Ralf Dörper Of Propaganda - A Q&A Past Times Electronically Yours


Words: Orac for Electronically Yours (July 2010)
Photos: ZTT/various

Like Yazoo a few years earlier them, Propaganda's recording career was painfully cutting short... simply they left us amongst a album that soundless generates a sense of analogue wonder amongst epic soundscapes.

'A Secret Wish' is timeless. It contains no gimmicky studio trickery that would betray its truthful age. The popular hooks soundless resonate together with catch yous betwixt moments of breathtaking sequencing together with orchestral arrangements every bit mighty every bit Holst.

Brilliantly described every bit 'Abba inward hell' past times Paul Morley when the album was initiative of all released inward 1985 on cassette together with vinyl, producer Steve Lipson tweaked together with expanded the album for its CD some months after together with all these extended versions are included on the lavish together with quite bright deluxe edition. There are other fascinating insights provided inward the linear notes of this deluxe edition including a shocking proposition regarding possible producers when it became clear that Trevor Horn was also busy (or felt that the source cloth was also 'dark').

EY is at nowadays honoured to introduce an interview amongst Propaganda's founding fellow member Ralf Dörper who looks dorsum on the making of ane of the greatest electronic albums ever recorded, legal fall-outs together with a beloved for 'relentlessly marching bass lines'....

How did it all start out for Propaganda MK1 together with how did your demos come upward to the attending of Paul Morley at ZTT? Was 'A Secret Wish' already completely inward demo shape past times the fourth dimension yous signed to the London label?

H5N1 long storey - starting inward 1982 - I seek to cutting it short. Firstly for the record: at that spot never was a demo! Propaganda Mk1 was a trio consisting of Susanne Freytag, Andreas Thein together with myself. I started Propaganda after beingness ousted from Die Krupps early on inward 1982.

My musical vision was to give machines a woman somebody voice.

The raise Propaganda genuinely was adapted from a rail I had originally written for Die Krupps. Parts of its lyrics after re-appeared inward Disziplin.

Having an EP inward psyche nosotros recorded 2 tracks stemming from cloth which evolved during sessions I conducted amongst Andreas inward Cologne.

The 2 tracks - included some 'dub' mixes - featured the vocalisation of Susanne together with were inward German: 'Disziplin' together with 'Sunde'. The old beingness inspired past times TG's 'Discipline' without beingness a existent embrace version...

We intended to larn a release inward the United Kingdom of Great Britain together with Northern Ireland perhaps on the label which had re-released my weird early on German linguistic communication solo-recordings inward England (Operation Twilight Records).

I sent a tape of these initiative of all Propaganda recordings to Chris Bohn aka Biba Kopf. He was a NME colleague of Paul Morley together with genuinely had championed all my weird early on materials inward the NME at that fourth dimension (something similar 3 singles of the calendar week inward a row...).

Chris informed Morley/Horn together with when they signaled involvement I seat the negotiations nearly the EP on hold.

All that took house pre-ZTT inward 1982.

H5N1 contract was signed inward 1983 (when ZTT started to be every bit a company).  Propaganda was the initiative of all band (?) signed after Art of Noise simply earlier FGTH.

With the abrupt alternative of recording amongst Trevor Horn certainly Propaganda's musical options had changed every bit good - the novel vision was to larn total pop!

That novel strategy involved creating novel cloth - together with expanding the line-up to larn far popular - Propaganda Mk2:

Suzanne brought inward her friend Claudia - together with I discovered Michael Mertens who was percussionist at the Dusseldorf Symphonic Orchestra - past times the agency he also had studied composition amongst Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk.

'Dr Mabuse' was released inward 1984 simply the follow-up unmarried 'Duel' was pushed dorsum to the next yr amongst some citing the success of Frankie Goes To Hollywoood for the delay. Was this frustrating for yous at the fourth dimension together with was Trevor Horn originally assigned to attain 'A Secret Wish'?

One chemical factor of frustration was the 'tightness' of ZTT/perfect songs. They did accept quite a patch to realise that they had to brand a fiscal input every bit nosotros needed some variety of ain equipment to pre-produce together with compose properly.

Michael together with myself spent a publishing advance on equipment (among others the legendary PPG-system).

In Dusseldorf nosotros prepared novel cloth (took quite a while). But these demos - of 'Dream Within H5N1 Dream', 'Duel' or 'P-Machinery' - real much resembled the recorded versions. On 'Dream Within H5N1 Dream' nosotros tried out a trombone thespian from the Düsseldorf Orchestra Michael worked in.

