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progress not perfection….

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Sorry to be quiet of late. Had a few things to occupy me in the last week or so. First was a trip to London, which was to take part, a small part, in the London Film Festival, by being part of the jury to decide who got The Sutherland Prize. In short. Got back from San Francisco. It was good there, I was happy. It was warm. Then I had three jet lagged days of watching some of the most depressing films ever made. Don’t get me wrong, I like depressing films sometimes, but not a dozen at a time and not jet lagged, with a million emails to answer. Really, there was some fantastic cinema there, but, well, in small doses the experience may have made me less suicidal. Like most things, I guess. The trip to London was painful, the train being full of fat noisy English children, stuffing their greedy little faces with sweets and sugary drinks all the way and making enough noise to raise the dead, or at least fill this weary travellers dark heart with thoughts, along the lines of ‘give me 3 minutes with this kid alone, with just a pencil and a hacksaw’. I would have got up out of my seat to strangle a couple of them, but I hadn’t the energy. I doubt any of my fellow travellers would have objected. Then I arrived in London….
My usual good fortune at customs involved me being asked if I had any ‘guns, drugs or pornography’. When I answered ‘No, where can I get some?’ I was taken into a small room, by a kindly Indian gentleman who gave me a thorough search, happily without the aid of rubber gloves, who did his best with all his electronic gizmos to find some offending article,(Come to think of it, he didn’t question the pencils and hacksaw) but to no avail. I asked him why he picked me from the throng of visitors and he told me what gave me away. He told me ‘I believed you looked suspicious because you are a well dressed gentleman but you wear earrings’…You get that?, Well dressed…. My Lordy, what’s going on in the world? Well dressed? It’s still brings a smile to my face, even as I type it…. So now you must feel much more secure in the knowledge that Britain is safe from the scourge of drugs, guns and pornography due, in no part, to the real experts waiting at the other end of the channel tunnel, checking whether or not peoples jewelry match their attire. Now that I think about it, don’t the police do that in LA?
what ever ..
Anyway, the good news is that London seemed to have been tidyed up, especially for my arrival, Waterloo smells less of urine than it ever has, and they’ve cleared a path through the homeless people between the Eurostar terminal and the tube. I found it a little overwhelming, as I’ve not been there for a while. I lived there for twenty years but it’s no longer my city. I smile too much, for one thing. Maybe it’s just cities, but like all the movies I watched, there didn’t seem to be many people experiencing the joy of life.
However. I enjoyed meeting up with some special friends, finally meeting Ulrich Schnauss and his girlfriend Judith, who were charming, Seeing my publisher look at his watch constantly while listening to Continental (sorry David, you asked for it.. :).. ).. At the film fest meeting I mingled with the elite of the movie industry, well critically speaking anyway, felt completely under-qualified to comment on such a body of work, commented nevertheless, as I tend do do when I know very little about something, and had a thoroughly life richening experience for it. Lunch at the Groucho Club, however was shit. Well maybe I’m out of the habit of English lunch (they don’t have Marks and Spencer here), but I was kind of expecting, like, a pheasant, or spit roast wild boar, but got curly triangular egg mayo sandwiches instead…
My thanks to Vinita, Kevin and Greg who made my stay more manageable.
Got a decent cup of coffee when I got of the train…
Well, I’m here now with John Foxx who’s downstairs sleeping as I write this. He’s come back to finish off the album we started a while back and all is well as we effortlessly slipped into the groove of working together and have just finished our eighth piece together. More news about that later, I guess, but it’s taking shape beautifully. There are no surprises. It sounds just like me and John Foxx went into the studio together.. I think that’s a good thing… 🙂
Having a depressing time with my studio which seriously needs some upgrades. Spending too much time battling with old and tired equipment and not enough time creating music. I mean, it all works, sort of, but I guess unless I become able to throw some money at it, which I’m unable to do in the foreseeable future, I may have to seriously rethink if I can go on making music like this. It would seem at every turn there is someone happy to make a buck out of what I do, but channeling that back into the lives of myself and my children would appear to be an afterthought. There are some pretty dark people in this business, but for legal reasons I didn’t mention 4AD or the up and coming box set which they are releasing. If I had to make a comment, however, it would be don’t buy it, search the Usenet, or p2p and find the stuff there, download it, send us packages of food and clothes instead…. but for legal reasons I won’t make such a comment. On another note, ask yourself this. If you were to pay good money for, say for example, a CD box set.. wouldn’t you feel good in the knowledge that, at least, some of the money that you had spent, went to the artist… just a thought… what do I know?

