'80s - Heaven 17 (2013)
'The Best Kept Secret - The Martyn Ware Story'
As I'm sure you all know by now, Heaven 17 are an English New Wave synthpop band originating from Sheffield in the early 1980's. Originally a trio, the band comprised Martyn Ware (keyboards), Ian Craig Marsh (keyboards) (both previously with The Human League) and Glenn Gregory (vocals).
Although most of the band's music was recorded in the 1980's ('Temptation,' 'Let Me Go,' '(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,' etc.), and with the departure of Marsh in 2007, they have stayed together as a duo to record and perform live since then.
And so, as my interview today was with one half of Heaven 17, allow me to introduce you to the man himself: Martyn Ware.
Martyn was born in 1956 in Sheffield, UK. After leaving school he worked in computers for 3 years, and in 1978 formed The Human League. He formed the production company/label British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) in 1980 and formed Heaven 17 the same year.
Martyn has written, performed and produced two Human League, two B.E.F. and nine (9) Heaven 17 albums. As a record producer and artist he has featured on recordings totaling over 50 million sales worldwide, producing amongst others Tina Turner, Terence Trent D'Arby, Chaka Khan, Erasure, Marc Almond and Mavis Staples.
Martyn is also a Visiting Professor at C4DM at Queen Mary College, University of London, a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, a patron of Arts & Business, a member of the LA-based international think-tank group Matter, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, a member of the Writers Guild of America and a founder member of 5D (a US based organization promoting all aspects of immersive design). He also lectures extensively on music production, technology and creativity at universities and colleges across the world including the Red Bull Music Academy.
The Human League Years (1978–1980)
Chatting recently with Martyn Ware, I first wondered, being that he was originally in The Human League back in the day, how long had he been in the band and why did he leave? "I formed The Human League with Ian Marsh in '78 and spent roughly two and a half years with them. We did two albums, Reproduction and Travelogue on Virgin. And why did I leave? Well, I returned to the rehearsal room one day and Phil [Oakey] said he was throwing me out of the band! So I said, 'I don't think you are because it's my band!' It's a quite long and tedious story, but basically Phil was my best friend from school. So, we got him in to be the singer of The Human League. But ironically had Glenn, not a month before we were looking for a singer gone down to London to seek his fame and fortune as a singer and photographer, then he would have been the original singer of The Human League!"
"But, he wasn't and so I got my mate from school in. He looked great, but I didn't know if he could sing or even write songs. But it turned out he could do both. I'm still very proud of those two albums. I think the first two Human League albums are every bit as important as I thought they were at the time. Because I was so arrogant and stupid and young, but we were on a mission."
"In fact I've been trying to persuade Phil to play them both live, because we've been doing our thirtieth anniversary tours as Heaven 17 for the first two Heaven 17 albums. So we thought it would be nice to put those two albums to bed as well. But he's shown no interest in that unfortunately. Which is rather a pity."
But weren't you still the 'owner' of the band, if you founded them? "Well, what happened was we were already booked onto a European tour and all this kafuffle in the late '80s turned out to be just a few weeks before these dates in Europe were meant to be played. So that was their reason for telling me I had to leave The Human League. And I just said I wasn't having it. It's just that simple. So they came back with an offer and asked if I wanted some money. I said not really, 'cause what we really wanted, me and Ian was to get a percentage point on the next album."
"Now, of course the next album could have been utterly terrible and not sold anything, but it turned out to be Dare and sold nine million copies," he laughs. "I was very happy indeed. And that paid for my first flat outright in London. It got us stated really. It was like an inheritance."
So, taking you back to something you just said, you mentioned that as part of The Human League you were "on a mission." In reflection, what would your Mission Statement have been? "To create popular music by using synthetic means. I know nowadays it's a bit of a blurred concept because I'd be hard put to say what is electronic music and what is pop. Everything's kind of a blend of the two technologies now, but back in the day what we meant by it was that all the actual sounds of pop and voices were created from a set of oscillators and such. And that was our mission."
"So, in much the same way as Queen had on the back of their albums 'No synthesizers,' we had 'No guitars'," he laughs.
And who were you being influenced by back then? "Oh, we were obviously heavily influenced by people like Kraftwerk. But we didn't have their resources, of course. We only had two synths and quite basic ones, you know. But we had a good pop sensibility and we knew the kind of popular music that appealed to us. What we were doing was ... well the analogy is an artist that's using a limited palate to create a series of works. And I think the limited palate actually engenders more creativity anyway."
