Cindytalk - D-side interview 1. Hold everything dear closes the trilogy you did for editions mego. Did the whole stuff unfolds the way you planned it when you began working on The Crackle of my Soul ? When i began working with computer music back in 2001 or thereabouts, i was living in Long Beach California and had failed miserably to find musicians i felt i could continue Cindytalk with over the 5 year period i'd been living in the U.S. I was forced to find other ways to keep activeâ€Ś importing vinyl from various european labels and attempting to dj them at parties so people could hear the tunes.I wasn't a very good dj so i would play early or late at parties and therefore i was free to experiment with mashing things up and creating some noise.Once i got the laptop i started using the turntables (and later cd mixer) to create new sounds which then naturally started to evolve into my own tracks.The first project i did which is still unreleased was called "The Chaos Of Connection".That short set of ideas was the beginning but it took me a further two years and a jump from North America to Asia for the real work to get going.I was in Hong Kong by 2003 and still basically experimenting with sounds when Walter Robotka from Klanggalerie got in touch and invited me to participate in one of his 7inch singles clubs.I didn't feel as though i had anything specifically releasable at that moment (with hindsight some of that previous project would have worked well) so i set about working on two pieces "Transgender Warrior" and "Guts of London" which would also form the basis of The Crackle of My Soul" (though in the end i broke them up between the first two albums.) That was how it began and i was very definitely powered by the fact of being able to create again but other than the 7inch with Klanggalerie i had no real sense of where the rest of this work would end up.I was creating for the love of sounds, shapes, textures, structure and following my instinct.By the time i'd reached Kobe in 2004 a first album was beginning to take shape.I was using my mini-disc to record random sounds that interested me, either for processing or just to have as natural "music" within the context of processed sounds."The Crackle of My Soul" was pretty much finished by 2005 (although i did add and subtract over the next few years) and had been recorded very much in the same spirit as when i'd started in California with turntables and cd mixer, so i knew that with the next project, "Up Here in the Clouds", i wanted to approach it differently.Simply, i was still learning the technology, picking up new ways of working, so i needed to find new approaches to creating as well. Also i was getting handy tips from friends in London about how to get more out of my software.The same happened with "Hold Everything Dear" - i was acutely aware that the Cindytalk output had been sparse over the years and that we had made fairly large jumps in style and sound from album to album, so although i knew that would change with me doing it on my own, i still wanted there to be specific changes from project to project.Firstly, so that it held my own attention but also because i wanted there to be a sense of movement, of development.
I had an overall view of this trajectory but i allowed the details to fend for themselves, so in the main it happened as it was intended but crucially those details can't be controlled in my work, so surprises will happen and thankfully they did.At heart i'm an improvisor, so working with a computer in the way that i do, means i need to surrender a decent percentage of my work to chance. 2. It's the first time on these albums that you worked with someone else, Matt Kinnison that co-wrote it with you and passed away in 2008. Did his presence and then absence influenced the way you worked for the album ? Yes that was one of the developments that i had in mind for this album, deepening the sound with some actually played instruments.Not that i don't consider the computer an instrument, it obviously is if you wish it to be but in the context of moving from one album to another and wanting to use differing approaches, i invited Matt to send me some ideas that i would try to integrate into my sketches - he had been very supportive of "Crackle" when i'd sent him a cdr copy from Japan.We were living on different continents when we did the bulk of the work for this album.He plays on 3 tracks,although one of those tracks, "How Soon Now Until We Disappear" was split in two and topped and tailed the album.I was obviously very connected to Matt as a friend and a musical collaborator so his involvement definitely