Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
L: I work as a Freelance A/V Technician for various art institutions around London, and don’t really have a fixed schedule. In the morning when I’m not working, I lay in bed for twenty minutes or so thinking about things I take for granted - then I exercise, bathe, get side-tracked, research something of interest, and eventually get around to working on various projects in whatever shape they are forming. The feedback loop of my life in the creative sense is a thin membrane between routine and novelty. I have a hard time separating most things.
D: In the week I have become very regimented. The intensity of my job really demanded that I make considerable changes to my lifestyle. These changes have been painfully transformative:
6am – wake up, eat porridge, shit shower shave, cycle to prison.
8am – Arrive at prison spend the next 9 hrs being an addiction therapist
5pm – Cycle home
5.45pm – yoga with Adrienne
7pm – Numb out to trash T.V
9.15pm – Die
Friday has become my creative day, drawing, writing, music whatever needs my attention.
The weekend generally has to have 3 breakfasts and a couple of hours reading, a bit of a party, or some gardening and D.I.Y.
K: I work in International Development in Brighton and so from Mon-Thur my routine is very centred around that. I am a big sleeper, so I don’t get up a minute before I *need* to. I shower, dress from clothes already prepared, grab my bag and walk to work. I always get myself coffee on route and arrive at the office about 45 minutes after I woke up - often a little dazed. The evenings are all about cooking for me. I developed a huge love of creative cooking from my mum and spend a good portion of my evening in the kitchen. Fri - Sun when I am not at work can be a mixed bag. It usually involves tea and crumpets in bed as a bare minimum. I am also a big fan of a Sunday roast and a pint. When we create and practice as a band we do so over long weekends and have a wonderful routine that involves long mornings full of brunches, listening to music and chatting, followed by bloody marys and music writing. The evenings we fill with friends, art, gigs or movies, or occasionally we will write late into the night.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
L: The video I made for I Stand on the Cable was the result of many years working behind the scenes as a film projectionist. I got into the habit of filming the curtains as well as learning how to maintain the tracks, set the outer limits, and of course, coordinate film presentation with them. They are the beginning and the end, and in that sense so bound. In the video I wanted to free them from their service of back and forth opened and closed in the same way I seek to free myself from back and forth, open and closed. I imagined them as a projection of self, with nothing to reveal apart from the space between viewer and viewed.
D: The sound writing process often begins with soundscape sketches that Lori has composed on which I will then add sounds, scratching, notions, lyrics, samples to. At this point Katie will often add perspectives, compositions on cello guitar or whatever seems appropriate. We then may have some set compositions which could do with some fucking up. I will use D.J software to do a remix of the already composed songs which will serve to add another layer to the compositions. Excerpts from the remix will get added to the melting pot directed by the three of us. These steps may be repeated a few times until we feel that we have something that makes sense or even better makes absolutely nonsense.
For me these ideas come from the cut-up method. I love the anti-elitist stance that Tristan Tzara took when he created the poem from nowhere and that the response from Andre Breton was to oust him which in turn created the anti-establishment dada movement. He said that poetry is for everyone. I say samples and culture jamming are for everyone! This fits into my own anti- establishment politics and appreciation of outsider art.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
L: I don’t think there is an ideal state of mind, but I do notice that the creative current is stronger when it’s not being pushed. The best strategy for me to focus is to be physically engaged, and not in a creative environment. Commuting by bicycle and swimming are probably the times when I most switch on. Saying that, I also like psychedelics – a lot.
D: I feel like I am constantly looking for the opportunity to be creative. I get the chance most often with photography. Then drawing because most of my drawings grow from doodles and when I’m bored I doodle. Boredom can be fertile ground for many creatures. Boredom is everywhere because I’m an intrigue addict. Writing and making music are more precious entities. I have to have good energy levels or my band to encourage and structure me musically. Writing really comes on me like a cold. Kinda hot, kinda painful, kinda cold.
Distractions include plants, work, gay porn, low self-esteem, drama, being an adult, my beautiful cats.
