Which guest vocalists will you recruit for the next release?
I’ve no ideas about guest vocalists yet.
Would you consider using Dave on a future Recoil album?
I don’t think so, it wouldn’t feel right. I like Dave very much but I want to work with different people. Anyway, have you ever thought that he might not be interested in collaborating with Recoil?
Can you explain how you choose your guest vocalists?
I bring the music to a point where it accurately demonstrates the atmospheres I want to create and is acceptable to play to vocalists. I will explain that I am liable to change the structures once the vocals have been recorded and always make sure that my collaborators trust me to manipulate what they’ve done afterwards. I rarely, however, change their words. I am looking for vocalists who present something either out of the ordinary and unique in some way or who are incredibly powerful singers. For ‘Unsound Methods’, Siobhan Lynch came to me via a demo cassette and I was immediately drawn to her sightly desperate voice. I recruited Doug McCarthy, who performed on the previous Recoil LP and the single, ‘Faith healer’, partly because I knew he would suit the 2 tracks I had in mind for him and also because he is probably the easiest person in the world to work with. He was formerly one half of Nitzer Ebb and we became good friends after they supported DM on the MFTM and Violator tours. Maggie Estep, a New-York spoken word artist came to the project after I had been searching, unsuccessfully, for an intelligent rapper with an interesting angle. Even though she is clearly not a rapper, in the end she proved far more in tune with the overall feel of the project and is in sharp contrast to the other vocalists. Finally, Hildia Cambell, who was one of the gospel singers on the DM ‘Devotional’ tour.
I was wondering how I might get in touch with Douglas McCarthy? Is there an e-mail or postal address for him that I might be able to get?
I don’t give out personal e-mail addresses but I will pass your message onto him. You could also try writing to Mute, who usually forward mail on to their artists.
My question is about Morrissey. Have you had a chance to pick up his new album ‘My Early Burglary Years’, a B-side + rarity collection? If so, what do you think of it? And secondly, and more importantly, is Moz on your list of possible vocalists for the next Recoil album?
No, I haven’t heard it. I haven’t actually seen it – is it out yet? I do like Morrissey’s voice and I think he would suit Recoil. What do you think?
Have you read Maggie Estep’s book ‘Diary Of An Emotional Idiot’ – if so, what did you think of it?
I haven’t read it. Hep has and says its a good read if you like humorous and slightly bizarre stories about sex and drugs.
Toni Halliday / Alan Wilder – a darker Yaz-like arrangement for the new millennium?
Mmmm, I don’t think so. As I’ve said before, I don’t want to work permanently with anyone else.
I know you are a fan of reversing sounds so who is the little girl in ‘Bloodline’ (same girl as in NE’s ‘Sugarsweet’?) and was that a nursery rhyme backwards?
Yes, that’s Jeri McCarthy (Doug’s daughter) singing ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’.
Who is P.K.? How do you know him/her? And does P.K. stand for anything?
P.K. is Paul Kendall, long time Mute engineer / sound designer and thoroughly nice bloke. Look out for the June Editorial (to be found in Report – editorial) which will be all about P.K. and his work.
My friend interviewed Toni and he tried to pry out some sordid stories about your childhood but she wouldn’t budge. Any comments?
What make’s you think Toni Halliday has any great insight into my childhood? We only met for the first time in 1989…
What kind of music does Paul Kendal make. Could you explain it?
For those who don’t know who P.K. is see: Report – editorial – June. In the editorial, P.K. probably didn’t explain his music very clearly because it’s pretty unexplainable. It’s very experimental and deals more with ‘aural sculpting’ of individual sounds as opposed to traditionally structured music. It’s minimal but not necessarily ambient. Don’t expect lots of melodies;-)
Do you think that Doug McCarthy´s voice is better when he whispers or sings than when he shouts?
No real preference. It depends what’s required at the time.
I really like your co-operation with Siobhan Lynch. Do you plan to work with her again?
No plans to do so at the moment…
What about using some samples of Paris’ voice on your next record? Your next record could be real family album then – with wonderful Hep´s co-ordination.
I’d have to pitch her voice down a long way – it’s very squeaky!
