Tag Archives: interview

4 interviews with Uwe Schmidt

Hurray! Flanger is back! To celebrate, here’s four interviews with Uwe Schmidt, as published in [uzine] 1999-2002 (pdf, 28 kB)! Some excerpts:

Interestingly, I am very often confronted with the word ‘irony’ or ‘kitsch’ when it comes to certain works of mine (Señor Coconut is another example). I can assure you that I am not an ironic or sarcastic person at all and that I even highly dislike sarcasm or irony since it usually dequalifies cultural elements, perspectives and after all ‘truth’. Geeez ‘n’ Gosh therefore is not ironic, and the inspiration and intention is absolutely sincere and real. To me ‘irony’ and ‘kitsch’ are brought into discussion usually when the listener is unable to see the entire picture of a certain work, as proved quite clearly to me with the Sr. Coconut project. For those who can’t understand ‘belief’, ‘religion’ in a contemporary context always has to appear as irony. Perhaps my work should be seen as a tool to expand perspectives, rather than to laugh about contents one may not know.

The distance to the subject of interest is still the only way to see things clearly … I am trying hard to move myself into orbit to earth, of course in a non-literal way. My friend Burnt Friedman tends to call it ‘the alien perspective’ and I think this describes it very well. Remove yourself out of any existing set of values, as much as possible (of course). This will give you absolute freedom. Whenever I am coming back to Europe I see everybody working on the same project, which in my eyes is a camouflaged capitalist project. Musical and design minimalism for example are direct extensions of the capitalist streamline idea of human existence, though nobody seems to see it – much rather they believe that their project is a real alternative or ‘progress’. That’s why I am denying music and design rules … and rather try to create confusing moments that seem to fit, but then don’t …

Spiritual ideas in general have always been much more important to me, no matter where they came from. One thing I have learnt, though, here in Chile, is what practically a ‘religious’ life means. I find that extremely interesting, not only for the music I make, yet for life in general. Central Europe, all the so-called ‘first world’ countries, perhaps Germany especially, have established an aseptic, anti-spiritual society, which is something I feel very strongly these days. Also, I very much believe that whatever social / global solutions we may look for, we won’t find them without to some degree coming back to spiritual or religious topics. (…) Santiago offers a lot of interesting cultural moments which are totally unknown outside of Latin America and which are truly inspirational since they refer to a unique set of parameters. I have just been to Argentina for example and there you also have huge musical movements, totally ‘mainstream’ which are not existing outside of Argentina at all. They are proofs to me that ‘globalisation’ is a totalitarian concept without future.

Some weeks ago, for example, I was invited to Cordoba, Argentina’s second biggest city. On my last day, I visited the concert of a ‘local hero’ from Cordoba called “la Mona”. I did not at all know what to expect, and believe me, it was a totally astonishing experience. The music is some sort of electronic, yet extremely cheesy 150 bmp ‘tarantella’ (Italian folk) mutation, which sounds a bit like the Central American ‘merengue’. You see thirteen musicians on stage, some behind huge towers of synthesizers, others playing e-drums, congas, etc. The crowd: six thousand kids between 16 and 25 years old, mainly lower class people. Best of all: everybody dancing ‘cheek to cheek’, in a very oldfashioned dancing style! A total massive cultural movement that denies all first world ‘globalization’ ideas. I am sure those ‘micro worlds’ exist all around the globe, yet to a much lesser degree in so-called ‘first world’ societies. Latin America is very rich of those moments which are very unpolished and non-standard.

I find it a bit difficult to talk about musical ideas, I mean those musical ideas which do not refer to ‘content’. When I was conceiving the Geeez ‘n’ Gosh concept, I had a certain sound going on in my head, something which I find almost impossble to put into words… a certain groove and a certain surface perhaps… and I knew how to achieve that idea on a technical level (technique). ‘Bass’ was a parameter to a degree, that is true, though not a main one … rather a parameter I allowed to appear I would say.

verdinterview / pas de deux over brussels

Sunday nigth 2014-01-26 at 22 o’locco Pas de Deux will reform and perform at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels as closing cat of “The Sound of the Belgian Underground 2014”, a festival with mostly young & new acts, e.g. Hantrax and Miaux. Links below.

