Alison Moyet on road with Yazoo reunion

Published by Reuters

 

Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke have seen so little of each other since electro duo Yazoo went its separate ways in 1983 that Moyet reckons they caught up recently for the first time in 16 years.

Now, however, the pair — who enjoyed a string of top five U.K. hits with “Only You,” “Don’t Go” and “Nobody’s Diary” — will be seeing plenty of each other. Yazoo (or Yaz as it is known in the United States) began its Reconnected tour May 26 in Copenhagen, and dates extend across Europe and the United States through late July.

“In Your Room” (Mute), a four-disc collection of remasters, remixes, B-sides, a DVD and the band’s two albums “Upstairs at Eric’s” and “You and Me Both,” is out now in the United Kingdom and Europe. Moyet’s latest solo disc “The Turn,” issued in the U.K. last year on the Universal-backed W14 label, comes out in North America on July 8 via Decca.

1. IT’S BEEN A QUARTER-CENTURY SINCE YAZOO LAST PLAYED TOGETHER. WHY REUNITE NOW?

I would have done it a million times over in the last 10 years. It was unfinished business. Performing is like the pleasure point of the three areas we work in — writing, recording and then doing it live. We only did about 24 gigs for the first album, but never did any for the second. And these songs are a big part of my catalogue. It fell at a time when (Clarke’s) Erasure were having a break, and it was just serendipity.

2. HOW DID THE REUNION COME ABOUT?

Before I put out my last album I was thinking, “I really want to sing these songs live.” I e-mailed him, and he said as much as he liked the idea, he was in a committed musical relationship. You can’t go back and shag the ex-wife for old time’s sake. It’s a bit like that, as much as we were never biblical, obviously. Then I got an e-mail from (Mute Records founder) Daniel Miller saying Vince had been in touch with him and had had a change of heart and did I still fancy doing a Yazoo gig?

3. WILL THE PERFORMANCES BE RECORDED FOR DVD/CD RELEASE?

I’m sure the powers that be will be considering that. If there’s one thing I can be sure about, this could be the only outing. There’s no long-term career plan. It’s not about milking it. It’s just about what’s happening now. Next month it could be all over again.

4. ARE YOU STILL RECORDING SOLO WORKS WITH W14?

No. I was with W14 just for the one album. The last four albums I’ve made, I’ve just licensed them to record companies. I never wanted to get into that thing where they have you and you don’t have them. After my experience with Sony, although I had many great years with them, (there) comes a stage where they have less faith in you and they don’t release you. It’s a hideous place to be. I don’t get upset with people when they want to move on. I do get upset when they want to move on and won’t let you move on.

5. DOES AN ARTIST NEED TO BE MORE BUSINESS-SAVVY TODAY?

Yeah, you do. You just have to realize you’re getting into a marriage with no possibility for divorce from your position. When I started out, I was 20 and signed all sorts of things — I didn’t know what they were and they caused me all sorts of problems later in life. Now I do deals where I say, “You’re going to pay to make this record but it’s only a license.” On the last couple of deals, I’d always put a clause in saying if Yazoo were ever to have a chance of going, I’d always have to be free for that.

6. BRITISH WOMEN ARE ON A HOT STREAK IN THE UNITED STATES. ARE THERE ANY THAT YOU CURRENTLY RATE?

Of them all, Amy Winehouse is the truest all-round talent. She’s a flawed talent, but that’s what makes her interesting. Singers are far more interesting when they get older. I preferred Madonna’s “Ray of Light” (to) any of her earlier stuff.


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Home & Away: Aussies In The U.K.

Published in Billboard Magazine

 

Australian acts are surfing a wave of U.K. success—but the ones making the biggest splash are those that have relocated to Britain.

In the Official U.K. Charts Co.’s listings published May 18, Aussies accounted for five of the top 50 albums, led by a No. 2 bow for drum’n’bass act Pendulum’s “In Silico” (Warner Bros). On the singles chart, there were four Australian artists in the top 20, with soul singer Sam Sparro’s “Black & Gold” (Island) up front at No. 6.

Pendulum and fellow charting artist Gabriella Cilmi have permanently relocated to London, while Sparro splits his time between the U.K. capital and Los Angeles—and execs increasingly advise artists to weigh the benefits of relocation.

“The only way to do it is to be there,” says Andy Kelly, director of Sydney-based management team Winterman & Goldstein, which steered the Vines and Jet to top 30 U.S. and U.K. success. “Neither the Vines nor Jet would have had the success they had outside Australia if either the band or management were based here.”

While neither acts nor management team relocated permanently, Kelly says both routinely spent periods of up to two years outside Australia—establishing a blueprint for success that Aussie acts remain keen to follow.

Sydney-based artist manager Jane Slingo says she’s bringing her unsigned pop protégé, Amy B, to the United Kingdom because of the greater opportunities in London.

“It is possible to continue working from an Australian base with frequent commuting,” Slingo says. “But in reality, the talent you need to work with to [become] internationally successful will not take the artist seriously until they commit to relocation.”

Slingo says relocation costs compare favorably with those for commuting, while Ted Cockle, co-president of Cilmi and Sparro’s U.K. label, Island Records, says both artists’ British success has been directly linked to their constant availability. Island cites Cilmi’s December 2007 TV debut on BBC2’s “Later . . . With Jools Holland” as a key moment in her breakthrough.

“There’s been a concerted effort from management and us to get them some international success,” Cockle says. “And that also feeds back into their home market.”

Universal/Island is also in the third year of an arrangement with Australian label Modular, home to internationally successful artists like electronica act the Avalanches and rock band Wolfmother, both of whom remained based Down Under during their breakthroughs.

Sydney-based Modular managing director Steve Pavlovich says relocation should be a consideration, but isn’t essential in the Internet age.

“Niche acts might see the need to move to England, where the niche audience is larger,” he says.

But Cockle maintains Wolfmother’s U.K. success was restricted by its lack of availability. “We had a clutch of U.K. shows,” he says. “But I would be lying if I didn’t say just how much bigger they might have become if we did have proper time with them.”

Some artists, however, refuse to countenance such a move.

“We’re Australians, so no [we wouldn’t move]. We’d be prepared to move temporarily, but not to relocate,” says Bernard Fanning, frontman of Brisbane-based rock act Powderfinger, which will play London’s O2 Wireless festival this summer.

But while Powderfinger’s last four studio albums have opened at No. 1 in Australia, it has struggled to replicate that success overseas.

“Some bands are better off basing themselves in the U.K., others are better off staying in Australia,” says Sydney-based manager John Watson, who has guided the careers of Wolfmother and Silverchair. “But if they choose [the latter] option, they’ve got to be willing to rack up a lot of air miles.”


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