Okay, I’ll be honestly blunt: I’ve been in love [alright! in lust] with Douglas McCarthy since 1990, when I was just a kid who discovered Nitzer Ebb. Is there any way to correspond with him?
I’ll pass on your message – watch out, he’s a complete cad. Or as our farmer friend says “A bounder….”
On “Curse”, are Moby’s vocals pitched down?
Yes, well spotted – by about 2 semitones. And to pre-empt your next question, because I preferred them that way.
As a long time fan of both your work and Nitzer Ebb, I enjoy the combination of you two working together. I hope that this isn’t a repeat question, but will Douglas be touring with you?
Well, since I’m not going on tour, that would be pretty hard unless, of course, Doug want’s to go out and promote the project on his own.
On the original press release from Mute for the release of ‘Unsound Methods’, it mentioned that there were additional remix contributions from Flood and U.N.C.L.E. What happened to these?
Flood did a mix which was intended for release until Mute decided that they only wanted one format instead of two, as originally planned. At the time of the press release we thought it would be released, as well as a remix which U.N.K.L.E agreed to do, but never completed.
What role did Diamanda Galas play on the album ‘Bloodline’?
I sampled her reciting the Lords Prayer and used it in one of the link passages between two tracks. She gave her permission to use the sample.
Is there any chance you will work with either Matt Johnson or K.D. Lang in the future?
I think K.D. Lang would be an interesting Recoil vocalist. To take someone who has a great voice but makes fairly safe music and intergrate it into something altogether more dark and disturbing, is an idea that appeals to me.
Would you ever want to work with that wonderfully wacky diva Bjork on any future Recoil projects?
I have mixed feelings about Bjork. I can’t listen to her voice for any length of time and her English accent ‘grates’. However, I do think her recent album was one of the most interesting and unusual records I’ve heard for a long time. It had obviously been very carefully thought out, was very focused and sounded like noone else – all big plus’s in my book.
In her question to you on June 10th, Alexandra Chlup mentions a new song sounding very much like ‘Red River Cargo’. I think it comes from Tricky’s new album ‘Broken Homes’ and features P.J. Harvey as guest vocalist. Would you like to work with her in the future or do you think that it would be somehow inappropriate because of her recent collaboration with Tricky (and also Nick Cave)?
I haven’t heard the Tricky album so I can’t comment on it. As for P.J. Harvey, I do find her work quite interesting.
How did Francis Coppola became involved in the production of ‘Unsound Methods’?
The track originated with some Martin Sheen lines from the film. I sent a ‘work in progress’ copy of the track to Coppola’s production company, Zoetrope, for approval and they wrote back saying that I could use them (for a percentage;-). That’s as far as his involvement went.
In a response on 13/6/98 from Sunshine, you were asked about studio pet-hates. One of them was “Beep…beep beep……beep beeep beeeeep.. “I’m up to level 4!” …beep …beep beep…” – Was that Doug on the video games again?
No, Douglas works when he’s in the studio.
Doug said (in response to lyrics for ‘Stalker’) that his writing can sometimes get his wife rather miffed at him. When did Hep meet Doug for the first time and how well do they get along (before, during or after “consuming vast quantities of alcohol”…)?
They first met at the ‘Devotional’ end-of-tour party in Detroit. They get on very well – it takes a lot more than Douglas heavy breathing down the ‘phone to offend Hep.
I’m sure that you knew Barry Adamson was using a few seconds from ‘Barrel of a gun’ – (United mix) in his ‘Control Freak’ mix. What did you think of this act? Was it a joke or something?
I wasn’t aware of it until I read your question. Had I known, I would have removed it.
Were you aware of some criticism you received in the press for having Toni’s voice too low in the mix on her two tracks on ‘Bloodline’? Was this intentional?
It was intentional to mix Toni’s voice more at the level of another instrument, rather than as a lead vocal. With hindsight however, I do agree that her voice is a bit quiet in places.
I read that the lyrics of ‘Luscious Apparatus’ are about Maggie’s friend Carla. I’m just curious if this story she told in the song is totally fictious or to what extend it deals with reality?
