N O P A R T O F I T

N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Interview Series #32: Hawthonn

 

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.  In this particular case, we decided to continue the series after 30 has been scheduled.  


At_Wharf_Chambers, photo by Briony Charvas




Hawthonn is the duo of Layla and Phil Legard.  They both take on an aura of serious, scholarly occult study, and it comes through in their audio work.  Phil Legard is a writer, teacher, lecturer, and academic, generally surrounding matters of the occult and underground music.  I have corresponded with Layla Legard a bit, but have not pryed into any other work on the side (outside of music projects) that she may be doing.  I do know, through her facebook page, that there can be some magnificent fog where they live, and being from America, the area seems to be drenched in mysticism to me. 

 I think I first discovered their album Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing) on Spotify, as it was recommended to me after listening to Omala.  Both projects I'd eventually recommend to anyone who was asking for artists who can approximate the particular drive and energy put forward by the legendary, metaphysically-driven experimental band COIL.  Incidentally, Hawthonn's self-titled release is inspired by and dedicated to the late Jhonn Balance of COIL.  Not limited to one-dimensional posturing and homages, Hawthonn (and the duo's related output in general), tend to create their tracks to be unmistakably imbued with symbolism.  It's not necessary to know what exactly is going on, the presence of intricate stratification can be felt more than understood within many of Hawthonn's sound-structures.  

While their project's popularity has risen to levels of being included in Netflix's "New Pope" series featuring John Malkovich, and great press in general, the Legards are still releasing physical media (as well as digital only releases) that comes in burlap sacks, CDRs with ornated booklets, and limited lathe cuts that come with "unique toad charm, two badges, and photograph".   Their concept of experimental folk music infused with refined, yet studiously unusual electronics, is unparalleled.  Their presentation of occult concepts is as transparent as it is carefully obscured, and their balance between sophistication and raw intuition, at least to me, is truly remarkable.  

1.  What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?


Layla: Deserted medieval villages! We like having a focus for our projects - somewhere to repeatedly explore. With lockdown limiting our prospects for travel, it was good that there are lots of these sites fairly local to us. They’re unassuming - lumps and bumps in the ground - genuinely esoteric landscape features, and there’s a lot of scope for pushing your own narrative or interpretation: from visualising what it once was, to looking at the hard archaeology. The subtle features are so compelling, the absence of anything much drives you to try and see them by some other means. I think my attraction was due to the current plague-times. People imagine medieval villages becoming deserted due to plague, but researching more if seems like it is often due to the land-owners fucking over the lower classes: clearing the villages for sheep grazing and so on… this goes one well into the industrial revolution, when enclosure acts expel the  final tenant-farmers and push everyone toward the cities. There’s a medieval chapel at Lead, sitting in a sheep field which would once have been a busy manorial village… we’ve been recording some vocals for our new album there. Also we’ve started learning Welsh.


2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby? 


Layla: I don’t identify with either of those words. I certainly wouldn’t say I do it for fun… it’s stressful at times, but often cathartic and essential.


Phil: How do you distinguish between an artist and hobbyist? Is it about remuneration? Time spent on work? Self-identification? Drive? Unsuitability to do anything else? On the underground, most people have other jobs since experimental music rarely sells out arenas, and the only alternative - just constantly touring and sleeping on floors most of the year - isn’t too healthy. Artists are everywhere: I like the example of Philip Glass, who was a plumber and a taxi driver when not touring with his ensemble. Did he suddenly become an ‘artist’ when the bucks started rolling in?


3.  How would you describe what you do?


Phil: I dunno. Fleetwood Mac plays Coil? We usually concentrate on trying to make music or sounds that are fairly unique, and we use a lot of imaginative approaches to music - walking landscapes, visualisations, the occasional ritual. We don’t think much about music in terms of sounding like some established genre, or using well-trodden chord progressions etc. 


Layla: A lot of what I do that seems to be most productive is dreaming - the last album, Red Goddess, has a lot of references to mugwort because we were experimenting with dream enhancement and I do have a lot of vivid dreams that seem to hold synchronicities or relevance to work we are doing. My unconscious self has a lot of good ideas and strong images - I like that the dream world is where we can communicate freely with the dead too - during working on the first album which was a tribute to Gef/Jhonn I had so many dreams of meeting with him and talking to him, it felt like we were genuinely communicating with him on some level and all of those dreams fed into the lyrical and musical process. This time round for the new album we have done some ritual visionary work based around moon cycles and some of the tracks have come from those experiences of altered states. 


Phil: Layla did actually suggest that ‘dream pop’ was maybe the closest genre bracket… although we never use pop structures, the ‘dream’ part is certainly accurate.



4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?


Layla: For a long time I didn’t feel comfortable just sitting down and directly ‘making some music’, or referring to myself a musician at all. I have always had obsessional interests in places and pilgrimage and music is the ideal way for me to distill that thought and activity into creative process but I suffer from “imposter syndrome” and discomfort with identifying with that label. I needed a lot of abstraction and process to feel at ease with what I’m doing musically, as well as it being a necessary outlet for the things that I’m interested in. I’ve gotten a lot better at just going straight into creating lyrics, sounds and melody over the last couple of years but Hawthonn is always going to be much more than that. I like the process too, even though it means writing new music takes a long time. 


