Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Sweet Dreams

Awesome songs about dreams

Roy Orbison - Dream Baby
Roy Orbison - In Dreams
Suicide - Keep your dreams (dream baby, dream)
Bruce Springsteen - dream baby dream
Bobby Darin - Dream lover
The Everley Brothers - All I have to do is Dream
Eurythmics - sweet dreams

Friday, 20 November 2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Pagans of London

Photos by Elizabeth Johnson & Huw Nesbitt

Black magic, human sacrifices, ritualised orgies and naked chicks jumping through fire - you may think of such things when considering paganism, or you may simply think of washed up acid casualties from the sixties and irritating eco-hippies. Neither is an entirely accurate description of the diverse range of spiritual practices and historically observant disciplines that make up the modern Pagan community of Britain. Today, Paganism is becoming increasingly popular, to the extent that the Pagan police association have negotiated leave for pagan officers on holidays such as Summer Solstice. Even Pagan offenders now have a right to a pagan chaplain in prison. But why are so many turning to the dark side?
Kids these days are raised on a diet of recycled, bullshit folklore. What with The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and World of Warcraft it’s no wonder impressionable young kids become beardy, weirdy wand wavers. But these new arrivals on the pagan scene are securing its future, ensuring that ancient rituals and knowledge are not eclipsed by 21st century monotheism and consumer capitalism.

Druid Morgan blesses an offering to Pan of cider and Doritos

The misinformation spread by the media adds further fuel to the fires of conflict burning in the pagan underworld. Paganism isn’t a religion per se, rather an umbrella term used to describe the numerous forms of polytheism, pantheism and nature worship practiced internationally. The most commonly encountered forms in Britain include Celtic Druidism, Nordic Heathenism and Wicca. Followers of these spiritual paths frequently mix and match their beliefs with those of other religions to suit their tastes. A modern neo-pagan may worship Dionysus, the Greek god of beer and wine when at the pub, Odin the Nordic god of war when having a scrap outside and finally Anahita, the Persian Goddess of semen when getting a sly blow job off some tart in the gents.

There are, however, some things that unite the disparate groups within the community. These include a respect for nature and all living things, an interest in pre-Christian beliefs and a love of cider, fondly referred to by many as “druid fluid”. On the 8th August 2009, in an ancient forest in North London, the Pagan federation performed a ceremony in honour of the Greek god Pan. These are some of the people working to keep paganism alive.


What is it that attracts people to Paganism?

Paganism doesn’t close you in with rules. You can worship in your own way as long as you have respect for all living things. It’s not restrictive like other things are. I think people quite like to rebel against restrictive ideologies now. It’s a good thing because people are becoming more open and embracing of paganism, whereas in the past it’s been frowned upon. People haven’t understood it and haven’t wanted to. There’s that fear because people don’t know what it is and aren’t willing to find out because it isn’t mainstream like Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It’s an underground movement and people have been frightened, but people are becoming more aware of alternative beliefs.

Is there a conflict of interest between different factions within the Pagan community?

There can be. The ego often gets in the way of things. People tend to think my way is the way that will work. Just because it works for one person, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. But mostly people are respectful of each other’s paths and are embracing of them all.

What advice would you give to someone who was interested in Paganism?

Read as much as you can, do research on the net, come along to public events. There are a lot of public events that are organised now, conferences, picnics, outdoor and indoor rituals that people are welcome to attend. But don’t take everything that you read in books as the gospel because they are just people’s opinions. Don’t lose sight of your own beliefs.

Who is your favourite deity?

I really like the Hindu deities. I work with them sometimes.

Seldiy Bate

Is Paganism becoming more popular? If so, why?

I think it is. I’ve been Pagan all my life and although young at heart, I’m no spring chicken. It’s always been there, it’s never gone away. I believe that everything is becoming more open, so people are able to enjoy something without feeling as isolated or misunderstood. People are getting more in tune with the earth. They’ve started to recognise ecological issues and what we’re about, where we belong in the grand scheme of things, in the universe and on our own planet. Paganism has always been about that, some people are realising that all of that works hand in hand and that it is a gentle philosophy that works and is fulfilling.

Did you get into Paganism through your parents?

