Q&A: Martin Gore Of Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode were remixing when MGMT were toddlers, hip-hop meant “Rapper’s Delight,” and Ministry was a disco act. Whether self-created or deconstructed by a guest artist, over the course of a 30-year career, the electronic rockers have treated the 12-inch club mix as a valid art form. In 2004, they issued their first collection of new and classic remixes. Remixes 2 is out Tuesday, featuring vintage and current Mode material tweaked by UNKLE, Dan the Automator, Jacques Lu Cont, Peter Bjorn and John, and Mike Snow, as well as former members Vince Clarke (later of Yaz and Erasure) and Alan Wilder. Here, legendary co-founder Martin Gore discusses veto power, vinyl (records, not trousers), and what’s next for one of the world’s most massive musicians.
Marc Spitz:As Depeche Mode’s primary songwriter, you spend a lot of time in the studio trying to perfect each piece of music. Isn’t the idea of a remix antithetical to that, since it upsets everything you’ve worked so hard on?
Martin Gore: It’s been so much a part of our fabric from day one, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s second nature. The only single we ever put out that didn’t have any kind of remix was our first [1981’s ‘Dreaming of Me’]. If I don’t like what’s being done or feel there isn’t enough of the song in there, we have total control; we can veto anything we don’t like. But a lot of times, we’re pleasantly surprised.
Do people submit remixes on spec? Or do you invite musicians you admire to remix your work?
People submit songs on spec, but we also get a list together of people who we’re interested in. Between [longtime label] Mute and us, we come up with quite a few people and we choose the best of the bunch.
You’ve watched remix culture grow, to the point that in hip-hop it’s now almost required. Sometimes the remix becomes the hit single. Does someone else’s mix ever change the way you feel about a song?
When we go out and play live, we often use parts of the remixes that we like and it becomes a new live version.
Are there Depeche Mode fans who don’t want some of these songs fussed with at all? When you change near-holy singles like ‘Blasphemous Rumours’ or ‘Enjoy the Silence’, do fans ever protest?
[Laughs.] I don’t think so, because anyone who’s that obsessed would want as many versions of the song as they could possibly find. There are Depeche Mode parties around the world where people listen to our music all night long. The more remixes we can give them, the more interesting those nights have got to be.
There’s a vinyl box-set version of this remix collection as well. Are you a purist about that? Does a true club remix have to be on a 12-inch vinyl?
I think it’s really important that vinyl is available. And it looks much better. I come from that generation. Kids today don’t know that much about vinyl. It was so exciting to go to the record shop and buy a piece of vinyl and hold it, read the liner notes, look at the pictures. Even the smell of the vinyl.
Those obsessive fans must be excited by the idea of reunions with Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, who contribute remixes to this new collection (‘Behind the Wheel’ and ‘In Chains’, respectively). How did that come about?
We weren’t in touch with either of them. Toward the end of the last tour I asked Alan if he would come onstage at London’s Royal Albert Hall and he agreed. Then he came on tour in America. It seemed natural to ask him. With Vince, I got an e-mail from him out of the blue about nine months ago saying, “I’m thinking of making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?” That’s finished now, but we need to mix it. It was natural to ask him to do a remix as well.
Speaking of Vince Clarke, this fall will be 30 years since Speak and Spell. This collection spans that entire period. Does it help to put a period on it and free you up to write new music? Can we expect another Depeche Mode album soon?
I suppose there’s a period. It’s the end of our EMI period. With Sounds of the Universe we only signed for one album and a remix collection. After this we don’t have a label.
Would you release music independently?
I don’t know. We’ve talked about it, but I don’t know how many years it will take [to finish the album]. Who knows how music will be distributed then . . .
You might be able to release it directly into people’s brains.
I think that’s called brainwashing.
Source: Vanity Fair