Finally a brief apology for those of you who are awaiting a reply from an email you may have sent me in the last ten days…. sorry… I’ll get there….

27 Responses to “progress not perfection….”

  1. jarvis

    robin, do you PayPal? i will honestly send you some money (not much, mind you, but remember the woman in the Gospels who gave the three cents she had and it was more than the rich-o’s who gave more?). seriously.

  2. the unknown polack

    time for you to offer digital downloads buddy

  3. usr/sbin


    If you’re facing this sort of crap, it doesn’t give much encouragment to some of just getting started. Sigh.

    Time for you to get that PayPal account set ip and start making things available digitally…

  4. Mark

    Gosh Robin, are the bastards REALLY not giving you anything for the box set?! That stinks bud.

    Get yourself setup on Paypal.

  5. Joel

    Robin, you might also consider http://www.weedshare.com/ for a novel, increasingly successful, and highly ethical approach to digital rights management. If you like, I can put you in touch with one of the principals here in Seattle (we were both in your audience at the EMP show a year ago). If there’s something a free-lance writer (that would be me) might be able to do to help you monetize your creative endeavors, let me know. Best wishes . . .

  6. Andy from Arizona

    Robin, sounds like you have fans who are in a generous mood. Be an opportunist and set up that PayPal account. Sounds like a bunch of us will hurl cash at you straight away.

    I myself will wait until the LA show to slip you a tenner and a donut in person, mkay? 🙂

  7. guinea ikea

    No wonder you’re always bitching about something!
    ps when do we get to hear Continental?
    Looking forward to it.

  8. john


    Thats is truly a shame that you won’t be compensated for your work. How is that possible?Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot were talking about the music industry here, now it makes perfect sense.
    I have collected music for over 25 years but on your word, I wont buy the box set. I believe that all people ,including musicians should be compensated for work done.4AD would not be anything without your work and the other bands that back in the day helped forge its “reputation” and current image.

    As the others stated a PayPal account and downloads from your own website would compensate you well. I’d donate and buy.

    Dont let the bastards drag ya down!


  9. Matt

    PEEP HOLE IVO over the head with a fucking spanner rob

  10. mark g

    too right we will all pay for your downloads on your website and do more gigs and you and foxx see if you can set up a tour and im buying the box set for xmas because you mastered the perfection
    keep up the godness of work

  11. Matthew McKinnon

    So you don’t get royalties for the box set? That’s another one to add to my list of questions about it [top of the list is “How come 4AD are releasing the Mercury stuff? What’s going on there?”].

    The Paypal account’s not actually a bad idea. I’d put some money in.

    After hearing him at the Harold Budd concert earlier in the year, very keen to hear you + John Foxx collaborate. And was it just me, or were you a bit bemused by Steve Cobby’s “contributions” to the Calligraphy piece? You looked it.

  12. roomservice

    Speaking of you meeting Ulrich Schnauss, it seems you and he would be the perfect combo for a collaboration album! Have you ever thought of that, or discussed it with him as a possibility?

  13. robin guthrie

    John : I don’t think you will find Ivo at fault in this, I believe he’s well out of the situation and living happily in the Southwestern US and has been for a long time.

  14. robin guthrie

    Roomservice : re: Ulrich….funnily enough I did a remix for him, last year, maybe the year before.. I’m sure our paths may cross again…

  15. robin guthrie

    All : who suggested paypal. Yes very good idea it’s been in my idea for som time (not the donation part – that’s very kind – reminds me of Henry Millers’ open letter to publishers when he asked them to send clothes and food instead of paltry sums of money) but lack the time to get it together. I have the technology, and other recources, but this Robin Guthrie feller is essentialy a one man show, having no assistance, manager, label and all the other things one has when one is making music and trying to keep the wolves from the door. In short, there is only one of me and a finite amount of hours in the day..