Yes it’s in my family. I am Wiccan. Wicca is an initiated religion. It is a mystery religion that accepts a goddess and a god. It is one of many Pagan religions. It is a particular path that has always been a part of my ancestry.

Is there a conflict of interest between different factions within the pagan community?

Yeah of course there is. That’s people for you. For the most part we’re a pretty friendly bunch and don’t believe in attacking others and we certainly don’t believe in trying to convince other people that our path is any better than theirs.

Do you support those who choose to worship alone? Is that allowed in Wicca?

Strictly speaking, Wicca is in need of priesthood. It is not a solo path. Having said that, there are plenty of Pagans who self dedicate, and do things on their own. They might meet up with like-minded people but they don’t necessarily have to. Wicca needs both priest and priestess and a congregation. It varies, Paganism is very flexible nowadays, I think people can choose the path that works for them.

Who is your favourite deity?

My temple is the temple of Ostara (Ēostre). She is the Saxon goddess of Spring. It is from her name we take the word Easter. Ostara also happens to be my daughters name as well so she is quite special.

Drewyd Galdron

Why are you wary of media coverage of ceremonies?

I am the publicity officer for the Pagan Federation. It’s not that we want to remain a closed community; it’s simply that we don’t want our message to be misconstrued. If we offer an opening, we offer power in a real and magical sense that certain organisations can then abuse. This occurred earlier this year when the Telegraph sought pagans within the London community to be interviewed. They were going to depict us as normal people but that idea was completely scrapped. There was too much focus on pomp and circumstance which creates more mistrust in the media. Then there’s the complete misconception by right wing columnists like Richard Littlejohn who have made completely absurd claims about pagans. Apparently we must always combine our ceremonial work with our professional lives. This is not the case. It would not be the case if there were a Pagan Police Association.

Are you aware of the unmanned police sky drone that was monitoring the summer solstice proceedings at Stone Henge?

I have a mixed view on that subject. As a licensed CCTV worker, I believe that sort of thing is necessary to prevent the need for an unnecessary manned presence at these gatherings. However it can seem intimidating if individuals haven’t consented to it.

Is Paganism becoming more popular in Britain?

Paganism is starting to be considered one of the fastest growing religions in the world. In Britain the numbers rival those of Hinduism and Judaism. I think this makes an impact for the expansion of events and the provision of them for everybody. One can only hope that you get more people coming in who are willing to be active. One might look at other religions and see them all as patriarchal, “thou shalt not” and everything like that. There is an attraction based on understanding our roots, understanding where more general religious ideas came from. Simple things like the origin of terms like honeymoon. The lunar cycle within May is known as the “honey moon”. People notice these things and realise we have a Pagan history. We have more Pagan history than Christian.

I come from a circle of people who have emerged from fascinations with fantasy and related genres. There are crossovers with Shakespeare and with William Blake, who was a druid himself. I’ve considered doing a talk on how Paganism has been impacted by video games. Some Japanese developers have created entirely new depictions of Norse mythology in their games. That path is understood now as an opening to many great things.

Who is your favourite deity?

I’ve begun working with a pantheon known as the goddesses of Avalon or the wheel of Brigid-ana. The wheel of the year and its eight festivals are symbolised in eight archetypal Goddesses and at the centre of them is the lady of Avalon.

Sarah Grimstone.

During the ceremony, I heard you complain about a lack of vitality in the readings.

Yes. The opening ceremony involved a hymn to Pan that was written by Aleister Crowley when he was at his most vital. It was delivered today by a geriatric. There is no way you can stand there and say "I personify the embodiment of the male generative force in nature," when you’re 95. They should have got a guy that could actually get it up! The only way these old guys are gonna get it up in the night is with their bladders. He is an elder, but there is a time in an elder’s life when he must be told that if he doesn’t relinquish his power he will become a tyrant. The fool becomes the king. The king becomes the tyrant if he is king for too long.

Are there enough young people involved in modern paganism?

It’s difficult to say. Things like Charmed and Harry Potter entice young people towards the craft. There are really embarrassing chat rooms full of teenagers talking about spells and charms, but it’s all bollocks. The only way these youngsters can learn proper witchcraft is by becoming an apprentice. Youngsters come in, they read a bit on the internet and in a couple of books and they think they know what they’re doing. You cannot be a witch unless you are initiated.

