There are countless video, radio, print and online interviews with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti - individually, together and with Throbbing Gristle.
We will eventually post an expanded selection of links here but in the meantime we suggest you
use Google to search for any not listed here.
VARIOUS INTERVIEWS from 1981- 1997
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Chris & Cosey ND Interview 1993/1994
- (questions missing)
The trouble with history is that it goes so far back, it's hard to get into recall mode. It's all so long ago as they say. I tend to think of things farther back than the day we first met. We were both independently in the same place at the same time on a number of occasions in our youth. In the 'hippy' daze. It's only now we've found that out. An astrologist did do our charts (all of TG) years ago and was amazed we had taken so long to get together. I hasten to add I was actually still with Gen at the time. (theoretically anyway). That comment didn't go down too well.To Chris and myself it felt perfect and logical that we went so well together and our astrological paths crossed so many times. I am a great believer in fate. We were obviously meant to pass each other by until the right moment in time for our joint destiny. That's not a romantic statement, love does not always come with compatibility on all levels. I guess we both had to develop to a certain stage before we were 'ready' to meet. As for becoming 'Chris & Cosey' instead of TG , it was an inevitable consequence of moving on from what was becoming a suffocating situation. It's all been said so many times before. TG had served its function and as such there were differences on many levels between us all. It was a case of practising what we 'preached' if you like. We didn't suffer fools gladly and we wanted to experiment with new ideas without having to compromise our own beliefs. There seemed to be more compromising towards the end, just to keep the peace, and that's not what I would subscribe to. Breaking away gave everybody freedom, however traumatic it was at the time.
The ending of dishonesty and of a false sense of self importance was a good thing. We were all great catalysts for each other while we were willing participants and I wouldn't change a thing about TG. It was the energy between us all that created it and then destroyed it . It was inevitable just by its volatile nature and the intensity of the inner passions in us all.
As 'Chris & Cosey' we were exiled before the official end of TG, but we weren't consciously bothered by that at all. We had such a vast amount of positive energy at the time, we never even really considered TG as being anything to lose, so much as something we had done on the way to where we were now. We began collating sounds a year before TG ended, more as an experiment rather than a conceived plan to become 'Chris & Cosey' and release an album. It was all an ongoing thought process with no premeditation at all. I suppose in the great recesses of our psyche we knew we would be moving away completely, although I didn't see why we couldn't assimilate grievances and rise above emotional changes.There was a period of 2 years ('79-end of 81) given over to trying but then it was also 2 years of spiritual draining. Intense visions brought me out and put everything in perspective. It had to be that way because of the deep relationships we'd built up. We're not consumed by any negative thoughts about TG or that whole period in our lives and that's no mean achievement considering what took place. Now whenever TG is mentioned in mags etc. as being the beginning of 'Industrial Music' etc. it's hard to identify with what the hell they're going on about. It's like a dream, when you see yourself doing something and think 'is that me? Did I do that?'. I know I did and I can remember it all, but the description in print does not compute with my memory of the events and the situations leading up to what TG became. In fact I can listen to TG now and enjoy it better than at the time. I can actually say it was good. People must realise, we were mischievous activists, out to make trouble and wring a few necks. We were out to enjoy ourselves and did whatever we fancied to achieve that goal. Waking people up from their soporific banal acceptance of what life had become to represent was a statement of our anger at peoples complacency. Punk happened shortly after TG but never offered anything other than a fashionable alternative to going to the disco and getting pissed at the weekend. It was as shallow as the disco scene that already existed. That problem has come back to haunt the music scene again. It's all money and control. It's a nasty insidious creature that gets a grip before you realise it's even there. That's what I learnt from our days with TG. I know that's a negative answer, but a truthful one. If we'd stayed with Industrial and bled TG dry we would all be better off now I suppose. But for what sacrifices along the way?
Everyone I know that has done things for that motive is paying dearly for their actions now. There was such a vast amount of information buzzing around the offices of Industrial records and ideas bouncing off one another and people who came to see us a swell. It was a cesspit of information exchange and self indulgence, with electrically charged moments of inspiration. I suppose we were laying down the foundations for what we were to become, assimilating, rejecting and experimenting. It was so potent because we were all four of us occupying that space at the same moment in time. As individuals our reactions were diverse. We were not in 'unison' as such and I suppose that's what gave things that edge. There was always some underlying conflict.The eternal question mark. Yet we had the ability to pull together this enormous sense of strength and power.
During gigs our sense of one another's actions was acute and the very last gig was the most memorable of my life in terms of sheer determined energy and power. In such adverse conditions too. That was a test of ability to rise above the shit of the day. It's one of those moments that's impossible to describe. The only time it's fun or relevant to talk about TG is if it's with someone who knew the reality of it all. So many people have a fantasy of what it was like or a theoretical view of it's importance in the history of music. It was MORE than music/sound. That's what we learnt and took with us as C&C, that our work is more than sound. We can't divorce our work from our life. Now when people write to us it's as C&C and they may get to know about TG later on but look upon it in a different way because they've come to us from a different angle. It's refreshing when that happens. Then it's also inevitable because TG was so long ago now. A generation away. 12 years seems a long time to be making music, but so much happens along side that it's not constant recording anyway. It's actually 17 years! I think people over the years have left listening to us and come back again later. While they've been away there's been new people coming through, which is a really positive situation 'cos at the end of the day we have a new 'audience' and also the people who have been with us all along PLUS those who jump off the bus and hop on again further along the line. It works well for us. Some only know us from 'Exotika' onwards and perceive C&C as being like that. They maybe got a shock when 'CORE' came out or when they hear the new CTI album this April, but we feel a need to create all kinds of 'music' and wouldn't be content with one avenue of expression. It can't say all I have to say. I suppose that's what has kept us feeling positive about music is the fact that I never feel I have said enough or expressed what I feel to the point of satisfaction. When we get within the last 10-15 minutes of making an album I'm already writing the next one in my head. It's an infuriating habit but once the concept and feel of each project is realised I'm ready to move onto the next. Itchy feet, like time will run out if I don't start now. That's a constant thorn in my side. Time. I sit and think how I'll get into my collage work again, photography (other than promo) write some more of my book. But time and mood dictates what I can do. I have started painting again, it's a great release for me to be visual again for a non specific reason. As far as the general interest in our work goes. It's a case of 'exposure' all over again. If people don't know you're there, they can't react to you can they? And if the music press won't write about you, no one gets to know you even exist. It's all so logical but the 'promotion' side of things has become quite alien to me. I think most people feel this way sometimes. 'Good' interviews are few and far between. By that I mean ones where you feel you've asked questions of yourself that you never heard before, you've had a conversation with someone interesting instead of someone who just gave your last CD a quick spin before they came to interview you. I read interviews with bands now who are saying the same things we said 17 years ago. Does it take that long for things to get assimilated? I didn't think so. A lot of music now is repetition of what has been before with the guts taken out. A lot of bands don't even know why they are doing it, other than the illusion of money and ego. There have always been bands like that, but the difference is, they never gave any suggestion they were in it for other reasons. Now, you get pseudo-industrial, intellectual bands who don't know their arse from their elbow but give out a load of technically incorrect data to add credibility. When they get caught out, their only defence is to say it's a joke or it's 'only rock and roll'. There are more talented 'musicians' doing some of the commercial music of today than there is in the indie scene. They're certainly more honest about their intentions. Whether you like their music or not, you get what you see. I detest deceit. It's nothing like it used to be when everyone would help each other out with technical or equipment problems. We have become wiser by being used and abused I think. We are very selective about who we work with now, as are many people we know, but having said that. We don't think negatively first about any project. We give the benefit of the doubt as they say. Most people will agree going into a studio with someone is a very personal thing and actually getting something recorded is a great achievement.Personalities play a vital role, diplomacy, tact and flexibility as well. We've collaborated a lot via the mail because of distances and other commitments etc. That works really well with certain techniques of 'composing' but I prefer to work in the studio with some people. The 'on the spot' decisions as to the direction of the piece at the start is vital to the overall feel or dominant mood of the track. I don't like too much control over collaborations, and I think with the use of samplers you can get what YOU want by manipulation of the sound, whereas if you were in the studio personally together, it would have to be by discussion and exchange of opinions. I love working with other people who have as much enthusiasm and ideas as ourselves. There have been collaborations which have been too one-sided (ours) in terms of everything including equipment, and they were lost opportunities. The tracks were really good, but never reached their full potential, as to what could have been. That's my opinion anyway. Now, as well people get very possessive about their samples. Quite rightly too if they have gone to the trouble of collecting originals themselves and working on them. All the new pieces of equipment are wonderful, answers to our many prayers sometimes. We are constantly revising our shopping list, but at the end of the day, it's the sounds you generate that count. By that I mean YOUR sounds. So many people now use the presets and sample disks etc. and don't even stretch n' squeeze or phase, nothing even as simple as that. Actually I think the thought never even occurs to them that they could make the sample even more interesting. That they have a piece of equipment which has endless possibilities for the creation of sound. It's that disposable attitude again. When this sound gets too common I'll buy the next model or a new load of samples. Which brings us back to the fact that these people have the luxury of money to do this, and those of us who don't have to experiment. Which in turn gives us original sounds. So who's better off in the long run? Ha. As a couple making music...
I think the advantage is when you get bored or things aren't happening for some reason in the studio, you can have a grope and bite away the frustration then get back to it. When others are there you don't have that self indulgence so much. Well, not quite so much. I suppose having the studio in the house also has its advantages too.We have the luxury of time, that is free. But we've always recorded in our own time. We used to hire equipment, never went into a studio to record. But back to us being 'a couple'. I never think of us as that when we are working, if anything we're very separate people with our own ideas, that either have the same thoughts on the particular piece or step back to allow the other person freedom, as they have a definite idea . It gets pretty heated at times, there are moments of blocking and times when one or both of us has had enough. We go out for the day then. It's difficult to dissect your relationship like this. Are we different with each other in the studio than when we're out of it? Yes and no. Frustrating situations arise more often, just by way of the fact that it's not easy to describe a sound you want to hear, that hasn't been made yet. We do have communication problems like that. Laying down a vocal is sometimes a tense time. There is nothing more personal than a lyric. As we still work in an improvised way as far as the music and lyrics are concerned, finding the right tone of voice and words too, is difficult. Other times, they just melt from your lips and lay in the track as if they have always been there. That's a wonderful feeling when that happens. Any completion of a track is a great feeling. We have always been more together than apart since our relationship began. So it's alien to us now to be separated for any length of time, even if we get two single beds in hotels it's weird, it puts a distance between us. I don't know, some people may find that suffocating but we don't live in each others pockets, we have our own minds, very much so, but we are just so intensely in sync with one another. I can't imagine a relationship worth having that demands you have to be apart for it to have a chance of survival. What's the point? Anyway everyones different. I guess the struggle we had just to be together has a lot to do with it. We value actually being with each other in a way others would just take for granted. Live every day as if it were your last. Positively. I think in a way, when we record it's our time away from each other, because I have things I assimilate and then express through the lyrics and music and Chris is the same. We are actually two separate people in the studio when we are involved in the creation of a piece, not lovers. Maybe that's why it works and the more I think of it the more I wonder why I never realised it before. The fact that we know each others little sensitivities etc. helps because we avoid unnecessary arguments that way. We can both be very dogmatic at times and I can be an absolute shit when things aren't going well. I think Chris is one of the few people that can rise above those situations. He should be awarded a masters degree in diplomacy I think.All the things that happen, the shit people heap around you sometimes provoke fire and rage from me and a philosophical raising of the eyebrow from Chris! Especially on tour, it's such a potentially disastrous scenario, you have to rise above it. Chris is right in that respect. When things are out of your control what's the point of driving yourself crazy. The pressures of touring are tremendous. Speaking for ourselves that is. I know bands who don't give a shit about whether they even get to the airport on time, let alone to the gig. It's assumed someone else has arranged it all. Delegate ALL responsibilities. We have always felt fully responsible for the shows we do, even down to making allowances for the support band to have time for a soundcheck. The ego games bands play just never occurred to us till a promoter pointed it out to us. Privileges for the main band and utter contempt for the support. There is a happy medium people can apply, but it's all so deep rooted I think over the years, everyone expects a certain kind of treatment. At the venues, we get the person doing 'hospitality' (providing drinks warmth, food etc.) come to introduce themselves, being quite surly (aggressive) on our arrival. Then when they realise we're not pissed up big headed arseholes, they are so relieved. You hear so many bad stories about bands on the road. It's unbelievable. From bands who proport to be intelligent and have a spiritual philosophy to go along with the music, if their audiences had any idea, they'd feel so cheated. I think the fact that we are a 'couple' helps us enormously, because we have the strong relationship to hold us both together when things get really heavy. Being on tour creates all kinds of personal dramas between the tour entourage. You live in such close proximity to one another and so little sleep with long days and nights of travelling, sound checking, interviews and then gigs. You get to the 14th gig or so, to bed at 2 am to rise at 6.30am to get to the airport. You must make the flight because there is a connecting flight (only that one) and you have to play that night. You finally get to the hotel, knackered, knowing the soundcheck is in 2 hours and you haven't eaten yet. Do you eat first or sleep? You go to grab an hours sleep and find the hotel room hasn't been cleaned yet. That was the ONLY spare hour you had, it means everything to you at the time. Snap time! Or not? You don't have the energy to argue. We were lucky on most occasions like that, that we had a tour manager who was just so efficient and sensitive. They endure the same pressures as us too. You are all in the same boat at the end of the day. So you think do we want these weeks to be enjoyable or an assault course ? We have taken Nicki (our son) on tour with us a swell across America. He was very very good. He put up with a lot, but at the same time he dispersed some possibly explosive situations too. Children make life seem so simplistic. He coped with some situations better than the rest of us, made some of us look very petty at times. It was good to have him with us. When you're really 'big' I'm sure a lot of that pressure is taken away because you have someone to set up the gear and soundcheck for you etc. You're the performer. When we tour, we take our own equipment with us and set it up at the venue, soundcheck etc. I don't like anyone else to do it now. I'm so used to doing it, that way I know if there's anything wrong BEFORE the gig. I get a feel for the place, get some kind or rapport with the sound people etc. I suppose listening to myself I still view gigs as being special and not just another space to plug in, play and get out. It's because of that attitude that we decided to stop touring. The venues we were playing weren't personal enough. It wasn't the bands attitude but the people running the venues. Some of the owners weren't even into music. It was a business. That's an alien concept to me where 'art' is concerned. We would go to a great venue, people wonderful, owner great and then next day hit a real low shit heap of a place. We have played some really great places and in America some of the nicest people running some of the clubs. If they were 75% as nice as those we would maybe have carried on longer. You get to the point when you've had enough for a while.
