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I'm sitting in this really nice beach house in Mexico with some of my Swedish friends, waiting for the midnight tick-tock, & NYE has very little urgency to it…I know on the other side of this country my friends at Young Turks are living it up music-festival-stylee but, to be honest I prefer this mellow roll -in / roll-out of the waves, and, O.K, I'll admit it, there is a Mexican jazz band playing some kind of flute version of a song very close to La Bamba, but I am glad to be here writing this blog entry to you dear reader, instead of a more glamourous, high intensity hang.

And I do want to recap the year, it was a good one. It started auspiciously with a tour in January of Australia with Mark Ronson, Spank Rock, Erol Alkan, Hot Chip and Danny Daze; making time to DJ a night of Hip Hop in Flinder's, Sydney's coolest bar in my opinion. I caught up with friend / Modular records founder Steve Pavlovitch who seemed to be doing very well on a personal level.

I went to LA and spent some time making songs with Lykke Li, Bjorn Yttling and Pontus Winnberg for a new band which would later be announced at Way Out West festival as being called LIV. We are still working on finishing the material, but its great, and I love all those guys, and Lykke and me, we have some kinda…crazy groovy musical connection…bah! I'll let you decide when it comes out. All two-part-harmony duets.

After that I was in Argentina for a couple weeks making the video for a song called "And Septimus..." from my album Descender. That month (March i think) we also final-edited the Vice / Creators Project / Sebastian Mlynarski short film "Making of Descender" which I think has more views on YouTube than any video from the actual album. When Descender came out, a lot of people didn't give it the attention I felt it deserved, probably some political bullshit because of how different it sounded from the pop mainstreamness of Miike Snow? But we did make some best-of lists: most notably the super-legit italian magazine Il Giornale Della Musica, who once championed heavy dudes like Luciano Berio, and Jarvis Cocker played it some on his BB6 Sunday Service show, so ok, alright with me.

Especially alright because in June I had my second number one hit with Bruno Mars, a song called "When I Was Your Man." Its kind of a classic song, I threw some of the kinds of chords I like in there, Bruno wrote most of it really, but I think you can definitely hear how I added a certain quality to it, chords you don't really hear on the radio these days. I like that. It was the only song in history to go to number one, along with Adele's "Someone Like You," being just piano and vocals. That's an interesting topic right there, I mean never before? But then twice in '12 and '13? The Age of Computers? But I'll take up that discussion another time!

When Descender came out, we had the opportunity to play it out with an orchestra, & we opened, somewhat awkwardly, for Kendrick Lamar, who's performance I missed that night, but who would later impress me with his opening slot at Kanye West's Yeezus show in LA. I met Kanye backstage and got what I feel is a better understanding of him than I had before, although he's still quite baffling to me. Nice enough though!And I loved a lot of Yeezus.

In March I should also mention that I had the chance to work with a really special chick: FKA Twigs. We did a bunch of songs together for her album and I think some of them may end up on her full length: she ended up doing her whole EP Water Me with that Venezuelan kid-genius ARCA. I hear he's working with Bjork now, surprise-surprise.

Other Collabo's were: Sam Smith in LA (don't think they're using it), Charli XCX (I'll keep trying w/ her), Lion Babe (you might be hearing about that one) and The Big Pink, which I just finished and which produced at least two really really good songs. Booga Bear AKA Cameron McVey was hangin' around those sessions being cool and adding some kind of twisted production element, and of course his wife is a babe.
And she came on the radioshow, yes the radioshow, Neneh Cherry came on the radio show.

I started in May I think, I'm talking about RADIOINGRID on East Village Radio, and since the beginning we've had great JuJu with it. The first show I had Sean Lennon on with a world premiere of Yoko's new record. Pretty great. And then we had everyone from Peter Hook to Disclosure to Chrissie Hynde to Dungen on the show. I realize in typing this that I forgot to thank Disclosure on the twitter page. really sweet guys. and thanks to East Village Radio, its been fun: i wonder when the people I ask to come on are going to start telling me to fuck off. so far, I've been lucky.

So come summer, I went to London and had the honor of performing "Hard Times Are Over" with Yoko Ono as part of her Meltdown Fest curation, then spent basically stayed the entire summer in Sweden playing festivals like Way Out West and Roskilde with the INGRID collektiv. For those of you who don't know, we do a lot of things together the Swedes and me. Vinyl, Tapes, shows, shirts, parties. none of it makes money, but I guess that can't be the point of it these days. The shows were a success and if you come back in a couple days I'll have some links to parts of the show. Also in Sweden, Pontus from Miike Snow and I started a new album- and we're almost finished with it. Chris has been too busy being a new dad and doing his Galantis project to participate. We'll be wrapping it up in LA in Jan Feb of the new year. I think its killer and the few consiglieres we've played it for seem to agree.

In the fall I started posting pics on my @wyattish instagram account of the studio I'm building, INGRID WEST. Its going to be an incredible resource and change my life and its almost done but man has it been a pain in the ass. I won't get into all of it but it should FINALLY be finished by, lets say, February! I will keep you updated. The Yurt is in though, complete with wood burning stove, and I spent a magical night up in the snow before I split for the Xmas break. Again, check back for multimedia examples, man.

I also in the fall did a special song and a banger I really hope comes out, its called Push and I did it with A-Trak.

So the winter so far I've been spending most of my time working on the sprawling, fascinating work that is a Mark Ronson record, which always involves tons of eclectic collabos. During the process so far I have been in sessions with I CAN'T SAY, but really kind of the best of the best. In fact I worked on it right up until Christmas day, when I rolled out to LA and spent the time in a house in venice with the artist Adam Helms. He does great impersonations and we tried a podcast, but in the end we decided we should leave the comedy to the actual comedians.

