How We Met: Claudia Brücken & Glenn Gregory
'She made me laugh so much in the early days... She was so very German'
Claudia Brücken, 48
The singer of Propaganda, the German synth-pop act whose biggest hit was 1985's "Duel", Brücken lives in London with Paul Humphreys, a founder member of the group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
I first met Glenn in 1984. My band had recently arrived from Germany, and we were about to make a video for our single "Dr Mabuse". We met up with the video's director, Anton Corbijn, at Glenn's house, because his then wife, Sarah, was doing the make-up.
I was already well aware of Heaven 17, and very excited about meeting them. But I seem to remember them just sitting on the sofa, silently observing what we were doing. They were dressed, as they always were, terribly well, so austere and quite Germanic as well. And cool, very cool.
I was married to [former NME journalist] Paul Morley at the time, and we began to bump into Glenn and Sarah a lot on the club scene. Once, coming back in Glenn's car from a night out, we'd had had a little too much to drink, I think, and we got stopped by two police officers. But one of them recognised Glenn, and then me, and even Paul! He was quite the music fan, and instead of giving us a ticket he talked to us about music and our influences, and then let us go!
Our friendship was cemented when we were asked to contribute a song to the Nicolas Roeg film Insignificance. It was called "When Your Heart Runs Out of Time", an old country and western song, but Glenn and I, of course, did our own particularly avant-garde take on it.
We've been good friends ever since. We live close to one another in London, and we both have dogs, so we often bump into each other on Primrose Hill. Ours is a very relaxed friendship. I'm also dear friends with his second wife, Lindsay. She used to be in my band in the 1990s.
There is a lot of nostalgia for 1980s acts right now, and I think that anything that has the power to make an audience feel good is great. But I see myself as more of an evolving artist, and so I'm a bit resistant to nostalgia tours. Because I am of a certain age now, it is difficult to reinvent yourself, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't make music. Glenn feels the same. He is doing film and TV music now, but I keep on encouraging him to get Heaven 17 back together again. It is my wish for them to do so. They were such a great band.
Glenn Gregory, 54
Born in Sheffield, Gregory formed Heaven 17 in 1980; the band's hits included "Temptation" and "Come Live With Me". He now works on TV and film soundtracks, and lives in London with his wife, Lindsay.
Oh, I remember very well my first sighting of Claudia. She was so striking, and there was something about her I found… commanding. Perhaps it was simply that English wasn't her first language, or that she was German, but she could say whatever she wanted and you would listen. I'm sure she was very nervous, but there was a self-assuredness to her.
And she was so interesting, really avant-garde, very much her own person. We hit it off very quickly. I was good friends with her then husband, and we would all go out clubbing together: to the Zanzibar Cocktail Bar in Covent Garden, then the Limelight. When we wanted a change of pace, we would tell everyone we were off to Mumu's, members only, no one else allowed. Mumu's was Paul and Claudia's front-room.
We've collaborated various times. I sang on the B-side to her single "Duel"; we did the Nic Roeg song together; and more recently I played at one of her shows in London. It was a retrospective of her career, and I joined her on stage for a few songs. We reinterpreted one of Heaven 17's old hits, "Temptation", and I have to say it felt fantastic to revive it.
Claudia is on to her second [major] relationship now, and I'm on to my second wife, and we are still friends, so we have come through all of that together. And my wife is godmother to Claudia's daughter, so there's that link, too.
She has become more Anglicised over the years – but not too much, mercifully. She used to make me laugh so much in the early days. She was so very German. Long before mobiles, I remember us waiting outside a phone box. She had an important call to make, but we had to wait. Suddenly, she rapped on the door, opened it, and barked at the man inside that it was her turn now. "Claudia, Claudia," I had to tell her, "we don't behave like that over here." "But Glenn," she replied, "he has been in there for over 15 minutes, and I need to use the phone!"
Claudia has been encouraging me to make another Heaven 17 album. It's tempting, and seeing Claudia do her new album – which is brilliant – does make me think. Who knows, maybe one day…
Claudia Brücken 'The Lost Are Found' tour runs from 5- 10 November, for tickets visit www.livenation.co.uk or www.ticketmaster.co.uk.' The Lost Are Found' album is released 5 November. Heaven 17 'The Luxury Gap' tour begins 3 October. For tickets visit kililive.com, tel:0844 8718803 or ticketweb.co.uk, tel:0844 8718803.
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