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2010-06-01 Recoiline, Paris, France
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On April 22nd 2010, three Recoil fans named Bruno Ouvrein, Perrine Braz, and Gilles Braz interviewed Alan Wilder and Paul Kendall separately at the Kube hotel in Paris, for their fan-sites. They put the two interviews (1, 2) online on June 1st 2010, as well as their transcripts. They also uploaded many of Alan's and Paul's answers as audio files.
- Total duration: 37:48 minutes
Transcript of interview with Alan
GB: Selected has been officially released this week. We know from recent interviews that Mute brought you the idea for the release of SELECTED , was it hard to select the songs for this album and did you think about a special theme to produce this album ?
AW: There's no theme about it really, it's a best of, it's just done with more care and attention and hopefully in a way that you can enjoy as a kind of new album in a way. There's very few best of albums where you could just play through and it feels like a real album. You normally just pick the tracks you want to hear. I hope people might listen to this one in a different way. Mute really just wanted something very quick, when the idea first came up they wanted a really quick thing they could take to retail, something record shops would stock , they like best of albums, they don't like new albums you know , unless you're Madonna, so... So that's was the thinking, and they said: "Look we're doing this actually for a number of other artists on the label." I think they did the Nitzer Ebb one, and they're doing others for... I can't remember who else... So this was the idea, and then over the course of the last year, the thing keeps changing. Actually now Mute is very much into this multi-format thing because they realize this is the future in a way.
GB: This is what most of the audience, people require.
AW : This is what people want at the moment, they want to have choice, they want to have something tangible as an option, everybody wants it, but the choice needs to be there. When we first talked about this idea, no one was really thinking about that. This was quite a new changing way of thinking. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it's evolved into this multi-formats thing, and then the tour came, it's become a much bigger thing than it started out.
BO: Are there any tracks amongst your favorites that aren't on 'Selected' because you considered they didn't fit in?
AW: There were few others we try to put on there; I wanted to have "New York Nights", I tried to get the Sonya Madan track which was on a EP I think that was called "Don't Look back" [from the single/EP "Strange Hours" in 2000] and there was just not enough space on one CD to fit them all on, which is a good problem to have of course. I wasn't upset about it, I mean that you take a practical view of these things and you say that whatever's best is what you do. The good thing about editing them, was that it allowed us to have maybe one extra track. Actually I quite liked the discipline of having to edit something sometimes because you can often with time see an improvement, with editing. I think some of these actually benefit from being slightly shorter and bit more to the point. We did lot a of trying outs, we tried a lots of different running orders, there was another song for while, err... it was "Missing piece" maybe, it was in there for a bit. That's not on the final thing, is it?
BO: "Missing Piece" is on the remix CD.
AW: When the remix idea came up, when Robert Schilling said we can do a second disc of remixes, then if affects your thinking of the first disc.
GB: You could put extra songs on that one.
AW: Exactly, like " I can use that remix , I don't have to have it here", it just kept changing. We did manage to find all the master tapes to all the tracks. It took a while.
GB: From what we read on previous interviews you had to also go again through a baking process.
AW: Yes, we didn't do that ourselves, there's a company that does the work. I don't even know what they do exactly and what the piece of machinery is, if it looks like an oven, if you put a cake into. I'd be curious to see it. I wonder what they do. I know there are different levels, you can have a big bake or a full roast, or you can have just an omelette. Yes there are different levels in baking depending on how bad your tape is.
BO: It must be interesting to know what is exactly going on when they do that.
AW : it creates some kind of chemical reaction with the oxide on the tape which flakes off after a while. It binds it back together. I guess it's almost like melting it back into place, I imagine.
GB: And probably also some kind of magnetically sub-process.
AW: Yes, something like that, though I don't know.
GB: What did you feel when you had to listen again on those old tracks from previous albums, that you chose for SELECTED? Did you remember the time when you were creating those tracks in the past?
