31 July 1963 – July 2020
There have been many times over the years that Denise Johnson came into our Mute lives, the first time professionally was when Primal Scream supported Depeche Mode in 1994 – that big beaming smile lighting up all of the arenas, even from backstage – but it was in 2015 that a pattern started to emerge. A repeated phrase could be heard in the Mute office, “Who’s doing that vocal, it’s amazing!” after New Order’s Music Complete started a series of entries by Denise into Mute’s history and she became a part of the Mute family. She permeated A Certain Ratio’s releases and live performances and her collaboration with ShadowParty, ‘Present Tense’, the track that she wrote with the band, is a beautiful piece of perfect pop and one that she was very proud of.
With A Certain Ratio, on tours that just seemed to multiply each year, she would light up the room as soon as she stepped on the stage, and when she took on the vocal to ‘Lucinda’ on their last tour, jaws dropped.
Knowing Denise professionally is one thing, but getting to know Denise personally was a huge honour. There was never a time that any one of us wasn’t greeted with that huge beaming smile and hug. She made everyone around her feel at ease, feel happy and want to have some fun. Her generous spirit welcomed everyone, often with a bottle of rum! So loving, and with such a wicked and cheeky sense of humour – that’s Denise. We’ll miss her dearly, but are forever thankful for the impact she made on our lives with her infectious warm personality and the contribution she made to Mute with that voice and that passion.
It’s fitting that the key line she delivers with such heartfelt passion on New Order’s ‘Plastic’, is “so special”, because she was, so, so special.
Thank you, Denise. Our love always,
Listen to some of Denise’s wonderful work on this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7CAXVlnLjuBn3pNmvZBuag?si=3AQtLHC-SYKmd8iiDTtwWw