strengthened the work and when he died i was devastated but we had more or less finished the album by 2008 and the only music recorded after his death were my piano pieces and he was definitely in my mind when i recorded them.I have no doubt that his presence and then his absence would have had a profound impact on this work.We were also working in a full band situation when he discovered he was unwell, his death left a gaping hole in our world so we tend to take him with us, whichever musical journey we undertake.In the live situation, i/we use little threads of his sonic character to keep him with us. 3. There's a lot of real life elements on the album, human voices, field recordings... much more than on the other two. Is there a reason why the outside world is so present this time ? As previously mentioned i was forging a path with this new work and really wanted to cover some ground, rather than stand still.With Hold Everything Dear, alongside the played instruments, i felt that the field recordings would open up the scope of the music and create the atmosphere i was looking for. There are field recordings on Cindytalk records going right back to "Camouflage Heart" (1984) and they're there on the first two Editions Mego releasesas well but it's possible that i used them more on this album as a bit of a reaction to the previous twoâ€Ś being an artist you want to keep changing position.I've always been interested in "everyday sounds" as music.The merging of wind, rain, birdsong and building construction for example.I was thinking on that idea recently whilst watching some old Yasujiro Ozu films
from Japan in the 1950's where the sound of Tokyo being rebuilt after the second world war acts as backdrop to Ozu's beautiful family dramasâ€Ś i heard that same sound outside my door a few weeks ago and it threw me back inside Ozu's world and i realised (again) how much of an influence that is for me.In addition there are heavily processed field recordings used in earlier works as well but I was keen to use the more naturalistic ones on this album as much for the human warmth as anything else.As i was living on the mountainside surrounded by birds (and insects) i felt very comfortable using birds as an integral part of some of the tracks.I get the impression that some "serious" field recordists sniff at the idea of using birdsong and the like, so that might be another reason i wanted to explore such combinations. 4. Even when we can hear some recorded voices, your own voices is totally absent on the three records. As a singer, didn't you miss singing on those records ? Not quite true, my voice does appear on these releases.You might not necessarily know it's my voice but i do use my voice as a sound source for melody texture and rhythm.The root sound on "Transgender Warrior" is my voice repeating those words and i did vaguely "sing" on "Feathers Burn" both from the "Crackle" album.Having said that i was also keen to create a new direction of sorts for Cindytalk, one which took me away from just being perceived as a singer.I do know what you mean though, singing in a more orthodox fashion, well, yes i do miss it and with each of these releases i considered the possibility of going into a studio and attempting to sing and in the case of Hold Everything Dear i actually did, but something, instinct maybe, told me not to follow that path, to allow these three records a chance to live and breathe without my singing on them.There will be a right time for me to do that! As mentioned elsewhere i do get to satisfy my need for singing in the full band live context.I don't really do the computer duties there, i prefer to close my eyes and sing.In that situation i am one of a collection of musicians, i might "direct" it but i allow each player to take turns at steering so that we all contribute to the whole.I will work towards integrating the voice into my computer-based music though.I think that has always been the trajectory, to create a foundation, whilst still learning new methods and to then move to that next level, always evolving.Some of these evolutions will undoubtedly include bringing back older elements of our music, as with the piano this time, next it might be the voice, i'm not exactly sure when or how that will happen but it is inevitable. 5. It also has some piano melodies on several tracks that reminded us of The Wind is Strong. Is that a nod to a previous Cindytalk era, when you weren't playing with electronic instruments that much ? Cindytalk have always been thematic.Always allowing for memory and premonition.Melodies from 1980 would reappear in 1984 or 1988... or even 2009.