We actually want a change from the 'gig' scene as well. We're not really a 'touring band'. Never were. I think our music is maybe a bit too personal sometimes. We're very careful about which tracks we do live, and that's not something I want to have to take into consideration to a great degree. As far as the equipment is concerned. As you say, we have simplified the set-up. It was a case of necessity. If we wanted to perform live we had to be able to finance the shows. One of the biggest expenses is transport. If we could both travel on one ticket each with our luggage allowance to include the gear, we could go anywhere. So that's what we did. We had a compact flight-case each built to house our instruments and effects and another for the mixer, more effects units, leads etc. We have some rhythms on DAT and the rest is played live. Vocals, Guitar, Octopad, Keyboard, Tapes, Cornet, various percussion, Effects.We do everything on stage and just send 8 channels to the PA desk. 2 from Chris' mixer with sequencers DAT and keyboards, 2 from guitar & zoom effects, 2 for vocals and effects and 2 for Octopad drums. All that has to be done is getting the levels right on the night (they always change when bodies fill the space). The sound checks should be simple and often are with so little to do. The main problems that arise are duff leads, earth loops and on rare occasions hopeless sound crews. I say that because on just three occasions the venue has had to dismiss the crew after 2 -4 hours of fumbling and had to get someone else in. I don't know, it's a game and a half isn't it? We have noticed more bands getting into the compact set-up .It makes sense really. Lugging a computer around to run sequences etc. is a bit stupid when you can put it on a DAT tape. I don't know many bands that do 'live' sequences. They may say they do, but people are being mislead.At one gig the PA crew were going spare because they couldn't figure out which channel the synth was going through because when the person played it, nothing was coming out. (Until the backing tape was running). It was a dummy, the keyboard player was miming. In fact it turned out the band were miming to everything. Only the main vocals and some of the backing vocals and percussion were live. I hate that. They can't have much faith in their own ability, or enjoyment of the process of creating their music. I suppose you could get to the point were bands take their latest CD put it through the PA, set up the gear for effect and mime to the whole album. It's probably happening right now.I think sometimes bands get wrapped up in 'performing' instead of creating their sound live. You can do both without sacrificing one for the other. There's nothing like doing live shows sometimes. Take away the safety net, it does you good.Anyway I could go on and on about the crap to do with the music scene, and we knew that existed before we started out as Industrial. That's what made Industrial different at the time, we were totally honest with the audience. What they saw is what they got.
Do you want me to dish the dirt? I can't do that, I'm not in the mood.Play It Again Sam and Mute, I can give a big hug. They are so very good. For the rest of them that owe us money....May they sink slowly in the cesspit of their own making.
We can't write music Daniel. I thought everybody knew that! I have a black book where I scribble ideas for structures of tracks, titles, lyrics sound source ideas etc. Then we work from that or just turn on the gear and something emerges immediately. I think I would find premeditated composing of music just too boring. The excitement of not knowing what will present itself is what keeps my interest and fascination in music so keen. For us, it's the production and structuring of the sounds that are the theory side of recording really. We will spend hours, days on that side of the process. Working out counter rhythms, unconventional chord structures, adjusting samples, editing sounds etc. It's not unusual for us to spend 2 weeks on one track. (and that's without the mixing and collecting of sounds prior to recording). We usually begin with a rough idea of the 'feel' of the whole album. Then we work within that field. It can start with a rhythm, bass-line or an atmospheric sound. We build on that or sometimes get about 6 tracks laid down, scrap 5 of them and start again just with a sequence we like that triggered thoughts for a totally different rhythm etc. When that happens, we save the 'rejected' tracks for another piece at a later date.Recycled. It's all intuitive. Working with other people.....We love collaborations but working with others is so very hard as I've said before. You can waste a lot of energy and it can very frustrating. It's also wonderful too. We do select very carefully who we work with now, but really like the challenge and change is very good for everyone I think. We're also pro-compilations too just for the freedom to do what the hell we want. There's no job description.
We're right in the middle of recording the second CTI/Library of Sound CD 'CHRONOMANIC'. The concept for it comes from when we recorded on the eve of The Feast of Balfigore' for 'Pagan Tango'. We decided to record a track for a specific time, Ritual , or event throughout the year. So it's been an ongoing project over the full year. A very enlightening experience in many ways. We've never worked to any kind of strict schedule before and once we had selected the particular dates we had also committed ourselves and had to stick to it. It was a good feeling. In between this we completed the TIME TO TELL text and photos etc. and delivered all with artwork ready for release in July. No go then, so we went for september and our distributors were too heavily committed, so we have had to settle for final release April this year. It will be a limited edition of 2000 with 40 page booklet, 26 B/W postcards with digitally re-mastered CD. I am doing extra special signed copies which will come with a postcard size original encaustic painting my myself.
After 'Chronomanic' comes a C&C album which we haven't decided on yet whether it will be one of three things. A completely new one/a compilation from live shows or re-recorded tracks done in totally different styles from the original versions. Then we want to get a Live video released too. These will all be on the CTI label. We have 'Dancing Ghosts' coming out on a compilation on PI Records up in Scotland. That has different artists from the past, present and future.
I'm constantly amazed at some videos, like Peter Gabriel's. All those wonderful effects, I'd love to get my hands on the equipment they use, but that needs BIG money to get that. I've always said it's a shame that video needed such huge funds to really get what you want. We have a very limited set up and no finances or easy access to sophisticated gear that will do what we visualise in our heads. So we have to go around the houses and try and get the nearest thing to what we know would be the best. It's all moving so quickly now with computer graphics etc. I love it. Some of the best I've seen was from a Japanese artist who used images of sea animals, jelly fish and such. Then he manipulated it all on computer and the results were just so beautiful. That's what I'd love to get into for video work, anything less would not fulfil me enough I think. Having said that I may have to just get on and do what I can. We can start with the live C&C video. That's straight forward documentation really. Editing and compiling the best and most interesting pieces from hours of tape. That'll take ages but we've been meaning to do it for so long now. We prefer to work on abstract images for video as apposed to 'Music Videos' or what they have come to mean generally speaking. I think the 'promo' videos are really boring, I prefer the more surreal, arty type music video. At least some creative thought has gone into it .
Inspiration to carry on......
I've never really thought of 'stopping' doing what I do because that's like saying I think I'll become someone else now. I have always done things with my life, I don't know any other way to be. I think inspiration plays a part in any creative action though, and I do need that initial flash to start the ball rolling. It has always seemed to happen for me, maybe not at the right time, but then I can arrange my time to fit my activities really. I'm lucky I haven't needed to take a 'day job' for some time now.
Cosey Interview for Disappointed magazine June 1997
- (questions missing)
1. I think we’re all our parents’ children aren't we? I think that even more as I get older and make sense of the things in my life and where they fit in with what happened as a child. Also when you have children of your own you get to see the results of your own parenting manifest themselves before your very eyes. That's living proof to me. What my father failed to do for me, I made sure I did for my son so he wouldn't suffer the same emotional insecurity created by my fathers actions. Its hard work to think of the consequences of your actions and balance them alongside natural beneficial expressions of frustration and anger but it pays dividends I think. It’s all so complicated but it boils down to mutual respect for adult and child but always remembering the child is not an adult and needs guidance, discipline (as in self discipline by example and realistic expectation) and above all to feel loved and wanted. Sadly the discipline was top of the list with my father but luckily my mother redressed that with unconditional love and support. I got away from home as soon as I could, kept in touch with my mother and became my own person.
2. I don’t know if my upbringing is anywhere in our music at all. Maybe my voice. My mother used to sing all the time, was in the church choir and my father was nuts about building electronics. So yeah, I reckon it’s there isn't it? I was given a tape recorder at the age of about 8 years to tape anything I wanted. I don’t know what my father expected, I only had a piano, but I recorded myself singing a lot. So my father’s passion for sound generating equipment (radios, TV’s etc) probably instilled an acceptance for strange noises alongside the melodic sounds of my piano playing! As for structure I think it’s obvious now, the experimentation with sound that my father dabbled with I also are present in our music.
3. Structure and control mutually inclusive? No because structure can be uncontrolled, you can have structure from improvisation, just scoring the piece gives it some form of structure.
4. Sometimes structure does become an aspect of the aesthetic itself .
5. Creating a work independent from the aesthetic I don’t think is possible just because we always look for some aesthetical aspect in works of art, and everyone’s taste is individual. Some ‘tasteless’ works of art are heralded just because they are tasteless.
6. Power electronics means electronics which induce emotions brought about by the empowerer and the listener together.
8. We do what we do because without it we feel empty and unfulfilled.
9. Chance is every way as important and knowledge in electronic music, without chance music is sterile, knowledge can be a very restrictive attribute, one needs to learn to use knowledge as a tool and not as a guide.
10. Therefore it is essential at times to be in the dark because chance leap in and bring unexpected creative surprises. We are in the unique position really of having Chris with what sometimes seems endless knowledge on electronics and me who happily has limited knowledge, so we get my untrained eye, ear, mind trying the unorthodox alongside a very competent engineer, technician. On top of which when things go wrong sometimes, Chris can’t see the wood for the trees and a layman (me) can. He is a genius with problems, it’s seldom I can solve any, only when they’re so obvious only a novice would think on such a shallow level.
11. My ancestry? Way back, French on my father’s side, probably why he’s a cold calculating bastard. Chris is more interesting than me, he is supposedly related on his father’s side to Howard Carter who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. His mother’s side have gypsy blood and funnily enough his grandmother’s brother was called James Bond!! Maybe that’s why he likes those films so much.
15. People who answer questions yes or no are being either pissed off with the questions or are very private people. I don’t blame them. People can be extremely selfishly nosey. You know when they ask you so much about yourself and then you realise you know nothing about them? That’ a dangerous question David.
16. How can experimental music imply a separation of art and artist? That’s a nonsense, true art is experimental. Most of the revered
artists today were experimentalists in their own time. Our music is our life, there is no division between our music and our life. The studio is another ‘living’ room in our home, our music is an expression of all we assimilate and experience. It has no ending point, like everything else. 20. I don’t look for particular people continuing experimental music so much as just wanting it to continue, it’s vital.
21. I’m scared of space travel, I’m scared of mans intentions in space, I don’t want to be around when we first land someone on the moon. It’s my worst nightmare that we get to fuck up another planet.
Chris is exhausted from rearranging the studio so he hasn’t answered any of your questions, he remains the private ABBA fan, and in the process unintentionally builds up a mystique around himself. I am away to him now,
Bye bye David
Chris & Cosey Interview with David Bradley Jan/Feb 1994
- Question 1.
What is your present relationship like with each of the other members of TG?
We have a very good relationship with Sleazy,keep in touch and we’ve worked together on ‘CORE’,and now we’re thinking of collaborating on a new project with him and Geff. Since Mute took over the TG catalogue we’ve all three of us tried to keep things clear of TG misconceptions via the re-releases. We’ve overseen all the artworks and text that’s submitted etc. There’s been a lot of shit and lies printed about TG and what we all did or didn’t do etc. over the years and we all thought, this time we can make sure it’s all correct. All three of us over the years have become utterly sick of the ‘unofficial’ releases that keep surfacing and we’re not the type of people that waste energy on the negative actions of other people. All that does,is feed negativity into your life and drag you down.So we made a conscious decision to work on the positive and negate the bad energy at source by terminating its existence within our own conscious. So the fourth member of TG has ceased to exist as the person we had any empathy with.
What new & upcoming releases can you tell us about? describe ‘Library of Sound’.
We decided to release some of our work through our own label Conspiracy International and continue the CTI projects with The Library of Sound. There didn’t seem any obvious avenue for the more soundscape side of our work,and we had a whole list of ideas we wanted to get working on. The Library of Sound is a series of CD releases that deal with specific concepts to do with the use and experimentation of sound as a source of enjoyment and experience. So it can be very diverse from one edition to another. Volume One ‘METAPHYSICAL’ speaks for itself by its own definition. It’s multi functional listening,you can go as deep into it as your mood dictates.Volume Two ‘CHRONOMANIC’ is a totally different concept. We chose various dates throughout the year timing our actions with empathetic dates in time. So each track we have recorded is a celebration or recognition of that moment. It all began when we recorded ‘PAGAN TANGO’ and ‘Balfigore..Before the Feast’. We wrote and recorded the track on that very night.
