all the bands that I have been into over my 30 years of existence, I really
have to say that Curve top's the charts for me in more ways than
one. Is it Toni's sultry, exotic whispers, sighs and lyrics that keep me
entranced for more or is it Dean's ability to really explore sound and
create that ultimate spark of energy? Hell, in my eyes it is both. Even
while i was in Iraq during Desert Storm I had a mix tape with the just
released songs from the Blindfold ep, and that kept me going in the last
months I was over there. Ever since then I have been on a mad quest to
understand and uncover the emotions and the depth that make up Curve
and the members that give it life. The new cd release "Gift" should be
hitting stores around Sept 18th and as far as I can tell it should be an
amazing journey from some of the mp3's that they have released, but isn't
it always? Also, don't forget to get "Open Day at the Hate Fest", an online
"only" release which you can purchase through their website
SV: So, give us an idea as to what you guys have been up to over the past few years since we last heard from you.
(DEAN) Having a life...dealing with record companies, learning web stuff learing pro tools writing loads of music getting children prepared for big school cutting back on drugs and smoking more
(TONI) Producing other people, smoking again and too much, trying to learn to ski, spending more time with my husband.
SV: For those unlucky souls who are not familiar with your new style and sound, how would you describe it?
(DEAN)Noisy and bueatiful
(TONI) Soul surfing
SV: What kind of philosophy and or ideals do you have with your music? What is the major theme with the new cd?
(DEAN)The Philosophy is to be true, no major theme other than to make it the best we can
(TONI) Lyrically I mostly deal with the concept TO LOVE AND BE LOVED and that in general is a big philosophy in my life.
SV: What makes a Curve song and how is it inspired?
(DEAN)the bass and vocal
(TONI) And some little spark in the air that day, in that moment, exactly at the same time the both of you decide to write, so all in all it's a pretty tall order.
SV: There has always seemed to be a lot of heavy emotional issues threaded throughout the songs, does there ever come a point when it gets a bit too "deep" or personal when writing? Is there anything forbidden within your lyrics that you just won't write about?
(TONI) Self indulgence of any kind from either of us is frowned upon in our studio, so no nothing is banned but it has to be lean.
SV: Is there any kind of spirituality that you look for within the music or that you try to get across?
(DEAN) no it just has to sound and feel right to us
(TONI) Our spirit comes from the bass and drums so I agree with Dean on that one
SV: I have heard that you were having some issues with getting your new cd released in the US, care to go into detail about this?
(TONI) It was no different for us as it has been for a million other bands, yes we had to fight but in the end the quality of the music won out.
SV: On the Chinese Burn remix disk, you have a remix with Paul van Dyk. How did you go about getting connected with him and do you think his popularity within the techno/rave scene increased your listening audience or expanded your sound into areas you might not have touched?
(DEAN) we were approached by his label to do a mix...we did one for him and he did one for us, I'm not sure how it helped anyone but I'm sure a few people were surprised to hear Curve sound like that...I think they thought it sounded like another PVD record which is exactly as it did sound.
(TONI) I have always been interested in connecting Curve up with other talented remixer's because it's always has a very different angel to it.
SV: There are elements of D&B and trance inside of Come Clean. Do you think the club/techno community is a new direction you may find yourself taking the band or yourselves one day in the future or is that a side of Curve that just enjoys dabbling into it once in a while?
(DEAN) we will always use what is good about any style of music whatever it is...we like to cross bounderies and give a nod to other scenes...but ultimatly I think it always has that Curve signiture whatever the style or influence
SV: The work Toni did with Leftfield is very beautiful, how did that come about and do you see yourself working with them again?
(TONI) A good friend of mine new there manager well and when she said that Leftfield were looking for a female singer my name popped up. It was really good fun and they were fantastic to work with, very talented.
Any more work with Recoil in the future?
(DEAN) I think we have both done good stuff on the recoil albums...and yes I'm sure we'd both collaborate again if asked..we like mr Wilder
SV: Do you ever find yourselves reflecting on political or world situations within your music and if so, how does it affect or not affect your sound?
(DEAN) The only time I can think that we touched on something political was the Die like a Dog track..peace in a world free from religion
(TONI) As I'm replying to this the situation in New York and Washington is truly frightening, so I stand by the only political statement that I've ever made in fact I think that no religion should not question there beliefs at this time..Religion has turned out to be the biggest killer the world has ever known and all in the name of god, how fucking sick.
SV: With the online success of Open Day at the Hate Fest how do you feel about the recent crackdown on online trading of MP3s and services such as Napster? Do you feel that such services will improve a bands connection within their audience or does it hurt it?
(DEAN) Napster has left a very large hole that has to be filled again...I don't have any problem with it at all...I miss it, so does my MP3 player
SV: Toni has been doing some orchestral work lately. Can you go into that a bit and tell us about it?
(TONI) I cant say to much about that at the moment due to legal reasons.
SV: How much of an influence does Headcase/Ultrasound have into Curve songs, styles, and sounds?
(DEAN) sometimes things crossfade into each other but it becomes very obvious what is what as and when it's done...they feed each other. I'm not going to be doing anymore records under the name of headcsae...I feel I've done what I set out to do with it and now it's time to move onto something else...it taught me a lot.
SV: Recently the two of you have been working with Saffron (of Republica). How is that going and what should we expect from this union?
(Dean) sleezy poptastic...with a twist. I have produced one track while Toni has been working with all sorts of people on other tracks..it's coming together now..almost ready for an airing.
(TONI) I've been working really hard on getting Saff's stuff in a shape and form that suit's her because she's a tough south London girl and that is how she should sound.
SV: There was word several years ago during the small hiatus from Curve that Toni was working with Ronny Moorings or Clan of Xymox, I believe the project was called Bud? What ever happened with this project?
(DEAN) not much
(TONI) It wasn't him, it was Anka the girl bass player.
SV: Was the split up of Curve for that time period a healthy thing?
(DEAN) yes for health and sanity reasons not for business reasons
SV: Any hopes of Toni's solo stuff being re-released in the future
(DEAN) maybe some new work but I wouldn't think that the Hearts record will be re-released...
SV: Who are your major inspirations these days in the music world? Who is exciting you as artists?
(DEAN) air Daft Punk Gorillaz FBS D12 Luke Haines Strokes
(TONI) The Strokes, White Stripes, Seafood, Andrew wk, Are Weapons, Beachbuggy, New order, Alpine stars, Tahiti 80.
SV: What are you guys reading now?
(DEAN) the flash manual
(TONI) Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (he wrote fight club) and it is fucking brilliant and sick.
SV: Curve has always had some of the most amazing videos, full of energy, sensuality, color, and vision. Any plans to release a compilation of your videos anytime soon?
(DEAN) No plans at the moment but it would be a good thing to do...trouble is, the rights are owned by three differnt majors and getting them to allow us to do what we wanted would be a total mare.
SV: If you had to describe your new cd in 5 words or less, how would you describe it?
(DEAN) Fucking Good Work
(TONI) Bright, breezy, loud, dark and witty.
SV: What is more enjoyable, playing live or studio work?
(DEAN) both are enjoyable but playing live wins every time...nothing like a good gig..I love playing live but I hate the other 23 hours of the day.
SV: What is the one piece of equipment that you could not live without in the studio or live?
(DEAN) The Sampler
(TONI) Compressor and microphone of course.
SV: If you could do it all over again, what would you do different?
(TONI) Never look back just keep on moving straight a head.
SV: For the past 10 years Curve has been a major influence in mine and many others lives. How does it feel to know that so many people look up to you and view you as inspiration to go that one step further and achieve the dreams they set out to do?
(DEAN) its flatering to think people look up to what we do...It makes me feel good about what I do, which after all is the most important thing about music...the feel good factor
SV: What are the plans for Toni and Dean for the next 5-10 years?
(DEAN) throat Cancer and Decay
(TONI) Going to live in Spain on the side of a mountain and only eat seeds and berries.
SV: I want to personally thank you for this opportunity, it has been a pleasure and I really hope to see you on tour within the states sometime soon! Any parting words you would like to pass along to everyone?