AW: A little bit, I think that's always the case when you listen back to things that remind you of the past. It can be surprising if you haven't heard things for a long time you can go "Oh I forgot all about that..." especially when you got multi-tracks on. There was not so much with this, because you just listen to the finished masters and I'm quite familiar to them all really. But when you get multi-tracks songs like the Depeche Mode 5.1 for example, and you put up the individual sounds and I do not remember doing that, going like "What was that? What were we thinking? What is this sound?" And I kind of think: "Oh "you get what you say, you get this memory, a very strong memory... It's like a smell that reminds you of something. You remember exactly how you recorded something and where you were and in what room it was and what I was doing. Everything comes back to you in an instant. The sound can be very evocative; actually music can be very evocative as memory to memory just like smell can be. It's a different part of the subconcious that works than visuals.
BO: About the tour, Paul Kendall is on stage with you and we know his input in the studio, can we start now to consider Recoil more as a band than the "Alan Wilder solo project™"?
AW: No, you can't.
BO: OK thank you. [laughs]
AW: No, I'd never wanted it to be a band, for all the reasons that I sort of said before about what I don't like about being in a band. The good thing about Paul is that he knows what the kind of score is anyway. He knows I like sort of be in control, he never considers himself as part of the band as it works. You know he has his role to play, which is reallly important and I really enjoy his contribution and he knows that too, he understands that I value what he does. The problem being, in any kind of band... I think if you're in a group where someone's in complete control, that's not much fun for you if you're the other person right? So therefore, the only way of being in a band really works is if everyone is kind of equal, but that doesn't really work for me either because I don't really like having to put things to the vote. I like to have the final say of things. I don't like the politics of compromise and democracy when you're trying to be creative.
GB: That kind of compromises the first idea you have when you are creating...
AW: Exactly, right. It's like having four film directors direct a film. It's never going to work really...
GB: Talking about the tour right now, what pushed you, motivated you in starting this tour to promote SELECTED?
AW: I think it was the thought of going back to the same place like Prague and Berlin for example.
GB: As you did for subHuman.
AW: Yes and doing exactly the same thing again, I would have feel like some kind of sham, a cheat, "here he is again shaking hands". I thought "I cannot really do that". I wanted to go out and do some promotion and go to some cities, because I think it's great to make connections with the fans. It worked really well for me not just for this tour but all through the years making those connections, and making those connections is now paying off, because so many people I've met over the years are contributing directly to the project and helping support and running websites. You know how it works... So I really wanted to do the promotion and I thought "well I can't do the same thing, so what can I do?" and that's really what sparked it. And of course having all those different remixes, you suddenly think: well there is something we can do, and it just evolved from there... And when you're going to commit to that then you think "how is it going to look?" You can imagine the thought process. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it properly, I don't want to do something half fast, that doesn't really work , that wouldn't be very RECOIL, and I'm kind of perfectionist about things and I love the details so I would want to do it as best as I could possibly do it. And I still think it could be improved maybe with more money, time, more production, more people on the road, you know. It was quite a big experiment for me this whole process... performing. So I kind of took it fairly gently, I didn't want to go into the deep end, have loads of people in the road and lose money...
GB: That way you're able to manage everything that goes around it
AW: yes it's a very small production , 3 people , sometimes 4 and it's sort of cost effective, quick to set up, so you can use the local production even there as some problems as I've said...
BO: Now that you found, let's say, a formula that is working to promote Recoil on the road through events, do you have any regrets not to have started before for previous albums?
AW: I think there is sort of a small man in my head saying "you could have done this before", yeah. I justify that by saying I don't think I really could because the cost of making films, even ten years ago, would have been just too difficult, and the time it would have taken, the equipment, whereas now I think it's possible to make films fast and cheaply of good quality. So that's a difference, which does make a difference. So I probably couldn't have done it in this way before, but maybe in a different way or maybe I should have been more adventurous.
BO: Or maybe you didn't feel it was right to do it as I read in past interviews, you were thinking maybe the soundscape was impossible to recreate on stage?
AW: Even now I'm not sure that what we're doing... I'm not sure how well it works. There are times when I think: I can't tell if people are just transfixed, hypnotised or bored.
AW: There are times in the show when there's nothing , people aren't doing anything , they're just listening and I think "Oh God, they hate it."
AW: It's difficult to tell because there are not too many breaks in the music for reaction.
BO: I read you got quite strong reactions in Prague and Budapest, I think, and you were quite happy with that.
AW: They were the best ones. Budapest is the best crowd, and Prague also...
