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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
the iJAMMING! interview:
(Click here for Part 1) (And here for Part 2)

GA: On Dead Bees, I almost felt there was a kind of soul type influence in a way, and the other thing that came to mind was a 70s Steely Dan type influence.

DS: The R&B influence certainly did creep in and I think it had a lot to do with Ingrid's listening habits. We did a lot of traveling together, and still do, and we hear a lot of music in the car so we listen to one another's favorite albums, and I heard a lot of soul music that I had maybe heard before, but had never really listened to it to that extent. And it just played in. And another point was that I originally started out writing material for Ingrid, I was writing material for her to respond to, but after the birth of our first daughter she didn't have time to work on material anymore, so I started focusing on my own writing, but there was a number of pieces that I had written her in mind, that I took for myself. 'I Surrender' was one. There are a number of pieces where I originally had Ingrid in mind.

GA: The other slightly more buried reason the soul may be there, is perhaps South London. Which connects with my talking about Holgar, because coming here I was thinking about that whole period in south London in the late 70s/early 80s, there was the soul boy thing going on, there was the dub thing, which is studio. Does that any of that resonate with you?

DS: To some extent. What I think was wonderful about growing up in London was the wonderful. . . Here, if you want to hear a genre of music, everything is segregated, you just go to the station that plays that music. When we were growing up, if you wanted to hear your favorite song you had to wade through this material [the Top 40 playlist of Radio 1]. But that gave you a wonderful education because you had to go through it whether you liked it or not. And it broadened your palate, and I think that allowed us to search out more interesting things as we grew up. I find europe a far more creative place in that extent. They're interested in hybrids as a breeding ground for new ideas. In America, everything conforms to a certain rootsiness which I find generally uninteresting and uninspiring - though there are certain individuals who break through and embody the spirit of that genre again to some degree. But I think in Europe we are more interested in breaking new ground as artist, looking where there's an area that hasn't been covered before, not just melding together some hip hop with gospel but something a bit more meaningful.

GA: Also the border between high and low culture in Europe is much more blurred than it is here.

TF: Something to be said for top 40 radio. When you started out doing instrumental electronic textural music, it was still something of a very left field area, but in the years since, and this ties into home studios, there is so much of this music coming out, do you listen to much of it, do you consider yourself an influence?

DS: I haven't heard it, I would like to I just haven't tapped into it, I've been listening to people like Oval and Pan Sonic, people that are a bit more on the edge. It's not really ambient, but sculpting sounds in such interesting ways. I don't recognize my influence. I'm possibly the last person to see it.

TF: I've seen comments that suggest that you and Ingrid may yet make a record together. I'm one of, I'm sure, many people who enjoyed Ingrid's album back on Paisley Park.

DS: The thing is, it was only critics who bought that record! I meet so many people who like that record who are critics. We've wanted to create work together for years now, and we were having a lot of fun mapping out territory that we felt comfortable with, particular in my writing for her, and trying to pick up on her own listening and taste and trying to second guess what might inspire her. And we did some interesting pieces together that turned up on the b-side of the 'I Surrender' single, but then the recording was disrupted by the birth of our first daughter and that obviously took priority and we shifted focus. We tried to get together again over the years and started writing material and it just hasn't happened, we haven't had the time or the focus, up until now. We're looking at the possibility of doing it again. There's a number of ways we can approach it. We can either make an album together, it can be a solo album for Ingrid or it can be a collective of sorts. We're just looking at what will be the most interesting venture to undertake. Ever since the Rain Tree Crow project dissolved I've wanted to pick up on where that left off in terms of the approach to Êthe work and of having a number of musicians involved in the project.

TF: The approach being collaboration?

Collaboration, a certain amount of improvisation in the writing process. The original idea for Rain Tree Crow was to have a shifting line-up of musicians from project to project, it was never meant to be a fixed line up, and I'm still very keen on pursuing that, alongside my solo work. Either Ingrid will focus on that and she'll become a part of that line up, or we'll pursue something more along the lines of something she would like to pursue as a writer.
"I'm very much a recording artist, I enjoy the whole process of writing and recording and arranging, or even developing a piece from scratch like Rain Tree Crow. To me that's fascinating, stimulating and thoroughly exciting. I would focus on it exclusively and I would say it would be enough because I get so much out of it. "

-[The tape turns at this point but my question is along the lines of: Rain Tree Crow seemed to be a very difficult project in terms of working with group members again. Why would you want to go back to that when you enjoy being so much in control of your own work?]

DS:. . .The Japan/Rain Tree Crow projects are very unique in that respect. You've grown up together, and as with family, you know how to push one another's buttons. I still wouldn't say that that's a good reason NOT to grow together. If it's interesting musically, it's worth having a bash. You can overcome all the other hurdles. The Rain Tree Crow projects fell apart not in the making of the album but really just at the tail end when external pressures came to bear, so actually the relationships were working very well in the studio, it was a very exciting project to be a part of and that's what I remember from that period of time and that's why I would like to still create some sort of evolving compilation of musicians that could come and go. That would have been ideal of the Rain Tree Crow project but everyone felt quite possessive of it so I wasn't able to go on and use the name and create the second line up. But I would try and stay in greater control of the overall direction of the project I guess. So there would be a direction, a vision, but within that the parameters would be pretty broad and that would create an enormous amount of freedom.

TF: Returning to the gap you took between albums. . . It was hardly like you weren't being productive. To me that begs the question as to whether the long playing album is necessarily the proper or only form of musical communication. It's the way record companies make their money, but in your case, you collaborate with people, you tour with people, you might put out instrumentals or a single. I was wondering to what extent you thought the album was the ultimate artistic statement.

