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CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN INTERVIEW [2012]

I WAS GOING TO START BY ASKING YOU HOW YOU CHOSE THE SETLIST FOR THE SHOW, BUT THEN I THEN I REALISED THAT THAT QUESTION GOES BACK ANOTHER STAGE, TO THE RELEASE OF THE 'COMBINED' ALBUM. SO HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE TRACKLISTING FOR THAT?

That's right, the setlist was mostly taken from the 'Combined' album. The show happened as a direct consequence to 'Combined' and we just decided we wanted to mark that time. So how did we decide it? I would have loved to have done other things, maybe more tracks from 'Love: And A Million Other Things', but it was just too much material, and also because I decided I wanted to help the guests who appeared at the show, I wanted to bring something from them into the set. It kind of just naturally fell into place really. Once we decided that Glenn and Martyn (Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17) would help out we decided that we wanted to do the version of 'Temptation' together that we did at a Billy Mackenzie tribute gig once. We tried it there and it really worked. I liked that version, so that fitted in really well, and since I had Glenn there anyway, I thought it would be great to do 'When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time', just once, because we realised that we had never performed that live…

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT, I THOUGHT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TIME YOU HAD DONE IT…

That's right. It was just like a celebration! But that's kind of how it went know? People were just so cool and professional and up for doing things they hadn't done before and I like that, we all like a challenge! So then we worked on the Propaganda song 'Dream Within A Dream', because Susanne (Freytag) was there and Ralf (Dörper) was there…

I THINK THAT SONG WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE MOMENTS IN THE SHOW, WHEN SUSANNE'S SPOKEN INTRODUCTION CAME IN I GOT GOOSEBUMPS!

Oh that's great! I really wanted to make that song work, I mean for me it's such an important piece, and it really sums up the essence of Propaganda with that introduction on the 'A Secret Wish' album. It's such a scene-opener if you know what I mean? It dictates where everything goes from then. So for us to play that was such a personal achievement because it's such a difficult composition, and there are so many elements within the production. So to get that across in a live setting… I really was pleased about it!

IT SEEMED WHEN I WAS WATCHING THE SHOW THAT 'DREAM WITHIN A DREAM' WAS A TURNING POINT, NOT IN THE QUALITY OF THE SHOW, BUT A TURNING POINT IN THE LEVEL OF RELAXATION OF EVERYONE ON THE STAGE. AFTER THAT SONG IT SEEMED LIKE EVERYONE BREATHED OUT A BIT.

Yes, it was very much like that. There were so many cues, and in rehearsal we always got it wrong, there was always a big mess up, and then on the night we also had the pressure of it being filmed also. I think you observed that absolutely correctly.

What made it more difficult was that we didn't really have a soundcheck, I don't think we started any sort of soundcheck until about half past six. It was a technical thing and we had to find an extra piece of equipment very quickly and order it in. That all took time, so a proper soundcheck wasn't even possible. It was tense, there was a lot of tension, but it was also a bit electrifying!

I THINK THE WHOLE ATMOSPHERE WAS ELECTRIC. IT WAS A VERY EXCITING EVENT TO BE PART OF.

It was good fun, it was brilliant! It's just so great when like-minded people come together like that. We didn't over-rehearse it, we just said 'OK, let's just see what happens' so it had that kind of surprise element. Everybody was practising their own parts at home - we only had two full rehearsals - but it's really hard to organise all these people. To get people to commit to one day or two days. But it did all happen and it was just great, things kind of fell into place and it all worked out.

Now we are doing it all again, and I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately Andy Bell (Erasure) can't make it this time because he's in America, but Andy McCluskey (OMD) has offered his services which is just so lovely, so it can't be the same, which I kind of quite like. I am also thrilled that Stephen Lipson (producer) will be joining us this time, he's decided to kind of jam with us throughout, which is really great.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO FILM THE SCALA SHOW, THERE MUST HAVE BEEN ENOUGH PRESSURE ON YOU JUST DOING THE SHOW WITHOUT HAVING CAMERAS THERE TOO?

The whole thing was a bit of a pressure to be honest, the responsibility to my guests, being aware that people were coming from so far away, and I just don't want to let people down. When I do something, I want to do it right, I want to do it 100%. But filming it was just really important for me, because I realised there was no proper material there - apart from YouTube clips - for people to get an idea of what I am like. So it was just a lovely opportunity to do that. I know that there were people at the show from all over the world but there would be other people who couldn't be there who but would still want to see the show.

WERE YOU AWARE BEFORE THE SHOW THAT PEOPLE WERE MAKING THOSE SORTS OF JOURNEYS? THAT'S PRESSURE TOO ISN'T IT?

I loved that, it was a big, big thrill for me. The support that we got from the audience, I felt that was really touching you know? For people to come from that far and make that effort. Glenn kept saying 'It's like a happening!' which gave me the idea of calling the DVD itself 'This Happened'.

YOU'RE PLAYING LONDON AGAIN THIS WEEK, IS THERE A CHANCE YOU'LL TAKE THIS SHOW ON TOUR, OR PLAY SHOWS ELSEWHERE?

I wish we could do more, I would have love to have done, but honestly it's really hard to take that kind of show on tour. All the guests have done it as a favour for me and if we were to do something like that I couldn't ask them to just sing my songs so it would be a different show, but I'm really happy the way we've done it, and that we can repeat it on Thursday.

I had such little live experience in the 80s and the 90s, I did such only a couple of shows for my solo album and a three-week tour with Propaganda, and I think it's such an important part of music. In the 80s I think it was all about the studio process, for Propaganda playing live wasn't the main focus, it was like the studio was the focus.