Enjoy your New Year, I Wish the best to all & and thanks to all who showed their support this year, especially Tiffany and Ian at Monotone Management.

much love A
Andrew will be performing at a charity event for The Philippines at the Ogilvy Theater in NYC next Tuesday, December 10th.

All donations received will go to Doctors Without Borders, who are currently there on the ground, and Gawad Kalinga, a local Filipino NGO dedicated to rebuilding lives after disasters and ending poverty. Any donation of $15 or more will enable entry to the event as long as space is still available. After donating, you’ll get an email confirmation which will be sufficient to guarantee entry. Make a donation now and secure your ticket to this special event today.
Andrew will be doing a DJ set at Girls & Boys at Webster Hall in NYC on Friday, July 19th, following a live set by Sneaky Sound System. Get your tickets here.
Check out the new video for "And Septimus…"! Directed by Sebastian Mlynarski, the video follows Andrew serenading the locals on a dawn-till-dusk exploration of Buenos Aires, singing from a microphone connected to the longest cable known to man.
Individual tickets are now on sale for Andrew's first-ever solo live performance at Capitale in NYC on May 10th. Don't miss your chance to hear and see Descender live and in all its glory as he performs with a chamber orchestra. Purchase your tickets here.
Andrew's first-ever solo performance, complete with chamber orchestra, takes place May 10 at Capitale in New York City. A headlining show as part of the Downtown Festival, single show tickets go on sale tomorrow, Friday, April 26. One and two-day tickets for the festival are on sale now.

In the meantime, check out this preview for the video for "And Septimus…," directed by Sebastian Mlynarski. The video will premier in its entirety on Tuesday, May 7.

Lastly, don't forget to purchase your copy of his debut album Descender.
Descender is now available digitally worldwide! Download your copy today, or if you prefer vinyl (it also comes with a free download card so you can have the best of both worlds), order a copy here.

I'm also thrilled to announce that my inaugural live performance of the album, complete with a chamber orchestra, will take place May 10 as part of Downtown Festival: New York, at a yet to be announced venue located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Purchase your tickets to the festival today, and for more information about the festival go here.
The lovely folks at KCRW are streaming Descender in it's full length glory a week prior to the official release date. Check it out and pre-order your vinyl or digital copy today.
Due to unforeseen circumstances caused by the stress put on vinyl pressing plants for Record Store Day, Descender vinyl won't be available at retail in North America until April 30th and overseas until May 6th. Don't fret though as you'll still be able to get your vinyl on the original release date of April 16th if you order directly from Andrew's web store. It comes with a free digital album download card as well so be sure to place your order today.
Last summer Andrew previewed a song off of his upcoming solo debut album Descender when he performed with INGRID (a collective featuring members of Miike Snow, Peter Bjorn and John, Lykke Li, Coco Morier, Jocke Åhlund, Nille Perned, Johanna Beckman, Tomas Nordmark and Jonas Torvestig) at the Way Out West Festival in Sweden. Check out the performance of "Harlem Boyzz" below.

Technology is continuously in a dialogue with art, from affecting its content (think of samplers in a FlyLo song or the computer generated images in Avatar), to the refinement of its reproduction (1080p HDTV or 64bit Audio), to the method in which it is distributed (WiFi connections, 4G streaming, physical copies). But as I look back over the history of filmmaking, another thing has recently become even more clear: storytelling and good writing still reign supreme, even in the midst of a sea change in picture "quality."

Growing up, there used to be a patina to old films such as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance which was due to limitations on the technology used to distribute images at the time (low-def, airwave-based TV), a patina which lent a certain credibility to their initial impact. The limitations (low frame or "refresh" rates) made the scenes less lifelike, more representational. Add to this the fact that the producers of film and television content were faaar less numerous (in the 70's for example- only 4 TV channels!!!), and the mere fact that something was given the great privilege of being on TV or in a movie theater at all gave nearly ANY work which made it that far, to the uncynical at least, an additional, albeit bogus, credibility. These low-res, un-lifelike images were more in the realm of the unreal (as Henry Darger liked to put it).

But all that has now changed. Last night I watched the John Ford film for the first time (although I can't imagine it hadn't played on TV in a room I inhabited at some point during my Old-West-soaked U.S. childhood). As it began to roll, in all its 1080p Hi Def crispness, I got a sinking feeling. "Oh no!!!" I thought, "this is gonna suck! It has the awkwardness of a stage play…this does not feel bigger than life." I could hear everything soooo clearly, too. The added detail was, if anything, distracting. I was, initially, too aware of makeup, of people "projecting" or using affectations of speech, largely technique's learned for the stage. Im sure you all have had similar experiences….but the point is, NONE OF THAT MATTERED.

Happily the same old stuff that always matters, a passionate message, an aesthetic vision by the director, meaningful dialogue, good music, came together in a way that no amount of technology can make up for and delivered a great blow (interpret that however you want). I was really deeply moved by the film in the ancient, transcendent way, but from the topical angle of the old west.

Another note. Crisp and detailed as the film seemed, as lifelike as all the actors became under HD's all-seeing eye, the one actor that i could not bring into my mind as contemporary was John Wayne. In other words, I could picture Jimmy Stewart as alive today and doing his thing, hanging out with Lee Marvin, that these were minds which could exist, beings which could exist, now as then. Its kind of like the Monks, seeing their German TV performance from 1966 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3fAzQzgeSc ) I can picture them doing a show at Death By Audio or Knitting Factory WB, now. But John Wayne is a real creature of the 20th century, man. He ain't budgin'.
More on Bowery...