  16. John


    It was actually Matt that made the comment about Ivo ( no that it matters, but give credit where credit is due). I’ve followed AD long enough to know Ivo is out of the picture.
    Youre a one man show, we understand this.
    Obviously, we cannot set up the account for you with out personal information,which is a no-no.

    I’m sure there are other things we can do for you that would take little to no effort on either party’s part.
    There is( I’m pretty sure of it)a way that you can attach a PayPal donation banner to this very blog, if you wished. Once again, though you’d have to sign up for the service first. I dont think its hard to do or takes more than a few minutes to set up.

    Let us know what to do.

  17. robin guthrie

    sorry matt : the important thing to say is I don’t want charity, just a chance to make a living……

  18. carl

    Robin, that sucks to hear about all that. Hope everything goes well.

  19. Julia

    Robin, ask your daughter to fix up an account for you! Teenagers know how to do that sort of stuff easily. I’m sure she knows some bright kid who could hook you up for little or no cost. I will be at your show in LA and am bringing some impressionable youngsters to hear your brilliant playing and I will surely buy any merchandise you have available and hand the cash to you personally 🙂

  20. John


    This is not to be nosy or the like( and feel free not to answer if you do not wish to) but do you not own any of the CT material or is that a contractual thing as well as in ” anything you do under them ,they own”? I’m figuring that’s it. Damn, the industry they hurt the very people that make them successful.


  21. Danny


    have you ever thought of working with ritchie thomas again? His sax over music would be sublime.

    On the paypal front, sounds like a great idea. another ex-4ad artist, His name is alive (warn defever) has his own label which I believe is doing just fine. It’s a cassette/cd-r label, but all monies go to him and the band. I know that you would have a ton of support if you would make your live recordings availble, side projects, etc. I just see other artist doing the same thing and making it work. I wish you the best of luck, as I have been following you for over 17 years now.

  22. ranchorita

    Oh, for 20-ish years of the most glorious music, I’d definitely like to PayPal you a little prezzie at the very least. I’ll watch this space and hope you’ll give in and let us compensate you–your work is greatly appreciated. Cut out the middleman.

  23. Joel

    Robin, interest and sympathy compel me: Are Bella Union and Violet Indiana no longer going concerns for you? Do you *want* a manager or assistant? Do you have tasks a part-time person, a volunteer even, could do from far away? vb, Joel

  24. b ginley

    take the money, honey…charity is for the needy, offerings from fans – totally justified…

  25. pairofpants

    Bloody Hell, I was shocked to read your comments about the Box Set, it would definitely be something I would have bought, or persuaded the husband to buy me for Christmas… it seems absolutely appalling!

  26. Cedric

    Robin: this is a late late reply.

    I bought that 4ad compil but didn’t know you were not getting anything.

    Well, I had all this music since years, I bought it just for the sake of having it.

    I think they are 4 ways left for a musician to make money out of music these days:

    1) make concerts. (That’s obvious.)

    2) sell tunes on their own website, or subscription to get tunes (per season or year).

    3) sell a “product”. A music cd that has a nice package that everyone will “need to get”. That means working with designers, and can make the musician feel like people are not even buying the disc for the music, but..that’s the way it works: music is up in the air, but if you want to open the pages of something you need to have it at home (the idea of releasing a cd with video wasn’t bad at all).

    4) make music for films or videogames. In desperate cases: tv ads. As long as you’re not down to make wedding music.

    Oh my gawd there’s a fifth one: being a musician (not composer) playing for others. Actually if I had the money I would hire you to play something, but only if you could learn fast and play it fast so you wouldn’t get bored or accuse me of making you loose your time. Lol !


    Cedric Caspesyan

  27. Mike Flacklestein

    I live at 40680 Commonwealth in Seattle. Been up here before?

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