We’re set to start working on a new C& C album aswell later in the year,we’ve set aside material and sounds ready for that already. Then we promised ourselves that we would get a live album out and a video of live work too. So our 1994 is going to be busy for us. There’s also been compilations we’ve contributed to which will surface this year.
I started doing collage work and painting again and that’s taken up a lot of my time. An area I had almost stopped altogether has been rekindled now and I’m being torn between that and music at the moment. But that’s OK,I can choose according to my mood and ideas of course. Painting is just so totally different and it was quite difficult for me to get into the spontaneity of it all after so long. Now it’s hard for me to keep up with the ideas,I make endless notes so I won’t forget. I also started writing a book too. A fiction cum faction. That was fun to do and I’ve got to go back to it,as I was rudely interrupted half way . As far as writing is concerned I am always at it in one form or another. Some days I get a real buzz out of it and the words seem to just stream out right,other days it’s literary constipation and I just do something else.I think with most forms of expression,you need to keep your hand in, you get rusty if you rest too long.
Do subliminals still feature in your new work?You’ve been quoted as saying your subliminals weren’t harmful in any way.What about the past warnings on albums,just intrique?
We’ve always thought there was confusion over the definition of subliminals in our music. The definitions became blurred as the techniques we used for placing sounds on tape or within the pieces of sound changed. It’s all very technical really,but simple aswell. Another contradiction for you.To most people the word subliminal means some kind of coersion into the doing,feeling,wanting of something you would not otherwise entertain.To us,within our work it means a way by which we can create the same sensations people get from emotions triggered by certain sounds. At first we used subliminals in their crudest form and when recording,we utilised the accepted techniques of the time. Anyway subliminals are usually thought to be an attempt to subvert via the spoken word,an instruction.Now it’s mutated . We mix sounds in a subliminal way (which is not necessarily ‘a subliminal’ as per the definition). We may have a sound effects loop along with something else which together create a certain atmosphere, which in turn directs the mood of the listener where we want it for that particular piece of music. It’s a gamble that the listener will pick up the subliminal anyway,so it is in effect a hidden added bonus track,but one we feel drawn to continue using. It has become a part of our standard studio technique now.Way back when we did our bulk of sound experiments,we felt it was interesting to let people know that science was involved here with this album. It was no ‘normal’ dance music or punk etc. We wanted people to enquire and learn aswell as consume. We got feedback, and both parties benefitted from the exchanges,that’s what its all about. We’re not in the music ‘business’ so much as communication and sharing of information and opinions etc. We’ve never subscribed to spoon feeding ‘an audience’, what’s the point? TV does that very well,as do mainstream ‘bands’. That kind of stuff is for moments of escapism at best,at worse a way of life for some people. We really want to touch the people who for some reason they don’t understand,can’t accept that lifestyle comfortably. The people who think ‘they’ are strange for not accepting their lot in life as being a work,feed,sit and only take what is on offer,don’t ask questions or seek new horizons kind of person.It’s got to that point again,but in a way it’s far worse because people now take that instruction form corporations and not the family unit. I think even the family as strong (and sometimes just as destruction) as it is,is losing against the hype of the media now. People are failing to communicate on a truly one to one level. Escapism is easier and much less painful to them. I think it has always been like that to some degree,but it is compounded now by the technological advances that have really gone into overdrive in the last 15 years. So,yeah I think when we actually state there are subliminals within our music,we are giving out an underlying message,another subliminal by disclosing that fact.As for our subliminals being harmful,they are not. We don’t preach any doctrine or instruct people to buy products,like this,hate that. What’s the point? That would be destructive when we are attempting to encourage free thought and expression in a positive,productive way.
How far into the mainstream would you be willing to let your music take you? Do you feel its headed that way at all?
Whenever anyone asks this question,and we get asked it a lot,it’s always like a kind of accusation. Like we’ve done something wrong by appealing to more mainstream listeners. We’re not as calculated as that when we sit down in the studio and write our music. We never ‘decide’ to do a track that will be more acceptable so we can direct it into a more commercial market. We’re happy to do re-mixes,as we did with Erasure but even with that our hands were tied (in more than two directions actually) as to what we could do that would be approved. Free reign on the project with guaranteed release,would have been great. But control is what its all about there. We had a great time remixing,it’s like going to the fair ground trying everything out and it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day it’s your treat.So,as far as mainstream is concerned ,we’re happy if what we do coincides with what people like,but we couldn’t work to a tested pattern of what’s happening now and infiltrate. I’d feel really creepy doing that.Quite happy to be the hidden force behind projects though,that appeals to us a lot. All those Man From Uncle,spy programmes from our youth. Tongue in cheek kind of attitude prevails,and knowing something no one else even suspects is kind of appealing too. I like a twist in the tale,it makes for a more interesting,fun life.I think what happened with us,is that the sound we came up with from ‘EXOTIKA’ onwards happened to coincide a little with what was more acceptable in the mainstream/fringe. I still can’t work it out,being objective and analysing the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ regarding our work seems to me a waste of time . A bit like what would you do if you won a million dollars? Mind you we do go through that one every year,driving along deciding what we’d buy first etc. Pie in the sky.
Tell us about Nicki. Does he have opoinions on his parents work yet? How aware is he of his parents sometimes controversial past work?
It’s a weird thing when you have to somehow explain to your child why you did the things you did . Especially my background,how do I describe my actions and reasons behind them to my son in a way that won’t affect his attitude to women and his mother? I’m still working that one out a I go along. He knows a lot anyway just by the fact that nothing is hidden away. There’s framed pics of me in Penthouse etc. in the house and he accepts them for what they are. Now he’s getting to his teens he’ll see them in a different light maybe,but I tell him everything he needs to know when he asks. He has to have a heathy attitude to life if his life is going to be enjoyable and fruitful,so I am very careful how I present things to him and how much detail he can assimilate at his age too. Peoples attitude to themselves and others is very important and I want him to be tolerant but selective with his energy. He’s got to hit the mayhem of his teens and twenties yet and no doubt I’ll be worried sick for him, like all mothers. Until you are a parent you can’t begin to understand the responsibility. Maybe it’s me,but getting the balance right between love,freedom,discipline and control is a full time job. An emotional roller coaster at times. As for the music,he likes more of it than I thought he would. He has rather good taste for his age and era. I hope it continues. He likes,selectively some of the chart stuff (like me and Chris) but he also loves 30’s music,film score,blues, jazz ,and some classical. So that’s pretty varied for a 12 year old. Now when he hears some chart stuff, he asks if something is a cover version from when we were young! He seems to appreciate originality and genuine talent.
What is your private/home life like aside your work?
The obvious answer to that is ‘Private’. I’d say it’s much the same as anyone else but from experience I don’t think it is . On all levels we seem to differ from the norm. We have never become a ‘man and wife’ ‘him and her’. Apposing camps within a relationship is a weird way to spend you life don’t you think? So when I’m in any situation,like school open evenings when other parents talk with me,I’m in an alien world but I have to emit some form of normality to get the most out of the system for Nicki. So far,2 hours is my limit of endurance then I have to get away. It’s like watching a play and you’re in it. I have to remember my lines and visual expressions and yet make sure I get what I want for Nick. It’s very difficult,Chris and I have trouble maintaining an aura of normality amongst some people. We’ve tried just saying what we want but they look at us as if we’re mad,so we put it into their language and go by stages now. Very odd. I suppose if we hadn’t have had Nick,we would’ve been in our own little world all the time, maybe we benefit some way by having to confront the reality of society as it is today. Other than that we do what we want when we want on all levels. We have the luxury of time because we work at home for ourselves and therefore ‘work’ as such or outside influences don’t dictate to us very often. We watch TV,videos.Listen to music,read,play computer games etc. I suppose the difference there is that we tend to sample from the entertainment source and bring it further into our lives,then we use news items, images etc. as lyrics, paintings etc. We consume and uitilse, recycle.
Having said all that,when we did have jobs we still lived the same way,so I think its a state of mind and strength of will. We can all choose to some degree how we want to live and who we ultimately become. It’s no good blaming someone else.
What music do you listen to?
It is such a variety. From ‘chart’ stuff to film soundtracks and our contemporaries. We get hits from the 60’s ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ ,’Yummy Yummy Yummy’ etc. they’re so kitsch. Nick loves them too. Then we got the Akira soundtrack and Sound FX CDs. Anything but Country and Western!! I HATE IT. Slash your wrists music I call it.
Do you travel much for fun? Favourite places?
You give me the money and we’ll travel for fun. We never have the money or the time. Or if we have time we don’t have money and vice versa. In the summer when Nick has his long school holidays we take him all over,exploring Britain. He’s really into history,so it’s fun for all of us. Then we go mad at some theme park on the way home. Hit the beach and other such novelties. He came around the USA on tour with us a couple of times and to Canada and Belgium too. We’d all travel more given the chance, but preferably as a pleasure trip and not on business.
As for favourite places,we both actually love San Francisco and talked of moving there a few times. Then we had a passion for Berlin before the wall came down. It’s tragic situation gave it a very special aura. Although the wall coming down was a momentous time,it destroyed Berlin as people had come to love it. The people changed. As the people and how they are, make up the atmosphere in any given place, it’s that which would be the deciding factor of where I chose to live. I can say this world is getting pretty short of ‘humanitarian’ communities.
What/who would you say has been influential on you and your work? Much of the material published on TG went on about the Beat Scene and Burroughs etc. but was this really an equal influence on all of you?
No it wasn’t. That’s why the TG work didn’t deal soley with that influential source and it didn’t just merely do homage to it either. it was because all four of us had our own ideas,sources of inspiration and ideal that TG created such a volatile concoction. We took energy and knowledge and mixed it altogether, reinterpreting it in our own style and for our own ends. That’s what we encouraged others to do too. We then became the source of some information to people and they utilised it for their projects. That’s what life’s all about. We learn, we experience,we express ourselves and then we grow in strength and knowledge.
I know Burroughs was a great inspiration to Gen. Gen’s literary skills were born from the Beat scene,Kerouac etc. Sleazy was into Burroughs but for additional reasons too. Chris had read his work before he met us and absorbed it much the same as he had other great works. I hadn’t and wasn’t into it. I think that’s where Chris and I are similar we both never took anything like that and blatantly tried to be or relive it in our own lives. I was always too busy ‘doing’ to worry about getting the references right. I suppose Gen worried about those details more than I did. I tend to read up on things after an experience has brought it to my attention,rather than looking for something to make new experiences from. I like to have some empathy with the material I am dealing with. It’s somewhat hypocritical to mouth off on subjects you have read about and know nothing about first hand. Techniques etc. are different. Books of reference are there for that very reason and there to be used. A lot of the material on TG was based on interviews with Gen, so his views were uppermost,but not necessarily the strongest held within TG itself. He was the usually the most available because Chris, Sleazy and myself were working. Chris doesn’t like doing interviews much anyway.
Chris; Chinatown; Blue Velvet; Brazil; Taxi driver; Wild at Heart; Clockwork Orange; Alien; The Devils; Nikkita; Blow-Up, Performance; English 60’s comedies. etc.
Cosey: Blade Runner; Apocolypse Now; The Elephant Man; Blue Velvet; Maitresse; China Blue (Crimes of Passion); B/W Ealing films from ‘50s; Ai No Corrida (In the Realm of the Senses), This is a random selection of our most favourite,but there’s loads and loads.
As for books....
Cosey; Killing for Company; Real life murder books; Esoteric reference books; Stephen King, Clive Barker for easy
Chris: Colin Wilson; Wilhelm Reich; Douglas Adams; Terry Pratchett ; Reference books on sexual deviancy; TV Guide! (for what NOT to watch). Tolkien.
This is the latest reading material really. All the Crowley, Kenneth Grant, Austin Osman Spare and research material goes without saying. We both read every day now,like somekind of addiction really.
Though its been stated TG existed by four equal members injecting creativity,you would guess by the interviews and material published that Genesis was the major figure/influence. Was he domineering or overbearing in the situation? If so did this ever cause problems?
Chris; Yes. (to the last part of the question).
Cosey; It’s clearer looking back on the situation now. It’s not as cut and dry as people would have it. TG wasn’t just music but graphics philosophy and ideals. Gen had a lot of all of those things (we all did),but had he been with any other group of people,he would have totally dictated the state of play,but we just wouldn’t have it. We compromised sometimes by giving in and letting him sing,like on ‘Adrenalin’. I can remember that very clearly because all three of us didn’t want vocals on it at all. That was nearing the end of TG anyway and the relationship Gen and I had too. It was difficult to get him in the bloody studio long enough to get anything on tape. Chris would do a lot of preparation for recording session by working out rhythms and noises at home. Sleazy would work on his samples too at home. Gen was very much a ‘live’ person and someone who needed an arena. The rest of us got more subtle satisfaction from our various activities and fetishes. A lot of the actual composition of the ‘music’ was down to Sleazy and Chris and getting the technical details right etc. Creating new sound generators and my stick guitar etc.Sleazy was the one who made the sleeve artworks a reality and supplied the knowledge behind printing techniques etc. and the photographic skill for promo shots.TG wasn’t Genesis’ ‘band’.He became the front man if you like and he was good at it sometimes. He embellished events somewhat and took credit where it really wasn’t due, he was a sad person really who turned bitter. Endeth the home truths (edited version).
