Former Depeche Mode man Alan Wilder is currently touring his main project Recoil around Europe, incorporating audio and visual arts into the show. He has released a collection of Recoil's best tracks on an album entitled “Selected.”
We managed to catch a few words from his where he told us about his working process in the ambient world, the current tour and volcanic erruptions!
It’s nice to see Recoil still continuing – Do you have plans for future releases after this collection is released?
AW: Not completely concrete ones but I intend to carry on with what I started before this ‘Selected’ project. I have about 6/7 embryonic tracks underway but it’s too early to say what direction the whole thing is really going in, or when it will be complete. There’s the small matter of the World Cup to enjoy first too:)
What has been the most satisfying thing about Recoil for you?
AW: Probably the fact that I have no real restrictions creatively, which I have always considered a privilege and a luxury compared to most artists. I’m lucky that I don t have to rely on Recoil financially in order to survive, and this frees me up to just follow my instincts, work intuitively and with others who I think have something to offer, while still retaining overall control.
Do you think it has been important to diversify the vocal talents you have collaborated with – or is it more a matter of the right voice that happened to fit the song?
AW: I like to present a balance of voices within any project if possible. I get quickly bored hearing the same voice on all tracks – but generally I let the music dictate. This compilation provided in fact a perfect opportunity to feature most of the vocalists I have worked with over the years, and that formed one of the important criteria for the balance of the running order.
Bearing that in mind – is each song a collaboration through and through, or do you write songs first then contact vocalists you have in mind for doing their part?
AW: I tend to compose basic music first (I wouldn’t call them songs) which should at least lay a framework and some atmosphere to hopefully inspire any would-be vocalist. Usually at this stage the music has suggested who that voice might belong to, and so that is when I would approach people to contribute. Once a singer has come up with some ideas and we have recorded them, I then re-work everything, trying to wrestle it into a final piece. What we end up with can vary from a fairly straight song through to anything else that feels natural, or that just ‘works’.
Doing a live show must be interesting for a band that has had so many people work on the projects over the years – How would you go about selecting vocalists for a live show (Assuming it is not possible to get all the original vocalists to appear)?
AW: For the live experience, I don’t really use vocalists (apart from the occasional guest on this tour). Recoil is not a band. What we take to venues is an audio/visual presentation based on many edited remixes, to form a new expanded piece of music which is recognisably Recoil but different to what we find on the records. Paul Kendall and I add live effects, filtering and extra musical parts to this – our aim is to tailor the audio specifically for each venue. Along with this, we run a 75 minute film, with contribution from four different directors and overseen by myself and Igor Dvorsky. We all worked on this via a central server (since each director lives in a different part of the world) uploading work-in-progress and giving feedback to each other. It was quick and creative – something I enjoyed a lot.
Having said that – have you got any appearing on this tour?
AW: As above. Douglas McCarthy sang at a couple of shows in Spain, and we may have others as we continue the tour.
Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
AW: Not really. I may do a little mixing for The Black Ships (2 guys from The Verve and Davide Rossi) and I recently provided a remix for Nitzer Ebb, but other than that I intend to concentrate on my own new music.
Are there artists, or even vocalists in particular you’d still like to work with?
AW: Yes – I’d love to hear the voice of Morrissey or Lisa Gerrard, or Mark Hollis. And I’m sure there are many others.
How do you best spent your time outside of the music world?
AW: I like to spend time with my kids, and drink plenty of good wine. I’m nuts about sport (cricket, football, tennis, swimming), I love film and am a member of cinema clubs, computing, photography (I dabble a bit), traveling abroad, driving through the countryside, Italian food, proper coffee, sushi.
Thank you very much for your time – and best wishes for the tour.
AW: Many thanks – I’m enjoying it, although the volcanic eruption has just scuppered all our travel plans. We are currently driving 2000km from Sussex to Budapest!