Heaven 17 - The Early Years
Leaving The Human League to form the production company British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) along with Ian Craig Marsh, you quickly released a cassette-only album (Music for Stowaways) and an LP (Music for Listening To). But it wasn't until you recruited your photographer friend Glenn Gregory on vocals that Heaven 17 came to be. But was it as easy as it sounds? "Surprisingly it was. Although Glenn was still in London we'd maintained our close friendship. So as soon as The Human League split happened myself and Ian quickly decided that we wanted to ask Glenn if he wanted to be part of the new group we were planning."
"And we'd even got the name sorted out. Heaven 17 was something I'd been thinking about for a while. You always kinda store up lyric ideas and imaginary group ideas and I'd always been an enormous fan of Clockwork Orange - the book and the film. And Heaven 17 is from that. Also, the book of CO was written in 1960 about a time 20 years in the future. So it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"So Glenn came up to see his parents and we met up for a pint in Sheffield and I asked him to join our new and exciting adventure - and he said yes immediately. And within a week we'd started writing and we'd written '(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang).' In fact even before that we thought we'd better do the due diligence thing and kind of audition him. So we'd been working on some tracks already for the next Human League album; which actually some of them turned into tracks on the second side of Penthouse And Pavement. But one of the things we were working out was that I'd already decided to do this cover versions album, set free from the chains of electronic-generated music only style."
"And so the first backing track he did for the new B.E.F. album was 'Wichita Lineman.' And so that was his test piece. And it was amazing. It's still one of the best things that he's ever done. So obviously it was going to work. And as soon as we recorded 'Fascist Groove Thang' we were convinced that it was just a tremendous piece of work, you know. We thought that this was a really exciting new direction."
Taking that last thought, to me it was like suddenly listening to something crystal clear for once through all the blurred other musical offerings at the time. Did it seem that way to you also, perhaps? "Absolutely. I couldn't have even put it better than that myself. You're lucky in your career if you come up with something that has that kind of ... well, crispness doesn't even describe it. It's like, I mean, in my mind's eye it was like a kind of crystal clarity you have. It's not a eureka moment, there's just no fluff about it. It's clean, you know."
"Funnily enough I was talking to Ricky Wilde, Kim's brother and he loves Penthouse And Pavement. And he was saying, because he was a really good, hot property young producer at the time, that he was always jealous of the fact that we could put so few elements into our mix, but the end sound was always really perfectly placed. Punchy and clear. Our influences at that time were very much black American dance music - although viewed through the lens of Kraftwerk!"
"With Kraftwerk at their best they've got that crystallized perfection which I always admired. But if you take that and try and combine that with a kind of funk sensibility; or syncopation at least, that's to me when the exciting stuff happens. And so at that time we had the capability along with the rules we set ourselves. But the time soon came to begin to use guitars and bass."
And that's when a young, fresh-faced and raw John Wilson came on the scene? "Yes. We were just so lucky to find John Wilson, who happened to be a stagehand at the same theatre that Glenn was at. At the time we needed someone to try out a bass solo in the middle of 'Fascist Groove Thang.' So he just went into the green room in the theatre and faced with a bunch of whorey old stagehands and a few young guys, just asked if anybody played bass! Because we didn't know any real musicians," he laughs, "Traditional musicians, at least."
"And this one shy seventeen year-old black kid put his hand up and said, 'I play a bit of bass.' So we invited him down to the studio for a bit of a laugh just to see what his bass work sounded like. In fact, he told us he'd just bought his bass guitar the week before from a car boot sale for thirty quid. So, he brought it down and the first thing he did was the solo in the middle of 'Fascist Groove Thang.' And we went 'Fuckin' hell!' And when he'd done that we asked him to put bass on the whole track, which he did. And so once we heard it we were like, 'Fuckin' hell!' And then we asked him to put bass on another track and he did ... and we went 'Fuckin' hell'!"
"And then he asked if it was all right what he'd done! It was then that he said that bass wasn't his first instrument. So we then found out it was rhythm guitar. So we asked him would he go back home and get his rhythm guitar and come back! He said yes. So we quickly hailed him a taxi and once he was back his rhythm guitar playing was even better than his bass playing!"