Phil: I think things have come a long way since the first Hawthonn album, particularly in terms of the complexity and quality of our productions - and playing live over 2018-19 also really helped push Layla’s voice into new levels of clarity and confidence. It was also good for me: I absolutely loathed playing shows when I had a solo project, so it has been great to play gigs and find that so many people appreciate what we are doing - we’ve had some real highs particularly supporting Gwenno, who is so immersed in lore, poetry, and language that it is humbling, and playing Listen to the Voice of Fire in Aberystwyth and getting to listen to a rare performance by our hero, Johann W. Light. I’m pretty sure that our new album is going to be a huge improvement on Red Goddess, in terms of performance, production, and everything else.


5.  How would you describe your philosophy?


Layla: I don’t subscribe to any particular philosophy…


Phil: I’m vaguely existentialist or Foucauldian. Depends how I feel that morning.


6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If not, what is your favorite conspiracy theory?  


Layla: Well, our first album was a sincere attempt to engage in some sort of communication with the dead… whatever that might mean. You can’t be academic about these things: if something happens or manifests, and you can interact with it, then it is a reality. I have had lots of uncanny, wyrd experiences, manifestations of ghosts, demons, gods, whatever they may be - I like to keep an open mind.


Phil: I’m pretty fond of the idea of the ‘imaginal’ - but in the sense that we have inner experiences that are powerful and more than ‘mere’ daydream: those profound visions, or vivid images which shock you out of your stupor. I can’t say I believe they reflect any sort spiritual reality (- I am a vocal anti-essentialist and anti-transcendentalist despite my interest in the occult -), but their pursuit is something we’re always interested in, and we often use some ‘magical’ techniques  such as herbal brews, guided meditations, and scrying to gain access to these states. As for conspiracy theories - most of them are junk and fundamentally serve oppressive power structures and help them to demonise their others. But I do remember a time in the 90s when it was all considered wacky counter-cultural fun...


7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?


Layla: Visiting the Druid’s Circle at Penmaenmawr in my early teens… it gave me a sense of the importance of pilgrimage and place. I don’t know how to describe it - every time you visit you are enriched by these places. Reading the Modern Antiquarian by Julian Cope sparked me starting to visit places of power again in my early 20s, and then getting to work on Almias in 2010 (a project with Phil), which helped me to articulate those feelings musically.


Phil: I’ve talked a lot in older interviews about my own encounter with the holed stone at Men-an-Tol, which seemed to trigger some sort of mystical state, and made me obsess over a landscape which seemed completely enchanted. Although I connect that encounter with becoming a more ‘serious’ musician, I can also think of lots of other moments in the past which led me to that point, particularly as a child: seeing a stunted and wind-blasted hawthorn at Troller’s Gill whose spirit I felt was haunting me, seeing Almscliffe Crag silhouetted against a brooding sky in the back of my mother’s car, and so on, all seemed to foreshadow that experience and the full-tilt obsession with the affective power of landscape.


8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?


Laya: Sulis Noctis, with our darling friend (and mastering engineer) Gregg Hermetech, which is dark folk music - a lot straighter than Hawthonn. I’m doing vocals on a few other collaborative projects, but can’t say much at the moment!


Phil: It’s not musical, but Scarlet Imprint recently published ‘An Excellent Booke of the Arte of Magicke’, co-written with Al Cummins. It transcribes and provides commentary on the demonic magical workings of the brutal Elizabethan bastard Sir Humphrey Gilbert, it was quite a lengthy project, begun in around 2011, so good to see it finally out there! We’ve also been working with a site called the Old Corpse Way, with our friend Graham (who has a project called Bore Hole). We’ve put out a few tracks recorded there as part of commissions (from The Quietus/Aerial Festival and one from Goldsmith Uni’s Fringe and Underground Music Group). Hopefully we might bring all our work together to do some sort of split release in the future.


9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 


Layla: Coil’s Astral Disaster - that’s a perfect record. The Duellists’ English Hurdy Gurdy Music, and maybe throw in some 1970s tapes of Gaelic psalmody.


Phil: Although I have lots of records, this kind of question just makes my mind go blank… I guess if I was on a desert island, and I happened to also have a record player, I’d choose something that would keep my spirits up. Maybe I’d listen to Pere Ubu’s Modern Dance, while haplessly trying to catch fish and suffering from heatstroke...


10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can recall?  


Layla: Being pushed in a pram down Balaam’s Lane, Mossgate, to look at the horses, and my mum showing me catkins in the hedges, and around the same age collecting frogspawn to put in our pond.


Phil: Looking out at the fields that were behind my parents’ house, watching a tractor milling about. It’s a housing estate now, but I like that I can legitimately wax lyrical about “when it were all fields, lad”.


11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 


Layla:  It depends on the person, the flaws, and also whether the art is worth validating those flaws or shortcomings for. I don’t really have any energy or time for domestic abusers, misogynists or fascists. 


Phil: I think it helps if people aren’t bellends to begin with. There’s nothing more annoying than having ‘that friend’ who makes you wince every time they open their mouth because you know they are about to say something meaninglessly ‘provocative’. I’d really had enough of that schtick by the early 2000s - who wants to share a platform with their bitter, racist, emotional button-pushing uncle? Sorry for stereotyping the uncles out there, hah! Fortunately we know enough decent people now that it’s rarely an issue...


12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?


Layla: Neil Campbell - he’s lovely, and incredibly productive - while maintaining a high level of quality in his work. Everything he puts out is gold!


Phil: John Godbert - such a character, and a great artist… the ideal role-model for my own later years. I also mentioned Johann Wlight, who makes the most sublime music - even though it disappears the moment you take your attention off it. And do we even have to mention another John, or should I say Jhonn?


Layla: Oh of course, Jhonn and Peter! Hildegard von Bingen too - fellow migraineur. 