BO: We can't promise anything for tomorrow evening but we'll do our best!
GB: We tried not to listen to much on the internet , to be surprised by the show.
AW: Exactly, I don't know if you're going to look on Youtube but Youtube just gives everything away... because there's hundreds and hundreds of clips...
BO: You're not happy with that ? you want to keep the surprise?
AW: You can't, how can you?
GB: It's hard to control all that madness.
AW: You can't control it.
BO: A German journalist gave all the surprises on the air, it was for Hansa I think. Do you remember that?
AW : Recently someone uploaded the whole show on RapidShare. They got hold of a DVD and I don't know how they did it. There's only two existing DVDs, I've got one, and they still managed to get it and get it on RapidShare somehow. I don't know how it happened but that's very disappointing. But with YouTube, I'm just not going to waste energy getting upset about it because I know you can't control it. And there are obviously some benefits of being available on YouTube and everywhere else on the Internet. Of course, I understand that. And I think the advantages I've gained from online activities and the Internet out way the disadvantages. I'm just slightly sad that people don't have any surprises in their life anymore or very few. It's very difficult to keep a secret.
GB: That's something we were just discussing together before the interview. We remember a time in the past when we didn't have internet, we were more surprised by the release of an album, and we were expecting the release date in order to get it through a local record shop and discover it , and sometimes we kind of miss that approach now...
BO: Time changes...
PB: We try to reproduce it...
AW: Wait and enjoy the spirit...
PB: Regarding YouTube actually I'm trying not to look at it... otherwise I know that I wouldn't be surprised.
AW: Exactly! We're using YouTube specifically for video updates and things like that. So we want people to go and look at the video updates and the blog and all that stuff. And then, of course, you look at the blog and next to it are all the clips. It's very tempting, it must be "ah, look at this, and this". You can look at the news and then not look at these, it's very difficult to do. So I imagine most people who are coming to these events because they are fans will have seen something already. On the other hand, it also helps to show people what to expect and not to expect a band.
GB: A question we had both in common about this tour and the promotion. Do you have a real support from Mute & EMI from all around the countries to help you for this tour?
AW: It varies from place to place. Mute themselves have been very good around this release. They're doing everything they can to help. They put money behind it with the various formats; they're helping out when they can with the extra money for better projection in London for example. You know it's helpful , and I've no complaints about Mute. They set up a more new independent kind of stream for their artists now which goes through for example Naive and I think that's been good for me rather than the generic EMI stuff. Some of the EMI licensees in some countries have been better than others. We just came from Poland and they were doing really well, lots of good promotion there so they were very supportive. And in Czech Republic they were good. Other countries not quite so good... so it's difficult with EMI sometimes...
GB: That's also something we were talking about, the financial problems we also heard recently with the selling of the Abbey Road studios that made the tabloids.
AW: No one's got really money to spend really... there are big problem with the costs... And that's why a lot of artists are going out on the road. I mean I 'm not doing this to make money but I can see how doing this is the best way for an artist to make money rather than trying to rely on CD's and get some income for the shows, sell some t-shirts , sell some CD's on the road. We're doing that too and it works, oh I can see that this works. So the record company sort of tag on to the end of that. Things have been driven more by the bands or the artists rather than being told what to do by record companies. This is not a bad thing...
GB: We just had one last request.
AW: Which one?
GB: Do you have anything to say in French for your French audience? I know it's a hard question... sorry...
AW: "En Français?!" I can't think of anything. I can speak a few words...
BO: Even slang, go on!
AW: I'll probably have to spend two or three weeks in France and then it starts to come back. Every time I leave, I forget it all again.
GB: OK, thank you...
BO: Your "en français" was good , thank you.
Transcript of interview with Paul
BO: I know it's a question which already been asked but how do you feel on the road? I know it's the first time you're on stage.
PK: Well it's the first time I've ever been on tour as well. It's very interesting.
BO: We saw all the problems you had with travel, plane troubles, flight cancelled, etcetera...
