Tag: Deb Danahay

TEC003 at Hertford Corn Exchange featuring VILE ELECTRODES, SPEAK & SPELL and SARAH BLACKWOOD

A TEC-nicolour dream come true…

Hertford’s Corn Exchange certainly came to life on Saturday as The Electricity Club embarked on its third concert event TEC003.

It brought together DEPECHE MODE’s finest tribute act SPEAK & SPELL performing DM’s debut long player ‘Speak & Spell’ along with the dynamic synth duo that is VILE ELECTRODES and DJ SARAH BLACKWOOD of DUBSTAR and CLIENT fame to present a wonderful evening of live music.

However, before the acts had sound checked, the afternoon was kicked nicely in to touch with a terrific exhibition of DEPECHE MODE and YAZOO memorabilia which was kindly shared by Deb Danahay, former partner of Vince Clarke who co-founded DEPECHE MODE’s fan club.

On show were a number of press articles that had been superbly preserved and fans poured over them with great interest. Signed albums and gold discs were also on show and many took the opportunity to have their photographs taken with these fine pieces.

At the heart of the exhibition though, several TEC team members were on hand to chat with fans about the band and their history while Deb looked in her element as she took people through folders that contained among other things, hand written lyrics whilst offering some personal recounts of her involvement with the band back in the day.

There really was a warm atmosphere throughout the afternoon as strangers conversed with one another sharing their own memories of concerts, debating over particular tracks and album choices and no doubt how the music scene has changed over the decades.

TEC003-redkite10The other aspect that came across was that friendships which had initially formed via social media were now bonded by people meeting in person for the first time and not just people from the UK either; Europe was well and truly represented with visitors from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and Greece to name but a few. People had travelled from all over for various reasons, whether it be for the friendship, the memorabilia, the music or all three.

After a couple of hours, the Corn Exchange closed its doors for a while to allow the bands to set up and carry out their sound checks. Fitting all the much needed equipment on to the stage without leaving trip hazards from trailing wires must have been like a Krypton Factor challenge. But fit it did and the sound engineer did a terrific job of making everything sound just right.

With performers, technicians, crew and other helpers briefed, fed and watered, it was soon time to open the doors again and it was Steve Gray’s responsibility to welcome the first of the crowds with a 45 minute DJ set before the lights dimmed and SPEAK & SPELL were welcomed to the stage by compere (and TEC’s newest member) for the evening Monika Goss.

DEPECHE MODE fans were of course in awe of SPEAK & SPELL’s performance and why shouldn’t they have been? The countless rehearsals were evident as they successfully pulled off what could have been a showcase difficult to master with wanting to replicate the original sounds we were so familiar with back in the day.

But with the use of monophonic analogue synths, Revox B77 reel-to-reel and even a spirited rendition of the camp cult favourite ‘What’s Your Name?’, to quote an original review from Record Mirror “there was much to admire and little to disappoint”. Being Dave Gahan in period costume, front man Paul Wood fully cherished his role.

Many were happy to stand back and enjoy the event from further back but it was a real pleasure to see several audience members taking the opportunity to sing and dance the evening away, whilst no doubt they were silently reminiscing of school discos and playing such tunes at high volumes on their turntables in the confines of their bedrooms.

TEC had also secured the presence of SARAH BLACKWOOD, who performed not only two DJ sets during the course of the evening but who also performed songs such as ‘Stars’, ‘Not So Manic Now’, ‘I’m in Love with a German Film Star’, ‘Price of Love’ and ‘Justice’, her most latest work recorded with FOTONOVELA.

With proceedings running smoothly the evening was well and truly underway. It’s always a pleasure to see familiar faces supporting these events.

So special mentions go to Berlin based remixer Mark Reeder, George Geranios of Undo Records and FOTONOVELA, Sophie Sarigiannidou from MARSHEAUX and last but not least, Anne Swindell, who together with Deb Danahay and Jo Gahan, was involved in the beginnings of the DM Information Service.

TEC003-redkite016Now it was the turn of VILE ELECTRODES to entertain the crowds.

Being the first anniversary of the release of their debut album ‘The future through a lens’, it seemed appropriate to play the album in its entirety including all those little interludes that in this instance were provided by the Revox B77 used earlier by SPEAK & SPELL.