Phil: Laurie Spiegel, too. Beyond her music, I love her writing, and how introspective she can be about music and technology.


13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?   


Layla: I visited Highgate Cemetery years ago and saw Patrick Caulfield’s grave, which has DEAD written in negative space which was delightful. I thought it was a spectacular monument to death-positivity and acceptance. I love the pre-Victorian trends for memento mori funereal art - particularly in Scottish kirkyards where they have rows of carved skulls and bones decorating the gravestones and the more honest epitaphs - I was what you were, you will be what I am. I think culturally we have become detached from the realities of death and mourning is often far removed, sanitised and euphemistic - “fell asleep” instead of dead. Seeing the crises around the world in death care related to Covid though - we are seeing our mortality more clearly now. The corpses piling up do not lie. 


Phil: I’m not ready to accept my mortality… Hmm, I think that’s what I’d have written on my epitaph.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Interview #31: Ralph Gean

 

Photo by Gregory Ego, 1990s Courtesy of RalphGean.com

When I started this interview series, Ralph was one of the first people I asked about.   It turned out that it would go back and forth between myself and Little Fyodor how best we could make this happen, being that Ralph Gean is not too keen on the internet.   I first saw Ralph in 2011 or so, and his performance was magical.  An analog film projector was dying as he was performing, and what was being projected seemed to be melted film for a lot of the time.  That gave Gean's performance an added strangeness, and an altogether epic feel, as if we were all part of an historical moment.  Even without that added effect, Ralph was  no less than captivating, just himself with an acoustic guitar.  Little Fyodor took me to have "fish n' chips" at a place in Denver when I was there (there were no potato chips involved, which boggled my midwestern mind).  Ralph described the affect that rock n' roll had on him when it first came out, and how it sort of obliterated what came before, and took everyone by surprise.  Thankfully, eventually, Little Fyodor was able to transcribe an interview from my questions, and so thanks go out to both Ralph Gean and Little Fyodor for making this happen!  -AZ


Hi, I’m Little Fyodor, friend of Ralph Gean. Ralph seemed to have quite a block when it came to answering Arvo’s questions in his own writing, procrastinating over it for years, but he’s a very chatty fellow, so when we started talking about it over the phone, I put him on speaker and started transcribing as quickly as I could! I’ve edited it since, but it still contains some of the original conversational qualities, and you know how conversations go, they’re not always linear, plus sometimes I missed stuff so the gaps in the train of thought may be mine and not always Ralph’s, but I did my best to get it all down, and you’ll see some of my own comments in the brackets to help out too, so anyway, here goes….

  1. What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?


Sometimes when I ride with my buddy I hear the J. Geils Band, they did Love Stinks! I really should sing Angel In the Centerfold cause I have a daughter named Angel, and she’s really beautiful, but all the kids would tease her about that song when she was growing up, about being the angel in the centerfold, and I can understand why they’d tease her. [I brought up Elvis because I know Ralph’s a big Elvis fan and likes to show off his original copy of “That’s All Right Mama” and watch an obscure Elvis biopic that he taped off TV years ago.] Elvis is still the unchallenged leader of rock ‘n’ roll and always will be. Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Ronnie Hawkins, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Bobby Knox, Ricky Nelson, these people all influenced me. It took me a little while to understand Elvis, but once I grasped it, I realized he was more consistent, more powerful. It took me a few years running into it. I put together a book about my encounters with all these other celebrities and how they played a part in making me do the kind of things I want to do. It has pictures of myself and all these celebri†ies, including the ones in Denver, Colorado like you [Little Fyodor] and Boyd [Rice] and Gregory Ego. I consider them all friends, some from a distance and some closer. You take Wyatt Erp, great lawman and gunfighter of the Old West. He was a great guy on his own, a well intended lawman, but he was a human being and had flaws. Wyatt Erp connected up and knew all the other gunfighters, it was like the six degrees they talk about. It’s like me connecting with so many people in the music business.




2. 
What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  If you don't like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. "entertainment")?  


It’s not a hobby, it’s always been because I love the music. I’ve always tried to be as good an artist as I can, recording or performing, I tried to be the best I could be because of these other artists that inspired me but I just came into this world born loving music and with or without influence I would have loved music for what it is, but I think the inspiration by these other stars pushed me along and gave me a reason to pursue it.

3. 
How would you describe what you do?

Here’s what I think, I’m glad you asked me that question. The people down at the Lions Lair where we’ve played so many times, they react well to my music and get something out of it. Since I play the guitar solo and don’t have a band backing me up, and I’ve had bands in the past, Big Bang and the Boulders in the 1980’s, and Ralph Gean and His Blue Jeans in 1997 and 1998 with Kurt Ohlen. It was like Scotty and Bill [Scotty Moore and Bill Black backed up Elvis], only it was Kurt and this other guitar player, I can’t remember his name. There’s a picture of Ralph Gean and His Blue Jeans on the internet, the three of us playing shows. But at the Lions Lair I usually don’t play with bands, I do my songs and cover songs, I play the guitar backing myself up as if I’m hearing a whole band behind me, I’m playing the song as if there’s a band backing me up even though there is no band and I think that’s why people like it. There are people who get up and play their guitar and sing but they’re not playing with the gusto of a band backing them up, but I play with the gusto as if there’s a band backing me up and I think that’s why people like it, and maybe they like the songs, too.


