Chris Payne is a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist best known as the co-writer of Visage’s seminal 80s new wave hit “Fade To Grey” and as the keyboardist in Tubeway Army, led by Gary Numan, from 1979-1990.
“Fade To Grey” was originally written as an instrumental piece by Chris Payne and Billy Currie, with Midge Ure later adding the melody and lyrics to the track. Released as part of Visage’s eponymous debut album, the synthpop song went on to become the band’s most successful single. It achieved high chart placings worldwide and notably peaked at #8 in the UK, #6 in Australia, #4 in Belgium, #6 in Italy, #3 in France and #1 in both Germany and Switzerland. The release was promoted by a video which was an early showcase of the innovative director talents of ex-10cc members Godley & Crème.
Deeply evocative of the early 80s Blitz Kids scene, the song is regularly placed by music supervisors. Recent uses include the Armani Code Homme advert in 2016, the Exquisite Gucci fashion show that took place during Milan Fashion Week in 2022 and the Chanel Coco Crush advert in 2023.
In 1981, Chris formed the group Dramatis with Rrussell Bell, Cedric Sharpley and Denis Haines, fellow members of Gary Numan’s backing band. Dramatis signed to Elton John’s Rocket label and released one LP, “For Future Reference”, and seven singles, the most successful of which was “Love Needs No Disguise”, featuring the vocals of Numan, that reached #33 in the UK Singles Chart. ‘For Future Reference’ was re-mastered and re-released by Cherry Red Records in April 2022, reaching #26 in the UK Indie Chart.
Alongside his work with Dramatis, in 1981 Payne wrote and produced an EP titled ‘Direct Lines’ which was released by an artist collective that he led named Electronic Circus. Later collaborative projects include the pop outfit Big Noise UK with Ade Orange, with whom he released the album ‘Good Morning Baby’ in 1991 on President Records, the production of another Electronic Circus LP in 2019 and co-writes with Johnny Warman, Mediaeval Baebes, German singer Katja von Kassel and Rusty Egan.
Currently, Chris works as a film and media music composer, having created over 600 compositions over the course of his career including the songs in his solo piano record ‘Between Betjeman, Bach and Numan’, released in 2012. He has also recently been involved as a writer and performer for the newly reformed Visage, and during the last year has been recording an album with singer Zaine Griff in Auckland, New Zealand and in LA.
Listen to more of Chris’ music via our Spotlight playlist.