However, singer Anais Neon amusingly announced songs wouldn’t necessarily be played in track listing order for fear of “putting the crowd to sleep”. ‘Office Politiks’ and ‘The Last Time’ didn’t get an airing on this particular occasion but the likes of ‘Drowned Cities’ and ‘Damaged Software’ were punched out with enthusiasm and abandon whilst the calming influences came from ‘Nothing’ and of course, the sublime final track on the album ‘Deep Red’. Watching at the front, Mark Reeder was particularly impressed with the duo.

SARAH BLACKWOOD returned to the decks to conclude the main part of the show as the switchover began for TEC003’s aftershow.

And for this, SPEAK & SPELL took to the stage again to celebrate the 25the anniversary of the release of the ‘101’ documentary and live album. While the entire concert wasn’t recreated, the selected highlights featured a number of special guest vocalists.

The first surprise was compere Monika Goss and her sensual take on ‘I Want You Now’ while VILE ELECTRODES followed, joining the band for some joyous choruses on ‘People Are People’. The final union saw SARAH BLACKWOOD duetting on ‘A Question Of Time’ before SPEAK & SPELL drew the live music section of TEC003 to a close with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, ‘Everything Counts’ and a not-strictly-in-theme ‘Enjoy The Silence’. But no matter, the important thing was that everyone was having fun and this continued as DJ Paul Boddy spun a selection of darkly danceable but enjoyable tunes into the early hours.

Events like this take months of planning and TEC003’s success is due to the hard work and dedication of a committed and knowledgeable team who have all given their time and energy to the project, without hesitation. They should all be proud of their achievements.

TEC003-101-goldSTEVE GRAY DJ setlist

RICHARD X Rock Jacket
ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
ULTRAVOX All Stood Still
WHITE LIES Getting Even

TEC003-S&S-chiSPEAK & SPELL play ‘Speak & Spell’ live setlist

Big Muff
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Boys Say Go
I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead
Dreaming of Me
Any Second Now
TEC003-Mark+Sarah-Richard PriceIce Machine
Television Set
New Life
Just Can’t Get Enough
What’s Your Name?


TEC003-AA-Maresheaux-chiDEATH IN VEGAS Hands Around My Throat
ESG Moody Spaced Out
FREESTYLE Don’t Stop The Rock
SARAH BLACKWOOD Not So Manic Now (+ live vocal)
SARAH BLACKWOOD Price Of Love (+ live vocal)

VILE ELECTRODES play ‘The future through a lens’ live setlist

TEC003-Anais-LolaLiThe future through a lens
Drowned Cities
Empire of Wolves
Interlude 1
A Distance
Interlude 2
Feed Your Addiction
Damaged Software
Interlude 3
After the Flood
The Leopard
Tore Myself to Pieces
Interlude 4
Deep Red


HEIM Chelsea
SARAH BLACKWOOD Justice (+ live vocal)
SARAH BLACKWOOD Stars (+ live vocal)
SARAH BLACKWOOD I’m In Love With A German Filmstar (+ live vocal)

SPEAK & SPELL ‘101’ Aftershow Setlist

Behind The Wheel
Blasphemous Rumours
2014-09-13 17.19.35I Want You Now (feat MONIKA GOSS)
Master & Servant
People Are People (feat VILE ELECTRODES)
Question of Time (feat SARAH BLACKWOOD)
Never Let Me Down Again
Everything Counts
Enjoy The Silence


MESH Leave Us Alone
FAD GADGET Love Parasite (EMP Remix)
NINE INCH NAILS Came Back Haunted
NEW ORDER Blue Monday (Hardfloor remix)
KARIN PARK Thousand Loaded Guns
GIORGIO MORODER The Chase (Jaia Express remix)
DONNA SUMMER I Feel Love (Afrojack remix)
YAZOO Bring Your Love Down
HARD CORPS Je Suis Passé

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to VILE ELECTRODES, SPEAK & SPELL and SARAH BLACKWOOD plus everyone who gave their time so generously and helped out at TEC003 in all capacities






Text and Photos by Karen Buxton
Additiona Photos by Richard Price, Andrew Garley, Lo La Li and Chi Ming Lai
17th September 2014

A Short Conversation with DEB DANAHAY

Deb in Flat - YAZOO fan clubDeb Danahay is a well known member of the DEPECHE MODE family having hosted their first live performance of the then reconfigured quartet from Basildon in 1980 when they were still known as COMPOSITION OF SOUND.

