Friday, 13 February 2009
I just downloaded the new single to be released by Karin Dreijer Anderrson under the guise of Fever Ray. Karin is of course one half of one of the most amazing electronic pop groups in the world ever, The Knife. listening to the Fever Ray track 'If I Had a Heart' sounds distintively knifeish but even darker, like 'forest families' from the album 'Silent Shout' but with Grinderman in the background, it's brooding art at it's best. I love her androgynous warped man vocals too which she brings back.
Me and a few friendlings managed to catch the Knife play at The Forum in 2006 Planning To Rock supported them and it was a triumph to say the least. They went to great lengths to hide their identity probably because it was one of their rare live performances. I vaguely remember there being a massive sort of translucent/ net curtain between band and audience and loads of weird and wonderful videos projected in the background, the duo both wore balaclavas and looked amazing.
Here's a little link to 'Pass This On' from The Knife's first album 'Deep Cuts' (the crazy hoodlum looking guy that starts dancing at the beautiful man lady is Olof Dreijer Karin's brother and partner in crime.)
Leeds triumvirate, Sky Larkin, have had quite a year, with some impressive support slots (Conor Oberst) and mentors there to guide them (producer John Goodmanson and Death Cab for Cutie have mucked in).
Now signed to Witchita (home to the likes of Bloc Party, Les Savy Fav and Bessie mates Los Campesinos’) the band look like they’re in safe hands.
Those Sky Larkin birds are however a difficult breed to try and track down. GIITTV were hoping for a lil bit of chat time before christmas loomed, unfortunately it wouldn’t be until January when I was finally able to nab a conversation about the new album ‘Golden Spike’ and what the future holds for the band.
I knew I was cursed from the moment my train was delayed by an hour. After having finally scheduled a phoner interview with the band, my car then broke down preventing me from getting to the necessary tools in order to record the interview!
Eventually I managed to transcribe the interview and write up a piece only for it to be lost in the expansive cyber universe! The Gods just did not want the message of Sky Larkin to be spread.
Excuses, excuses, excuses, you say…ne’er fear after many obstacles and torturous hours I bring you a brief but insightful interview with front women Katie Harkin who was ever so gracious and lovely in spite of the misfortunes that plagued the interview, the women is a true professional. Enjoy it, I walked slowly over hot coals and ash to bring you this…sort of.
How would you describe the sound of the album?
Katie: Well when we went to Seattle to go and record it we met (producer) John (producer John Goodmanson) just as we were straight off the flight and we were incredibly jet lagged and we were trying to have a constructive conversation and I think the only words that I could get out of my mouth in my jetlagged state were ‘RAW’ and ‘FULL’. ‘I want it to sound really full but also really raw at the same time’. I think that’s was about as far as I could get, and I think that’s how it sounds.
The fun of being a three piece is that, ‘cos they’res only sort of a limited number of things going on at one time, you have to make each of your parts as full as possible without overplaying.
How did you find the recording process did it all go pretty smoothly, were there any amusing anecdotes you can share?
Katie: Well we went to two different studios we went to Death Cab For Cuties studio, they lent us us drums and amps and stuff like that for recording the basic tracks ‘cos we only came over with the standard baggage allowance. Nesta managed to break five snare drums in one day. He broke nothing until the last day that we were there then he managed to break five in one day.
We went to johns to do vocals and sort of extra bits and pieces and John had just moved into this studio that he was halfway through building and the vocal booth that he had was in an old broom cupboard it was so hot in there that if I had the light turned on, it was too hot, so I had the light turned off and had to sing in the dark.
Did you find that had any impact on you’re vocals at all?
Katie: It’s always a bit schizophrenic like singing and then lifting back to yourself and then being like, yeah I’d like to keep that or whatever, it’s always a bit maddening. So yeah I did go a bit loco.
Who would you say were your kindred spirits within the industry?
Katie: There’s bands that we’ve toured with and played with a lot. We’ve toured with Los Campesinos a couple of times and we’re just about to go on tour with Johnny foreigner. We’re all kind of around the same age and we all play gigs together before any of us had albums out.
You’ve kind of grown and developed together?
Katie: Yeah definitely. Johnny Foreigner are coming along with us touring Europe.
