"the minutes", Alison Moyet's first album of new material in 6 years returns her to her electronic dance roots. The album was co-produced by Guy Sigsworth (Madonna, Robyn, Bjork). The album's back story also serves as a sort of feminist, anti-ageist, and 'artistic integrity' statement. Moyet was being forced by her previous record label into joining reality shows if she wanted her album to be released. "I don't think that me going and getting pissed on telly and getting my tits out is gonna make anyone look at my art." She gave them the finger, and headed on her way last year. She took the finished album to label, Cooking Vinyl. The label was told to 'take it or leave it.' The label loved it, and signed her. Moyet wanted to make an album that middle-aged women aren't suppose to make. They're suppose to only do safe 'jazz covers albums.'
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Chances are if you're a lover of the 80s, the name Alison Moyet is one you remember, followed by the question of what ever happened to the former Yazoo singer. Cyclone gets the lowdown on all the speed bumps and the comeback she's making.
Alison Moyet is going back to the future with an album of electronic soul. Last year Bobby Womack partnered with Richard Russell for an experimental, not trend-driven, comeback. The former Yazoo frontwoman, too, is defying the rules for a 'heritage artist' with the minutes.
"I wanted to make something in electronica, but I wanted to maintain a fidelity to the song and to melody," explains Moyet, currently living in Brighton, of her first album in six years. "One of the things that disappointed me in the '90s was how it became so much about the beat that the voices were kinda getting crushed in nonchalantly to the point where you'd rather there wasn't a voice in there. In the early '80s' electronica, the songs were still prominent as well as the soundscapes. So I wanted to make an album that was interesting and intelligent and beautiful and filmic."
For that, Moyet needed the "right" collaborator – and she found him in the "inventive" Brit super-producer (and harpsichordist) Guy Sigsworth, whose credits include Björk, Madonna and, relevantly here, Mandalay. "He and I are quite similar in the sense that we're both socially awkward," Moyet volunteers. "People mistake that for a lack of confidence. It's not that at all. We're very sure about who we are as musicians. And he just completely got me."
When Moyet recorded the minutes, she didn't have a deal. Labels were only desirous of signing her if she'd cut another covers collection. But Moyet was intent on delivering "a creative album". "I didn't want to have any congress with A&R men who are talking to me about demographics or what people are expecting from me – and I wanted to make an album that just didn't take on any luggage from the temperature of the industry at the moment."
Sigsworth agreed to Moyet's terms, working with her leisurely during "his downtime". "It was really brilliant. We didn't have a single argument. If you know me, that's quite a feat, 'cause I am an argumentative bint! It felt like a band. In some ways it felt like going back to Yazoo in that, at that time, there were no expectations of us and we made the records that we wanted to make. But it superseded that for me because my relationship with Guy was far more intimate than that with Vince [Clarke]. We never once tried to shape one another."
Moyet insists that she wasn't influenced by, and doesn't purposely listen to, pop music, attributing any "contemporary notes" on the minutes to Sigsworth. She embraced the freedom of isolation, her lyrics, melodies and singing "visceral" – and instinctive.
London indie Cooking Vinyl was the first label Moyet played the minutes to – and they snapped it up (and, yes, there is a vinyl edition). The lead single is the rocky When I Was Your Girl.
In 2013 Moyet is zen about the music industry. "I feel very separate to it." She concerns herself primarily with what she can control. In later years Moyet dramatically lost weight – not for 'image', but for personal autonomy. She's looking forward to touring with a fresh beat-driven live show featuring synths and computers, not "a generic band". And there will be Yazoo songs. "I'm in a far more sociable place than I've ever been," she says. "I have no fear."
Cyclone, BBC, Eatdabeats, Youtube 1,2