4. 
How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?


I like to think there’s a progression to it. Starting out back in Texas the gold standard was to put out records. I played shows as a guest star or guest potential star with bands backing me up, though I didn’t have my own band. Back in 1968 I was in a big Broadway musical called Kiss Me Kate and I played a gangster and I was backed up by a forty piece band, a whole orchestra, singing a song called Brush Up Your Shakespeare. We did four shows in Rexburg, Idaho and then five shows in Salt Lake City at the Valley Music Hall and two more shows in Idaho Falls, Idaho. So that was different. And then I was a street performer for a year and a half, and that was different, too! That prepared me for playing the Lions Lair. In 1980, I had my pockets bulging with money, it kept me eatin’. And then I went to singing lead for Big Bang and the Boulders in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area, as far west as Elko, Nevada and as far east as Heber City, Utah. As far south as Spanish Fork. And all the way up north to Carter, Wyoming. There’s one place in Salt Lake I played about 70 times, backed up by bands. When that was over I got a six month hiatus and then I had a series of country bands. Big Bang was more hard rock country, very powerful. The country bands were a little looser, it was fun to do more of a country scene in ’84 to ’86. Then I moved to Denver in 1987. Just before I moved I got involved in a movie, they wanted me to write some killer songs, it was a comedy about a would-be killer who was too inept, he wants to be a killer, but it’s all in his mind, he can never pull it off, he’s too inept. It was to be called The Nuthouse. That’s why I wrote It’s Hard to Be a Killer and a few others. The whole thing fell through because of funding, they couldn’t raise the money they needed, this was a bunch of college kids who wanted to make their mark. But they really liked the songs, the killer songs! And when I played them for Shannon [Ezra Dickey, who managed Ralph for some years in Denver], I found they liked the killer songs!

5. 
How would you describe your philosophy?


[I mentioned that I knew Ralph to be a fundamentalist Mormon.] I have been a Mormon, but I’m not now. As far as the teachings, the gospel, I still believe in the plurality of wives when it’s God directed, but it has to be something that God is directing people to do to be involved in it, it’s something very sacred. I was involved in it in the 70’s but my family broke up due to complications from it. And that’s when I became a street singer, about 1980. But I still believe in the teachings, it’s just that I am not practicing them now like I was in the 70’s. But as far as philosophy goes, there’s six things in life that nobody has any control over. Getting older is inevitable, you can’t stop that from happening. Another thing is no matter how nice you are, some people will never like you. Life is not always fair and life is a constant struggle. You can’t change other people. Things are bound to change. That’s six things in life nobody can do anything about. I would call that a philosophy! But it’s pretty much true!

6. 
Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).  


I believe in God. I’ll just put that out. I believe He’s the Father of my spirit. And I believe He was also involved with my parents as far as creating my physical body. But the only begotten Son of God according to the Bible was Jesus, He was special, it was a virgin birth. Magic, I don’t know, if it’s done by men it’s probably trick stuff, and if it’s not trick stuff, well Satan has a lot of power, but God’s power is greater than Satan’s power. There is an evil power that comes from Satan, but God has greater power than that evil power. I believe in the Holy Ghost. My favorite conspiracy theory? That would be The Elvis Conspiracy, that Elvis is still alive. Colonel Parker told Elvis that if he ever got to the point where he’d had enough he should come and talk to him. And if anyone had a plan that Elvis could retire but not be bothered, I think that Colonel Parker would have been the one to figure that out. I think it’s probable that Elvis died, but I know that Colonel Parker had a plan and they may have carried it out.