A sound touched upon briefly sometime earlier could find itself developing more fully many years later.It's like an unfinished conversation, nothing is ever fully finished.Life is like that, we add and subtract as we go along.Obviously the actual music changes and moves forward but i don't see any reason why we can't flicker a memory or two within these new areas.As with the voice i was always intending to bring the piano back into my work at the right moment.I had flickered that memory into "Debris of a Smile" ( a piece inspired by Jean Luc Godard's "Eloge de L'Amour") on "Crackle", knowing that I would revisit the piano on this new album.It was enough to invite the question from a few people as to when i might go back to the piano.I don't own a piano and rarely get the chance to sit down and "play" one but i feel very comfortable attempting to find small melodies there.I should say though, that we have pretty much always played with "electronics", in the earlier days before samplers or computers we would always refer to it as "tapes" because we'd mess about cutting up tapes, creating loops etc and in fact when i was doing rudimentary field recording in those days that also came under the remit of "tapes", i think i'd seen Eno use that terminology on early Roxy Music records when i was younger... 6. Overall, Hold everything dear seems to be planned as a whole soundscape rather than a succession of tracks... Not particularly, no.If it does work that way then i suppose i have to take some of the credit for both the cohesion of sound and the structure of the whole piece.No, seriously it was recorded as a group of tracks in much the same way as the other albums were.If anything i'd argue that "Crackle" was the album which most presents a whole picture, a concept almost.That one was intended almost as a voice from another star, signals being sent back from a distant planet.Warmth would certainly be the unifying factor of Hold Everything Dear."Crackle" & "Clouds" were definitely more icy, more to do with otherworldly landscapes and broken signalsâ€Ś i was mulling this over recently after someone posed a similar question and i suddenly thought to myself that it's like Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, the first two albums are the journey out into the unknown and then Hold Everything Dear becomes that point at the end of the film when they appear to have arrived at their destination and what they see is the surface of the earth, with it's rivers and forests, a reflection of what they'd like to see, so maybe i've done something similar without realising it. 7. The articulation between silence and musical elements is amazing on the album. What pushes you to put this emphasis on silence ? I was definitely trying to make a music that had a stillness to it.That became a very important factor with this record.I consider myself to be a fairly nervous person, my music over the years has always been a bit fidgety, never at peace with itself.As a person i'd say that i was like that too.So, as much as beginning
in the darkness, as i usually do, i'm always in search of light.And that equally translates to beginning with noise and seeking out silence.That's like a spiritual quest for me, not in any obvious religious sense although i have spent the last few years living between Europe and Japan and whilst in Japan i would be shocked if i haven't learnt something about zen gardens.Sitting, staring at the land and sea ripples of those beautiful spaces, thinking and dreaming, i'm sure i must have picked up something from them that would assist me in finding silence.It's nice to hear that i managed to naturally find the right balance with this album. 8. You described The Crackle of My Soul as noise poems. Do you still feel that tag is appropriate for Hold everything dear ? Well in truth that was a phrase i coined specifically for "Crackle" and it seemed to fit "Clouds" also, but the noise/music ratio on Hold Everything Dear is a bit different so i suppose it's less appropriate.Not that labels or tags matter much anyway.I was only being playful with noise-poetry, that and i was also probably trying to avoid being lumped in with whatever current related scene might've been going on at the time.I prefer to be judged on my own merits rather than as part of any loose collection of artists whether i'm aware of them or not.I tend to do things in a bit of a bubble, sort of knowing what's going on around me but not always being aware of the details of it.The vast majority of the music i've been compared to recently are things i've either never heard or in fact, never heard of!!! 9. The title of the record came from John Berger. How did his work influenced you ? Warmth again.The warmth with which John Berger approaches his ideas appealed to me greatly.He's clearly quite concerned about the way the world is,maybe even angry but he refuses to become hateful in reacting to it.He is offering up some suggestions as to how we might get ourselves back on track, away from the hatred, the greed, the disconnected landscapes we find ourselves in.The simple poetry he uses to discuss issues of our time struck me as being a very necessary antidote to what goes on around us.I wanted to embrace that and share it.Back in 1994 Cindytalk released a 7inch single called "Muster" which was attached to the album "Wappinschaw" (1995), firstly, that album's title comes from the old Scots "language" and means weapon show.Twice a year the clan chieftain would come round to check if the weaponry was in good working order, "Muster" (inspired by the the highland muster roll, a call to arms in the highland areas relating to the Jacobite rebellions of the early 18th century) was directly linked to this idea of invoking spirits of long dead freedom fighters, poets, film-makers to help in the resistance against the tyranny of the capitalistic hell we have made for ourselves.Our weaponry in this battle of course was our art and ideas and though i can see a point, in extreme cases, for actual fighting, i would much rather we
