Besides being a musical genius, what other qualities or interests do you have?
Martin - I am not a musical genius! I am more of a jack of all trades, king of none! I got just enough knowledge in songwriting, guitar playing, synth programming ,etc, etc, etc to make a career of my passion. My other main interest is documentary films. I am so obsessed with them that I find it quite hard to watch acted TV or films these days but I have started opening up to them!
My favourite movie of last year was Jojo the Rabbit, I think it got some Oscars too. It’s a comedy about the World War II and a kid who has an imaginary friend - Hitler. It is at the same time very dark and very enlightening.
Martin - I will try and watch it, but I should be very careful watching films about the Nazis, because I am reading a book right now about spies during the World War II (Agent Zigzag), and I find myself dreaming a lot about Nazis (laughs - ed.).
When it comes to documentaries - is there a certain direction you go ? Is there a topic you are the most interested in ?
Martin - I think I pretty much watch documentaries about anything. When we have a list of documentaries in front of us I always say to my wife - which one could be life changing?
Martin - It’s difficult to find them. There are ones that I watch that make me give up certain foods - that’s a bit of a life change. When I watched Cowspiracy, I didn’t eat meat anyway, but I gave up fish. I give up fish on a regular basis for three months or so after watching a documentary(laughs - ed.).
I gave up shrimp. A month ago I was in Mumbai and I went walking around the city, ending up on the docks where fisherman come in with their catch. There were two hundred women sorting and cleaning shrimp just like that - on the floor. Imagine a huge hangar and people just sitting on the floor and manually cleaning shrimp.
Martin - Sometimes there are documentaries that just have so many different facets. Years ago I watched a documentary called “Virunga” that I loved. It was about a national forest in the Democratic republic of Congo and it had so many layers-the survival of the last remaining mountain gorillas and the rangers who were trying to protect them from poachers. There was also a civil war going on, there was a company trying to get drilling rights in the national forest. It had a bit of everything.
Martin, could you name a few documentaries that you consider as a must-see?
Virunga, The Internet's Own Boy, Children Underground, Tough Bond, The Fog Of War, The Act Of Killing, Capturing The Friedmans, Jesus Camp, Searching For Sugar Man, Restrepo, Armadillo, Born Into Brothels, Blood Brother, Marwencol, Iris, Hondros, Project Nim, Terms And Conditions May Apply, The Unknown Known, Five Broken Cameras, The GateKeepers, Iraq In Fragments, Food Inc, The Fog Of War, Don't Look Back, Good 'Ol Freda, Inside Job, Catfish, McCullen, Lake Of Fire, Grey Gardens, Girl Model, Running Stumbled, The Invention Of Dr. Nakamats, I Think We're Alone Now, The Facebook Dilemma, For Sama, Devil’s Playground, Pressure Cooker
Back to the music. I find your music transcending time, a lot of the music expires - if you take most songs from the 80s they do not sound up to date nowadays. Which is not the case with Depeche Mode, for most songs. How do you see the future of music? What is coming up next? Where is it heading?
Martin - I am a little bit worried that music is becoming an algorithm. Soon you will be able to put your preferences into the computer, like I want a song with 6 chords, in the key of C minor and I want a singer that sounds like a cross between Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and compose me a random poem with lyrics like Nirvana. I do not know how far we are from being able to do that.
Technically? I think we are quite close. So could you say you are afraid that music is becoming soulless?
Martin - It is fantastic that music is now so accessible and that anybody can make it. But with it becoming easier and easier to make music without passion or talent it’s scary to think what that could mean in the future.
There are often times when I feel creatively envious about someone being able to invent something. For example the Plasma Pedal (effect pedal from Latvia based company Gamechanger Audio - ed.) which we ended up making into the Plasma Drive module. The concept to boost sound through 3000 Volts and make it into lightning made me creatively envious - in a positive way. What about you? Have you had a song or piece of art that you felt you wish you created?
Martin - Over the course of my life - sure, things like David Bowie for instance- Life on Mars is just incredible! They don’t just drop out of the air. I always thought that there is something very special about the sound of The Beatles. Doesn’t matter what they did, some of it is not that good you know, but it doesn’t matter. I really don’t know what it is, maybe it was the chemistry between the four of them. Nevertheless they were able to do very experimental music and nursery rhymes, but it was all okay and I think that was an amazing achievement.