She subsequently founded the band’s fan club with Jo Gahan. As Vince Clarke’s girlfriend, Deb experienced at first hand the trials and tribulations of young manhood fusing the sound of the synthesizer to a new ultrapop template. Signing to Mute Records, DEPECHE MODE released their debut album ‘Speak & Spell’ in Autumn 1981. And when Vince Clarke left to form YAZOO with Alison Moyet, she joined him to run their fan club.

Premier DEPECHE MODE tribute band SPEAK & SPELL are to celebrate that legacy with a live presentation of the whole ‘Speak & Spell’ album at Hertford Corn Exchange on SATURDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2014. It forms part of the TEC003 event also featuring VILE ELECTRODES and special guest DJ SARAH BLACKWOOD.

Depeche Mode - The Venue - 12th May 1981 BS passes x 2Prior to the event, there will be a special exhibition of DEPECHE MODE photos and memorabilia from her own personal collection. Deb Danahay kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about her memories of the ‘Speak & Spell’ period and what may be in-store for the TEC003 exhibition…

Obviously when you started collecting DEPECHE MODE memorabilia, no-one knew who they were… so what inspired you at the time to start archiving the band?

I would try to buy as many music magazines as I could afford to keep abreast of the music scene and find out where my favourite bands were playing live, as that was pretty much the only way to keep informed at that time. Either that or stand in WH Smiths reading them for as long as I could get away with it *lol*

I started collecting all magazine articles about DEPECHE MODE because: a) the band were from my hometown, b) I knew them personally and c) because Vince Clarke was my boyfriend at the time *laughs*

But even without those amazing reasons I still would have been a huge fan!

DM - Flicks 25th May 1981What was your first DEPECHE MODE keepsake?

It’s actually pre DEPECHE MODE… on the 30th May 1980, I organised a party with my best mate Nikki. Before Dave joined the band they called themselves COMPOSITION OF SOUND and they played live at the party. I still have a local fanzine review of the gig and a ticket for that party.

What sort of other things do you have in your possession?

I have quite a few backstage passes and guest tickets from 1981, my favourite probably being the guest ticket for the band’s debut live show overseas in Holland on the 25th July of that year. There’s a few albums of personal photographs taken in dressing rooms etc of members of the band, Daniel Miller and various other people who were so important to the bands development at that crucial time. There are also a number of autographed promotional photos and record sleeves.

DM Merch order formAs I ran the first fan club with Jo Gahan and Anne Swindell, I still have the first hand-typed DEPECHE MODE info sheets and merchandise order forms plus a hand written biog for the band by Vince. And there’s the telegram sent to the band and Daniel Miller announcing their first selection for an appearance on Top of the Pops.

I also am very privileged to have quite a few of Vince’s demo tapes from that era. He was never a sentimental person, but luckily I was, so I kept them. There are quite a few tracks of Vince playing guitar that I don’t recognise as ever being recorded and amongst other things, a studio demo of the YAZOO / BLANCMANGE collaboration that didn’t ever get pressed. I’ve had to promise Neil Arthur that it’ll never be aired!

Not a piece of memorabilia in itself, but I’m so glad I kept diaries at that time. Age has diminished the memory somewhat and I’m thankful I wrote a fair bit of what seemed at the time to be pretty meaningless information.

DM - Dave at Flicks 25th May 1981There’s a sheet of paper with the lyrics to ‘Dreaming Of Me’ handwritten by Dave Gahan… was he using it to help him learn the words?

That probably is the case as the lyrics don’t exactly trip off the tongue do they?! I picked up the sheet after a rehearsal one day and completely forgot I had it… Dave confirmed it was his writing last year, spelling mistakes and all *laughs*

The press ads from back in the day are quite interesting as the artwork would often be different from the actual releases. Would you literally buy every piece of coverage in the press on DEPECHE MODE?

Yes, I did buy everything that I knew about from Mute or Vince. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say and I wish I’d collected more from overseas at that time… and that the ‘selfie’ with friends was thought of!

Is there something that you’ve inadvertently thrown away that you maybe wished you’d hung on to?