7. 
What would you say was your most definitive experience?


There’s so many. When I was eight years old, the doctor said I had osteomyelitis, a crippling disease, I had a high fever, 103 or 104, both my legs were in pain, as a kid I couldn’t run or play and if anyone sat on the bed I would scream out in pain. The doctor wanted to bring back another doctor the next day to confirm what he thought. My mother had been talked to by the missionaries in the Mormon Church, and they told her that when someone was sick, if the missionaries would anoint the person with oil and say a prayer over them and ask God to heal the person from what was making them sick, God’s power is through the priesthood that He established. When Jesus Christ chose his 12 apostles, it says He said, I have chosen you and ordained you, and people know about the first part but don’t always know about the second part, but it meant He had given them the power of the priesthood. And so my mother called the missionaries and told them about me being sick and they laid their hands on me and anointed me with oil and said a prayer over me and then they said a second part of the prayer for me to be healed using the power of the priesthood like Jesus would have done. So they did that and in the middle of the night after they came, I woke up at something like two or three in the morning in a sweat and I discovered that I could move my legs and wasn’t in pain and so I called out to my parents and they came back to see what was going on and they could see that I was in a sweat meaning my fever had broken and I was able to move my legs and so I had been healed by the power of the priesthood. I believed that then and I believe that now. So when the doctor came back the next day with the consulting doctor, my parents were in disarray trying to figure out what to tell them. The doctor who had been taking care of me since I was a child was a Jewish doctor and they were afraid he wouldn’t believe them that I was healed by the power of the priesthood. The doctor said that had I not been healed I would have gotten an operation that would have crippled me for the rest of my life. But I was able to play like any other child. That was a very horrible [humbling? I’m not sure what Ralph said] experience. That was in 1951 when I was eight years old. That for me was a very defining experience. Musically I’ll tell you what else was defining. When I did that show back in Houston, TX at the Houston Coliseum, February 17, 1963. There were thousands of people. Weeping Willow Tree backed with Experimental Love, that was my first record I had ever released. It was in the process of coming out. I had been asked to play with the Jades backing me up and I opened the show for the big star of the day which of course was Roy Orbison. There were a lot of other stars there, Duane Eddy and the Rebels were there, the Beach Boys were there though I didn’t know a lot about them, Paul and Paula were there. We were practicing to back up Paul and Paula in case their band didn’t make it in time. There were people there like Tommy Roe, Bobby Dee, and Skeeter Davis who sang the End Of The World, there were country stars and rock stars, but Roy Orbison was the big star of the show. And I did my bit, and it wasn’t just opening the show that day, and I found out by going to the library every day [more recently] what the date was and I also realized that it wasn’t just the show that day, while looking at the information, I didn’t just open the show for him, I was opening a thirty city tour he was about to make. Maybe the other stars were going too, I don’t know. That makes it all the more special for me, that I was opening for his tour. After this was over with, Orbison was getting ready to go on last, and I was walking around backstage and I saw him standing by himself and I walked up to him and I introduced myself to him and told him I was a big fan of his, he had already had a number of hits and we talked for a while and while we were talking one of the guards asked us to leave the building because there was a bomb scare. So Roy Orbison and all the others went out the back door where they bring in all the equipment and the audience was cleared out of the front. Roy Orbison and I waited out in the back and it turned out to be a crank call, there was no bomb. Roy Orbison finally did his part of the show. My manager Charlie Booth already knew Roy Orbison and Orbison was waiting around after the show waiting for a ride to take him to the next stop on his tour. Charlie told me to wait right here by this railing, I’ll see if I can get Roy Orbison to hear some of your songs, which shook me up, I thought Roy Orbison is going to listen to me?? But Charlie did it, he rounded him up, and it was just the three of us. I took my guitar and I had written four rock songs, and I played Teenage Woman, Pretty Blonde, Electricity, Closer to Me [it was important to Ralph that he played them in that order]. Roy Orbison leaned back and listened closely and Roy Orbison said he had a lot of weird stuff in the can but he wasn’t in the market for rock songs but he’d keep them in mind. I didn’t know anything would come of it or anything. Over the years I pretty much forgot about it, but the second one, Oh Pretty Blonde, and Electricity is about meeting a girl out in the street. So the next year, during 1964, Roy Orbison comes out with Oh, Pretty Woman [Ralph sings the guitar changes to Electricity and Oh, Pretty Woman and I can hear the similarities]. Well the thing is I love Oh, Pretty Woman, and I’ll put it this way, I might have given him the idea for this great hit. Both songs are about meeting a girl out in the street, and if Orbison got the idea from me, and the words match up and the chords go like this [sings]. And maybe he couldn’t remember the chords of Electricity so he came up with something different. And I’m not trying to claim the song, I want to make that clear and Roy Orbison worked very hard on the song and he put his heart and soul into it, but I may have given him the idea. Years later Big Bang and the Boulders wanted me to sing Oh, Pretty Woman because Van Halen did it and I thought well I know it from Roy Orbison and then later the movie came out. And I never thought about it when I was doing it until I finally found out about the date in the library [which meant this Coliseum show happened before Oh, Pretty Woman came out]. And someone asked Roy Orbison why he decided to do a rock song and he said well somebody told me I needed a rock song. Maybe Charlie and I. That also has other significance, in March 11, 1963, United Record Distributing Company had my song Weeping Willow Tree on a list of best selling singles, next to people like the Drifters “On Broadway”, Fats Domino, Bo Diddly, Ricky Nelson, Mickey Gilley, who played piano on Weeping Willow Tree. All these people, a whole list of well known stars you’d recognize. They had my single pretty close up to the top. That was about a month after I did the Coliseum show. One more little thing about the show, I heard talk while I was around Orbison, he either had gone to Europe or was about to, I found out that starting May-something to June 9 that Orbison had gone over to Europe and guess who was working under him, the Beatles! I felt like I was caught between one of the founders of rock n roll and where the music was going. That’s why I’m saying it was a very meaningful experience to me musically. Number one, here’s the thing about the song and associating with someone who’s one of the stars that came out of Sun Records along with Johhnny Cash, and Elvis and Carl Perkins. And then Orbison went over and hooked up with the Beatles who were about to come over and storm America. Put all that together and that was a very meaningful time! I went through most of my life not realizing what had happened, until I found out [by piecing together the dates from what he read in the library].

8. 
Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?


Music, the Old West, religion – and paleontology, the evolutionary story, I’ve been into that about as much as anything else I’ve been into. Right now just like everyone else I’m just trying to survive. I’ve gotten both of my Covid-19 shots and I’m just trying to stay healthy at age 79.

9. 
Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?  


I like just about anything by Eddie Cochran, he had some really good rockers. Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochrane, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, they really influenced my guitar changes.

10. 
What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?   


Having an operation in the hospital, having my tonsils out, they covered my face with a green ether mask. Another memory was when my parents were working and they hired a black lady and she was trying to put me down for a nap and I didn’t want to take a nap and I was running through the hedges because I didn’t want to take a nap!

11. 
Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent?  

Well yeah, I have to do that because we’re all human beings. Elvis may have been the greatest singer who ever lived, in fact he was the greatest singer, but he had his problems and his flaws as a human being, and I’m not going to turn against his music because he had some flaws in his life that caused him to take too many prescription drugs, and Bob Dylan may have done some things that I would not want to do myself, but I still like his music. I really do appreciate the creative work that other people do, I really appreciate this tribute album [Hard to Be A Killer: A Tribute to Ralph Gean, released in 2020 by Hypnotic Turtle Records] and people really put their heart and soul into it. And when I hear those songs I really appreciate how much they’re into it and I like them more every time I hear them. I really appreciate Arvo Zylo’s doing of Hey Doctor Casey and I want to thank him and if he ever comes over to Denver he’s invited to go get something to eat! After listening to it a number of times, I’ve become so accustomed to those great recordings that I miss them when I’m not listening to them. Everyone was so great on it. I think it’s so good it could be turned into a rock musical. Someone should come up with a script!