PK: Obviously the main problems recently have been the travel problems. My main observation it seems, it's a shame when you visit towns and you don't actually visit towns. You visit a hotel. We like wake up in the morning and we leave. That's really frustrating but I saw enough of places like Bucharest or Budapest to be interesting. But generally it's not been too much of a problem moving. The concerts have been grouped in little groups of 3 or 4. So we've been able to rest off. Also because our actual set-up is quite simple. If it was a full band it would be much more difficult.
BO: Light and easy way to travel with?
PK: Yes, it is. As long as I carry on all the equipment! [laughs]
GB: It's easier that way.
PK: It's much easier that way!
GB: Regarding all the local DJ's and artists that you work with for the promotion of the tour, for example in Paris it was easy for you to chose Olivia Louvel, were there other artists that came naturally to you for the promotion of this tour?
PK: Yes, I played to Alan some Jérôme Soudan, Mimetic things and as we were playing in Switzerland, and Jerome is based in Geneva and he seemed like a good choice. Even though it was in German Swiss and he's a french Swiss, as soon as Jerome arrived in Zurich I realized it was difficult, but the communication was in English so... But it was good for Alan to meet Jérôme and I have lot of respect for him as a musician. Then I've never met Architect before Daniel Myer and that was a really good experience meeting him.
BO: Architect sounds really good.
PK: Yes, it is.
BO: I listened to Architect thanks to you as you were both talking about him recently in a radio interview and it's definitely brilliant!
PK: I've never heard anything before, I've never heard Haujobb and I didn't know that Swedish project he worked with I can't remember the name of. But I think of all the projects he works on, I think Architect is the one that is really, really interesting. And he's also a good friend of Jérôme as well, so it was very simple.
GB: With this tour going on, did it bring you and Alan some new ideas and new ways to work on new tracks in the future?
PK: I think so. For me it made me look at the music creation both in studio and in the live situation a bit more. There's so much more that we could do, I think. From my point of view. And I think it will change the way Alan will approach the music in the future. I mean it will always be difficult to imagine Recoil music on stage because there's lot of different vocalists. You're confronted to a problem because of that.
GB: That's something he often mentioned in the past, that it was difficult to bring all the people he collaborates with, to bring them on tour for this kind of promotion.
PK: Yes, the only situation where it would have been possible, would have been if we would have played a lot of "subHuman" and touring the States, we could have perhaps used Joe Richardson's group and done it on a different way. But that would have taken a whole different organisation, bringing his guys their effects and bring it all from America.
GB: With that kind of management it would have been hard.
PK: Yes, it would have been a little bit too complicated and probably too expensive to arrange something like that. But that would have been the only possibility. And if we would have wanted to do things at run from subHuman we wouldn't be using Joe for those. It's been an interesting challenge. We worked a lot on the preparations so it wasn't just like the record. We reworked most of the songs and changed structures a little bit to make it work more as a new object. So the fans would have something new to listen to.
BO: Sound and bits from all songs mixed together.
PK: Yes, it was really interesting to construct it because it was like making a new album in a way.
GB: You had to re-listen to all the tracks and re-think about it.
PK: Yes, how that could work in a live situation. We realised that probably more minimal was probably more interesting so that gave us some more space to do things live. So it took a long and lot of preparation. But it's been really good fun, we enjoyed it so far...
BO: A trainspotting question: I noticed some similarities between one of your track called 'Caress' (from the album Faulty Caress) and Recoil's Shunt, specifically a loop. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
PK: It's possible (laughs). There's something in one song that I know he may have used. But if he did use it, it was before I started working with him which is really good. That makes me quite happy, pretty much because having listened to some of my music before working together.
BO: Was it for 'Unsound Methods'?
PK: No, only in the remixes, 'Drifting' and 'Stalker' I think, I did a version of 'Stalker' with Alan.
BO: A few months ago, I listened to 'Faulty Caress' and I said to myself "That rings a bell"!
PK: That must have been a very boring night for you.
BO : No, I quite enjoyed it! Unfortunately for the moment, that's the only record from you I've been able to listen to.
PK: I did an album with Olivia, which is quite interesting, the Digital Interventions thing which we released on the French label. It's a weird record, it's nearly really good. It's almost accessible but it's not accessible and it's not experimental enough for the really experimental people. But it was a really good process of working because Olivia never really done any technological stuff before. So she learnt a lot and she learnt enough to be able to basically work on her own. It was important for her to have the confidence to use the technology herself. It was good, it was an interesting project. We did collaboration again...
