There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason as to why a girl should be named Alf! And if you ask Alison Moiet of ‘Yazoo’ why the fellas did choose to pick that name for her, you’re still none the wiser. “My real name is Genevieve,” she says, “and the guys always felt that it was a bit of a mouthful, so for the sake of simplicity they gave me the guy’s name Alf, and it kind of stuck.”
“It really all started when I was at school in Basildon. I knew the guys of Depeche Mode then, although, of course, they hadn’t formed the band then. I wasn’t even contemplating a career in music although I was naturally interested in it. I joined some local groups as a blues singer, but only to do as a spare time thing in the evening in clubs around where I lived.”
“I mean I wasn’t part of the London scene or anything like that. Vince went to a totally different school, although he was friends with a couple of the guys who later formed Depeche Mode.”
Alison was sitting at her hotel nursing a sore throat that had developed during the middle of Yazoo’s mini tour around the country. “It’s just the sort of thing that would happen at a moment like this,” she says, “but there’s not a lot you can do about it. I was given a load of injections and things have improved sufficiently for me to continue singing, which is a relief. I’d’ve hated to have cancelled because of it!”
The reaction from the fans to Yazoo’s act has been incredible, because their stage show is unusual to say at least. As there are only a couple of them, you would expect that they’d have a backing band, but in fact they use tapes and synthesizers to provide the necessary backing.
“Our fans don’t seem to mind at all,” says Vince. “But then we don’t just stand up there on a blank stage, we have a number of other things going on at the same time, like back projections with slides and moving patterns. And the fans always want to come backstage and have a chat after the show which is always nice, because it shows their appreciation. We’ve found that a lot of fellas are particularly interested in the electronic side of our music.”
“It can all be a bit mystifying to anyone who has never played synthesizers or used computers to record songs. But then I taught myself. It’s all down to fiddling with knobs, really. That’s all I did, anyway. I just went out and bought the equipment and started experimenting with sounds. Gradually I found that I was producing some interesting noises which I stored on the computers and slowly built up a song.”
All of this happened when Vince departed company with the guys of ‘Depeche Mode’ of whom he’d been a part for quite a while as they achieved chart success.
“But we didn’t agree on a lot of things. I’ve always loved at challenge. Wanted to try new things, and yet the guys seemed to be very quite content to trundle along, once they’d achieved stardom. That didn’t satisfy me at all. So I decided to set off and try something new. I bought the bits of electronic equipment and began playing around with ideas until I eventually managed to get together a song that I thought would be ideal for Alison to sing.”
“We’d been friends for a long while and so I rang her up on the telephone and asked her to come down to a studio and give it a try. Luckily she agreed! To be quite honest, I never in a million years imagined that it would become an instant hit and no one was more surprised than us when it did!”
Now Yazoo’s records are being released all around the world and they have already done television work in a number of European countries. But the most interesting tour that they have done so far was a number of selected dates in New York.
“We played some gigs at The Ritz”, says Vince, “and it was the first time that I’d ever been to America. To be quite truthful, it was all a bit hairy. It reminded me very much of the first time that I ever travelled to London. It was quite overwhelming. When you’ve lived in a reasonably quiet town and then suddenly find yourself in a huge city teeming with activity it kind of frightens you a bit. And New York is many more times active than London. It was just like everything that I’d ever seen in television films. The people and the places were so accurate that I felt as if I was in a movie myself. Honestly, when you next watch one of those American films, you can believe that it is just the way they show it. And the food there is incredible too.”
“You can ask for a sandwich and they’ll pile about half a roast joint into it and give you a complete side salad at the same time. As for a proper meal, well they stick such a lot in front of you that you can never finish it. I don’t think that I could exist like that.”
“We went down to Greenwich Village whilst we were in New York and that is quite different from the rest of the city. The buildings aren’t skyscrapers, but are more modelled on Paris. They’ve even got a mini Arc De Triomph there. But it’s much more pleasant and relaxed. Although there is a lot of club life and parties and things like that going on.”
Yazoo are definitely going to be one of the new groups to make a huge impact; they’ve already established themselves and reckon that they can go on getting the chart hits.
“Alison really does have such a super voice,” he says.
That’s true, and she wants people to accept her for that and not criticize the way she looks, which even she says is not always fashionable. Every girl singer in the business envies her powerful singing and the group’s top fan is Toyah. You can’t ask for better than that!
First printed in Kim magazine no 36, week ending 25th December 1982. Reprinted without permission for non-profit use only.