Interview from http://www.music-pleasuredome.de/ website Dec 2006.
I JUST WANDER AIMLESSLY FROM PROJECT TO PROJECT.
There are only a handful artists who are always on every 80s compilation: Laura Branigan, Alphaville, Paul Young, Visage, Soft Cell - to call only a few of them. Our today's guest is also one of these artists who's name is called when the 80s are main subject or when a special 80s collection is published: Nik Kershaw...
It´s surely a mistake to determine an artist only to one decade, just for the fact, that he is still playing music in all the years. But Nik Kershaw was a worldwide star with worldwide success in the 80s. There's no denying! And this success let him still be a worldwide star and his name is music in the ears of many fans. Also today! His last album "You´ve Got To Laugh" is a proof for this statement. A wonderful album with great guests and melodic, intuitive and timeless music.
We talked to Nik about his new album, his career and the 80s in a conversation on 18th November 2006.
Hello Nik! Welcome to Music-Pleasuredome. I´m happy that you are our guest. How are you?
I'm fine. The rash has cleared up and I still have all my own teeth.
Your new album is called "You´ve Got To Laugh". Please tell me something about it.
It's the first release on my new label (ShortHouse Records) and a bit of an experiment for me. I could have gone to a small indie label but, with all the opportunities the WWW offers, it seemed like a better idea to do it myself. Plenty of my peers have done the same (Midge Ure, Level 42 etc).
What does the album title mean?
"You've got to laugh" is an English saying. It's used ironically in situations when the only thing you feel like doing is crying. It's the first words you hear on the album on the opening track "Can't get arrested".
You´ve got some guests in the studio for the works on "You´ve Got To Laugh", for example Simon Phillips on drums and Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo) on bass. Friends of you or how did it come that they have taken part?
Both Simon and Nick are good friends of mine. I met Simon in 1980, long before I'd made it. His wife and my ex wife were old friends. I remember being quite in awe of him. He was playing with Jeff Beck at the time. Nick and I were always bumping into each other when he was in Kajagoogoo and we've been friends ever since. I used them on the album because, apart from being astonishing players, I didn't have to pay them!
How long did it take to finish the works on "You´ve Got To Laugh"?
I started work on this album three to four years ago. It was pretty much finished last year, but I had to scavenge four tracks for Universal's best of (Then & Now), so I spent the early part of this year replacing those tracks and tarting up the ones that were left.
This album is only available over your website. Do you think this is the future of selling music or what´s the reason for this channel of distribution?
I think this is a future rather than the future. The net has opened up the market place. The Major Record Companies have become huge, unwieldy and impersonal. It's all about the money with them. Although they still hold most of the power, the net has certainly given them a bloody nose. Now anyone can get themselves noticed without any major record company involvement.
How big is the chance to reach new and interested fans with this kind of selling albums?
I accept that, to a large extent, I'm preaching to the converted. We've done very little promotion, advertising or marketing and it will be mainly the faithful buying this album. However, there's a lot to be said for word of mouth. The Arctic Monkeys are proof of that.
Let us travel back in the time: Your breakthrough in music scene was the single "I Won´t Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and your first album "Human Racing". But this weren´t your first steps in music, right?
I didn't make it until I was 25. I started making music when I was 16 so I wasn't exactly an overnight success. I started in covers bands playing early Bowie and T-Rex then had my own band for a while. I was in a professional functions band for three years. We used to keep our sanity by doing Jazz/fusion gigs (Steely Dan, Weather Report etc).
Did the success of your first single come unexpectedly for you or did you know at that time that the songs would have potential for something great?
It wasn't unexpected at the time. I was absolutely sure I was going to make it and I was surrounded by people who thought the same. It's only with hindsight that I realise how lucky I was. There were thousands of people in my position and I'm sure all of them knew they were going to make it. Only very few ever did.
Music fans from all over the world can´t imagine the 80s without you. How do you feel about the fact that your name is always called as one of the first ones when the 80s are topic?
It's pleasing to still be in people's minds but frustrating to just be associated with one decade. I didn't drop dead on 1st Jan 1990.
But you was not only active as a solo artist. You´ve done some studio works for other musicians in the 80s, also for Sir Elton John, right?
Yes, I was honoured to play on several tracks on the "Ice on fire" album. That's me chugging away on rhythm guitar on "Nikita". Over the years I've worked with Elton, Chesney Hawkes, Cliff Richard, Bonnie Tyler, Ronan Keating, Steve Balsamo, Connah Reeves, Tony Banks, Jason Donovan, Lulu, The Hollies, Colin Blunstone, Mandoki, Let Loose and Imogen heap amongst others.
You´ve published four albums between 1984 and 1989. Then there was a break of 10 years up to your album "15 Minutes" in 1999. What have you done in this long time and what were the reasons for your break?
Apart from lowering my golf handicap (it's almost down to double figures now) I spent a lot of time writing and producing for others. Although I had a fair bit of success at first, it proved to be ultimately frustrating with a lot of projects getting trashed through Record Company politics. This was why I ended up making my own records again.
In 1991 you´ve played together with Tony Banks from Genesis. How has it come to this collaboration?
I was sitting in my kitchen, minding my own business when the phone rang. It was Tony. I'd been a Genesis fan since my teenage years so it was a bit of a thrill working with him. He had the tracks finished, he just needed some lyrics and someone to sing them. I was astonished when he chose "I wanna change the score" as a single. It didn't strike me as particularly radio friendly with its 7/4 time signature and I don't think I was too helpful in promoting it. I'd just made the decision to stop making my own records and wasn't too eager to get back in the public eye again.
You´ve also worked with Chesney Hawkes in the early 90s. Last year Chesney had a new release with "Another fine mess" and you worked with him again, right?
Ches has remained a good friend despite me ending his promising career with "The One And Only". We get together every now and then to bash a song out. One song "Jane Doe" ended up on my "To be Frank" album. "Another fine mess" was originally written for McFly, before anyone had heard of them.
Have you plans for the future? What will come next?
I've never been much of a plan maker. I just wander aimlessly from project to project. Who knows what's next.
Do you still have a dream? What do you want to do with pleasure if you have the chance to do?
I still dream it's 30 seconds to go in the world cup final. We're down 1-0. I come on as substitute and score two goals. Boys never grow up.
Many fans ask for a release by Nik Kershaw with all his great Extended and 12" Versions. Is there a chance that this question will be heard sometimes?
I never understood why people were so into 12" mixes. I think most artists in the 80s thought of them just as marketing tools. I remember many a late night up to my ankles in editing tape trying to make a song three times longer than it was ever intended to be. Universal own all my recordings. I doubt if a collection of my extended mixes is top of their priorities at the moment.
Nik, thank you very much for your time and your answers. Do you want to say something more to our readers?
Just to say thanks for all your support. It astonishes me that there are still people out there appreciating what I do. God bless.
Interview: Christian Reder