Right after I posted my story Martin Scorcese sent a letter pleading to the City Planning Commissioner to keep the Old New York alive...although I share his sentiments...isn't it kind of too late? But its cool that he and I both used the word DENIZENS.
A documentary directed by Sebastian Mlynarski and just released in collaboration with The Creators Project, provides a compelling look into the aesthetic and process of making Andrew's forthcoming debut solo album Descender. More than just a Web episode, it spotlights Andrew's unique versatility and provides a distinct peak within his music career and the experiences that lead to his growth as a songwriter, taking us through the streets of Prague and into the recording studio with a 75 piece philharmonic orchestra. This documentary is beautiful in its direction and style, encompassing what it is to be human in an incredible world while displaying a humbleness that makes it easy to relate with Andrew, his music and his struggles.



PRE-ORDER THE 12" VINYL OF DESCENDER

PRE-ORDER DESCENDER ON ITUNES NOW AND GET THE FIRST SINGLE "AND SEPTIMUS…" INSTANTLY

*Fans in Germany can view the documentary here.


Includes insert with full lyrics and the following tracks:
1. Horse Latitudes
2. Harlem Boyzz
3. Cluster Subs
4. She's Changed
5. And Septimus...
6. It Won't Let You Go
7. Descender (Death of 1000 Cuts)
8. In Paris They Know How to Build a Monument
9. There is a Spring

Descender 12" vinyl pre-order (will be shipped on April 16th, 2013)

$19.98

Click Here To Buy


So in the times when I would come home from MS tours and see my friends, I realized that I really wanted to make something of my own, for my friends. I think being on the road involves a lot of compromise and so does being in a band. So as a part of that sense of freedom I was feeling being home between tours ("hey, I don't have to be anywhere today! I can just hang out at my own house and then, go to a movie!" big thrills, etc.) I would imagine these songs of my own and done in exactly the way I wanted to do them. Also, having done music for such a long time, I wanted to do something that could not be whipped up on a laptop, although laptops and sampled orchestra libraries were super important because they let me try things out as I was writing the parts for all the instruments. Overall it was really healing for me. It was something I became obsessed with, maybe not in the smartest way, (as it cost me a lot of my own cash!) but definitely in the best way. I hope you enjoy it, it's called Descender and it will be released April 16th on INGRID/Downtown Records. You can hear the first single "And Septimus..." here.

The Creators Project, a partnership between Vice and Intel which has funded a lot of other cool collaborations, will be premiering a documentary film about the whole process of making this piece of music, which I kind of see as a song-cycle. It was directed by Sebastian Mlynarski, and I think he did an incredible job. Look for it in March.

X AW


Sex, violence, partial nudity, loud rock music, bad language – this new triple bill from the Royal Ballet has got it all. Perhaps as a result the audience age had dipped by a decade and there was an excitable buzz around the place as they settled down to watch two world premieres.

Your reaction to Wayne McGregor’s Carbon Life will, I suspect, be conditioned by how much you like Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s score, performed live on stage by an oddly-dressed band led by Ronson on bass guitar, and accompanied by singers including Boy George, Hero Fisher, and Alison Mosshart of The Kills.

I thought it was a blast, though I am not entirely sure that the piece - which recalls both the days of disco and the slinky shapes of Michael Clark - will have that long a shelf life. It looks lovely, though. with Lucy Carter’s lighting initially enclosing the dancers in bubbles of soft light, then switching with the mood.

I was less keen on Gareth Pugh’s angular costumes - fins, spiky tutus and even thigh high boots for me. The choreography is energetically inventive (playing with the contrast between slouchy rock attitudes and classical poise) without ever being quite as memorable as McGregor at his best. There are exciting massed ranks, a stand-out pas de deux for Edward Watson and Olivia Cowley, and a Saturday Night fever routine for Steven McRae. The whole thing has a visceral energy that shoots out through the stalls.


The last couple of days has been spent in what I might call "critical reverie" of New York's, and particularly downtown New York's, back pages. Because my own life history is intertwined with downtown (I have lived downtown, pretty much continuously, since 1987) there have also been moments of critical reverie about my own life to this point, but not too many. Mainly it has been about space-time, and perhaps inter-dimensional travel as certain shapes, which I would link to space, have travelled through time.

A few nights ago Damon McMahon and I went to see several short pieces at Film Forum, all of which dealt specifically with the transformation of New York neighborhoods, a story anyone who has lived here even five years will be sufficiently acquainted with. All were essentially walking tours of the city transforming itself from the postwar years to the 1970's-- Serpico Era, but the best of them conveyed ideas about postmodernity swallowing whole the naturalist, poetry-driven mythology of the past and transforming the population, once defined by family and communities, into orderly, denizen-components of a capitalist machine. This was the direct story of Kirscheimer's Claw: A Fable; and the unintended story of Shirley Clarke's Skyscraper, although the latter had loud overtones of corporate cheerleading.

One powerful exception to that story is a community who balked at being modernized, and instead found its sense of timelessness, mythology, and poetry in worlds of drink: the community of homeless men who colonized The Bowery in the heyday of its colorful despondency. Alcoholics shun society in one way or another, and of course they have very personal reasons for that flight, and when they do they are often entertaining, sometimes shocking, to watch. All of those facts, and a basic humanitarian interest, led Lionel Rogosin to make a very special, and gentle, and dreamy, and harrowing film called On The Bowery, in 1956.

