For more or less forty years the meticulous studio perfectionist Boris Blank and the ingenious improvisation bohemian Dieter Meier have been guaranteeing electronic soundscapes with charm and charisma. Both Yello characters spoke with ADAM The Magazine about their first concerts, the collapse of capitalism and their current album “Point”.
You call your current album “Point”(full stop) – and not “Comma”. Are you making a full stop behind Yello’s career after 41 years?
Dieter Meier: No, I see it as The Point of Yello. Like a headlight, focused on Yello.
Boris Blank: Or The Point of no return. We have arrived at a point from which we can no longer return. It always goes forward.
How did you come up with the idea of “Point”?
Blank: We always have dozens of ideas for an album title. The selection is an extremely difficult process. It shouldn’t sound stupid and has to have a certain swing. Dieter called me from Buenos Aires and asked: “Boris, are you busy? I have a title for the album: Point Yello” (clicking his fingers). And I said: “That’s it. That’s the beat.” There are hot spots, middle points and meeting points – and now there is also the Yello point.
Is this unity typical for Yello?
Meier: We discuss a lot, but we are not mavericks, simply eager to find a consensus. In everything! Otherwise we could not have done what we do, for forty years.
Blank: If there is any friction, we use our experience to alleviate the situation early on. Ultimately we always agree on something that is amazing, that we both enjoy. It was like that in the old days, but maybe now we have also mellowed a little with age.
Is the clear division of responsibility in Yello an advantage?
Meier: It is the only way it can work. Boris loves to fiddle about in the studio for years and to work on fifty sound pictures at the same time. I have a lot of other things going on so I don’t have any problem with not hearing from him for maybe three and a half years. (smirks)
Are you not curious?
Meier: Yes, I am, but it is quite dangerous listening to and commenting on a work in progress, as it could make your partner insecure in his creative process in which he is advancing slowly on unknown territory. This is the reason why it’s a magic moment for me when I’m permitted to listen. Something that is also specific to us as a team is that in the past four years I have only spent roughly 6 weeks in the studio and Boris maybe 220 … That’s the small difference.
“Point” is the first album since Yello gave concerts. Did the live experience inspire you?
Blank: Not in any way! As Dieter already said I have dozens of half-finished pieces. They have been waiting for a long time to be animated or resurrected.
But you are supposed to have said that you would have given concerts earlier if you had known how much fun it is?
Blank: We gave the concerts now because we thought that we had to do it as long as we are still young. Yello is a young live band. We still have a lot to do. Maybe even a proper tour, not with small instruments on the stage, but offering an audiovisual 360 degree all-round experience. A lot of people said you don’t need to have that many musicians on the stage. It was enough if you are there. But I didn’t want a fake tour premiere like the Pet Shop Boys offered, with Chris Lowe pretending to play music on his laptop. The people should experience our brass players. I could also imagine other concepts.
That sounds very analytical and controlled. What emotions did you experience?
Blank: It took a very long time until Dieter was able to motivate a hermit like me to come out of his shell and dare to get up on –>
the stage. I feared that we might be pretending to be something we weren’t. At the first concert my knees were still trembling but then I sensed how good Dieter felt on the stage and how the people
liked us. I was extremely impressed by this positive energy.
Meier: When I used to go on the stage with my band Out of Chaos, the name said it all. At that time I had a lot more freedom. I could sing the chorus twice and the musicians reacted accordingly. In the case of Yello it’s all measured down to the tenth of a second. You cannot improvise, nothing is spontaneous. It has a certain allure, but I hope that we can be more spontaneous on the next tour. The Yellofier, the fantastic App that Boris invented which even makes it possible for laypeople to compose fascinating pieces, also inspires us.
How did the happy single “Waba Duba” emerge?
Blank: That was an example of using the Yellofier. It’s one of my best friends. I always have it with me. When I’m out with the dog in the forest I experiment with the vowels and record it straight away. I can use fun random generators. In “Out Of Sight” I recorded my wife, Patrizia, enthusing while cooking in the kitchen: “Che belle, belle, belle!”
Am I right in thinking that in“Waba Duba” there is a quote from “The Race”?
Blank: It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. The baritone saxophone is one of the most significant sounds in Yello’s repertoire. I often use it, because I like it a lot.
“Way Down” sounds unusually relaxed, with swing and funky at the same time …
Blank: Yes, the electro-reggae really has a lot of influences. I’m not sure why. When I sent Dieter the demo version, he thought we would only have to record his vocals as my voice alone is too weak. The texts are completely Dadaistic. What’s that line again? “Bring that beef back home”?
Meier: What are you singing there? “Bring that beat back home!”(they’re having fun)
The shimmering, hypnotic counterpart is “Insane”. A hymn to craziness?
(Both of them say that they don’t know which of the twelve songs I’m referring to)
Blank: Dieter doesn’t know what he is singing either. He has a wonderful way of describing it: “Inspiration comes to me and when the song has been recorded it leaves me again.”
How important are the yearning for true love and hot eroticism as the driving force for your musical works?
Meier: Where do you see eroticism?
In “Hot Pan” …
Meier: Interesting. I never saw it like that
Blank: Do you have a psychiatrist? (they laugh)
The song has a pulsating rhythm and you sing about “hardcore” and “shakin’ my body upside down”. Is my imagination really overexagerrating?
Blank: Not at all. Sometimes the critics write – I don’t know, whether it’s women – what an erotic voice Dieter has. Someone even wrote you could get pregnant listening to his voice.
Meier: Is that true???
Did you never make music to impress a woman?
Meier: No, no, no! That was never our impetus and we also never had groupies
But both of you have longer relationships than the majority of stars in the music business. What is your “secret”?
Meier: Our wives have their own ideas and fulfil them themselves. Independence has to be guaranteed. When my wife and I see each other, we always have lots to talk about. The conversations are very enriching.
Do you want to take more time in the future to do things together with your partners?
Meier: I don’t. I develop things with other people, but I have endless time. Whatever I do, agriculturally or oenologically, is my pleasure. Therefore I don’t experience stress. And my wife has handed over the responsibility for her company enSoie to our three daughters and retreated almost entirely into her private life.
Would you, as a musical visionary, also venture a prognosis, at which “Point” of Corona we currently find ourselves and where the development will lead us?
Meier: I am convinced that the world – when the problem has been solved on a medical level, and that doesn’t seem to be sorcery – will revolve just like before. And that would not necessarily be a good thing. The capitalist madness will continue.
Blank: I hope not!
Meier: Neither do I, but the only purpose of the system is the profitability of assets. The combustion of oils and coals has severe consequences, the contamination of the seas and the reckless handling of animals. Then there are the billions of debt that the states have accumulated. A total collapse is imminent. But the system will only change when we cannot breathe any longer.
Yello was founded in 1979 by the avant-garde linguistic artist Dieter Meier (vocals) and the techno pioneers Boris Blank and Carlos Péron (synthesizer). The single “Bostich” gave the Zurich band a club hit even in New York. They began their most successful period as a duet with the fourth album “Stella” and the releases “Desire” and “Vicious Games”. At the end of the 80s they released their goose bump ballad “The Rhythm Divine” with guest singer, Shirley Bassey, and the iconographic “The Race”. Yello only began to give concerts in 2016 as the sound tinkerer, Blank, doubted for a long time that his music could be reproduced adequately live. The current album “Point” bears the unmistakable signature of both techno legends. The songs are unconventional and the sound is brilliant.
Photos Copyrights: Universal Music