xPropaganda presents powerful single “Don’t (You Mess With Me)”
xPropaganda has created the video for their new single “Don’t (You Mess With Me)”, which will appear on their new album The heart is strange.
The group is made up of Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag, two members of the German synth-pop group Propaganda, which broke up in 1990 after releasing only one album, A secret wish.
In 2018, Brücken and Freytag reformed as xPropaganda and headlined two sold-out shows at London’s The Garage that spring. They were also invited to join Heaven 17 as their backing band on their tour later that year.
Now the duo have reunited with producer Stephen Lipson (Paul McCartneyAnnie Lennox, Ronan Keating) who worked on A secret wishto create The heart is strange. The album will be released by UMC on the ZTT label on May 20 and will be accompanied by a return to The Garage on May 24.
“Don’t (You Mess With Me)” is the first track taken from the upcoming album. “You better keep your distance/And don’t mess with methey sing over metallic synth-pop, switching from English to German as the song continues.
The single is accompanied by a video which finds Brücken, Freytag and Lipson in an all-white room, black outfits, furniture and instruments contrasting with their surroundings. Watch it below now and read on for the band’s thoughts on the track, their reunion and what the future of xPropaganda looks like.
xPropaganda emerged in 2018 for two flagship shows in London. How did this then extend to working on new music and why was it a good time to start this new journey?
“We had a very positive and encouraging response to these shows and it made us realize more than ever that propaganda was an unfinished idea worth developing. That’s why we called ourselves xPropaganda at these shows – we were Propaganda alumni, and we didn’t want to pretend that it was the original band, with all the original members, but that it was definitely a new step. We also wanted a name that made it clear that we were the same band, playing their music, but we were a new band with new energy. X has somehow become the symbol of this new energy.
“We had a lot of ideas to continue the band and we thought that if we were going to do more shows as xPropaganda, it would be important to have new songs, more than just to A secret wish. If it was to properly connect a new version of the band with the original version, the one that worked with the ZTT label in 1984 and 85 and only made this album, we had to work with the original producer of the band. Stephen Lipson was a huge part of the sound of the band – it was the way ZTT worked, that attention to sound, and it was a development of that sound that we wanted for our new songs. Stephen always loved what we did – and he did – as Propaganda and joined us to help write new songs with John Williams.
“It made us sound like a band, not just Claudia and Susanne singing the Propaganda songs, and it was a band that supported each other, had a common mission, and grew closer along the way. As we both worked on this new material with Stephen and John, we realized that in fact what we were working on were not just songs to be sung live, but the Propaganda sequel to A secret wish. It wasn’t necessarily the plan, but it became the plan. I think we knew that from the start.
In the years between splitting up Propaganda and forming xPropaganda, you worked on your own projects and with other musicians. What was starting to work together again, and with Stephen Lipson, compared to your first period together?
“Weirdly, it didn’t seem like there were many years between our first collaboration and now. There was obviously a long gap between us working together, but it also seemed like it had just happened. Nothing seemed forced. We were clearly in the mood and everything happened very naturally. The three of us with John seemed to know intuitively what we needed to do for Propaganda to become xPropaganda. While Stephen was recording and mixing A secret wish it was mostly the two of us in the studio with him anyway, and that relationship continued very smoothly and productively into the new sessions. It may not have worked out at any point in the years that followed, but we all seemed to have the same perspective on things, the same goal in mind. The time had come to imagine a follow-up album for A secret wish which seemed to belong to it and to add to it without merely repeating its basic dynamic.
You said that you find it unfortunate that A Secret Wish is the only album produced by Propaganda. How much would you say The Heart Is Strange stays true to the direction you would have taken had you made a second album right after your debut? How have your influences and the way you incorporate them into your music changed or stayed the same since that time?
“We’re all different with new experiences, new influences, and new ways to bond, and it seemed like if we had made a second album soon after the first, or in the 90s or 00s, it wouldn’t have happened. actually wasn’t the right time to do it. We felt more like a group than the first time! There was more emotional intelligence in the room than when we were younger. Everyone in this new group made others feel better and we were all happy to work with each other We responded well to each other because we were sure of what we wanted and because of where we had been and about what had happened to us in the meantime.
“It turns out we had to change as people, as musicians, as singers, as writers to do the kind of follow-up we’d be happy with. If something didn’t feel right, it would have been better, in the long term, to leave A secret wish alone, but The heart is strange really started to sound like it was completing some sort of circuit – a second cycle of songs that existed in its own right but was clearly tied emotionally, psychologically and atmospherically to that first set of songs. Turns out when we did it didn’t matter as long as if and when we did it felt like it had to exist.
Tell us about “Don’t You Mess With Me” – what’s the story behind this song and how does it fit into the rest of The heart is strange?
“Determination. Preparation. Liberation. Confidence in your own skin. Growth. Strength. Challenge. more and that in fact the group has always been much more feminine than some might have thought. It turns out that the x in xPropaganda also represents a different way of taking control, following your instincts, resisting the unwanted and negative outside interference and to be inspired.
What future do you see for xPropaganda? Will there be more recordings after this or is there The heart is strange brought you a kind of closure on the group?
“Well, we’re still here as performers, and by doing the first thing we wanted to do, which was writing new songs to sing live alongside the older songs, we ended up doing something else – doing the followed by A secret wish, something that for a while never seemed possible. Maybe that’s all we needed to do as xPropaganda, or it might take us somewhere else. For now, we are somewhere else, a place where The heart is strange is a kind of closure, but also the beginning of something.