“Music Is a Beautiful Curse”: Martin Gore by Alan Branch

Alan Branch

Producer, Engineer, Writer, Musician

Nine Inch Nails, Sinéad O’Connor, Depeche Mode, Blur

Celebrating Martin Gore’s 55th birthday, Depeche Mode engineer Alan Branch talks about Gore’s “mix of technology, original soundscapes and traditional blues.”

He is one of popular music’s leading figures for the last four decades, and July 23, 2016 is his 55th birthday. As songwriter, producer, guitarist, keyboard player and singer in Depeche Mode and on his solo projects, Martin Gore has entertained and influenced millions through his unique touch that is always both sophisticated and emotionally direct. To celebrate Gore’s many contributions to music and sound, we’ve asked producer, mixer and engineer Alan Branch to share some of his personal and professional impressions of Gore.

“I don’t think there are many people in the music industry who haven’t been influenced or touched in some way by Martin’s songwriting over the last few decades,” says Branch. “He writes from the heart and has that twisted, melancholic life-examining way of touching something that resonates inside. As for arrangements and production, he’s up there with the best. Simply put, he’s what I would call a proper record producer: he has the experience and knowledge of what works. If there’s such a thing as a Depeche Mode ‘sound,’ I’d say it’s the mix of technology, original soundscapes and traditional blues.

“I remember working on ‘Barrel of a Gun,’ which was exciting. We were working out of an SSL studio in north London, and we would use all kinds of outboard gear, often trying to push things to the limit by experimenting with patches, routing and gear abuse in a weird and wonderful way.

“When we were working with Paul Freegard – a good friend of Martin's and an amazing producer who really understood the Depeche Mode sound – Paul was saying that Martin is the most focused individual he’d ever worked with. I remember Martin starting every day with a run or a workout, just to kick-start the session. He's always pushing the envelope with every new project, which keeps you on your toes. He hates mediocrity and is totally dedicated to his craft.

“One of my favorite lines from Martin is ‘music is a beautiful curse.’ Happy birthday, Martin, and thanks for being such a pioneer.”

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