Autumn has just arrived here, I know this for sure as I saw that all the leaves seem to be falling of the trees, it’s dark, cold and I’m at a loose end. This seems to always be the time of year where I am finishing things up looking forward to the next things which are lined up for me to do. But this year is a little different because, sure, I’ve still a bunch of stuff to finish up but I have nothing on my horizon except, well I guess, clearing up the aforementioned leaves which have fallen in my garden. Now, for me, that’s a rather unsettling thought as I really don’t like much about the garden except the view from indoors. So what’s my point?. My point is I’d love to be doing some concerts or getting involved in something which stimulates me and helps me to appreciate how lucky I am to have a job like this. But the sad truth is that no matter how many people pop up every now and again offering help, when it becomes obvious that they are not going to get rich working with me they seem to disappear very quickly. This has been true recently of a few people. who have entered my life briefly, given me hope of something better and then just as swiftly, fucked off. Now, I’m not someone ungrateful, in fact gratitude, I believe, is one of the fundamental parts of my make up, one of the few things that distinguishes me, in my head at least, from a whole bunch of greedy cock-sucking music business whores, the likes of which I’ve known well in the last twenty five years or so. The key word that I’m trying to work into this entry is, of course, support, something which is sadly lacking at the moment as far as the business of being Robin Guthrie is concerned. I have so much support from fans of my music. Some of them are very charitable indeed with their comments and some even appear to have bought, or at least, listened to some of my recent music. But all this praise, while being very lovely, doesn’t really help me find concerts, record labels, agents, management or any of that stuff which I’ve never been any good at. I guess people assume that I have a team of dedicated individuals around me doing all that stuff but the truth is that I’m just a man alone trying to make the world a more beautiful place with my music and at the same time trying to avoid getting a proper job. You see, I’m not a very outgoing person so the self promotion part of being me doesn’t really work too well. No it doesn’t work at all. Maybe that’s why the praise actually hinders me. When I read some of the comments about me that people write on My Space I could be fooled into believing that I’m someone who knows what the fuck is going on and am obviously on top of things. Ha! What difference does it make to me in my life today that someone liked my music for the last twenty years if I ultimately am unable to perform or continue to make music? OK, it’s nice, I admit, to be on the receiving end of praise, but I think it fucks with my head and starts to make me believe that I actually deserve more for my music than what I am able to achieve at the moment. Which brings me to a rather inconclusive conclusion which is that without real help from people, management or just people with enthusiasm, I’m stuck fast in a very isolated and insular world, where I just create as if in a vacuum, closing my eyes and mind to a world outside my studio, with the exception of the well worn path to my espresso machine.
Now I’ll probably regret this post as I probably come over as someone full of self pity when actually I have the best job in the world, but not to worry, I can delete it when I feel less down about things. In short, it seems really odd to me that I live in France, but can’t get a record released here or a single show, I have an agent in the US but he seems unwilling or unable to find me a single concert there, I have many, many artists who ask me to produce them but only a select few who would consider paying me for my work, probably down to the same fact that they assume I’m, I don’t know, well off and have lots of dedicated individuals, etc etc etc…Ha! Again . OK, I’m starting to be unreasonable but, hey, my friend Jack in San Francisco told me that it’s good to live your life in an unreasonable way. Perhaps I need to live in a city or be more in touch with things but then perhaps I’d not have the freedom to create as I do now and I wouldn’t really like to exchange that freedom just for schmoozing with music biz people. I’d probably exchange it for late night shopping but that’s another matter altogether…
OK that’s got all that negativity out of my system so I’ll hopefully make it through the rest of the day without putting my fingers in a power outlet or jumping in front of a fast moving heard of goats as they pass through this fucking village. Now I’m all juiced up and just in the mood to mix some beautiful, meandering, pastoral, seven minute piano and guitar instrumental, yup that’s going to be easy, isn’t it? Now, not particularly because I believe it’s relevant but more because I’m out of coffee, I’ll briefly mention that I’m about two thirds of the way through mixing the new recordings that I’ve made with Harold Budd. I had a couple of days off from that project over the weekend to mix another track that I’ve recorded with Annie Barker when she was last over here. Still no word from France Inter to know when, if ever, they will broadcast the session I did a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been playing with my new camera and considering taking some time to start another animation project which will surely be just like the last one but a different colour…. No telephone calls offering me a chance to play, no email offering anything except fake Rolex’s and Viagra. Nada. Thank goodness I have friends…
my 1959 fender jazzmaster
me at september sound, london 1997
harold budd somewhere near his mailbox
me at the olympia in paris in 1996
me at the union chapel london 1999 – this is the first time I ever played instrumental music on my own
me at la maroquinerie in paris in 2004
me at home in france by lucy belle guthrie
with kevin, lisa and janice, KEXP, best radio station on the west coast….