Apparently it is based on a true story although I would imagine Maggie used a little poetic license to embellish aspects of it.
What made you want to record the Bukka White song and how did you clean up his vocal recordings to make them sound as if they had just been recorded, i.e. no hiss?
The original Bukka recording is virtually acapella – he is actually singing to an acoustic guitar but the guitar is just about inaudible. It therefore seemed to be a very interesting source of material to try and do something unusual with. I also loved the sound of his voice – particularly when he talks in his own unique language / babble. Certain lines were sampled, re-structured and then filtered to eliminate most of the hiss.
When you received the lyrics from your various collaborators, were you displeased with any and ask them to change some of the lines or did you give the writers complete artistic freedom?
Almost no lyrics were changed but some parts were omitted for musical reasons more than anything else. I did ask Siobhan to lose the word “wow!”
What do you think of label mate Nick Cave? Would you ever consider using him or Bad Seeds / Neubauten frontman Blixa Bargeld as guest vocalists?
Well, I’m sure Nick Cave is a very talented writer but, somehow, he passes me by. I just don’t get it. From what I heard he’s always hated DM so I doubt whether we are destined to work together.
What was it like working with Maggie Estep?
It was good fun. We recorded her vocals quite quickly as she peaks early and does her best performance in the first 2 or 3 takes – which is fine. We only met for a few days so we didn’t get to know each other that well but we’ve continued to chat mostly via e-mail.
There have been a lot of people on the Recoil mailing lists recently saying that you are using a fan called K.J. as a collaborator on your forthcoming album. Is this true, and if so, why did you decide to use a fan, and what do I have to do to be considered!?
I don’t know how these rumours start but there is no truth to this at all. As I’ve said before, my music dictates my choice of vocalists and I’m a long way from being anywhere near the stage where I might consider vocals at all, let alone who I might use. I choose vocalists from many different sources and I’d never disregard someone I was interested in just because they happened to be a fan but I’ve made no decisions about the next record as yet.
Did you choose to work with Moby because he was sober – like you were in a way ‘defying’ certain persons?
Moby’s personal habits were, and are, of no consideration to me – I needed a vocalist and he was suggested by Dan Miller.
Have you seen Doug at art school? Tell him we said hello 🙂
Doug is studying Graphic Design in Cambridge (not Michigan as some people seem to think) and we see him every few months or so. Douglas’s rock ‘n’ roll stories can keep you amused for hours…..
Would you consider asking the singer from Portishead to work on the next / or another future Recoil project? After listening to their two releases I just get the impression that she would be suited to your music, do you agree?
I like their music but I’m not really interested in using her as a collaborator.
I was just wondering about the additional vocals that are found on your remixes, especially the Punished Mix of ‘Stalker’. As noted in the liner notes, Maggie Estep adds some additional lyrics to this track. Were these vocals recorded in your original session with her or did you call her back to add some more vocals at the time of mixing?
Maggie’s vocals were all recorded during the original session and interestingly, her vocal lines which were included in the ‘Stalker’ remix, were originally sung to a completely different track (on the album) – can you guess which one? I never throw anything away…..you never know when you might need it! Likewise, on the ‘Drifting – Poison Dub’ mix, there are some vocal additions provided by Douglas which, just like Maggie’s, were originally sung to a different track (also on the album) – any ideas?
Which record features your remix of Toni Halliday’s ‘Time Turns Around’?
I think it was a single but I don’t know much about it. Why don’t you check out the Curve website.
Were you aware that Nicole Blackman had previously worked with KMFDM on the track ‘Dogma’? If so, did it have any influence on your decision to include her on ‘Liquid’?
I only knew of her work with Anton Fier when she first approached me. I have since heard one or two other things she’s done.
If a Recoil collaborator were to go on tour with their own music but wanted to perform a song during their set (that they recorded with Recoil), who has control over the rights to the song? If it were up to you, would you give your permission for them to perform it?
Well I wouldn’t have a problem with it anyway but I don’t think they would need my permission to perform any of the songs live. Technically, they would be required to pay PPR (performance rights).
If you could use any guest vocalist, alive or dead, who would it be?
