Love is blind, all-consuming, and sometimes, love is hell. Take it from Dave Gahan. The iconic lead singer of Depeche Mode has had plenty of love in his life, enough to know the dark side its chemical rush can’t hide.
“It’s just the worst,” he laughs. “We want to own things, people, stuff — and then, when it doesn’t work out, there’s murder in the mind. That’s where we go as humans when love is lost. It’s like it’s somebody else’s fault.”
Gahan taps into doomed love’s sinister sweetness on “Where I Wait,” a sensual and dangerous bit of mood with his friend and long-time collaborator Kurt Uenala, for the former’s solo project Null+Void. It’s the lead single from Null+Void’s forthcoming album Cryosleep, and while its heavily electronic synth soundscape will certainly please Depeche Mode fans, “Where I Wait” definitely gives the singer space to explore a rawer edge.
“The lyric is really about unconditional love, us all wanting that and wanting that for the world — until it becomes conditional, and then of course it turns into hate, murder and violence,” Gahan says. “It’s not necessarily inwards, not necessarily anything that’s going on with me, but it’s what I feel like is happening around me. There’s all this bullshit going on, but it’s just all this diversion. Don’t really pay attention to whats going on, just make some more fakeness. We’re supposed to all just bury our heads in our cell phones and pretend nothing’s happening, and that’s what happens with love if you don’t pay attention. If you don’t really take care of it and share it, it will go away.”
Gahan and Uenala’s rich creative relationship dates back to early demos for Depeche Mode’s 2005 album Playing the Angel. The artists hit it off beautifully, and when Gahan turned his attention to a solo record, Uenala was his go-to man. Today, they’ve got a shared studio space in New York, and it was here that “Where I Wait” and other collaborations were conceived.
“I do most of my vocals in there actually,” Gahan says. “Kurt kindly helps me to feel good about the space I’m in, and I know that he understands my voice. He understands when I’m gonna sing like an elephant, or I’m going to sing quiet as a mouse. He’s there waiting for me to perform, and gets it. It’s a space that all artists need, to have to be working with somebody or some people that want to get to the same place, want to create something that moves people. You have to get performance, even with all these electronics and everything that we can use, all the tools we have. At the end of the day, for me anyway, the most important thing is getting some kind of reality from the heart.”
“Where I Wait” is a stunning work of discord and juxtaposition. The sweet vocal melody and seemingly romantic message is laced atop an eerie electronic feeling. Uenala’s meticulous production brings the truth of the song’s nature to light. It’s uncomfortable and arresting, a vibe captured in a music video that plays perfectly into the song’s duality with violent images matched against swooning words and harsh chords.
“Where I Wait” originally started around the time Depeche Mode concocted its latest record, Spirit. It didn’t made the LP cut, but Uenala brought it back to life when putting together Cryosleep, and it fits perfectly into the album’s cinematic sonic story. “Where I Wait” is just a taste of Uenala says is an exploration of contemporary song structures stripped of the usual drum patterns, atmospheres and moods built around synth lines, painstakingly crafted to build a cinematic world from start to finish.
“I love albums that have an arc and a curve that you can enjoy like a movie, with a tense scene, a quiet calm moment. I really wanted to do a record that has an arc and a story and contrast,” the producer explains. “I work very detailed, and it’s a lot of care into every little pattern and hi hat. Everything is sculpted… it’s not really presets and loops.”
Cryosleep also features vocal collaborations with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Big Pink, and Light Asylum’s Shannon Funchess. The full album premieres in November, but you can enjoy “Where I Wait” below. Null + Void is also taking over Depeche Mode’s Facebook today, so visit him there for more behind-the-scenes tales and other fun goodies.