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Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Robin, are you opposed to people sharing your music on the internet?

I have no problem with people sharing my old stuff online, given that I earn virtually nothing from this. As to people sharing concert recordings and such, I have no opinion. I certainly would never expect to earn from those recordings, so I suppose I would only be pissed off if someone were charging money for them. That would seem somewhat immoral.
Live recordings, in my opinion, bring very little to the world, perhaps a nice memento for someone who attended the event, but as an artistic statement or even a document of some sorts, they bring, well, let me see, less than zero. Live music, for me, is about the moment. I’ve experienced many fine moments on stage but I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed a recording of a live performance. OK, I’ll be more specific, I’ve never enjoyed a recording of a cocteau twins live performance. A John Coltrane or Keith Jarrett, maybe, or indeed any performer who’s musical merit is built upon a fair degree of technical skill mixed with copious quantities of passion. For me, CT had both, often, but, in a live concert situation, in truth, not often at the same time… lol… Maybe I’m being harsh but there are so many contributing factors to making a successful performance, how you felt on the day, the venue, the audience, the sounds/lights….down to the more mundane, “was dinner any good?”, “why has the airline lost my luggage?” to “fuck, I’m missing home/my family/the football”, “er, mitsuo just fell of the stage, did you guys see that?” and that kind of thing.. Then again, there are the performances that Elizabeth, Simon and myself thought were sublime and afterwards we were greeted with a few grumbles of “well it was OK, I suppose” from people. With live recordings I’m forever exasperated just by the idea of such and the fear that our music could be judged harshly because of them.
No, no the real question that I think you are asking is about whether or not I care about our studio recordings being shared and for this my answer is simply this.
For the most part, the income, if any, goes to corporate or pseudo corporate record companies who thrive on the exploitation of our back catalogue, providing chump change, at best, for us. Perhaps Simon and Elizabeth feel differently but I would imagine not. But here we are talking about music made quite a while back now, which has been earning money, albeit disproportionately in favour to the record companies involved, for some time now. Doubtlessly I used some of that money along the way for stupid ventures, including the wholesale purchase of Bolivia, and even more reckless activities like the recording of music and trying to release it.
In short, it’s history.
On the other hand the music I make nowadays is my livelihood, you know, as in, money for food and shelter for myself and my family….Therefore, given the relatively small numbers of records that I am able to sell, it seems somewhat in bad taste or even disrespectful for you people to share the stuff. You’d feel the same way when I come and commit a B&E on your apartment and rip off all of your stuff, right?. I mean, most of you folks probably have jobs and can afford a few bucks for some music from time to time. You probably wouldn’t dream of continuing in your present employment if your employer decided not to pay you. I mean, come on you have bills to pay, right?
I haven’t a job that pays me a salary or provides any security. OK, I know the trade off is that I have an occupation which is something I love, but quite frankly, I have the same bills to pay as you.
The healthcare benefits aren’t up to much either (as in… if I get sick, I die) . That said, I don’t have to suck up to your boss so in that respect I am grateful. I’m not looking for sympathy, btw, I made a choice. This life brings many rewards but financial ones are few and far between and this can become somewhat frustrating when I know that I am judged, not only for my creative output, but also on the work that I do retrospectively (re-mastering, anybody?) or simply because someone asks me.
To pick and choose the projects that one becomes involved in, is something reserved for those who are probably fiscally secure. For me, sometimes that seems an impossible luxury, principally reserved for those more talented than myself, but it’s a reality which I’m perfectly prepared to stand by as there is no shame in work. But I have to say I have been more than adequately rewarded by having had hugely talented people thrust into my path since the moment I started to make music….
So, without wishing to overstate my case,
share the old shit,
buy the new shit
so I can continue making new shit.
Fuck, that last sentence was like sucking up to your boss, right?
I also find it a little curious that some of you ‘fans’ would consider spending small fortunes on eBay to bu a CT rarity but then share a newer album I’ve done. That’s just wrong, people.