Arse holes Bastards Fucking Cunts and Pricks
official website www.curve.co.uk
some of the unofficial sites:
Fait Accompli remix
Pink Girl with the Blues
Coming up Roses
Open Day at the Hate Fest
hear mp3 tracks and other goodies, visit
Interview with Karl Mohr
~by Edwin Somnambulist
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine arrived at my home with "something I absolutely had to listen to." He explained that he had taken an episode of "Brave New Waves" -- a well-respected national Canadian radio programme that focussed on bringing new and underexposed talent into the light -- and burned it to a CD.
My friend explained that it was an electro-acoustic adaptation of the classical Vivaldi piece, entitled "The Four Seasons 2117." The first time I listened to it, I was hooked. The sheer originality of the take impressed me. I had to find this artist.
Easier said than done. The interview from Brave New Waves clearly identified the artist as 'Karl Mohr,' but as it was a purely auditory source, I had no idea of the spelling at the time. I began searching in vain for 'Carl Moore.'
It wasn't until about a year later that I found out one of my friends actually knew Karl Mohr. After that, it was easy tracking down some of his other material. Still no trace of the man himself however.
Imagine my surprise when I received email from Karl a year later asking if I was still on air. He had been doing a search for his own name, and my website had playlists that featured his name from when I had played his material.
is with great pleasure I bring the world this interview: the culmination
of three years of searching for an artist that sparked my imagination with
his version of "The Four Seasons."
Edwin Somnambulist: First off, how did you get started in music? How did that turn into a love of electro music?
Karl Mohr: My first obsessions with music was listening to the Rolling Stones believe it or not -- over and over and over - three records: Aftermath, Beggars Banquet and His Satanic Majesties Request -- all three are still landmark records in my brain. I started taking piano lessons at age 8 and had some great teachers who really kicked my ass and gave my brains lots to chew on. As I hit puberty my brain started to waver and glow and I'd phase out of my piano practicing and start floating away on minimalist themes. Also add into the mix here the shivering aftershock of my trip with my father to Germany where I saw my first rock video on television - Visage's "Fade To Grey" -- a bit of Thomas Dolby and I was hooked for life. Around this time I started to read synthesizer books, phase out to Laurie Anderson and imagine owning my own Keyboard. At 15 I got a Yamaha DX100 and programmed it into stitches. When I finally sold it to a Greek Mafioso a few years ago, you had to apply your entire weight to the buttons to get the contacts to respond. I started my first experiments with that keyboard, a walkman and a few shit Radio Shack mixers in 1987. I struggled for many years, having no money for gear, using scraps in creative ways -- the funny thing, that's some of the most interesting material. Electronic music fascinated me from its purist side - that electricity could be modified to sound so clean and round out of a speaker. So naturally analogue synths were more fascinating for me. Digital stuff is interesting in all of its permutations but it is somehow less magical. Faders and knobs still blow my mind. Vacuum tubes are a miracle.
ES: What are your opinions about the advent of digital synths? What are the pros and cons as compared to analogue boards?
KM: Digital Synths and Samplers by-and-large sound like crap to my ear because tonnes of cash is not spent by manufacturers on digital-to-analog converters. If they would package a keyboard with a snap-on stereo tube preamp/compressor off the end of them, the synth world would sound a lot better right now. Boxes like the Waldorf Q claim to be fat, but to my ear they are only fat through modulation and stacking voices. Where it really counts is in the DAC and associated lowpass filters. I don't know what Akai did, but their old samplers are still monsters. I just love them. Also, my pal Bruno Degazio built his own synth from scratch when he was a kid - it's the most beautiful sounding synth I've ever heard. I blew it up so it needs a new power supply, but it's still in the world. The most incredible digital synth ever made is the Yamaha VL1m physical modelling synth - with the right software that thing is amazing. I've always had a fancy for broken synths. My highschool music teacher was nice enough to lend me on extended loan a MicroMoog with a wrecked waveform knob and the sounds it made were unbelievable. Also, I built a balanced modulator and called it the Synthegrinder, because I gave the circuit too much juice and made everything sound really crazy. It's owned by a gothic jewellery maker now.
ES: What did you study in university?
KM: I did a Bachelor of Music at Queen's with a specialization in electroacoustic composition. This means that I got a university degree while spending loads of time in a recording studio. This also meant that I could take some time to wag my musical tail and explore lots of different directions. There was no thesis project for that program per se, but I decided I wanted a final musical project that would blow the lid off of everything I had done previously, so I took it upon myself to turn Vivaldi's Four Seasons into a futuristic radioplay electroacoustic CD-length techno track about sex, cyborgs, government control and magic mushrooms. This university program meant that I was prepared for the Master of Sound Recording program at McGill, where I built the Synthegrinder - bless its ring-modulating soul.
ES: How did you ideas mesh and conflict with those of classically trained professors?
KM: At Queen's, I was lucky enough to study with genius professors who taught me to balance sheer unbridled lunacy with intellectual process and critical arrangement, etc. My essays were always on topics like "Techno is the New Social Surrogate for Jazz" and things like that.
ES: Where did you come up with the idea to rework the Four Seasons?
KM: The idea actually grew out of Nigel Kennedy's recording. He was trying to be a shit-ass punk rocker and also a great artist with immense feeling at the same time - it worked perfectly - he ended up with a brilliant recording that completely changed views on how that piece could be approached. I silently challenged him by seeing if I could make something really big out of that work -- I immediately identified the punk rock song lying in the 2nd movement of Winter and other bits -- I wanted to see if I could outdo the Kennedy recording using synthesizers and samplers -- really drive those 16th-note passages onto the Autobahn. I wrote the voiceover on Christmas eve 1993 -- the scenario came to me in threads. The track took me a whole year to finish. There is actually enough alternate mix material for a remix/B-side CD as well. I wanted to pack it all on, but it would have meant something much trancier over two CDs - which is really getting long! I'm still very pleased with the results of what came out of that project, and to be in Montréal and go down to Brave New Waves and meet Brent Bambury (BRAVE NEW WAVES and David Wisdom at Nightlines had been playing my cassette tracks for six years at that point) and have the big CBC broadcast and all that was very thrilling for me. It's going to be released in the fall with Interdimensional Industries and I'm really jazzed about that.
ES: What music did you find yourself influenced by during the period you worked on the Four Season?
KM: I bought a lot of used records for research for the Seasons; I had ten LP versions including a great Koto version, and I also bought some Carlos stuff just to see how she did it. In a way, I didn't even attempt the synthesizer subtleties in her recordings - I was after more of a car-crash aesthetic anyway where the Vivaldi material is glue for the larger framework. I wasn't familiar with Tomita's work at that time, but in hindsight the Four Seasons 2117 is more like his stuff. Snowflakes are Dancing has sounds on it that are impossible. I think I must have also been affected deeply by those classical music disco records with the insane drum machine all the way through, and also Stars on 45.
ES: Do you feel that there is still a lot of room to explore in the worlds of synths and synthetic music?
KM: Right now people are on a sample high - everyone has their own little project studio or sampler or laptop music rig. That's fine - photography also went through a similar period, also home video is a big industry. The music companies must be fatter than ever. Still, maybe I have been frightened out of the underground, but with all of this new access to powerful creative technology, I don't see the oodles and oodles of ground-breaking and effervescent music being made. People seem to buy their aesthetics with their gear - or maybe it's just that the form of the technology dictates the content, maybe in the operating systems, user interfaces, etc. There's more weirdness in the world in general though, and I like that, I think.
ES: You mentioned Brave New Waves, from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio station, which is basically the Canadian equivalent of the legendary British programme, the John Peel Show. What are your feelings towards Brave New Waves?
KM: I love it and the last I heard Patti Schmitt was still giving the world the new music goodies on shortwave. Last I heard it was still cutting-edge and interesting. I'm older now, so my relationship to the show is different. It promotes youthful experimentation, and it's undeniably Canadian. I think it's great. As for John Peel, I only remember him from the strange black and white LP covers of his Peel Sessions, that seemed to contain all of the good music in North Bay's A&M records. (big grin)
ES: How do you feel it has influenced Canadian music culture and appreciation?
