Erasure's Andy Bell Talks Drag Queens and Being "a Little Old for EDM"
Erasure's Andy Bell and Vince Clarke.
Photo by Joe Dilworth
Listeners of a certain vintage will already know there was indeed such a thing as dance-based electronica between the eras of disco and EDM.
In fact, not only was there exciting music to be heard between those fabled eras, but much of the most thrilling sounds were made by duos. Throughout the '80s and '90s, dominating both airwaves and dance floors, there were the likes of Blancmange, Soft Cell, Eurythmics, and, of course, Erasure.
A product of musician-producer Vince Clarke (co-founder of Depeche Mode) and singer Andy Bell (who'd answered an ad in Melody Maker), Erasure was akin to a candy-coated stroll through the deep, dark nights of one's soulful abandon.
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Much of Erasure's transcendent and transgressive spirit manifested itself in the outre form of Bell himself, whose onstage ensembles made Liberace look butch. Yes, Bell was unabashedly gay at a time when coming out was still mostly associated with a song by Diana Ross. His talent and outspokenness made him something of a gay icon. And he remains so to this day.
Last week, we here at Crossfade caught up with Andy Bell in anticipation of Erasure's impending world tour for new album, The Violet Flame. The topics of conversation included living in Miami, drag queens, sexed-up experimental theater, the brilliance of Britney Spears, and being "a little old for EDM."
Crossfade: How long have you lived in Miami?
Andy Bell: For about four years now. I love it!
Are you on Miami Beach?
No, on the Bayside, really close to downtown.
What led you to land digs here?
I've been coming to Miami for years. And since my partner has a place in Tampa, I figured it would make for a perfect third home.
Where do you hang when you're in town?
Breakfast on Lincoln Road; lunch at Sandwicherie; I've been to Twist a few times. I really like the new Score. Elaine Lancaster took me to dinner at The Forge and that was fabulous. Her friend Maxwell [Blandford] was DJing that night and he made it extra special. Of course, being anywhere with Elaine is already something extra special, but this was something else, if you can believe that.
Oh, if it involves Elaine, we believe it!
As well you should! [Laughs]
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Has Erasure also had the pleasure of playing Ultra?
Yes, we played Ultra in 2012. I think we went on right before Duran Duran. But I don't think the EDM kids know who we are, though. We seem a little old for EDM.
Did you feel that at the recent Carfests in England?
Not at all. Those were amazing! Chris Evans, the disc jockey of BBC Two puts on these events for car enthusiasts that benefit the BBC's Children in Need program. The first night there were 50,000; the second night over 30,000. This was our first time playing there, and the organizers said this was the first time in a long time the crowds stayed till the end. They were ecstatic! And so were we!
Didn't you also recently debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
Yes, I performed a play called Torsten the Bareback Saint.
Do we even need to ask what that's about?
[Laughs] Well, the first line of the first song I sing is "Freshly buggered, he braved it into school the next day." Does that explain it?
Umm, yeah, it does. Thanks. Were you able to catch any of the other Fringe offerings?
I was. Though with 4,000-plus events over the course of the week, it wasn't easy. I did see 50 Shades! The Musical, the off-Broadway musical that parodies Fifty Shades of Grey, and it was filthy. I thought Torsten was dirty, but this... Wow! I also caught Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, where Matt Tedford drags it up as Thatcher and rewrites history in her favor, if that's possible. The play was pretty incredible.
Sounds like you kept it sexed-up.
[Laughs] Let's just say I was doing research.
Haven't you've done enough research in that area?
Has one ever? Hardly.
Touche. How psyched are you to be doin' NYE in NYC?
I am so excited. I couldn't think of a better way to end the tour than by back-to-back shows on NYE in NYC. There are a lotta great weekend shows coming up... Vegas on Halloween is one.
You must have a blast in Vegas.
I do. Always. I love Vegas. We saw Britney Spears last time we were there -- she was brilliant!
Speaking of cities, when you ever do decide to settled down, will it be Majorca, London, or Miami?
As much as I love both London and Miami, I'm trying to convince my hubby to move with me to Majorca. There are gardens there, sheep, and plenty of room for our doberman to run around. The place was my former partner Paul's life's work; it's like a piece of paradise on earth. If I'm lucky, that'll be our spot.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Erasure. Friday, September 12. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets cost $34.50 to $50 plus fees via livenation.com. All ages. Call 305-673-7300 or visit fillmoremb.com.
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