It appears that Sparke brings her own peronal experiences to her music (never!), highlighting the spaces between the polarity of softness and grit. Pulling from her experiences of addiction, of healing, of queerness, of heartbreak, of joy, of connection, of the softness and of the grit alchemizing it all into tenderness through her music, she conjures up a myriad of feelings that is undeniably potent.
Born in the belly of Sydney, Australia straight into the heart of a family with music in their bones. Her parents, a jazz singer and a musician, named her after the Duke Ellington song ‘Mood Indigo’, and her childhood was spent serenaded by a rich soundtrack of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. From a young age Indigo felt called to the stage, attending a performing arts high school, and followed it with three years in an acting school, working as an actress before embedding herself and heeding the call to the path of music.
It was in 2019 that Indigo lived and travelled across America, in many hotel rooms and amidst the vast stretching landscapes on the never ending highways, channeling her creative energy into the completion of her latest album, Echo.
Of the song and video for new single ‘Colourblind’, Sparke says “I think there was a period of time when I was almost laughing at how sad I was in the space of ambiguous liminal love. If you don’t start laughing, you just cry more. Its a feeling when you are kind of sick to your stomach and anxious but excited and not knowing what the fuck is going on. The space of waiting. Waiting to know someone else’s truth, or waiting to see someone, or waiting to see what the future holds for you and that person, or waiting to see if it’s even real. Everything becomes that person, everything reminds you of that person, everything speaks that persons name. It’s a bittersweet thing.”
We hope to feature an interview with Ms Sparke very soon.
The Specials emerged from an era of British music like few others; one that combined the influences of both homegrown political dissidence and Jamaican dance-house music. In the late 1970s, The Specials produced the first and finest combination of multi-racial (and also collaborative) music that the UK had ever seen, inventing the term ‘Two Tone’ in the process. Many since then have tried to hold the cue, but few have managed to do so or execute with such originality. I do doff my hat to those who have tried. In terms of being related to the quality of ‘ska’ music The Specials dealt (and continue to deal) in, I can only raise the name of the Fat White Family, a band who seldom sound in the same genre, but do very much carry the energy, wave of originality, popular tunes, humour, and indeed political messages of The Specials. The common political message can be left up to the reader to decide.
Horace Panter was in the Specials and played Bass in their original and current line up. These days, he’s very eager to get The Specials back touring (COVID forgiving) and also spends his time working with his own Pop-Art, adapting to being a ‘technophobe’, whilst also on the verge of being a grandfather. Felten Ink caught up with Mr Panter to discuss such matters.
Horace, what is the difference between being a ‘musician’ and an ‘artist’?
Being a musician gives instant feedback. If you’re doing good, an audience applauds or your bandmates acknowledge you. If you’re doing bad, you know about it pretty quickly too. There is a lot of adrenaline involved! With painting, the satisfaction and contentment is something internal. I guess, to use a pop psychology word, it’s ‘mindful’. The validation from an audience comes more slowly but it is there. I get a kick every time someone buys one of my paintings.
To me your own artwork looks like it would come under the term ‘pop art’?
Yes, I’d say I follow the Pop tradition. I take everyday objects and paint them, elevating the mundane. Andy Warhol had his soup cans, I have my cassettes, Japanese Vending Machines, American diners. I don’t mind people putting structure around my work – it doesn’t affect how or what I paint.
Do you look at everyday things and feel the need to make something?
I look at all genres of art (which is why I miss being able to go to galleries/exhibitions). Everything inspires me: it could be a colour or a shape or an object that suddenly takes on a specific meaning that I think could be transferred to a painting. A fellow artist once said to me ‘lots of people can draw/paint to a level that is extraordinarily but, as an artist, you have to have an idea’. I’d say it’s far harder to have an idea than it is to be technically brilliant. I don’t want to follow trends in art though I’m aware of them. I guess my strongest influences come from Pop Art, given that I was a child of the 60s when everything ‘cool’ came from across the pond: pop music, art, fashion. I love Peter Blake’s work but he was also influenced by American Pop culture.
What has being a musician taught you (if anything) about your own exploration into making your own art – to me your artwork doesn’t seem too personal?
As a musician, I’m a team player. I need a drummer and other musicians to create my music; it’s collaborative. I always refer to my art as ‘my solo album’. The work stands or falls on its own merit and by my own efforts. I have done a few pieces of ‘personal’ art but I keep them for myself!
I would love you to share some… I’ll keep it a secret, I promise. When is the best time for you to work, create, and why?
I prefer to paint in the daylight (natural light) which has been difficult with the short winter days. After walking the dog I spend most of the day in the studio but I do go out to see my printer or framer a couple of times a week. I try to take a break at weekends but if I’m on a roll, that often goes out of the window. The painting itself dictates how I work I guess.
It seems to me there are perhaps few other modern bands continuing the work of The Specials. Do they exist?