To celebrate the occasion there’s lots of interviews in Belgian media today & earlier this month. Here’s an interview we did with Walter Verdin in 2001: taken 2001-04-18, e-mailed 2001-05-04 as part of [uzine 01.07]. The 2001-06-28 erratum of [uzine 01.09] has been processed in the text below.

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Walter Verdin is one of Belgium’s finest artists, especially as a videast (see also his website – cf. the URL below), but ironically Verdin is still best-known for his appearance at the Eurovision Songfestival with Pas de Deux, who represented Belgium in München anno 1983. Backed by the big band of Freddy Sunder (another Belgian legend), a trio consisting of Walter Verdin, Dett Peyskens and Hilde Van Roy (now a journalist for VRT-tv, who interviews royalty a.o. people) danced their way onto the stage to give a maximalist ((the big band’s belting “baaa-waaa baaa-waaa ba-bààà”)), almost dadaist performance ((the lyrics “Rendez-vous / Maar de maat is vol / En m’n kop is toe” were delivered by two brilliantly coiffured women dancing metronomically)) that would earn Belgium little or no points. Thus, it was a performance that was up to a par with Telex’s minimalist meta-pun on the songfestival in 1980 (Den Haag), which had already ranked Belgium among the most surreal countries Eurosongwise and other…  Later on the band would split (with the Parsley record label going broke at about the same time).

The following interview was conducted around April 18th & mailed out May 4th 2001. Readers who have access to the free weekly newspaper “Brussel Deze Week” might also want to read Michaël Bellon’s elaborate interview with Mr. Verdin in 2001’s June 20th issue (no.793, p.7), in which it is revealed that Verdin even designed record sleeves, e.g. for the Neon Judgement.

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im mr skin


RIP Ed Cassidy (1923-05-04 > 2012-12-06), drummer of Spirit … and IM Randy California (1951-02-20 > 1997-01-02) and John Locke (1943-09-25 > 2006-08-04). Cassidy was instantly recognizable by his shaven head (hence his nicknameMr Skin“) and his fondness for wearing black. He was around twenty years older than the rest of the group (born in 1923). His earlier career was primarily in jazz and included stints with Cannonball Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Roland Kirk, Thelonious Monk and Lee Konitz. He was a founding member of Rising Sons with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder.” Quoted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_%28band%29


sandrine collard communique

Ten years on, Sandrine Collard is getting praise for her part in the Dallas project, where Veerle Baetens attracts most of the spotlight. But take note: la Collard has recorded before, with Ideal Husband ànd solo. Moreover, Je Communique(Need Records / Capitol Belgium 2002, cat. no. 0724354033803) is one of the best pop albums ever produced in Belgium ou dans la francophonie, imho.

Crystal clear production by Dan Lacksman of Telex fame, exquisite lyrics and compositions by Sandrine même, except for the odd Christophe cover (“Les marionettes“). 2003 interview here – http://www.lalibre.be/culture/musique-festivals/article/121138/sandrine-collard-le-coup-sensass.html – plus previous praise here – https://uzine.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/baetens-collard-do-dallas/ – and an extensive review here: https://uzine.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/uzine-since-1999-issn-13773828/ > [uzine 03.14]. (Heck, I’ll just make it easy for you and paste it below.  For Sandrine’s faves you’ll have to download [uzine 03.02] yourself though.)

“Songwriter, chanteuse ànd filmmaker Sandrine Collard  was born in Namur, Belgium, has lived in Antwerp and currently resides in Brussels. She writes lyrics with a strong feminine (not feminist) touch and a strong tongue-in-cheek irony that are truly amazing, and which should please any fan of French literature (at times, I’m reminded of Raymond Queneau‘s warmly mocking humanism) and the wittiness of for instance Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain“. Even the one song she chose to cover, Les marionettesby Christophe (of Aline fame), oozes a similar sort of smart naivité. At the same time, “Je Communique” equally reminds of rap music, since there’s an unfailing flow to most of the lyrics. “Le coup sensass” even brings an uptempo, and highly intelligent slice of self-analysis to an unending series of ‘-ace’ / ‘-asse’ rhymes.

