Interview with webmasters of 3 French websites (Pimpf, Unusual & French Violation) (Paris, January 2000)01.01.2000
Paris, January 2000
JB: Is Paris a good city to party?
AW: It has been a long time since I haven't been clubbing in Paris, I prefer to go out sit at cafés.
G: What do you like most in the atmosphere of Paris?
AW: What I like most here is to seat at a café all day, and be there eating and drinking all day...
JY: It's easier to create a website about DM in order to speak about Recoil.
JB: There are lot of fans of DM who don't know what Recoil is, or may just have heard the name. They know that Recoil is Alan Wilder, without knowing more about it (mostly in France). It's a small market for Recoil.
AW: It's difficult to get radio airplay, the web is the better way to keep people aware of the news of Recoil. It's not a music really commercial, there are people who listen to it and don't like it. Most of the people who listen to Recoil also listen to DM. If they also know the history of DM, they know a bit of the beginning of the history of Recoil. We made this survey on the Shunt website, we haven't yet given the results. One of the questions was: "Are you a fan of DM and Recoil, or only Recoil?" Nobody said he was a fan of only Recoil. The majority said that they are fans of both, or that they are fans of DM and get interested a bit in Recoil. Everybody has a bit of this DM background. The people who listen to Recoil are aware that to know Recoil, you have to know DM first. It's where the problem comes from. That doens't disturbs me that fans of DM listen to Recoil, but i'd like to see also other people getting interested and listening to Recoil. Also the people who go visiting your sites (Recoil) often come by links from other DM websites. It's hard to get other people visitng Recoil websites (like mine) without coming through DM websites.
G: It's what we try to, myself, JY and the others, it's to push people into listening to other musical styles and other artists than DM.
AW: If you ever sat that Recoil it's Alan Wilder, who was part of DM, people will expect to find the influence of DM on Recoil, and nothing else.
JB: It's the usual cliché. It's Alan Wilder, who was a member of DM, so his music must looks like the one of DM, but that's not the case.
JB: So to get back to Liquid, you started to work on it in September 1999...
AW: 1998, but it was only to record the musicians on a few days. After that, I've done nothing for the following few months. I really started to work on it only on September 1998. The first demos were ready at that time, so I was able to work on other steps of the making of Liquid. Since September, I started to work more actively, without having to work every day. Only 2 to 3 days a week. I started to ut together all the different ideas I had in my mind, and as the project progress I work more and more. At the end it's more 7 days a week and 24 h a day. Well it represents quite a year of work.
JB: Did it take you more time to do it than on the other Recoil Albums?
AW: Well quite the same time as Unsound Methods.
G: Were you influenced by a special ambient to make this new album, compared to UM? Did you work in a different way ?
AW: It was not really different than UM except that I wanted to work with new artists, people different from the other albums. I wanted first to record the musicians to give me a base of samples and material to work on the new album. The work was done in the same way, building from time to time the music,trying new experiences, without really knowing where I was going for a moment, until I contacted the new singers.
JB: Did you have any idea about the people you wanted to work with?
AW: I had some people in my mind, but that changed as I progress in my work....It's the music that suggests me the artists I must take. I haven't thought of anyone in particular like Diamanda Galas, for example, until I had the music for that track (Strange Hours). When I heard her, I knew when I heard her that it was her that I wanted, she's got that blues / gospel aspect that I needed for that song. I thought that she was the perfect person for that. It's the way that I work at least.
G: Was it the same thing for Jezebel ?
AW: Jezebel, it was really an exception from the others because that song was created from the singing part, because it's a sample. It was a different way to work, because the music came to me when I was listening to the words. So I could easilly put a music on this lyrics. It was more the way DM used to work, because with DM we used to write the lyrics first.It looked like the way I used to work before. Finally, after listening, it's the track that sticks the more out of the album. In fact, we have thought of releasing it as a single, but it is not the most representative of the whole album.
G: It is the most special track on the album!
AW: Yes, finally it's the most commercial track of the album. It would get lot of airplay on the radio.
JB: To get back to singers, are there some of them who refused to work with you? For example, you would like to have a certain singer for a specific song? Telling yourself it's this man or this woamn I'd like to have for that song, and finally refusing to do it for some special reason?
AW: No, we didn't had this problem. But we did record with someone, and I was not really happy of the results.
JB: Was it a song rejected from Liquid?
AW: It's a title that is in Liquid and that is performed by Nicole (Blackman), Chrome in fact, that we did record with someone else, but that didn't fit well. It was a man, and I won't tell you who he is. And by the way you won't ask me! The fact of someone who wasn't available to work on the album happened, because I asked someone to participate and he was busy at that time. But he would have liked to do it.
G: Was it Douglas (McCarthy)? Because lot of people wanted to know why Douglas wasn't part of the new Recoil?
AW: No, because...
G: You wanted to do something new?
AW: Exactly, that's the only reason.
JB: In order to promote Recoil, you launched a site on Internet. Is it hard for you to answer to the fans day after day, doesn't it becomes a routine for you?