Who is your favourite deity?

I am a priestess of Set, the Egyptian God of Chaos. It was his Birthday yesterday. In Egyptian mythology the Apophis serpent was the serpent of not-being. Set killed the serpent of not-being. He allowed you to exist, but in doing so he was a bit malevolent and mental - A god of chaos and a god of not making an omelette without breaking eggs. This is why we have blood on our foreheads. I am blessing this woman with blood because her ex is being a bastard and she needs armour.

J.T Morgan

I am a bit like a bishop or an archbishop, perhaps I should say. I am a guest here today and shouldn’t be doing interviews. I’m supposedly a figure of authority but in fact I am not a member of any particular druid order. My opinions don’t carry any weight. I don’t expect to be treated with anything more than the respect I would give to any other human being. For some reason, possibly because of my training in theology or that I do these rituals in public… I mean you witnessed the other ceremony, which was really rather a mess. It’s reaching towards something, but I do feel they should work at it.

I also get the feeling that an awful lot of pagans are taking religious faith unto themselves, rather like after the reformation. A lot of the things that are regarded as folklore in this country are actually ordinary people taking over the festivals that they previously did in church, in Latin. Because of the reformation they thought we want to make certain our fields are going to grow properly so we will do plough Monday. They took over the festival you see. There is no Plough Monday. It’s not in the Book of Common Prayer.

I have no favourite deity; I am not pantheist, monotheist or polytheist.

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

We Fell To Earth

FREE MP3: We Fell To Earth - Lights Out

So what the deal with the name? are you aliens or angels?

Richard: Do we have a choice?

You could be meteorites I suppose.

Richard: That’d be alright, you wanna make a mark don’t ya?

Nice big crater yeah. So is there any meaning behind the name then?

Richard: The man who fell to earth was around in both our lives at the time we were thinking of names and it was suggested.

I wouldn’t have thought Bowie was a major influence?

Richard: He’s certainly an inspiration, but not a major influence at this stage.
Wendy: There are some sounds of some Bowie records that we are inspired by.

You both love of krautrock, How do you respond to people who see you as more trip-hop than kraut rock?

Richard: Half time beats with double time percussion is something massive attack have done in the past but they are not the originators of that sound. Because we have female vocals people say we’re like Portishead or because there’s a half speed beat they say it’s like Massive attack. Sometimes it’s quite ambiguous. We’re not uncomfortable with those comparisons.
Wendy: Doesn’t trip hop rely on samples? That’s the difference, I think. We don’t use samples.

Do you think you think your experience working with bands like UNKLE and QOTSA has contributed to the fact that WFTE have gained so much attention so quickly? Or is it more to do with being played on TV programs like Gossip girl and CSI NY?

Richard: We haven’t been to America yet, but because of the fact we were used on Gossip girl, numb3rs, prisoner and CSI, we get an amazing amount of hits we get on a daily basis. The fact people respond that way is a blessing. It’s great to have that and be able to anticipate going there to play; it’s going to be interesting.
The sync thing is different here. There’s all these shows that sync a lot of interesting British music but most of them seem to be in America at the moment.

Are there any TV programs you wouldn’t like to be associated with?

Richard: I don’t watch TV. Neither does Wendy. We don’t need it. There’s a certain point where a line has to be drawn with TV programs and adverts. We’ll make that decision when it arises. But up to now we’ve been happy with what our music been used for, it’s great kids are finding out about us.

Why did you choose to base yourselves in grey old England, rather than California where you seem to have many ties?

Wendy: I’ve visited England twice before and I really liked it and I know several English people in the states and I get on really well with them. So when Rich called me about doing some work I said “shall I come over there?” And when it started going really well in the studio it got to the point where I had to be there all the time. We had already started working here and Rich has a great studio.
Richard: My studio was also an important factor. These facilities make it possible for us to actually do something. Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch of stuff so it’s cheap for us to be in the studio everyday and just experiment with stuff.
Wendy: It’d be nice to go to the desert someday and do some writing. I found the idea of coming here really inspiring because it’s new and different to what I’m used to. There is so much going on in the music scene its exciting so I decided to come here.