Steve Lipson was chosen to attain the album together with did a fantastic task amongst the sonics behind the mixing desk. Were these recording sessions exciting to hold upward a business office of? Was at that spot a sense that yous were producing a template for futurity electronic music that would larn on to influence acts including Depeche Mode together with the Pet Shop Boys?

In the get-go I was a combat sceptical every bit Lipson was a guitar-player... at to the lowest degree Trevor came from the bass. (Which are ofttimes the coolest guys inward a band..!)

But Lipson was essential together with the perfect choice.

I attain non believe that nosotros influenced DM or PSB which were around already - together with DM were sure enough banging on metallic because of Einstürzende Neubauten (or should I say Die Krupps), non because of Propaganda.

How long did it accept to consummate the recording of 'A Secret Wish'? Many of the track's soundscapes are immensely complex together with detailed fifty-fifty today's standards. Was the album genuinely completely and 'ready to go' inward 1984?

I attain non recall just when nosotros considered it 'done'. There were some deadlines - for sure. But appointment of completion most probable was in conclusion infinitesimal 1985.

The procedure was speeding upward after they had enabled us to attain our ain demo-ing.

Shortly after the album's release, it was quick to get together rave reviews together with admiration inward the manufacture for its technical excellence together with the album was regarded past times many every bit beingness ahead of its time. Was at that spot a sense that yous had recording something exceptional that would suffer together with appeal many years later?

I ever was of the persuasion that yous should entirely record/release something exceptional - otherwise yous are wasting people's time. But ofttimes what is exceptional does non appeal..... at nowadays away.

Looking dorsum to 1985, the yr of Live Aid together with the depressing render of 'stadium rock', attain yous think the album would lead hold faired meliorate commercially if released a yr later?

England is an island... together with every bit a affair of fact the album - every bit good every bit the singles 'Duel' together with 'P-Machinery' - did tremendously good on the continent (but non hence much inward Federal Republic of Federal Republic of Germany anymore - funnily enough). It was genuinely successful inward French Republic together with French-Canada, Southern Europe together with - South America! In a lot of countries nosotros outsold 'Pleasuredome' - hence no complaints.

It's hard for the listener to reckon how 'A Secret Wish' could hold upward improved musically or technically. When yous facial expression dorsum at the recordings 25 years later, is at that spot anything yous would tweak or change?

It's hard for the ones involved every bit well.

There are some annoying Linn-sounds (the bass-chip!).

On the other mitt I am happy that despite using state-of-the-art 80s audio sources nosotros did non larn for the obvious ones (roto-toms, Syncussion, F-F-F-Fairlight staccato samples etc.)

Which tracks are yous most proud of? Are at that spot whatever tracks from the recording sessions that didn't brand the in conclusion tracklisting?

The tracklisting - well, I attain non similar the thought of spoiling a debut amongst a embrace version. Unless yous desire to brand a statement.

In my persuasion it would lead hold been much to a greater extent than of a disputation to lead hold a embrace version of TG's 'Discipline' on the album instead of 'Sorry For Laughing'.

And I think that also much of Susanne somehow got lost inward production.

If Electronically Yours could lead hold a signature melody together with then it would most certainly hold upward the in conclusion tertiary of the original extended Dr Mabuse mix. (7m05s into the mix that was sadly omitted from the SACD release a few years back.)

We think that it is the greatest sequence of electronic noted together with synth chords ever recorded. Do yous recall much from the recording of this rail together with how this mix came about?

Thank you. Appreciate.

And a adept selection - would hold upward mine every bit well.  I adore relentlessly marching bass lines.

It's harking dorsum to early on stages when 'Mabuse' was much to a greater extent than of a rail without vocal construction - together with the original equipment used inward programming 'Mabuse' were 808 together with 303. But non to forget chords: meisterworks from moodmaster Mertens.

On the dependent patch of remixes, ZTT were infamous for issuing multiple remixes of the same rail within weeks of each other on different formats. Were all of these mixes ever presented to yous for your blessing or did yous also lead hold problem keeping upward amongst the sheer amount of mixes?

These were hectic times at ZTT. And it tin hold upward hence fourth dimension consuming to maintain the creative somebody informed...

Ever wondered nearly our bad pilus days on the sleeve-shots for 'A Secret Wish'?

'Duel' is a spine tingly pop precious stone together with was a little hitting whilst becoming the BBC's theme for it's RAC rally sports coverage throughout 1985. The unmarried has gone on to hold upward cherished past times many who follow this genre together with Sophie Ellis Bextor lately covered the track. What is it similar to hold upward involved amongst such an iconic together with highly regarded track?

As did Mandy (you know Bill Wyman wink wink...) years ago.

In a agency it was high-concept giving inward to realism - an artistic failure.

