The dark art of Propaganda
NEW bands shouldn’t take five years to make a record, but mini-supergroup OneTwo aren’t an average new band.
The background: in the 80s and 90s, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark has 12 Top 20 hits with their shadowy take on pop electronica. In the mid-80s, Propaganda were pushing the boundaries of what constituted pop with their own synthesised masterpiece A Secret Wish on legendary producer Trevor Horn’s Zang Tuum Tumb label. Now one half of OMD, Paul Humphreys (not the one responsible for Atomic Kitten), and Claudia Brücken, the frosty German sensation that gave Propaganda its cool glacial voice and European glamour, have joined forces to become OneTwo.
Their debut album, Instead, is a sublime slice of mesmeric synth pop. It is neither a needless pastiche of the past nor a 180 degree sonic swivel, but builds upon an original concept that everyone is plagiarising right now.
Claudia Brücken is clearly thrilled as kittens with the record, which is out on their own label next week. “We were ready for the record to go out last year, but our press people said, ‘Don’t do it now, Christmas is coming and it will go under.’ It was hard to accept. The artist in me said, ‘It’s ready, I want it out now,’ but the record company side of me knew they were right.”
Brücken and Humphreys are used to doing thing their own way. In 2004, OneTwo became the first established artists to release music exclusively on eBay with a five-track EP. “Paul and I know we have a fan base, we are collectable, and our old records are quite hard to find. So we realised people looking for Claudia Brücken can find our new music that way. Plus we wanted to see how the internet worked and discover if there was interest in us. We’re still sending out our EP now. It’s brilliant, that someone can just stumble across us, and it was an experiment.”
Considering the band formed in 2002, you can see why Brücken might be a tad impatient. When you hear the process it takes just to write a song, however, you begin to understand. “Paul gives me a groove or backing tape of some sort and I put it in my iPod. Then I walk around working on the melody and when I’ve found something I go back to Paul and sing him the melody. If he likes it we develop it together. Paul works on the backing track and I go on my computer and work on lyrics. When they’re sketched out, we work on the arrangement.”
Rome may not have been built in a day, but they’d have had the scaffolding down and moved on to Naples before these two had finished a verse and chorus.
- Paul Humphreys was co-founder of electro-pop pioneers OMD
- Their best known hits are Enola Gay, Souvenir and Joan Of Arc
- OMD will reunite for a tour later this year
- Claudia Brücken is best known for her work with Propaganda and Act, but is also a solo artist
- Her biggest hits with Propaganda were Duel and Dr Mabuse
- She has a daughter with music’s Mr Know-It-All, pop pundit Paul Morley
- Live, OneTwo perform their songs and those of their famous old bands
- Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore writes and plays on the song Cloud 9
OneTwo release their debut album Instead next week and will tour the UK in March