On a crisp afternoon in Central London, Marc Almond is taking a break between live TV appearances to talk to tmBlog about the busy year that awaits him.
Fresh from recording his new album, The Velvet Trail , the Soft Cell singer appears to have a renewed spirit for his own work as he sits with us in the quaint dining room at The Langham Hotel.
His new album, released through Cherry Red Records, follows 2010’s Varieté; a release that Almond hinted would be his last in terms of original material.
Despite a successful solo career following the demise of Soft Cell, the 80s icon was more than ready to sign off on the idea of releasing anything this new again. But it was his unexpected encounter with English producer Chris Braide which changed everything.
LA-based Braide is a serious name in the music industry, having worked with Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey. Britney and David Guetta. He also, as Almond tells me, was a huge fan of the Tainted Love singer, who managed to send him demo ideas straight off the bat.
“When I heard stuff that Chris had done, I put a lot of trust in him,” Almond says. “I thought ‘wow’, this is going to be a great record.”
“When the email arrived, I got goosebumps,” he describes, explaining how he instantly felt connected to the songs that Braide has sent on email. Having felt like he’s long lost his songwriting muse, it was was these three tracks that triggered some new thinking for the acclaimed artist.
“I felt inspired to write on this record. I would write little words and phrases all the time – sometimes I just start from a great title.”
The pair would keep their relationship on email until The Velvet Trail was complete, before finally meeting in London. Little was Almond aware though, they’d actually worked together before in passing.
“He did backing vocals on Cruelty Without Beauty” Almond explains, describing the moment he pinpointed the reason Braide’s name was so familiar. Although they’d technically recorded together, the two had only ever crossed paths briefly in the studio hallway.
But will this be the last record he hinted at five years ago?
“For me, the music business as an older artist is just about surviving, and being able to make the records that you want to make, if you’re able to make them.”
How does that feed into his attitudes to touring? Almond says: “I’d love to tour with an orchestra; I’ve already talked about doing it. I’d love to arrange some of my songs into orchestral versions and do some great big Torch songs.
“That’s a good possibility, it might happen the year after next.”
“I’d like to take a year just doing some travelling,” he admits. “But I say that every year and then I do something else completely different.
“I’d love to go to India as I’ve never been, and I’d love to go back to Japan and the Far East. There’s still places in America that I haven’t been, and I’d love to go to Australia. People tell me I have a big following in Australia so I’d like to go there at least one time.”
As for his legacy, Almond hopes to keep making records as long as he has inspiration and opportunity to do so. “If I do an orchestral record, I’d like to have at least one of my own songs on there.”
“I used to know what the music industry was, but I don’t really know what it is anymore,” he tells us. “We recorded the album a very modern way; you don’t have to be in a studio, you can do things by sending files and the quality is really great.
“After I said the Varieté album will be the last album I ever make, I’m hesitant to say things like that anymore because you just never know what’s about the corner.”
Marc Almond will tour the UK this April, with dates in Merseyside, Ipswich, Brighton and Bristol. He’ll also play London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 1 May. Get full dates and pick up tickets at Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Marc Almond’s new album, The Velvet Trail, is out now.