Much of the album’s charm is of course also due to the delicate musical arrangements to the songs. The lightfooted yet intimate electropop music (- très timeless pop, not fashionable electroclash -) which she designed for her songs whilst pc-ing at home, and which she later created and reworked in the studio with top class producer Dan Lacksman (of Telex fame), suits ms. Collard’s songs brilliantly, since it’s melodious and playful and simple all at once. The sounds which Mr. Lacksman devised sound both coolly clever and warmly sympathetic, and the general sound design also allows for simple keyboard sounds or other minor effects to efficiently underscore a lyrical twist here or a witty observation there, e.g. those bubbly sounds in “La bulle”. It’s details like that which make this album such an enjoyable listening experience, time and time again.

And those lyrics, of course! Collard has written thirteen mini soap operas that betray a talent for psychology and self-criticism that’s almost worthy of Kafka or any of the great ‘journal’ (diary)authors…

  • “Mes discussions” tells the story, in first-person narrative, of someone who knows she likes talking a tad too much: ‘ma seule drogue / c’est ça, / parler à qui / voudra’.
  • “Le gsm” is a similar study (fictitious or autobiographical – doesn’t matter) into the utilitarian-thinking mind of someone who’s feeling lonely and insecure and who doesn’t feel her gsm is of much help: ‘j’imaginais bien un simple entretien pour me ramener un moral d’acier. Sur ce coup mon inquiétude devient une habitude, faut pas…’
  • “Les femmes” is an equally subtle psychological analysis that would have made a great song for, say, Ally McBeal to sing, since it’s the soliloquy of someone who’s starting to see things for herself and realises that her judgement hasn’t always been without fault: ‘tant qu’à faire des confidences, je me fâche sur ma conscience puisqu’elle ne m’a pas découragée’.
  • Meeting people, too, can create doubt, as “Les grimaces” proves: ‘Je pense aux hommes, ceux qui m’attirent et puis s’assomment de leurs soupirs. Sans faire l’éloge d’un bel avenir je m’interroge sur leurs sourires. Tant de grimaces cachant le pire, moi ça m’agace, vaut mieux en rire’.
  • “Je doute” similarly sings about uncertainty: ‘Tant de doutes enracinés, dans ma petite tête écerelée, s’amusent à me décourager devant un simple choix à faire’.
  • “La bulle” is a testimonial of someone who knows she’s holding herself back and feels like she’s living in a bubble, protecting herself after her lover has hurt her: ‘tu m’as fait tant pleurer / que tout mon maquillage s’est mis à couler / pour effacer j’ai dû faire mousser / et puis j’ai soupiré, / donc, voilà d’ou vient / cette bulle / autour de moi?’
  • “Le miroir” is the monologue of a woman who’s breaking up with her lover and making the switch from looking back to looking forward by dumping his old mirror and getting herself a new one of her own: ‘Maintenant j’ai décidé que mon miroir n’offrira plus aucun désespoir. S’il est honnête et sincère, mon miroir, ce sera à mon prochain de voir’.
  • “Fuis-moi” dwells on similar themes: ‘Tous les clichés parlent de nous dans la vie, / on est tous effrayés par l’ennui / de se donner dans un méchant lit, / de se coincer dans son petit abri. / La solitude personne n’en rit’.
  • “Le licenciement du boucher” sounds like a woman who’s about to dump her lover, while she’s in fact searching for the best words to tell her butcher that she’s no longer going to buy his meat: ‘Fatiguée de lui mentir, je recherche les mots qui m’inspirent. J’espère qu’il sera bien docile, la vérité n’est pas facile, mais il comprendra. Si je fais un discours habile, y glissant quelques mots futiles, il supportera’.
  • “Le coup sensass”, finally, ends in a programmatic phrase: ‘J’veux que les gens m’enlacent en disant qu’ils sont contents que rien ne les froisse. Comme à pile ou face, il faut du style pour pouvoir faire un coup sensass’. Eh oui, il faut! Et elle en a.

Most songs are pleasant midtempo ‘listening’ songs, but there’s a couple of uptempo songs here too, which are danceable, but not quite in a dancefloor kind of way: “Le coup sensass” and “Cache-cache dans le noir” bring to mind the Lio of her earliest hits (“Banana split“, “Amoureux solitaires“, “Sage comme un image“), while the slightly absurd “Aïe” equally reminds me of the Bowling Balls or even Stéréo Total, but without any of that French / German duo’s rock ‘n’ roll allusions.