12. 
Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  


Just to make it very clear to anyone listening, I don’t have any heroin!! [Laughs!] I’d say the greatest hero that any of us have is our savior, Jesus Christ Himself, if He did what the Bible says He did, to save all mankind from eternal obliterations, that would make Him the greatest hero. I have a lot of musical heroes and a lot of heroes of the Old West, like Wild Bill Hickok who could kill someone in 18/100’s of a second, draw aim and shoot. While the other guy was standing there thinking about it, Wild Bill already had his gun out shooting him!

13. 
What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?  


I don’t know if I’ll be buried or cremated, I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about that. My favorite line from a song is, “If we never meet again this side of heaven, I’ll meet you on that beautiful shore.”


One more story as a footnote, relating to Elvis. Back in 1967 when my wife and I were a young couple we were babysitting some of my sister’s kids, I had been watching Elvis’s movies and I got this idea in my head to send a petition to Graceland and tell him what I think and make a couple of suggestions and get everyone to sign it, and what I told him to do was, he hadn’t come out with certain songs that hadn’t come out on an album yet, like Flaming Star, he needed to put that on an album. From the movie Viva Las Vegas there was Yellow Rose of Texas and the Eyes of Texas. I ended the petition saying what you oughtta do is you need to come out with a rocker that’ll knock their socks off and knock everybody dead, something that they’ve never heard you do before. Well I didn’t realize this until later, I think that suggestion got to Elvis cause on his album that came out in 1969 called Elvis sings Flaming Star and Others that had the Texas stuff, and the very last song on side two was his version that no one had ever heard before of Tiger Man. In 2000 I wrote the I’m Bad Tiger Man song, a different song that connects up with the Tiger Man thing. I got my sister to sign it, my wife, my sister’s kids, I got as many signatures as I could and lo and behold he came out with that album. I think I wasn’t in rock ‘n’ roll just to do music, I think I was also blessed to be in position to maybe have a little bit of influence. I mean I can’t prove it, I can’t prove everything I say is the way it is, but it feels like everything’s connected.


Thanks Ralph!


Little Fyodor


Friday, August 13, 2021

Interview Series #30: Marlo Eggplant

  The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar. 
 



Marlo De Lara (also known as Marlo Eggplant) did an interview for the most recent no part of it interview series!   Marlo is a classically trained experimental recording artist and performer with a powerful voice, and De Lara has toured much of Europe as well as other countries.   Originally from Baltimore, and active since the 90s, she runs the Ladyz In Noyz compilation series, as well as the Corpus Callosum label.   

http://corpuscallosumdistro.com/
 

1.  What types of things have you been getting into lately?
mostly baking. field recordings, decolonization of the arts and language. the color yellow. unprocessed vocals. digestive health. activism. feminist collectives. plants.

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby? 
i do it as an artist and a way to manage life and my feeeeeelings.

3.  How would you describe what you do?
sound performance response and  documentations

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
peristalsis 

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

(un)intentional processes


6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?
all of the above

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?

when my father got refused service at a mcdonald’s when i was a kid because of his Filipino appearance and his ‘accent’.

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
not really. you and i are super close. most ppl know my schtick that i make responsive abstracted art and academic stuff due to my political disenchantment with the world. i am really emotional and attached to friends and causes. i like the domestic arts a lot. ironically despite all that i am actually not very social and happily a hermit in my internal world.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect”? 
experimental film: yoko ono fly (1971) , album:  free kitten - nice ass (1994), book: grapefruit - yoko ono, graphic novel: potential, poem: maya angelou - still i rise

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can recall?  
looking straight up the kitchen counter to the underside of a turquoise plate of cookies and wishing i could reach it, while listening to american television and adult conversations in tagalog


11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 
mostly unless i have a visceral response to their social harm. then i just can’t. but i believe in context and individuality and effect/affect. so it really depends on the work.

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?
my mom and the women who have come before me


13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote? 

lately it is this: Cornel West — 'I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.’

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Interview Series #29: Edgar Amaya

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   




 Scheduled March 2019


 Edgar is a very good friend of mine.  I originally met him when he was a member of a fledgling group called The Electric Set, which was formed by a semi active/former member/Texas transplant to Chicago in the band Indian Jewelry.  He then formed a duo called EaViL, with his then partner N. Vilches.  These projects were a very noisey, messy, and freeform approach to pop music in a myriad of ways, but also sometimes they were just pure noise with a certain flair for poetry in the place where power electronics may have come in.  Amaya also co-wrote a book with harp player Stella Castellucci, based on his ongoing obsession with a rare Peggy Lee album.  Somewhere in there, he moved to Spain and got married; became the catsitter and personal archivist of Lydia Lunch, of whom he is a long-standing fan.   For a time, my radio show, The Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio Show (2007-2014) ran something after hours called "Delirious Sunrise" wherein Edgar was a regular host, and his taste, while not exactly in the "deliberately obscure" vein that many freeform DJs would be, still reflected a peculiar and focused taste for intensity.  Edgar is a rather private person, but he has traveled a lot of the world now and lived one of the more full lives I've known of an ostensibly shy person, including seeing Prince regularly at private shows in his Paisley Park home studio, and embracing Judaism enough to visit Israel.  If there really is some mythical place in Japan where reclusive types can find some success as creatives without being overtly self-promotional, he and I should surely go there! 


