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ERASURE (ANDY BELL & VINCE CLARKE) INTERVIEW [2013]

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A CHRISTMAS RECORD?

VINCE CLARKE - The reason is mostly because our manager said we ought to. It was his idea. He came up with the idea a few years ago and up until now there wasn’t the opportunity to do it, and we were more interested in making completely original Erasure records. The way that our time worked out from the end of the last tour to now meant that this was a good opportunity to make a Christmas CD.

WAS IT STRANGE WORKING ON CHRISTMAS SONGS IN THE SPRINGTIME?

VC - Well, working on Christmas songs in the Spring was a bit weird. We weren't exactly in the Christmas spirit yet, you know? We did have a snow globe sitting on the keyboard whilst we were writing, so perhaps that was a useful inspiration for us!

WAS IT DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE WHICH SONGS TO COVER FOR THE ALBUM?

ANDY BELL - I think it was much easier choosing the songs for this than it was for the Other People’s Songs album because you’re more limited, aren’t you?

VC - We didn’t necessarily want to go for the really, really obvious ones. There are some obvious Christmas songs there but we didn’t want to make the record that obvious, so both Andy and I were both interested in slightly more obscure Christmas carols, or Christmas songs, to cover and when we came up with the final list we both agreed it was the right choices.

AB - I think with doing a Christmas record it would be very difficult to do all original Christmas songs, and the number of songs that we do have that we’ve written aren’t necessarily Christmas related… they’ve got a few little festive words in them so they could be seasonable, I suppose. The rest we kind of all pitched in our favourite songs.

IS IT EASIER TO RECORD COVER VERSIONS THAN NEW SONGS?

AB - I don’t think it it’s necessarily easier. Sometimes you kind of feel you could do it really well and do the song justice and stuff but then when you hear your own version of a song and put it up against somebody else’s version, like the definitive version, you kind of think ‘oh’ and you see the genius in the original version then.

WHAT WAS THE WRITING PROCESS FOR THIS RECORD?

VC - We got together in my studio in Brooklyn, and I think I had a couple of keyboard ideas, a couple of chord ideas and Andy had some melody ideas, it’s the usual thing, the way that we usually work. We go in there with no real plan. We kind of just mess about until we’ve come up with a melody we like, or a theme that we like, or a chord progression that we like. Usually we’re using an acoustic guitar to get the song started and trying to steer clear of the synths because otherwise I will go off on a tangent!

AB - I think it’s one of those things that either happens or it doesn’t and this time it was quite easy and I think because we hadn’t seen each other for ages it was very fresh when we saw each other.

YOU'VE PRODUCED THE ALBUM YOURSELVES, BUT YOU'VE ALSO HAD GARETH JONES AND RICHARD X ON BOARD HAVEN'T YOU?

VC - Well Gareth Jones has been working with Andy on the vocals and he’s worked with Andy for years and years and years, and we’ve both known him for years and years and he’s a great person to work with, really easy, and I think Andy and Gareth have a real chemistry which is unique. On the mixing side Richard X mixed the record but he also contributed towards the tracks as well because there was no producer-type person involved in the making of the music, and he has a musical background and a background in electronic music. So he was involved in mixing and kind of supplementing the tracks.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PRODUCE THIS ALBUM YOURSELVES?

VC - One of the reasons why is because I think we both, I guess, would never finish a record, and having a producer around means having someone who can pull all the best bits from you and make the record cohesive. But we’ve been doing this for a long time so we thought why not give it a go.

AB - I think it’s good having an objective person that hasn’t been there while you’ve been creating the music and the vocals and stuff, just to put their stamp on it or make it something different from how you imagined it would be.

WERE ANY OF THE NEW SONGS ON THE ALBUM WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR SNOW GLOBE?

VC - Andy had written a song which he had prepared and it was all finished complete with lyrics and music and everything, and I had written a song also… actually I had written it for my niece and they both were songs that seemed appropriate, but the rest were written for this record.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE NAME 'SNOW GLOBE' FOR THE TITLE OF THE RECORD?

AB - I think we chose Snow Globe because Vince had a snow globe on the side in the studio when we were writing songs, and we thought because the winter had been so long everywhere it has kind of turned into a snow globe.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SOUND OF THIS ALBUM TO SOMEONE WHO HASN'T HEARD IT?

AB - I think even from the very first demos onwards, after I had taken back to Tampa what we’d been working on in New York, and with the carols it almost sounded complete already before we had even put any vocals on it! But Vince has redone the music as well and it just sounds quite orchestral and 4AD-ish I think, but very snowy at the same time. So, really crispy and cold but it has an essence of Christmas in there!

HAVE THE PROJECTS YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON SEPARATELY SINCE THE LAST ERASURE ALBUM INFLUENCED THE NEW SONGS AT ALL?

AB - I think they have a little bit for me because I’ve been doing quite a lot of writing with other people and I kind of got a little bit stuck with doing it, so it was quite nice just to put everything down and then go back to my original partner, Vince, and do some writing. It was really nice because it was very refreshing, and in some ways it took the pressure off because I know Vince already so it was very comfortable, and I think there had been enough of a break in between writing the other stuff and writing some new stuff. Because you can get bored can’t you?

VC - Yeah, and there’s always the danger of repeating yourself but that I don’t think happened for this record…

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT YOU'RE NOT REPEATING YOURSELVES MUSICALLY?

VC - For this record, for the music in particular, I actually put restrictions on the way that I was doing it. Because Christmas songs, as Andy said, if you take something like ‘White Christmas’ it has been recorded by everyone that you can possibly think of in every possible style. So it’s trying to find a sound or a style that has not been done before, so what I did was I stripped everything back and I said, okay I’m not going to use lush strings and great big pianos and orchestral synth sounds, I’m going to make it sound really plastic and almost 8-bit. So, yeah, there were actually restrictions on the way that the music was created...

WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOT TO TOUR THIS ALBUM?

VC - We’re not going to tour because we felt it was too soon after the last tour and that one was very intense, so we thought we would wait a little bit. I think we will tour but probably next year. Also I think with a Christmas record, you can promote it in other ways, so we will save our energies and our ideas for touring next year.

IS IT HARD WORK MAKING A NEW ALBUM, OR IS IT STILL FUN?

VC - Whenever you start a new project like this it’s like you’re not really sure how it’s going to turn out, or whether you’re still going to have the ideas, and then Andy and I get together in New York and I think the writing went really well and easily.

AB - I think it is quite amazing. I think that because we weren’t doing a whole album, not of all original material, it’s made it a bit easier and I think what we’ve been doing sounds really fresh…

ERASURE - Snow Globe (2013)

Erasure will release the 'Snow Globe' album on November 11th.

NOVEMBER 2013

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