KM: I think it is fantastic that through Brave New Waves kids all across the country dying to get out of some mainstream pop-culture hell could find their way to a mode of thought and a sound body that offered something very different. Now the internet is everywhere and cable/satellite TV has a deeper groundwork and availability, so perhaps people are getting their fix somewhere else. But the CBC was an institution committed to giving back great content in exchange for tax dollars, and I think the quality was there. The CBC also has taken a shift towards their internet presence, and maybe that's a sign of the times too.
ES: What other Canadian institutions do you feel are important?
KM: I feel that SOCAN is very important. Some people counter that it's spoon feeding, but I think until we have a world without borders let's promote our national cultural worth in whatever way we can. I feel like a bit of a traitor writing that from Austria! The network of Canadian campus radio stations has also been massively important to me in my musical dissemination. I feel that Canada is on the brink of cultural obliteration to be honest, but it's easy to feel that way after living in Toronto for five years.
ES: What was involved in the process of updating the work to encompass the spirit of the 20th century and beyond?
KM: Fortunately, the narrative in the voiceover is completely divorced from the time period that Vivaldi's work was actually realized in -- the only reference is the radio DJ speaking, saying that we're going way back in time to hear this work of Vivaldi's. Hopefully in 2117 DJs will still be programming this piece in one form or another! I think the standard SciFi, William Gibson, G-Force version of the future includes speed, high-volume levels, rocket blasts, tight quantizations and sweat. So after step-entering the entire score into the sequencer, I went ahead at the files and started tearing it all apart, speeding it up to turbo-boost, ganging up the MIDI gear, chopping it all up with SampleCell, etc. My running assumption was that people will still have some capacity for emotion and feeling despite the dystopian chaos and Orwellian control, etc. One must assume this if revving up the Four Seasons, since it is so emotional at its very root. In fact, the most beautiful sections are the long drawn out sections where the synthesizers and satellites glow and flicker and descend. There are all these stupid SciFi movies about going back in time to fix the mistakes that humankind committed in the past. This is sort of like that -- we're stuck in a techno blender of repetition and robo-aesthetic, so we go back from this perspective to try to discover how the old masters made such beautiful music, and as cyborgs we attempt with all of our efforts to begin stepping into the waters of feeling again.
ES: So sociological advance is an illusion of human arrogance, bred by the propaganda that superior technology means superior sapiens? We believe that we're more sophisticated than people of a few centuries ago, yet we really haven't advanced a day. Do you think maybe that's why we can't understand how the pyramids were built -- because all our technology has actually made us less clever than our ancestors?
KM: Wow, you nailed it. I think people today forget that stability is a good thing - that cycles need to close and return, that everything can't keep firing forward, that it's OK to take a loss after a win, that when the glass is empty it gets full again. But I have a greater worry. I worry that we have actually built our mirror image, that our sheer will for a perfect cyborg presence has actually created something on the earth that now has a mind of its own. I don't have to explain why multi-national corporations are evil, the question is, to whose benefit is all of this money-making? Is it merely all of the individual little greeds that add up to one monster-greed?
Perhaps, but I worry that there is actually a force upon the earth that is slowly beginning to gain control of the beautiful blue planet and its little monkeys that has embodied itself in the form of microelectronics. We aren't running over each other, kicking and squabbling and killing for ourselves anymore, or even our families... we're fighting to be able to make the technology live - "god forbid we lose power, electricity, money or our minds for there is great hard-drive space at risk here". I don't want to sound like a Judas Priest video or a Schwarzenegger flick here, but we have truly lost touch with our instincts.
ES: What do you feel are the most important areas to make meaningful comments about? Or in other words, what do you find to be the most absurd or lacking things about people or society?
KM: I once wrote a song called "Love and Politics" because it seems to me that when you water it down there are only three kinds of songs: 1. songs about love, emotions, self-indulgence and that side of things including spiritual songs, 2. songs about politics, the world, larger issues including stories, ballads, etc, 3. complete and utter bullshit which is often a very healthy personal and artistic release for the creator. In the past, people sang out of extreme happiness, sadness, relief, to diminish the boredom of manual labour, ecstatic release or religious ceremony. Now this is sort of hard for most people to imagine. When you come home from work, you turn on the stereo and make yourself some dinner. The star system has meant that a handful of music competitions finest models get to sing nonsense or clichés to the adoring billions. So, in solid opposition to this, the most important areas are waking people up and spreading awareness that their lives are billboarded nothingnesses, and that there are ways to fight this. I don't think that anybody's listening though. For the time being I'm making instrumental music and thinking hard about these kinds of things. I like rappers - they're maybe not called that anymore, but to makepolitical statements boldly and intelligently, with style and grace over music which is purposefully downplayed next to the message is good. The first anti-corporate hip hop band will make millions. Don't let Consolidated be an example - with enough focus that new badder-than-bad Microsoft-buster is going to make Universal Music a LOT O' MONEY!
ES: You've released literally dozens of tapes of your work over the years. How would you say your work has evolved? Do you feel you've drastically changed direction with the sound or feel of the music?
KM: My biggest enemy is the distraction of different genres. I haven't been able to focus and commit to any particular area - I just love the world of music too much. I can't help trying to do a sappy country number and throwing it on a cassette with an electronic track titled after an outpost in Antarctica. Most people just don't have the ability to switch headspaces track after track after track. But I like that I guess, since I've been doing it for thirteen years! I have had periods of focus though, which is why when enough techno-industrial-dance stuff emerged I released "The Heck" as a non-stop kick-ass party record. When I had enough dark song-based material I released "The End of the Line". Obviously, the Four Seasons was a successful period of focus. I'm currently focusing on Deep House - which isn't my favourite of the dance genres, but it's a great exercise in self-control. I will be licensing the results to House compilations around the world. The strangest evolution has been the effects that different sets of gear and studios and monitoring and working environments have had on the flavour and tint of music that ends up being recorded. The early material was all live performances multitracked with no sequencing, and then periods of no gear, periods of many synths, periods of acoustic instruments, digital abstractions. One of my favourite things is to take equipment into preposterous places and set it up as quickly and spontaneously as possible and start shaking the environs. I had a project called Lion with Joey deVilla, Rachel Smith, and Krista Muir aka Lederhosen Lucil (and other members at times) -- all of whom are interesting musicians in their own rights. We worked with this rock-climbing modern-dance troupe and set up our gear and ran a generator and PA under the St. Clair overpass in Toronto. Under a massive bridge with concrete and the natural flow of water through the valley with people careening around on ropes - it was the perfect environment for synthesizers! After the Rolling Stones and Visage, the hugest revelation in my life was Skinny Puppy. I bought Bites on recommendation and my brain ripped apart. Their work and even Chris Sheppard's original mixes of their work in a dance club context was totally crazy. I was firmly lost in what was then called alternative culture from that moment on. Even as I work on my Deep House music here in this hot and sticky room in Vienna, little elements of the experimental and industrial creep in. If there is a common element throughout my output it is the need to push boundaries and tear apart the rules of musical genres.
As a side note, what's your take on what happened to Chris Sheppard?
KM: Good lord! What's happened to Chris Sheppard?!?!?! (wide grin) I know that he went from doing very creative things, to doing very obviously-lucrative things and that's all I know. I've never met the guy and wouldn't know him to see him. His remix of Skinny Puppy's "Dig It" is genius. How anybody like that could switch to pink bunny rabbits is completely outside the realms of human behaviour.
ES: So how have your lyrics changed gears?
KM: My lyrical development has gone naturally from teenage self-indulgence to the dark spaces within people's rational capacities to political ranting to quirky wordplay -- it is equally as fickle. But again it is important to search for the genuine and avoid at all costs the cliché.
ES: What's the significance of your album names? What thought process do you go through when you title a disc?
KM: Often my favourite track on an album gets the name as the title. Sometimes an all-encompassing theme: "Be Careful What You Wish For" was about that. My favourite title of an album is probably "Blackburst Generator". I have lists upon lists of names that I like, in case I ever run dry. "Fiber Optic Rockets" was such a classic name that I've called my new company that - which makes music and audio for the internet, web sites, multimedia, etc. I'm excited by immediacy of web contracts - not as much bureaucracy as film and TV.