HOW WAS THE PROCESS OF ACTUALLY PUTTING THE DVD TOGETHER? YOU'VE DONE THE SHOW, IT'S ALL BEHIND YOU, THEN YOU'VE GOT TO RE-LIVE IT IN SLOW MOTION OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

That's when all the work starts really I think, particularly for Paul (Humphreys) who had to do all the mixing! It's like you have all this raw material and then Paul had to mix nineteen tracks, and then it all had to be edited into something. Nineteen songs, that's a lot of minutes. We were so lucky to have a fantastic editor, who just worked night and day for us and was just brilliant. We just went over and over and over it, it's kind of like making an album, you just kind of look at it and reduce it, 'We don't need this, we don't need that'. You just need to keep making decisions all the time, until it's something compact.

It was such a hard thing to do, so many decisions to make and such a learning curve. I mean I know how albums are made and I'm kind of comfortable with that process, but with the DVD there were so many other stages that you had to go through. Like just to get a DVD into the shop in Germany you have to get an age clarification thing, and so many other technical things. Then there is an authoring stage, which I wasn't aware of, and that alone took six weeks. I thought we had finished! I'm so happy that it exists now though, it was all worth it…

ARE YOU GOOD AT WATCHING YOURSELF BACK IN THAT SORT OF CONTEXT?

Absolutely not at all! I'm kind of used to it now really, but it's something that I normally wouldn't do. It's also the singing, it kind of requires a high form of concentration, to memorise all the lyrics and there's a lot of stuff that's going on in my mind while I'm performing, so when I see it I get reminded of that. But I'm at this point now where I'm very much at ease with what I do, how I look, with my age, it's all OK!

SO DO YOU HAVE PERSONAL FAVOURITES ON 'THIS HAPPENED'? AFTER HAVING WATCHED AND LISTENED TO IT SO MANY TIMES IN THE PROCESS OF PUTTING THE DVD TOGETHER.

I really do like 'Kiss Like Ether', it was brilliant, the way people welcomed me, that was so touching. I love singing 'Night School', that has something very relaxing about it, and 'Duel' is always a highlight for me because everybody just kind of sings along and I pick up on that, it always makes me smile. It makes me feel like I am 21 again! I just love that about the power of music, I think it's brilliant that music can have that. I think only music can do that in such a dramatic, instant way. It's put you right there. I love doing 'Absolutely Immune'… I'm so attached to these songs that they're just like my little children.

I'M GUESSING THAT YOU HAVEN'T PERFORMED A LOT OF THOSE SONGS LIVE BEFORE?

No, but that's why it was so brilliant to do this show. Because when I did the 'Combined' album, I looked at everything compacted onto one CD and I went 'Oh, I have actually done a lot'. I seem to have written all the time though, so I guess some projects come together, some they don't. So having seen all these songs, and also being able to perform them all of a sudden, and also made me realise, well actually, there is actually a very strong back catalogue there of mine.

HAVING GOT THREE QUARTERS OF PROPAGANDA ON STAGE TOGETHER FOR FOUR SONGS FOR 'THIS HAPPENED', WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF MORE PERFORMANCE, OR EVEN RECORDING, FROM PROPAGANDA?

Well as you know I would love to do more things with Propaganda but I think The Scala was the closest we are going to get at the moment. Susanne and Ralf and I are real friends, we really love each other, but the problem is still Michael (Mertens)

SO WHAT IS IN THE PIPELINE FOR YOU MOVING FORWARD, WILL YOU BE ADDING TO THAT CATALOGUE?

Yes. I'm releasing an album in November and I will also definitely do some live shows for that.

IS THIS THE STEPHEN HAGUE ALBUM WE TOUCHED UPON LAST TIME WE TALKED?

Yes, which I'm so happy about. It's now all done and we're just kind of getting things together, press photos, artwork and dialogues. It's at that stage now.

THAT'S QUITE EXCITING ISN'T IT. IT'S A COVER SONGS ALBUM ISN'T IT? OTHER PEOPLE'S LOVE SONGS?

Yes it is but it's less obvious that that. Some of the songs are quite unknown so that's not really the focus for the project, I kind of don't want to concentrate on the fact that it's other people's songs. It's really about a mood, kind of melancholy, sad, but not depressing. What I like about this particular album is that it covers about fifty years of music, from 1968 to now, it's a kind of journey of beautiful songs. I'm thrilled with it. It was amazing to work with Stephen because I really like being properly produced. I work really well like that. I had never really thought about it, but starting by working with Trevor (Horn) set a certain standard…

WELL HE'S A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW ISN'T HE?

I've had such great producers, working with Stephen Lipson, Pascal Gabriel, Steve Nye… they are such great producers, and now Stephen Hague.

KIND OF A 'WHO'S WHO' OF PRODUCERS! BUT IT MUST BE REFRESHING FOR THE PRODUCER AS WELL, TO HAVE AN ARTIST WHO IS WILLING TO BE PRODUCED?

Yes, I think that's a very important aspect. I can understand how some people get frustrated with producers and they think they are kind of taking things away, but I think they can add so much, which as an artist you just wouldn't have thought of. If you allow yourself to not be threatened by that you can get amazing results. I want to really take that album out live, and without the special guests I can do that I can become quite versatile, and go to other countries too.

AND WHAT ABOUT ONETWO, IS THERE ANY UPDATE ON WHATEVER IS NEXT FOR YOU AND PAUL WITH THAT PROJECT?

We're busy and we've written quite a lot but it's been so busy here! I had my projects and Paul is writing a beautiful OMD album, a really great, strong album. I think the album itself is written now, which is great, so that will move onto the next stage. They're such a great combination those two, and when they sit together and write it's just magical what they can come up with, but obviously that has taken some time. We're writing and recording our songs when we can and I think that maybe something will come out next year. I hope so, I think next year will be very busy with all of our projects and I like that.

CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN - This Happened

AMAZON UK

JULY 2012

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