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Same old…

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Time to write a little about music. I should, and often mean to, but more often than not start to ramble on about some small calamity or other. I’ve started a new production, a very interesting band from Australia called Heligoland who are currently based in Paris have asked me to produce their next album, so I’ve been in Paris recording some of the backing tracks with them and I’m really very excited about this project, the working dynamic is very pleasant, focused and the tunes have already gotten themselves under my skin. It’s nice to be working with others again, something that only now I realize that I miss. So, it’s early days for this album but I have a feeling it’s going to be very special.
As I write this I’m flying over North Dakota on my way to Seattle where I’ve been invited to play at the dB festival, and, while I’m sorely tempted to do another travel disaster story, I’ll spare you.
Suffice to say I just spent the night a couple of thousand miles from my intended destination, have no idea where my luggage is at but am on rather intimate terms with every possible security/immigration agency that the US have to offer. I now know what SSSS means which appears on every boarding card that I’ve been issued in the last five years. It means, we’re going to fuck you up so that you miss your connecting flight. I swear to god that everyone with a uniform in the airport at Philadelphia had it in for me. They look at my boarding card, see that little string of s’s and SWAT teams drop down through the ceiling on ropes and drag me away. I think even the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee lady thought she had the right to fuck with me as well because she had a uniform. I think she saw the SSSS on my boarding card, which was sticking out of my pocket, before short changing me $20.
OK, enough of that, I’ll get back to the stuff about music. As I was saying, I’m going to perform at the dB festival, and it promises to be a special one as I’m going to be performing both on my own and with Mr Harold Budd who will also be performing. That’s good news. It’ll be nice to see him as I haven’t seen him since before the summer. Curiously, the last time that we performed together was in Seattle, last year during the film festival. Well, those folks in Seattle sure have taste because we’ve never been invited to play together anywhere else. It would be nice to play more often with Harold as it really is quite special when we play together. It’s also scary as hell as he has the habit of using those black keys on the piano from time to time, which confuse and confound me no end. So, although we’ve made some records together I shouldn’t imagine that we’ll be playing any of that stuff. In fact I haven’t the faintest idea what we will play, which is one of the things that is appealing about doing a show like this.

After that, well, I’m due to spend a little time in Lima, not playing this time, but spending some time in the studio producing a band called Resplendor. I really enjoy the energy of this band, who have performed with me twice recently, and they have now invited me down to Peru to do some recording with them. It’s been a while since I’ve produced bands and it is nice to be doing this as I get the chance to practice some of the other disciplines involved in making music. I’ve learned that being a producer is very different to being an artist, to start with I have to make them happy with their record. I think in my dim and distant past, the formative years of me producing people, I put in too much of me and not enough of the artist. Younger men have larger egos, I guess. I don’t feel the same way now, as far as producing is concerned anyway. So it’ll be interesting to see what comes out as I have no idea what the energy will be like in the studio. That’s exciting.
Oh, and the food is really good down there
More travel nightmare stories soon, he says with some degree of certainty.

Things I did last summer…

Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007

All through the summer I was invited to play at some small festivals and other events which were, for the most part, pleasing if not a little exhausting. I had imagined a peaceful summer, spent doing all those things I never have time to do, just popping away for a weekend here or there to do a show. Didn’t really work out like that as I always forget that most of the shows I do involve travelling great distances, careful rehearsal and all the other things that are part of my life, you know, like, losing my luggage, being selected for secondary screening and third degree at every airport I travel through and the other adventures I encounter every time I leave the house. So my summer didn’t really provide much rest and relaxation and I certainly wasn’t really very productive. Playing live is reproductive which doesn’t really count.
When arriving back into France after that little adventure in Seville I started to, perhaps regret, just a little, having spent the last few years giving France such a hard time. Curiously, the simple act of crossing the border gave be the impression of coming home, even if home was still two days drive away. That’s quite a nice feeling. I can’t say I have felt it for a few years.
One of the concerts I played was at Heyres, in the south of France, as part of the Midi Festival, an intimate gathering of Electronica, in a beautiful setting, the Villa Noailles, sitting atop a hill overlooking the Riviera town with an incredible view and an interesting history, it being a favorite hang out of Man Ray and Jean Cocteau. I was welcomed warmly and everything about the way the event was organized was warm and friendly. The gentleman who invited me, Frédéric Landini, was very nice indeed and I’m not just writing that because I want to get invited next year, he was really cool. However, it was strangely disconcerting to be playing a concert in France where no-one was running about being stressed and obnoxious. What was also a bit strange was that I played in the afternoon, without the benefit of my Lumiere film to hide behind which almost guaranteed that I’d do something stupid in full view of the public. Well, I don’t like to disappoint. A consequence of my clothes being stolen in Seville was that I had no shoes, so I had to go on stage wearing some flip flops, which, is not really very fucking cool. Worse though, was that when I tried to press one of my effects pedals, I pressed about five of them at the same time, because the aforementioned flip flops were about the same width as the snowshoes that arctic explorers wear. So I had to stop playing, take off my shoes and play in my bare feet, which was realllllllyy fucking embarrassing, maybe worse than wearing flip flops in the first place. It was not, as my loving family pointed out, attention seeking behaviour.

