Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Ngaire Ruth is ON-it, Big Bad Blog Two.

I am wondering whether you have got the idea of this Blog yet. The science vocabulary in Blog One would be a clue to the fact that it is an experiment. It is both the production notes and the product. Interviews with:  some high kudos characters for whom producing and performing is up there with breathing, who unashamedly chase The Fame Monster or… not; some new and interesting contenders for the former; some who made an impact either as solo or front people or writers of bands, thinking here of Lesley, Silverfish, Roxanne, The Faith Healers or Pinky McClure. (Still waiting on ideas here, in Comments section.) Like stars, these women came, burned brightly, reminded me to pay homage to the inner girl – or certainly that it was safe to bring her out to play in the current company I was keeping (Camden, Melody Maker, Lime Lizard) and then went. And where did they go to? Well, I know for a fact that Roxanne is still an artist, but not a performer and lives with a collective in London somewhere.

And here’s the thing about this glorious format, an interview like that can link to current exhibitions, show artwork, as opposed to pensive, yet focused music shots where the subject is trying really hard to “look like they are thinking of something.”  The mind boggles at the opportunities, when I consider links to every reference churned up and stroked lovingly, by words and memories you understand, relating to places, small labels of city scenes, from London, Bristol and beyond (apparently, there is a beyond, I know for a fact there is a very real thing called “Cov Love”).

Get on with it!
My first interview is with Rita Lynch, this Thursday (4th August, 2011).See above photograph.

I walked in to The Thunderbolt, Bristol, spring 2011. It was noise, a fuzz box wall-of-sound. It was crowded, self-absorbed and smelt of damp. It was like a pat on the back, hard, from an old mate. I knew the soles of my shoes were going to stick to the place on the way out. (Good!) It was just like The Falcon or White Hart of old where I saw bands for the first time, usually, and wrote about them, in the National music press, including P. J. Harvey and Blur. The relief that this was still going on, when I had given up ever being able to re-experience the hope, the intellectual and emotional peak which comes from listening to a band or artist, live, who pushes the boundaries, almost brought tears to my eyes. Easily though, I gave in to the pleasure, rather than nostalgia because the sound of the guitar and drum beat, beat, beat was dragging me in.

As I moved closer, to watch this Rita Lynch woman, the tunes and layers in the music became clearer. She held her guitar close and played furiously. Scrap that. She played her guitar like she was going to die the next day. This was my impression, absolutely. The tunes were jagged; complex yet her hand movements graceful, free-flowing and the melody fought to “get there” because it knew it had a chance, given the knowledge and understanding of the drummer, John Langley. He is needed here – because they seem to connect, driving the music forward - more than in the Blue Aeroplanes, with whom he also plays. So, apparently, does Rita, but I can’t see that here and now.

I remember when I went to see the Lives! Editor, at the time it was Everett True, about writing for the Melody Maker. Back then I was reviewing, pretty much the same as the Melody Maker, as an independent freelancer for the underground London paper, free at the tube stations, LAM. He asked me if I liked the Blue Aeroplanes. I said, “Who?” An absolutely huge grin appeared on his face. He sat back in his typing chair, over exaggerated his sigh and shouted, “Did you hear that Chris?” At the same time, Chris Roberts appeared from behind a screen with a face that gave away neither approval nor disapproval, only humour. Where was Everett dragging them up from now?

I saw the Blue Aeroplanes live, for the first time, this Spring and the experience was intense and vital, not at all “the nice collective of intelligent and talented beings playing jingly jangly indie”, I had expected. This has a place too, usually indoors, on my stereo, for company,  but live, I want to be possessed, owned. But that’s another story and not for this Blog.

Have you ever tried to go up, the way you went down?
Often when musicians talk off their motivation and ideas, the interviewer, particularly if they’re talking to a female, will focus on the “angst”, such as their periods of manic depression, abusive or co-dependent relationships. To me, these are just in-evitable downs, to the ups. Why can’t we talk about the “ups”, as earnestly and analytically? Have you ever tried going down, the way you went up? I think that is part of the creative process that a singer/songwriter takes, whatever their gender. It is very clever. It is an emotional intelligence. It is about what goes on in their backyard; waking up in the morning and spinning the wheel, to see how you feel, and working “with it”. I am interested in the backyard.

Visual learning
Colour and texture is also a theme because the trigger, for me, the realisation that my idea could produce something, entirely, adorable, helpful, funny, vibrant and really truly, feasible - by working with and adapting the Blog format - was when colleague Neil Kulkarni, (read him, it’s like skateboarding, while hitched to a rare, classic car, driving, at speed, in zigzags through bustling city streets), recommended to me a Blog, on this site, from Lucy Cage. Lucy was part of Lime Lizard when they moved from the young rich American’s house, with the lizards, in to a proper office. But then, I am only guessing. I was at the house, you see, earlier on. (By the way, the original Editor, Britt, still has my rare copies of The Face and I.D. I always felt she started the magazine to a) meet Robert Smith and b) appease her boyfriend.) I digress: Lucy’s excellent Blog, in particular something in a piece titled, Something To Cry For. Something To Hunt, a review of Kristin Hersh’s new book, “Paradoxical Undressing”, captured my imagination. It was this: the touching and enviable story, from the book, and Lucy’s thoughts on it, where the young Kristen is encouraged to move away from playing primary colours, to mixing the palette, such as playing yellow and blue to make green, with paternal patience and love.

So colour and texture are a must here, and the moment I or the Blog turns the colour off or becomes stuck in the Primary colours. Tell me.

There are two types of questions: open and closed. For example, how could you make that sentence more interesting? Open. What adjectives could you add to those nouns or adverbial phrases, in order to engage the reader? Closed. You see, I know how to do that as a teacher – the person I have become over the last six years, since I have been responsible for my own backyard, so to speak – but now I have to apply this skill to my writerly notions. And get back to inventing words, like “writerly”. Surely that must be a word?

And here’s my backyard: one of the exciting parts of this project is adding new skills to the old ones. Maybe this will also end up a theme in the interviews.

Questions are not there, even the open ones, to be followed, like a jobs-worth, but they do help me focus on the theme for this experimental blog.

Here are some of them so far:
Write to play, play to perform?
Bands played with/musicians, writers, artists worked with? Both as a record or log and with regard, if appropriate, to the little nuggets taken away to use for yourself, either literally, or as a trigger for other personal project or relationships with people… which led to something else.
I’m most proud of the fact?
The best advice I’ve ever been given is …
You cringe when people describe you as?
Musical compromises?
How to avoid those compromises?
Here and now or five/ten year thinking?
Current projects. Where to get other stuff?
Expressive or hysterical?
I worry about?
Indoors or outdoors?
People used to say to you?
A child of?
The things I like about myself are…

Mystery and Suspense
In the end this Blog will be a fine source or reference but also, I hope a trigger for inspired thoughts and ideas, even reassurance and laughter. If you are ready, you will be reading between the lines all kinds of useful things, real life tools for working/thinking, a wholehearted embracing of foolish notions, wry, sniggering, kindly. (Oh yes you can!)

I have an image in my head of a chubby cheeked maiden, eyes focused and bright, safe, satisfied grin, riding the sun, at a gallop, guitar strapped to her back and what’s that? A tail?

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