One to another, Ben Esser and Andy Bell

In every issue of Clash magazine we pitch Artist A against Artist B in a war of wits… Sort of.

What we actually do is invite an artist we like to interview another artist we like, and we run the resulting words as our regular Personality Clash feature.

Recent clashes include Foals vs Can, The Whip vs 808 State and Mystery Jets vs Erol Alkan. In the current Prodigy-starring issue, we’ve rising wonky-popster (Ben) Esser chatting away merrily with Erasure’s Andy Bell (pictured).

And here’s a wee taste of the piece – pick up issue 36 of Clash magazine for the full article.

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Andy: I read that you came from a musical family; your dad was a jazz musician?

Ben: Yeah, my dad used to play jazz and stuff. He used to really be against pop music, so I grew up thinking that pop music was really bad. But my mum used to be into pop music in the ’80s. When he used to go out, or when he wasn’t around, she used to play stuff like Erasure...

Andy: Aw, thank God for your mum! (Laughs)

Ben: So there was always this weird conflict.

Andy: It’s great though, because you can hear that in your music. Did you used to play with your dad?

Ben: Yeah, I used to play music with my dad quite a bit. I think a lot of music that you grow up listening to is really important in what you end up doing, because I guess your parents’ opinions of things form your character over that time quite a lot. I think it’s when you start finding out things for yourself that it becomes really interesting.

Andy: I think when you discover music for the first time, when you’re a teenager, you think your parents’ music is really naff when you start looking through it. I found my mum’s Elvis records, and she had all these 1950s singles like The Kalin Twins and all these different people - quite a lot of country and western music - and it’s amazing how much of it becomes embedded in your brain, all the tunes and styles and things like that. I think it always comes through. To me, that is your roots. I remember hearing Phil Spector’s ‘Greatest Hits’ and I thought it was really amazing, that ‘wall of sound’ that he had. I heard that you’re a Joe Meek fan.

Ben: Yeah, massively.

Andy: I remember seeing this documentary on the TV and Joe Meek had this house in Islington and they had quite small rooms, so he’d record the drums in one room, put the tape outside in another room so you got some reverb coming off it and stuff like that... I just wondered if that’s how you do your stuff when you’re at home?

Ben: I think I was more interested in the idea that he was being really experimental with sounds and coming up with these really concise pop songs. It’s like all these weird, bizarre things he was doing around that time enhanced the fact that it was this real pop music, you know? I guess that’s something that you guys do as well - experimentations in sound, but the melodies are instant. So what are you guys up to at the moment?

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Just what ARE Erasure up to? Pick up the current issue of Clash magazine to find out.

Look out for a full Esser feature on in the coming weeks; his new single ‘Work It Out’ is released via Transgressive on February 23.


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