"This was like God going, You! It really was fate. And still to this day there are bass players, almost to a man that I have worked with that the first thing when they meet me is, 'Who was the kid who was on your first album?'"
Are you still in touch with John, perhaps? "No, he just went off radar after a while. He did some more sessions for us over a period of years and also did a few sessions for other people. And I don't know which session it was, but he was working for one big record company and for some reason they refused to pay him. And some people in the music industry just can't hack any kind of rejection at all. And so he just went back to his bedroom and got God. And we never really heard of him again."
'(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang'
Indeed, the just-referenced debut single '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang' was banned by BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read (a Conservative) for containing overtly left-wing political lyrics! Had this been written on purpose, to both ruffle some political feathers and garner some media exposure also? "Yes," he says adamantly. "Yeah, Reagan was President-Elect at the time and Margaret Thatcher was about to come into power. It was a very frightening time. Which all sounds a bit like ancient history now, but there was genuine fear that we were all going to get blown to kingdom come! It wasn't a specious idea. They were on this path of bonkers mutually-ensured destruction theory, where it was just a matter of how many more missiles could you place on Earth? And the theory was that the more that we had the safer we were. It really just made no sense and the whole world was on a hair trigger. So it didn't seem particularly political to us. It just seemed like a bit of a plea for survival, more than anything else."
"But this is a funny story, you'll like this: About two weeks ago I did a series of interviews on local radio stations around London, including BBC Radio Berkshire. And the woman who was meant to be interviewing me was ill. So the person on the line told me they hadn't got her, but that they had someone else there who's quite happy to do it ... and it was Mike Read," he says, now laughing so hard I thought he was going to convulse! "So this was literally just dropped on me with three seconds to think!"
Wow, talk about a set up!! "Well, I don't think he even remembered, to be honest. He sounded quite senile. He didn't mention it anyway. At the end he was saying 'You do some lecturing at music colleges, don't you?' So I told him I was a visiting professor, blah blah blah and he said, 'Oh I do a bit of lecturing myself!' And then he said 'I'm also the Media and Culture Spokesman for UKIP ... the UK Independence Party'," he again loudly laughs. "Which is more Right Wing than you could conceivably imagine. So he added, 'Maybe you'd like to come down and talk to us at some point?' And I'm like 'I think I'll take a rain check on that one!' Unbelievable. He clearly didn't remember who I was. He knew about Heaven 17, but I don't think he connected the things."
Talking about Clockwork Orange, the fictional band Heaven 17 were at #4 with the song 'Inside' - did you ever consider writing/recording a song of the same name to complete the fictional circle? "I think we might have actually done it. I'm not entirely sure though. I think we might have made a b-side called 'Inside.' I'll look for it, but if I can't find it I'll write it this week," he laughs. "Because I really like that title."
Penthouse and Pavement
Weirdly, neither '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang' or the other four singles taken from your debut album, the brilliant Penthouse and Pavement managed to break the UK Top 40 Singles Chart. Although the album itself did hit #14 on the UK Albums Chart! Around that time were you yourselves disappointed you hadn't broken as well as you'd expected? "Yeah, to put it bluntly. We honestly thought, and so did the record company that 'Fascist Groove Thang' potentionally should have been Top 10. It clearly had a massive notice of impact, but just at the point it was about to break, midweek if I remember rightly, it was something like #25. But then because of the ban it went down to 41 or 44 or something. Which wasn't enough to get us on Top Of The Pops [TOTP] And then the other tracks were released, all funky and fresh-sounding and cool, but for some reason they just didn't sit well with Radio 1 at the time. So they didn't give them as much coverage or play as we had hoped."
"I think they were just a little bit too ahead, in a way. But the good news was that it was definitely deemed by the listening public that it was at least a cool album. And it stayed in the Top 40 for 75 weeks."
"And I have to give some proper credit to Virgin, at the time, because they gave us real support. A lot of people kick their record companies, especially in retrospect. And sure we had our own run ins with them time to time later one, but looking back on then when it came to making the second album, which a lot of people stumbled on, they basically allowed us to book the best studio in London. Which was Earth Studios at the time. And with the best musicians and orchestras. Everything. Without any restriction on our creativity or timing. They basically gave us carte blanche, within reason."