Are you rich?

I mean relatively to someone in Sao Paulo who lives in a dumpster and eats other peoples garbage for lunch, yes. Relative to you, however, probably not. I have a home, a car with 200,000 miles on the clock, a 2MB internet connection, a mixing console which is so old it I’m convinced it has small animals living inside of it which just fuck with me, and a guitar which recently I was offered a lot of money for. Now, sorry if this seems a little stubborn of me but why should I go on playing guitar if someone offers me more money for the actual guitar itself…..? just a thought.. lol
So in short. You’re on crack…

Is food very different when you move? Like, since you moved from Ireland to France… do you eat French cuisine a lot now, or do you try and persue the old irish routine?

Food’s better here than in England, where I lived before. I never lived in Ireland, you must be getting me mixed up with Bono. Anyway, you don’t have much choice here. The French, apart from their fries and their kissing, despite all the bollocks written, haven’t really made much of a mark on the world (unless you’re an Algerian or Vietnamese) .. Oops, sorry, went a bit Bono for a minute there… lol. Of course, I was talking cuisine. French food here, is remarkably good. However any other ethnic foods that you can mention, foods that in the rest of the world we can, at least, get an idea of by visiting a local, you know, Thai, Indian, Greek etc..restaurant…. SUCKS… The saddest part is that most French folks believe their food is better because French cuisine in France is way better than any other ethnic cuisine available here. Now, having spent twenty years amongst the English, I can tell you, that for all their faults, (there are many, for sure, but just for the purposes of this a topic I’ll, gulp, put them to one side) they have a much more open minded and progressive attitude towards food than my Gallic hosts who ride on several hundred years of, snobbery on their part and stupidity on the part of the English.

Food questions to help this answer…

Q, Where are the best restaurants/supermarkets
A, London / California / New York / Tokyo

Q, What shape is bacon? ….
A, Ah, bon, c’est facile, c’est comme un cercle?… non, it’s not fucking round like it came from a machine its long and ass shaped like it came from a pig.

Q, Do Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea and Taiwan have anything in common?
A, Yes, In France you can get ‘Asian food’ all in the same restaurant… don’t ask…

Q, Where can you find the most diverse choice of international foods on the planet?
A, London / New York / California / Tokyo

Q, Is a pizza meant to be deep fried?
A, Wrong…. apparently not … lol

Q, What shape is a kebab?
A, Wrong…. not here… lol

Q, Why can you get such an amazing choice of fish and seafood anywhere in France but , given that the UK is a fucking island, get very little except winkles, whelks and farmed salmon?
A, …..

Q, What the fuck exactly is a Quenelle anyway?
A, …..

Q, Why are there so many quails eggs at Christmas in the supermarket but not the rest of the year round? What are the quails doing in the meantime?
A …..

Q, OK, I bought a little pack of pigs feet in the supermarket? Now what? Are you meant to swallow the toenails or spit?
A …..

Q, Why can you only find a twix, snickers, mars or bounty at a gas station here?
A, because if you could find all the other shit that they sell at gas stations in the UK we’d all be fat fucks like you. (please make note of the ongoing distancing in this sentence…..)

I could go on like this at length. I first wrote this as an answer to these question at cocteautwinsforums.com but thought it fun to post it here as I only have a certain amount of typing patience every month…..

my thanks to clayton39 for inspiring this post…

13 Responses to “questions…”

  1. Joakim

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    On file sharing I have the stand that if I own the vinyl it’s OK to download the mp3’s (basically I fail to see the difference to ripping it myself than if someelse has done the ripping.)
    Now stuff that I have on old tapes that I’ve recorded from my friends records is of course a grey area, but I’m leaning towards that it’s OK to download it. The new releases I prefer getting from iTunes, but if it’s not available there I try to get is as close to the source as possible, to cut out the middle men.

    On live music, I must say that the latest release Perhaps from Harold Budd is a beauty, but it’s probably an exception from the rule.

