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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Exclusive Q&A with Martin Degville of Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Martin Degville graciously agreed to this interview courtesy of Sobel Promotions. The '80s icon is back via hot, brand-new remixes of "Love Missile F1-11" from Sobel and a fresh new European tour. Hopefully, he'll also arrive on our shores. It was wonderful to hear his responses and, believe me, he does not hold back. Thank you, Martin.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Welcome, Martin Degville. It is a pleasure to be able to conduct this interview with you. I understand that, before Sigue Sigue Sputnik, you had a successful career as a clothing designer in fashionable Kensington Market, London. Could you describe your designs at the time?  
Martin Degville: Yes they were extremely wild for that time; my early collections were based around great iconic movie stars like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe with some Star Trek influences thrown in for good measure. I had a vision of all my women looking ultra glam and powerful-looking, very edgy with slut appeal; I also had a turnstyle at the shop entrance so that anyone over a size 10 could not get in.

DBB: Oh, my! How was it that you were approached about being in the band, Sigue Sigue Sputnik? And do you recall your first gig at the time?  
MD: Tony James, the founder of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Magenta Divine, our p.r. at the time would hang out every Saturday at the shop. He mentioned he was looking for a vocalist for a new band he was creating and asked me if I knew any singers. Of course I jumped in and said you are looking at one. I lied all the way through to our first rehearsal which was a disaster but I had the look and attitude he was looking for. Our first gig was a small venue outside of London, it was awful as we were not all accomplished musicians and we got thrown offstage. [Laughs.]

DBB: "Love Missile F1-11." It was a huge New Wave hit in '86 and Sigue Sigue Sputnik had three top 40 singles in the Uk total. Was it a surprise to you that Sputnik took off and became such a very big success? 
MD: No, not really as, since the demise of punk the music scene became very safe and pop-orientated with the likes of Duran Duran and Culture Club, Sputnik exploded with a new electronic rock n roll sound with a unique image and attitude. It felt like being in the Sex Pistols. We also used one of the world's top producers, Giorgio Moroder, who took our original demos and turned them into worldwide hits.

DBB: I was a huge Ferris Bueller's Day Off fan.  How did "Love Missile F1-11" get chosen for the soundtrack and how did it feel for you to have your song in such a major movie of that era? 
MD: Yes, one of my fave movies also; I love the shower scene [laughs], I think it embodied and set the scene for the whole movie. I think the producers contacted EMI at the time for permission to use the track.

DBB: I'm also a big Giorgio Moroder fan, so I have to ask you what it was like working with him on "Love Missile" and to share, perhaps, any special memories of the occasion.  
MD: Giorgio was so cool! A real gent, he still had the original synth he wrote for "I Feel Love," which happenened to be a mistake as the synth wouldnt work correctly and so created the famous disco riff. After we finished mixing the tracks at his L.A. studio, he held a huge party for us at his fabulous mansion where I met Donna Summer and Sparks. I seem to remember he was always with many beautiful women.

DBB: "Love Missile F1-11" is about to receive remixes via Barbara Sobel and Sobel Promotions, and some of the biggest mixers have signed on to mix it.  Why do you think the time is right for bringing "Love Missile F1-11" back to the dancefloors?  
MD: Yes, all the mixes are sounding quite fantastic and I have to say a massive thank you to Barbara for making this possible. "Love Missile" is a very simple song with a great beat and bassline, of course it also has a great tune and melody and this transfers to a dance groove really well. The chorus shoots it up and is also very emotive and a great crowd-pleaser. I also think it's time to get this great classic tune over to a different generation.

DBB:What was it like touring internationally during the '80s, hearing your songs on the radio and at clubs? To be interviewed by NME, Rolling Stone, and all the perks that go with fame?  
MD: The tours were hectic and sometimes uncontrollable. Quite often we all were out of it due to the constant partying that goes with it; it was so hard to say no. We also felt on top of the world and somewhat invincible but it was worth every moment. It was also fabulous that our songs got heavy coverage in clubs and radio airplay. I guess, really, it went to our heads too quick and too often, the huge success opened gateways to meet other famous artists and musicians, plus free entries to clubs/ restaurants/ holidays and most things we asked for, really, of course it was, looking back, all fake and that everyone else wanted a piece of the action. I had a feeling then that it wouldn't last, our rise to fame came to quick and the star would burn out just as fast.