K: One word. Poncha. Turns out I can create great music whilst drinking Poncha. Life is the biggest distraction from creativity. That and ironically D&L in a magical way. Sadly my creative state can’t exist when it’s distracted by work, by grief, by resistance. I have to create space and time to be able to write and it can’t be forced. I need to give space for the expression to make its way out. When I feel like I have too much on, and too much to do, this is the opposite feeling needed for the ideal state. We are all pulled in so many directions and the biggest challenge for me is learning to say no to doing things and creating real space for myself. Subsequently, I’ve had to really consciously make time for creativity. I work less days now and spend long unpressurised weekends practicing and creating whilst having a lot of fun and relaxing around it. Other bands I have played in, we’ve often just given a few hours a week or month to the process, but this way of giving a few days at a time helps me get into the flow and the zone to be able to relax and create.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
L: I much prefer playing live to studio work. It seems like it should be the opposite, but I feel freer in a live setting. I think this comes from the energy of potentially getting it ‘wrong’ and also from the energy of the audience, the expectation to deliver dissipating against the invitation to be heard. It’s generous and something to be grateful for.
D: The studio is the sketch book. A cozy room to eat, imbibe, have fires and delve into the multi-dimensional space of sound. Being in this environment appears to create compositions or songs which we are encouraged by ourselves and others to let loose into the universe. Playing live is the necessary bondage and discipline of showing off. Despite being a somewhat uncomfortable experience it gives me many wonderful opportunities to meet fascinating people. It also gives me the gift of practice and structure. In which Lori, Katie and I can tussle, aggravate and sculpt our expressions together.
Our work is constantly an improvisation for me because im so terrible at doing the same thing twice. Despite how frustrating this can be at times I feel its totally natural and organic for the composition to be eternally evolving. Never played the same way, never heard the same way.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
L: I don’t really find these to be that separate, apart from sound elements lend easier to structure while timbre to mood color texture.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
L: I was not allowed to watch television growing up and think this is probably where my interest in sound germinated because I had a remote engagement all the same. Whether this was the warm distant mono monologue of my parent’s television set rising and falling against the ambient 3 dimensional mix (adult figures commenting on the programme or talking to each other, house settling noises, commercials, diegetic and non-diegetic sound of the telly programme) or the awkwardness I felt amongst peers when I couldn’t really participate in the cultural exchange – it had a contrapuntal quality that was audibly visual in the absence of any images. I love it when you don’t necessarily see what you hear or hear what you see.
D : I absolutely take my hearing for granted, the balance, depth and fantasy of it. I don’t really pay attention to how it connects to my other senses because I am to busy being engulfed and in awe of it. I do delight in uncomfortable sound and noise because I like to endure it whilst others are whineing. Distortion, pushing or following sound to its limits excites me. I have recently gotten into healing tones and have felt excited about how they assist my meditation practice. I was always drawn to drones and now I understand why. Sound has no borders.
K: When playing the cello, there are certain chords and sounds that make my emotions run totally wild. You can really feel emotions like love or pain or anger though the vibrations and tone. There is a track on the album that is a voice and cello duet between Lori and I. It’s like two voices and there’s this wonderful part where our voices join in to the same note but it’s such a painful emotional journey to get there. This track always pulls my whole body at this point in to the chord resolution and provides almost a physical release. I’m quite a sensitive person in the way I experience sound, and often when it is intense, I have to close my eyes and my hands can ache if it’s emotional. Senses are clearly closely interlinked. My senses often become overwhelmed by the sounds/music.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
L: I dunno. I spent so many years trying to avoid being an artist because I didn’t believe that I was relevant, or that the portrait of my experience couldn’t possibly be relevant because a lot of my work is motivated by the politics of love, curiosity, tolerance and repulsion – of life itself – but as experienced by me. Recently I heard a scholar say that this is not unintellectual. Perhaps embracing one’s own experience as relevant is the social/political aspect that requires the most courage in making work.
D: I think I can be a bit suspicious of art and being an artist. It can be held in such high esteem that it makes me feel nervous for humanity. Despite these concerns I am still obsessed with putting more time into my creative practice. My approach to art is I just can’t help it. I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember. My approach to being an artist is an awkward persistent joy.
K: I often wonder about the depth within my own art and music. I make collages and doodles as well as music. I don’t think I approach it from a political standpoint and I certainly wouldn’t be able to point out how my art represents something deep and meaningful. That said, I am a political person. I follow politics, debate controversial things and live a life that is probably a bit of a political statement within itself. My approach to art is to just do what feels good and feels right. It doesn’t have to be about anything other than what it is. You certainly don’t need to over analyse it if you don’t want to.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
L: My idea of music is really wide open. Saying that, it would be welcome if there was less co-dependent type sentiment in pop songs.
D: I don’t think it’s remarkable at all. Music is transcendental is takes infinite forms and will continue to do so.
K: I find it hard to imagine what music couldn’t be, it feels endlessly open.