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All about Recoil
Exclusive interview with Alan Wilder
Exclusive interview with Alan Wilder, taken by Alex Davie, special for Shout! fanzine

Photos: Mute

Last updated 02.01.02

First russian interview with Alan Wilder ever, taken thanx to new technologies and modern communications, especially Internet and e-mail.

Early spring 2000 I asked Alan for exclusive interview, and he did it, even he was so much busy with Liquid promotion.

I wrote some questions, most of interested me at the moment, sent them to Alan. He replied me with answers. So interview was taken «virtually», full of exclusive answers to exclusive questions ;))

Special thanks Simon Pensing from Shunt.

Some intro questions

How do you feel now, after your album is already released?

Ready to start another. It's taken almost a year to get «Liquid» released which is a frustratingly long time to wait.

Are you satisfied by results of work done?

Generally yes although there is always a side to me that thinks there is room for improvement.

You did a promo travel across Europe & States so what public reaction you've see from «Liquid» and your work in general?

Most people have been very positive, especially in Europe.

Your Music

I think, your music is still electro-pop, though it is combined with a flammable mix of various styles. Do you agree with me? Or you would take a word «pop» off?

I wouldn't describe it as electro or pop. Avant garde, experimental would be nearer the mark.

Are you specially moving away from music cliches deep into underground area? You don't interested in commercial success? Or you keep in mind the dream that this music will be good selling in near future?

I don't consider commerciality when I make music - I just do what comes naturally. If it sells, then that's great. I think there is a market for «Recoil» music though - it's just a question of making the right people aware of it. Most people don't know about the project.

When I'm listen your LPs I'm always feel how your music bring me a taste of mood it was recorded with. Is your music very close to your mood? In studio, in life or both? Or you emulate this atmosphere for record sessions only?

It doesn't really reflect my outward personality but there is a side to me that does come through in the music. That side is not so clear to see on the surface though.

Everyone who heard your last two albums could notice that main themes of your work is death and sex. Is it coincidence or you're specially point on these things as something very important for you?

It's important that there is a sexual quality within the music, a warmth, some tension and so on. I'm not obsessed with death or sex but they are quite interesting subjects, amongst others.


Why did you decide to re-construct in music form that close-to-death situation after 5 yrs after it happened? Are you still living with that experience?

I will always live with it but I'm not disturbed by it. It was more a surreal feeling. I wrote about it because the experience kept coming into my head. That seemed like a good enough reason to use it.

Diamanda Galas Nicole Blackman Samantha Coerbell

Diamanda Galas, Nicole Blackman, Samantha Coerbell, Sonya Sohn... as I see you use female lead vocals only (except few tracks). Is it a trend? You think female voice is more enjoyable to listen, more sexual to feel or females simply easy to work with?

I would have prefered an equal balance of male and female voices but I couldn't find any men who were suitable.

«Unsound Methods» and «Liquid» both carry some «south» accent in vocals. Do you like that kind of voice?

There's something fascinating about southern gospel music - I think it's the sadness of oppression that lies behind the uplifting music.

What's your favorite track(s) on this LP?

It changes from day to day. At the moment it's «Vertigen» and «Strange Hours».

Alan, your recent release is heavily diluted with spoken word lyrics. I think that this kind of lyrics is extremely effective if used in moderation, on few tracks of album (for example, «Luscious Apparatus» from «Unsound Methods»). «Liquid» is completely spoken word LP. How do you think, possibly you use it too much on «Liquid» or not?

No, otherwise I wouldn't have done it.


Samples used by you are very dramatic... The digitally-transformed hip-hop beats sounds much «filthy» than ever... Vocals are wide varied from intense passionate to icy cold... Complete atmosphere of album is so emotional & natural so I feel a real danger every time I play it... Hey your first two LPs could be used in car while driving without problems but now your music need to be really listen... it grab my mind, and I'm loosing control for a time it plays... Do you wanna operate minds by your music in this way?

Obviously, I want the music to have a strong effect on the listener. Everybody reacts differently to music which is what's so wonderful about it.

I love the fact that you always continue music experiments and I love the unconventional nature of you songs, but I miss the more musical content of «Unsound Methods» and especially «Bloodline». Could we expect from you stuff like «Bloodline» in future?

Who knows?

Your music becomes much darker with every album. Last one has a lot of scare stories... Is it means that your next CD will be a horror film soundtrack? ;))

I don't think it's so dark. I prefer to describe it as dramatic.

