a long time. I even DJ occasionally, and whenever I DJ, I play techno music.”
In a Rolling Stone article, Gore said the reason he likes “techno music is it’s kind of almost caveman-like, a Neanderthal drive.” When asked if he had to tap into something a bit more primordial to write techno music versus write a Depeche Mode album, Gore responded, “There are definitely emotions that you create when you put together sound.”
[pullquote quote="This the first real dance album that I've ever really worked on."]“It almost has to have that four-on-the-floor driving beat which kind of makes it a bit Caveman-like,” Gore continued. “I really like that….The very funny thing I think–we were talking about this the other day–this the first real dance album that I’ve ever really worked on.”
“You know, obviously Depeche Mode has put out remix albums over the years, but that’s remixes that have been done mainly by other people. But, you know, with this album it was really aiming for the dance floor. I mean, every track is between 126 and 128 bpm.”
Many credit Depeche Mode with being the fathers of the current electronic dance movement, or EDM. Gore stayed humble about his influence on electronic music, even when we called him a “musical icon.”
“I think the only reason people possibly say that is because of the way we used electronic instruments and drum machines or whatever,” said Gore about Depeche Mode’s influence on EDM. “I suppose it was there really early on, that technology, and that inspired a lot of people. “
“I think it is nice to be recognized and I like the fact that we seem to be cited as influences by people in really diverse musical fields.“
“I think that’s really a testament to something that we’ve done. I’m not quite sure what it is, but it’s a testament to something,” continued Gore, talking about his impact on different generations of music lovers.
Gore, who seems open to musical evolution, confessed that working on VCMG has helped him come at new Depeche Mode material with a fresh perspective.
[pullquote quote="Technology has just changed so much...It was a feat just to get a drum machine just to run in time with a sequencer back when we started. Now you've almost got endless possibilities. "]“The good thing about doing this side project was it was really fun and it also kept me away from doing what I normally do for quite a period of time,” explained Gore. “So when I went back to writing normal songs, I went back with more energy and more enthusiasm and creativity.”
According to Gore, Depeche Mode is set to “start in the studio at the end of March,” “all the songs are written,” and the band “won’t finish until probably the end of November this year.”
Gore also admitted that the unlimited musical possibilities of modern technology has influenced his writing style since Depeche Mode’s inception about three decades ago.
“Technology has just changed so much,” said Gore. “It was a feat just to get a drum machine just to run in time with a sequencer back when we started.”
“Now you’ve almost got endless possibilities and you almost have to reign that in because you could go on forever working on something.”