ES: What 5 discs have you classically found speak to you the most? What 5 discs do you find yourself listening to the most now?
KM: I'm not sure if you mean classical recordings or Karl Mohr faves. Wow, this is REALLY hard.
off the top of my brain that blew my mind:
01. Spookey Ruben's first disc - Modes of Transportation I think
02. Thomas Dolby "Blinded By Science"
03. Meat Beat Manifesto - early stuff "Strap Down" to the present
04. Björk "Post"
05. The Art of Noise "Who's Afraid Of"
06. Tomita "Snowflakes are Dancing"
I listen to now is almost exclusively what I'm working on professionally
or research for what I'm working on, or what my girl
wants to listen to:
01. Café del Mar Chillhouse Mix 2 - which I think it total
02. Scott Gallacher Into the Deep - which has some decent house
tracks on it (I like basement-style under-produced house)
03. Playground Vol.1 - compilation by DJ GÜ-Mix who spins at Dub
04. Vienna Scientists II - some decent pot-smoking music, but I
don't smoke pot so it leaves me a little bored.
05. SCHLAMMPEITZIGER - Spacerokkmountainrutschquartier !!! A copy
was given to me by a friend - I'm speechless, it's an incredible
work of art!
01. Bach - The Well-Tempered Klavier
02. Some big violin concerto from Chopin, I forget which one
03. Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring - COOL, man!
04. Anything from William Byrd
05. Anything older than William Byrd
I am a supporter of recordings. I'm a little bit freaked by MP3s, for many reasons, but mostly because it suggests the end of the hard-copy music recording, which means we've gone from cave paintings and sheet music to the ether, and the ether don't leave no history, baby!
ES: This brings up an interesting point. I know you mentioned a few years ago in your Brave New Waves interview that you thought there would always be some type of purely auditory medium for the transmission of music. Certainly, since that interview, a number of different technologies have cropped up that look like they may revolutionize the way music is appreciated, such as Mp3's. What do you think the future of radio, and the music industry in general will be?
KM: Funny, as I build my web site, I don't imagine encoding MP3s without building a little Flash frame for it - already I am building myself out of a purely musical experience into something more immersive. With DVDs it's almost like we are expected to make more content, any room left over on a CD, there's always a little QuickTime magic in there somewhere. I don't mind. Someone will always have a bongo down by the river and if the light is right and I got food in my belly then I'm not so fussy. I don't like that MP3s sound like crap unless they're huge. I don't like that people are still designing walkmans with shiny plastic chrome crap. I don't like that people still by batteries and throw them away. Someone will always try to sell something and there will always be people making a buck off music, even if it's collecting money on the way into a web site, etc. That's fine. People are trying to be clever. Governments and corporations (if they aren't already the same thing) are trying to be more clever. It's kind of silly. I liked the fact that radio audio went through the ether. The prospect of broadband internet MILLIONS UPON MILLONS of bits and bytes FLYING AROUND TOWN EVERYWHERE, from inside people's cars to people's watches WOOOOOAH look out there goes a cell phone call, WHOOPS there goes a jpeg. We're all going to have cancer. I'm moving to the woods if there's any woods left.
ES: So in terms of your three opus recordings from the past five years, we have the Four Seasons first, an updating of classical to electro with a modern feel, The Heck, a total dance electro album in high paced style, and The End of the Line, a dark, introspective body of work. What do you think the future will hold -- past the deep house material, what do you have plans to work on, and what areas would you really like to explore one day?
KM: The latest Karl project is called Alter Knacker - which has gone through various idea sketches and phases, there is one track so far - very crazy - which will be online soon. It may be crazy electronic scattered instrumental dance music -- a little like Download -- with the voices of old Viennese people over top. Perhaps a comment on immigration, borders, global economy, etc. There certainly aren't a lot of songs in my lately. I also really need to get back to my own classical composition, the chops of which I'm hoping to stimulate with some more film soundtrack work soon.
EL: Thank you for your time. Any comments in closing?
KM: Anyone interested in being remixed, produced, or having me come out and do a show can search me out on my web site http://www.karlmohr.com/ . Thanks to all the listeners of non-commercial radio!
~Interview by Adrian
(photos courtesy of Mother Destruction and Trisol Records)
Cybersexuality, techno-tribalism, and industrial aural assaults, this is what is created and dissolved within the musical project Mother Destruction. I want to share a small story with you as to why this woman is my pick for the women who rock series this month.
Back in May here in Austin, TX we have an annual festival called Burning Flipside, which is a smaller sister festival to the annual Burning Man festival out in Black Rock City Nevada. People from all walks of life and beliefs come together for four days of complete personal freedom to enjoy life. Various musicians, art instillations, performers, DJs and "alternative" thinkers gather together and talk, share stores and enjoy the magic of what a true community is, leading up to the paganistic burning of the "Man" and all out visual and aural assault of the party afterwards where as many as thirty theme camps join together in creating a massive display of lights, music and all out wonder....it is almost like stepping into another dimension for 12 hours. While being a fan of Mother Destruction for many years now, I guess it would be safe to say I have never "experienced" the music like I did when I spun it on the evening of the Burn this year. Our camp was a complete mixture of what would be best described as a modernized version of a highly psychedelic den from 1967 and some otherworld, alien structure which swirled in the smoke from the fires that opened up around the camp areas and the main Burn. Fire spinners, dancers, and jugglers populated the grounds while colorful costumes of all shapes and sizes created a fractalized image of human absorption of true "magical" energy. It is really hard to explain the beauty and intensity that overtakes 500+ people in an environment like this and these words really are not doing it justice at all.
So there I was playing my set when I took a different direction in the mood, an almost tribal, sexual direction, in which Mother Destruction was the first artist I played. The mood, which was at first frantic and scattered suddenly became one of playful erotica, dark mother-goddess seduction, and animalistic energy that harkens back thousands of years ago when all we had was the moon, the sun, and nature and all her unforgiving gifts. Sounds washed and slithered and the hypnotic beats pounded and created a support of energy that I have never witnessed in a group of people dancing under the stars and moon in the middle of the woods. Mother Destruction has always been heavy in the pagan influence with her music and words and her sexual magick energy that laces the songs she creates was in full force this evening almost to the point of no return. I ended up playing about nine of her songs throughout the evening. To this day I have never had quite such an experience with any other artist I have played at such an event nor has the crowd I was playing to ever become so enraptured to any other music as much as they did to Mother Destruction. Amodali and Patrick O'Kill make up Mother Destruction and they are two people who really have their fingers on the pulse of dark, tribal, gothic, electronic music and its culture and this is why, in such humble terms and words, I feel that she is definitely a woman who rocks!.
Adrian: First off, where did the name, Mother Destruction, come from?
Mother Destruction: It's simply a metaphor for the kind of transformative energies which can break down all the unhelpful and unhealthy psycho/physical complexes which prevent us from reaching our true potential,an ecstatic force which could be identified with various deities or simply a visionary experience which shatters preconceptions and limitations.
A: Describe the direction you are taking musically with Mother Destruction and what style you are creating.
MD: Well I think creative direction is something of a 'shadow-dance',I guess a lot of artists seek some kind of essential core of inspirational,indefinable energy that they are trying to penetrate and express , this 'holy of holies' tends to reveal or hide itself in a totally random manner, so experience only provides one with a better idea of how to create the conditions for a musical experiment to work.The last couple of M.D albums were quite rhythmic and body orientated, the next album will still retain some elements of this but there will be a lot more focus on experimental sonics.As to our style... I don't really think this is defined by any particular musical genre which often confuses people ,I think it's more to do with the particular vibes that we try to create which are very sensual, pagan, wild, otherworldly and ritualistic in a very idiosyncratic way, it's modern 'kundalini' music.
A: When you first walk into the studio, what are the first steps in creating a song? What is required for Amodali and Patrick to gather the right energy in your music.