What about the name Sky Larkin? I was trying to find some sort of reference and wondered if it was inspired by a love for Percy Shelley (in reference to Shelley’s poem ‘To a Sky Lark’)?
Katie: It’s funny ‘cos I started the idea for the band when I was living in London and I went to meet my friend Simon, I said to him I wanted a band name that sounded positive and hopeful and kind of ambiguous, like it could be a person or a band at the same time. He just suggested it, you can’t think of anything more expansive and universal than the sky. Plus my last name is Harkin so it’s a pun, which is always good.
Good wordplay. Where do you see Sky Larkin going in the next year?
Katie: I don’t know exactly what we’re doing in the next three months, but I know that we’re gonna get to go back to a lot of the places where we were lucky enough to do support tours last autumn like Conor Oberst. We went to places we never expected we could go and now we can go back to those places, it’s gonna be nice to go back to Switzerland and places I never really imagined we would play and I guess every musicians aim is to have a record out. When we first started out our goal was to have a 7’’ single out and maybe to play a gig in another country and beyond that everything is just a bonus.
Sunday, 8 February 2009
At first i agreed with this sweeping statement. 'yar...' i thought 'boys do do it better'. however after a liddle bid of reflection AND on closer inspection, i've come to the conclusion that the aforementioned statement was, to put it bluntly, the quotation equivalent of a steaming pile of turd that sits crusting in the suns rays.
to make matters worse i think the quote can be attributed to a female band member, she was basically admitting to her own inferiority, to be fair her band are not particularly special.
Plankish though her statment was, it sort of proves how initially it's difficult to list great female artists and singers without going through the same old people.
I started thinking about no wave, the likes of lydia lunch, Jarboe and Diamanda galas, three women who i have ALWAYS meant to get into their work but have neglected to do so. their influences have stretched far and wide, they're all loud mouth bizznitches and a little bit weird...that's why i like them.
i also found a cool book which is home to an archive of interviews from 'punk planet' (punk rock zine i assume...i have little knowledge on the subject) in Oxfam a few months ago, there is a cool interview with kathleen hanna, she of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre fame. she's basically a stark raving feminist...but not in the way i have always assumed feminism to be, man hating. she puts up a good fight, she's eloquent, knowledgable, witty and doesn't contradict herself which is a surprising feat considering the conviction she has in her views. Hers was definately an inspirational point of view.
My new found gender awareness is thanks in part to listening to a lot of Ellie Greenwich stuff and The Slits this week. I've never really been a feminist or really taken the time to study in depth womens roles in society, however i still get supremely pissed off when i do take the time to think about the gender injustices that plague our world. i'm considering going on a tirade about this, perhaps in article form or something and link it in music, we'll see what happens with that one.
On the lady note i'm just getting into a novelist called Harry Crews, and coincidently Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Lydia Lunch (Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, bummed around with Nick Cave back in the day) were in a short lived 'supergroup' in the late 80's which was based around him and his books...check him out he seems interesting. he's probably a misogynist like most of the people that appeal to me.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Looky here, I am officially a published 'journalist' my first ever piece of proper published writing appears in this months Plan B magazine, how exciting!
However...I was slightly dissapointed to get this email from the reviews editor of the magazine:
hey imogen, hope you're well - have, um, good and bad news - the good being that richard (cced here) will dispatch you a free copy of the latest issue if you can get him yr address - the bad news will become apparent when it arrives - yr review made it in as one of the leads, and yr name nestles proudly amongst the other contributors on the contents page but somehow - and this is totally my fault - you've been misnamed as 'isobel decordova' in the actual review credit - felt sick when i saw it - so sorry - hopefully we can make it up to you in the future...
it is a rather unfortunate state of affairs, both bitterly ironic and humourous and touching all at once. but oh well, it's only my vanity that would be bothered about my name not being 100% right in the credits. so if you happen to stumble across the article there is no Isobel, it's a cunning disguise on my part :s
Monday, 2 February 2009
Spider And The Flies Full Transcription of Interview
This interview took place on Saturday 31st January 2009 in Tom’s plush flat somewhere in
How did the project flourish
S: Spider and the flies came about from tom and I spending countless hours and evenings exploring listening to and just kind of losing ourselves in electronic sounds from some of the earliest Musique Concrete straight through to brand new releases and everything in between. And I think it’s such a insane world that it’s something that you really have to discover for yourself. As a teenager, at school, the idea of dance music or electronic music was something that really scared me because it was something that I didn’t want to anything to do with my identity with riffs and guitars like the rebellious side of like avoiding what I was confronted with in the charts…
T: You think it’s something that’s sort of intangible, not real.