What were the early days of the Chris & Cosey romance like?
Clandestine meetings,magickal kisses in the middle of the night. We stole odd evenings together when Gen went off with his ‘girlfriend’ for a night or two. The beginning of our ‘romance’ was towards the end of my relationship with Gen. It was extremely difficult for all of us,there was so much happening,I can’t begin to give the whole picture. It would read like ?The Story of O’. All three of us had two or three relationships going on at the same time anyway and then experimented on top of that,so it was a recipe for some kind of break away. Gen and I had been together for nearly ten years so I guess we had the most to lose,especially as I knew TG would end also. Then how can you acclaim honesty and freedom and live a lie. So I left Gen and got years of shit and denial. Such is a man scorned . So you see the words read all romantic ‘the early days of romance’, but in reality it was a struggle against great odds. I know we’re the stronger for it.
Tell us about the TGT project.
We just wanted to release something under a totally different name to see what would happen.Also there were the would be TG clones springing up so we did a spoof on them really,right down to the promo photos. It was a fun project.
Still no plans for any more concert tours? Can you elaborate on the reasons behind your decision to stop touring?
There’s so many reasons really. Too knackering,not interesting enough any more,the venues and set ups are not really suitable and we have to play the gig circuit. We hate that. It’s mainly the logistics behind the tours which really put us off. All the preparation,setting up, soundchecks,breaking down the studio. Getting the equipment trashed by airlines is another. We can’t afford to replace a lot of it,so it’s become a survival thing too. We did an ambient festival in Amsterdam jut to see if we really felt so strongly about not playing live. It proved to us that we wouldn’t play live again. Everything went very well,no hitches or anything like that. We don’t get a buzz out of it any more either. Chris never did enjoy playing live anyway,even as TG so it was always a relief when it was over . The only bit we enjoyed in the end and the bit we’ll miss,is meeting everyone. That’s not meant to sound like a cliche but when we met our ‘audience’ it made our work tangible. It made it a reality and all those hours in the studio meant something to other people aswell as ourselves.
Are you spiritual people? Is there any way you can describe such feelings or beliefs here,and how they may have affected or influenced your work, if at all?
I think that is the essence of our work altogether. Without it,it would never have been,and I think it’s the very reason we have never managed to record a ‘banal commercial’ track. We always work on the premise of ‘ it feels right ‘ or not. It never sounds right when you try and explain ‘spiritual’ feelings,so I tend not to attempt it. It’s very personal anyway.
Chris & Cosey Interview for Melody Maker 1995
- What have you done in the last 24hrs?
Chris; Prepared for my gig st Disobey in October.
Cosey; Completed my last assignment for my degree course!
Who’ s twisted?
Everyone, we have to be to survive, it’ s not necessarily always nasty, it can be a good thing.
Describe where you live
We live in a converted village school with corn fields and a river at the bottom of the garden. The village is very small and isolated and people that come and stay are stunned by the silence. There’s not even the hum of distant traffic, it’s disconcerting for some, but we love it.
Favourite musical artists?
Chris; Jimi Hendrix, Cosey
Cosey; Leonard Cohen (early), Nico, Blondie, Doors.
If you change one thing in your life what would it be?
Chris; The aging process.
Cosey; My dicky heart.
Cosey; I’ m not a political person at all, but I do see the need for, and admire, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Animal rights campaigners etc. It may all seem hippified to sat that, but the world is in such a fucking mess because of fundamental issues addressed by these organisations. No one seems to give a shit about the consequences of their actions, that’ s why we’ re in such a mess today. I’m just glad they’re around.
Last record bought?
Chris; The Sunday Times Collection ‘Mind Games’ (60’ s psychedelic compilation).
Cosey; We get a lot of CD’s etc. given to us from our ‘genre’ , so we tend to buy soundtracks, like ‘ Pulp Fiction’ and a bitta nostalgia.
Favourite TG Anecdote?
Chris; The film co-op gig where Fred and Judy Vermorel decided to start a fight to see what would happen. Ha bloody ha. It ended with the bass guitarist of the Slits having her arm broken and the gig ending. We could just see Fred and Judy running out the door like two shit scared rabbits. Personally, we (TG) were used to confrontation, so it was just like a normal gig really.
Cosey; After the ICA uproar in the papers we got a weird phone call from some sex therapist (who we’ve since seen many times on TV), inviting us to a party. Sleazy declined, so me, Gen and Chris went along. That was weird! very ‘ Valley of the Dolls’, most entertaining and enlightening, but can’ t go into the sordid details. There were so many anecdotes from TG daze, you could write a book, literally. We made a huge bonfire in the centre of the gig hall at Centro Iberico, because it was cold. I mean, the whole place could have gone up in flames, but everyone just ate Spanish omelette, drank and then TG ‘played’ .
Favourite C&C anecdote?
I suppose it has to be when we parked the RV down Haight Street, San Francisco and went to do a record signing. One of tour entourage, Monsieur Brian Williams, left the RV unlocked. I mean, it’ s not the safest street is it? The tour manager had left about $35,000 of the tour money stashed in there! She went crazy, ’ cos she couldn’ t find it. Then, when we looked with less panic, we found it, but it was a really awful moment. Favourite isn’ t really the right word, but ‘ memorable’ it was. Then there was the tour where SPK supported us, and Graeme cut a girls head open when he weilded his chains. She threatened to sue, and Graeme went to the hotel and left us the calm the situation down.
Chris Interview for Neumusik Magazine No.5 Aug 1981
- "The Mission Is Terminated" says the austere looking postcards that are currently being distributed by the TG camp. The group, who've been around for some 6 years, have decided to call it a day. No great flourishing, controversial finale such as mass-suicide or something (the Press would have loved that!), just a simple termination.
I've always thought that TG's main attraction has been the electronic wizardry of Chris Carter. Forget about the controversy, the lyrics, the image; Chris Carter is the main-man behind the music of TG: the rhythms, synth and keyboard work, treatments and so on.
I went up to London in May to interview him, about 3 or 4 weeks before the official 'end' was announced.
So, after watching bits of the FA Cup Final, videos of TG and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (!), we popped up to his studio to discuss buts and pieces of TG's history, Chris's solo cassette and future projects.
Thanks go to Chris for sparing a whole afternoon and to Cosey (who shares their north London flat) for the delicious spaghetti bolognese!
When Chris left school he got involved with producing light shows set to his own synth music with a friend called John Lacey.
D: When did you meet up with Gen and Cosey?
C: I was doing this show, and we were beginning to wind the whole thing down cos it was getting a bit boring, and we did a show at a place called Bounds Green, in an old church. We invited lots of people along because it was going to be John's last show and Gen and Cosey came along because they knew John anyway. So we did the show, and afterwards we got talking and they said why don't you come along to the studio and bring some of your gear along.
D: What were they doing at the time?
C: They were doing mainly art performances with a group they had called 'Coum' . . . So anyway, I went along to Martello Street. They had a big old Farfisa there, and a drum kit. It was completely different then. In those days, when we first started, we all used to try out each other's equipment. Now we all stick to what we've got.
D: Where did Sleazy (Peter Christopherson) come from?
C: Sleazy had already met them a couple of months beforehand, and had been doing art performances with them. At first he didn't used to play on stage - he just used to mix things at the back of the hall. And he put tapes through the mixer and things like that.
D: So you were doing live gigs even at that time?
C: Yeah, the first gig we did was in '76 at the Air Gallery, which is an art gallery. It was a sort of cross-over thing, as the others were all into the 'art thing' then. Not many people came along, but it was OK - it was weird.
D: What sort of stuff were you doing? Was it like 'After Cease To Exist'?
C: Yeah, it was like that, but no rhythms or anything, Actually at that gig, we all changed over instruments at one point. I walked across stage and picked up Gen's bass and he started playing keyboards. . .
D: What stuff did you have then?
C: I had a really big synth I'd made myself. It didn't have much in it, but it was really big! And Gen had his bass guitar and
Cosey here black guitar. And in those days we did our own P.A. which was enormous - not very loud, just BIG.
D: Did you plan what you were going to play?
C: We never used to at the beginning, but slowly, even then, songs started to emerge out of it all. We had one called 'Very Friendly' which had a kind of bass guitar riff, most of the rhythmic stuff was like that - based on guitar notes or tape loops. I think we must have played a couple of songs at our first gig. And then the next gig - the big one that started everything - was the ICA, with the exhibition and everything. It was still the arts/cross-over thing.
D: What was the reaction like to it?
C: Well, it was pretty weird. I mean there were thousands of people there including all the Press. It was a big scandal because it was next door to Buckingham Palace. There was even a cartoon of us in the 'Sunday Telegraph' of me, Gen and Cosey outside the ICA with the Queen lying on the floor and we've all got axes, pretending to chop her up!
D: Was it difficult getting gigs?
C: No, it's never been difficult getting gigs. That's the funny thing: we've never had to ask anyone for a gig, even then. We've always been offered gigs.
D: How did the album evolve out of that lot?
C: Well, we started doing a tape, 'The Best Of Vol 1'. It was a C90 and we did it just for friends, made up from bits we'd done in the studio when we very first started, and bits from the ICA and Air Gallery performances. And then we decided to do an album. It was basically just for us, for our own benefit. We had to borrow about £650 to do it.
D: How many did you press?
C: We only did 750. It was a very limited edition. If you ever see a copy, grab it, cos it's worth a fortune. I haven't even got a copy of it!
D: Did you sell them all pretty quickly?
C: Rough Trade took almost all of them straight away. And that's how Rough Trade got started. They never used to do that - they just used to be a record shop. And then they took all these and decided to start distribution. It got them on their feet. Eventually we gave the tapes to Fetish, and that started them. And that made enough money for us to pay back the money we borrowed to do the album in the first place. We had enough left over to go on to do 'United' which we hired a 4-track for. Gen and I went down to Martello Street to put the basic tracks down, and the others came down in the evening after they'd finished work, and we put the rest of the tracks down.
D: Is it Genesis who really brings in the controversy?
C: Yeah, I think so, because he's quite outspoken...
D: Are you mainly interested in the electronic music side, the rhythms and that sort of thing?
C: Yes. Most of the music, the rhythms and things have come from me, and I'm more interested in the music than the image, while Gen's more involved with the image and the philosophy behind it.
D: Do you set out to plan an image for the press...?
C: No, not really. I mean the only thing we ever sat down to actually plan were the two logos - the flash and the record logo. We didn't want it to be anything obviously political, just something that would stand out. And we hoped that eventually people would recognise them without the name.
D: Do you go along with the controversy side of it?
C: It's there, so there's nothing you can do about it. It doesn't worry me. I mean a lot of people bring it on themselves. They make something out of nothing.
D: Well, I suppose after things like the ICA performance...
C: That got blown out of all proportion. I think that people were very disappointed with the whole thing when they got there, cos they thought it was going to be some big sex show, and there was nothing there. It was just the papers that made up the
story. The 'Evening News' was the worst one. They were running a story every day for about a week. It was ridiculous!
D: Well, I suppose it's free publicity.
C: This is it. It did get the name quite well known; for the wrong reasons probably.
D: Did you approach record companies at all?
C: No, they approach us; again, it's the same thing. Virgin was the first who were interested in us. At the time we weren't really interested, but they asked us to come along and see them, so we played them a tape. They obviously realised we weren't going to compromise or anything; they couldn't take us as we were. So we just thought we'd just go out and do it ourselves.
D: It was about the time of 'D.o.A' that things started to get, umm, 'big'?
C: Yeah, it's funny, you don't really think about it at the time. It's all just happening as you go along.
D: I remember 'D.o.A' getting pretty good reviews.
C: Yeah, even the NME gave it a good review (laughs)! Those were the days!
D: How did you come into contact with people like Monte Cazazza and The Leather Nun?
C: They just started writing to us, sending us tapes and things. Monte's been corresponding since the very beginning. But The Leather Nun just sent us a tape and started writing. We never release stuff that people ask us to release. We always approach people, people we like personally. The only mistake we made was with Thomas Leer and Robert Rental who turned out to be a couple of right burks! All they kept ringing up for was their royalty cheques and things.
D: Do you advertise much?
C: No. We did one full-page advert in Sounds. It was really expensive - about £650 I think. We're going to do another one soon, explain what's happening with the records and that we're going to carry on doing the cassettes. It's quite a lot of money but at the moment we can afford it; every year we have to spend a certain amount of money before December for tax reasons.
D: Was it your idea to do a solo cassette, or did Gen or someone suggest you do it?
C: I can't remember how it came about. I mean I've been doing tapes for years, recording loads of stuff - just ideas to play to
the others and see what they thought of them as the basis for new songs. That's why some of them might sound a bit flat as they're originally supposed to have a vocal or a guitar or something over them.
D: Has it gone down well?
C: Well we've sold about 100 copies through the mail order, Gen had sent a load to Rough Trade in America without me knowing. And Geoff Travis went over there to sort out some business and he heard it over there and went over the moon about it! So when he got back to London he asked if I could do a record and a single for Rough Trade and would I do 200 cassettes for the Rough Trade shop.