me at midi
Doing a road trip is usually fun, doing one with your family on board, while you have some concerts to play is, well, interesting. It’s nice to cross a few boundaries every now and again, my life normally being so compartmental. Switching back and forth between artist and dad several times a day is something which, in our home, most often happens without effort although put me on a stage and have my six year old at the front trying to take a picture of me with the lens cap on and I’ll not be sure how to act.
Of course my instinct is to stop playing, put down my guitar and go to her aid but I’m guessing that’s not the right thing to do in that circumstance. That, and I’ve already stopped to take my shoes off a couple of minutes before and it could be taken as a sigh that I’m not really concentrating.
Then of course there the big one, the teenage daughter along for the ride as well. Who knows what goes on in her head as she’s watching her father looking uncomfortable on a stage with a guitar around his neck?
In fact, who knows what goes on in her head? Period.
I’ve had some totally surreal exchanges with her recently, the most outstanding of which I started to scribble onto a paper napkin as we were eating at the time. She was talking about turning up at some event or other dressed up as a persocom, to be precise, a chobit, a metal eared human looking robot or rabbit, I may have misheard.
I looked blank. “You know nothing about Cos-Play, do you dad?”
I looked blank again and scribbled some more. “Oh, no, you’re not going to write that into your web log are you? That stupid little window into your pathetic miserable little life”.
Too fucking right, I am.
I really wish that she’d been brought up by normal people.
Anyway as we sat eating a pizza my whole family criticized the way I pronounce dogshit in French. They broke it to me, gently at first, but then with a little more persistence, that when I tried to talk with the audience in French, no one understood a word of it and they were all being polite by not pointing and laughing.
To have the opportunity to pass the time with my girls, while rambling about the continent playing my guitar, well, it seemed a pleasant place to be right at that moment, even if they do remind me how retarded I can be all the time. You can’t really ask for much more than that. Unfortunately it doesn’t give me much to write about in a web log. I mean, come on, who really wants to read about me getting on OK with things. There’s no entertainment value in that, is there. Still, it doesn’t happen often, so indulge me.

Next, I ventured back to the country of my birth to play a couple of shows during the Edinburgh Festival, which were in a really unusual venue deep in the heart of the old town. Edinburgh is a great place to experience at any time, but during the festival it buzzes like no other place I’ve ever been. The atmosphere is only marred slightly by the presence of an unusually large number of mime artists.
Can’t say much about my shows, I think they were OK, or at least nobody told me that I sucked. What I do know was that they were really late at night and I dozed off just before showtime, only to be awakened by the applause after my introduction (which no one had told me about). Thus I entered the stage with that look of a startled rabbit, caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. I’m useless at the best of time after having a nap; it takes me five minutes to recognize my surroundings so I probably appeared even dopier than usual. Whatever. I found out what tired really means the next morning when I climbed to the top of Arthurs Seat with Violette as I had, in a moment of insanity, promised we would do before we left Edinburgh. I managed to survive the ordeal without being hospitalized although I ached everywhere for days afterward. I played Glasgow as well on that trip in a tiny little venue with candles on the tables, and met a nice bunch of people after the show, hung around and talked shit. That was fun.


After that, well I was invited to Kristiansand in Norway to appear at the Punkt festival. That was a real quick trip but included six flights to get there and back but nothing untoward happened to me at airport security, no planes were missed, no luggage lost as Madame Guthrie was with me and things like that don’t happen to her. She has a smile, you see, which melts people. No one would ever lose her luggage or remove her toothpaste. Arriving in Kristensand at night left the biggest surprise for the morning, when, on opening the hotel room curtains, was revealed the sheer beauty of a small Norwegian coastal town, with the full complement of blue sky, water, mountains and trees. Soundcheck was at 9am so we had the rest of the day to look around and took up an offer made by the festival organizers of a little boat trip around the fjords, stopping at a little island for a delightful lunch of fish soup and returning a few hours later. It was like being on holiday. Lovely. The only problem is that my Madame now imagines that I get spoiled like this every time that I travel to do a show and therefore has ceased to believe me that what I do is hard work. I was very impressed with this festival, and I not saying that to get invited back there either. I loved the venue and the care taken over the production. I was able to use multiple projectors in the theatre which is something I’d do more often, given the chance.


Don’t know when that’ll happen though, as I’m kinda really needing to get some new music done, my studio needs to have a little life breathed into it and a layer of dust brushed away. It’s been a while since I wrote any music, for me at least. It’s overdue.