Source: Bob Malkowski/Gearnews
Vince Clarke is the synth-pop icon behind massive hits like “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Don’t Go” and “Sometimes”. Famous for his founding and fundamental roles in Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure; Vince Clarke’s influence on synth pop is monumental. Let’s take a look at the man and his gear and learn how to get the sound of these classic synth-pop records…
Clarke had many different projects and also wrote music for other artists throughout her career. Today we’re going to look at Vince Clarke’s most notable bands and discuss some of the instruments he used in the production process. Its sound is typically uplifting, using melodic synth hooks and dance-based beats.
This distinctive, synth-driven music often has a deceptive simplicity,”pure tone” approach to synthesis, regardless of the synths used. This makes it easy to reproduce similar sounds using the software or hardware, without taking the vintage route. However, the feel and groove of synth-pop was not generated from a DAW clock or gridso keep that in mind.
Depeche Mode (1980-1981)
Although Clarke was one of The founding members of Depeche Modethe only album he performed on as a songwriter was their debut album speak and spell in 1980. He also had projects with Andrew Flecher who preceded the group as No romance in China and Composition of sound.
Clarke’s contribution resulted in a much more innocent and whimsical sound, in contrast to the darker, more melancholy material penned by Martin Gore, who became the band’s primary songwriter. Despite three hit singles and considerable interest speak and spell generated, Clarke left the band to focus on other projects.
The playful and rather colorful tone of the album is largely attributed to the use of the famous ARP 2600 semi-modular synthesizer, as well as the Roland Jupiter 4. To date, the 2600 (especially its early 1971 designs) is considered one of the greatest analog synths ever built. However, if you don’t feel like giving up $10,000 to $14,000 on the vintage version, it is currently available in connecta cloned hardware version and a reissue.
Shortly after leaving Depeche Mode, Clarke joined Alison Moyet in nineteen eighty one to form Yazoo. The collaboration was short-lived (Moyet leaving to pursue his solo career) but notable for some of the biggest hits of the time.
This included two albums and the classic 1982 Single, Do not leave, which charted globally and still stands out as one of the most notable tracks of that era. Yazoo gave Vince Clarke more license to express interest in synthesis and, therefore, the music had a more adventurous approach to the overall production.
Besides the aforementioned ARP 2600, Clarke used a few other notable synths throughout the project, such as the French RSF Kobolthe Roland Juno-60 and the Pro One Sequential Circuits, which is widely used. During this time, most drum sounds were created from the ARP 2600the SC Pro One, Roland TR-808and the Linn LM-1.
By far the most memorable collaboration of Vince Clarke’s career was when he formed Erasure with Andy Belle. Including their August 12, 2022 Release, Day-Glo – Based on a true storyErasure performed a total of 19 studio albums. That’s certainly no small feat for any band, especially since this discography includes countless hit singles.
Wonderland and The circusfeatured revered producer Mark Ellis aka Flood, providing a solid foundation. The 1987 album The circus, is considered one of their most complete works. Clarke used a wide range of synths, samplers and drum machines on the Erasure albums.
However, very early on, the Oberheim Xpander figured prominently, as well as Casio CZ-101the E-mu II emulator and the Prophet VS. Erasure’s drum sound often came from the Yamaha RX-11the Roland TR-727and the Linn LM-1. Meanwhile, the key to Clarkes’ 80s production workflow was the Umusic UMI-2B MIDI sequencer running on an Acorn Computers BBC microphone.
Learn more about Vince Clarke and Erasure:
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