S: I think it was such a horrible time for electronic music as a kid or a teenager, it was something that you kind of just ignore. Chart dance music, was one of the reasons why I completely immersed myself in punk and garage but of course what lies behind the awful, face value stuff that is played on the radio all day, is the most amazing world of creativity that starts out as a science.
I mean most of the original electronic composers were actually trained orchestral musicians who were suddenly given a new instrument or sound to explore in a completely different way. So I suppose in the late 50’s the idea of messing around with the limited equipment they had you know working with oscillators and tapes, suddenly the idea of being able to explore a sound that was before completely unheard of, is just the most exciting thing in the world.
I think for me the first electronic track where I suddenly understood and completely got into everything must have been when I was I dunno, 18 years old, dancing at this mad club and then the 15 minute version of I feel love came on I was in quite an altered state of mind at the time, and as the song went on and on and on, I was obviously familiar with the track, this 15 minute track was the most insane freak-out, it was just like a mad euphoric explosion of synthesizers and wild kind of filtering and phased drums and I just lost myself in that moment.
Transformed by Donna Summer
S: Yeah, it just kind of I think yeah something clicks, and I suppose for me the exciting thing about electronic sounds is that it’s such a man made thing that its like it’s a very emotive way of communicating I suppose.
That’s quite paradoxic…
T: It’s jumping around quite a lot.
S: The earliest sounds that appeal to me, are kind of like the beginnings of working out what you can do, to the birth of dance music. Where you know it’s music to lose your mind to. That other worldly quality is something that from the earliest sounds to house, to everything really, it’s so affecting and I think that’s something that really appeals to us.
T: I remember sort of always being into the old much older records. The garage records that have electronic on them, I mean I don’t really know why anyone would consider putting (makes weird woohohoahfrdngr noise…) on an old garage record, I don’t know why they did it, but those are always my favourite ones.
There’s a great track called ‘
S: The thing that is so inspiring and the thing that really drives us is the idea that in early guitar music it started to creep it’s way in…I don’t know what’s the right word. But the way that it’s affected generations from like acid house and then how in America…this is all getting a bit over the top…the impact that had on the London scene and what it’s evolved from into…you know what became rave and that into jungle and into drum and bass. It’s too difficult to say why you enjoy it, but it’s a world to easily get completely lost in.
It’s interesting what you were saying earlier about how it can be emotive music. Because of your garage / psychedelic influence with the Horrors, compared to the automated, very clinical techno influence- how do you find that differs in the process of actually making it and how you respond to it?
S: Well the process of writing is obviously completely different. It was amazing for Tom and I to work like this because it is working in such a different way. It’s not working in a band you know, writing together in a rehearsal room, throwing chords or ideas around, kind of that organic sense of playing and working. It’s such a different thing.
It was a real kind of release of energy, ok we’re writing as this band, but there was this other thing you could really do. The possibilities are endless, you could do whatever you want. And the point was, we were doing it for everyone’s enjoyment, but it was a chance for us to be let loose and try and explore.
T: There was no way out, there was no one telling us, whispering in our ear.
S: Funnily enough on that note, when we recorded the mini EP was kind of recorded in two sections the flip side of the vinyl release. The first five tracks on the CD were our first foray into recording and writing in that way, we had just been working with the Horrors up until that Friday and I think we booked in the Sunday. We literally got back from touring and decided to go straight into working like that.
We thought well lets not write this music lets actually think about, lets write to a theme or lets come up with a story ‘cos that’s obviously something we were interested in, in some of the concrete or the Joe Meek, more avant garde or experimental side. We thought, you know, lets actually write a story and then create the sounds for it.
It was very much played live at that point there was obviously a lot of programming involved.