The Luxury Gap
"And that's why we ended up with an album like we did - with The Luxury Gap. Which was extremely high production value and sounded sonically beautiful. Even to this day. And it also sounded epic really, in a lot of ways. Things like 'Temptation' the nature of that track is that it's very hard to imagine a track like that being created like that today. Because, as a relatively new band, you would simply not get the budget to do it or anything like it. You'd have to be like Michael Jackson to get that kind of budget. It all comes down to the level of time it takes in a studio, because we were writing these arrangements in the studio. Really old school techniques. You just wouldn't get that time to do it now."
I agree, especially given that Penthouse and Pavement hadn't been as successful as Virgin had hoped for! "To be honest it's a bit of a misconception that it wasn't a so-called big smash hit, because it did sell 1.5 million copies. I mean, 1.5 million copies sold now and you'd be #1 for three months. It's still quite a lot of records. But the second one sold like 4 million copies so yes, they could see the potential, that's the important thing."
And in early 1983 it all suddenly changed for the band, because that single 'Temptation' reached #2 and subsequently became your biggest hit! With Glenn sharing vocals with Carol Kenyon, whose idea was it to bring her on board? "Well, because we're all just soul boys at heart in Heaven 17, we always liked the idea of experimenting with different sonic constituents. So on Penthouse and Pavement we had Josie James and we really enjoyed that tonality of the experienced soul singer as part of the compositional process. So we were determined to do at least one track on the next album that featured a featured female back soul singer. And also it fit into the concept of 'Temptation,' which was all about sexual energy. And a duet with sexual energy is something special. So you're not just talking about sex it's like it has a real potential for like being on TV. And you can imagine the sparks to be flying and all that stuff."
"So, we made that track, we'd written it, we knew it was a Top 10 hit, but Virgin didn't believe it. They sent it off for some remix, which was shit. So we just asked them to trust us for once. We told them this was the crux of our career and this would sell. We just knew it, we could feel it. So they agreed to put it out, but they still weren't 100% sure."
"And the reason why they weren't sure about putting it out was not because they didn't like the song. It was because Carol Kenyon wasn't signed to Virgin. And so they felt very uncomfortable with the fact that there was a featured artist on the track that they didn't have under contract. Now, of course, since then and some thirty years on, and especially through the whole proliferation of the dancing and everything in the late '80s and '90s, it was common practice to have a featured so-and-so who wasn't signed to a particular record company. So this was really an early example of that. So we had to drive them quite hard to ignore their own perceived business system and just put it out anyway. And we were proved completely right."
And yet, sadly it only reached #2 on the UK Charts! "Yeah, bloody 'Candy Girl'! We got beaten by 'Candy Girl' from New Edition. Bloody Bobby Brown.' What really pissed us off was that our song was number one all week. All week. And then on the Friday John Webster, who was head of production or sales; or whatever it was had been saying 'Oh it's pissing out. It's pissing out from the shops.' They couldn't press 'em fast enough. So all week he was saying, 'We're looking at number one here. We're looking at number one. We're miles ahead.' And then on the Friday he said to us, 'There's this record 'Candy Girl' that's selling even more than you. I can't believe it. But I still think we'll be number one.' But it literally just pipped us by about 1%, I think."
"And that's a real pisser, because then that's your place in musical history. Because if you've got one number one ... well, I suppose the other way of looking at it is then you're even more of a one hit wonder if it doesn't work out. But then fortunately the fact that 'Temptation' was such a huge hit, twice, it enabled us to have further hits. It kind of sealed our place anyway."
With subsequent Heaven 17 albums becoming increasing less monetarily and chart successful was there ever a time when you sat down with Glenn with thoughts of calling it a day? "No. It gets us loads and loads of work so I'm not complaining. Why would I complain? I'm not embarrassed to be associated with any period. What's more to the point is what we did was what we thought to be high quality. It wasn't. But it wasn't some kind of production line thing. It was all from the heart and it was an artistic purpose all controlled by us."
"Like everything you can't expect everyone to like everything you do, but from an artistic point of view we did it and we loved it. It was all down to us. And we got the opportunity to do it and we're eternally grateful for that. Nothing lasts forever, especially that kind of period, but the point is we were fortunate enough to have experienced it. It's like an alignment of stars. It was the right time musically to do something interesting and exciting."