MD: We work in a rather intuitive way, I have collections of words , poetry and drawings/diagrams which I keep ,which come from 'magickal ' memories and experiences which are the main source for our songs. Or i'll sit with a mic. and a recording machine and fall into various trance states which often results in various vocalizations and text which we'll later sample or weave into a song. When we are putting tracks together i'll have a lot of sounds in my head which I want to try and recreate to get the right atmosphere, so we will spend a lot of time experimenting until we find the right textures.Then Patrick will structure and program all of these elements into rhythms /melodies/soundscapes which we then finally edit and mix.
A: How does your local music scene affect or not affect you musically?
MD: Our local scene has no influence whatsoever, as in the U.K apart from in London there are very few venues supporting experimental music.
A: Care to go into the history of Mother Destruction and what makes the project, and yourself, tick?
MD: M.D was created in 1990 to be a multi -faceted reflection of magickal experiments in which sonics,visuals ritual and live performance could be used to express aspects of the ecstatic energies i'm inspired by. It's something of an obsession as most aspects of my life are tied in with M.D in some way , our first project was 'seething' which was an exploration of aspects of Nordic shamanism .Apart from the sense of personal destiny and unstoppable magickal dynamics that this project seemed to possess it felt important at the time to try and present Runic magick and symbolism in a way that highlighted feminine and very primal aspects of these energies as for many people the runes have very ugly connotations.Whereas I felt aspects of the northern mysteries had been overlooked , specifically the lore of the vanir ( the name of a mythical family of gods including Freyja who presides over areas such as sex magic and fertility). The vanir are a logical place to try and look for many aspects of northern European shamanism and female mana which have been eradicated over millenia, and through many invokations of Freyja and connecting with 'seidr' energies I found a body of knowledge which are the roots of a personal cosmology which I connect with more modern praxis and magickal currents . I'm particularly interested in trying to understand the dynamics of the female sacred /energy body and how it connects and can be developed with various occult sciences for example Thelema and scientific ideas such as those of Wihelm Reich.
A: I have noticed that you mentioned before that you try to recreate a modern version of a,seidr ritual, can you explain what that is and why you interweave that into your music?
MD: 'Seidr' means 'seething' in Old Norse , in the scandanavian eddas and sagas it described as a trance technique practiced by the high priestesses of the old pagan religion mainly for prophesy . But 'seidr' is also sacred to the goddess freyja who presides over the areas of magick and sexuality, and i've spent the past decade trying to uncover more complex aspects of female shamanism connected with freyja,'seidr' and the vanir in general which has resulted in a very personal set of practices which i've incorporated into our performances.Obviously living in Northern Europe I can feel a very elemental connection with the Nordic deities ,and in feeling them in the earth I walk upon I found a way to manifest and consolidate different aspects of spirituality into a cohesive entity. With 'seidr' I found a way to create a map of the awakened female ecstatic body which was in harmony with many other magickal currents I connect with such as Thelema and utilise these energies in a real creative sense. 'Seidr' can be a very physical practice in contrast to similar ecstatic techniques such as tantra in which static postures dominate,'seidr' is often very wild, frenzied and dynamic.The Excellent author Jan Fries has written a book in which he explores the physical dimensions of 'seidr' , it's connections with trembling and shaking phenomena and similarities to shamanic practices in other cultures which I highly recommend. In our live show I try to invoke, weave and dance seidr energies into particular dynamics reflecting the songs, to bring the songs to life as they are simply sonic spells waiting to be awakened...
A: What is your spirituality and how close does it connect within your music?
MD: I have always been rather a loner as far as spiritual pursuits go, I've carved out my own path based on my own experience . Broadly speaking I'm pagan with a lot of inspiration from Runelore, Thelema and many other occult disciplines and philosophies. Spirituality is merged to the music completely and I try to keep pushing against boundaries in both these areas to try and create something that's always changing and evolving.
A: Do you ever look at the world and ask yourself, "what are we doing to ourselves?"
MD: Every day! All of the political structures in place in the world are soul destroying in varying degrees and the continuing environmental impact of our human presence on this planet is not being addressed on a serious level. I don't see how we can continue to go on much longer in this way. Currently the 'anti-capitalist/environmental' protesters I think are voicing concerns of many in that we need to look at ways of managing economic systems/environmental impact in a more global and holistic manner. It's just common sense, but since when did that count for anything when the greedy few want to cling on to power through divisive politics/economics or fundamentalist religion, and the apathetic affluent bury their heads in the mindnumbing trough of consumer culture . It's obvious we are at a real pivotal time in terms of our evolution/survival, the wake-up call has been sounding for a while now ,I don't know if enough of us will listen in time.
A: Your band mate, Patrick was once in Death in June and seems to carry quite a history behind him, which some of the rumors have been quite negative. Can you dispel some of that hypocrisy that surrounds him and shed some light as to how you two connected?
MD: It's very ironic that when I met Patrick I had never heard of 'Death in June'and I think it would be hard to find two entities as starkly different in imagery, energy and subject matter as M.D and D.I.J . Patrick had long ceased any connection with D.I J when I met him, and it's not for me to comment on this ,he has explained it at length in other interviews. It's been frustrating over the years,as peoples assumptions about artists motives are often very short sighted,this may be frustrating but hardly surprising in the case of D.I J , but unfair as people assume some kind of common ground just by association,when no connections exist in reality.
From what I can tell most peoples reactions to D.I .J are coloured by their own 'shadow selves' , hypocrisy and narrow mindedness , I assume it's exactly these aspects of the human psyche which Douglas P seeks to challenge (although I have never met him, my impression is that he is a person of great honesty , integrity and humour ) . His imagery and music reflect themes that have nothing in common with M.D but I would totally defend his prerogative as an artist to have total freedom to express whatever he wants to.
I met Patrick through a strange series of synchronous events, which was nothing to do with his musical past,but fate somehow provided me with a musical partner with whom I have had the greatest artistic affinity , there is no-one else I could have imagined who would have had the combination of insight and sensitivity to create the music for 'seething' for example which was a very idiosyncratic album, Patrick was uniquely qualified for this work, as his previous interpretations of magickal themes on works such as 6 comm's ' fruits of yggdrassil 'had shown.
A: How do you think you have matured from your first few records such as Seething to the latest gem Chemantra ?
MD: Getting to grips with digital music technology over the years has definitely played a major part in our musical evolution .I imagine a lot of musicians like me have daydreamed over the years about some kind of Midi device which could be plugged straight into ones brain to translate ones musical ideas but now reality is'nt so very far from that, most sounds that one can imagine can now be created through various types of audio sculpting/sampling techniques , it's a long way from when I first started grinding out noise from early analogue synths and now that I have the possibilities I've always dreamed of for making music it feels like i'm just starting really. Seething(our first release) was a special album to me in a sense that contradicts everything i've just said in that it was done on the spot in 5 days in a studio we had no equipment to write/demo the material with . I had a kind of blueprint of what I wanted to create and invoke with the album which I discussed with Patrick, then it was a case of hoping it would work when we tried to put it together. The album sounds very raw but it has a sense of 'inbetweeness' that I was trying to attain. 'Chemantra' is a lot more polished in some ways but it marks a newphase in our music in that I had the chance to really work on producing the kind of sonics that had previously been technically unattainable , a least 50% of the sonic material on the album is from vocal sources even some of the percussion, and I hope in future to develop these first experiments with our next album.
A: Your sound has a strong sexuality and almost a dark seductive and psychedelic quality which is quite noticeable. How do you create that within your music and what drives that energy to be so strong and open?
I'm glad that these aspects are coming across as one of the main creative
objectives of M.D is to widen interpretations of sexuality and how it can
inspire and engage the mind and body. My own experiences of this energy
have been the fuel for my spiritual and creative work.Theres a vast magickal
science of how sonics can evoke various energies which I don't claim to
be an expert in by any means , but I have tried to create a kind of ecstatic
sonic language of my own to describe the various energies and states of
consciousness which I find inspiring . This involves using a lot of voice
and organic sounds, creating pulses with these which are stimulating and
trancelike or sounds which cut very asymmetrically through a piece to create
disjointing/disorientating effect .