I did have a great big sack full of the original YAZOO T-shirts that were unsold through the fan club in 1982-83. I had them in the loft for years and years and then gave them away to my children’s school for a charity fete, little realising how collectable they would be again in 2008!

I do really regret not keeping the names and addresses of all the lovely people that wrote to the DEPECHE MODE and YAZOO fan clubs… I kept them all in little file boxes but it got to the stage where it seemed a bit ‘un pc’ to keep that private information. I’m so thrilled to be in contact with some of those people, like Richard Silverthorn from MESH but now I’d love to see who else got in contact back then…

Double Gold DiscI understand you even have a ‘101’ gold disc that was presented to Vince Clarke?

Vince gave it to his lovely dad, who being as sentimental as his son, gave it to me *lol*

I also have a couple of YAZOO discs that mean a lot personally as there are messages in the ‘run outs’ oh and a few YAZOO test pressings too.

You appear to have had a collecting mentality which some would say is unusual for a girl. How does it feel to have been able to possess such a historical archive?

Of course in 1981, I had no idea that all the memorabilia would become iconic. I’m just so glad that I kept everything in plastic boxes, wallets etc. I always was a bit a bit anal and kept my records in plastic covers too. I started buying vinyl as soon as I could afford it and luckily, I was working from 1979 onwards and have a good collection including debut releases from THE CURE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and U2 etc. I also have a collection of 1970s disco 12”s that I’m pretty sure a DJ would be proud of *lol*

DM outside Bas Railway StationYou’ve started a Private Tour of DEPECHE MODE places of significance around Basildon. How is this coming along and how can fans book to join you?

I first gave a tour to author Jonathan Miller when he was researching his DEPECHE MODE book ‘Stripped’. I really enjoyed that and it stirred a lot of memories for me. When I came onto Facebook, I had a few people contact me who were visiting Basildon and I gladly gave them a tour.

So this year, I thought, I’d better at least get some petrol money and something for my time so created the ‘DEPECHE MODE in the beginning – Private Tour’ page on Facebook.

It’s a specialised tour with over 25 stops, many photo opportunities and is very flexible booking wise. I love to see the happiness it evokes and I’m happy to answer questions and chat about that era in Basildon. I do intend to have a web site up and running soon.

You have a lot of stuff and can’t bring it all… so what do you think you might bring to display at TEC003’s DEPECHE MODE Memorabilia Exhibition?

As the aftershow party has a ‘101’ theme, I shall definitely be bringing along the double gold disc so that people can have a photo taken with it if they wish. I will have photo albums of personal photographs and backstage passes… as much of the items I have talked about as I can really. It’s an opportunity DEPECHE MODE fans shouldn’t miss!

Deb Danahay’s exhibition of DEPECHE MODE memorabilia takes place in the afternoon between 3.00pm to 5.00pm on SATURDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2014 before the TEC003 event at Hertford Corn Exchange, 39 Fore Street, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 1AL – entry to the exhibition will be free

Deb Danahay’s ‘DEPECHE MODE in the beginning – Private Tour’ of Basildon visiting landmarks in the beginning of the band’s story can be sampled online at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Depeche-Mode-in-the-Beginning-Private-Tour/561019507327732

Deb Danahay’s Facebook Pages featuring memories of the early DEPECHE MODE Information Service and YAZOO Fan Club can be found respectively at http://www.anobodysdiary.com/2016/03/depeche-mode-in-beginning-private-tours.html

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7th August 2014, updated 30th December 2016

Vintage 1982 VINCE CLARKE Interview


Photo by Deb Danahay

Following the completion of DEPECHE MODE’s debut album ‘Speak & Spell’ in Autumn 1981, founder member and chief songwriter Vince Clarke made the shock announcement that he wanted to leave the band.

Feeling stifled by the pop promotional machine that the band had got themselves embroiled in following the success of the hit singles ‘New Life’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, Clarke had particularly disliked touring and wanted to concentrate on songwriting.

Deb Danahay, co-founder of the DEPECHE MODE Information Service told TEC in 2012: “I wasn’t surprised when he left, but not because of anything anyone did. It was just Vince, he didn’t like being tied down, or he didn’t then…”

=Deb & Vince

Photo courtesy of Deb Danahay

Clarke’s first project on departing DEPECHE MODE was YAZOO with blues singer Alison Moyet.