"And it was maybe the last period of musical developmental history in the UK where it was like the golden age for the popularity and the craft of songwriting in the charts. Intelligent pop, if you like. Because pop wasn't a dirty word back then. Now it is. And actually even in the '70s pop was a bit of a dirty word - even though I loved it. Even the early Human League used to love disco, pop and all that. But we were doing it as much to be mavericks. But NME [New Musical Express] wouldn't touch anything like that, right. And then maybe from '79 to '84 there was this period when even the coolest hipsters would love the kind of ironic twist on pop that was so in in equal amounts to the normal pop market. ie: your very young people and even people a bit older who were quite reasonably sophisticated. So, that still happens in America quite a lot but it doesn't happen so much here now."
In reflection, did you ever imagine Heaven 17 lasting as long as they have done? "No, not really. We couldn't really think beyond ten years. We always intended, and talked to each other about as part of our internal manifesto that we wanted things to have longevity. And we used to actually say the words that we'd like people to still be listening to this in ten years time. Which was unimaginably far in the future, as far as we were concerned. And here we are 35 years later, if you include The Human League, and we're still trying to push forward and still trying to do interesting things."
Martyn's Favorite H17 Album
Taking into consideration all the albums Heaven 17 have released, which one would be your own personal favorite - and why? "My personal favorite Heaven 17 album is How Men Are. I think it's got some incredible pieces of work on it. I just think 'This Is Mine' is beautiful and also 'That's No Lie.' And there's lots of other stuff I like about that album."
Were there any speed bumps when it came to its recording? "Not really, but we definitely had a huge disappointment to deal with afterwards. We were due to go on TOTP to perform 'This Is Mine,' which was already very high up in the mid-week charts. And we were certain that the TOTP performance would push it into the Top 5. That was from the record company. But the day before we were going to do TOTP Glenn was getting out of his jeep to go and get some beers and twisted his knee and burst his cartilage! Which is one of the most painful things you can conceivably imagine, so I'm led to believe. It exploded, so he had to go to hospital and have it taken out."
"So he was on morphine now. And this is the BBC for you at the time, they asked us to still do TOTP but with Glenn on a stool! The fact that he was in incredible pain and high on morphine didn't seem to bother them. And eventually we said we're not trying to fuck anyone off here, but he is desperately unwell. He cannot do this show. And they then blackballed us really. So we didn't get on TOTP for any of the singles from that album. In fact after that we never got on TOTP again! Because they thought we were just being flakes, but that just wasn't the case."
Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho
"So that was a piece of just plain bad luck but that meant the great songs that were on that album didn't sell as much as they should have. And that started a chain effect that meant that the next album we'd lost a bit of confidence and we started employing more session musicians. Which meant we'd gotten away from our core premise. Our core creativity. Less electronics and more kinda rock. So then the effect of that was it woke up the Americans who suddenly thought it might be good for the American market."
"So Arista signed it up for a huge amount of money that we never saw a penny of because of our contract! We continued to sell good numbers in Europe, but in Britain there was nothing happening for that album. And America they tried a few things and so we had some minor success, but not really. And then we got dropped in America. And so looking back now it's clear to see that Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho  was the last chance really."
"But by that time we'd kinda lost our way a bit, kinda lost our confidence a little bit as well. And we kinda ran out of steam and ideas, really. It all seemed like we were recycling our old ideas a bit. Which is quite a common thing with bands. In an effort to regain the lost ground you go back. Shall we try to write a song that sounded like 'X', you know. But that's not like we'd ever done things so it wasn't a very successful album. But the loyal Germans kept buying that album, but then we got dropped. And that's just the way it goes."
Third Party Producer
"But by that time I was having a lot of success as a third party producer. Straight after that, or at the same time more or less I got the Terence Trent D'Arby gig. Which turned out to sell 9 million albums. And before that in 1983 I did 'Let's Stay Together' [Tina Turner] and all that. And that album sold nearly 20 million. I was, as a producer, quite a hot property at that point and I even turned down some big gigs. Some that would have involved me moving to America. But I didn't want to move to America. I turned down a Rod Stewart album and a Bette Midler album."