D: And it was about this time that you decided to fold TG?
C: Yes. Sleazy said a few weeks ago, "We've used up all our ideas now; it's coming to the end of the road. We haven't got much more to say together, musically" (sob, sob! ED).
D: Have you thought about doing something completely different?
C: Well, only videos and so on. I think Gen and Sleazy will carry on doing this sort of thing.
D: And Cosey?
C: She'll probably stay with me and work on this album and so on.
D: If your Rough Trade album goes well, might you go on the road yourself?
C: Actually, Geoff asked me if I'd like to, but I'm not sure. I'd have to take all this lot (points to massive array of synths and assorted gubbins, ED). I don't know, we'll have to see...
A few days after the interview, TG flew out to California to perform what turned out to be their last two gigs. Chris, in a subsequent letter, had this to say about the whole affair:
"Well, we arrived home safe and sound from the US. It all went fairly well. The gigs were pretty good - the last one was one of our best. We got a lot of publicity concerning our projected split-up which caused a bit (a lot really) of tension between us all. Also, the weirdest thing happened - Gen went to Mexico one day and came back married to this girl he's known for a couple of months. Her name is Paula (she lives near Gen in Hackney) and Gen paid for her to come on the US trip with us. Everybody was totally surprised by the whole affair and this added to the weird atmosphere."
Couple of items of interest:
Did you know that David Brooks, often associated as the TG 'coordinator' and the man behind Industrial Records mail order, never in fact existed! He was a pseudonym for all four members of the group.
Also, did you know that Peter Christopherson (Sleazy) is one of the main-men behind Hipgnosis, the cover designers. Have a look on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" album credits...
(Interview by David Elliot, Saturday 9th May 1981)
Chris & Cosey Interview for Work In progress Magazine Dec 1993
- (questions missing)
1. When I moved to London a friend of mine got me a job in a seedy camera shop down Whitechapel Road, Jack the Ripper territory and The blind Beggar pub that the Krays hung out in was just on the corner. A very lively area of London to work in. There was a room above the shop where ‘amateur photographers’ could go and pay to take pics of the photographic model (me).I was told if I started there, I’d get used to posing etc.and it would be uphill from there. It was pretty disgusting at times, boring too but I’m glad I did it. I got jobs through the shop to go and pose at photography clubs. I never saw one decent photographer at any of them, and I did a lot of clubs all over London. The guys were either train spotter types or sweaty men you’d suspect of not having a film in their camera. They never had to reload you see, when the others did!I suppose it was a good idea to start at the bottom and get to know the scene gradually. I went from there to a model agency and did the girlie mags, underwear catalogues, sex aid catalogues ( a lot of fun), films, car show and then onto the striptease work.
2. I met Genesis way before I moved to London. We met in ‘69 at an acid party at Hull University.We moved together to London in ‘72 straight into the studio at Martello Street. Coum transmissions was formed when Genesis still lived with his parents. I never took part in any of the Coum performances at first , I built props and costumes etc. Then I became more involved as the direction started to change. Coum was musically based and took the form of acoustic improvisations, just anywhere, then more abstract scenarios started creeping in and we made entire environments for enjoyment. I suppose what’s happening now with the lights, textured rooms etc is very similar to what we did, but ours was a crude version and much more hands on. People had to crawl through a polythene tunnel to get into the hall at the venue. We had all sorts of disgusting things we used in the performances too. We encouraged audience participation until it got to the point where people became more destructive than constructive, then we changed the structure of our pastiches to involve the audience in a more controlled way. Gradually we moved from what was considered experimental theatre then, to what has become known as ‘Performance art’. There was no such classification then, the Arts Council had to come up with something.
3. The performances varied a great deal in content, intent , complexity and duration. We went from four people sitting on chairs in the middle of the stage, seemingly shuffling bottoms around. What they were doing in fact was writing the word COUM in coloured drawing pins on the seats of the chairs. When they had finished they simply walked off in silence, then the next scenario took place immediately. We often ran many small pieces together , the more banal the better sometimes. Often it was a statement we were making about the absurdity of ‘ART’ the preciousness of it all and how you could do the most minimal piece and people would read untold definitions of Art credibility into it. Even go back in art history to find comparisons to Duchamp etc. which fuelled another piece we did called Marcel Duchamps next Work. That was a musical performance piece we actually took to Europe. It was quite complex and involved 12 people each with the Duchamp wheel in the stool. They followed colours projected randomly in the shape of a bicycle wheel as their musical score. They had various tools with which to play their wheel and a set of cards too. It worked extremely well. So you see, we always worked almost on a train of thought basis. Whatever happened got included or became our next piece. So when we moved to London and I became involved in modelling etc. the nudity began to appear in our work. We wanted to work out our inhibitions too and working nude helped us a lot in many ways. Bodies are wonderful objects to utilise and express ourselves through. Many of the things we did then, we just simply could not attempt in the social/art climate of today. In the 70’s and early 80’s boundaries were being redefined, therefore at some point, lines had to be drawn to depict some kind of limit. We performed anal sex live during an art performance. It wasn’t like the anal sex in a mag or film, it was anal and vaginal sex at the same time using a beautiful object we had made from a length of wood with 6” metal spikes all round it and dildos on each end. It was very tribal and ritualistic, an initiation ceremony. It wasn’t sexually arousing at all, it seemed the most natural progression of actions to us both.In fact that was the premise we based a lot of our actions on. If it felt natural and unforced it was meant to take place. At the same time we would try and work out any of our taboos as part of our performance work. We were always in battle with the Arts Council when we applied for grants for projects, yet the British Council seemed to click into what we were about with great ease.They were very supportive of artists full stop whereas the Arts Council were suspicious of artists unless they painted or sculpted. I think in all fairness we were somewhat of a risk. The more up market , fine art attitude pervaded the more radical we made our pieces. We were kicking against the complacency of art galleries, art dealers and some artists, sad to say, who wanted no change of expression in Art at all. They wanted to stick to their tired format. We were saying no one needs an art college diploma to qualify as an artist. Art is a form of expression open to all. It can take any form.
It was a very difficult time for everyone because so much was happening and changing too.It really was an exciting time. Artists set up their own art gallery and meeting place to try and cut out the galleries. The galleries had become so regressive and suffocatingly arrogant in their choice of work for exhibitions. Most of the really interesting performance work or exhibitions began to take place in Art Centres, the Art Meeting Place, Goldsmiths College, empty shops small groups of artists would rent for a week and put on live performance in the window, and exhibitions inside. I guess we all took over projecting what we had to say instead of going through the established channels. More interesting still, we took it to the shopping streets literally.The Bull Ring shopping Centre in Birmingham, not galleries. We were hungry for response and exchange of views and ideas with the people on their own ground. They felt more comfortable watching, challenging and talking when we came to them than they would have done in any gallery. It’s a sad fact that people go into a gallery and immediately assume that what is presented before them has gone through some qualifying test to become classified as “Real Art’. What we were about was ‘Life as Art’ because ultimately that is what Art is, however it is expressed. It is a view or interpretation of ‘Life’.
4.The PROSTITUTION show was done as a goodbye to the Art scene and hello to music really. It was our retrospective exhibition as such and featured a vast array of exhibits from performances etc. The only things that got press were of course the Tampax walking stick and the mags. it was a wonderful example of an organic exhibition that grew as it progressed. We added to our retrospective show all the press cutting of each day. in all their bigoted inaccurate frenzied glory! I can still remember being chased at full speed right thought the gallery by a crowd of journalists. It was madness. The neighbours and shop owners in Hackney where we lived were interviewed and asked what they thought of us what were we like and so on. They were all wonderful about us. I think the only person to bad mouth us was the stripper we paid to come and strip at the opening of the show. Strangely enough I worked for the same agency as her later on and met her a couple of times.
Genesis and myself had decided that as TG was born then COUM would cease to exist. It had become so notorious in itself as being the two of us, it wouldn’t be fair to Sleazy and Chris for future work as TG to be credited as being a ‘Coum’ project. (i.e. Me and Gen). Chris was responsible for the very existence of TG’s own industrial sound by building the equipment and creating the rhythms and sounds etc. Sleazy and he worked together on ideas for gear after a while. They had a good rapport. It’s so difficult after everything that has been written about TG to get the true picture across. People don’t even want to hear that their fantasies of how we all were may not be true. The majority of it is true, its the details that were filled in later to make the whole thing look totally planned to the finest detail that disturb me the most.Like saying TG was inspired and was an analogy for the Warhol Factory and the Velvets. That was the last thing on my mind at the time! It was a huge melting pot of ideas, observations, fantasies and experiments etc. that got thrown in and spat out the other end in whatever form seemed appropriate or totally off the wall. I think the common link between us all was that we each had a perverse sense of humour. In fact we were all perverse in our own ways and together it was a great creative force with tremendous drive and energy. We were all thirsty for new experiences and diversity in every aspect of our lives. We all supplied fodder to one another. It was great. Ultimately we all had to split because there was no way we could all carry on together once we had collated all the information and experiences that made us what we became. We all valued our freedom too much.
When PROSTITUTION was set up at the ICA I was modelling for Men Only in Greece and having meals with the then editor of the London Evening News. Another bit of irony silly chit chatting away and when we both get home, he has me splattered all over the front page of his newspaper ! Chris and Gen had been really busy installing all the framed mags etc. and Gen gave me a mouthful about sunning it on the beaches of Greece while he got all the flack. Nice homecoming. That’s the first I knew of it all and ironically that was the day ‘You took my hand on the stair, no one was around....’ October love song was born. Chris and I went to the ICA together to continue with the exhibition. Come to think of it a lot happened through that exhibition really because there was Billy Idol and Tony James in Generation X who opened up for us.They were called Chelsea then. There was such a mixture of people from all over the place. Suzi and the Banshees, Nicholas Fairburn MP, Malcolm Maclaren famous artists, strippers, porn, nude mag models press people etc. It was a really explosive cocktail. Genesis got his finger broken in a fight over being accused of exploiting me. The then director, Ted Little was kicked so badly he had to be taken to hospital. There was a 7 foot black drag queen called Java who was the bouncer that night. Then there was a scare that someone had slit their wrists in the mens toilets. This little old man in a uniform came running in causing havoc. All it was, was Gen had thrown the fake blood he’d been using during the TG performance down the toilet. The whole evening was like that. Total chaos on every level.
TG really did take over from where COUM left off, because we never expected to be in such demand. We ran the mail order and general info service as well as doing gigs, recording and releasing TG and other people too. Sleazy Chris and myself all had ‘jobs’ too.
5/6. The COUM TRANSMISSIONS performances were silent other than the noise of the movements of ourselves or objects involved in the piece. A few in the beginning were known as acoustic doo dahs using prepared pianos, guitars.bongos, talking drums etc. We even incorporated a Dixieland jazz drum kit once. There was Marcel Duchamps next work, that was a musical performance and the performance in the Bull Ring in Birmingham called ‘Orange and Blue’ was later done in a gallery under more controlled circumstances as a musical piece. The room was divided into two down the middle, even the floor. One side entirely Blue(Female, Cosey, Positive) the other entirely Orange (Male, Gen, Negative). We were underneath a pyramid (again split orange and blue). The entire range of objects and ourselves changed colour over the period of an hour. As we changed from one to the other we also took on the characteristics of one another too.There were contact microphones all over the objects, so the performance created its own soundtrack too. It was one of my favourite pieces, it took a lot of concentration. A lot of our ritualistic actions that took place in these performances were pointed out to us as being from various tribal ceremonies and some of my favourite objects had significant meaning within different religions and traditions etc. Instances like that fuelled my curiosity into Magick, Numerology etc. So I came into Magick etc. by practising in my own naive intuitive form. Reading about Magick came second and I still adhere to the theory and text you read must not become the gospel. I never read first and then tried to create the Magick, I was instinctively in tune. Anyone who knows anything can appreciate what I am saying. Some of the performances were video taped but Gen took most of the COUM archive and I have no idea where it has ended up now or what is being done with it. I have heard some of the tapes have been sold but I would be the last to know given the circumstances. there was an attempt to edit me from all COUM documentation of any kind. Whether that project was fulfilled or not I haven’t a clue. ‘Those who deny the past are condemned to repeat it’ as the saying goes.
7.’After Cease To Exist’ was a mixture of documentation of TG etc. and then the personal self indulgent pastiche Chris, Sleazy and myself set up, (in particular the castration)and the girl on the bed scene. All three of us were into that seedy B/W amateurish home sex scene films/photos at the time and the sadomasochistic practices too, so we just did it for our own enjoyment really. It wasn’t meant to shock anyone or make some mind boggling statement either. You have to remember we were about people exploring their capabilities on all levels and we did just that but allowed access to our experiences as a way of opening up the channels to guiltless communication. As for people laughing at the scene you would have to ask them why and the people who fainted why etc. I’m not into dictating interpretations of the work I ‘we done, that would make it a one way experience and pretty futile to me. We’ve used some pretty disturbing images during our shows both as TG and C&C and I like to think we ‘we done so with a lot of thought behind it. We’ve never used violence, sex etc. as a visual entertainment, more a visual statement to be considered and discussed. Chris and I have had numerous deep conversations (the after gig autopsy) with lots of people about why we used certain images etc. in our backing videos. Our visuals have had their place within the music and the mood that was set at the time. They were used to enhance the sound and also to trigger emotional responses and the thinking process too. It’s all too easy to go to a gig and prance about, go home and repeat the same thing next weekend, but I don’t see ‘gigs’ like that. Never have. That kind of escapism entertainment is well catered for already, and it has its function, but to escape from feelings and what is happening around you all the time, is not healthy. A bit of realism now and again does you the power of good!
