Vince you've been gone

After close encounters with most of the Mute bands, you'd think Uncle Dan had ordered them to live up to their oft-lively label's name. But then Vincent Clarke, late of fab Dep Mod, has never been a man of many words.

Vincent departed, with three hits under his belt (an achievement he shrugs off lightly) to concentrate simply on furthering his songwriting career. But he got bored after month and, in November last year, he joined forces with one Genevieve Alison Moyet, also of Basildon, centre of known universe. The demos they made worked out so well that the duo welded themselves together under the screaming banner Yazoo.

Inside Mute’s new shop-cum-head office, Vincent and his lady sidekick sat, alternately giggling and blushing at each other. Vincent doesn’t much enjoy having to analyze what he does – his actions speaks louder than words ever will. Ms Moyet, a large, rounded earth mother of a figure, was equally self-effacing and quiet, uncertain how to cope with her sudden thrust into the limelight.

She was christened Genevieve, but everyone calls her Alison, or Alf. She tells you this with a big smile and a throaty laugh. Alf’s been singing for five years now, with various r’n’b bands in Essex. She explained:

“I sang with bands like the Screaming Abdabs and the Vicars – both Canvey Island bands. They never did anything, never broke into any circuits at all.”

Alison numbers Muddy Waters and the Fabulous ( … this part is not readable … ) time down on Canvey Island watching the Feelgoods and such – a world away from Vince and his shiny New Pop. So how did she come to make the unlikely transition from r’n’b to working with Mr Electropop himself?

Alison: “I advertised for a rootsy blues band and Vincent answered!” she laughed, loudly and nervously.

Seemed so obvious the way she said it … I ventured that most people who’d heard their debut 45 ‘Only You’ had been unable to pinpoint the sex of the singer, hindered by the strangeness of the gutsy vocal sung over a tinkly tune.

Alf: “Vincent actually got a letter from one of his friends in Germany saying that he liked his singing voice.”

The mixture is incongruous but certainly unique. Vincent agreed that no-one else was experimenting in the electronic area with anything resembling Alison’s voice:

“It’s an unusual combination. There’s a lot of synth bands with vocalists that sing with expression, but Alf, she’s got the soul.”

Alison turned bright crimson and joked: “Thank you so much, Vincent.”

“The best instrument is the voice – the best instrument in the world, and the most interesting. It’s nice to work with a good one.”

Vince ‘n’ Alf fitted their jigsaw pieces together so well that they went right ahead and made an album, which is now almost finished. The duo wanted a Speedy Gonzales recording. Will it even be more intriguing than the sniggle?

Vince: “There’ll be bits of everything in it, really. Alison writes as well, she writes in a completely different style to anything I do. It’s going to be a mixture of everything, any type of music you can think of.

( …  this part is not readable … ) Lots of different styles?

Vince: “Yeah. Recently we’ve been experimenting with sound, cutting up tape, which has proved quite interesting. We’re not trying to attain a certain sound, we’re interested in it just for the sake of sound, the idea of it. We’re making music that’s going to be disturbing.”

Is it commercial, or aren’t they worried?

Vince: “I don’t know, I’m just enjoying it. It’s a better kind of working relationship, there’s only two of us to argue. as far as commerciality’s concerned, I don’t know … ”

C’mon Vince, don’t you have the teeniest idea?

Vince: “No, it was the same with Depeche. We didn’t set out to do a single that was going to appeal to 13 1/2 year olds. We just did the music and  ( …  this part is not readable … ).

So it was all just fortuitous?

Vince: “Yeah. Was it?”

Alf: “Certainly was, Vincent.”

The case rests, but I’m not convinced … Yazoo are working with “a chap from Blackwing Studios” on their elpee, alias Eric the Engineer, who’s helping to produce more than Daniel (Miller) is. Vincent is enjoying working in a different atmosphere. He says Eric is giving them more freedom. Vincent then dried up on me. And Alison stuttered when asked about her songs:

“B … b … basically, just songs we’ve had anyway. We’re just trying to get a mixture of material from different parts of my life!”

Did she write the B-Side ‘Situation’?

( …  this part is not readable … ) and she corrected it.”

Alison: “I don’t think the A-side is very representative really, Vincent!”

Vince: “This is Alf talking … ”

Alf: “At the time it was only a one-off, we were trying to find something that was pleasant and inoffensive all round. That’s how I see it anyway.”

Vince: “Pardon?”

Alf: “I’d certainly like to change Vincent’s direction! No, I think we’ll just do a bit of what we both like. We have no intentions of limiting ourselves.”

The spectre of live shows then reared it’s head. I know that with DM Vincent didn’t enjoy playing live. Does he want now?

“I didn’t enjoy it the way   ( …  this part is not readable … ) never really had the time to get a live show together, and it was really boring to watch four people on stage just standing still. So in this project we’re looking into a lot of visual things and hopefully we’ll do some live dates when we get a proper show together.”

Alison: “Dance routines and stuff!”

Vince: “Yeah, dance routines … we’re going to see a musician this week. Should be a laugh. As long as he doesn’t disappear in a flash.”

Geddit?!? When the illusionists, performing seals and elephants are match fit, Vincent and Alison will see where the show suits and hit the road.

Yazoo may well be the Laurel and Hardy of synthpop. For I can just hear Alison saying:

( …  this part is not readable … )


Written by Betty Page and originally printed in SOUNDS on April 17th, 1982.

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