The Adelaide Advertiser 5th
Phil Oakey has a burning ambition to make The Human League of the most popular bands in the world... again.
By David Sly
Four years ago, the League was championed as flavor of the month when its
adventurous Dare album introduced the world to a completely synthesised
But, in recent times, the band has sunk into relative obscurity after the
disappointing sales of its latest album, Hysteria.
In fact, the closest the band has come to public attention, has been through
the success of the single Together in Electric Dreams, Oakey's private
recording venture with composer/ producer Giorgio Moroder.
Although pleased with the single's success, Oakey dismissed the venture as
a mere hobby project.
The focus of his work continues to be "The Human League".
"It took only two weeks of my time to do the album with Giorgio so it really
hasn't interfered with the work of The Human League," said Oakey by
telephone from London.
"We had not even intended making an album, but Virgin Records requested
us to do one after the success of the single we did for the movie soundtrack
to Electric Dreams.
"Giorgio then wrote all the music, sent me tapes of it and I wrote the lyrics.
"From its inception until completion, the record was completed incredibly
"But in no way was quality sacrificed for the sake of speed.
"I think I learnt a lot from working with Giorgio.
"It has changed my way of thinking about recording because I realised it
doesn't pay to spend so much time on the tiny details.
"The Human League worked in such a painstaking way on the last album... it
was painfully slow".
"Watching Giorgio work has influenced the way I want to record in the
Working with Moroder was the realisation of a dream for Oakey.
Moroder is one of the most successful producers of modern music having
fathered the influential Munich disco sound and the driving force behind
superstar disco artists such as Donna Summer.
But despite the success of his projects, Moroder has remained a faceless
character, prepaired to remain in the shadows while the artists he works
with receive public adulation.
Oakey, unsure of what to expect from working with the mysterious Mr Moroder,
was quite surprised to find him a simple, pleasant man.
"He's just a geezer really," said Oakey.
"I thought he would have to be a real big head, because of what he had done by
winning two Oscars for movie soundtracks and must have made millions and
millions of dollars."
"But he's just a softly spoken,..modest guy who goes about his work quickly
and without bother.
"Unfortunately, I don't think he'll work with the Human League and we will only
work as a duo again if this album sells well, but the man has definitely made a
lasting impression on me."
Oakey is recording a new album with The Human League which has reached
the crucial stage of cutting vocal tracks.
He said the Moroder work ethic of completing songs quickly is being enforced
and highlights the beginning of a new era for the band.
"I don't want the band to sit still because I don't believe we are washed up,
despite what the critics say," said Oakey.
"Our last nine singles have made it into the UK Top 20 and that's more than
other people can claim who went big at the same time as us, like Adam Ant.
"We look around us now and see so many bands doing what we used to, like
slide shows working in conjunction with a light show, so we are determined to
tread new paths.
"We went a long way with the novelty of synthesisers, but we don't have to be
new any more to win respect, we have to be good."
Oakey said the band had recruited a drummer, Jim Russell, and hoped to tour
the UK about Christmas to support the new album. Hard work in the eye of the
public could be the key to spring The Human League back to the top of the
"I'm always optimistic, but that doesn't account for anything in the world of hit
records," said Oakey. "The only thing that determines success is pot luck."