new orleans 1990
without which visiting the west coast would be like a broken pencil….*
my first ever encounter with mr mitsuo tate, shibuya, 1985
me and kevin at the nft, london 2005
with violet indiana, moscow 2004
tako yaki : essential for well being
playing with firefact, st malo, 2005
nori tama …. essential… you can see where this is leading, right?
essential also.. southern utah 1999
all good things lead to tako stories……or all tako stories lead to good things?
maguro and me, tsukiji fish market, tokyo 2001
* = pointless
You know I sometimes write more on this weblog than I have recently, but I have to say that if I were to write more now about what’s going on with me in my life right now, I’d really have to draw on all my resources as an artist to make my life seem more interesting. While it’s not devoid of it’s up and downs like anyone else’s, it can, sometimes, appear about as flat as that hedgehog who thought I’d stop. So I scratch my head and wonder that the fuck I can fill up this space with and why the fuck I should even bother. Well, with that super positive attitude in mind I’ll tell you of my week. I’ve done all sorts of really exotic and extravagant things. I’ve sat in front of various computers for a few days watching drives formatting, while downloading software drivers from Mexico, written in Spanish for a French computer, made in China with an American operating system. Don’t ask. I’ve installed software, watched little hourglasses, moved data, archived, trashed and reclaimed data, compacted folders and drank coffee from costa rica. OK, I know some people do that for a living, but fun as it sounds, it somewhat distracts from my primary purpose at the moment which is mixing tracks for my forthcoming album with Mr Harold Budd. I’m on my tenth mix now and have many, many more to go. And were it not for my, almost feminine, multitasking capabilities, I’d be way behind with the project, but I guess the great thing, if there is anything great, is that when you work with several computers, if one doesn’t work you can hop onto another one and do some different work. Like during video rendering for example.. Anyway, I’m not bitching, just fed up that I’m not progressing at a faster rate.
Hum.. I really must send Harold a cd at some point but that would mean dealing with La Poste and I’m not sure if I can work up the courage to deal with this particular social nationalist organisation just yet after my last failed attempt at sending a package outside Metropolitain France. Anyway the point is, I’m reaching that part of a project where i can start to make little Cd’s of the mixes I’ve done and run the pieces together and start to imagine what an album may be like. I’ve mixed forty something minutes of music so far and, I have to say, apart from a little editing, it is frighteningly beautiful. So I’m just really in a place where I want to explore more deeply into the project to pull out a few more little white pebbles to see me on my way. I think it’d be nice to have the feedback of Harold but, as he’s in California right now, looking after his own stuff, that’s just not possible. However, I know what he’d say anyway He’d say “w e l l, y o u k n o w r o b i n, i t ‘ s j u s t f i n e…..” and in that sort of a voice as well, if you know what I mean…. And just knowing that helps me though my day…
So what else.. Well I finally got a copy of the album that I contributed to by Mahogany. It’s one very special record and I highly recommend it. I was, sort of, brought in later in the project, mixed a few tracks and I have to say that while they are not possibly the records finest moments (they don’t need me for that) that they were, indeed, an experience for me, proving, once and for all, that I am not the only artist in the world who is, um, challenged…. er, no challenging, er… whatever. However I can imagine, that if we work together, from the beginning, on something at a later date it will be awesome…… fyi… I mixed three songs, domino ladder beta, supervitesse and my bed is my castle.
