Vince Clarke, founding member of British electronic band Depeche Mode, will bring his pioneering synth-pop sound to Mexico this month, as he headlines the Mute Festival in Tlaquepaque on March 21.
The keyboardist and songwriter is best known for his early work with the group Depeche Mode, described by Q Magazine as “the most popular electronic band the world has ever known.” He later formed electronic acts Yazoo and Erasure.
Clarke said that his Mexican fans are among the most devoted.
“We’ve been coming to Mexico for a long time,” he told the Mexican Labyrinth. “Over the years we’ve built up a bit of a following. Our fans are incredibly loyal.”
It is a fan base that spans the generations.
“Recently, on the last couple of tours it’s really been younger people coming to the gigs,” Clarke said. “I guess mostly people who just recently discovered our music.”
Depeche Mode was formed in the run-down, working class town of Basildon in the late 1970’s. Clarke credits another early British electronic band for his interest in synthesisers.
“The biggest influences were the very first two Human League albums. They were so different from anything else I’ve ever heard,” he said.
Clarke was the driving force for the band’s early success and penned early classics such as “Dreaming of Me”, “New Life” and “Just Can’t Get Enough.”
“He was unbelievably driven.” band member Andrew Fletcher recalled in a 2009 interview. “He used to earn 30 pounds a week in a yoghurt factory and save 29.70 a week to save up to buy a synth. He forced the pace.”
By 1981, Depeche Mode had broken into the pop mainstream, paving the way for a new wave of commercially successful electronic bands.
“When the synth pop revolution happened in the 1980’s, it was just a really exciting time. It wasn’t a rehash of 50’s music or rock music it was actually something completely different. You were hearing something you’d never, ever heard before.”
To the shock of his bandmates, Clarke decided to quit the group in 1981 after tiring of touring and constant press attention.
Clarke enjoyed further success with the duos, Yazoo and Erasure.
Vince Clarke performs at the Mute Festival at Polideportivo Valentín Gomez Farias in Tlaquepaque on Saturday March 21.