GB: On some tracks of her new album?
PK: Not really, her album is her own album, I just did a little bit of mixing and stuff. We did a Digital interventions concert in Strasbourg on a boat which was the only thing we've done since we did the Digital Interventions stuff. That was quite interesting as well and much more more experimental than what we did on the album. So that was good. I mean her label in France is excellent "Optical sounds", They really bring a lot of support to their artists. They work outside of music and that's really interesting.
GB: Regarding that aspect, you used too live in France few years ago you worked for example with Olivia. At that time did you get interested to work with some other artists from the french electro-scene?
PK: Yes, there was a lot of people, I worked with an engineer/producer called David Husser. And David was in a really interesting group called "Y Front". And I just think he's the best engineer in the world, this guy.
BO: I heard what you did with "Speed Caravan"?
PK: I didn't do anything with "Speed Caravan".
BO: I read you were actually simply watching him working!
PK: I wasn't supposed to work on that album but he got me to talk on their version of The Chemical Brothers track. So I spoke on it but that was all I did. I did a little bit of voice editing. I was in the studio with him quite a bit of time but it's his and he made this project completely. It's really interesting working with him. I worked with David quite a lot and with some people of Ici D'Ailleurs, which wasn't really electro. One of the reasons I was happy to work in France is because the voice is much more important in French music than is in English music. You always put the voice so loud, it must be important to you. I'm not saying it's relevant necessarily but I saw that as a challenge because I didn't really want the voice to be that loud because the music becomes quite small. So I tried to make the voice completely understandable because that's really what they want. I want to be able to understand the words but not having it so loud in the mix. So that was always an interesting challenge and I really like French voices. I like the idea the voice is important. It was always good fun. I did an album with Jeanne Balibar, her last album which was released on Naïve, David and I did that. That was interesting as well. She's a great actress and she's an interesting singer. I did the very first album of Valérie Lemercier, with Bertrand Burgalat.
GB: Yes Bertrand Burgalat, he's quite an interesting character.
PK: Yes, it was part of the reason I met Bertrand, because he was part of Laibach. Obviously I was working for Mute at that time . And Bertrand was in London at the same time Laibach was in London so I met Bertrand. I quite got along with him and he invited to Paris a lot of times so... And I nearly did quite a really good album with him. I didn't do it at the end.. Jad Wio's album. And I was really upset I didn't mix that album. It's a really great album. So yeah I had a really good time in Paris. That was really important in the stage that I was in my life. I did Lo'Jo that was hilarious.
BO: Yes that was good also.
PK: Yes, we had a great time.
BO : I remember you said Lo'Jo live is a different beast and I heard the album, it's actually quite good, not what I usually listen to.
PK: That's not what they expected either. We really, sort of, destroyed Lo'Jo and then reconstructed it. David was really instrumental in doing that. He really just said "we're going to this like this, and like this".
BO: You wanted to show them what was possible to do in a studio.
PK: Yes, because what they did before was to take their live performance in a studio. And if you want to make an object, it's good to maybe do something different. You can always do the songs in a live context but try to make a different object, that maybe appeals to other people. That's what we tried to do for the CD and it was really a really wonderful experience working them. They really are lovely people, I had some marvelous food in Angers. They're living like a commune and there was a guy there who cooks. I had rabbit for the first time in my life and I enjoyed it.
GB: Do you come back often to Paris nowadays?
PK: Yes, I come back occasionally. The last time I was here was in December , with the group LaFille with David again. And I was here just before to work with a group with Jerome,that just had an album released. Because I quite like the "Chansons française". So with people in "chanson française" do things different with their instrumentation. The colours of instrumentation are quite different from what I'm used to work with and what I would do with it would be quite interesting.
GB: It feels like some interesting new experience for you.
PK: Yes, it's not guitar bass and drums, it's some sequenced base, it's good to get yourself into unusual situation. And I think one album I did in France that was really good was with a guy named "Le professeur inlassable" which was really amazing.
BO + GB: We'll try to keep that one in mind and check it later.
