Songs of Faith and Devotion
I'm sitting in my room in the Kixby Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, basking in the glow of last night's Depeche Mode concert at Madison Square Garden. It was a magical night and Dave Gahan was in peak form. For someone who made a career weaving dark and moody soundscapes, he's always quite joyful when on stage. I'm always impressed by how confident he is in his awkward dance moves that live some-where between drunk ballet and drunk tai chi. Occasionally he strikes a pose that would make Mr. Miyagi proud-- widespread knees that are deeply bent with elbows out and wrists crossed above his head, ready to pounce on the microphone. Then he's skipping across the stage or spinning around in circles with an arched back and spreadout arms while glaring at the audience with a 'come get me,' look in his eyes; he knows he has us waiting with baited breath. The fans love it; that's what we're here for, and there's magic in sharing these precious moments with the band and thousands of other devoted fans. We're referred to as Devotees after the album Songs of Faith and Devotion, or the Black Swarm because of our wardrobe color of choice, but one thing is for sure, our loyalty is virtually unrivaled.
Depeche was formed in 1980 at the beginning of the synthpop years. Instead of happy songs that make you want to pump your fist, bang your head, and sing along to them, they created sounscapes, much like Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues. It's not guitar heavy music that lets you escape-- it touches nerves and beckons you to reflect. They don't want to "rock and roll all night and party every day," and they don't sing about bad break-ups or hot chicks. It's rueful, ambient, dark, spiritual, and poetic.
"In your room
Where time stands still
Or moves at your will
Will you let the morning come soon
Or will you leave me lying here
In your favourite darkness
Your favourite half-light
Your favourite consciousness
Your favourite slave"
-In Your Room, written by Martin Gore, Depeche Mode
I didn't grow up with music. My parents had to be the only people who left the 60s unscathed by politics, music, the war, drugs, and the counter culture. Prior to my dad buying a turn table when I was ten, we had an eight-track player and about 7 tapes that were never played. While music wasn't a thing in my family, it also was-- we had my mom's old piano which I learned to play, and I played the French horn from the time I was in second grade until about 11th grade. My music education wasn't the Who, the Rolling Stones, or the Beatles, but Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. Recorded music wasn't a thing until my dad bought a turn table when I was about ten, filling the house with sounds of the Montreux Jazz Festival or Barry Manilow. When I discovered music in high school, my tastes were clearly shaped by classical music, which is all about emotions. I gravitated to U2 and the moodiness of Unforgettable Fire; songs that painted landscapes like Bad and A Sort of Homecoming, the Cure's Pronography, and of course Depeche Mode. Music for the Masses, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and Violator are still so powerful and timeless.
Good music, like good design, transports you, commands attention, and overwhelms your thoughts and emotions. I love it when I can't put a title on it, when there's no trend to associate it with, when it just exists to move and shape you. Unlike music, interior design is interactive-- you experience it by participating with it and exploring it visually and phsycally. It doesn't exist to be looked at or listened to, but live in, slept in, and bathed in. It's only effective when you are there engaging with it and discovering it's secrets. When done right, it doesn't exist solely for itself, but because of you. For a musician or fine artist the joy is in the creation, but for interior designers the joy is in the use.
Design consciously, live beautifully.