AW: It does take time, and that can represent quite a lot of work. But it's the part of th site that is the most popular, it's what people like most. That's what makes the website special. that doesn't disturb me to do it, we choose purposely th questions, so that they can be different from what the medias used to ask. Trying it to answer it with humour, in a funny way, it's good to have different kind of questions. The artists should get more involved and be more interactive with the fans. As I don't tour or do any concert, it's my only way to communicate directly with the fans.
G: It's good thing you do with Shunt, and the relations you have with the Recoil webmasters. You give us all the news directly in a fast way.
AW: Both our sites gain from that kind of relation. You helped me in some way for what's concerning Recoil on the web , and I like it. And if you're a fan, you learn more and you know more about the person from who you are a fan. This relation works in both ways. And now Recoil has an important presence on the web thanks to this kind of relation.
JB: Concerning Internet and your relations with the fans, they recieve frequently an e-mail from the Shunt team, what is the Shunt team exactly?
AW: It's me and Hep.
G: You are the ones who answer us really?
AW: Yes, most of the times. In fact now we have Richard Berry who's in charge of Edge. Do you know the website Edge?
JB: Edge, what is it ?
JY: Edge, yes, it's Richard Berry!
AW: He's the one who helps me now. He works for me now. He does all what's in relation with the technique, because we're actually updating the whole site. Particulary the HTML dynamic, and that will soon appear as well as a new frontpage.
JB: You're going to change all the front pages of the website with the coming of the new album?
AW: Yes a whole new look. and a guide for the wole site that will tell people how to navigate through the website,and you'll be able to visit my studio , click on special places and zoom on it. That will come soon and it's him who helps us to put all in place.Me and Hep do all what's in relation with writing.
JB: Do you think it's not too excessive to talk of your familly of your private, of your daughter Paris. I don't know, at least for me, I don't have a child, but I often wonder if sometimes Alan Wilder wants to talk of his daughter, his wife and private life so much...?
AW: I don't tell everything in relation with my private life. I encourage the human side, to show more to the people my human side. It's the good thing with the e-mail, the internet, it's that there is a barrier present. As you must know, most of the people who write us do it by e-mail. It's real easy for them to build up a whole personallity, that can be real different from what they are in real life. And I can do it also if I want. And if I don't want to communicate or give informations about me I don't switch on the computer.You always have that barrier present that protects you. It's like people were waiting you and spying you at the gates of your house. I don't encourage that. This kind of communication is mostly safe and sane.
JB: Do you know that there is a big problem in France, it's real hard to find Recoil records here?
AW: It's not only in France.
JB: I don't know for the others I can only speak for France!
AW: Unfortunately it's a problem of retail and Radio airplay. Both go together, it's a vicious circle. That's the reason to encourage the developpment of the websites and mail orders. Retail doesn't work like mail order, they get on your toes. You have to find a good media to seel your record in the stores. I encourage the use of the mail orders, I think that in the future, it will be the most used way to buy records,without using a retail. It's the same thing for the radio, which is still the best way to promote a title. But they have a short range of music styles that they play. It's a problem concerning the radios and not the music themselves. Maybe in a near future it will change. When I came in France two years ago there was only 2 interviews in relation with Internet: one for Sonic Net and the other for Club Internet. All the other ones were magazines and radios. This time there are hundred of people who have a website who want to make an interview. It shows how much things change. The record companies must realize that they have to be present on the internet.
JB: If, for example, in 5 years you will release a new Recoil album, you won't need to come to Paris to make its promotion, you could make it directly by internet.
AW: Yes, it's possible, but it's still better to meet people face to face. But that's something possible in the future. You can't deny it, all record companies actually have a website but are slow to fully integrate themselves into Internet. We can't do anything against it, in the future the music will be only donwloadable music. It's a shame, cause it's not the same feeling as having a finished product in your hands.Because it's something real tactil.
JB: Is it Intro that made the design?
G: Is there any common idea between each design of the albums of Recoil? Do you involve yourself in the choice of the design of the album?
AW: It works more based on the dialogues with the people who make it, I don't do the design myself. We talk a lot about the ideas and what it should represent. I try to make each album as an individual project and not like a continuity from an album to another. We try to make a continuity and I succeed in finding a continuity since I work with INTRO. I have more the feeling to work with collaborators than with people who only make the design. It's the same thing for the artworks,and the videos. I can't do a video myself, so I try to choose people who are the more appropriate to do it for me.
JB: You decided to include the lyrics of the songs in the booklet, in the survey you asked if you had to include the lyrics or not ; What was the answer? because most of the people on the internet say that either way, we'll have the lyrics on the Shunt website.
AW: Approximatively 85% of the people said YES. But that's not why I made it, I made it because I wanted to do it. I felt that the lyrics were more important this time. Because this album is more based on the lyrics than the last ones. They deserved to be present in the booklet, because each of them are a complete story. For foreigners it's hard to understand.
JB: Mostly for french people! It's more difficult.
JB: Let's talk now about the future of Recoil: no tour. When you will release a new project or a new Recoil album, there won't be any tour? You say "it's not possible" or "I don't want".
AW: Everything is possible. I'd prefer to do another album. The time I would spend making a tour I won't spend it working on a new album.