The two videos on the cd (for Cache-cache dans le noirandLe coup sensass” – one of which stars Daan [Stuyven] in a guest role) are utterly delicious too, cleverly giving proof that ms. Collard can always build herself a fine film career if that coquette voice of hers should ever get tired of singing. (Check the web for more info on ms. Collard‘s movie shorts.) Meanwhile, we’re looking très forward to the next album!” 2003 review source: https://uzine.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/uzine-since-1999-issn-13773828/ > [uzine 03.14].

So … go find thatJe Communiquecd – it’s timeless ànd it’s got the two official videos on it as media files too!

christian marclay’s vinyl projects

One of the world’s most fantastic arts & vinyl men, mesdames et messieurs it’s Christian Marclay! Also: check his clever Footstepsproject + lp on RecRec (rec. 1988, rel. 1989)! Full story here: http://www.futureshipwreck.com/2011/04/record-on-the-floor-christian-marclays-footsteps/ + have a look inside Phaidon’s book on Marclay here (2005, ISBN 9780714843742) ànd enjoy Rob Young’s 2005 interview too while you’re at it, parbleu!

listen whitey

Noted music producer and scholar Pat Thomas spent five years in Oakland researching Listen, Whitey! The Sights And Sounds Of Black Power 1965-1975“. It also chronicles the forgotten history of Motown’s Black Power subsidiary label, Black Forum (1970-1973). The tracklisting (listen to tracks  1, 5 & 12 below) on Listen, Whitey!(named after Huey P. Newton’s 1972 lp on Folkways) does miss God bless America for what(1972) by the once again forgotten Swamp Dogg, though – imho more relevant than Roy Harper‘s I hate the white manwith its rather vague lyrics, however poignant their delivery  … Even so, and especially with the accompanying book on Fantagraphics, this v/a compilation is a great addition to “(Rich Mix Presents) Back To Blackon Lo (2005), the Black & Proudcomps on Trikont (2002 & 2005), the two Stand Up And Be Counted – Soul, Funk And Jazz From A Revolutionary Erav/a volumes on Harmless (1999 & 2000) and What’s The Word? on the revamped Harmless (2011). Extra (viva RotA): Mable Hillery! And Denise Sullivan‘s book Keep on pushing – black power music from blues to hip hop(ISBN 9781556528170, Chicago Review Press / IPG 2011-07)!
http://listen-whitey.tumblr.com/
http://roomonetwofour.com/books.htm
http://lightintheattic.net/releases/685-listen-whitey-the-sounds-of-black-power-1967-1974
http://www.fantagraphics.com/browse-shop/listen-whitey-the-sights-and-sounds-of-black-power-1965-1975-2.html
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2012/feb/22/motown-records-lost-history/
http://newblackman.blogspot.com/2010/06/rhythm-and-protest-motowns-forgotten.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/154559/listen,_whitey!_talking_with_author_pat_thomas_about_the_black_panthers
http://lightintheattic.net/news/?p=4882
http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2012/03/seize-the-time-pat-thomas-black-power-and-listen-whitey.html
http://jamesrtracy.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/listen-whitey-james-tracy-interviews-pat-thomas/
http://revoltoftheapes.com/2012/08/14/pat-thomas-author-of-listen-whitey-the-sights-and-sounds-of-black-power-1965-1975/
http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/79645

Listenwhitey

liswhi-preview.pdf

brigitte fontaine in a c cat trance

Been absent here & elsewhere, and as a result I’ve completely missed out on Brigitte Fontaine‘s 2011-03-03 concert in Brussels last Saturday … Yet here she is, again, with Lettre à Monsieur le Chef de Gare de la Tour Carol(Saravah 1970), a song that was quite influential … for instance on C Cat Trance‘s Shake the mind (Ink 1986). You can buy the music via http://www.saravah.fr/brigitte-fontaine/comme-a-la-radio,1014 and http://www.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=930 … As for C-Cat Trance, see also our 2001 interview in [uzine 01.18] – complete with Medium Medium cd review – and our 2003 fave list inquiry in [uzine 03.04], all available via http://uzine.posterous.com/issn-13773828