Rogosin was one of the first filmmakers to experiment with the lines between documentary and scripted drama, casting actual "residents" of the Bowery's streets as his actors, and then weaving actual conversations and written material together into a loose plot concerning the fate of a handsome, well-meaning Bowery alcoholic in his temporal struggles to find work and a place to sleep, and in his eternal struggles between the good and evil sides of his own personality. For all of the meanness and drudgery it depicts, On the Bowery is still overridingly beautiful and thoroughly nonjudgmental about either its protagonists or the society at large. What it does do, I found, was encourage compassion without being preachy, which is no small feat, and this half-improvised, verite directorial style was a huge influence on John Cassevetes, as mentioned by admirer Martin Scorsese in the prologue.

I watched this movie the next night on DVD and upon walking out into my neighborhood (which is Spring and Bowery approximately), I was dumbstruck by the number of buildings which remain perfectly intact and as they were in the film. In 1956, a hulking mass of girders in the form of the elevated 2nd avenue train loomed over the Bowery, giving it an even more ominous feeling.

But what I'm mostly getting at is time travel and the nature of reality. These shapes were around, just as they are, and defining a space, and giving signature to a space, that could not have been more different from the space we are living in now. Here they stand but in an altogether different world, a different reality, than the one perceived during the filming of Lionel Rogosin's beautiful film. Conceptions about reality actually shape a shared mental experience of the subject, and that seems to be mutable, even if the buildings themselves are not. That is why I think "space-time" is appropriately used when describing architecture.

Our perception of space is unquestionably linked to how we percieve reality; take for example a 125 square-foot room in Manhattan. A large, luxurious bathroom, you say! But a normal bedroom, and a tiny living room, although the space itself is of "adequate" size for any of these functions. Or a take a room with a red wall…try as we might with our rational minds, that red wall is going to change our perception of the size of the room. Human beings are organisms of immense age, and there is just too much programming in the subconscious to overcome it at any given moment with the powers given us by so-called "reason." "Reality" seems to be an amalgam of an enormous amount of information, all of it with referential meaning. So as the meaning of "The Bowery," changes with time (I know certain twenty-somethings for whom "The Bowery" only means the swanky Bowery Hotel lounge!) those old factory buildings, which used to be flophouse bars at ground level, sawdust on the floors, are time-machines, and space craft in the most literal meaning of the word. No wonder I felt for a few days like I was walking on a dream, if you will forgive the Empire of the Sun reference.
All this jumping around and screaming. All this jumping around. Banging on things, and also thinking in a linear manner. For what? A suspension, of some kind, to the interpersonal dynamic that everyone experiences everyday. They are usually amassed below you, at your feet. Why not above? I want to experience them and their many hands. I tried a few times; in Norway they almost dropped me, and then I would’ve been cooked. And then somewhere (the town will remain nameless) Jenny Frontrow reached up and stroked the package, it was a soft and gentle stroke, as if petting a rabbit’s foot.

There are architectural concerns, or the form. The festival setting, or the very large audiences in Madison Square Garden, for example, covered in this book. Here, there are so many individual particles to this mass that any labels applied cease to be sociologically descriptive. Who are they, who am I? What is this???? Answer: a series of events that led to this point. To the extent that terminology about the components cannot be found, a concert of this size works on the phenomenological level, it is an event larger than the aesthetic of the art itself, a rarity. But it also amplifies and reflects the aesthetic. Terminology about components ceases to matter. This is where the job becomes its most instructive, exciting.

Which is not to say that

One can never, as performer, have a one-to-one relationship with an audience member. One can recognize, in certain members, fragments of the mythology you may have used to produce your work: as a cliché, a beautiful girl. Or a wiry, ragged, and sensitive Glaswegian that reminds you of Bobbie Gillespie or Edwyn Collins. On the other hand, you might notice some Fratty Futurebanker that, under the right circumstances (sleep, travel) really bums you out.

Phenomenological approach.

I am trying to point out here the erasure of a binary division between the stage performing artist and the audience, even less than might be presumed to exist between the band’s individual members.

And a concert will not Tolerate self consciousness of any kind. To feel that the audience is worshiping you is as difficult as when you feel hated. The minute the angel acknowledged himself as god is when....well, down, down he went and you know the rest. Therefore what can a band offer to such a mass? The idea of a specific line of reasoning or a matched social agenda won't hold up- therein the roles of teacher and disciple are firmly in place, DJ VIBEKILLER and the self consciousness described above begins. So what? In the absence of Utopia, the best we can offer is what may best be described as "heterotopias;" that is, pluralistic, non-legitimated anarchic spaces. Where individual histories can co-exist with group histories, individual ones taking precedent. But in modern society, this is a small miracle.

Alas…

There is a Power, and…..

With any luck, visitations can occur. I won't speculate about its darkness or lightness, but it may be our reason for being.

Andrew Wyatt
August 2011
that is, brief, noticed tropes to melt through the endless avalanche of time. Heavy snow, it used to be. A birth, a death. Death. Now my own. In anger, I am turning back. I gave up as a child, I ran from those that seemed to have power. Sarah Midwest, she wore red braids. I let her keep me as a snake. I slithered the playground for her, happily ashamed. Those notes I harbored for her were fears. Those moves I made on her behalf were imitations of scars older than my body. How they continued! Contortions over a bowl of soup, within a shared bath. Yet she did not notice. And no they weren’t looking. But in an explosion, the demarcations from early dreams were scattered everywhere, potholes of pre-experience. 'I am. I am I am I am.' They dug into me.