JB: If you would go on tour, you will make more promotion, and you will attract more people. Isn't it the main goal of this?
AW: It's not the only goal. I want people to know me, but I don't want to spend too much time making promo. I could do that for a year, to answer to interviews, to chat with people on websites, or spending my time on the road. But I'd prefer to spend it working on a new album. Actually I'd like to be able to start working on it since today but I have to make the promotion of the new album. It's just a way to spend his time in the best way. But going on tour is not what I prefer.
JB: It would be difficult, with all the people engaged on the Recoil project. It would be interesting to see it and hear it.
G: I remember that I read in an interview that you use to listen to a lot of soundtracks.Have you ever planned to contact a movie producer?
AW: It would be a good thing, I'd like to do it. I would send this album to lot of people of the cinema to see what they think of it. I've never done it until now. It would be a great challenge to do it with people from the the movie sector than to do it by myself and to see what it would be. It wouldn't be something dark obviously. Maybe not a David Lynch movie. It would be more obvious for me to work with him. But if he would ask me to do one with him, I would do it certainly.
G: When I heard the album Liquid, It seemed to me like a whole story. Starting with "Black Box Part I" and going on through each song of the album, going by higher and lower moments and some more calm, and ending with " Black Box Part II". It looks like the beginning of a movie, I could quite imagine a soundtrack with Liquid. Was it the state of mind with which you made this album?
AW: It wasn't the idea at the beginning of the album but mostly at the end. With "Black Box" at the beginning it was only one song, but with time going on, I developped the idea of this man crashing with in the airplane, and showing clearly all the other stories like souvenirs. It looked like a good way to put all together, and to give a sense to the order of the songs. It's not easy for me as I don't write all the songs, to give a meaning to the whole album. It was a good way for me to give a meaning to the album. It was easier for me to compile all and put the songs in the right order. It doesn't have to be that way, because each history can be quite independent from each other.
G: It looks to me like the right order, it seems it is the good order of each song of the album?
AW: It was difficult for me to find the order of the songs, the final order that you find on the album.
JY: Is there a conclusion?
AW: If you follow up the album, the conclusion, it's that the plane crashes.
G: Was that a terrible moment for you to see the crash of the plane?
AW: It was mostly strange, it was not really something disturbing. I won't say it was an event that horrified me. It was just bizarre that it happened that way. When you look at it and that you see that the plane crashed really, it's not something you can forget.
JB: You spoke of your interest for the soundtracks ...
G: Most of the fans when they listen to all your albums from Hydrology to Liquid, feel that dark atmosphere, these strong feelings, pure raw and violent, that seem to come out from each album. Is that the ambiant and the state of mind you look for when you make your songs ?
AW: It's hard to describe it. It's not something I'm conscious of. It comes just like that. I don't know where it comes from. It's like the music assembles itself, it's like many accidents that assemble all together and produce this specific sound, and I like it. I build everything from it. That's what is present in the music, all this dark aspect. And that's what I must like. It's one aspect of my personallity that comes out in my music.That's what interstest me most in the human nature. Every human being that is distorted, disturbed is obviously fascinating. It's interesting to write about this. People expect me to be someone difficult, dark and real serious, it's the aspect of my personality the most appealing. I tried to bring all these elements when I was among Depeche Mode. Because it always seemed to me that the songs of DM were really "light", mostly at the time I join the band in 1982. I always tried to bring my own vision of the things, to give more depth into DM. The songs of martin pushed me to do that. Sometimes, Martin wrote Love Songs, but that wasn't usefull to add a dark aspect to them. You couldn't bring it that much further.
G: With Black Celebration, which is for me the darkest album of DM, were you really involved in the sound of DM at that time?
AW: I was involved in each album. As time went by, the more I got involved. At the beginning of their career, it was more Daniel Miller. With Black Celebration, it was difficult to say why this one was really special, more than MFTM. I think it was the last album produced by the time made of myself, Gareth Jones and Daniel Miller. There was lot of tension between each of us at that time. It was a difficult relation in the studio. And with the rest of the band.and what that's what makes comes out the tension in this album. There are lot of good things in it. It was the last time we worked with Daniel Miller. He learned a lot from the band. And each of us learned more about production. A good combination of people.
G: Because that was the last album produced by Daniel Miller.
AW: It was difficult and good at the same time. A rumor says that Gareth Jones would produce the next DM. I don't know if it's true!?!
JB: I don't know... Do you plan to work on other projects outside Recoil? If you make a soundtrack, will it be under the name Recoil or Alan Wilder?
AW: It's the same thing in fact. It's just the name, if it's me it will be Recoil. I can't give you an answer. It depends, if people ask me to do something specific and interesting that could be outside the project Recoil.
JB: Are you interested in producing another artist or doing remixes?
AW: I get asked to do some things. But I refuse. I worked with Curve, on some arrangements. Most of the things people asked me to do are not interesting. Because people expect me to do something close to what I did with DM. Like industrials bands, I don't find much interest to product such bands. I don't want to spend my energy for someone else. I prefer to focus my energies on my own compositions. That doesn't mean I won't do it, if something comes at me and that I 'd like it, why not?
G,JB: We have to leave now, thanks a lot for everything.