When the dominating female vocals of Propaganda aka Claudia Brücken(“Dr. Mabuse”, “P-Machinery”) unites with the pioneering synthesizerwork of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) aka Paul Humphreys(…do I really have to name the best known titles of them???)…It results in Onetwo and both individuals have to tell us quite a lotinteresting stories of the golden past.
Chain D.L.K.: Hello Claudia and Paul, I think the first question isobviously. How has your cooperation happened? I’ve read some content ofyour website, www.theremusic.com which mentioned a mutual American touras being the point to start Onetwo. So how was it?
One Two: (PH) Yes, the tour was the catalyst for the beginning of Onetwoalthough our writing collaboration started in the mid nineties. Claudiawas working on her second solo album (never released) and I wasapproached by a label as a possible co-writer for some songs for it sowe started working on ideas in the late nineties. The project was haltedbecause Claudia decided to have an attempt at an original memberPropaganda reunion and gave it several years of her time. Some ofClaudia’s and my work was carried through into Propaganda and thenwithdrawn when that was abandoned in 2002. We decided to form Onetwo in2004 with the release of the 5 track EP ‘Item’ initially released oneBay only. The US tour did make us realize that we worked very well onstage together and at that time, we did flirt with the idea that wecould actually form a new band.
Chain D.L.K.: Once again and for all people interested in this. Paul,your split with Andrew McClusky was later on also the end for that wholeproject, also Andy has released after “The Pacific Age” and the “Best ofOMD” compilation only one more full-length studio album “Sugar Tax”.Please give us some insight and tell us the reasons why thissuccessfull and pioneering project has ended. Isn’t it not frustratingfor you to see what has happened after your split with Andy? How is yourrelation to him today?
One Two: (PH) Yes, I finally split with Andy officially in 1990. We hadplayed together, written together, done everything together since beingat school and was really a 14 year professional relationship which hadbecame exhausted. We were also both physically exhausted by the time wereached the end of the eighties. I wanted initially to have a break fromOMD for a few years, do other things, have a rest and then come backfresh and reinvent OMD. This however was not possible as there werecommercial pressures from the record company, management etc. to keepthe whole OMD ball rolling. So faced with this I decided to get off theride really, this was compounded by the fact that Andy and Istylistically couldn’t agree on a musical way forward. All a bit of ashame really as I thought even though we had already been hugelysuccessful, OMD could have gone on to even greater things. Andy and Iworked together again in 1998 touring Europe doing promotion for asingles collection Virgin had just released where we managed to put alot of the bad feeling to rest. I’m actually writing this on tour withAndy in Germany as we agreed to do the Nokia Night of the Proms tourtogether as OMD, playing some of our old hits with a full Orchestra andChoir. The other thing I have agreed to do with OMD is to go on tour tocelebrate the 25th anniversary of our seminal album “Architecture andMorality” where we will be doing a small tour of the UK and Europeplaying the whole of the record. I would like to point out however, thatI may work again with OMD from time to time but my commitment to Onetwois full and complete. It just means that my work load increasesdramatically from time to time!
Chain D.L.K.: The things for Propaganda also started well with “Dr.Mabuse” and the full-length “A Secret Wish”. But afterwards the successdidn’t continue and also Propaganda called its split, as far what I knowin some bad terms. So I would also like to ask you, Claudia, to give ussome background of the sudden end of Propaganda, as far as this isallowed to ask for…
One Two: (CB) The bone of contention was always the fact that we were ona very bad deal with ZTT but I do remember there was willingness fornegotiation on ZTT’s side. Unfortunately we had incompetent managementwhich did nothing to nurture a feeling of solidarity within the band. Itwas always like hey you should get rid of her (meaning me) you don’tneed her and the other way around, hey you don’t need them, why don’tyou get rid of them. Evidently that’s not good management. Sadly therest of the band thought it more of a threat that I was married to labeldirector Paul Morley and they thought we wanted to be in control, whichwe really weren’t. Paul always loved and cared for the bands he signedand would always support the artist he signed wholeheartedly, him beingmore of an artist himself rather than a company boss. The rest of theband decided they wanted to part with ZTT and seek better fortuneelsewhere but I really wanted to stay with ZTT knowing I wanted to bearound this creative energy that I had been immersed in for the last 18month. We had such a great team of people, working with Lippo was such atreat and getting Trevor’s expertise was something I knew that wouldn’tbe easily found anywhere else. So we parted and I decided to stay with ZTT.
Chain D.L.K.: Your mutual time with OMD happened to end in 1990. Wherehave you been and what have you done through the years, Paul?
One Two: (PH) Well by the time the lawyers had untangled the legal issuesleft over from the demise of my time with OMD and Virgin Records it was1992 , I was living in Los Angeles and my wife at the time had givenbirth to my daughter so I basically took a few years off to be a fulltime father. I had become somewhat disillusioned with being an artisttoo by this time but in 1994 I decided to go back to work again but thistime on the other side of the business and formed an independent recordlabel based in Liverpool with my former OMD colleagues Mal Holmes andMartin Cooper. We launched the label Telegraph Records with an albumfull of songs I had written over a period of years with Malcolm andMartin under the name The Listening Pool. We released the album ,not tostart a new band but really to use the release to attract attention tothe label and hopefully other artists. We subsequently signed ChinaCrisis, Pete Coyle from the Lotus Eaters and several local bands that wehad signed to help and develop. The label was ultimately financiallyunder-funded and as my marriage failed during this period I basicallylost the drive and the interest in it. That then takes me up to meetingClaudia.