DBB: "Success": Sigue Sigue Sputnik produced by Stock Aitkin Waterman. Seems an unlikely pairing (though I have to admit I rather like it). Any memories, thoughts about that experience, working with SAW at the time?  
MD: Yes, I hated what they did to the song. It was supposed to be a kind of merge between the Beastie Boys, The Beatles and the Sound of SSS, but when we arrived at the studio, they played us a Donna Summer backing track and we walked out. A huge fight continued and at the very end, it was left to the sound engineer and us to finish the track. EMI also took out the guitar parts which we had to fight for to get back in the original release. It was a disater and signed the death toll for Sigue Sigue Sputnik; after all we were a futuristic electronic rock band, not a number on a conveyer belt churned out by the "Hit Factory."

DBB: Music is ~ has been ~ such a big part of my life; I suppose it's that for most people. I'm always curious, interviewing artists, particularly singers, what pop songs and/or musical artists influenced them growing up. And now, naturally, I pose that question to you. 
MD: Well, through my childhood I really only listened to Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra. Eddie Cochran and a host of other musical icons from the 50's. I then had a strong interest in Northern Soul, then it was Glam Rock, T Rex and Roxy Music; my biggest hero was Bowie and he changed my life. I was also very heavily into the Punk scene.

DBB: You have recorded several David Bowie songs. Can you please tell the importance of David Bowie to you both personally and professionally?  
MD: Well, David Bowie was, and still is, unique and it seemed he had just arrived from another planet to save rock n roll. His influences are everywhere; not just his music but his forever-changing imagery, his lyrics were also so brilliant and visionary, he also recorded a fantastic version of "Love Missile," which was such a great honor for me. I burst into tears when i heard it. [Grins.] He was also on the short list as one of the producers for "Flaunt It." I often wonder to this day what may have happened if this had gone ahead.

DBB: You are now called Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic. Why?
: Well, the sound is still very electronic sounding so I just added that at the end!

DBB: What do you think about the idea of pop music being a great uniter for humanity that transcends national boundaries, barriers and politics?  
MD: Well ,music is one factor that holds no boundaries and has the ability to unite people regardless of color, sex or religion; Band Aid was a great example of this.

DBB: How has your fashion designer background influenced your look?  What other artists and/or designer's influence your sense of style.  What is your inspiration and how do you come up with your unique ideas regarding fashion?   
MD: Yes, I always felt this desire to look different and stand out from the crowd from an early age. I started to design my own clothes for club and weekend parties and it really took off from there. I used to get orders from friends and eventually, due to demand, I opened a shop to sell them. I created the look of Sigue Sputnik and also styled many other people like Boy George, Adam Ant and Siouxie Sue from The Banshees, plus lots of American rock bands and English boy bands, my inspirations came from the Bazaare looks from the 50's and 60's old hollwood. The 1920's 30's 40's. I also love Jean Paul Gaultier  and Thierry Mugler, anything thats outlandish and original catches my eye. Vivienne Westwood is cool.

DBB:  What is your favorite song from your catalog of recordings either with SSS, SSSE or solo?
MD: My personal track of all time is "Rocket Miss USA." I love the bass riff and its very dark  

DBB: I know that you are touring.  Can you please tell us about your upcoming tour dates and how is touring now different from in the 80's?  
MD: Well,  I play mainly in Europe and to smaller venues apart from the big festivals which I love doing; the shows are still as extravagant and colourful and wild as way back in the 80's but not on that scale. It is, however, great fun to play with different musicians and to see old fans and new alike at the shows, it's my passion to play live and i still get a huge buzz from doing so. Maybe one day the original band will reform for a one-off show. Who knows what life holds for anyone!

DBB: Martin, thank you so much for your time doing this Q&A with me. It was such a privilege. As I pride myself on reaching an international readership, what last shout-outs, if any, might you have for all your fans around the world? 
MD: Long live the sound of Sputnik! After all, we invented the future!! God bless you all... Love, Martin Degville!