What was wrong about you moving to America at that time? "I didn't want to. I was having to great a time in Britain. And I also didn't really like Rod Stewart's politics. He is a Tory supporter. You have to spend three months in a studio with someone so you are living like brothers for a while. You've got to be able to get on with these people. And politics is a big component to me. I hold views which I'm not very good at tolerating anyone's contrasting views, frankly. I'm not very good at it."
Martyn's Political Viewpoint
So, for the record, where do you politically stand at this juncture? "I'm further left than any existing parties in Britain. I'm a member of the Labour Party but I don't agree with a lot of the policies at the top end of the party. I don't think activists at my level can honestly devote their lives to it and change policies very much. Because the nature of the process is one that waters down activists opinions. But I would definitely support a party if there was a new socialist viewpoint in Britain. If there was a Labour version of UKIP I'd be all over it," he loudly laughs. "But it doesn't have to include anything to do with Independence for the UK, by the way!"
Quickly gathering his just-spoken thoughts, he then adds, "What I meant is if there was a similar extreme version on the other side of the spectrum I'd be up for it."
Heaven 17 began touring again in earnest back in 2008 as part of the Steel City Tour alongside ABC and, funnily enough The Human League! And you recently did your own set of album anniversary tours in the UK, yes? "Yeah. Two years ago we did the 30th Anniversary Tour, in Britain and Europe of Penthouse and Pavement and last year we did The Luxury Gap. This summer we're doing a lot of festival gigs. We do gigs all the time. We do medium and small festivals as well as the big ones. We are performing in Europe. We performed in Dubai in February. And we're hoping to get some gigs together in America, which we've never done."
That brings up a good point - why has the US of A never seen Heaven 17 live on one of these Regeneration Tours? "Well, we've got a really large band. It's not really feasible as it stands. We're working on it, but the problem has always been economic. There was even a proposed tour back in 2009, but it fell through."
How Live Is Tour 2014
And what about next year? "We're going to be doing a Greatest Hits / How Men Are Anniversary Tour. So it will be some new material and I think we're gonna call it How Live Is. So it's gonna be How Men Are, but not necessarily the entire album as I don't think that's much of a selling point for a lot of people. At least half of HMA, at least four or five brand new tracks, and the rest will be greatest hits."
New British Electronic Foundation CD
Tell me us more about your new just-released BEF album "Well, Dark came out this week in America and has been out about a month now in Britain. It's got lots of famous singers on it: Sandie Shaw, Andy Bell, Kim Wilde, Sarah Jane Morris, Shingai Shoniwa, and Glenn of course."
CLICK HERE! Martyn Ware and Green Gartside speak to Mark Radcliffe from BBC Radio 6 about Dark.
A New Heaven 17 Album (2014)
As it's now been five (5) years since Heaven 17 released an album, some 17 (funnily enough!) since one was released of all-new material, will there ever be a new Heaven 17 full-length CD for your fans to run out and buy? "Yes, there will," he states adamantly. "We're starting to write it in September. We have to have some of it ready for the next tour anyway, which will be Autumn of 2014. And we've been talking about doing this for ages and I think the time is right now. We've been thinking about an artistic theme, or impetus behind it and a couple of things have occurred to us: We've been having quite a lot of success with 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling,' me and Glenn live as The original Human League did. And people seem to like that. So we're thinking of writing some songs in the framework of more of a role for me on the vocals. 'Cause we've always done all the backing vocals together anyway and I can sing. It's just a different kind of voice to Glenn's, obviously."
"So there's that and then we're looking at potentially very kinda minimalist electronic. And essentially we want to get back to writing social commentary, I suppose. Political, possibly. But more getting back to the whip-smart kinda stuff that we used to write in the early '80s. We've always been passionately interested in how the world is developing and kind of futurology and politics, and all that stuff. And so I suppose all those things will influence us when we write the next album."
"The tools that we have are that kind of desire to keep pushing forward. And a bit of musical talent. And artistic intention I think is really important. It used to be common place back in the day but it's not any more. In the general marketplaces. We've just got to face facts. And this is a double-edged sword, but there's not a huge amount of money in selling records any more. But, the other edge of that sword is that it gives you more freedom to do exactly what you want."
Especially as you can create and release it yourself these days from your own bedroom! "You can, and I was very close to being able to do that for the new B.E.F. thing, but it was just to complex with all those different artists. It would have taken my life up completely. So I wanted some help from a different record company. In this case Wall Of Sound. We are now entering a phase where, theoretically if you had enough of a constituency it's worth the effort to direct market people."