I read that you guys have been influenced by the desert landscape, is the grey sky and ancient architecture of London also an influence?

Wendy: Yes. Those things you mentioned illicit a certain feeling which must come out in the music somehow because those feelings can manipulate your creativity. It must be a hybrid of what was going on there and what happens here.
What experiences from your day to day lives are incorporated into what you create and how you perform?
Rich: Everything really. It’s interesting how and when things come out as well. Really chance meetings with other human beings which are completely random but have a kind of important impact on your life. Just one meeting can change the course of how you do things in the future.

What is it about the current musical climate that you think has resulted in the kraut rock revival?

Wendy: I think it’s definitely begun.
Rich: It seems like it’s been going awhile. Bands like the horrors have been influenced by it and it’s exciting to feel like there are other bands we could play with and their fans will be really into our music and vice versa. All these bands coming together, it creates, I don’t wanna say scene, but its cool when different bands can share fans. If there had only been one rock and roll band then rock and roll wouldn’t be as big as it is today. It takes a few things coming together to take things beyond a certain level.
The new flaming lips record, which we’ve been lucky enough to hear, it’s kind of proto-punk but the rhythm section is kind of more constant…
W: repetitive, hypnotic.
R: It has kraut elements.

Like Neu?

Richard: Neu! Has the super straight beat. It’s like that but they are more offbeat. That record, I have no idea how they made it, but it sounds like they were jamming for fucking hours.
W: It’s unbelievable
R: It’s mind blowing, its so improvised but just sounds like the best fucking jam since can.
The kraut rock revival could be seen as part of a more vague resurgence of psychedelic music in general. It’s interesting that people are looking for music that makes you zone out.
W: without trying to sound too hippy dippy, I think a few people with really good taste in music have got hung up on the kraut thing recently and it just sends out a wave through the artistic community. Eveyone’s picking up on it and thank God, because it’s really good and intelligent and inspiring and has this hypnotic quality that gives you a break. Like a nice break from the chaos of everything that’s been going on in the world for the last year or two.(sigh) It’s kind if meditative, all these hypnotic grooves and stuff. I’m so happy about it.
R: Bands like Faust, Neu! Can and any others we can mention, they need as many props and as many mentions as they can get for the rest of time basically.

Yeah, even the sex pistols said that kraut rock was an influence.

Wendy: And P.I.L right?
Rich: And even pieces of Joy Division, you know the early stuff.
Wendy: It’s just like really simple, soulful, repetitive grooves with really small deviations from time to time.
Rich: That’s the hypnotic element, you can just get lost in its great that were back to that point in time.

There are ancient disciplines in many cultures such as Australian aborigines or Native Americans where they chant and induce a meditative mental state without the use of drugs.

Rich: We could get really deep here.
Wendy: You can get onto a level of stillness from the repetitive sounds. It’s a good place to be. It helps to quiet the mind.

It’s good that there is music that can have that almost spiritual effect.

Wendy: It’s like spirituality sneaking around the back way.

There seems to have been a significant change in the world of electronic music. In the past few years it’s moved from the energetic dance element to more introspective and perhaps less easily accessible psychedelic music. Do you think this element has always been there lying dormant?

Rich: I think there have always been pockets of everything. There are cycles in music when things become popular again and sometimes artists add something new to the cycle.

What do you want to add to the cycle?

Rich: First and foremost – ourselves. We want to communicate with people at a level which will inspire them to create something else and take it even further.

Tonight at the garage – what routines do you have in preparation for you performance?

Wendy: I like to put on Jefferson Airplane and sing along with Grace Slick.
Rich: I’ve learnt most of the words now haven’t I?
Wendy: yeah! Poor Rich, he’s forced to deal with it.
Don’t you like Jefferson Airplane?
Rich: Yeah I do but I can’t sing along with the force she does. It’s fun though; we’ll probably end up doing it live.
Wendy: Yeah, I want to.

How do you expect the listener to react to your music?