Because the initial concept was to lead hold the duel (of dissonance together with nice) fought out within the song. Maybe a middle-part-duel betwixt dissonance together with harmony - real dialectic, brain-heavy - a vocal for PM.

Didn't quite move out - simply luckily at that fourth dimension at that spot was soundless the concept of a single. So the dueling parts became A- together with B-side.

'A Secret Wish' is such a lush together with rich recording much similar Heaven 17's 'A Luxury Gap' that also used a existent orchestra together with entirely lately broke even. How much did it terms to tape 'A Secret Wish'? Was it a hugely expensive album to record?

This is a tricky theme every bit yous mightiness hold upward aware that at that spot was legal activity dorsum inward the 80s! So I should say that it was an expensive sense recording the album......

And nosotros recouped inward the 90s.

Not sure if nosotros recovered from the sense however...

Tell us nearly the interaction betwixt Steve Lipson together with the band inward terms of the actual production together with execution of the music, i.e. who chose the sounds together with rhythms, together with arranged the songs etc.

It has to hold upward said that after nosotros were enabled to move on the cloth inward Dusseldorf a lot of the cloth kept most its structure.

But Lippo - together with non to forget the THeam! - were essential to render some other audio dimension nosotros would non lead hold achieved otherwise.

'P-Machinery' boasts 2 impressive cameos amongst bleeps provided past times David Sylvian together with distinctive chants from Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory. How did yous larn them on board for this single?

You are non referring to my distinctive 'Motor' chant at the get-go of 'P-Machinery'?

Sylvain's input was much to a greater extent than than a cameo - he provided much to a greater extent than than bleeps - nosotros owe him, real little human being - together with a genius...

But fifty-fifty to a greater extent than impressive (to some) - together with also on 'P-Machinery' Beta-version:
Moritz von Oswalt on drums (who much after transformed into Maurizio, Basic Channel!) together with John McGeoch on guitar.

And Glenn was around a lot - nosotros shared the administration of Heaven 17 at that time.

Just months after the release of 'A Secret Wish', ZTT took the bizarre determination to release the remix album 'Wishful Thinking' against the wishes of the band. What was the logic behind ZTT's thinking to rush release such a projection together with did yous lead hold whatever input inward the remixes?

Logic? - the entirely logic involved was a venture state (muso within joke!).

How dare Morley! - It certainly was non upward to the measure laid past times 'Love & Dancing'.

As a fan I wasn't also impressed amongst this remix album together with it seemed similar a wasted chance together with strange considering how adept the ZTT remixes had been upward to that point. Was it the release of this ill-timed remix album that made yous seek legal advice?

Just imagine how it could lead hold sounded amongst Mantronix at the desk.  Or fifty-fifty Paul Rutherford!

I did non await that from an 'independent' label - together with felt a combat similar The Clash when they had their 'Complete Control' -situation amongst CBS.

A lawyer would after advise yous that Propaganda were never probable to brand whatever coin from the ZTT contract. Is this why yous decided to dissever the band rather than send on together with had move began on a follow-up to 'A Secret Wish'?

Might hold upward coin for some - artistic liberty for others - But I am non going to comment on that topic. The lawyer was Brian Carr who helped John Lydon to larn what was due to him from Malcolm McLaren. And for the record: We had the same contract every bit FGTH/Holly had - together with it is known how the High Court of Justice judged inward that matter...

The band did non think to split.

But what has to hold upward understood nearly the post-Secret-Wish-period is that the band (except Claudia) got a courtroom injunction past times ZTT which meant frozen accounts together with no possibility to move (in music) anymore - i.e. no recordings, no alive activity.

Propaganda was silenced! - the vocalizer continued.

Propaganda would after surface ane time to a greater extent than inward 1990 amongst entirely ane original fellow member together with a pleasant plenty unmarried 'Heaven Give Me Words' inward 1990 that was surprisingly written past times Howard Jones. What are your thoughts at nowadays on this foreign endeavour to relaunch Propaganda together with attain yous personally at nowadays lead hold to a greater extent than command over the band's raise together with dorsum catalogue?

We should concentrate hither on 'A Secret Wish'. But every bit at that spot are hence many incorrect (wikipedian) descriptions of the post-ZTT period, hither are some to a greater extent than facts:

At the terminate of the 80s nosotros came to a compromise amongst ZTT - together with exchanged dorsum catalogue for freedom! - i.e. the injunction was lifted.

After years (!) pass amongst legal matters nosotros (i.e. Suzanne, Michael, together with myself) were released from the ZTT contract - together with kept the name.

