Vince Clarke has been innovative in the world of electronic music, becoming a pioneer for this high-tech sound. He was a founding member of the highly successful group Depeche Mode before leaving it to form Yaz with Alison Moyet. In 1985, he recruited Andy Bell to create Erasure, writing huge British hits like "Chains of Love" and "Always."
To make the season bright the duo has created the CD Snow Globe, which is full of seasonal favorites such as "White Christmas" and "Silent Nightcomplete with the act's signature spin.
Nunn on One called the man behind the music for a bit of a chat.
Windy City Times: How did you go about picking out the tracks on this new CD?
Vince Clarke: Andy originally came up with most of the ideas. We were looking to do some common songs like "White Christmas." We wanted to do some unusual songs like "Midnight Clear," too. It was just a matter of finding tracks that were unique and we could do something more interesting.
WCT: You wrote "Bells of Love ( Isabelle's of Love )." There is a line: "I don't believe in your religion." Are you a nonreligious person?
Vince Clarke: How that song came about was that my niece Isabelle is a big fan of John Lennon. When I was in the studio for a week I wanted to write a song in the style of John Lennon. So that is how that song came about and that line, too. It is inspired by John Lennon.
WCT: Now I get it.
Vince Clarke: I'm not saying it is anything as good as John Lennon but that was the way it started.
WCT: "Silent Night" seems very stripped-down. Was the idea to keep things simple?
Vince Clarke: To be honest, I was not very enthusiastic about making a Christmas album. It's because Christmas records are so overdone. To make it interesting the approach was to strip everything back. They are good songs, melodies, and lyrics but I wanted to take them back to very basic chords. These things have been covered in every style imaginable. It was really finding a way to present these songs in a different light. Cutting them back was a way to go forward.
WCT: You made this in your studio in Brooklyn?
Vince Clarke: Yeah, the recording was done here in New York and the mixing was done in London.
WCT: Were there tracks that didn't make the album that you really liked?
Vince Clarke: Not really. We were very careful about choosing tracks that we wanted to record. There was a list of songs that we could have tried. Andy and I picked the ones that we could actually do interesting things with. There were no extra tracks at all. We did the ones that we felt right for the album.
WCT: There is a deluxe box set that has a few extra songs in it, though.
Vince Clarke: Yes, but that is an old record company thing. Basically what happens is you record an album and then they ask you to make another one. That's a joke...
WCT: Are you doing any live dates with Snow Globe?
Vince Clarke: There was talk of doing a tour around it but we decided instead of doing a small tour that we wanted to do a big tour. We will do a big one next year and, hopefully, lead into Christmas then we could do songs from this album on the tour.
WCT: Good idea. Are you planning something big for the 30th anniversary of the group being together?
Vince Clarke: Has it really been that long? [Both laugh.] I really don't know. Right now there are no plans yet. I'm sure we will do something. Hopefully just another party and get drunk!
WCT: How do you keep up with technology after all of these years?
Vince Clarke: I read the tech magazines. Certain things are recommended to me by people. Anytime someone suggest something then I am willing to try it out. I'm a techie guy so I am bound to be interested in it. It is not really a need to keep up, it is just that I am interested in that shit. If someone gets me to check it out then I will.
WCT: I recently spoke to Alison Moyet about her new music. How was it getting back together with her for a bit?
Vince Clarke: It was great and really cool. It was an opportunity for Alison and I to actually get to know each other, which we have never done before. It has been a long time since we worked together. Lots of things have happened in our lives, kids, all of that stuff. It was really nice to know someone that I didn't know before and I think it was the same for Alison.
WCT: She said great things about the reunion. Depeche Mode is still out touring and put on a phenomenal show recently.
Vince Clarke: I know. They are like the bloody Rolling Stones now!
WCT: When are you coming back to Chicago on tour?
Vince Clarke: I was there last Thursday. I spun records at Reggie's.
WCT: I didn't know about it.
Vince Clarke: I don't think it was promoted very well. It was nice to be back in Chicago. People there are always polite to us and friendly. The next time will be during an Erasure tour so next year. Just before it gets really cold...
WCT: So new music next year?
Vince Clarke: Andy and I are writing a proper new Erasure album in the spring of next year.
WCT: Do you have any snow globes yourself from all of your travels?
Vince Clarke: Actually I do. I have a snow globe in the studio. I don't know where it came from. When we were in the studio singing Andy actually came up with the idea that might be a good title for the album. I'm looking at the snow globe right now as we speak.
Keep up with the man himself at www.vinceclarkemusic.com and Erasure at www.erasureinfo.com .