Wendy: maybe to get them in the moment, to make them aware that they are in the room with us. Usually, people come and they stand there and they don’t leave and they watch. They just watch and they don’t talk. I appreciate that. It’s cool. I know what’s it like, when I go to a show and I might be a bit bored, how I react. We get cheers in between songs and the other night there was one guy who was really having a good time, with his hands in the air and he may have been on another planet but that was cool. After all the work we put into it, it feels really good. We didn’t know what to expect, live. We were concerned with just pulling it off and making all the sounds happen. We’d never played together but when we played there it was like the icing on the cake to see people react to what we’re doing.
Rich: You never know what to expect. We’ve been building this over time.
Wendy: We just take things one step at a time and one song at a time. Just trying to create something that the both of us were satisfied with first, we’re kinda selfish that way. We had a feeling that we wanted to create, it’s very rewarding when you put it out there and see people like it.

Going back to your cultural influences, how do you think your very different backgrounds affect the different ways you approach music?

R: we come from polar opposites in a way. Wendy comes from the rock end of the spectrum whereas I’ve gone from djing and looping beats to learning to play guitar and singing. We meet in a place where it’s like Wendy has to play some cool guitar parts to impress me and I come in with the synth stuff, she calls this Simon says. We challenge each other and we have to keep each other excited about the opposite end of the spectrum. Sometimes we have to go beyond what feels natural.
W: we have to compromise but also push each other’s boundaries. We have to ask can we go beyond that? It’s painful at times.

Does it get quite heated in rehearsals?

W: uuuuuuuurm…yeah.
R; yeah definitely
W: we’ve had our moments in the studio but I’m so glad we persevere. When I met Rich I felt like it opened a doorway. Before, I had been doing the same thing for quite awhile. He pushes me and I’m doing things I didn’t know I had in me. I really appreciate that I always want to have that.
R: That works both ways.
W: I don’t know how solo artists can go and make all these records. My hats off to them but I would get bored I would be like I’m gonna go and do underwater basket-weaving now because I’ve done the same thing 8 times. With we fell to earth I’m constantly being pushed in new directions.

So that’s where Bowie comes into it then? The constant reinventions?

R: It’s funny you mention him because we were both listening to the low record and it has a spirit which is unbelievable. He’s given kraut his salute at an amazing time in his career. So yeah, he has helped us out along the way.
W: He’s been like a spiritual guide for us with the creation of this record.

He’s your guardian angel

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Sunday, 4 October 2009


In 2007 I directed a short film called Fags. There were problems during production that resulted in some footage being unusable. This footage may have been salvaged and I will attempt to resurrect this thing that might have been. This is a teaser trailer of the film set to music by Teeth of the sea

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Magic Mushrooms

I took these photos of magic mushrooms growing in my Mum's garden a couple of years ago. The mouse was sitting nearby. I don't like mice so my initial reaction was to stomp on it, but I didn't. I don't know what he was doing there nor why he wasn't afraid of me. It's possible he was a drug user and had lost his natural fear of man. If I ever encounter that mouse again, I will teach it to fear man.

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Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Children of Venezuela - Photo Gallery

Venezuela is frequently depicted in the media as being an unstable nation. The controversial government of President Hugo Chavez has divided the people of Venezuela. His choice of controversial allies and inflammatory comments have made him unpopular with the American government.

The children of Venezuela live in uncertain times. Will the Bolivarian revolutionary government unite the nation and help the underclass pull itself free from poverty? Chavez' recent Russian weapons deal and agreement to ship oil to Iran is likely to antagonize America even more.

"The Russian government approved a $2.2 billion loan for weapons," Mr. Chavez said. "And we must thank them."

These photos of children in Venezuela are an insight into a more intimate side of the nation's identity than is usually shown. These children from around the country will bear witness to whatever the future holds for their nation.

All photos by Tom Rowsell. Click images to see full size.

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Saturday, 19 September 2009

Doha - living in the shadow of progress

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department, Qatar has been classed as Tier 3. Labourers, predominantly from Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Phillipines are sometimes forced into unpaid labour. Those who are paid receive very low wages and work and live in dangerous conditions. As Doha's skyscrapers dominate the desert landscape, those who create them see a different side of Doha.

These pictures are intended to illustrate the duality of Qatar. I have focused on roads and doorways as each is symbolic of a transition from one space to another, mirroring the changing landscape of Doha. Doorways are also an important symbol in many Islamic cultures.