Sync Summit 2013
So, what else is new in Martyn's world? "I'm doing this Sync Summit conference next week in New York. I'm doing a session with Gerry Casale from Devo. It's a conference about synchronization, basically. And the best way to get work in the world. So there’s gonna be a lot of music supervisors there at a very high level. And they'll be a load of artists there also, of course. Lots of panels and discussions. If you go to www.syncsummit.com it will tell you all about it."
Penguins & Foxes
And finally, and throwing you a journalist curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins (the birds)! So, do you have any love for them, or a story, perhaps? "Penguins, yes, I like penguins. I was very fond of 'Happy Feet.' I thought was that was a good film. I live about five minutes walk from London Zoo, so when our children were growing up we used to have yearly passes and go and see the penguins all the time ... until the foxes came one night and killed them all! And then they went out and got a whole new bunch!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED Heaven 17 CD), just answer this question about the bands music: 1984 saw the release of the third Heaven 17 album, How Men Are, which reached #12 in the UK chart and was certified silver by the BPI. The album featured which other bands brass section though?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED Heaven 17 CD! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED HEAVEN 17 CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martyn Ware on Facebook!
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British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.)
B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation) are a band/production company formed by former Human League members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh.
Ware and Marsh's first release as B.E.F. in 1980, a collection of instrumentals entitled Music For Stowaways, was initially available only on cassette and was inspired by the appearance of the first Sony Walkman (at first marketed in the UK as the Sony Stowaway). There was also a vinyl release, Music For Listening To, mainly targeted for export sales, which was slightly truncated.
In 1982, with Heaven 17 already established with Glenn Gregory as the lead vocalist, B.E.F. released an album entitled Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One on Virgin Records, which involved other artists covering classic songs. The production was mainly in the Heaven 17/ B.E.F. style (i.e. synthesisers and LinnDrums).
It was not until 1991 that a second volume appeared, and this past May a third volume entitled Dark was finally released.
Sync Summit NY is a tightly focused, one-day event designed to bring together leaders in the areas of music technology, supervision, production, composition, copyright, law, artists, publishing, distribution, discovery, aggregation, sales and service provision to network, make deals and discuss challenges, opportunities and practical solutions for success in the $3BL Sync Licensing market.
Sync Summit NY is a production of Disconic, LLC, developers of Sync Exchange, a music rights licensing marketplace launching in 2013 that helps music supervisors and rights holders with a better way to quickly and easily connect, do business and place music.
Music in different dimensions.
Martyn Ware founded Illustrious Company with Vince Clarke in 2001 to exploit the creative and commercial possibilities of their unique three-dimensional sound technology, in collaboration with fine artists, the performing arts and corporate clients around the world.
Clarke and Ware work separately in their own home studios using largely virtual instruments on Apple Macintosh computers running Logic Audio Pro - although, unusually, Vince often develops ideas first on acoustic guitar. Martyn describes their working process as "like a first unit and second unit" in filmmaking - Vince supplying the material, Martyn finessing the results. A Vincent Clarke is credited with 'programming' on 'Pretentious' and 'Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle', a Martyn Ware with production and mixing - although nowadays, Martyn is the expert at more abstract 3D soundscape composition, which he composes and records with the help of his right hand man and sound engineer, Asa Bennett.
They record and compose at Martyn's studio at home in Primrose Hill, London and spatialise the pieces at Sonic Imaging studios in Brixton, London, using a brand new piece of software called '3DAudioScape' written to Clarke and Ware specifications. This system allowed them, with engineer Asa Bennett, to position up to sixteen sound sources anywhere in the three-dimensional soundscape created within two circles of six speakers - one high and one low. This composition in three dimensions can then be reconfigured for any speaker placement or size of room, by entering the individual co-ordinates of each speaker in relation to the centre of the space.
The illustrious portfolio includes installations, events and performance alongside many media projects.
Illustrious projects include those for organisations such as BP, The British Council, Sony Computer Entertainments Europe, The Science Museum, The Royal Ballet, The V&A, Amnesty International, Unilever, Museum of London.
Illustrious often collaborates with other creative partners such as IMAGES&Co, Jason Bruges Studio and New Angle, amongst many others.