Ms and Mrs
Claudia Brucken and Suzanne Freytag, the vocal and visual front half of Propaganda’s pantomime horse are not just partners in crime. Suzanne and Claudia have been close friends for the past five years, ever since they were introduced at a friend’s house in Dusseldorf.
Despite an age difference of six years the pair warmed to each other’s diverse personalities. Claudia is the impulsive, inquisitive and headstrong one who recently married ZTT media man Paul Morley. Suzanne is the quieter more experienced figure who’s still single.
Now, Propaganda’s third single ‘P.Machinery’ is grinding up the chart and the band have just returned from their first American visit.
In between discovering that Suzanne was stricken with a nasty sinus complaint and that Claudia has spent five days living on chips and salad, we found time to ask them a few saucy questions.
THE FIRST LIFE
MB: What are you like the morning after the night before?
SF: Claudia is usually quite bad tempered, especially if she hasn’t had enough sleep.
CB: It takes me some time to wake up. Hours. I don’t like seeing Suzanne first thing and I don’t like her to see me.
SF: By six pm I’m just about with it…
CB: The night time is the best time for us both.
What are your favourite pick-me-ups?
C: Champagne in moderation. I don’t need a drink to wake up and I avoid hard drink like whiskey.
S: I like Irish whiskey. It has to be Irish because it’s smoother than Scotch. I drink vodka too.
Do you have a favourite expression, something you say all the time?
S: Claudia’s is a German phrase ‘Und ich weiss nicht was’ which means ‘I dunno and so on and so on…’
C: I say that at the end of sentences, it’s like your blah blah blah, an expression I hate but am just getting used to. Suzanne’s are more common ones like ‘Oh yeah’ and ‘you know’.
If you were invited to appear on Mastermind what would your specialist subjects be?
C: If I were I’d choose the works of Caspar David Friedrich, a 19th century writer.
S: I’m interested in lots of subjects but mostly literature. I like Klaus Mann, Hoffman. I read in English sometimes. I like Katherine Mansfield’s short stories and I’ve started to read Graham Greene.
C: We read lots of hard stuff at school in English. Books by Baldwin, Harold Pinter, and Samuel Beckett but that was to study and analyse the language.
Do you know each other’s favourite food?
S: Claudia is a vegetarian, she just lives on chips and salad.
C: (staring hard at her friend) That’s because they don’t have fresh vegetables in America. We both love Japanese food at the moment, it’s a passion. I like tempura and prawns. Suzanne likes sushi (raw fish) and Italian food.
Are you good cooks?
C: Suzanne’s cooking could, erm, develop a bit more. The last meal she cooked for me was 18 months ago, spaghetti bolognese. It was alright.
S: Claudia is a good cook, well quite good. She makes a mean mushroom soup and her vegetable soup is a good standby.
Do you enjoy housework?
S: What? Like hoovering? I don’t know anyone who does. I hate cleaning floors and clearing up dirty bathrooms.
C: I’m not exactly over fond but I’ll do it if I have to.
What sort of men do you like?
S: No special type. I wouldn’t say I go for blond men with blue eyes. It depends on things like their expression, their personality and interests.
C: I like extreme men, ones who are extrovert. I like the eccentric male personality. Not many people have those characteristics. I respect people with different attitudes.
S: I don’t mind eccentricity if it comes from within, if it’s honest. I don’t like role players.
What are each other’s preferred styles of clothing?
S: She likes baggy things always. Yes?
C: That’s right, comfy clothes. I don’t want to feel restricted. The tight white dress with the feathered shoulders I wear in the ‘P.Machinery’ video is something that Paul (Morley) bought for me from a guy near Portobello Road.
S: I like formal straight lines. I used to wear baggier garments and lots of trousers. Now I prefer dresses and skirts.
Is Claudia a good singer, Suzanne?
S: (not battling an eyelid) Mmmm, yes I think she is.
C: Suzanne is not exactly a good singer but she has a good way of expressing herself, a strong character to her voice.
S: Thank you, how sweet.
Do you have many arguments?
S: Oh yeah, all the time. Claudia often says things I disagree with. The problem arises when you spend so much time together, and then the travelling gets on everyone’s nerves. First we shout and then we don’t talk and then we forget it.
C: I sulk if I think I’m in the right and everyone else is wrong. Maybe that isn’t sulking, maybe I’m just angry.
SORRY FOR LAUGHING
Do you enjoy a good sulk Suzanne?
S: Of course, but nobody likes to admit to it. I tend to want to be alone. If I’m pissed off I don’t want to see anyone.
C: It’s different if you sulk like a little child to get attention.
S: If you take the piss out of Claudia she gets mad. At times she can’t laugh at herself.
You’ve really annoyed her now.
C: (annoyed) I’m not annoyed! I can laugh at myself! Depends on my mood. I need distance. Sometimes I’m laughing at myself and people don’t realise.
Are you ever silly with each other?
C: Suzanne can be. We take the piss most out of Ralf (Dorper) because he is so German and so straight. A bank man who writes pop lyrics? I think that’s very stupid and funny. Actually, Suzanne isn’t stupid too often. She’s very sensible which can be very boring.
FOR ARTISTS ONLY
Do you see yourselves as artists?
C: Never. In Germany if you use that expression you’re being pretentious. If I say ‘I’m an artist’ people laugh.
S: It’s an English misunderstanding. A musician is a musician. An artist is someone who paints.Continue »
C: Tell me that George Michael is an artist and I’d disagree. He is a very clever songwriter and a very bad singer but what he’s doing is not artistic…
What would you do if a waiter spilt hot tomato soup all over you?
S: Claudia would freak out and swear a lot in German.
C: So would Suzanne but she’d swear a bit less.
Are you friendly to strangers?
C: Suzanne is very friendly.
S: Claudia isn’t. She’ll let people know if she isn’t interested in them. She’s more cautious and I’m more open.
THE LAST WORD
Has success changed Propaganda?
C: I hope not. One thing I value is my private life which I try to keep separate from work.
What does the other look like with wet hair, say after swimming?
C: She looks like a wet fish?
S: Right! She looks like a drowned rat!
C: Thanks. I didn’t exactly see myself as a drowned rat.
What are your favourite possessions?
S: Her hats collection.
C: True, I’ve got about ten. My best is one I can only wear in winter. It’s black with a yellow knitted tube bit like a hairpiece that blows about in the wind.
S: Well, I love my bed. That is my favourite possession. I don’t collect anything as a hobby. I prefer making things like jewellery. I trained as a goldsmith. I enjoy making brooches and chains.