create our battleground within warm, positive and artistic discourse.In "Hold Everything Dear" John Berger says, "Not all desires lead to freedom, but freedom is the experience of a desire being acknowledged, chosen and pursued.Desire never concerns the mere possession of something, but the changing of something.Desire is a wanting.A wanting now.Freedom does not constitute the fulfilment of that wanting, but the acknowledgement of it's supremacy." On the cover of the very first Cindytalk album "Camouflage Heart"there is a photograph of me standing next to a wall, written on the wall, the word "Desire"â€Ś what Berger was saying was exactly what i had meant back in 1984 when i had graffiti'd Desire on that wallâ€Ś 10. A few months ago, there was a boxset compiling the two first albums of the trilogy and a 7 inches you made before. Does that mean that Hold everything dear is not fully a part of the cycle ? Or that Transgender Warrior could be the first part of it ? Yes as previously stated "Transgender Warrior" is definitely the beginning of this cycle.The trilogy idea was only ever a loose one, it was something of a co-incidence that there were three albums (i think.) The albums all interlink, they were recorded in the same general period and all overlapped in some way.I do see that "Crackle" & "Clouds" locked together more clearly however, the only reason that they were released together on vinyl was cost.I'm not sure i sell enough records to warrant two separate vinyl releases for those albums, so rather than not have them released in that format at all, i was delighted to see them joined together.Also, it gave me a chance to give them a new identity, a new title and new artwork.Cindytalk has a bit of a history of being mischievous with artwork, either changing album covers as we did with "Camouflage Heart" or being playful with our album "In This World" (1988) where we issued two albums with the same name on the same day with different track listings (except for differing versions of the title track on each album) and different paintings by the same artist.When we issued the cd version with both albums reunited as one, we used a completely different painting by that same artist.But yes,"Hold Everything Dear" is definitely a part of the "cycle" but as with all good endings, they are also the beginning of something new as well, so i attempted to detach it slightly from the other two to show a shift into new territories.Territories which obviously trigger memories of paths previously travelled. 11. Even with those records released on Mego, you're quite an outsider there : there is much more humanity, frailty and intimacy on your three albums than on anything ever released on Mego. How do you look at your collaboration with them ? I'm not sure i'd necessarily agree that statement.I could point to a number of Mego or Editions Mego releases that have all of those qualities in abundance. Maybe i'm just less academic than some of the others that release on eMego? Maybe i'm more of a Romantic? I do consider it possible to be both romantic and exploratory.From the beginning with my music i've always laid myself
open, given too much away.I went through a baptism of fire with Camouflage Heart in the early days and i clearly remember wondering if i'd gone too far, revealed too much but then realised that if you want to be a communicative artist you have no choice but to throw yourself inside your work and toughen up to any abuse that comes your way.Am i an outsider within the eMego family? I don't know? I'm generally an outsider in most situations i find myself in, so it wouldn't surprise me but i certainly wouldn't want to dwell on it.I'm thrilled to be able to release music through Editions Mego, it's long been a favourite label of mine.From early Pita and Fennesz through to Hecker and Onehtrix Point Never -i definitely looked at it from a distance when i had the basic workings of those three albums and felt an affinity.Yes, i realised that some of the artists were approaching computer music very differently than i did BUT rather than that make me feel distanced from them, it made me think i was connected but just steering it into another area that would only add to the labels strengths.I suspect Peter Rehberg also felt something like that because not only did he invite me to release these records but he has since broadened the label incredibly.The first Mark McGuire solo release is also something that people might be surprised to see on the label but it's simplistic honesty and warmth is very special in that context.Editions Mego seems to be getting better and better precisely because it is shifting itself into new musical areas. 