Their first album ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ was another big success, yielding the hits ‘Only You’ and ‘Don’t Go’. With this inevitably came a UK concert tour in Autumn of 1982.

Despite his previous dislike of touring, Clarke had conceived a unique audio / visual presentation to make him more comfortable with live shows.

In her role of running the YAZOO Information Service, Deb Danahay interviewed Vince Clarke for the regular newsletter after the tour about the synths and equipment he used. She has kindly given her permission for The Electricity Club to republish this fascinating time capsule in the career of one of the UK’s best songwriters…

Depeche-TOTP1981What was the first synthesizer you ever brought?

The first synth I ever brought was the Kawai 100F.

What other synths have you got now?

Casio VL-1, Roland JP4, Roland Vocoder Plus VP330, Sequential Circuits Pro-One, Kobol RSF, Fairlight CMI

What other equipment do you own?

Roland Doctor Rhythm Drum Machine, Roland TR808 Drum Machine, Linn Drum Computer, 4 Simmonds Drum Modules, Roland MC4 Micro Composer

What is your favourite synth and why?

My favourite synth is the Fairlight, because I don’t have to tune it!

What is so special about Fairlight?

Vince-fairlightThe Fairlight is a 16k computer. It consists of a Visual Display Unit (VDU), a five octave keyboard, a typewriter keypad and two floppy disc drives that are housed in the main computer. One of the most powerful features of the Fairlight is its ability to copy or emulate any natural or synthesized sound via a microphone or line input. It is possible by use of the light pen and VDU, to physically draw sounds which are completely new and original which have never existed in the world before!

It has eight independent voices and an eight channel digital sequencer and all the voices and sequences can be sorted on a floppy disc. The parameters and harmonics of each sound can be also be altered and memorised onto the discs.

What synth / drum machine do you recommend for the first time buyer?

A ‘good value of money’ synth is the Wasp. It has two oscillators, touch sensitive keyboard and will produce a variety of interesting sounds and effects. It can also be used with the Spider analogue sequencer.

An inexpensive drum machine is the Roland Doctor Rhythm. It has a reasonable basic sound, is programmable and will store a number of fairy complex drum patterns. Both the Wasp and the Dr Rhythm run off mains or battery.

Casio offer an inexpensive range of keyboard instruments which contain a variety of reasonable pre-set sounds.

What other synths / drum machines do you recommend?

I personally favour the Pro-One. It is a monophonic synth with two oscillators and noise generator. It has built in forty note sequencer and a versatile arpeggiator. It contains ‘square wave’, ‘saw tooth’ and ‘ramp wave’ forms which when used with the filter section produce a clean, powerful sound. A more expensive synth is the PPG Wave 2.2 costing around £3500. It has hundreds of wave forms to choose from, very sophisticated control parameters, a splitable keyboard and a vast, up-to-date able memory bank. The sound is also crystal clear and it can even produce simulated vocal effects.

For some of the percussion effects on ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’, I used the Roland TR808 drum machine. It is completely programmable and contains sixteen different sounds, each with individual outputs. One of the best drum machines available is the Linn Drum Computer. Each sound is actually a real drum sound digitally encoded into the Linn computer memory. It will hold the drum patterns for forty-nine songs and all this information can be stored on the cassette for future reference. It is probably the best sounding drum machine that I have ever heard.

How do you approach writing a new song?

I normally work out a basic melody on my guitar. Then I work out the various parts (ie bass and lead) on my synthesizers. I then program the Roland Micro Composer to play the different parts. The MC4 is capable of controlling the ‘gate’, ‘CV’ (control voltage) ie pitch and step times, of four independent synths and can be synced with a drum machine. All the information can be stored onto a cassette and tape for future reference in the recording studio.

Yazoo on stage82-1

Photo by Deb Danahay

What are the slides, films that you feature at your live concerts?

On stage YAZOO incorporate a slide/film visual display, using seven slide projectors and IBM film projectors.

The films and slides are back projected onto five screens (each screen is six feet by four feet) at the back of the stage.

Three of the projectors produce most of the animated effects on the centre screen and there are approximately 350 different slides seen in each set. The screens are used to display various pieces of photography and graphics, which ‘sort of’ relate to the music.

What future plans have you for equipment on stage and in the studio?

