This months interview is with David Motion who was credited for engineering on the Hysteria album back in 1984. As I found out David is a very honest man who pointed out he was way over-credited and would more label himself a witness during a short period of the recordings! Still, even if he's input was limited he offered a great insight into the music business and provided some interesting facts.
Interview by Niels Kolling
First a little background. How did you become involved in the music
business? As I understand from your bio on your myspace site you started
out wanting to be a pop star but your interest soon turned to production?
I have always straddled pop and classical and went to the Royal Academy of Music in London to study composition and piano, dropping out after 2 years. There was only so much Palestrina I could take and the Academy (at that time) had a kind of "Mozart is God" fundamentalism that I disapproved of, plus I was very distracted by what was happening on the streets in London - it was 1977/1978, so punk and New-Wave were in full swing.
I had started a band called Home Service. We made a couple of very low budget records on our own label, Crystal Groove Records. I fell in love immediately with being in the studio. I thought it was amazing what you could do and, in my quest to be a pop star,
I wanted to learn how to engineer, so we could make our records sound
better. I ended up being so busy, firstly engineering, and very shortly
afterwards producing, that I had no time to do my own stuff.
Phil and the girls were always very late. Then they'd go out shopping. Phil would often go to Hamleys (the toy store), then come back and try to get a sound on the Synclavier usually ending up with something that sounded like a Casio, ha ha ha. Or try a vocal.
Nobody seemed to be in the mood, so
they'd just go home. I'm not sure I witnessed their most productive
moments. I think they needed Chris' presence.
Even if your input was minimal, how do you view the album? As follow up
to Dare, it was regarded a failure by the press, but it did still produce
3 Top 20 singles with The Lebanon, Life On Your Own and Louise, an
achievement most bands would envy.
Since your engineer days, you’ve worked yourself up to become a well respected producer. And the band is currently locked away in their Sheffield studio working on a new album release. Could you see yourself producing their next album?
I haven't produced anything other than my own projects for 10 years! Although I
bumped into Phil a few times 10-15 years ago (we had the same manager, Bob Last for a while and we still have the same lawyer, Steven Fisher) I have never been in their orbit.
Favourite Human League album?
You went to see the band live in their early years where they relied heavily on back up tapes, but have you experienced them in concert lately as they have evolved into a great live band with emphasis on performing the electronic sound?
I have to mention your work with my fellow countrymen and favourite
danish band; Gangway. I would like to congratulate you on the production
of the albums Sitting In The Park Again and The Quiet Boy Ate The Whole
Cake, especically the latter, which is my favourite album.
Well say hello to Henrik and Torben from me ;-) Denmark is screaming for them to reunite, as they are sorely missed. I know roughly what Henrik Balling has been doing since Gangway, but what about Torben Johansen? Is he still making music?
Torben is A+R at Sony-BMG Denmark. Henrik tells me his project with Lester is almost ready...
You arrived in London in 1977, 18 years old and must have experienced
first hand the evolution of the buzzing electronic / new romantic music
scene of the late 70s and the early 80s, which must have been exciting
I went to see him at Madame JoJo’s in Brewer Street several times. He was
running a club called Electrogogo there once a month until a year ago.
Funnily enough, the other guy involved in the club is Frank Drake (Frankie
D) who had a fanzine called “In The City” back in the late 70s/early 80s.
He and his partner Pete discovered and helped my first band Home Service.
The technology has evolved at an unbelievable rate in the music
business. How is it working in a studio today, compared to when you
I have a third Library album ready to go. I'm half way through another Neo-Classical album and half-way through another Electronica album. At some point Jesper Siberg and I will do a follow-up to "music to eat and lie down to".
I'm also very busy with my wine shop "The Winery" www.thewineryuk.com. I travel 6-8 times a year searching for great new wines. I love my life!
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