T: It was all programmed, none of it was sequenced.
S: The other couple of tracks that feature on the LP we recorded a year later and you can very much hear how the sound has completely moved on. The original thing is quite organic and quite filmic, it’s certainly not the sequenced programmed…(inaudible).
Can I just confirm when exactly you started recording?
S: We actually recorded the first five tracks last summer.
T: We were gonna go on tour in
S: It was our first experience in a recording studio working like that.
How about the actual recording process how did you come up with the concept for each track? Is it just you literally messing about and seeing what happens and hoping you’re happy with the results or is it actually scientifically calculated?
T: It’s completely both ways, most of the time. The two most recent tracks, one of them was just like a 10 minute jam we were doing at the end of the night cut up into 4.5 mins. One of them was just us taking turns and putting parts on, it’s a real studio based thing, We’ve thought about taking it live.
Yeah, are you gonna have any live dates?
T: We would really like to, but its hard because of the way we’ve done it you either have to learn how to play the tracks you’ve already done, which would take more time that we’ve got or you have to do something improvised which could go either way.
S: We’ve kind of discussed what we’d do to take it live and we’ve wanted to keep as true as to working with the analog equipment and try and not get lost in the fact that you could just bring a laptop and have everything programmed at the touch of a button.
We’ve discussed the idea of having a load of drum machine, sequencer and keyboards clocked up. In theory you know, you can create and play within those limits, but still completely explore.
Visually that would be more exciting as well…
T: But there is a danger of it getting a bit tangerine dream, I think the trick is to keep it really minimal, you’ve gotta have about one keyboard each.
Reading the press release and your description on your Myspace you’ve kind of created this time traveling, out of space exploring…
S: We just made that up as the week went along didn’t we? There was a record called ‘I Hear a New World’ a kind of Joe Meek solo project, he worked with a live band, one of his regular studio bands but it’s really a record he used to explore and to play around with his studio world. And the various techniques that he’d been exploring of treating sound, very much in the way that the concrete musicians were but without really knowing it.
His exploration of tape loops, weird reverb units and echo chambers he’d built and he was really driven to explore electronic sound and this record was actually a journey into space.
Each track had a narrative and featured different aliens and life form and it told you about their personality. He created this world and each track had its on world within it, the music so vividly came to life. There were only 100 copies pressed, that was such an inspiration to us that we wanted to pick up where he left off and go on our own journey, our own vision of space. We thought that was a really inspiring idea.
I’m interested as to whether each track has a concept to it?
S: We did want to write a story for each track
T: We did but you kind of end up getting carried away with the music, but then it ends up coming back on itself and you’re like where’s the character now and how’s the story gonna end.
S: The first track is our launch into space…there’s our version of the kind of Cantina bar, our kind of robo-disco track we stumble across walking into a crazy club full of insane robots off their heads kind of dancing. There’s a mad space chase track which I just had this vision of speeding through a meteorite shower.
T: ‘Jungle Planet’ has got the best one, Jungle planet is a planet which from the outside doesn’t look like anything, it just looks like a bare, horrible barren planet . But you can go through it and when you go into it it’s all jungle and the song is suppose to be flying through the planet. There’s an alien tribesman trapping people. And there’s loads of creatures going (makes weird noise corresponding with the weird noises on the record). It opens up into this huge space and there’s this disgusting monster in it, then it’s the escape from the disgusting monster.
So it is a concept album then?
S: It is a concept album but we didn’t want to be too like erm…
T: Yeah exactly
S: Well the thing is it’s such a visual thing, we didn’t really need to explain what’s happening because it paints a picture that if you are to listen to it from start to finish you can hear what’s going on. If you’ve got a loose idea of what’s happening I think you could literally paint your own picture.
You won’t be having any epic story in the sleeve notes then?
T: We toyed with that idea.
So that’s solar influences covered, would you say you’ve got any B movie, horror influences at all? With the artwork and the human fly image?
T: That was more just like we came up with a name and then come up with the concept afterwards. There’s not an awful lot of good material to be found in B movies and horror stuff. I don’t know, I’ve got a few sound tracks but there’s nothing that amazing. No, that’s never really been an influence for us, we’re not really big film people, we’re big record people but not film.