    Keep rocking


  2. Mark Rushton

    Have you ever thought of being a comedian? You’re good!

  3. jeffrey mccombe

    i wonder if perhaps you could make some good money if someone — like me — asked if you would tell them the chords that you used to make certain songs — like whales tails or like five ten fiftyfold — ?????

  4. The Lullaby League

    Quenelle: A fine minced fish or meat mixture formed into small portions and poached in stock and served in a sauce, or as a garnish to other dishes. The term quenelle is also used to describe the decorative shape of the portions – a neat, three-sided oval (a bit like a mini rugby ball!) formed by smoothing the mixture between two dessert spoons. A quenelle can be formed from other foods such as chocolate mousse. Okey-dokey?

  5. yraG

    “…why should I go on playing guitar if someone offers me more money for the actual guitar.”

    Three guesses: Jaguar, Jazzmaster, DuoJet. Whatever. Don’t do it.

  6. Micah

    Here’s another question….

    Is the recent recording with Harold Budd completely lost, or what??

    (sorry for the extra emphasis, but it’s been nagging at me for some time since your report of the deplorable travel experience…)

  7. evaleigh (aka starhopper)

    Hehe, thanks for posting this here too, Robin. I love your new music and I will always support you with purchasing (well, of course I would SAY that to you – but it is true, btw). Can’t wait for your newer inspirational genius to grace us once again. I still buy all the music I listent to. It’s the younger generation that will be struggling with this…my g/f’s 12 y/o son said, “you BUY music?? Just download it off the internet.”


  8. Fran├žois

    Your “Old shit” and “new shit” will make history as “the greatest shit ever heard”!!! That’s make you richer than anyone down here, isn’t true?

    Thanks for this thourougly fun blog, Bye Mr. Guitarie!

  9. Dennis

    seems to be infinitely difficult to avoid sucking up to a boss…it’s why I’ve chosen to do a phd with a 450 Euro scolarship…but who can live with 450 and buy your new staff and the new equipment for recording his own shit?…I can see me in the near future sucking up to a boss and buying your Cds everyday…ha!…life seems to be a shithole and you will have to keep recording and shed some light into it when I’ll be in need of it…and you are also hugely talented!

  10. Steve

    A very interesting and heartfelt entry that got me thinking. I’m of an age where getting new music always involved going to the shops, finding an eagerly-anticipated album (usually by the Cocteau Twins), getting it home, unwrapping its beautifully packaged contents, putting it on the record player and wallowing in its unfathomable majesty, while absorbing the (usually gloriously oblique) sleeve, notes, etc, so I’m not in the habit of ‘sharing’ music. However, I have in the past bought CDs off Ebay, including Imperial. Now this to me, is similar to sharing, as it means that two people have had the pleasure of your music, yet only one has paid money to the artist. I don’t feel too bad about this in most cases, but in yours, as your music has been (and will continue to be) the biggest musical influence in my life, what I’m going to do is this: Buy a new copy of Imperial, and give the old one to someone who I think will like it, but who would never have bought it, yet may end up buying your stuff in future. That way, my guilt is assuaged, you get a few bob, and your music reaches a bigger audience, everyone’s a winner!

  11. David Liso


    You funny chap, you. Your blog is fucking funny. I was laughing. My wife was laughing. Hell, even my dog was laughing. Did you know you’re an entertaining writer? It is such a relief to know that the person who wrote ‘Millimillenary’ and who plays with Harold Budd is also someone I would love to invite over for a raclette and a glass of Petite Arvine amidst the Alps.

    Take care and keep the comments comin’

    David from Switzerland

  12. Jonny Prince

    I never was a kid that shared anyway.

  13. Mike NYC

    So I keep hearing buzzing and poppings. Yes I am an ear infected fucker. Looking forward to the Ulrich Scnuass recordings.

    Please take this show on the road to the states. If not a show, send it over in pill format. Thank you

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