Hopefully, I’ll be using the Fairlight far more extensively in the studio. It has limitless capabilities and will probably become the most useful piece of equipment in the recording of the next album.

Regarding stage equipment for the future, we hope to eventually have total of fifteen projectors to enable us to create a different visual effective on each screen. After that – who knows!

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Deb Danahay

Special thanks also to Lily Mann



Interview by Deb Danahay
Additional Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th May 2014, updated 18th May 2017


This UK May Day Bank Holiday weekend sees a gathering of the masses taking place at the BAS II Festival.

DEPECHE MODE fans from all over the world will gather in Basildon, Essex between Friday 4th to Saturday 5th May 2012 to celebrate the legacy of the town’s biggest musical export but also the region’s electronic music scene.

Among those confirmed to appear are TENEK, MODOVAR, SHINY DARKNESS, ROBERT MARLOW, SPACEBUOY, ELECTRO KILL MACHINE and SINESTAR. Bands with DM connections who will be joining proceedings include Martin Gore’s nephew’s band BA5IC and tribute act SPEAK & SPELL.

Together with other Some Bizzare Album contributors SOFT CELL, THE THE and B-MOVIE, DEPECHE MODE became part of an emergent scene that was to have a long lasting impact on pop, electronica, alternative, industrial and beyond with artists as diverse as DAVID GRAY (who covered SOFT CELL’s ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’), MANIC STREET PREACHERS (who covered THE THE’s ‘This Is The Day’), RAMMSTEIN (who covered DM’s ‘Stripped’) and DIDO (whose song ‘Here With Me’ was co-written by B-MOVIE’s Paul Statham)!

But the biggest coup has been the announcement that BLANCMANGE will be headlining BAS II. Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe opened side two of the Some Bizarre Album with the instrumental Sad Day and later supported DEPECHE MODE. Remaining friends in particular with Vince Clarke, the duo had their own success with the albums ‘Happy Families’ and ‘Mange Tout’ while they made their return last year with ‘Blanc Burn’ and a series of well received live dates.

On the Saturday afternoon, BAS II will host an exhibition of DEPECHE MODE memorabilia at The James Hornsby School in Laindon which Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Alison Moyet once attended. It also hosted one of DEPECHE MODE’s first gigs with the original line-up of Vince Clarke, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore; a plaque at the school proudly commemoratives that occasion.

BAS II curator Deb Danahay is a well known member of the DEPECHE MODE family having founded the band’s fan club with Jo Gahan.

As Vince Clarke’s girlfriend, Deb experienced at first hand the trials and tribulations of a group of young men fusing the sound of the synthesizer to a new ultrapop template.

Signing to Mute Records, they released their debut album ‘Speak & Spell’ in Autumn 1981 but there was then the shock announcement that Vince Clarke would be leaving the band to form YAZOO with blues singer Alison Moyet!

With the transformation from synth boy band into something much darker and sinister, DEPECHE MODE were very much a product of their surroundings, a development provoked by the conservatism of their new town birthplace and the gifted opportunity to suddenly see the world.

Despite their inventiveness, DEPECHE MODE garnered a negative reaction from the British music press but found a more positive response abroad. Their stark industrialised experimentation and filmic qualities eventually conquered the arenas of Europe and then the stadiums of America with albums such as ‘Music For The Masses’, ‘Violator’ and ‘Songs Of Faith Of Devotion’.

Deb Danahay kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about BAS II and reminisced on her time within the DEPECHE MODE camp.

What was the original catalyst for holding a DM fan event in Basildon?

I joined Facebook and started having lots of European fans get in touch with me…they’d read the book ‘Stripped’ by Jonathan Miller and I’m the only Deb Danahay in the world as far as I know so it was easy to get hold of me *laughs*

They started posting up photos and someone sent me a video of The Masses, a DM event in Hamburg… I thought it was a gig, but there were all these fans waving their hands to a DJ!

It blew me away that people went to evenings that were purely DEPECHE MODE music all night long. I was invited to go over to Berlin with ROBERT MARLOW which was really surreal that they wanted me to go over. That’s when I realised this was quite a big thing.

So how was the first event in 2011 received? Where were people making the journey from?

There were a lot of Germans, some Swiss, Swedes, Romanians, and Italians… they were so lovely and happy to be together to party and be in Basildon.

BAS II takes place in May 2012, what have you included this time round to make it even more of an occasion?