It's a primary motive for me to try and find new definitions of relating sexuality and sound ,it's extension of how I experience life , which I guess has always been through my genitalia! I have always interacted with the world through a kind of ecstatic flux in which the sexual organs are the first to be engaged long before my brain! I can feel a kind of sexual engagement with virtually anything which feels quite natural now but was very hard to handle when I was younger. I have had many what could be called 'kundalini' experiences and visions which the late English occultist Austin Osman spare has termed 'the vision of everything constantly copulating with everything else'. Now after years of studying various occult disciplines I have found for example that in some magicakal/shamanic traditions the womb is indeed regarded as the major power center for women which is used in various magickal ways which have little to do with the regular functions such as childbearing and sexual relationships, so I have some kind of context now to compare my experiences. With M.D , sexual energies are used in a way that I hope are both mystical and visceral ,and thought provoking. It seems that a lot of current attention on 'alternative' sexuality is focused on fetishism /S&M and cybersexuality . The former hold little interest to me although I understand the complexities of the dynamics involved in these practices, there are areas in cybersexuality I find fascinating as there are many parallels between 'virtual' realities and 'magickal' space which are being explored. From a magickal point of view 'virtual 'sex can be achieved through psychic means, telepathically induced orgasms can be possible !...although admittedly a lot of work! But I feel it's very presumptuous of some current thinking in the human potential movement which idealizes notions of humans jettisoning physicality in favour of transformation into 'pure ' virtual beings. There is so much further to evolve with our 'meat' and if we shirk this looking for a quick digital Nirvana I think we will never truly understand what consciousness really is.With M.D we are trying to explore a kind of spiritual 'pansexuality' through experimenting with expanded states of consciousness .
A: You have often used the term Sacred Sexuality, what would be the best way to describe that in modern terms?
MD: 'Sacred sexuality' covers many areas of magick and mysticism but primarily it starts with the acknowledgement that ones sexual energy is simply the manifestation of the sacred 'life force' within us. Often due to conditioning this force is blocked , and there are many techniques for cultivating and exploring sexual energy to heal and manifest it in a creative way.
A: Neo pagan imagery and energy seems to be very strong within your sound, how do you feel about such gatherings as Burning Man and the connection they play within society and humanity as a whole?
MD: I find these events incredibly inspiring and important as they seem to facilitate a reconnection with our primal selves, something thats been very lacking in modern society .How else can we reclaim aspects of our souls which have been submerged for millennia?We need new events and celebrations such as these neo-tribal gatherings which have a sense of awe, mystery and ritual at their core.
A: What do you enjoy best about live shows?
MD: M.D is definately a live project , its what we do best I think...We try to create the primal vibes of a dancefloor environment but with very specific magickal dynamics which run through the tracks which direct the energy of the event.For me its the greatest as for an hour or more I can drop any pretense of 'normality' and shake , shiver , scream and psychically 'make love' with a load of strangers!
A: How much does your live sets differ from your studio creations?
MD: In a live set there are more elements involved such as (apart from the previously mentioned ritual elements ) lighting, visuals and a battalion of live percussion which creates a much richer and harder edged sound which can't always be present in studio recordings, we try to make the live performances as manic and spontaneous as possible.
A: You have now created a new label, Önd music. How did that come about and what is the aim of the label?
MD: With Önd we are hoping to create a vehicle for more specialized ritual, dance and experimental music thats inspired by spirituality and experimentation. We will release music from various offshoots of M.D such as Patricks 'PSG' , my solo work and material from other artists such as schiZm. The music will often be very specialized in it's appeal so it wouldn't be practical for general terrestrial release but we hope that anyone interested in more experimental ritual sonics will be able to find us on the internet.We are also selling M.D/kenaz and 6 <omm back catalogue via Önd, some of which will be available on mp3 format.
A: There is talk of a solo project coming up in the near future, can you share some insight as to what that will be like and how it will differ from Mother Destruction? Will you be strictly solo or will you have any guest artists along for the ride?
MD: The upcoming Amodali album will be a mainly solo affair , there may be I hope appearances from guest artists such as schizm .It will sound a lot different as Patricks distinctive soundscapes will be absent being replaced by my own compositions.It will be a lot more yin in a yang kind of way!
A: How do you feel about the whole MP3 craze, file sharing programs such as Napster, and the whole madness that has developed through the use of such things?
It's an unstoppable force I guess , I have mixed feelings about it
as I love the frenzy of innovation that's abounding on the internet and
wouldn't want to stop that, but if people take artists work for nothing
via mp3 then if that artist is not generating mega sales through the stores
like many underground artists, then eventually those artists may not be
able to carry on creating music, so it's ultimately self defeating for
the fans of those musicians to pirate their music.I think theres great
potential for music on the internet in general though, I saw some footage
on T.V recently about Metallica which was wonderful , they were being offered
increasingly crappy deals from record companies so they went directly to
their fans over the internet and asked them to sponsor their next release,
they got a great response and funded their recording from the people that
matter. Whether you are a fan of Metallica or not this was such a great
victory over the 'suits' in the music industry who try to dictate what
we should or
shouldn't listen to, I hope that more bands will get freedom and independence in ways like this.
A: How connected are you to the techno/rave scene and do you feel that the energy produced there is a positive one with strong connections or is slowly dissolving into the mainstream?
MD: It's hard for me to comment on the rave scene as we have been just occasional observers from the sidelines as for the past decade or so we have been really focused on M.D and raising kid's ,etc and hav'nt immersed ourselves in any scene, but as an area for musical experimentation and social evolution I think it's been a tremendously powerful force. In the European industrial gothic scene we've encountered a kind of notion that one is 'selling out' if one incorporates dance beats into music, in our case the rhythmic element in our music just grew from the tribal/ethnic percusion we were using and the shamanic elements in the songs which naturally gravitate towards the drum and I think that it can add a layer of intelligence to music if aspects that engage the physical are incorporated,but somehow dancing seems to scare the more cerebral fans of experimental music!Obviously any musical genre develops crass and commercial aspects but I still think theres a lot of room for more experimentation in this area.
A: How are the industrial scene and the techno scene merging? It has always been known that hard/acid/psy trance grew out of the early days of industrial music, do you see elements of those styles within Mother Destruction or any of the music you create?
MD: A lot of my musical approach was definately formed by inspiration from those days . I had a fantastic musical education in my teens at a famous punk club in the North of England, where I saw bands like Cabaret voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, etc. This inspired me to buy my first synth many moons ago and I've always looked at music as a way of creating sonic sculpture rather than making songs created with traditional structures. A lot of these bands really challenged the boundaries at the time of how to listen to and interact with sound and a lot of montage techniques they pioneered such a looping and sampling have now been as you mentioned incorparated into new musical forms.
A: Within the darker elements of the techno scene, such as gabber, goa trance, and deep house, there is a spiritual, tribal quality within the music and within the scene which really unifies the audience to the DJs and artists. Do you see Mother Destruction striving to make a mass connection on the dance floor as a whole or more so directed to the individual listener?
MD: Hopefully we can do both , on our more recent albums we have a combination of tracks intended for the dancefloor mixed with more meditative pieces.
A: How did you make the connection with some of the Ant-Zen artists (Imminent Starvation, Sonar, Architect, Teczoid) on your Fetch 12 who remixed your music?
MD: The simple answer is that we didn't! This 12" was not an M.D release , it was initiated by the record company we were with at the time , and we didn't know anything about it until it had been released. So apologies to people who bought this thinking that it had been created by us . There's no bad feeling toward the bands who were involved in this project who were I guess not aware of the situation. We do not know any of these artists or their work with the exception of Dirk Ivens who i've met many times and like a lot. Needless to say we have made sure that this situation will never happen again.
A: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to on a daily basis?
I don't really follow any particular musical scene so my musical diet
tends to be pretty eclectic. A current favourite is 'Yat-kha' a Russian
techno/punk band with a Tuvan throat singer on lead vocals an awesome combination!