I think people are more desensitised now to overload situations and its the overload that’s to blame. The placement of violence and the context in which its set is questionable at times. People on mass are not emotionally developed enough to deal with that overload. They need to be guided some way, given something tangible to them that can help them see ‘the point’. I think generally we’ve been emotionally suppressed too long and the overload is like giving license to ‘react’ but we don’t know how to and assimilate at the same time. So generally all these images flash at us, we see, we react or not and we ignore them in the end. We’re back to square one really.We see it but we don’t want to know because we’ve not been taught how to assimilate it to our advantage and learn from it. It’s become just another visual entertainment. It’s not healthy. I suppose what started out as an honest attempt to reveal information to people about the realities of this world, have been corrupted by the unscrupulous who saw the opportunity to make money from the curiosity and desire to know and experience more. That's how the ‘independent’ music labels got swallowed up, regurgitated and spat out in a more palatable form by the major label subsidiaries. The majors saw the commercial potential and the danger also.It was easier to be seen to accept it , but ultimately they bought up and buried everyone they could. Those who survived were a poor imitation of their former selves. The disruptive threatening energy, drive and power had been dissipated by the business man once again. Now we are left with the task of recreating that network of independence all over again.
8/9. TG began before punk and was a mischievous but serious reaction to the BeeGees etc. that was suffocating the music scene at the time. What more can I say? We stripped the ‘sound’ down to its raw form by producing ‘non music’ white noise etc. and questioning audiences responses to that. We put forward the girl of the band not as a pin up Farrah Fawcett Major type but as leather jacketed or combat uniformed female with simulated gashed boobs etc. We wanted to tear down the pretensions and the stereotypes that really made us sick. It wasn’t particularly a political stance we were making. We’d just had enough and what we wanted as ‘entertainment’ was not being catered for. So we created our own entertainment and invited people along. It wasn’t easy, we had lots of fights and nasty situations but we were very determined to carry on. We really enjoyed playing around with the promotion game of the record business and designed the TG logo as a means of instant recognition of THROBBING GRISTLE which we were able to utilise as badges, patches etc. We got together the phrase ‘Industrial Music for Industrial People’ etc etc. Most of the people who got into TG were aware of the irony we were indulging in and went along with us. Later on I think that irony and sense of humour and mischief was replaced by a form of ‘hero worship’ despite our policy statements against that very approach to ‘bands’. We had become as you said a victim of our own success in more ways than one really. The mail order and correspondence side of Industrial Records became so huge that with four of us working every day and most evenings all week we still never caught up. That affected our recording and researching areas of interest that cropped up and also got in the way of doing gigs etc. Plus the fact that Chris, Sleazy and I had to hold down some kind of job to provide money to live so Industrial would only support itself and projects and not provide incomes for us. The only financial benefit we allowed ourselves was £250 each from the US gigs. The rest of the money was ploughed back into Industrial for the next release etc. and paid Gens rent and phone bill, as we used Beck Road as the mail order office and base. You have to remember that TG was never meant to be around as a wet nurse for people or a guiding light as to what they should be into now. it was primarily there to make people think for themselves to get up and be curious and act on their feelings instead of suppressing them. To get themselves under control in a way. It was a wake up call! When you think of all the catalysts that have been and what has been achieved by the people who recognise their awakening as being attributed to that person or event , then I think TG achieved a lot in its short life, and we never expected to be together like Status Quo is now! How sad to think that someone one from those daze would make it the highlight of their year to go to the annual TG Christmas gig. The annual fix. We would have failed for gods sake.
10. By the time DOA was recorded there was much pulling in different directions in more ways than one. Gen and I were splitting up for one and Gen’s solo track speaks for itself. We always had our own ideas for tracks anyway so it seemed right to all self indulge for that album. My track was inspired from a visit to my sister as a means of getting my head together as to where I went next, I recorded her children playing. It all seemed so simple to me, I could see more clearly how damaging the whole scenario was becoming back home for all of us really.
11/12. The so called TG gig in the mid eighties wasn’t TG at all. It was an attempt to resurrect TG as TG LIMITED (ie. Gen). Someone rang us and told us about the ad. Sleazy also rang and we decided that we should put out a press release declaring it as being false and not to attend. Luckily the music press were behind us and we managed to get it in the next issue. Some people who had come from abroad never saw it and paid for a TG gig that never was. I was told not a many turned up in the end and those who did felt very cheated. The reasons behind it are pretty obvious to us but Sleazy , Chris and I felt we had to at least let people know we had nothing to do with it. The same with lots of things like that, bootlegs etc. Its a real pain in the arse but fodder for bad Karma to the people involved I say. Sow what you reap.
13/14. By the time Chris and I released Heartbeat we’d accumulated so much in the way of ideas and samples etc. for tracks we could indulge in we were really enjoying that freedom. We’d started to move away from the gloom subject matter towards the end of TG. When the relationships ended it was like a breath of fresh air not to have to listen to vocals about rejected love and tormented betrayed souls etc. All three of us wanted to experiment more with the structure of the music and drop the vocals really. Adrenalin and Distant Dreams were a real struggle at the time. Chris in particular felt musically compromised so Heartbeat was a great release for us both. We started collating material for it during the last TG USA gigs. Put Yourself in Los Angeles, Hairy Beary etc. People tend to forget 20 Jazz Funk Greats etc. and the muzak that was ever present at some stage in at the TG concerts. As C&C we experimented with areas of music we were intrigued by. Martin Denny for one, the most well known influence. It wasn’t just his music but the image, the era and the venues he played. We drank in Don the Beachcombers before it got torn down. It was great. All the kitsch decor and framed photos of stars drinking cocktails while listening to Denny and his band. Also we’d experimented with the metal percussionesque, industrial sounds, frequencies etc.we wanted to widen our horizons. The TG music had become a safe zone and for me I’m never comfortable when I start feeling safe. I get suspicious of myself and my motives for remaining in situations that don’t challenge me in any way. I think the only thing that was intense about TG at the end was the atmosphere! So in a way splitting TG was not a way of escaping the intensity of it but realising that TG was dead and we all had to move on. What you say about C&C being more subtle is true. It’s OK to crack open the nut but you don’t then go right ahead and pulverise it with another hammering do you? That’s what Chris and I wanted to achieve with our music. We wanted gentle seduction, into the realisation of the true content of the lyrics and sound. TG was the nutcracker. Everyone always asks us about the rhythms we have used as if we never used them before. Has everyone forgotten Discipline? What a Day? and all the other Industrial rhythms Chris came up with? We’ve always been fascinated by the Magick and strength of rhythms and that’s why we got into the Martin Denny type Latin percussion etc. We experimented with tribal drums and got into the Exotika mode and somewhere along the way the more commercial side of music met up with us. We recorded when and as we chose, we never followed trends, never have. But we do get accused of being ‘ more commercial’ as C&C and I still maintain it was a meeting in time. Even now, tracks from TRANCE are played at clubs. That was 1983! So we meet again. If we were after commercialism we would have taken up the offer to support Depeche Mode, we would have taken up other offers along the way, but it never sat comfortably in our minds. How could we go and play Sleeping Stephen live to Depeche Mode fans? We could have played, but not a C&C gig as we should be. We would have had to compromise. It’s not as if we dislike Depeche either we actually like their work, so we would have liked to meet up with them etc.
15. Going back to the tracks, we never recorded any tracks that were meant to be for TG, because we all four of us were always there to complete the tracks. Too many cooks in the end. It was just good to get away and do what we wanted and take the piece in the direction we felt it wanted to go. Now we can either of us recognise when one needs to take a back seat for a while and maybe come in with suggestions when the need arises later on in the composing, recording process.With TG , it was so democratic it was detrimental to a point and eroded the freedom somewhat.
16/17. We decided to stop doing live work last year before my BPM problem. It’s primarily because we do not feel any significant surge of energy or new experience in performing live. The set up where ever we go is always a club of some kind. We are expected to ‘put on a show’ etc. We’ve done just about everything we could hope to do in public and there is little that will inspire us to get on stage again. For that reason I don’t think its fair to present yourself as a person that fulfils the ideals of the audience and leaves you with a taste of self betrayal. Its hypocrisy. I’d sooner record and release our work and let it be heard as it should be, on a good system, headphones if preferred. In a quiet dark room, in a club etc etc. We provide the music and then people can chose under what conditions they listen to it. The only side of the gigs I miss is the people. We did always enjoy talking and meeting people who had written to us. That’s not meant to sound like a cliched statement. I do miss that because I’ve corresponded with some people for years and I’ll probably never meet them now. Such as it is, we were never ones to advocate the pedestal approach to ‘musicians’, so the carrot of being ‘CHRIS & COSEY’ on stage does not tempt us at all. We have trouble dealing with ‘fans’ like that. The responses we got varied from totally over the top hysteria like in Los Angeles, Frankfurt to a stillness that made you wonder if you’d played at all. It’s weird I can’t say we’ve had a bad response overall for a C&C gig.Laid back yes, but when the autopsy begins you learn that the audience were so overawed or they never clap at all for bands and they clapped for you. etc etc. It’s always interesting to hear what people thought and felt about the shows. Any misconceptions or new observations all add to the overall picture being expanded. We’ve always found the Melkweg in Amsterdam to be like playing to a massive sponge, that soaks it all up. It’s weird. Even in the COUM daze they lay there and absorbed all these whipping, vomit scenarios going on in front of them without a word or reaction. Ironic really because we played our first and last C&C gig there. What a way to start and finish! I’ve been mauled, caressed, asked to have someones child, the usual. It’s all been fun really, no real nasty events like with Coum & TG. Then there were bottles and chairs flying at you, abuse, spitting and dealing with Skinheads and Hells Angels was all expected then. There are so many anecdotes of off the wall situations we found ourselves in. Great when I think back. All of that gave me what I have today. It’s weird because the energy of youth is there to be used to grab as many experiences as you can. It’s almost like running against a clock, because you reach a stage in your development when the adventure drive slacks off because you have done so much and the energy gets used up assimilating all that has happened, your priorities change. You make use of all that knowledge. If you haven’t accumulated enough along the way, you’ve missed the boat. Exploring is never the same when you’ve acquired common sense. Its always best first time round.The age of innocence and naivety can’t be recaptured. That’s how we feel about gigs. We’ve moved on to something else now.
18/19. We always plan to release videos but we get screwed up by time. We finish one project and hope to get the video done and along comes something else. Video takes ages to do, the way we do it anyway. We don’t have the sophisticated equipment we’d like, so we have to go to ingenious lengths to try and get the effects we want. Lucky buggers with access or money to get access to great gear can do it so quickly. We’ve got tapes and tapes of live shows we want to edit together for release and I think this year we’ll get that done. We spent a lot of time working on the videos we used in live work and we hope to utilise some of those in the release. They worked really well, but then that was then and nowadays everyone is using video projection and cut ups etc.
‘ALLOTROPY’ never got released as a video. We have a copy ourselves but the artists involved never really got it together. The idea and concept was better than the reality really so maybe it’s a good thing in the end.
20/21. The use of subliminals nowadays is not such a secret but I think people sometimes gladly surrender to the seduction and others who are more cynical will not give in at all on any level. The worst form is advertising and money based use of subliminals, be it smells or imagery. We never used them for that purpose as we’ve said. We do still use them for various reasons. Just to hide spoken words we feel should be there but not as an obvious vocal, or sounds buried deep down that give an intangible foundation to the mood of the track. We always use them in videos, always. I think we have to remember that a subliminal is a means by which you get someone to do something they would not normally do. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, it could be to their advantage to accept the suggestion. That’s what we use the technique for. It’s part of the work we create, it enhances and is an integral part of the piece, as much as any other sound.
22/23. Our studio is not really open to other people. We’ve done mastering and editing for friends but we don’t like the idea of letting people use the gear. The studio’s in our house anyway, and we’re pretty choosy about who comes here. We have had requests to use it to get the C&C ‘sound’ and make use of Chris’ techniques but I’m possessive about that. It’s often too easy for people to pay for someone else hard work and walk away with the credit. That’s happened too much. Besides, the whole point of individual work is the fact that they have their distinctive sound. If they don’t want to put in the research and work to acquire it, they shouldn’t be doing it. We’ll support anyone who tries and is starting out but we want to encourage self achievement and acclaim.
Our equipment has grown somewhat in the last few years and we’ve also got rid of some too. We write everything using the Macintosh with Master Tracks Pro. This is linked to the Akai samplers (S1100 & S1000) with all the samples stored on optical disk. The synth sounds come from the Korg Wavestation A/D and Roland D50 using an Akai master keyboard to play the samplers. We record everything straight onto DAT tape. The vocals we record direct onto Optical disk and use the Mac to cut and paste them where we feel they sit best. We still have some of the gear from TG daze and we use it for effects and samples. The biggest is the Roland modular system and we’ve used that a lot on ‘Muzik Fantastique’, ’Metaphysical’ and is set up to be used for the next CTI Library of Sound project, ‘Chronomanic’. We’re working on that at the moment and hoping for a May/June release. It has taken over a year to record because each track is linked to a specific time, event or ritual throughout the year. The idea sprang from the track we recorded on the evening of the Feast of Balfigore from the ‘Pagan Tango’ album.