There’s going to be a Bus Tour visiting all of the special places that the European fans who come over to Basildon on their own steam would visit… to them, it’s like Liverpool with THE BEATLES.

So included are the band members’ childhood homes, schools etc. We’re using the tour bus that YAZOO used for their ‘Reconnected’ Tour so that’s quite exciting in itself. There’s going to be a film that people can watch on the bus and then they visit the relevant places, take pictures and meet people who were important to DEPECHE MODE in the early years. These people will tell their stories and chat to fans.

For the bands have you chosen to play BASII, what selection criteria have you used?

Mainly, they have a DEPECHE MODE / YAZOO / Basildon connection or they’re people that we know. Although in the case of one band MODOVAR, the singer Chris used to write to the YAZOO fan club – which I used to run back in the day! *laughs*

You have BLANCMANGE headlining BAS II. So you and them both go back a long way?

Yes, BLANCMANGE supported DEPECHE MODE in 1981. Vince, Neil and Stephen were good friends, we went on holiday together so there was a camaraderie. I did lose touch with them but when they started touring again last year, I met up with them again. Neil’s really up for BAS II…

For those who are thinking about whether to come along or not, what sort of people is BASII likely to appeal to and what can they expect if they come?

It’s for people who appreciate electronic music and also, it’s a party as opposed to a festival really. There’s a club at the end of each evening after the bands. It’s for like minded people to socialise, appreciate live music and party! The DM devotees just love getting together at gigs and events. A welcoming friendly atmosphere is guaranteed.

What will the DJs be playing?

Electronica from the late 70s to present day. There’s a specialist DJ Dan Martin from Barcelona who will be playing purely DEPECHE MODE for the Saturday night club party.

You’ve mentioned YAZOO but will the other offshoot acts such as ERASURE and RECOIL also figure?

Yes of course – if that’s what the DJs like yourself choose to play! *laughs*

You’ve have a close connection with the DEPECHE MODE family, what was your first memory of them in those fledgling days?

I knew Dave first, we used to go to the same pubs and clubs… we were slaves to fashion and whatever was the latest trend at that time! Me and Dave were into the soul scene first.

I remember we were at a party and being a good friend, he walked me home. He mentioned Vince, who I didn’t know then, had asked him to be lead singer of this band… Dave didn’t know what to do! So I said “go for it, there’s nothing to lose!” *laughs*

Vince was very astute, he’d asked Dave because Dave was popular and had a lot of friends who were part of the ‘In Crowd’. Vince, Martin and Fletch were part of a Christian Fellowship; that was their musical background. I then met ROBERT MARLOW who was Vince’s best friend and then I met Vince through Rob.

Can you remember your first DEPECHE MODE gig?

The first time I saw them was at a party that I held at The Paddocks in Basildon, but they were called COMPOSITION OF SOUND then. I still have a Fanzine gig review of that performance – it can be seen at the Memorabilia Event.

Had you been interested in electronic music much at that point?

I was a Soul Girl initially – but was drawn to GIORGIO MORODER through DONNA SUMMER *laughs*

This led onto KRAFTWERK and ULTRAVOX then THE HUMAN LEAGUE, GARY NUMAN and OMD. Then of course, there was THE NORMAL, SILICON TEENS and FAD GADGET. I couldn’t believe it when I first got to know Daniel Miller, it was such a shock to find out he was THE NORMAL and THE SILICON TEENS!! I’d bought these records ages before…I thought THE SILICON TEENS were a proper group! I’m sure everyone else did! *laughs*

Did anyone have an inkling that something was going to happen with DEPECHE MODE?

NO! No one did! Vince was very driven and striving but he was on the dole! No-one within the band thought they would become big stars. The scene they were in around Crocs, everyone was just having a party *laughs*

On the 20th Century Box documentary narrated by Danny Baker, the boys can be seen rehearsing a song that was never actually released. Judging by the evidence on film, there’s probably a reason why that one has never come out! But in your opinion, was there an unreleased DEPECHE MODE song that was either played live or rehearsed which is perhaps a hidden jewel and should have been recorded?

There is ‘Television Set’ but that wasn’t written by any of the band and that’s why it was never got recorded.

One of the exhibits you’re going to have at BASII on the Saturday afternoon at James Hornsby School is to give fans the opportunities to hear some rare tracks and demos?