DS: To me it's the area of work that I enjoy the most. I'm very much a recording artist, I enjoy the whole process of writing and recording and arranging, or even developing a piece from scratch like Rain Tree Crow. To me that's fascinating, stimulating and thoroughly exciting. I would focus on it exclusively and I would say it would be enough because I get so much out of it. But the issue I would have is the duration of these recordings. Originally we had LPs running at about 40 minutes, and now we have CDs running at 70. It would just be nice to be able to put out projects of varying duration, so if you have a piece that's 15 minutes, you can put it out and sell it at a good price. Virgin aren't currently interested in that approach. So at times when I've thought of parting ways with a major label that's been one of the positive aspects, that I could actually start putting together projects that weren't full blown, that I could explore for short periods and move on.

TF: That was always one of the nice things about vinyl, you had 7 inch singles and EPs, you had 10 inches and 12 inches. I think we are finally moving away from this notion that because CDs can hold 74 minutes, they have to. But it's been a long few years of artists delivering 70 minutes of music on it, which is usually more than you need.

DS: It's very rare that you can handle that much. We used to have the two sides of an album, and sit down for 20 minutes to listen to a side. It was nice to focus on a piece for that long. And as you say, I think the industry has recognized that it's become too long and we're down to about 50 minutes.

TF: Of course, Everything and Nothing is two times 70 minutes...

DS: And Dead Bees was that long too. But there'd been an absence and I thought people deserved a little more from me. I had actually been pushing for a double album for Dead Bees, because I had that much material, and also to break it up, make it a little more palatable.

TF: Have you started on new material? Do you know for sure what your next project is?

DS: No I don't. I'm going to let that float for a while.

GA: How has your living abroad affected your perception of yourself as an Englishman?

DS: I guess I'm more comfortable with my Englishness, but it's not something I ever carried with me that consciously. I found I began to lose my accent somewhat when I married Ingrid. She had a 7 year old son who could barely understand a word I said. I had to modify my speech to have a relationship. I don't think people generally recognize my accent to the extent I'm English.

GA: Do you feel to any extent a stranger in America any more or less than anyone else, and do you feel you've arrived somewhere now, both physically and spiritually? Are you at a destination where you're comfortable for the foreseeable future.

DS: One thing I did feel about leaving England is that having uprooted myself, I feel that I could live just about anywhere. One place is no more home than any other. I kind of glorified in that for a while, we were traveling back and forth, then that became kind of tiresome, I started to become weary of that. . . I wanted to put down roots but because my job doesn't take me anywhere particularly, I don't have family here, it was very difficult to find a location where we felt we belonged. Having now moved to New Hampshire, I would say there is a very good chance that we have found somewhere where we can put down roots for a number of years. A lot of this has to do with the children,

TF: How old are your daughters now?

DS: Seven and three. It was a disruption for the 7 year old, living in California for the 3 years we were there, trying to find the right school. We've been very fortunate here with that. We have a fair amount of land on which to grown and build a business if that's what we choose to do. We're building a studio, which would indicate that we're here for some time.

TF: Do you mean a studio that other people can come and use?

DS: I don't know about that, I think I would open the doors to friends, I can't see it being a commercial studio right now because it's so much part of the home. But maybe some ways down the road.

TF: Why New Hampshire?

DS: I moved to New Hampshire through contacts with my spiritual teacher. I was shown this property, it used to be an ashram . . I would never have singled out New Hampshire as a potential future home for me. It's been a fascinating journey, not really of conscious focussed choices, it's more a matter of following intuition, just packing up and moving on when it feels right.

TF: To what extent is the spiritual journey. . . If it's never complete, is it ever semi complete? It seems to me you've found a certain amount of inner peace.

DS: Well it's all relative. What I've found in teaching in the past, obviously there's a long way to go, but the wonderful thing is that you view everything that comes up good and bad, as part of that journey, because it's all part of the learning process, and you have something to mirror it all against. And in that sense, it pulls everything into sharper focus, so you're less likely to be lost in an experience, to be overwhelmed by the emotions of an experience, because you can just take that slight step back to allow a certain amount of objectivity to creep in. That's a wonderful position to be in, and I'm very fortunate that I have that capacity.

TF: You're obviously aware there's been this 30 year history of western musicians and eastern spirituality. You've played it quite carefully. Is that a certain defensiveness in that ever since the Beatles took their journey...

DS: It's cultural tourism, that we were guilty of in Japan, and that I didn't want to step back into. If I did step into a culture, I wanted to pull something of substance down, I would like people both from the culture into which I'm stepping as well as the western culture to appreciate it. So maybe those particular cultural influences might show in future work. But I'm taking my time with it, I don't want to jump right in and create these superficial hybrids where we don't develop things as far as they should go. So I'll take my time with it and see how I digest the material. As you get older you hear so much, you listen to so much, you see so much and you find the process of assimilation is far more intuitive in the sense that when differences finally surface in the work you're hardly conscious of it. They become part of the overall picture of your work. So I'm waiting for that process of assimilation to take place before trying to bring these influences to bear on the work. And for the work to justify itself.

Back to Part 1
Back to Part 2


Further surfing? The best David Sylvian web site is undoubtedlyAlchemy, run by a Dutch fan with David's blessing. A good list of links for Sylvian interviews is at Trophies. Virgin's official David Sylvian site still seems to be in operation at Eden, with some lovely artwork and a couple of video interviews.

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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2001.