There has been a move away from digital synths and instruments and all the old analogue equipment is becoming collectable because of the sound.The trouble is that analogue gear is unreliable, hard to use and programme for most people. I think the best compromise is to use both. Record onto digital but use anything to make the sounds. Digital is not going to fade away.It’s an innovation we have to make the best use of.The same as when synths appeared on the scene. People weren’t too sure about using them. The only people who complain loudly now, are the big studios who are feeling the crunch as more people compose and record at home with just as good results.Shame they can’t rip us off any more innit? I think for the future we’ll get more features for our money and smaller , more reliable equipment. It’s certainly changed the way we compose. Really the use of the Computer in the studio has had as much effect as the Digital recorder. It’s brought an endless stream of possibilities for the creation of sound. It’s an inspiring instrument in its own right. There still is the need for tactile instruments though and I don’t think for me that need will ever disappear. I still enjoy playing my guitars and cornet and the Octapad as well.It all goes towards making things less robotic. We do programme in mistakes when things maybe sound too tight. You can feel more in touch with the sound when there is that element of vulnerability. On the Mac we can duplicate any mistakes that actually turn out sounding better than the original intended piece of music or rhythm. We like to juggle things up just to see what happens. That way we get a random element in there, like you would if you just messed about jamming. One of the fave functions on the Mac Sequencer programme is the ‘Randomise’ button. That always gets things moving, sometimes we end up creating two tracks from the one idea. So we still retain a freedom when it comes to the technical and creative side of recording, but we have the advantage of the quality and facilities of new technology.
24. We have a new date for the TIME TO TELL box set release. This has been going on for years now but it’s a project that I must see fulfilled. It is a very expensive release, so the timing of it has to be right. Summertime ‘93 was not good, then we missed the Sept. deadline for personal reasons by which time it was Christmas. And we all know independent releases are put into hibernation that time of year. So now we are looking for April, no not Fools Day!! Just April. I spent so long reading over my past to get all the information together to TTT that I am determined it will be.
Our second CTI/Library of Sound CD ‘CHRONOMANIC’, is scheduled for release in May/June. The recording is all going ahead now, like I said before. Then we have a load of samples and rhythms set aside for a C&C CD and we’re hoping to get working on a load of re-recordings of selected C&C tracks to be done in varied styles and arrangements. All very different from their original versions.Then we plan a live CD and video compilation.There’s some real gems and some snippets from conversations/interview type shorts. We just feel its time to get all the relevant material together that has been missing from the C&C library of work. We get a lot of requests for videos and live shows, so we feel its right to respond. We have to keep up with the CTI news bulletins as well, we don’t want to get behind again. Also we’re running the mail order service again which will include the usual CD/Vinyl/Posters/Badges etc. However, we are expanding to include C&C/TG samples on disk or DAT and possibly CD later on. We want to offer some of the raw material to other people, so they can give it another life within their own compositions. More people are sampling us anyway, so we may as well give them direct access to part of our sample archive (FOR A PRICE). We’ve got ‘Dancing Ghosts’ appearing on a compilation on PI records from Scotland. It will feature tracks from the past, present and future from various artists. I think that will keep us busy for this year really. There’s always other projects that crop up from time to time to add to the schedule.
Chris & Cosey Interview for Margen Magazine 1997
- (questions missing)
Throbbing gristle is so long ago now, but still people ask about it. I suppose I should be pleased that our endeavours had such an impact that even 20 years later their effects are so obvious. Still, I do remember the experiences as equally traumatic and fulfilling. As TG was pre-punk and even more radical thank punk, we had a hard ride from audiences and the media. I think that fuelled the fire inside us anyway so it wasn’t as negative as people would have hoped, (the people that wanted TG to end that is). I think from the response we hit a raw nerve in the music business, exposing its insincerity and insensitivity to both ‘musicians’ and the buying public. It was a time when music was even more spoon fed by men in suits and old rockers. We wanted to kick music up the arse and move it into the time zone it should have been reflecting. Alas we’re in the same situation again in the 90’s as we were then in the 70’s. Not surprising really as now we have a 70’s revival going on!! Maybe we’ll get a TG copycat band. I doubt they would receive the same reaction as we did though. We had a very aggressive image and we lived up to it, we never stood any shit from anyone, we were determined to deliver what we felt fitted the moment. For that reason we had violence at gigs, but it was dealt with. We hired heavy bouncers too just to add to the atmosphere and because we liked the idea that such an anarchic and low budget band would hire Barbara Streisand’s bodyguards. It appealed to our sense of humour. That’s what a lot of people ignore with TG or miss it altogether, The fact that we had a sense of humour (weird though it may have been to others). We had a great time being mischievous and irritating to whatever appeared to be the established way of doing things.
We got into some weird situations but they were great fun and expanded our horizons and us as people.
I think TG’s style and attitude all revolved around us basically saying don’t be passive, get active. Think for yourself, decide from yourself, contribute instead of consume all the time. That’s why there were tracks like ‘Deadhead’ which was a perfect adjective for the people we wanted to spark some life into (if it wasn’t too late). As I’ve said we were aggressive but this style basically visually told people we had serious intentions and they would have to deal with us in some way or walk away and remain deadheads. I think our attitude was a much healthier one than punk which more or less said what’s the fucking use. We wanted (and still do) people to utilise the body and mind they have use of for the finite they have. Of course we’re anti control and a lot of our bulletins and tracks were about that and the consequences of control systems. ‘Zyklon B Zombie’, ‘Persuasion’ etc. We built up a network of like minded people through our mail order and made great contacts, these sometimes lead to collaborations, or not. We just made contact and for some it was enough to know other people felt the same way. Our music expressed all emotions, frustration (What a Day), anger (We Hate You), love (United), fear (Death Threats), sadness (Weeping), happiness (Hot on the Heels of Love), pain (Hamburger Lady) sex (Something Came over Me). The resulting sound was not orthodox music because we used equipment in an unorthodox way. Only Sleazy had musical training and he never played an instrument as such. We all approached the sound source with innocence if you like, no preestablished expectation of what it could do, so we’d use screw drivers or anything on the guitars and violins, plug them into whatever we fancied and then treat them some more. It was the same with Gen’s vocals, Chris controlled them and Gen responded to the effects.
When we played live we always wanted to ‘feel’ the presence of the people who came to the gig. We wanted them to participate in some way, not necessarily jump up on stage but you could sense the energy of all those people and whether it was negative or not. It’s a wonderful sensation when they all come with you. That happened in the last TG gig in San Francisco, I’ve never felt such powerful emotion, the air was so charged I felt like I was looking on the whole scene from above. It was the accumulated effort of all that were there and for me it was a last effort to project the essence of what TG was about. By then it had all gone sour. Gen and I had split up by then and TG had become too much of a cult for it to remain comfortable within its own philosophy. We were against blindly following an example, we wanted people to be themselves in their own right, we were a trigger mechanism not a ‘church’ with followers. So before the last gigs of TG Chris and I had decided to form Chris & Cosey. We collected material for Heartbeat (Manic Melody/ Put Yourself in Los Angeles) while on the TG U.S.A. trip.
In the Shadow of the Sun’ was a real treat for us. We’d never done a film soundtrack before people had used recorded TG material for film but we had to create sound specially for Derek’s film. We used a studio that was in an old mortuary, a typical coincidence that always seemed to crop up with us. I can remember sneaking off and exploring the old tiled rooms which still had the body slabs with drainage channels and the green lights on the wall. It was fascinating and even more special as we were recording late at night and the darkness added to the atmosphere. Then we’d go back into the studio and add some more sounds and vocals. It was a great project and I’m sure the location added to the end result, that respectful ‘ambience’.
Creative Technology Institute and Conspiracy International don’t actually function as a regular record company, it’s as you say our headquarters and we maintain control of our own works. We released material by other people on Industrial but we didn’t like the responsibility people place on you to work for them. We were never into collecting artists and works like a production line of marketable commodities, because that’s what it tends to become. It’ s a necessity because someone has placed their work in your hands and you are in the position of trust both artistically and financially. The people expect sales and profile and for us we don’t have time to do that for ourselves let alone anyone else! We always have too many of our own projects to contemplate taking on anyone elses work. That’s why we prefer collaborations because everyone is equally responsible to each other. For us that’s a more comfortable situation.
I don’t quite know what you mean by key work amongst U.K. electronic music of the time, but ‘Elemental 7’ has a special place in our hearts really, and I don’t mean in a sentimental way really. It was our first video and first CTI project too and involved John Lacey who actually introduced Chris and me, it was the right combination at the right time, a totally instinctive project in its conception and realisation. Everything just seemed to flow so easily. When we shot the video, ‘Meeting Mr. Evans’ we had our son Nicki with us in his pushchair, he was just 12 weeks old. We used the pushchair as a dolly for the video camera to get a tracking shot. It was all so relaxed and uncomplicated a sort of natural progression from ‘Trance’ really.
We’ve done so many videos now and I can’t say I am completely satisfied with any of them. I enjoy them all but we are always thinking even with music too that we could just do this or that to make it better. Video especially as it’s progressed so much since we began and we never have enough money to get the equipment that would fully realise our ideas. Our ideas seem to be too big for our budget, but then I think that’s sometimes a good thing, because you have to be inventive in your attempt to get the result you want and nice accidents happen which make things better than they would have been if you’d been financed enough to use expensive gear. The other good side of it is that most big bands/ art colleges etc that do have access to expensive equipment tend to use the same effects and we don’t fall victim to that trap. We’re presently getting a video board for our Macintosh so we can really go crazy and have fun then but that will be later in the year.
The ‘Library of Sound’ series is an ongoing CTI project of exploring sound as and when we feel. It’s a response to the expectation of Chris and Cosey ‘fans’ really. There came a point at which we felt we had to deliver ‘song’ albums and we felt it was an unhealthy situation for us, our ‘music’ and people who like our material. So we broke free with the Library of Sound so people would know we intended to follow any direction we wished and there would be no set pattern to our output. I think this is essential in enabling us to move forward. I hate being trapped by other peoples needs, it’s unhealthy all round. The ‘Collectives’ to some extent were released to answer a genuine need for the unavailable C&C/CTI compilation tracks and to give the uninitiated a taste of our work, I think they work really well. The name Conspiracy International is not a series at all, a lot of people get confused with it. It is our label name which aptly describes our intentions to conspire and collaborate on an international level.
Skimble Skamble will probably be the last C&C ‘song’ album we do for reasons I’ve already given but also because we both feel more drawn to the L.O.S. work at the moment and we were never ones to force things on ourselves. So having said that I shouldn’t force a definite no more Chris and Cosey tracks!! Maybe I don’t know, we’ll see how it flows, I personally want to use my voice a different way it needs for me to take on a new dimension and I’ve been toying with this idea for some time now. When the time’s right it’ll happen. As for defining ourselves as a group making electronic music with hypnotic elements, I never thought of us as categorised at all. But I suppose if we have to be it’s not bad. The hypnotic elements I must admit to striving for when recording because I look for that feature in music, something which draws me in. I must feel like I’ve been somewhere when I listen to music, even good muzak does that.
We’ve always used imagery in conjunction with our music, even if it’s just the cover of the album, we choose visual elements very carefully. I think most people when they listen to music get a visual image, for me it’s almost automatic. When we’re recording I’m always expressing the emotions I feel from the sounds but at the same time I have a visual image that goes along with that particular emotion. Saying it’s very blue or wet or cold, I close my eyes always when I listen to a track, that way I isolate myself from external distractions and any emptiness or missing elements in the sound become apparent. But crazy as it sounds, I listen to the music visually with my eyes closed, I think most people do. They lay in a dark room, put on the music and drift, it’s wonderful. So after all that imagery is very important because a sound can define an image in your mind so it’s important to us to make sure the sound triggers the appropriate image.
The Space Between was originally a collection of demo’s, doodlings and ideas I worked on in my apartment (between doing TG stuff) and later on, in the Industrial Records/TG studio at Martello Street, in east London. They would have stayed on the shelf if it wasn’t for Cosey, Gen and Sleazy, who kept on nagging me to put them out for public consumption. There was a lot of material and I was tempted to do a follow up but I just never got round to it, the thing is, some of unreleased stuff sounds dated to my ears now, so I will probably leave it in the archive.
With the Disobey Tour I thought it would be interesting to play as ‘live’ as possible, so I decided not to use any form of rhythm backing tape (DAT or cassette). I used a sampler, a synth, a drum machine, some effects and Cosey’s Powerbook for playing back some sequences. Using this sort of set-up allowed me to improvise and change the set from gig to gig. The only constant in the tour was a premixed backing video that was projected and/or shown TV monitors while I was performing. Personally I find it difficult to say how much the sound or style has in common with music I was producing in the eighties but the technique certainly is pretty much the same, apart from not using rhythm tapes. The Disobey CD should be out before the end of the year, with the possibility of a video also.
