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INTERVIEW: Marc Almond On Desertshore
Luke Turner , November 19th, 2012 12:49

We begin a series of interviews with the guest vocalists from Desertshore with Marc Almond, who sings Nico's 'The Falconer'

The first time I became aware of the connection between Coil and Marc Almond was via the Sleazy-directed video for the former's cover of 'Tainted Love', released in 1985, and in which the singer has a cameo role. One of the most affecting cover versions I've ever heard, it was one of the very first artistic responses to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, and was a benefit single for the Terence Higgins Trust. Now, Almond is one of the vocalists contributing to Desertshore, Sleazy's project to record a version of Nico's 1970 album, completed by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti after his death. Almond's take on 'The Falconer' sees his ever-rich vocal, both low and high parts, playing over a growling pulse. Here, Almond tells us about his relationship with Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson and the music of Nico.

"I first met Peter in the very early 80s when Psychic TV signed to Some Bizzarre to make an album. I adored him straight away. He had a lovely calm demeanour, was wise and at the same time mischievous, and knew all about great films, art and books. He became a good friend, along with his partner Jeff Rushton, later Jhon Balance. I guested with PTV on their album Force The Hand Of Chance and later on some of the Coil albums. Peter directed many of my early solo pop videos, we loved to see how subversive we could be without alarming the major labels, using homoerotic signs and symbols and of course good-looking lads as extras. We had a lot of fun.

"Nico was a mysterious figure, enigmatic with that great musical and artistic connection to The Velvet Underground and Warhol, which were things I was obsessed about at school. And of course that wonderful intriguing voice, icy and remote yet warm at the same time. She made a sound I'd never heard before - maybe some sort of a gothic punk Marlene Dietrich. The first time i heard her music was with The Velvet Underground, but I bought Desertshore, The Marble Index and The End and liked them more. There was also her musical association with Brian Eno, which made her more intriguing.

"When I became a musician, she was always at the top of my wish list for a duet of some sort. I was so nervous to contact her and EMI were not really for it at all, as you can imagine. I wanted to make sure that she was treated like the legend and the star I felt she was. EMI balked at her demands, but I was insistent. It turned out she was lovely if fragile, and we played pool and drank tea and talked for ages. The song was a problem, it turned out to be a bit too complicated, too orchestral for her and she began to deteriorate as the day went on and the methadone took effect. She still managed to deliver that wonderful Nico voice. We left on warm terms with plans for a better track more suited to her.

"'The Falconer' is my favourite Nico song. I wanted to sing it at a tribute show John Cale put on a couple of years ago but all the good songs had been taken. Nico's vocal is remote and otherworldly. It gives the track quite a haunting bleakness, like a subtitled European film. It conjures up so many wonderful filmic images. I wanted my vocal to have an otherwordly quality too. Something that could make you shiver. I recorded the song with a few different approaches and let Chris have plenty to work with and make a final decision. Apart from singing my favorite Nico song, this was a great opportunity to work with Chris and Cosey."

Desertshore is released next Monday, November 26th. For more information on the album, and to preorder, visit the Industrial Records website

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