Nat King Cole.
Did you and Douglas meet on the ‘Violator’ tour?
No, it was the ‘Music For The Masses’ tour when the Ebb first supported DM.
Who played guitar on ‘Chrome’? It sounds really ‘weary’ and ‘desperate’ to me.
The guitars were all samples taken from many different sources. Merlin Rhys-Jones played some of the original source material.
Did you two happen to go see Diamanda’s show ‘Defixiones: Will & Testament’ in London on the 9th? If so, what did you think?
Yes. Hep and I went along with some people from Mute. I thought the concert was brilliant. I’d never seen her perform live before and was very impressed. We didn’t go backstage because I had the flu and I didn’t want to inflict my snot on her.
I was really surprised and excited to see you will be featuring Sonya Aurora Madan on the new Recoil album. What made you think she would be a good fit for this particular song?
I really like her voice which I felt wasn’t being fully exploited within the Echobelly production. She also has a great melodic sense.
Are you a fan of Echobelly or just Sonya’s voice?
Mainly her voice although there were a couple of tracks on their last LP ‘Lustra’ that I liked.
Will the song only be a B-Side as rumoured?
Recoil doesn’t make B-sides. She features on the ‘Strange Hours’ EP but as far as I’m concerned, her track is no less important than any of the others on the LP. In fact, for a long time, ‘Don’t Look Back’ was intended to be on the LP but for reasons of overall balance, I decided it move it to the EP.
As part of your answer to my last month’s question you mentioned that Hildia Cambell recorded a different version of what became ‘Missing Piece.’ I would be very interested in hearing it! Any chance of you putting up a sample of that track (or perhaps the entire thing) on the website?
On the ‘Unsound Methods’ LP why did you want to work with Hilda Cambell and not Samantha Smith’?
When I rehearsed the two of them for the ‘SOFAD’ tour, Hildia was always the first the get the parts right. Samantha does have a very good voice but Hildia’s is a bit stronger.
How did Hep feel about you having all those wonderful ladies in your house during the recording of ‘Liquid’? When I first saw the list of new collaborators, I was like “ALAN! YOU OLD DIRTY BASTARD!” 🙂
Hep is queen of wonderful ladies and all others pale into significance beside her………
P.S. She made me say that.
At the end of ‘Edge To Life’ you used a female voice, talking in Italian. You said you like Italian because it’s a musical language but why does this woman say a phrase like “I would like to go out with him again, maybe… bye”?
It’s Ippolita Santorelli – sampled from ‘Strange Too’. She’s talking about Dave I think.
Apparently, still no song with Hep on lead vocal on the next Recoil LP? Too bad……….
Yes, she is (snigger);-)
Your work is brilliant , I enjoy it very much and I know that it really has got nothing to do with me who you select to place on the canvass, but I just feel that Diamanda Galas adds little to your creative work. You have captured the chilling edge and atmosphere without her – why do find the need to feature her again on ‘Liquid’?
I think you’re jumping the gun a little there Desaint. Diamanda was present in a very minimal capacity on ‘Bloodline’ and you haven’t even heard her contribution to ‘Liquid’ – yet you’re already making an unfair judgement against her. I wouldn’t let Julie Finley hear what you’ve got to say.
How did Hildia Cambell feel about the lyrics and general content of ‘Unsound Methods’, she being a gospel singer and all – was she offended or shocked by them?
Hildia was on the ‘SOFAD’ tour for 18 months. Here is a woman that cannot be shocked.
Can you tell me anything about the new Recoil track you did with Diamanda Galas? Is she fun-loving or as intense as her music?
She actually sang on 3 tracks. The main one is called ‘Strange Hours’, a bluesy, southern voodoo groove thang…. She’s actually loads of fun, very loud and amusing – and quite intense I suppose.
Just yesterday, I acquired a copy of the ‘Stalker’ / ‘Missing Piece’ single. On ‘Missing Piece’ – Night Dissolves (great remix!) there’s an additional vocal not present in the original version. Was this vocal provided by Hildia Cambell (You, Alan, are listed as the only b. vocalist)?