Patricia Morrison of The Damned
(photos courtesy of the official band website)
Patricia Morrison. To the average music enthusiast, the name would mean nothing. Her audience however, is no less extraordinary than she. For a generation of listeners that took their mental, emotional, even spiritual sustenance from the energy and inspiration of Punk and Gothic Rock; she is an enduring musical artist.
Patricia came to the her audience attention in the Punk band The Bags. Her next gigs were with Legal Weapon, Gun Club, Sisters of Mercy, Sisterhood, and currently she is the proud bassist of The Damned. With their first release in fourteen years, The Damned are poised to recapture their old audience and ensnare another. Without further delay, I'm privileged to introduce Patricia Morrison.
BO: Patricia, you've been at this some twenty years now. Tell me about your introduction to punk...
I heard the Ramones and Blondie and then The Damned and knew this new music
was for me. That is how you became a punk. You were bored of all the music
around and there was an energy in the air...and punk was created. You just
found like minded people naturally and we all clumped together with varying
degress of success. I had two girlfriends, Alice and Janet and we decided
to start a band. I found our drummer in the Recycler with an ad that said
'Drummer into Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ramones'. I knew he was for us And
he knew Gexa X who became our guitarist. It went on from there.
BO: What first attracted you to it and why?
PM:I was young, female and for the first time that meant I could be in a band and do whatever I wanted. Punk opened the doors and took away the limits for girls in bands.
BO: How did you decide upon this career?
PM: I wanted to be a Veterinarian but couldn't afford the college fees and once punk came along that was it. Some would say I ended up working with animals anyway!
BO: I think that Punk, not unlike metal was one genre in particular that was closed to women at first. If a woman liked the music enough to play it, she got into a band with other women. As for men and women playing together, that was either uncommon or a situation where a woman had to work much harder to seen as a musician first, all gender politics aside. a) Would you comment on your experience as it pertains to this, and your opinion on how things have changed or remain the same. How has the change helped to enrich the music and the overall band dynamic?
PM: No way!! You are totally wrong. You are thinking of 'punk' as it has become now. I can do 3 day festivals of 150 bands and be the only female besides Nashville Pussy on the bill. In the early days of punk, the ratio of girls in bands was much higher. In the early days there were LOTS of girls in the punk bands. LA had, Charlotte in The Eyes who later joined the GoGo's, Diane Chai in The Alley Cats, Alice and myself in The Bags and later Xene and many many others. Before punk no guy would take us seriously when we said we wanted to play in a band but after it wasn't even an issue. It was down to your spirit and attitude. Actually playing ablility was way down on the list as was sex. It just didn't matter. But in my opinion it was short lived and I certainly feel outnumbered these days.
BO: How do you feel punk has changed? Do you feel it's lost anything?
PM: Punk is now very safe. And very big business. We were goofy and creating rather than copying. It lost nothing just progressed naturally into a mainstream type of music. It found a safe home in the mainstream. I don't think you can go back...only forward.
BO: In terms of your experience and education as a musician, what was your experience with Gun Club like?
PM: I loved being in the Gunclub and it is the band where I learned to play. We had a guitarist, Jim Duckworth who was very nurturing to me and pushed me to try things musically. He was a joy to play with as was Terry Graham. I am still in contact with both of them. Jim teaches in Memphis and Terry has many projects on the go in Texas. Unfortunately quite a few of my past bandmates have died.
The success of Sisters of Mercy has largely derived from its appeal to
the same Gothic community that Eldritch now repudiates and disavows any
ties to... Patricia, I understand you came to Eldritch's aide when Floodland
was nearing completion. . You were there when he raced to release
Sisterhood before former bandmates could employ the name. I've heard
he wronged you as well. To many people this is all water under the
bridge, but some people wonder what kind of artist they're supporting with
their buying power. Would you be willing to comment at all about
with, and opinion of Andrew Eldritch past and present?
PM: No you have been fed an untruth...I was 'brought in' the day Wayne and Craig quit the Sisters. It was before the whole thing was conceived...NOT near completion. He released The Sisterhood to screw the others out of £35,000. He succeeded and got the name into the bargain. I would love to comment but the little fellow actually made me sign a 'gag order' so I am not able to comment on him but really I think everyone already knows what he is like, don't they? Lets just say my life was awful then but wonderful now.
BO: After this many years in the business, what would you count as your hardest lessons? What is the best advice you have for aspiring musicians, and women in particular?
PM: Find band members, book a gig and play. And believe in yourself. My hardest lesson would be the same as in life in general, some people suck and some are worth their weight in gold and no one gets it right all the time.
BO: I believe I'd heard you and Dave Vanian were married. If so, how long? Where do you call home? And finally, how do you feel about this point in your life, your marriage and what it's taught you?
PM: We met in San Francisco in 1983. We are married now and all I can say is what is inscribed on my wedding ring 'love conquers all'.
BO: I think I read somewhere that vocalist Dave Vanian was a former gravedigger, that Rat Scabies actually met at his sister's funeral. Is there any truth to that?
PM: Rat cleaned toilets with Captain in Croydon and David did indeed work as a Grave Digger.
BO: Is the title Grave Disorder, an homage to those funerary beginnings? How was the title arrived at?
PM: At the beginning of the cd there is an excerpt from the House of Commons declaring 'Grave Disorder has broken out". This means they adjourn the meeting as the discussion is out of hand and the situation irretrievable. Or if you like a zombie crawling out of a crypt is good too.
BO: Do you think the band would benefit in terms of exposure , by touring with any of the acclaimed neo-punk bands out there? Are there any plans to do so? If so, who would you be interested in touring with?
PM: There are many bands we would love to tour with, but no one ever asks us! This has never really been discussed at any length but we would be open to touring with all kinds of bands, from Aerosmith to Blink182. The Damned's reputation precedes us and sometimes I find people are reluctant. Also, if people have not seen or heard us for years they think we may be a crap nostalgia band which couldn't be further from the truth.
BO: What are your hopes for Grave Disorder? How extensively will you tour in support of the album? What's ahead for Patricia Morrison and The Damned?
To be honest, I am so proud of this album I would love the whole world
to hear it and hopefully enjoy it as I do. I've never been involved in
an album that I felt could do as well commercially as I believe this one
can. The only band I have ever been in that did not tour extensively was
the Sisters of Mercy. The Gunclub would go on tour for months at a time
and since I have been in The Damned rarely has there been a long period
of more than a few weeks where we have not played - and that was without
a record to promote! I think us making it over here in light of the horrendous
September 11th shows a brave or foolhardy commitment to touring.
BO: Patricia Morrison, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. On behalf of StarVox.Net, I want to wish you and The Damned every success in the future. And to my readers, if you are able to catch The Damned at a venue near you, please do. The music is rousing and the energy...it's infectious!
PM: Thank you
~interview by Matthew
Chicago’s Whimsical are one of the best ‘new’ bands that you have yet to hear. Combining elements of indie pop atmospheres, swirling shoegaze guitars, and ethereal female vocals, this outfit is responsible for some of the most relaxing, uplifting, and positively charged music available in the scene today. I recently had a few words with guitarist and founding member Neil Burkdoll (as well as a few interjections from the band’s sometimes shy, always lovely siren Krissy Bailey) about the history of the band and the exciting days ahead. So allow the stress of your studies and day jobs be temporarily spirited away and learn more about one of the most enjoyable and blissful bands to emerge out of the Windy City.
Starvox: How did the members of Whimsical meet and form the band?
Neil: Well, this can get pretty long, but I will give you the shortened version. There has been a few versions of whimsical, but I really don’t see the band as becoming something serious until the middle of '99, when I moved back from Florida and created a new version of Whimsical with Krissy(vocals), Tim(drums), Joe(our old bass player), and myself(guitar).
Krissy and I have known each other for years and years, but we didn’t become the best of friends until around '93. Not long after that, she started singing guest vocals on some tracks w/ my band at the time, Mystified Thinking. Tim and I have known each other since '91 or '92. He and I had jammed over the years, but nothing too serious. Joe joined the band after answering an ad that we had put up around town. Joe left the band around the middle of Oct 2000. We had problems with him throughout his stint in the band, so he took things into his own hands and quit. Joe's replacement was none other than Mike Bailey, Krissy's husband, who actually played drums in an earlier version of Whimsical back in '97. Tim, Mike, Krissy, and I all went to high school together, so we've known each other for a long time.