Where did your relationship with Barry 7 from add N to X spring from, how did you meet him?
S: I met him djing at the old blue last, I was playing a track by Michael Cox, he came storming over and was sort of like ‘what’s this track, what’s this track’ and I told him what it was and immediately we started talking and we just became friends.
T: It was the opposite way for me, he was playing a record that I really wanted and we just hit it off, I think we’ve got a very similar love of music and electronics and he spurred us on to buy as much equipment as possible and as a result we’ve got too much. He was really supportive.
You’ve talked a lot about academic side to music, have you studied it?
T: No not at all, I kind of wish I had now, it was something that at the time the idea of music technology sounded like the Anti Christ, why would you want to scientifically break down that. Now I really wish I had.
S: I always see myself as a punk finding music in (any) of it’s form. The best thing about working with these new machines…
T: old machines
S: yeah well, old machines, is hearing and learning how they work and how sound is affected.
T: I come across a lot of people that know a lot, but you know, they ain’t got no soul (laughs). It’s not like you can’t learn it or do it yourself, if you put in the effort you can.
S: I think that’s one of the really inspiring things of the Radiophonic Workshop, is that they were inventing this science as they went along.
T: Them and Raymond Scott are the two kind of big people…I’m curious to know how many people were influenced by them immediately after and I’m pretty sure it’s actually next to no one. I think now what they were doing was miles ahead of their time.
S: There’s a really amazing album called White Noise I had before actually knowing anything about the Radiophonic Workshop and it is a psychedelic record made in ’69 heavily features electronics. Delia Derbyshire was approached to work on that record.
T: The way it was made is pretty much like exactly how Madlib or J Dilla made their records, except they were cutting up tape instead of putting it into samplers, it’s just as weird, just as psychedelic and just as amazing.
In terms of your contemporaries, would you say there’s anyone around doing what you’re doing?
T: Without sounding really wanky, there are some bands I really like but I don’t think they see themselves in the same ball park as we are and I don’t think we do either.
S: We just are in our own contained unit, maybe this is like the electronic wing of what we’re doing and we’d definitely like to go and explore other wings as well. But there’s definitely some amazing electronic music being made at the moment.
T: Mostly in
Do you know Underground Resistance? I was just reading an article about ‘Mad’ Mike Banks and the whole
T: Yeah, yeah he’s amazing, but he’s in Model 500 now. Like Model 500 live is like a complete techno all stars team. I mean Underground Resistance, as far as their concerned no one outside of
Is there any relevance to the clockwork theme?
T: the idea it would be like a clockwork spaceship…
No homage to Clockwork
T: No that would have been to easy.
This seems a lot more mature, it’s different to the kind of NME front page idea? Less NME more The Wire.
T: We never strived for that kind of thing with the Horrors.
S: Unfortunately other people have more power to create a mould/ image of you than you do yourself. We would have made this in exactly the same way as we did with the Horrors regardless of what anyone wrote or put on their pages. It really is what happens on the other side that says something.
T: Maybe it was a lot camper than we thought it was, we never had the intention of it being a shock horror thing.
S: We were just like 19/ 20 year olds playing guitar music, we didn’t think that anyone was gonna listen to that
T: None of us had ever written a song it was just a fun idea.
S: It’s just what we would have always done, if noone had paid any attention to the Horrors we would have still been doing it. We certainly weren’t really interested in what people were gonna think of it. We just did it. It’s the same as Spider and the Flies, wherever we were, we would have done that as well. It’s not in any way a considered move.
T: It’s not a case of ‘look how interesting we are, we make electronic music’ like what Coldplay did or something, ‘We listen to kraftwerk and we rip them off as well’.
Its just timing is it not? I was 18, you can’t expect like Leonard Cohen or something straight away.
I wasn’t saying that you’re intentionally trying to stray away, it’s just that listening to your album it’s not as accessible to some of the kids that maybe listen to the Horrors and are expecting something completely different.
T: They like it
S: I don’t know what I think, the reason we’re making music like that is because we
Explored and heard amazing music. I’m hoping it will have the same affect on people because actually there is a world of great music that isn’t rubbed in your face every day and that’s actually where the best stuff generally lies.