I had demos of Vince and Alison recorded at an 8 track in Vince’s flat. We have a unit so people can listen on headphones. This year we have special DEPECHE MODE demos and as BLANCMANGE are performing, I have a demo that BLANCMANGE and YAZOO recorded but was never released….

So Just Can’t Get Enough becomes a huge hit, Speak & Spell has just been released and then Vince Clarke announces he’s leaving! What honestly did you think at the time?

Well, I was very much in love with Vince at that time, it didn’t matter what he did. I wasn’t surprised when he left, but not because of anything anyone did. It was just Vince, he didn’t like being tied down, or he didn’t then…

Of course, your loyalties were with Vince and YAZOO but were you worried for Martin, Dave and Fletch? What were relations like between the two camps at the time?

Things were fine, but obviously I remember feeling bad because they didn’t understand why. It was just Vince in himself. Socially, I used to meet the guys down the pub – part of the gang as normal – which speaks volumes of their characters doesn’t it?

Mute’s Daniel Miller has to be applauded for being a great mentor at this time…

His personality and character held everything together, he was just so balanced and level. I never saw him lose his patience or temper with anyone. He was a big motivator. Also, Mute itself then was tiny, it was really laid back and friendly.

‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ and ‘A Broken Frame’ came out within a few weeks of each other in Autumn 1982. With their 30th anniversaries coming up, how do you think these two albums stand up to scrutiny now?

They’re just brilliant of course! I’m very biased aren’t I? *laughs*

How do you think the core of DEPECHE MODE have managed to stay together all these years?

I think it’s because they have a deep friendship and Basildon people, we have this self-deprecating humour…I remember in the most recent DM book, 1983 support act MATT FRETTON said he couldn’t understand how Dave, Martin and Fletch used to take the mickey out of each other…but I could understand that. It’s a joke, not a personal thing, it’s not about having a go at someone, but he couldn’t see that. That’s the sort of thing that has kept them together. When you listen to them being interviewed, they’re still so down to earth.

So why do you think DEPECHE MODE have been the most successful act of the Synth Britannia generation, particularly in America where other acts from the era such as GARY NUMAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, SIMPLE MINDS have had a couple of big hits but have been unable to maintain the kind of momentum which still sees DM play huge venues?

The feeling I get from the European fans is that DEPECHE MODE songs portray their lives. The lyrics in tracks like ‘Walking In My Shoes’ mean something emotionally to them.

That’s why a lot of people are drawn to DEPECHE MODE, it’s about their lives, whether it’s being heartbroken or lonely through the years.

What do you think of the stuff that Vince Clarke and Martin Gore have recorded as VCMG?

I think it’s wonderful that they have connected again…..but personally I’m not really into trancey disco, it’s not my cup of tea…

Your favourite DEPECHE MODE songs and album?

Wow! Too many to mention Chi!

The ‘Speak & Spell’ era has got a great personal thing for me. ‘Big Muff’, I just love ‘Big Muff!’

Heh! Heh! You said ‘Big Muff’! Sorry, I’m just being childish… *laughs*

… and I love ‘Personal Jesus’. Anything that JOHNNY CASH covers has just got to be incredible…

What about any of Vince Clarke’s various projects?

I love all the early ERASURE catalogue like ‘Sometimes’ and ‘A Little Respect’ – but again to many to mention. THE ASSEMBLY with Feargal Sharkey, that was just amazing. Vince did some work with the guys from WIRE which has just come out in a box set… DOME they were called – totally originally pieces of work…

You’ve entered into band management. Please tell us about MODOVAR and why you think they have that special quality in your view…

Chris Beecham has got such a fantastic natural voice, I heard him sing a cover of YAZOO’s ‘Midnight’ – that was just brilliant. Their songs are very accessible! Chris is influenced by Alison Moyet and classic soul while one of the instrumentalists Glen Wisbey is a huge DEPECHE MODE fan. The other instrumentalist Chris Taubert on the other hand is more trance but together, MODOVAR are very soulful synthpop.

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Deb Danahay

BAS II takes place on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th May 2012. The Electricity Club will be DJing on the Friday night after BLANCMANGE’s live set. Other DJs include Dan Martin and Dave Charles.

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Archive photos courtesy of Deb Danahay
8th March 2012