Correct. She was overlooked from the label copy (not my fault) and it was too late to rectify the matter by the time we discovered the error. Hildia originally recorded an entire vocal for a different version of that track which was completed and mixed but has never been released. It was actually very commercial (and I like it) but I never thought it quite fitted in with the style of the rest of ‘Unsound Methods’.
Who / what tipped you off to Nicole Blackman and Samantha Coerbell??
What’s with the double question marks all the time?? You’re the one taking up all the space on this forum with your excessive punctuation!!!!??????
Nicole sort of found me – via a mutual friend at our Belgian record company – although I was aware of her previous work with Anton Fier (Golden Palominos). I discovered Samantha from a spoken word compilation CD called ‘Flippin’ The Script’. Her words and delivery stood out and I could here them working with Recoil.
When you and Doug recorded, what were your drinks of choice? I can’t imagine you guys having beer or wine. Are you fond of single-malt whiskey?
Wine or vodka mainly.I don’t drink whiskey, nor does Doug unless there is nothing else left in which case white sprit or lighter fuel wouldn’t be out of the question.
You say that you don’t want to work with the same people for a longer period of time but Douglas McCarthy appears on both ‘Bloodline’ and ‘Unsound Methods’. Does this mean that he is a finished chapter in the Recoil story?
I don’t have any hard and fast rules. Doug appeared on both albums for various reasons – he’s extremely easy to work with, you know exactly what you’re getting each time, and he was available at the time. The most important consideration for me however, is if I have a track that I think will suit his (or any) particular voice.
I’ve just gotten my sweaty hands on a copy of your brilliant remix of Toni Halliday’s ‘Time Turns Around’. The intro reminds me a bit of Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour De France’. Was that on purpose? But listening to this remix and your work with Nitzer Ebb, I must say it is too bad that you don’t consider doing more remix-jobs?
That mix is a bit wacky – my favourite bit is in the middle section with the fast doppler effect sequence. It was deliberately very Kraftwerk. I just can’t get excited about remixing other people’s tracks unless it’s something really special. I did that mix for Toni because Alan (her partner) asked me as a favour and they are good friends. Same thing applied to Nitzer Ebb.
My question pertains to Doug McCarthy’s vocals on ‘Incubus’ and ‘Stalker’. Is that his real voice or did you pitch the vocals down a bit?
It’s 100% real – no funny tricks.
Bernard Sumner of New Order and Electronic has provided samples and / or helped out in some way with 808 State, Sub Sub, Section 25, Paul Haig and others. Would you consider him for an upcoming Recoil project, perhaps?
Nice bloke but…….. no.
How would you go about contacting an established artist to get them to sing for you (assuming you don’t know them)? Send a message to their record company, or send out ‘signals’ in interviews?
Usually through the professional channels – i.e. management / Record Company etc.
Is Siobhan Lynch pursuing her music career? It would be a shame if her voice was not heard again…
I’ve haven’t spoken to Siobhan for a while….she was in the US working on an album with someone when I last talked to her.
When you choose a Recoil vocalist do you consider just his vocal skills or also his possible attitude to Recoil?
Various different things but usually whether I like their voice or singing style.
Did you consider working with Toni Halliday for ‘UM’? (I felt the tracks with her vocals were some of the strongest ones from ‘Bloodline’)
I didn’t really think any of the tracks were right for her voice. Besides, she told me off for mixing her voice too low (she was right) so I thought it might be a bit cheeky to ask her again. I think she’s forgiven me now 😉
I’d like to know what it was like for you to work with Douglas McCarthy? What’s he like to work with / record with? Did you get on well with him? Was he fun to work with? Do you still have any contact with him? Did you ever go to see any Nitzer Ebb gigs? Would you work with him again?
As I’ve said before, we get on and work very well together. We are still very good friends and the last time I saw him was during the World Cup when he visited for a weekend. I saw Nitzer Ebb many times. I don’t know whether we will do anything else together at the moment. For more info, check the A-Files – collaborator section of the website.
In ‘Electro Blues for Bukka White’, how did Bukka White like the electronic side of music for a change?
I don’t think he’s ever heard it – you’ll have to dig him up if you want the answer.