Chain D.L.K.: Nearly the same question for you, Claudia, although youhave done here and there some vocal contributions (Act, also later withAndy Bell on his solo album…) and a solo album. What else has happenedfor you personally?
One Two: (CB) After I finished Propaganda I stayed on ZTT and formed Actwith Thomas Leer. We co-wrote the album “Laughter Tears and Rage”together and in 1991 I released my solo album “Love and a million otherthings” on Island Records. Since then I’ve collaborated with manywriters from all sorts of genre including The Startled Insects, BarryAdamson, Nicki Chinn, Blank and Jones, Spiritfeel and Chromeseduction. Ialso after the release of my solo album dedicated my years to mydaughter who was born 1992
Chain D.L.K.: Some words to Theremusic, which seems to be your ownlabel and home base. Are you nowadays really independent working andalone responsible for your decisions?
One Two: (PH) Yes we talked with some of the major labels with our Onetwoidea, but ultimately decided that being independent was the way forward.The corporate music industry has been imploding for several years nowand we are returning back to the way the industry was in the late 70’s /early eighties when all the good things were happening with newindependents i.e. Factory/ Mute etc. So, as I bring some experience fromrunning Telegraph in the nineties, we decided to start our new labelThere(there)
Chain D.L.K.: Please describe us your earlier release “Item” and the itsconceptual idea. Was it a kind of promotional release to catch attentionby a few labels?
One Two: (CB) “Item” was an experiment. It’s called “Item” because it wasoriginally intended as an eBay only release and “Item” is what allproducts are called in that environment. It sold thousands through eBayand attracted the attention of many 3rd party distributors so it endedup being sold in some shops and was actually exported around the worldby Mute Records.
Chain D.L.K.: The track “Cloud 9” got co-composed by Martin L. Gore ofDepeche Mode. How did you get in contact with him and how did you“persuade” him to help out? Is it thinkable that this track will beaccompanying the album “Instead” as a Single-CD release? Any video stuffyou¹re working on to satisfy the MTV/VIVA youth generation?
One Two: (CB) Well, being as solo artist for so long, I’ve always soughtto work and collaborate with other musicians. I think I am a verycreative person and I always have ideas for new songs going around in myhead. On this occasions I started to write a little chord sequence onguitar and I pretty much had the lyrics plus the verse melodies sortedout but as my knowledge of chords on guitars are limited I simplythought, hmm, who could I ask to help me with this song and seriously,Martin who lived closed by, came into my mind. I never thought of Martinthe guy from Depeche but just of Martin who’s a great singer songwriterguitarist and because we were mates and he was around and he lived closeby I just rang him up and told him that I wanted to play him a bit of mysong. We met up and he listened and I said please help me finish writingit and he said no way I can’t do that I’ve never written with ANYONEBEFORE, SO I replied well don’t worry, why don’t you give it a go and ifit doesn’t work than just throw it in the rubbish, and then I left.After a couple of days Martin called me up and said, hey I’ve done it…it was a doodle…and that was the way “Cloud 9” was written. He’s such asweetheart!
Chain D.L.K.: Of what I could read at your diary on your website, youseem to be very active by doing concerts or any other promotionalmeetings. Does your project Onetwo already pay all your bills, or do youhave to share a daily job?
One Two: (PH) We play concerts because we love to get up on stage and playour music to people, performing is a really important part of being anartist. Money comes into it though and Onetwo is making money howeverbecause we have our own label we are constantly reinvesting the profitsinto the record label at the moment. One thing I have to say regardingthis (the daily job comment) is that I do feel incredibly lucky thatI’ve never had to take a job outside of the music business since I leftschool and signed to Virgin Records when I was still a teenager. I’malso fortunate that I managed to make many OMD albums that still sell.There is a saying in the business that when you’re a songwriter, yoursongs are your babies, you nurture them and if they are good one daythey grow up and go out to work for your family business, luckily thishas happened to me!
Chain D.L.K.: What else do you expect from the future, musically and foryour private life? Any new releases in the works which you can alreadyconfirm here?
One Two: (PH) I’ve always tried not to look too far ahead in life, aslong as I have a plan for the near future that’s enough for me. At themoment we’ve got the Onetwo releases coming up, the promotion for that,some Onetwo gig’s, followed by a few OMD gigs, some summer festivalsthen…. I’ll sit back and evaluate how all that went and see what we donext. I’m personally very proud of “Instead” and I want to get it to asmany people as possible so I want to keep promoting it well into next year.
Chain D.L.K.: Any plans for a bigger tour when “Instead” will be out?What can the audience expect from you acting on stage?
One Two: (CB) Yes, we are about to announce some Onetwo live dates in UKand in Germany, new of these will appear on www.theremusic.com verysoon. Live we will be playing as a five-piece band, but with no livedrummer. We will play mainly Onetwo songs but we visit our pasts duringthe show so you can expect a couple of OMD songs and a couple ofPropaganda songs and maybe one or two other surprises!
Chain D.L.K.: By the way, who of you is One and who’s Two?
One Two: (PH) Well, ladies first, Claudia would have to be one and Iwould have to be two!
Chain D.L.K.: Any final words for our readers to conclude this interview?
One Two: Not really as we’ve said quite a lot here already,we’d only really like to finally say to your readers that if youpurchase the Onetwo album, you will get a record that was made with muchpassion and commitment and we really, really hope that you get as muchenjoyment out of listening to it as we had making it!!
Visit One Two on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]