All photos by Tom Rowsell

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Violent and Obscene

I have been looking forward to this release since I found out about it in June. Male Bonding, Fair Ohs, Graffiti Island and Pens have all contributed to this limited edition 7' out on Italian Beach babes.

A straight up homage to the king of debauchery and all that is disgusting from four of the best British lo-fi punk bands. It speaks volumes that a man who repulsed both mainstream America and his contemporary punk musicians alike with his relentless coprophilia, misogyny, hedonism and violence, is still popular 16 years after his drug induced death.

Fair Ohs open the proceedings with a cover of 'automatic'. Rather than reinterpret the song with their patented brand of tropical punk, they just bang it out like a live cover. Male Bonding do much the same with 'you hate me and I hate you'. Pens, although not always capable of producing quality recorded material, come up with the goods on a loose and drunken cover of 'I don't give a shit' and the short ep is rounded up by a haunting cover of 'drink, fight and fuck' from graffiti island with their instantly recognizable camp, yet spooky sound.

This is what Male Bonding's John Arthur Webb had to say on the subject of the filthy rapist himself.

"It's important that I make it clear that I love GG Allin's music, but not his views and opinions - some of them I do, but certainly not all of them. He fascinates me as a person - how over the years he went from "don't talk to me" to a song like "shove that warrant". He lived 100% through his music, and you can see that and hear it - literally hear it. His voice changed so much. All those cigarettes and bottles of Jim beam. i think he was an intelligent person, but he'd consumed too much of his own shit - quite literally..."

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


New York seems to have become a bottomless pit, from which an endless precession of awesome lo-fi bands emerge. The most recent of these to draw my attention is Tonstartssbandht. My ex put me on to them and if you watch this video I think you will agree, they are a bit special.

Tonstartssbandht are based between Montreal and New York. Is it tricky working together over long distances? How do you go about it?

EDWIN: We have to record most of our songs during summer holidays in either mtl or NYC, or when we visit family in Orlando. Most of the rock songs were recorded as a duo in Montreal in the summertime. During the year we are writing stuff by ourselves and emailing developing projects back and forth... we are always sharing ideas and making endless lists of songs to cover that we never get around to. A couple songs were made entirely by one guy, but I won't say which. It's usually a full on collaboration, started form one guy's idea.
ANDY: Lots of emails. Many songs are written and recorded entirely by one of the guys, and only later, when we're visiting each other or at home will we "flesh them out" if at all. Because we've been living away from each other essentially since the band started two years ago, working on music takes a real precedence when we are together (hence alot of our work will come in short bursts during visits (NYC, mtl), at home in Orlando, or on holiday (Toronto, Berlin).

Does the fact you are brothers aid the creative process or can it be a

EDWIN: It's the best thing about the process. I have so much fun with this band because it's almost automatically stress free, and it accomplishes exactly what I hope to get done in music. Andy is one of my favorite musicians. We share so much of the same mental references for music. We grew up listening to almost the exact sounds for 20 years. We share deep bonds to a billion bands, albums, songs and very specific sounds. I can reference something very abstractly, that I might not even be able to articulate well enough for me to understand, and Andy can very often pick up on exactly what I'm going for sonically. We just share an old and familiar connection, which is great for collaboration.
ANDY: I think I know Edwin better than anyone else because he is my brother, and we are very great friends who share an interest in writing music. that in itself should assist any creative process. even beyond that though, i do think there is a closely shared memory of influences from our family life; aural ideas and sonic play with our dad, and a special history of images, media, and environmental experiences from our mom, who does design work.

Why did you choose to leave sunny Florida?

EDWIN: I left Orlando to go to school in NYC. I had been planning to move there since I was 5 so it was inevitable. That was the best decision I've made so far.... but I did love growing up in Florida. And nostalgia for that lost Florida lifestyle has inspired many of our songs. We're very proud to be from the Sunshine State. Florida is a wild place!
ANDY: i enjoyed growing up Orlando a great deal. i still think that its an extremely fascinating place, just like the rest of the Floridian peninsula. but we spent every summer of our lives doing long road trips across the country, cuz our parents dig road tripping, and when we traveled being away, sensing myself in a new space, felt awesome. When i was choosing a school, Quebec seemed a good mix of familiar and foreign. Moving really really fucking far away from Florida has had mad ups and super downs, but its an experience I do not regret. I still get a very deep personal satisfaction from saying to myself "Whoa, what? i live in Canada now?"