Then clemency. In fantastic purple spring I was electrocuted by tulips, I took drugs to lower conductivity, then for resuscitation. The Panther tattooed above the underwear, breasts enormous, Socialista. But I couldn’t reach her through the snow. Cloudy-hot Brazil. What insulation would’ve meant.

A couple of turns through deep space and I am shooting three or more cameras at once. Impossible. From my liver, all of them. Attached and splayed out as in a circus. Animal, open, divine. A red ball in the tent. Taurus running, then around again, and face smash into the ring. Money back, folks, go home, nothing more to see. In the back rooms the elephant has been given LSD, and will soon be dead. What are they on to? Nothing- the vapors of the deceased. Although I wouldn’t bet against them. They always win in the end.

Remember Uncle, a Stooper. Impossible for him to be free, though the cage is shinier than it used to be. In his wildest dreams drank Bosco all day and sat with the little mayor of something. He was positive, a time machine filled with rattlers. Now he’s a shared needle. But tell me something I don’t know! I could have spent the entire month here, in a thought, a turn beneath a tree. Yes the optic mind, traveling, resting underneath the smoking gold canopy. Underneath, in leafblack cities of quiet, I’m there. A baboon breathing, or a howler. We made love on a car 600,000 miles away from the surface of the earth but landed safely.

And there where it always has been, in optic-mind schoolhouses in Iowa… old, fearful, burning empty in summer, the distance reducing optics to a shadow, enlarging it to an emotion, there somehow I must find sleep.

Sincerely,

Your Donkey of a son.
I am flying back now over Australia. For about the last 5 weeks, I have been coming and going from this country to other islands, as far away as Gamla Stan, the island-center of Stockholm, and Manhattan, but never for more than a couple days. Strangely, somehow always back to Sydney. And now I am flying toward London, for an extended stay in Northern Europe, and leaving Australia for an unknown period.

In flying over it, I am kind of comforted by the idea that so much of this country is undeveloped; it makes me feel that maybe it’s not too late to correct the imbalances civilization faces, this system. You can fly for hours across the central and northern parts of Oz and never see a single road. I have experienced the same in traveling across Northwestern China and Northern Canada, but in both of those cases that wildness is conjoined to some sort of inherent obstacle to habitability- usually extremely low average temperatures and rainfall.

Here I have passed over huge green valleys whose massive lakes are scratched together by thin drainages, then pockmarked with shotgun sprays of smaller lakes. Fertile, usable, unused. I have no expertise in whether there has been human interaction with this land but it’s not apparent. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Intermittent to the touring festivals I have been a part of (a phenomenon very common in this country), I have taken a few trips out into islands, as I said before.


FIJI

Traveling alone here, my goal was to write lyrics for Miike Snow’s second album, and to finish some songs I have composed on my own which don’t strike me as suitable for MS. I feel that for anyone seeking the impetus to finish long-aimed-at projects, no technique is better than to go alone to a completely unfamiliar country, rent some sort of tidy but primitive dwelling with proximity to water and spend from dawn till dusk focused on the one thing. There is something about the desperation of the expatriate, the isolation of the right kind of tourist outpost, and the metabolism of ocean, sunrise, and sunset that plow through trepidation or laziness almost on their own. I finished quite a lot here.

On my last day, I got out for some snorkeling. I had my own guide and asked him if we could head somewhere we wouldn’t see any tourists. I was on the island of Malolo, about twelve miles off the coast of the main island of Fiji, and from here we took a small Boston Whaler to a distance of another mile or so from the coastal “bure” or hut I had rented. On the trip I snapped a couple photos of my guide and the boat’s captain. In each case they posed awkwardly for the camera; initially on the cheesy, smiling side, and later when I said not to bother smiling, they made deliberately angry faces! Perhaps it’s me; maybe these guys were not going for the cheese when they smiled, maybe it represents their natural state. Fortunatos.

When we arrived at the anchoring spot, we were, as requested, alone. Here the guide told me that I might see some sharks down there. Sharks. Then he kicked back on the seat to eat lunch. And he told me not to swim too far from the boat. I freaked out a bit, told him that I didn’t want to see sharks. He said he couldn’t do anything, he could not control whether there were sharks down there or not. Sharks go where they want to go, he said. Although I couldn’t argue with that, I also felt it was unfair to tell the joke that I should close my eyes if I didn’t want to see sharks. I guess they had more skill with English than they let on initially. But I didn’t want to go to some lame beach with a bunch of tourists either. So I convinced him to go in the water with me, I felt that if he came with me seeing a shark would be OK.

The first time I went snorkeling, I was a child; it was, I think, 1984. It was in the British Virgin Islands, and my whole family (seven of us) dove off of a rented sailboat into The Baths, a famous formation of granite monoliths collapsing into the waters around Tortola. I remember being nervous, stunned, and euphoric. There were shitloads of fish in those waters: 400lb groupers, barracudas, eels, sting rays and even manta rays; I remember seeing these in other locations also as a regular thing. Now, even in the remotest islands on the planet, in Polynesia, I was hard pressed to find a fish bigger than a football. There were no sharks.

Dude handed me a sea cucumber. And we saw many small fish on a wall of coral rising 30 feet from the shallow ocean floor. But the snorkeling felt muted. From what I hear there are still untouched populations of fish in the reefs of some of the more remote or protected of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia (more on that later), but on pretty much any island or travel destination commonly referred to, the fish populations are fucked. Hotel construction, sewage treatment, modern agricultural fertilizers, poison and dynamite fishing have taken a big toll. On the big island of FIJI, I had a conscientious cab driver that told me he quit his former job because he could no longer destroy his island working for a man who supplied L.A. aquariums with coral, sea fans, and sponges. No wonder there are 85, yep, 85 percent fewer fish in the oceans than there were 100 years ago. You can go to TEDtalks.org and hear what scientists have to say on the subject of oceans. OK enough of my “alarmist” vibes… J


BALI

Mark R and myself, accompanied by Mark’s tour manager Brett, decided to travel together up to Bali, since Mark had a DJ offer up there. It seemed like a shame to come all this way twice, once with Mark and once with M.S, and not do some proper sightseeing.

