Gary Numan on pushing limits of tech in music
British electro pop pioneer Gary Numan says he prefers working with computers to people.
The musician, who has a form of autism, is famous for bringing electronic music into the mainstream – using synthesizers on chart-topping hits including Are “Friends” Electric? and Cars in the late 1970s.
He explained: “It’s not because I don’t like people – I do.
“I don’t socially interact very well. I’m quite clumsy and awkward, and really, really uncomfortable.
“I’m just waiting for me to put my foot in it and say the wrong thing and it’s a pressure and it’s a worry.”
But rather than being a hindrance, his condition actually benefits him professionally.
Gary has just released his 22nd album, Savage, and says the characteristics of his autism – including obsessive tendencies – are “a brilliant thing to have” in his industry.
“If you’re doing music for a career you need to be incredibly focused and know exactly where you’re going and let absolutely nothing swerve you,” he said.
Numan spoke to Sky News at this year’s T3 Awards, where he was awarded the Tech Legend prize for always pushing the limits of technology in his music.
Across his 40-year career, his unique sound has inspired artists including Prince and Depeche Mode, while David Bowie reportedly credited him with “writing two of the finest songs” in British music.
When I asked him how he keeps his sound fresh now that electronic music is everywhere, he said he retains an enthusiasm for finding new sounds.
“I was on the Underground and I noticed as the train slowed down that it made this amazing howling sound,” he said.
“So I went back and I got my little recorder from the hotel, went back on the train and spent some time on it, just trying to get a clean recording of this sound.”
Many of us, he added – including himself – often take today’s advances in digital technology for granted.
“There’s something new coming along which actually is pretty mind-blowing, pretty much every day, and we are so used to that.”