Founding member of electro-pop wonder Visage is releasing a remix album containing their best remembered hits from almost 30 years ago – Fade To Grey is probably the most prominent of these and has been given several remixes on the album.
The launch took place at Raffles where Rusty Egan did a DJ set for the crowd – he now takes time out to answer a few of our own questions for him.
The wikipedia lists you as FORMER MEMBER – but you are clearly actively involved now in promoting this new release? Are you getting more involved?
Visage started as a collection of my favourite Musicians currently available to make music for me to play at The Blitz Club, I had a sound in my head and heart and wanted to make people dance and think and to send them on a trip during the evening. Georgio Moroder, Yellow Magic Orchestra , Kraftwerk, were not American Roxy and Bowie were British and I wanted The Blitz to be a dance club anywhere in Europe….. most dance music came from USA ….
My role as a DJ and drummer/programmer is exactly as superstar DJ's are today….. Bob Sinclair – David Guetta do the same job, cut n paste . Midge Ure- Billy Currie and the magazine boys wrote amazing melodies and lyrics, I wanted to make you dance……
Steve was the Image of The Blitz Club and was perfect to front Visage…. Boy George was younger and very boisterous and bitchy with Steve so I found it difficult to see his great talent till a year later….
If so – are there any plans afoot to produce any new material?
I would love to create a VISAGE 2010, What would i need ,A lot of dance music made today is faceless and has no soul, it's now a formula and cheapens the quality artists who create amazing electronic music, there are DJ's making hit after hit in the clubs and they go on compilation CD's merged together by computer programs , even the key and the bpm can be segued. I would hate to be a part of that and the creativity is in the writing and the performance of the vocal… all the backing tracks are similar…. There is no need for me to add to that field…..If Visage were to make a new record it would be to add to the music that is missing, Depeche Mode have supplied this for many many years , I am not sure we would be making music for the same reasons we started visage……
I believe clubs will go back to DJ's selection….. If I were to compile a CD of amazing music from all genre's and play it in a club it would be slower , warmer and melodic and it would have to have better vocals ,the lyrics have meaning ,Imagine Massive Attack, Portishead and Beth Ditto on Vocals and the clarity of Kraftwerk ….. plus Calvin Harris and Deadmu5 and Chris Lake remixes, these people have the soul and the right structure for me, Chase and Status , Pendalum have the excitement…
There are many bands enjoying revivals at the moment – Why do you think this has come about now? Is new music no good anymore, or not original enough.
The revival is not for the bands now, it's for the period of time… I.E I loved the 70's Glam Rock, Bolan, Bowie, Roxy, Slade,The Sweet , the clothes, glam make up, etc…
La Roux are influenced by the best of the 80's and made fun pop and .. they opened the door to the music for this generation to discover via Internet . Aha, Yazoo, Human League, Heaven 17, Visage, ABC, Depeche Mode Soft Cell ,Eurythmics , Wham and you suddenly see how bloody great it was ….and BRITISH, no American rubbish ..
Oh Sorry Stadium Rock , spandex Pants and poodle hair … was also around…
So, does the who wrote “Fade to grey” debate still continue to this day? I saw Midge Ure at an 80’s festival last year to which he introduced the song as one he wrote.
As I said earlier Midge Ure- Billy Currie and the Magazine boys wrote amazing melodies and lyrics, Uvox 3 albums, Simple Minds 3 albums,Magazine 3 albums all 3 did not have a hit Midge Joined Visage who were Me The DJ who championed all 3 bands, and members of Ultravox and Magazine I knew them inside out, loved them and played the songs every week 3 or 4 times. So we started to write together , When they said what's this sound you want to create everyone had idea's….. my drums and bass lines, Barry Adamsons bass playing was amazing , Midge did a US Tour with Thin Lizzy and So Billy toured with Gary Numan and when they came back they had amazing idea's and input Billy brought the synth line and a basic Melodie Midge grabbed it and added his Lyrics I brought in my Girlfriend Brigitte and I pumped the 4 to the floor bass drum, hi hat beat and added the big Symmons drums [ still being developed by Dave Simmons ] and fade to grey lower voice , Billy added the violin solo , piano's etc. WE ALL DID OUR BIT. We did not think it as a hit we knew it was Blitz Club Music and that's what we wanted it was agreed that it's written arranged and produced by VISAGE.
My heroes of survival are U2…. They agreed 4 ways…..they were all equal and Paul was the fifth member and it has worked for 30 years .
Ultravox agreed 4 ways , but when Midge and Billy’s Managers had a conflict of interest it was changed at artwork time and we were given an ultimatum…
I am not a song writer and would say Midge is a great writer and performer but I will say I had a very strong idea of the music that was growing in the UK and I got these musicians together to create those idea's and tried to as a DJ let as many people as I could know about it…. I have not had a fair ride in the writing and royalties of Visage but I am still proud to say I was a part of the creating of the first 2 albums and by Beat Boy my energy was moving with Simple Minds and U2 [ who were so wonderful to me they gave me back my faith in music…]
I am sorry to say I was deeply hurt and at one stage in my life I was completely devastated by how cruel and unfair life can be…. I am happy to say I lost the things most dear to me but found a new way of dealing with life and have nothing to complain about…….It just got better and keeps getting better.
It really has endured some staying power – does the longevity of the song surprise you at all?
The Michael Grey remix was always in my head when I had the Axwell mix of Sweet Dreams . Fade to Grey and Sweet dreams both had that synth line and bass…. both are classics along with Depeche's Just Can't get enough…..all have staying power.
Do you find comfort in the fact that there is a lot of punk and synth-pop music being produced again today? Does it feel like the British music industry is coming full circle around to the way it was 30 years ago?
The Blitz Club was 10 years ahead of Ministry, Cream etc a brand of music started by a DJ…. House music comes from the Chicago Ware HOUSE…… Derrick May the DJ will tell you he played Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode, Visage, Human League, 4 to the floor music …the Camden Palace [ Now KOKO ] was 1600 CAPACITY . I was THE DJ of the 80's , I found the hits, either a new unsigned band or a track or record found it's way to me…. it was A and R EVERY WEEK…..Today it's confusing, bands make MySpace, websites , logo's and finished pro mo downloads, i don't know if it's new, old, or major or indi…..then it was simple…. A DJ loved your track, he played it…. today radio is just DJ's talking on top of track already mixed and pre selected and play listed…..If Pete tong likes it…. he plays it….that's the old way.. the DJ knows a hit record, even if it needs a remix, he can hear a hit…..that's all i ever did,,,, and i picked amazing musicians who had never had a hit…. and VISAGE was bigger than them for a while….
How was it to revisit the raffles to launch the compilation album?
I am just a DJ and I play there and the club offered me the place to launch, they were very kind and it was a great evening,
Any sign of Mr Strange on the scene?
No sign of Steve Strange, he was also not around for any part of the remix's.
How have you best been spending your time over the past few years, work and hobby-wise?
I am a single parent….I have 3 growing boys who i adore and live with and I have a daughter i lost contact with for 10 years and am now a day at a time finding her to be a strong minded and creative force just as I was at her age, I believe she will one day surprise me and others…. I also have been told by everyone who knows her and me,that she is such a sweet girl and the nicest person,,,, I believe she has heard some nice things about her dad… that is so Important, to be spoken about kindly….by your peers……
Have you got any other projects on at the moment?
I remix and last years I did
And open to more …..