When I formed the new Whimsical upon moving back home in '99, we played as a four piece for the first couple of months, but we soon realized that we needed a 2nd guitarist. As it happened, a friend of mine that I had gone to school with in Florida had just moved here. He was a good guitarist, and we asked him to join the band in Feb of 2000. That's how Mark (guitar) became part of Whimsical.
Starvox: What were some of the ideas and/or goals you all shared?
Neil: Krissy and I really came up with the ideology for the band back in '97, and I would say that it's pretty much the same now as it was then. We were tired of playing really depressing music, but we still wanted it to be emotionally driven. So we decided to create music that was still dreamy, but uplifting at the same time. Hopefully, we've succeeded.
Starvox: You all seem to have vastly different musical influences. From Krissy’s love for Slowdive and the Cocteaus to you being a fan of death metal and grindcore. How do you think this effects the music overall?
Neil: Well, I write 95% of the music and Krissy writes all the lyrics with the exception of a few things written by me. Her and I listen to so many types of music that we bring idea's from an infinite amount of sources, but everyone in the band knows what a Whimsical song sounds like, so it's not hard for me to write a song that fits within our sound. That’s one of the reasons we have a few different styles within the Whimsical sound. I wanted to be able to create a song that was slow and dreamy, but then have the next song come out as fast as a punk song, because I didn’t want people to associate Whimsical with one particular style, and then get all bent out of shape when I did something different later on.
Also, to be honest, I don't think my love for Death/Black Metal has any kind of impact on our sound, because if it did, Krissy would KILL me!!! Besides, one of the reasons I started playing this music in the first place, was because Slowdive and Godflesh both became my two favorite bands back in '90/'91. Not long after, I was creating similar sounds with my then band eMpTy.
Starvox: Krissy, would you really kill him if he busted out into the riffs from Godflesh's "Streetcleaner" in the middle of "My Daydream" one of these days?
Krissy: Well, I'm always looking for a good reason to kill Neil, so that's as good a reason as any I can think of. <laughs> Just kidding, he's my boy.
Anyway, to answer your question… In all honesty, my appreciation for music encompasses all genres, including bands such as Godflesh – but that doesn't mean I’d find it suitable for anything Whimsical is doing. I think there's a time and place for everything. To be honest, I don't really think there'd ever be a place for that sort of thing with us.
Starvox: Though I am not criticizing the band or it’s sound, but I would think that having such diverse influences as Godflesh and Slowdive might give way to a new brand of ‘shoegazer’ music? Perhaps integrate more aggressive or complex guitar riffing? Have you ever attempted to really fuse the two sounds together in a new way? That could prove quite interesting I would think…
Neil: Yeah, when I started attempting to write music like this back in '91, it was more in the Godflesh/Scorn style with a little Cure/Slowdive mixed in, but I found as the years went by, the distortion stopped being so heavy and we stopped yelling and started singing. That was in my old band that I talked about before. Krissy eventually started singing for us and that pretty much put an end to any Metal influences. I've always wanted to bring some of that back into the bands I'm in, but the problem is, everything starts sounding like Godflesh. They're my favorite band, but I can't be in a copy band, plus did I mention how Krissy would kill me? Just kidding, Krissy loves Godflesh too, but it just wouldn't work with Whimsical.
Starvox: The atmospheric guitar sound is something that really defines Whimsical and the indie pop/shoegaze genres. What kind of equipment set up do you have? Any favourite effects pedals you could recommend?
Neil: Well, the sound for Whimsical is based on a pedal board I purchased back in '91. It’s made by Ibanez and it's called a PUE5 tube. Obviously we use a bunch more pedals than that, but the basic distortion, delay, chorus effects come from that. I was the only guitarist when Whimsical started, so Mark’s equipment matches mine as closely as possible. We each have a little different sound, but they compliment each other pretty well. As far as amps, we just use the classic Fender Twins and Roland JCM120 formula, and for guitars, we use Fenders and Gibson’s. Nothing is anything new to this style of music, but hopefully we've come up with our own sound.
Starvox: You guys are currently signed to Seraph Records. Things have seemed a bit quiet with that label over the past few months. How is the future looking for you guys there?
Neil: Well, that's a tricky question to answer. We are currently working on getting out of our Seraph contract. By the time anyone reads this, we should be free agents. Things were not working for us at Seraph. We knew they were a small label when we signed with them over a year ago, but we expected things to be different. There are no hard feelings between Seraph and the band, so that’s good. I mean, we will still have to deal with them occasionally because our first cd came out with them, but we will be doing things on our own from now on. When we are ready to release our 2nd CD, we will start looking for a new label, but more than likely, we will end up putting it out ourselves. I think we would be happier in the long run.
Starvox: Whimsical are centered in Chicago, IL. What kind of following has the band amassed?
Neil: We have a pretty loyal crowd and we are thankful for them. We're not overtaking the world, but we are doing all right. Whimsical plays a type of music that will never be huge and in the mainstream, and we realize this, so all things considered, we are doing all right.
Starvox: Have you guys gotten to play outside of Chicago at all? How were the responses?
Neil: We've played twice outside of Chicago. Once in Milwaukee, WI with our friends Garden of Dreams, and once in Bloomington, IN with our friends OLO. I guess the responses were good. We didn't get booed off the stage or anything, but I think people enjoyed us. I hope to start playing more outside of the city actually.
Starvox: Are there any significant differences between the band in the studio as opposed to playing live?
Neil: No, not really. I write the music to be performed live. The only significant difference is Krissy's vocal harmonies. She can't perform them live, so she kind of makes a "best of" vocal for live performances.
Starvox: Krissy, how long have you been singing? Did you have any formal training?
Krissy: I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I have never had any formal training - though that's not to say I don't need it. I did attempt to take voice lessons last year, in order to work on my breathing technique, etc. Sadly, I didn't get past my first 2 lessons. There was a major personality conflict between the instructor and myself. The lady that I was paying to teach me about the voice & vocal technique, was instead trying to be my psychotherapist - and....well...haha...needless to say, it didn't work out.
Starvox: Being the vocalist of a band requires a lot of responsibility. Do you ever get stage fright before or during shows? What kind of advice can you give to talented vocalists that might be too timid to perform?
Krissy: For some reason I'm fortunate when it comes to that. I really don't experience stage fright. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I find comfort in our audience - and in the familiar faces that surround me. I know our fans are there to support us, and genuinely love what we do, so there is no reason for me to be nervous, or frightened. However, if I had to perform for a large crowd, with absolutely no familiar faces staring back at me - the story might change. I imagine I'd be quite nervous under those circumstances. Thankfully, I've yet to experience that sort of thing.
Starvox: How is the new material shaping up? Any specific directions or ideas you guys are hoping to solidify?
Neil: Well, I have three new songs completed with a few others started. Things are coming along pretty slowly, but I think the new material will be worth the wait. I guess the only thing we are specifically trying to do is make the dreamy parts dreamier, and the happy parts happier.
Starvox: When can we expect new material from the band?
Neil: We probably won't start recording new material for another year, and we don't have any set date for a release. So who knows?
Starvox: What are some of the biggest challenges for a new band?
Neil: I would have to say the constant search for places to play live. The booking guys at venues can be very irritating.
Starvox: Do you find playing live to be as important today as it was, say maybe five to ten years ago?
Neil: Yeah, I suppose so. That's how we have gained most of our audience. We try and play around Chicago at least once a month. Some of us in the band love playing live, and some don't, but we all realize that its something we have to do.
Starvox: What would you say is the band's best song, one that best captures the spirit of what the band is about? Why?
Neil: I really don't know. I'm to close to the music. You'd probably be better off asking someone else. I'm really happy with our faster songs like “My Daydream” and especially our new song “Surreal.” I love that we can get away with playing such fast songs and yet, make them pretty and emotional.