1. What types of things have you been getting into lately?
I’ve been caught up in Unsolved Mysteries (The Robert Stack episodes). The theme song unsettled me as a child when it first aired, but I still chose to watch it. Back then I didn’t understand what I was watching. Terror Vision has released a vinyl using many of the themes Gary Malkin composed for the segments. I had no idea until I saw it on display at a record fair. Seeing and hearing it all these years later makes it seem like a new series.

Birds fascinate me completely. I’ve been into bird watching. I admire their intelligence, instincts, beauty, and serenity. I’m dreaming and scheming of ways to spend time with penguins. My husband and I went to the penguin “experience” offered by the Shedd Aquarium. It was supposed to offer a chance to hang out with one. Her name was Charlotte (we added the last name Sometimes). She is a beautiful African penguin with lots of personality. We barely had the chance to touch or be closer to this fascinating creature. We did get to pose for a picture with her, although not expecting that her handler would be in it as well.

Genealogy – I love that there is technology to explain what we are made of. Origins can be undisputed and suspicions can be confirmed. Within one body can lie nations that warred with and conquered each other. Many of the places that made me changed borders and names several times over. Finding the village where it all began on a map is a revelation. It’s also made a great purpose for some future travels and exploration.

2. What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?
It is done the only way that I know how. I was condemned to write when my father named me. Hearing the music he played or made growing up was a strong influence. I didn’t realize there was a choice in creating things. It’s an obsession that drives other obsessions.

3. How would you describe what you do?
Everything centers on trying to figure something out. That is usually why I find it deeply personal. I usually have to be obsessed with an idea or concept that I can’t shake. That’s when I know it’s time to dive in and make something. A continental drift occurs mentally where I end up on one side or the other.

4. How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
For a long time I was so driven by my own conflicts and disturbances. Now there’s a purification process into doing something. It does help to have a large body of water near. Now there is space to do it mentally and physically without clutter. All the things that are not washed away are the ones that will matter.

5. How would you describe your philosophy?
There’s a lot of revision, renewal, and reinvention. If there isn’t a “re” area in my brain somewhere, I’m bound to stagnate and lose meaning. My grandma often said, “Shit or get off the pot.” I learned to follow words with actions and not waste time from her. I learned about strength and determination from my mom. I think we can be a mixed media masterpiece, using the best influence of the people we know and love best.

6. Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods? If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).
I believe in all those things. I think our minds are too underdeveloped. I’ve always wanted to see a ghost, but haven’t had the chance. I’ll continue haunting places they are known to be.

7. What would you say was your most definitive experience?
Moving to Barcelona. I was fully charged, in love, and dreaming. Even my crashes and confusion didn’t have the same impact or hurt they have had elsewhere. It was when I finally started saying yes to myself and became less afraid. I really appreciate the two-way culture shock of going there and coming back. It’s really broken through so many things that were in the way.

8. Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
I’ve worked on some new concepts and ideas for music, but it doesn’t have a name yet. It’s got a lot of blank spaces. I’m still figuring it out. I think it’s going to start to see the light of day after relocating.

9. Would you care to name any theoretical “Desert Island” records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?

  1. Lovesexy perfectly captures everything that Prince was and stood for. It will always be my favorite album of all time. It’s so dense, funky, confusing and positively beautiful. I can’t help but feel great each time I hear it.
  2. In Limbo was Lydia Lunch’s attempt to make the slowest album she could. It was a godsend when I was pinned to the floor staring at nothing in my youth.
  3. Cuatricromía by Fangoria sent me on an upward spiral of happiness. I played it while Turkey Crossing into Barcelona. Seeing “Cuatro Colores” live literally moved me to tears. They became my Spanish teachers and I had the chance to thank them for that.
  4. Peggy Lee’s vocals are flawless on Black Coffee. Her amazing group accompanies her on one of the highlights of all her recordings. She was newly divorced and delivered these sultry selections on the throes and throws of love. The album was further improved by the addition of Stella Castellucci’s harp on the added songs.
  5. The Creatures’ Eraser Cut is a four-song feast that is so varied and brilliant. Siouxsie’s vocals and Budgie’s drums always move me. This sent me over the edge in appreciating their work as Creatures and Banshees. The Creatures have the edge for me because of their sensuality and experimentation. I was too young to enter the first time I saw The Creatures at The Metro, so my dad accompanied me. I had met them at their signing in Tower Records earlier that day. I professed my love for the song “Pinned Down.” During the concert, Siouxsie approached me from the stage. She sang that song just inches from my face.

10. What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?
I left Mexico for the final time when I was two years old. For some reason all of the memories are very blue-hued. It was like it was always dusk or the blue hour. I must have been nocturnal. I’m sitting on the floor in a huge room and plants surround me. I hadn’t been back for a visit until 2015. I now know it was the porch where my abuela keeps her plants. It’s so much smaller to me now.

11. Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws? To what extent?
Yes, definitely. Prince is a great example. I know he was complicated and hard to get close to. He really created important work for me as someone who always felt “different.” Alfred Hitchcock had some issues that informed his art. He funneled his fears and anxieties into his work. It’s a kind of alchemy. I used to be an avid fan of memoirs and classic Hollywood biographies. I think the more I learned about some people, the more difficult it got to like or admire them. I know there are troublesome men for different reasons. Directors like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. I do appreciate some of their work and view it outside of its creator.

12. Do you have any heroes or heroines? Who are they? Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.
I am a Lydia Lunch lover for life. I feel so fortunate that I’ve had the chance to evolve from fan to friend. The times we were working through her archives provided many perfect moments. It’s incredible any one being can do what she does and maintain their sanity. She carves out a big space for pleasure and happiness. She is 100% DIY and loving it, a globe trekking seduction.’