PK: Look on Myspace on my profile, he's there and he's a guy who does a lot of music for publicité [commercials] and he uses lot of unusual sources for his music. And that is really impressive stuff, he's quite a successful composer of adverts. He's made this record that is incredible , with John Greaves, he's a good friend of John Greaves and Henry Cow Henry Cow was a really important group for me when i was young. John Greaves is a bass player, he lives in Paris for years and he was involved in that album so it's really an interesting record. You should check it out. He's got a fantastic studio near le pont neuf. The genre of professeur is... he's got a real aesthetic, his studio got a aesthetic and his music has got an aesthetic. It's really worth investigating.
BO: Talking a bit about the French scene, as far as you know, as you've been working with Alan since 'Liquid', have any French collaborators considered? Maybe Olivia?
PK: We had David doing a remix of 'Prey', he did the Shotgun mix and another friend of mine, Guy, who goes under the name of… Olivia, do you remember Guy's stage name?
OL: TG Parker, he did the remix for Alan, for 'Allelujah' for 'Selected'.
BO: He should be good as 'Allelujah' is my current favourite from the remix album.
PK: He did the Noisy Church remix. He's a French guy and I work a bit with him on his own music. He's a really good sort of electronic guy. He makes the loudest music I've ever heard. When you do mix of Guy's things, he sends you the elements and all the elements look like black boxes, there is no sort of wave forms and it's just so loud! And we had real problems mastering Guy's remix because he masters things as well, he works for EMI. So he knows about mastering and we really had to turn his mix down because we couldn't get everything, that level was just crazy. So yes, there's a few. I wanted Alan to meet some of the musicians that I've met over here. Somebody like Medhi, who's an electric oud player, he's the Speed Caravan guy, because that's a really interesting texture. And there's the drummer that we used for Lo'Jo, a really amazing drummer called Franck Vaillant, one of the most impressive drummer I've ever heard. He's not just a beat person, it's a whole sound that he creates.
GB: Some kind of atmospheric drumming?
PK: Yes, he's just from the background of the electro-acoustic music but he's a good solid beat drummer.
BO: Do you think he could be an asset you could bring to the Recoil project?
PK: Well normally, when Alan's starting, he's looking for interesting sounds and loops and things to sort of give inspiration to move on. And I know Franck really would be able to do that. It's just a question if it's practical to get Franck involved. I'm sure Medhi would be really happy to come over to England and record some oud because the electric oud is really quite a remarkable sounding instrument, and he's a great musician.
BO: Maybe the last question, can we expect something coming from you in the coming future?
PK: My own music? I sort of... nearly finished a record.
GB + BO: A scoop!
PK: I nearly did and I then listened to it again and I thought no.
BO: Don't scrap it!
PK: It won't be scrapped. I wanted to do a guitar album and there are a couple of tracks on my MySpace are sort of guitar based even though they didn't originally started with guitars. But some of them do start with guitars. So I had this idea of grouping all these guitar based compositions together. But I'm now listening to it again and I just thought... Once again, it's a problem I have, I think it's not accessible enough and it's not inaccessible enough. It falls in-between two areas and I think it needs to be more extreme in one direction or in the other direction. But some of the tracks I quite like, there's seven pieces altogether.
BO: So it will be released one day?
PK : I don't know, do we release anything anymore?
BO & GB: We hope so! we're stuck in the 20th century and we think lot of us still are...
PK: It's not that I have a problem releasing things it's just that I think people have a problem buying albums. So should it have been as seven tracks or as a CD of 7 tracks, I don't know. It's enough for me to know that I almost finished it. So right now I'm in the way and able to work on something else. Because I've got lot of stuff to finish so eventually I will all finish it. This is not important, you know, I mean what's important is that I'm still working with other creative people that's much more important anyway to what I do.
BO: Do you have any plans after the events tour and the World Cup?
PK: No, I've just bought a flat in Sussex, on the coast.
GB: Maybe closer to Alan to be able to work with him?
PK: Yes, closer, anyway, a whole new place on the sea side and I've got sort of a loft area which is going to be a studio. So this summer will just be setting all this up. And have a good place to work. So it should be fun. So no plans or collaborations coming soon...
BO & GB: Thanks a lot for the interview and we'll see you tomorrow at the concert.