Synth-pop idol still Mo­ogy and magnificent 30 years on

He was a tech­nol­ogy geek long be­fore the ar­rival of the in­ter­net. Mark But­ler speaks to Gary Nu­man about 30 years in the busi­ness.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC -

HE’S the God­fa­ther of Bri­tish elec­tronic mu­sic, and a man cited by many of to­day’s big­gest synth-pop and dance acts as an idol and inspiration. But Gary Nu­man might never have be­come the in­flu­en­tial artist he did had it not been for the tar­di­ness of a cou­ple of de­liv­ery men back in 1978.

“We went into the stu­dio to record my first al­bum, which had been writ­ten as a pure punk of­fer­ing, and in the cor­ner of the con­trol room there was a Min­i­moog syn­the­sizer,” he re­calls. “Some guys were meant to pick it up that morn­ing, but they never ar­rived and it was there the whole day.

“I’m very geeky and techie as a per­son, and it re­ally ap­pealed to me. I asked if I could have a go. The first key I pressed let out this huge, mon­strous bass growl and I just thought, ‘That’s it’. It was the most amaz­ing thing I’d ever heard. It was a Eureka mo­ment.” That same day Nu­man be­gan con­vert­ing his songs into elec­tro-punk, and al­though this rad­i­cal de­par­ture did not im­me­di­ately please his record la­bel (“I nearly had a fight with one of the direc­tors”), within a year Nu­man had scored two mon­ster hits with Are Friends Elec­tric? and Cars.

More than 30 years on Nu­man re­mains an iconic fig­ure, one who has rid­den out a roller­coaster ca­reer and emerged stronger for the ex­pe­ri­ence. His new al­bum Dead Son Ris­ing is his 20th, and the col­lab­o­ra­tion with pro­ducer Ade Fen­ton shows off clas­sic Nu­man sounds im­bued with a slick, mod­ern edge, not least on Nine Inch Nails-es­que track The Fall.

“I moved around a bit more mu­si­cally than I nor­mally would, and as a re­sult it’s more var­ied and a bit more ex­per­i­men­tal,” ex­plains Nu­man. “I’ve gone to ar­eas I wouldn’t nor­mally go.” The star is speak­ing from his home in East Sus­sex, where he lives with his wife Gemma and their three chil­dren. It’s first thing in the morn­ing when we talk, and he’s been busy pre­par­ing for a fam­ily week­end break, but he dis­misses any thought of ir­ri­tabil­ity with a know­ing joke.

“I went through a long pe­riod where no one wanted to talk to me, so now I’m very grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.” Nu­man is re­fer­ring to an ex­tended chunk of his ca­reer syn­drome, and when he broke through with his early hit sin­gles, the mu­sic press didn’t know what to make of him. Many branded his odd, an­droid-like stage per­sona – born largely out of shy­ness and awk­ward­ness – as aloof and pre­ten­tious.

“It was an aw­ful lot to take on,” says Nu­man. “The suc­cess hap­pened very sud­denly and I had no time to ad­just to it. It re­ally didn’t help that I was a very im­ma­ture 21year-old. I don’t in­ter­act well on a so­cial level any­way, and when you drop world­wide

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