T: The Cave Club is a really good example of this, it’s basically an underground psychedelic club, we switched around and said we want to do the electronic stuff, and all the same people came down and stayed, people are open to that idea.
S: Great music is always great music. There’s just too much shit music around, it blurs people’s vision.
T: if you wanna eat fish and chips everyday then that’s your problem, your missing out.
You haven’t got any ideas for touring?
T: What with Spider and the Flies, not at the moment, no way.
S: We were planning on doing a live launch for the record we’ve been so busy doing other things that we haven’t sorted it out yet, but if someone was to say to us, ‘You’ve got a week off in August’, not even that far, ‘you’ve got a week off in May’ or something, ‘do you wanna play a gig?’ we’d probably say yes, we would and even if it was just a one off thing, we’d love to and we will as well.
T: Unfortunately I think the idea of a week off in August is way off.
So you’re just playing it by ear?
S: Yeah, that’s the way this entire project has worked. But there’s new sounds being created on a weekly basis.
T: We’ve been asked to do live sessions for the BBC and XFM, but instead of doing live sessions we’ll write three tracks each, instead of doing a session, so yeah they’ll come out.
What do you get out of this project that you don’t get out of other projects?
T: Initially it was, it’s was a chance to do, ‘cos we were touring lot when we’d started doing this record, we were playing songs that we thought maybe were a bit immature maybe we weren’t too happy about playing and this is a great chance to do something that we really wanted to do.
Now to be honest, I don’t really feel like I’m getting anything else out of this than the other band. It’s a bit more…fun I dunno its different to the Horrors, where you would have to sneak it in. It was initially a great opportunity to do things that we couldn’t do.
S: That’s not even true either, we’ve just recorded a (horrors) record that features a lot more…
Have you found that it’s seeped through, both projects have collided?
T: I think it would have been ridiculous for us to do another album that sounded exactly the same as the last...
S: (Interrupting) Well it was out of the question, it would just never happen.
Danke schön to Tomothy Furse and Rhys ‘Spider’ Webb for taking time out of their busy schedule to take part in the interview and subsequent photoshoot…the results of which I am yet to see.
The feature produced from this interview should be in the April or March edition of Artrocker Magazine unless something goes horrifically wrong or the editors think it’s shite...i'm not kept in the loop on these things. Watch this space, actually i wouldn't if i were you nothing will change.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
alriiiight. It's been interesting on the 'music journalistic front' of late, i've conducted my first phoner interview (which was pretty shit) and my first (well third i guess) face to face interview this week. yesterday i had a little interview with Rhys 'Spider' Webb and Tomethy Furse of The Horrors fame as they're embarking on a side project known imaginatively as 'Spider and The Flies'.
i have to say i've never listened to The Horrors and my only knowledge of them before the interview and my extensive research was of their NME and 'south end scene' tag, which probably won't be shrugged off easily. I had written them off as poserish, flash in the panners...is that the correct phrase ah fuck eeht.
anyway my preconceived ideas were relatively ill informed and dare i say wrong (they are very stylish though, for some reason i have a problem trusting stylish people, probably because of my complete lack of it) anyway they have a heap of interesting influences and know their shit, i don't really understand how they have been touring with the likes of the fratellis and the view though in those bumper NME award tours, those tours remind me of industrial sized food stuff, an abundance of nasty bits of meat and a lack of flavour and nutrition. The sort of slop you get in shitty restaurants and whetherspoons, quantity over quality...yeah that's right the NME is the publication equivalent of whetherspoons.
anyway enough on that analogy, so Spider and The Flies, well i have just completed the transcript of the interview, the convo lasted just under half an hour i reckon and there's a bit of interesting banter, mainly nerdy talk though, i dont think there's enough information on the project to delve any deeper, but i like to think i may have grazed the surface, meh i dunno, you can judge for yourself.
the duo had just finished working on the new Horrors album that day i do believe so i'm not sure how into the SATF frame of mind they were, i was under the impression this was their first interview on the project so they're probably still honing they're technique for discussing it, even so a bloody good job they did, very articulate.
oh and about the album, yeah it's good.