The vocal harmonies on songs like Preston “great ass” imfat are incredibly stirring. Where did you learn to make sounds like that?

EDWIN: Andy is the man behind most of that song. It was his demo to begin with.... But I can tell you that the style of that song is more like Andy's old solo recordings from middle school, which are beautiful and intricate and folky. It's probably just stuff he picked up in choir as a kid and from being the musical sponge that he is.
ANDY: The Orlando Deanery Boy Choir. We toured the UK in 1999, and i still trace near-conscious memories, visions and dreams to my experiences from that trip. all those unreal, ornate houses of worship, ancient fortresses, crumbling cemeteries, and the wholly un-Floridian landscape has been a fantastic influence on every creative work I've ever realized.

Is there a conscious decision to balance the weird psychedelic elements of your sound with the more conventional pop or anthemic (in the case of midnight cobras) sounds?

EDWIN:There is a conscious decision to keep our recordings and live shows balanced between the sample and beat based choral pop stuff ("hard pop","psychedelic") and the guitar-and-drums balls out rock. We love both of these sides of our music and performance equally and don't want to have to give up one to appease a specific crowd. The audience has always been open to both sides, which is awesome. thanks guys.
ANDY: Its a conscious practice in so far as
1) "Psychedelic elements" are essentially technical FX and gear that tend to turn sounds into awesome (see Spacemen 3, Blues Control, Angus Maclise, etc)
2) But there is a point, in applying technical psychedelia, where you can't hear the melody that is haunting you and which you want to haunt others, so...
3) You use as much psychedelia as you care to get that "awesome" and then find a ground where awesome exists alongside the melodic vision you have.

Are you concerned that your music could be viewed simply as a part of the already bloated lo-fi music scene, rather than as music in its own

EDWIN: I'm never sure what to call our music either, so I can handle the lo-fi tag to an extent. I wouldn't scold someone for having trouble finding the right term. And it's not an incorrect description either... We've been forced to learn recording as we go for years, so it's not often the highest quality. I can't claim to be a sound engineer.
On the other hand, it would suck if people avoided listening to our stuff cause they heard it's 'lo-fi'. I think it has more to offer than what the label presupposes. "Andy Summers" is on it's own.
ANDY: People as a group will call it whatever's convenient, myself included. I'm okay with that. what I'm interested in is the personal experiences individuals have with our songs and our live shows. "Black Country made me cry...", "Every time I come see you guys play, I get so excited that I have to pee..." "Your music harkens back to a pre-bicameral mind, when memories and ideas were ghosts and gods." It'd be difficult for groups of us to speak easily and quickly about all the bands we love if personal meanings came out like that. So I'll take those as they come and let stylistic labels stick as they will. I really don't follow music news outside of me, my friends, and local gossip anyways, so I've no reason not to be content with being considered part of a lo-fi wave.

Some bloggers have compared your music to science fiction film
soundtracks. Is this a reasonable comparison? If so what sci-fi films
or other things for that matter have inspired you?

EDWIN: That's rad, I like those bloggers then. If any sci-fi film has inspired me it would be Bladerunner. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that Vangelis did the music, and we're big Vangelis fans. L.A. is so fucking big in that movie. "Memories of Green" is a heartbreaker.
ANDY: I have always craved sci-fi depictions of unreal spaces and cities. Bladerunner, Brazil, Stalker, Akira, all present foreign lands where I have been able to replicate that high that still gives me hallucinations from roadtrips across the US, the UK, and Japan. The "I, this person, am somewhere else" drug. The visions of Tokyo in Akira and other, even non-sci-fi, films are present in alot of the work i do with Ed. I think he dreams as often as I do of living in an enormous ocean of contiguous human settlement and awe-inspiring infrastructure with a familiar and foreign culture, to give us that ungrounded, fresh high that contributes so much to creative visions.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

New York's Trip Hammer Vitality

"New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness if you have no inner stabilizer." Henry Miller

All photos by Tom Rowsell

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