The snorkeling was terrible. Just kidding. We didn’t even go snorkeling, but we heard it was amazing. Particularly from a couple of Russians who lived on the island with their boyfriends, who ended up at Mark’s show. We had decided I would sing a couple songs during his set, copying my stage moves from Omar Souleyman, and the promoters agreed to pay my way. One of the above-mentioned boyfriends was a guy named Chris, who was our liaison to the promoter. Chris drove us to the club for soundcheck that first day, when the police searched under the car for bombs. In a reflection of a struggle happening everywhere else on earth, there are fears here of a militant Muslim attack ever since the bombing of a neighboring club in 2004. It is always interesting to note that for however welcome certain people are making you feel, somewhere there are those who wish you would take your whole circus and get the fuck out.

Along the lines of personal safety, Brett was a former SAS paratrooper, having served many tours in Nigeria where he trained Special Forces. Whatever my thoughts about the political effects of this, I felt that Brett could handle a number of unexpected situations. He had been pronounced dead once off of Ivory Coast during night ops- hit his head on a rock when jumping from an amphibious vessel; he had also hiked without a tent through a game park, sleeping in shifts with the others in his unit and shining flashlights into lions’ reflective eyes to keep them at bay. He had also been charged by a rhinoceros on a small island surrounded by crocodiles. Can anyone say “over-qualified?” Thank You!

So anyway, we did the show, it was fun, and at the end there was for some reason a totally overblown fireworks display of about 10 minutes in length. Chris kept repeating the peculiar mantra that the fireworks show was “as long as a Simpsons episode!” which is in fact 22 minutes, but even at 10 it was superfluous. This was gangster exuberance: an unwarranted display of wasteful consumption, meant to dispel insecurities of the host that he is not on equal footing with his guest. Which is not to say that our host, the club owner, didn’t have a certain irrepressible charm, as most up-and-coming gangsters do. In my encounters with Chinatown gangsters in NYC and elsewhere, They care overly about what people think of them, want to be the center of all things exciting, and have an enormous amount of both energy and material advantage.

That exuberance flowed into our accomodations also, as the night before in a gentle downpour we had been shown to a dramatic three bedroom villa with a Roman layout, built in Balinese style and materials: teak, slate, and carved wood, with a beautiful swimming pool in the atrium. We had some fun nights entertaining there.

But mostly Mark and I spent our time cruising the narrow roads, seeking-out temples. The first place we went I cannot remember the name of, and as we had done no reading about Bali before arriving, we had no idea what to expect from. The driver dropped us off and Mark and I, after buying a couple of mandatory sarongs from the park ranger, descended a long, long path. We saw no one else. We arrived at a sign requesting that we put holy water on our heads, which we obliged. Then we dropped down a few more steps and turned a corner and were totally blown away….it was a huge shrine, maybe 1000 years old by my guess, carved out of the side of a small cliff. We wandered around for a long time taking photos. In one of these I used my timer to get both of us…the picture ended up looking pretty haunted, as though we were only ghost-spirits. “When in Rome,” I guess. That entire walk we saw only two other people- an older Australian couple from the Snowy Mountains. Later, we went swimming in the holy springs of Titruh Empur, whose baths have been in use since 975 AD. That was a mind blower, too.

JAVA

In Jakarta, we met up with the Enigmatic Tom Sisk, who was the owner of a club in NYC named CentroFly, which I went to in the 1990’s. This was when the night club explosion occurred in Chelsea concurrent with the Hip Hop explosion in NY. Tom opened in 1995 and closed in 2003, but during that time made a lot friends, and had a lot of memorable experiences. Most famously he denied the Bush twins, George W.’s kids, entry. My kind of guy.

Anyway our show was fun once again, there were those types of doting personalities running things again, and as I wrote Andrew V.W, the rich Indonesians “got pretty un-Sharia on our asses.” I think the Islamic law is perhaps just meant for the poor people, like most religious doctrine.

Afterwards, Tom showed us one of the weirdest places I’ve ever seen. It was called Stadium, and it was like a Medieval bazaar-meets-Palladium (on Union Square for those of you who remember such things). For starters it is a 7-story building with multiple entertainment rooms with different themes, like some profane cruise ship. but its main dance floor is, like Palladium of old, basically a 4 or 5-story open space, with an enormous sound system and an insane array of theme sculptures and projection light. But Stadium has a dark primitive character that the Michael Todd room did not. When we first walked in, there were a bunch of middle aged women wearing jackets similar to those found on agents at a betting parlour, or the floor of the NY stock exchange (ironically). I couldn’t figure them out, I thought they were some type of waitresses, until about 15 minutes into our stay, one of them pushed forward girls who appeared to be 14 years old- “you want? you want?” she asked. We said no, it was OK, and went upstairs to look at the giant sculpture of a naked woman riding a dragon.

The next day Tom took us to a great flea market where they let you try out the LP’s on old turntables before buying. We picked up some excellent old Indonesian funk-psyche records, the best of which was definitely The Gembells First Album.