12. Over the last years, you played both solo and as a full group. What is the best context for you ? Is Cindytalk a solo artist or a band ? The current battleground of my soul!!! I change my mind all the time regarding this question.Ostensibly, i am a singer.Given the choice of sitting at a computer screen on my own OR standing with my eyes shut improvising a melody with other musicians by my side, it's really an easy decision.But i suspect my mind is gradually changing and the more articulate i become with my computer music, the more i realise i can effectively "sing" through it and continually find new voices and that's very appealing.However, i don't need to make a definitive choice, i can, in fact, be greedy and have both!!! So, Cindytalk is a band AND it's just me on my own.It could also be me and any number of band members or guests, in short, it's a shapeshifter.Who decides what it should be? Those that are participating at any given moment in time.We have the freedom to define ourselves.I love all the different versions of Cindytalk, though i must confess that i do miss the others when i go off to do solo shows.Not that i can't cope on my own but there's always a lot of laughter when we are together and that something very much worth having around. 13. On one occasion in Brussels, Robert Hampson guested with you. How did that collaboration emerge? Yes, exactly, for that night he and i were Cindytalk.What a thrill that was.I've long been a fan of Robert's band Main and had often thought of getting in
touch with him to see if he fancied playing some guitar with us but when i did my research on his whereabouts, and what he was up to (I was in Japan at the time) i noticed that he had abandoned the guitar for field recordings.I'm not quite sure why but at that time i chose not to contact him.When i met with Peter Rehberg for the first time to discuss releasing my work, he mentioned that he was meeting Robert later in the day, i told him that i had often considered inviting him to work with us and he suggested i stay around to meet him.We met that day and became firm friends.Within a matter of days we had talked about doing the split 10inch on eMego (Five Mountains Of Fire/Antarctica Ends Here.) We then started tentatively discussing the possibility of working together in some capacity.He was considering the possibility of re-approaching the guitar and consequently re-activating Main both of which i supported entirelyâ€Ś so when i was offered the Domino Festival show in Brussels i decided to invite him to join me with his new guitar possibilities.It was a wonderful experience.I pre-designed a computer set then we bounced improvised voice and guitar off each other giving it a very organic quality. 14. Will you be, in some ways,involved in his reboot of Main ? It has been mentioned but i'm not exactly sure how or what i could contribute.Instinctively, i imagine my voice within that musical sphere but Robert needs to decide what he wants to do with it.He's currently working with Stephan Mathieu as the first incarnation of the new Main and as a fan i'm eager to hear what they come up with but as far as i'm concerned there's no hurry, i'm happy to wait and see what happens and if i'm called upon to contribute then i will do my best to assist in any way i can. 15. Now that the trilogy is over, what will be your next move ? Will Cindytalk become again a band with a fixed line-up or do you plan to keep it more fluid ? I'm slowly working towards a new album, i have some tracks already recorded.It shifts away from the territory of Hold Everything Dear and is much more desolate sounding.I'm hankering after some noise again.A very organic physical noise, very elemental.Out into deep space, To Kiss A Dying Star.Cindytalk will continue to move in different directions at the same time.I definitely want to record a full band album as soon as possible.The band line-up at present is very good so hopefully that will remain intact.It includes : Paul Middleton - Drums & Percussion ; Gary Jeff - Bass Guitar : DanielKnowler - Guitar ; Jacob Burns - Electronics and David Ros - Sound Engineer.Even with a fixed line-up like that we can still be fluid, we are able to split into smaller units and play with just Voice, Computer and Drums for example, or any variation of the collective.That's partly what i've been building over the years, a group of people who are able to create live on stage and who can do it no matter what the circumstances and who happens to be there.In fact, as we proved at the Domino Festival we are to welcome in new and untried elements.
16. Do you have other plans for the months to come ? There are a few solo Cindytalk gigs coming up over the next few months, in Torino, Berlin, London, Hull etc and then in late November there are a couple of French gigs - Cite de la Musique in Paris 25th November (possibly with Robert Hampson playing with me), L'Embobineuse in Marseille 26th November (as well as Cave 12 in Geneve 27th November) with Philippe Petit.There is a 12" vinyl collaboration with Philippe Petit coming out on Richard Johnson's Lumberton Trading Company within the next six weeks.I'll hopefully be heading back to Japan over the winter months which will help with work on the new album.It is such a brilliant place for getting down to work.Peaceful, inspirational and full of wonderful sounds.And i'm hoping that as of next year there will be a lot more full band concerts where we can explore our "instant song cycle" improvisations.I've also spoken tentatively with Ivan Pavlov about a possible collaboration which is very exciting but i've been so busy that we are still in the very early stages of thinking about it.