Berlin And A Galaxy Far, Far Away

4 March 2016 | 3:50 pm | Cyclone Wehner

"We were kids and so couldn't say, 'Hey, we need a break' — and the record labels weren't gonna say it."

Terri Nunn, frontwoman of '80s electro wavers Berlin, could have pursued a very different career. The once aspiring actor auditioned for Princess Leia in George Lucas' Star Wars.

"When we met, he was a kid and I was an even younger kid," Nunn recalls. "None of it was anything more than something on paper. He was trying to get this thing off the ground." Of course, the part went to Carrie Fisher, but Lucas looked out for Nunn, introducing her to Steven Spielberg. "He was just a great guy," she says. "He pushed me forward into that whole world."

"I forgive us for it now because we were kids. We were exhausted. It was six years of constant working."

Meanwhile Nunn, committing to music, launched Berlin with cohorts John Crawford and David Diamond. The synth-pop band spearheaded California's New Wave movement with haunting single The Metro. In 1983, a year before Madonna's risque Like A Virgin, Nunn duetted on the post-feminist erotica Sex (I'm A...) with Crawford — US radio banned it. Berlin subsequently collaborated with disco architect Giorgio Moroder on their first major smash, No More Words. "He was a cyclone," Nunn enthuses, "because at the time that we got to work with him, he was so successful, he was doing so many different things. He was so much in-demand that he had, it wasn't just a studio, he had a compound. There were three or four studios within the compound and he had stuff going on in each one all at the same time." Moroder suggested Nunn demo his power ballad Take My Breath Away — the movie Top Gun's love theme. It became Berlin's signature hit and won an Academy Award. Nonetheless, Berlin lost momentum with their ensuing album Count Three & Pray. "It was totally our fault," Nunn admits. "I forgive us for it now because we were kids. We were exhausted. It was six years of constant working. We were kids and so couldn't say, 'Hey, we need a break' — and the record labels weren't gonna say it." The members fought. "By the third record, we just hated everything. We just hated each other, we hated ourselves…" It was the end.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

A solo Nunn ventured into socially-conscious pop rock on 1991's Moment Of Truth — recorded at Prince's Paisley Park (and with input from future electronica stars Underworld!). Later, the singer assembled a new Berlin line-up.

Today Berlin's music still sounds cutting-edge. And their shows are cross-generational. "Most of the time I find something that I never had when I was a kid — parents and kids are coming together," Nunn says, astonished. "When I was a kid, I did not listen to my parents' music — no way… So we didn't go to concerts together." The sometime radio host is switched on to contemporary EDM. "I think EDM is one of the most exciting genres of music that I've heard in a long time," Nunn rhapsodises, citing Skrillex. But, for her, the music is missing "a message".

Berlin issued 2013's "EDM-ish" Animal — and will perform some of its songs when they join July's Totally 80s tour, their first Australian visit since 1984. An EP is "in the works". Moreover, Nunn is again writing with Crawford and Diamond. "I'm pretty excited about it because we have not done this in a long time. I don't know if anything's gonna come of it, but I'm really intrigued to find out."