On the way home, though we were on different flights, Mark’s AND my flights were both struck by lightning. I suppose that gives some kind of good omen to all future projects. Best trip ever dude!
I’m not for or against anything, Gregor said, and he leaned his head back against the white wall, where winter light was falling in through high windows like a powder and obscuring his face, pale to begin with and with blond highlights; smearing it but leaving moving indentations, half-human half-chalk, eyeholes sick and dim and hollow and the craggy mouthcrack opening and closing and telling stories of how he’d had to let everything go. Now I only care about me, taking care of me.

He came to London because of suffering, the reason for all refugees everywhere and most travelers, and with the intent to make himself available for one of those miracles, which in one oceanic span of few years catapults the sufferer, now bounded by lawful territories, into a place of utility, to enjoy something like contentment. To enjoy the slow passage of time, to sleep with the same woman in the same bed, to sit in the same den in front of steadily improving televisions. These were vague impressions he had had, images cast across the now almost-white sheet of memory by the projector of his youth. Of course it was what he had seen since that had blanched it; where those memories had sat in the interceding years, the formaldehyde of life’s destroying caustic experience.

There had been the literate washing, the deep and painful well of the experience near Novgorod, and the chemical disaster, the wine-red faces of the smallest walking residents of the town seeking aid unavailable. The inhalants which carried him through his time in Chechnya but carried off his sense of smell permanently, while the generals carried off and raped and strangled young girls in another town and laughed drunkenly and astoundingly afterward, feeling rage and lust but no humor whatsoever when sober.

How can a man’s constitution hold against such forces but to leach memories? Under conditions of starvation, the body first consumes its musculature; the sacrifice of mobility and inasmuch perhaps its only chance for survival. Next the organs are one-by-one sacrificed, all in order to keep the brain alive. Consciousness and memory, an animated identity, is the last to depart. But in spiritual matters it is the mind which departs first, following which the body can endure a gruesome farrago for years and years, bullets of harsh experience and deprivation somehow absorbed and dissolved, death avoided out on the ranges of homelessness.

I sat there watching him, listening to him tell his avalanche of a life story. He was good at telling his own story. Some people aren’t. And the fact that he was good at it, and had absolute clarity about the strategy others had employed against him in his need and the hazards in his own makeup and in nature unfortunately for him did not make the outcome any better. You couldn't say he had survived, really. He was about 45 now, and the tragedies were too significant, for him to ever look back on his life with satisfaction. Some existential comfort notwithstanding, he had already lost.

And he wasn't done loosing apparently. Gregor was the type of guy you felt bad for not wanting to be around, but you still didn't want to be around. He was gushing, and it was the kind of pain you couldn't do anything about, but somehow he didn't think so. He wanted to tell you about his pain, it didn't matter that you had just met, it didn't matter that he was working for you, and the fact that you couldn't do anything made you creeped-out and feel an unnatural, frightening revulsion of the type that made ancient people reject the children of others, even if it spelled their death. But he was an adult obviously, and he was supposed to be our tour manager, he was supposed to be guiding us with some assurance through the strange vicissitudes of an equally unnatural life, and I just didn't buy that he could. He was making everybody feel strange and the quarters are just too close these days. On top of that he had already made several large missteps with several promoters and venues.

And now he sat there, telling me about his renunciation of women and decision to get a permanent residence instead of living on tour, and I felt a horrible sense of guilt about what I had to do, and how it was going to make life harder for him, but that there are many variables in life, and that nature has a way of taking care of things, and that you can never tell where a piece of newspaper, now blowing in the air above the boardwalk in Venice Beach, is going to land.

So we fired Gregor.
Tonight we played at Berns Salonger, a beautiful theater built in about 1860. As the prominent entertainment facility in this fairly small (albeit cosmopolitain) city, you can imagine it has seen its fair share of drama. Drama in every sense. Bergman might have orchestrated an extramarital intrigue from within its luxuriant walls, on his way to siring one of the many children now fighting over his estate. Who knows?

The place is the also actual setting for August Strindberg's Red Rooms. In this influential bit of early naturalist writing, the poor and marginalised bohemian class remained upstairs in the small Red Rooms off of the balcony (and off their heads much of the time), freestyling poems and songs which they would take down onto the floor of wealthy sophists, offering them up in exchange for dinner or another round. Much later, my girlfriend's parents met here, so I am grateful for its existence in that respect also, it encourages decadence.

Our lighting technician commits some marvellous acts of overindulgence as well.

Tobias is pretty much THE MAN as far as lights go, I met him during a tour we did with Lykke Li and we hit it off. "Technician" is a bit of an understatement actually. Artist is far more appropriate: I knew from the unique spacing and density of his tatoos that he had amazing taste, and fortunately for us he found time in between FEVER RAY tours to work with us. I will put more video up as soon as I have.


Last night we played at Brixton Academy, a big theater from Victorian times. Its exterior is an innumerable mass of red bricks assembled in the kind of labor-intensive manner inconceivable to our era; the interior is a strange war between time and the decorative arts. A small city of balconies and verandas floats above the proscenium- but this invitation to one’s childlike impulse for things both secretive and impossibly idealistic is immediately scorched by the sight of punctured trellises and fractured banisters. My band members and I tried to find a way up into this dilapidated fantasy to no avail. Still, I could picture the spaces, lit by haphazard shards of stage lighting, large flakes of paint and electrical wires of anachronistic composition on the floor. And dust and the dander of mice. And the shit of mice. And the machinations of a mouse world.