Now all this happened a couple of months ago now – (you want news, you fuck off to the bbc, ok?) – and I wrote this at the time but didn’t publish it – How true it seems of many projects I work upon….
Ha, mixing some tracks for Mahogany and going fucking crazy…. It’s funny, because they have sent me the parts to mix, so yesterday I put them into my system and started to mess around a little and do a rough balance… 6 hours later I decide to play the reference mp3 that they sent me and I can’t recognise it as being the same song….
oops, start again…
It got me to start thinking about how one persons perception of how things go together in life can be so radically different to another’s. Without a doubt Mahogany, for example, have been very focused on producing a song to their satisfaction but at the last minute I come along and throw it in a different direction. For my ears there are important musical parts and less important musical parts and, strangely, the parts that I’d chosen to work with seemed lost on the bands original version but conversely there were things in the bands version which I didn’t feel were needed…Now I don’t mean to do that, there is no grand master plan to change everything and stamp it with my ‘mark’, that’s just what happens and I can’t imagine for one moment how those Mahogany folks may feel about it.
So this morning sees me looking at the song again, trying to be open minded and less of a control freak
Such are the things that goes on inside this mind as when not spending time installing Mexican software.
OK, here’s the photo opportunity. I was asked by BBC Scotland to go into a radio station in Rennes for a live link up with the BBC in Scotland to discuss Scotland beating France 1-0. No, I wasn’t really, but it was the next day so I had to keep my head low in case I got arrested by a fucking postman or something. Anyway it was actually for an interview regarding the album Heaven or Las Vegas which was an album made in 1989 by Cocteau Twins and for some reason being included on a programme about classic Scottish albums. So, I guess that they’re asking myself, Elizabeth and Simon what it was all about. Funny how it takes at least fifteen years for folks to take an interest. Now I’m not sure of the calibre of the other classic Scottish albums involved, although I’m happy to say that I didn’t hear the words wet, wet or wet mentioned. It was, however, a delightful morning spent hanging around in town, something which I don’t get to do often. The live link up was, well, charmingly like the eurovision song contest, and the journalist Davey Scott was one to ask questions and listen to whatever bollocks came out of my mouth, as opposed to just superimposing his preconceptions onto what I was saying. It should be noted though that I don’t get to talk to Scottish people very often, so he wouldn’t have had a chance to shut me up anyway.
me @ france bleu armorique…
daniel, hayato and me….
So there I was looking forward to a couple of days messing around in Paris, as one does, when Daniel from Apollo Heights called to tell me they were playing a show at La Fleche d’Or, and would I play guitar with them. Well, a normal person would make some excuse but Daniel is somewhat persuasive in his ways, which roughly means I can never say no to the motherfucker, and I found myself, guitar in hand at the venue, a really cool club built in a converted railway station. Now, what I did not write was that last week I played with them in Paris at Le Triptyque and it was, well, let us put it this way, if it had been good I would have written about it, right? But I was happy to meet up with them and do the show because just for one evening I could pretend to myself that I had a social life. I only played on a handful of songs this time, thinking it better to play the ones that I knew the chords for rather than standing like a prick watching them to see what I was meant to be doing and apart from a sound man who liked to change the balance three or four times per song, it was sort of fun. I kinda enjoyed when Francois, the other guitar player broke a string as I just took it upon myself to make a bit of a racket for a few minutes, paying scant regards to the ears of the audience, nor my own for that matter. Yup, loud is good, I really must get a band together so that I can play loud again.