We’re recording a new Library of Sound album right now. It’s called ‘POINT SEVEN’ and we’re about half way through with some reworking to do on some tracks. It’s all a big shift for us because we’ve upgraded our equipment recently which has meant a change in our method of working. Always strange but exciting. Chris is in the process of taking the studio apart and putting it back together again right now, it looks chaotic right now but we’ll be back recording in a couple of days. After the CTI album we want to put together some live C&C albums because we found some really wonderful live tapes and the tracks are totally different live to the album versions. Plus Chris is going to release his Disobey gig too and he’s doing two gigs in Tokyo this autumn which will be released in Japan. To add to that we want to put out the C&C Live Video Vol2. which will have backstage footage and on the road snippets from the USA tours we did. That’ll take a lot of time because there’s so many tapes to go through, but it’ll be a good video. We have CORE TWO in the pipeline as well but that won’t be released until 1998.
Chris & Cosey Interview for unnamed Brazilian Magazine 1994
- QUESTION 1. WHAT'S THE PHILOSOPHY FOR COMPOSITION?
The only philosophy we have is that we do not contrive to do anything in particular, that the avenues for creating the music are open. Whatever transpires is what will be. I never thought of us as having a 'philosophy' before, but now I guess we must admit to that 'vice'.
QUESTION . SYNCHRONISE OLD MACHINES ETC.
Yes we do, we always have. We run an Akai S1100, S1000, a KORG Wavestation and mix up with these sounds made with the Roland 100M Modular system. We have a Midi to CV convertor which sync's the Modular System to the Macintosh. If it is impractical, we sample it into the S1100. Also the Cornet and Guitar are played regularly, then manipulated and enhanced into what is suitable at the time. Sometimes we have to sample the old machines to make the recording easier, as we record onto hard disk now. Working with Master Tracks Pro on the Macintosh has become standard.
QUESTION 3. DO YOU USE SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES?
We have never used 'messages' The subliminals we have used and still do are 'sounds'. They can be specific sounds which will have a triggering effect on peoples moods or suggest a specific place/time (like childhood or an airport , green fields etc.) They are always used to give hidden mood to the tracks they are used on. People must realise that they will not always hear the subliminals for various reasons. The system the music is played on is not suitable, they are in the wrong frame of mind. Yes the subliminals have worked/been heard by many people and always in a positive way. We don't aim to hide things from people, but to enhance their enjoyment of our music. The subliminals are an integral part of the pieces of music where they are placed, just like a vocal or guitar is.
QUESTION . WHAT OTHER BANDS DO YOU LIKE?
We listen to all areas of music from classical, 30's, Rave, Pop to our own partners in crime, like Coil etc.
QUESTION 5. LABELLED AS A POP GROUP?
We don't think of ourselves as a pop group. Pop here is something to beware of. A disposable product, which I do not believe we are. Also it has the definition that the material has little meaning, or frivolous content. Ours is honest and drips with the reality of our lives. It is something we do not take lightly. We are offering ourselves and views within our music. It is very special when people enjoy our work. The money is incidental to us, wereas with 'POP MUSIC' the money is the reason for it existing at all.
QUESTION 6. DIRECT INFLUENCE ON RECORDING NEW PROJECTS?
We have inspiration from some of the music we listen to , but 'influence' suggests to me that you will create something in the same vein as that which you have heard. I think the only time we have done anything as blatant as that is when we have composed pieces with Martin Denny in mind. Indeed we would like to do an album totally inspired by him. He has been our main influence. Tracks such as 'Exotika', have his stamp on them. It even goes as far back as Throbbing Gristle with Hot on the Heels of Love.
QUESTION 7. BRAZILIAN MUSIC
I haven't heard any I can really say is authentic Brazilian. I would love to hear that and more contemporary work as well. Our environment has such an influence on what we produce as artists.
QUESTION 8. BEST C&C WORK?
We don't have favourites really because there is so much and the moods vary also. We are maybe too close to be constructive in our choice. Chris quickly says 'the Exotika' album and 'Muzik Fantastique!'. For me it is individual tracks more than whole albums. The new one ('Muzik Fantastique!') too, I must admit to feeling very close too which is unusual for me so soon after its release, we are often sick of hearing it after the hours /days/weeks mixing in the studio. But it has so many levels to it. I listened to Pagan Tango album last week and loved it all over again. Yet I can hear tracks from way back and drift away.
QUESTION 9. HOW MANY LIVE SHOWS?
As far as musical shows are concerned we have performed over 100 times as Chris and Cosey and about 30 times as TG. I have done many more as a performance artist, around the world. Also there are the striptease performances I gave and the modelling and film work too. When I write it down I seem to have spent most of my life performing in some way. There are good and bad aspects of live works, as there are with studio work too. Live work allows you to feed off the atmosphere and response of the audience. This in itself brings out new ideas in sounds, as we use improvised sections in live work. You can get positive inspiration from these live performances. Then the negative aspect is that you have limited control over the sound. As this is integral to us, we have to always compromise in some way when we play live. It has been a constant irritation to us and in the end, we have suspended live work because of this. Studio work is hard because you have no outside stimuli. You depend on yourselves for getting things done. Deadlines help us a great deal. We have the luxury of owning our own studio and we do take ages to record an album. Compared to some people, we produce a lot of work. Some musicians take years to record albums, we tend to think 3-6 months is a long time! We do get to make the final decision how our work will sound, which is all we want.
QUESTION 10. NEW ALBUM?
The new album is out now, it's called 'MUSIK FANTASTIQUE!' It was released in November '93. This is the album we are very fond of right now. For obvious reasons. We are nearing completion on a new CTI LP called 'METAPHYSICAL'. It is the first CD in a series called Library of Sound, Edition One. A Conspiracy International project which will continue to compliment our C&C work. The project will be music in the vein of Allotropy/Elemental 7 and Irama.
QUESTION 11. GIGS IN BRAZIL?
I think I have already answered this one. We have suspended our live work for now, to enable us to record more music. We have a list of projects which have accumulated over the years. We need to fulfil our dreams of seeing these musical pieces materialise.
From Anti-Matter Magazine Oct 1989
- Chris & Cosey live at st. andrews hall sometime in October 1989. by: Keith Shepard
Driving to my editor's house was a complete fuck. i suck at finding anything visible. street names are a blur; it's like trying to light a cigar while pumping gas into a car. he tells me he's in a simple house three from the corner. nonsense. like crack addicts, my girlfriend and i buzz the supposed location, missing my editor and running over no one. no points, no bodybag.
i-75. downtown. geektown.
Once up the famous cement steps, we come to find that we're the first to arrive in our party. we land in the lobby trying to look as stupid as you do and even consider slamming a beer, stealing a tee shirt or tearing our hair off. i dig around and hook up with chris and cosey's road manager. my editor shows up with tons of anti-matter mags and meets the road manager and i meet his wife. the pre-concert interview is set and i'm still looking around making stupid body gestures like you would. The road manager leads us up to the executive band lounge and dining coach perched high above trend hell and the hammer heads. i check my hair, smell my breath and tighten my corset. of course, the st. andrew penthouse is stocked with fruit and ripped up paintings. we spot chris and cosey busily breathing. we all make the necessary introductions and sit around trying to hold in farts.
anti-matter: after you split from the throbbing gristle scene and you started your own projects, did you rely on previous technology and techniques or did you venture off into other areas?
chris & cosey: the only thing we took was the frustration....frustration to expand into other areas that we felt like we couldn't with throbbing gristle....we also took our hair cuts and wood flavor bed sheets....
ant-mat: like experimentations into....
ch & co: into the pop music scene....like doing slightly more commercial music and coiling our bowel movements....
ch & co: ....but because we were half of throbbing gristle we were bound to take some of it anyway. which is expected and....
ant-mat: throbbing gristle was a ground bashing group because....
ch & co: noise was something else besides musical collections and we really jammed more mixed media styling than any group....which came from the frustration of our televisions and the over stimulated visual environment which we all eat....it pumps out audible and visual stimuli like hippo menstruation....
ant-mat: now your other side projects like "core" and "tgt", did....
ch & co: they just came about through friends saying to each other, "we ought to do something together, we ought to put out some songs, make a video or have kids"....so we actually manage to get it all together one year....i think the paper's on fire and my god is skinny....
ant-mat: ....i wonder if i can fit into this beer cup....
ch & co: ....the hardest part was getting everyone to agree and wash their fingers....getting them to sit down while dancing....
ant-mat: is the record company going to release....
ch & co: ....they've already released collectivity one....on cd only and collect two is our or coming out which is like the "best of" chris and cosey.
ant-mat: where do you pull a lot of your sound inspiration from....i noticed you've used a lot of horn sound spontaneously through this last album....
ch & co: ....it's a mixture of acoustic samples and synth- samples which is typical of most pop songs today....i layer my sounds until they mutate into other sounds and things that i use for drinking glasses. we do spend a lot of time sampling on the road. i'm sampling all the time....i've brought a little walkman with me and i'm constantly recording things and you....
ant-mat: ....like sounds off the streets....
ch & co: yeah, all sorts of things....you can find a lot of interesting sounds on the streets and in you body....i like doing this rather than getting my sounds off a sample library which some ugly person such as yourself created in the same fashion i might, but you would sell it for hundreds, you bastard.
ant-mat: do you find your music more structured now?
ch & co: yeah, slightly more; except with that core project which was a bit chaotic....
voice from over my back: they have to go on stage now...
ant-mat: well, who the fuck do they think they are?
Downstairs. Acting stupid in the lobby and on the floor, chris and cosey bounced out on stage and i blew my nose. while walking around, they played most of their latest album, shit from their exotica project ("exotica", "dr. john", "confess") and i think one or two older pieces. they sound like hedgehopper new age on record; in concert, they're just too fucking un-active. i took photos to keep back the tears and queers. the gig was too long, the shelter was too loud, the crowd was snoring or making stock market sounds. no one cared, the rain forest continue to burn, i lost again, big glass towers fall....you get my phrase? they did show some spiffy slides and video on a screen behind them, but they wouldn't leave so we could watch it. The show ended. people woke each other up or stopped talking.we requested a post-concertinterview(why?) and pushed each other up the stairs.
ant-mat: how was the gig; i was asleep....
ch & co: we weren't very happy with the sound....it was very low and you could hear disco music from below....
ant-mat: yea, disco from hell...
ch & co: yea....
ant-mat: tell me, where do you pull your lyrics from....dreams, playboy,
-everyday common deaths....?
ch & co: sex.
The rest went to shit and i totally insulted their music by comparing it to the new beat sound and fashion. my interviewing skills totally collapsed and some drunk grabbed my editor's balls. bastard.
Published by A-M Publishing. Copyright 1989 A-M Publishing.
From Anti-Matter Magazine Aug 1991
- Anti-Matter magazine Issue 2-2
MORTAL SYNTH - A short interview with Chris & Cosey
by Dan Sicko
I caught up with Chris and Cosey literally right before their show at Industry in Pontiac. I missed their sound check, so rather than going home, I went across the street to Chimayo (Pontiac's hoity-toity Tex-Mex restaurant) and spent more thanI wanted to on the *one vegetarian dish they offered (They must not have spent much time South of the border). Anyway, five pounds heavier and ten dollars lighter, I came back to Industry and chatted with fellow scribe Peter Suciu for a good two and a half hours before Livonia's "His Name Is Alive" graced us with their stage presence and wildly beautiful songs. Then it was up what seemed like an infinity of stairs to Chris and Cosey's dressing room. We only had about 15 minutes to talk, and I had to share questions with Mr. Suciu (That's why this intro is so long.)
Chris and Cosey (I don't want to demean them with the abbreviation "C&C") seemed a little worn, being on their 10th out of 15 dates, but that didn't interfere with their friendliness or their performance. Chris mentioned that they "Won't be touring anymore after this one." Cosey explains what brought this on: "It takes a hell of a lot of time out of the year, and we have so many projects we want to do."
I began by asking if there was a chance of a Throbbing Gristle reunion project, now that Wax Trax has signed all the original members (with Coil and Psychic TV), to which they replied, "No, not in a million years." I can't blame them, reunionprojects almost never sound as good as the original ones. Who will they work with now? It seems they will go back to some of the side projects we're familiar with (Core, TGT), but they've also have "a lot of other people we want to work with."
Chris and Cosey will also keep working with sampling, a passion of theirs for some time (see Anti-Matter #7), and surprisingly enough, the abuse of sampling hasn't soured them on the idea. "We've got megabytes of samples, never enough, really," says Chris. "But we don't use them as blatantly," Cosey adds. Apparently they've never had any legal trouble with sampling because they never sample anyone else's material. It's usually random everyday sounds, or at worst they'll "take snipets of dialoguefrom TV."
Another aspect of Chris and Cosey's music that always sparks some thought is the term "industrial." Back when they were part of Throbbing Gristle, they started the label "Industrial Records," and, according to Cosey, "labeled our music 'industrial music.'" Chris and Cosey agree the term has been abused. "The term is meaningless, really," says Cosey, "It's a commercial term now - Whereas before it meant that the people involved were involved on all different levels, not just the music. 'Industrial people' meant that they were *working people, thinking people."
Witnessing my first (and most likely last) Chris and Cosey performance, I was amazed at how their music enveloped the audience. The music, simultaneously minimalist and intricate, obviously comes from individuals who still care about those who listen, not just those who dance.
Published by A-M Publishing. Copyright 1996 A-M Publishing.