The values of its designers washed away, its ghosts disrespected, Brixton Academy was perhaps saved from demolition by the dimensions of its dark span. Holding 4800 people, it would have been expensive to replace, and so when the needs of the entertainment world began to change, its hybridization began. Unthinkable to the pureset Victorian minds which begat it. In the mid 1970’s it would appear, a modern, glass-panel, movie theatre-style entryway was a cheap solution to the squeeze and suffocation of its otherwise dark and windowless anteroom once the heat, chaos, and standing room traditions of the rock age had been established. Standing in the auditorium, waves of loneliness! No sun has entered here in a century. A cloud of stale air looms in the tightening space between the axis of the chipping white ceiling and the radius of the balcony. Rows of blue seats, stained and wobbling, ascending to a decapitating terminus.



The floors would have been replaced many times, but now the venue’s owners have settled upon the final, fiscally convenient solution of riveting huge steel panels down and painting them. Black paint cleft in places by high heels, black splashed with beer nightly. In fact the entire experience of the place is shot through with the sour smell of old beer. Through this atmosphere comes periodically the loud, sharp clang of drums being tested, drenched in natural reverberation.

During the show I was continually pelted with glow-in-the dark toys from the teenaged audience.

Also, I am sad to report the following…in an uncanny realization of my feelings for the place, today’s newspaper brought a horrible disclosure. In the early morning hours following our performance, in one of those impossible-to-reach balconies, was found the murdered corpse of one Enzo Dora, an Argentine children’s musician and clown, apparently killed in a knife fight while still in full costume. His body was found by a stagehand who had gone to change the ballast weights for a new lighting device.

This poor stagehand, Terry Millhouse, was on a lonely-enough mission when he discovered the impossible sight of the middle-aged man, stiffening in rigor mortis; his longish, salt-and-pepper beard splayed apart by the skirmish, his face upturned and eyes still awake with horror, a bladder-shaped pool of blood escaping his body at the stomach and mixing with the dust and paint flakes on the floor in a viscous floodplain, then emptying into a defunct and rusting Victorian drainage.



Since the murder the detectives at Scotland Yard have put together a profile of this troubadour, and what could have possibly brought him along to such a terrifying end.

Dora was born the son of a successful milliner and rancher, and as a child not only did he take great pleasure in hearing the songs of the gauchos who worked his father’s land, but often he would shock his grandmother when, upon finishing a day gathering apples in neighboring orchards, repeat, note for note, some traditional song or ballad that, she had no doubt, he could never have heard before she absentmindedly droned it during the course of their workaday. Surely he had a gift for music, she believed, and she championed this idea relentlessly in the family, clearing a path through the father’s dissent that would one day give him access to worlds of pleasure and misery of which he could have only experienced one-tenth had he plodded along to the given family inheritance of millinery, of the counting out of this and the selling of that, and using all of the inherited advantages of being a European in a land of Incas or Mestizos at best, and always of and the and of the idea, so that finally what is being done is a derivation, and never the actual thing. Nevertheless, with his pleasures in music misery came in equal and eventually greater measure. After long evenings spent practicing the ukelele with the campesinos, his father, returning from a financing mission in Salta, was full of conflict to see Enzo’s impoverished troupe of friends, shielding their eyes from the DeSoto’s headlamps, with Enzo often at the center of this gathering at roadside weeping.

But life, especially for the most melancholic of us, has a way of placing gifts in the road that are so huge and sudden it is impossible, even in a fit of undeservedness and rejecting care, to avoid contact with them, and it happened that Enzo when once on a courier mission for his father, who had not let him entirely out of the millenary game, played some of his songs for an impresario named Codeca. About Codeca little is known except the small, enticing fact that he was the bastard son of Chilean actress Alicia Barrie. But he also had some connection to what was then the most influential independent record label in Argentina, Irregular, and upon hearing Dora’s fragile, incandescent voice and his songs, weary to an extent far beyond what his young and handsome face would lead one to believe, signed him immediately to a contract whose term would far outlive the company to which it bound him. He moved to Buenos Aires, and spent what was by all accounts a happy, productive summer, discovering alcohol, which allowed him to discover women, and playing a handful of rapturous and even legendary small shows in cafés in the San Telmo district.

At the summer’s end he went to Codeca’s studio to record. Early on he was seized by a bout of anxiety, and he used alcohol to calm himself and see the emotional worlds which when, unbothered and dreaming, were easy for him to see in rich dimensions, halted and observable as a diorama, but when tied to his standing in his family, his newfound friends, and society at large became a cloud of burning ink in the eye. His sessions were characterized by drunkenness and moments of brilliance but they were altogether inconsistent, consistent only with one’s prognosis for a person who at all times, his lyrics report, felt as though he were “fighting for dear life.”

What followed were two years of confusion and complication, and by the end of that period both Dora and his recordings had been lost in a mess of industry machinations and his own mounting troubles. At the age of twenty Dora suffered an unknown disturbance and was forced into hospitalization for over a year. While institutionalized he slowly began to lose interest in the world beyond his windows, and came to develop a fear of music and a complete inability to play. It would be years before he would once again pick up a guitar. Instead, in a fit of searching and desperation, he joined the crew of a Nigerian cargo ship bound for Lagos, the only white person on a ship of 25 hands. The crew of the St. Ann were all members of the same charismatic Christian sect, and Dora took to the hymns and sermons with the same fervor he had once taken to folk music. It was there he learned to truly sing. However, nautical life wore on him, and further personal complications forced him to leave the trade all together. Furthermore, the church was not for him.

For the next twenty years, he drifted about the world, booking a night as an entertainer in a club in Barcelona here, a year as a magician at the birthday parties of rich Isrealis here…and so forth. He had come to London to see about part of an inheritance he might have been entitled to when his Uncle through marriage died, who had been a relative of Salvador Allende.
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