Although - inward my persuasion - the impetus was gone together with also much unloose energy had been pass on legal matters nosotros wanted to move on every bit Propaganda - to show that ZTT did non destination us off.

So inward fact a novel bargain amongst Virgin Records was signed inward 1988 - past times a band which consisted of 3 Mk2 Propagandists, a novel vocalizer (which inward a agency Susanne had casted) together with 2 Simple Minds (Brian together with Derek).

This novel Propaganda started recording inward 1988 what inward the terminate (among the collateral Susanne together with myself) became '1-2-3-4'. Do non recall how Howard Jones got involved - I was listening to LWR on the radio...

Actually Suzanne does the vocals on what I consider the best rail on '1234' - 'Vicious Circle'. And I got bored past times prissy popular during this stage together with became 'Dr Acid' - together with and then re-joined the beat of machines...

Were yous invited past times ZTT to hold upward involved amongst the novel 25th anniversary edition of 'A Secret Wish'?

Claudia was inward touch. And the curator Ian Peel did a real adept job. Respect.

In the belatedly 90s, the original line-up began to tape demos that including guitar parts from Martin Gore who was a large fan of 'A Secret Wish' amongst Claudia dorsum on vocals. What went incorrect amongst these sessions together with why did it all autumn apart hence quickly?

I am non inward a seat to answer that every bit I was non involved. But maybe this is an answer every bit well.

What are relations similar at nowadays amongst old band members? You reformed briefly for 2 live appearances, ane for German TV together with a superb rendition of 'Dr Mabuse' at Wembley Arena for a Trevor Horn celebration inward 2004. Is at that spot whatever hazard of futurity alive outings for the original line-up?

Did nosotros reform? We got together together with waved...

But different Abba, Ace of Base or Fleedwood Mac nosotros didn't lead hold whatever interband-fiddling around. So relations are fine together with nosotros leave of absence the attorneys at habitation when nosotros meet.

Many acts from the 80's are all of a abrupt announcing tours together with performing concerts for 'classic' albums which is becoming a combat worrying every bit some of these albums were never regarded every bit 'classics' anyway (UB40 etc).

With its dramatic orchestration together with filmic soundscapes, volition nosotros ever reckon a fourth dimension when yous volition perform 'A Secret Wish' inward full?

We tin imagine a sold-out gig inward the South Bank arts centre ;)

As nosotros are German linguistic communication nosotros tin imagine a sold out Olympiastadion. :)

With regard to that concept: I attain non larn it together with frankly I consider it to hold upward quite pretentious.

An album is an album together with a alive demo is a alive demo inward my opinion. The dynamics of an LP (2-sides, no to a greater extent than than 45 min) differs from the needs of a alive surgical procedure - unless yous lead hold a song-cycle.

So - for Lou Reed's 'Berlin' it worked. But when for event Bowie played all the instrumentals from 'Low'...

But I enjoyed John Foxx doing 'Metamatic' lately inward London - or Heaven 17 when they played 'Penthouse & Pavement' inward Cologne.

On the other mitt Throbbing Gristle playing totally novel cloth inward Berlin I establish also exiting.

But coming dorsum to your question: it could never hand - I would decline to play 'Sorry For Laughing'.

Electronic music has seen something of a nautical chart revival lately amongst a motion dorsum to 'traditional' analogue synths together with large hooks. Are at that spot whatever acts that lead hold impressed yous lately?

That must lead hold been the British charts...

I beloved CLIENT who delivered their best industrial plant maybe a combat also early on to larn good deserved nautical chart recognition.

And wonderful (as always) is Arthur Baker's programming for Hurts 'Wonderful Life'

Who are your biggest influences inward electronic music together with what attain yous personally consider to hold upward the greatest electronic album of all time?

The large influences would be:
- RuckZuck on the radio
- 'A Clockwork Orange' together with 'Assault on Precint 13' inward the cinema
- Keith Emerson stabbing his Moog on stage

All that happened inward the 70s simply didn't genuinely brand me start making electronic noises.

That trigger definitely was Daniel Miller's 'Warm Leatherette'.

The greatest album? Any of these:
- Wendy Carlos 'A Clockwork Orange'
- John Foxx 'Metamatic'
- Kraftwerk 'Computerwelt'
- AUX 88 'Alien FM'
- DAF 'Alles ist Gut'
- Martin Rev 'Stigmata'

Puh - that was quite an extended deluxe anniversary Q&A...


With huge thank yous together with much honor to Ralf Dörper. Thanks also to Ian Peel for his amazing move on the deluxe 'A Secret Wish' together with Babooshka for Q&A feedback.

For those who hear the telephone phone of the machine, EY salutes you...
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