Your recent work is uneasy listening. Some fans (most from DM wing, i.e.depechies) maybe disappointed with it 'cos it's difficulty and hard-to-understanding. You don't care about it?


Some politics

We are in Russia were very interested with symbolism of DM's «Construction Time Again» album (you used sickle & hammer etc.). Was there any connection with socialistic ideals or something?

Yes - some socialist viewpoints but basically it was about caring. Politics witha small «p».

When I heard DM for a first time, it was 1985, Russians began their Perestroyka (you know?), beside various changes we've got an ability to open western culture without problems with KGB. Yeah, we wanted to see you guys very much!!! Did you (you & DM) ever plan to visit Russia in that time?

It was never really a practical possibility (for many reasons) although we would have loved to have come to Russia. We certainly became aware of how many fans we had there.

How do you think «Cold War» is over? Do you believe in future global > friendly union of all countries and nations across the world?

I'm not so naive. Cultural differences are important and people naturally divide into groups. The sooner we recognise that the better. Let's encourage individuals and individual culture. That doesn't necessarily mean conflict of course.

When I met DM in Moscow at '98 I noticed that they scare Russians as still unpredictable people for western world. Do (did) you afraid us or not? (please, if yes, don't do it anymore!!! ;)))

We are not afraid.

Hey, do you help any way any social program or «Green Peace»?

I've always believed that charity should be a private affair. I am not involved with any political party or group.

Computer, Internet

You use PC, Mac or both?


How many hours you spend with it every day?

Far too many!

Yeah it's very interesting... Do Paris [Alan's daughter] like to operate computer? She like to play or something else?

She's very interested in the computer.

Your «Shunt» web site is very important for fans around the world. It is possibly the only source of info from Recoil Project. How you realised the fact that you need to be in Internet? When it's happened and who help(ed) to build your site?

We started the site 2 years ago. The web is very important for a project like Recoil which is perceived as «difficult» by much of the media who therefore do not give us much coverage. This way, we can control the image of Recoil and also cultivate some communication. This is also important since I don't tour - my involvement on the web is a kind of replacement for touring.

What's your future plans with «Shunt» web site?

Just to keep it growing and improving.

Do you agree with opinion that Internet is trashed too much with porno, dirty religious sects or simply stupidity?

Of course but that's the point. Total choice or censorship? i know which I prefer. If you don't like something, don't go there.

Personal questions

Alan you are looking very «alternative» now (I mean your «disorder-look» haircut & «dark-romantic» clothing)... Is it your current style, fashion follow-up or something else?

It's just what I wear and how I like to look - I don't think about it that much.

What perfume you prefer at the moment?

L'egoist by Chanel.

I know that you don't like to be mentioned as «the former Depeche Mode man» so why all your OWN promo materials still contain that phrase?

Only sometimes. Most people don't know who I am or what my history is. Mentioning DM is the quickest and easiest way to make them sit up and listen.

Do(did) you attempt elecronic/underground parties at clubs? Like a visitor or like a DJ?

No - I'm not really into DJing

I live together with my wife and 2 yrs daughter in small Moscow flat. My work cabinet, our bedroom & children room - located in one place (3-in-one ;))). When I work at home my little Ann is jumping around so I'm getting mad with it and cancel all deals until night. Night is coming but my wife isn't letting me to sit before PC 'cos it disturb her to sleep... As I know you have a large studio to work in but tell me truly did your Paris ever play at your «work area» and how it marked on your music process?

She gets bored listening to me work so we usually find an alternative arrangement.

Miscellaneous questions

When did you find out that you're an idol in Russia (as ex-DM and as Mr. Alan Wilder)? Your reaction?

All I know is the DM became very popular in Russia. It's nice to know if that's true.

Do you have a plan to visit Russia in the future?

Not at the moment.

Well do you ever listen Russian synth-pop bands? Or any Russian pop/rock bands?

Not really.

Last year we could see a kind of hysteria with Y2K - people around the world already «met Next Millenium». Did you do it too or you will wait until January 1, 2001?

We had a really good private party for about 20 people.

In some Q&A you said that your favorite drink is «Moskovskaja». Is it your current choice or not? ;) If yes please share the secret what amount of it you prefer? ;)))

My favourite drink at this time........ Moskow Mule! (vodka - large, ginger ale, fresh lime, crushed ice)

Some final questions

Yeah I know you are very busy with Recoil promotion now but... Do you have any plans for vacations etc.?

Small break in Cornwall and in York (both in England).

When we will grab our hands on your next stuff?


Thanks you very much for the time you spent...

Best wishes, Alan Wilder.

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