My grandma Eleanor gave me lots of love when there wasn’t enough to go around. She made things happen in difficult situations. It’s a miracle that she wasn’t a bitter or sad person considering all that she went through. She lived life with gutsy gusto and was a lot of fun.

13. What would you like to have on your epitaph? Or what is your favorite quote?
I would like it to say: Married 11/15/14. I feel like I’ve been born and died so many times. I had never been witness to a healthy marriage or relationship. I was really scared to make such an important decision. It ended up being one of the best things. It provided another necessary restart that would move my life forward. I spend days and nights with my favorite person in the world.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Interview Series #28: Alain Neffe

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   




 Scheduled in March 2019
Alain Neffe has been active since the 70s, including his massively influential label Insane Music, and his various projects: I Scream, Pseudo Code, BeNe GeSSeRiT, Subject, and Human Flesh, to name a few.  His series Insane Music for Insane people was dominant within distribution circles from 1980s cassette culture, releasing compilations that featured precarious and precocious acts of an often home-recorded variety.  Some of the earliest entries by The Legendary Pink Dots, Colin Potter, Portion Control, Merzbow, Algebra Suicide, Maybe Mental, and many others appeared on these comps.  Currently the Belgian artist's work is regarded as pioneering and pivotal in some Minimal Wave circles, as well as the history of experimental music and noise at large, and has been continuously reissued for as long as I have been paying attention.  Another artist/label that I discovered while digging through original editions of these cassettes at WZRD, including the first I Scream tape from the 70s! 


 1.  What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?

1 Actually, i am mixing (and remixing) music by BeNe GeSSeRiT and HUMAN FLESH in order to build programs for some lps…. I recently mastered music from SUBJECT for an lp on MINIMAL WAVE and for BeNe GeSSeRiT (the vinyl reissue of “postcards from Arrakis” with some unreleased bonus tracks from the same period)

 2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  If you don't like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. "entertainment")?  

2 For most of my life, I had a “day job” to earn a living, and I made music after hours, but it was not at all a hobby, it was something necessary for my mental balance, my mental health ; a sort of free therapy , I guess (without the risk of being mentally disturbed by some shrink) ….”entertainment” is a word I never use….

3.  How would you describe what you do?

3 Emotional, out of fashion, honest and highly selfish

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?

4 Progression... well, I would talk about change …. In the 70 and 80 ‘s I had more contact with instruments, so I could handle them in a better way, spontaneously and fluently ; the fact that I ceased playing with real groups and stopped playing live changed my way of handling music : using a multitracks recorder made me stronger in arrangements and mixing ; actually, I am more and more attentive to details and sound frequencies ; I also often remix old tracks in order to get them better

 5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

5 no real philosophy , just some ways of being ,for example “protect yourself (and your beloved ones)” and “avoid losing time with toxic people”

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not). 
 

6 no, no god, hopefully…. My conspiracy theory … well I strongly believe that , in mid and southern Europe ,our leaders are trying to make the population extremely stupid (reality shows, sport, radio and T.V.advertising etc ) in order to prevent us from thinking, so they can steal, cheat, lie without any reaction from the average citizen…I also believe that ancient Egyptians were Aliens

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?
 
7 When I was 13 , I discovered Science Fiction literature and never stopped …I have always been a fan of Philippe Curval and his extraordinary universe, full of strangeness, humor and cynicism…. A French label asked us (BeNe GeSSeRiT) to make a song about a Curval novel for a compilation + book ; I guess they were glad with the result because they asked us to make a concert in Nantes to launch the book ; so we prepared a special set about it …. When we arrived in Nantes, we met the author… I was quite impressed … In the conversation, I had an idea : since he was attempting to the whole festival, I asked him if he would read his novel with Nadine, while I would improvise some minimal music and mix… And he agreed, so we did it instead of the BG concert …. A great moment for me, playing with one of my (few) heroes !!!!

 8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?

8 In the 70’s I was playing bass (on synth) and wrote angry minimal lyrics for a punk band named SIC (incidentally, an lp has been released on BELGIAN WAFFLES last year)

 9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?  

9 “Mercator Projected” by EAST OF EDEN , “ The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn “ by PINK FLOYD “Fly” by YOKO ONO , “We’re Only In It For The Money “ by THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION, “The Musician” by JENNIFER TERRAN, any TORI AMOS live set (alone with her piano) “This Was” by JETHRO TULL, “Camembert Electrique “ by GONG, most of the NICO records and lots of others …


10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?  

10 strange question …the way a surgeon put me to sleep before a throat operation, with chloroform ; it was frightening, but maybe it made me reluctant about of drugs and alcohol effects


11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent?  

11 I am rather artistically hard to please ; the work must be sincere, honest, without any compromise and well-conceived ; I always try to “feel” it and not to “understand” it ….but musically, I am unable to be tolerant with loud disco-techno-electro shit with ridiculously loud bass drums , and I cannot dig racist arrogant sexist rap or any other music or noise that insult my moral or intelligence


12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  

12 Benazir Bhutto who was a beautiful young woman leading Pakhistan ; Frank Zappa who was a musical genius , Daevid Allen , Peter Hammill , Syd Barrett and Ian Anderson for what they brought to our culture ; Curzio Malaparte ; Philippe Curval and hundreds of Sci-Fi writers who made me read books ; all the unknown “working class heroes” who cure and protect us in our daily life

 13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?  

13 memento mori