Where are the new Specials? I think various aspects of The Specials are observable in a lot of British music – the reggae/ska influence, the dance style, but nothing has come that close. Jerry (Dammers) once said he thought that Galliano were like The Specials. There are, of course, bands that, lyrically, resemble the band, but I think our USP was the message and the dance. Our message was serious but our music was uplifting.
I once read you saying nice things about Sleaford Mods (not my bag, to be honest). Personally, I think Fat White Family are one of the greatest bands currently on earth who at least share the attitude of a band like The Specials. What else is are you into musically?
I’m not familiar with Fat White Family – I’ll look them up – but Terry thinks highly of them. I thought the Sleaford Mods were mesmeric performers and it was great to have them on tour with us. I don’t listen to too many new acts (where do you find them these days if you don’t have Spotify… I don’t because I’m a bit of a technophobe!). I think my vast knowledge of rock’n’roll is something of a millstone around my neck. Everything I hear seems to sound like something else – spot the influence if you will. I have tickets to see The Drive By Truckers in June in London, re-scheduled from last year… I hope they play. Bands send me stuff on social media and, now and again, I prick up my ears and listen to a song all the way through. These days I’m quite impatient, if it sounds generic in the first few bars, I’m gone. I’m not cynical, maybe just have too many tunes in my head already!
I first got into the Specials in the days of indie dance floors back in my late teens/ early 20s (a long time ago now). Why do you think The Specials continue to be so important for newer generations?
Well, firstly: The tunes are great. The lyrics are easy to sing and are still relevant. The rhythms are irresistible. The live shows are full on – 100% full tilt celebration. Got your ticket for the 2021 gig yet?
Not yet, but… How has this ongoing lockdown treated you and have you been able to develop or at least maintain yourself as an artist, i.e. your own artwork and with the band?
All the Specials’ work for 2020 was rescheduled for 2021. Then, even our 2021 tour was put back from March/April to September/October. Between the lockdowns I did three small gigs, two with a Cajun/Zydeco outfit and one with a Blues band. They were all great and made me realise how dependent I am on performing as a release. During this current lockdown I’m one miserable mother-fucker. There’s only so much you can practice playing the bass! Art-wise, I’ve never been busier. There are new projects and new opportunities, making it an exciting time. Counter-intuitively, people have still been buying art, which is great for me. I’ve managed to paint a whole new series of cassettes which will be exhibited in the next couple of months. Obviously, the exhibition will be virtual which takes some of the fun out of it as it’s nice to build up to a physical exhibition and to meet people at the opening. Nothing is as usual though is it? I stay home, walk my dog in the countryside twice a day and do everything I can to stay sane!
What has this current situation given you that normal life would have restricted?
We (my wife and I) moved house a week before the first lockdown, from Coventry to a small village in Warwickshire. Love it. We have spent our time since then exploring the area, finding remote places to walk the dog (border terrier called Mijj!), had builders in, who have been great company… builders always are aren’t they! As well as concentrating on painting, I’ve had lots of time to read and think. Our son and daughter-in-law moved from South London to Warwick just before Christmas. It is a huge frustration that we can only see them in a socially-distanced situation, so no long boozy dinners together! I miss playing Blues/Cajun/Zydeco in pubs. Socialising in general. Visiting museums and art galleries. I was planning a road to trip to visit friends in the USA so god knows when that will be possible!
I don’t want to spend too much time on COVID but as it’s affecting everyone – what are your own thoughts on how the UK is dealing with it? Will we get back to normal (I tend to think aside from pubs and gigs, normality was overrated)?
I don’t think there was a single country in the world that was prepared for the virus (except perhaps Taiwan). We had to make it up as we went along didn’t we. There were always going to be conflicting interpretations of scientific data and weighing up the economic consequences. I don’t think we’ve felt those consequences fully yet. The performing arts industry has been decimated. The current debacle about musicians/performers needing permits to perform in Europe is a farce that needs to be fixed. Maybe bands like The Specials can take that on the chin, given they have a management structure capable of sorting all that out. It is young bands and musicians (including choirs, small opera companies, etc) that will feel it as they often go out on a shoestring budget and they won’t be able to absorb the extra costs. I’m just hoping to play in pubs again!
I’m now in my mid-30s and feel it – does one chill out more as they get older – You’re 67 now so what does age do to you?
Haha! It makes me jealous of anyone who is 30 years younger! Stuart Copeland once said to me “musicians stay younger longer” – I hold to that thought constantly!!Less angry, sure. More chilled, sure. Without the mist of anger I have been able to think more deeply about things like politics… I’m less reactive and more contemplative. I look for context in everything, despite the fact that context is often obscured. I see that MSM and social media are designed to make me angry so I back off. I’m going to be a grandfather this year and that gives me a deep sense of joy. The personal stuff, family, friends, etc., is the important stuff.
In terms of your artwork, I love your cassette art in particular – how do you choose who to stick on there. I was thinking you should do a mixtape version and link to a playlist on Spotify… with the help of the one they call ‘Alexa’?
With the cassettes there are self-imposed boundaries. Circa 1970 – Circa 1995 are the boundaries. Having said that, more bands are recording and releasing cassettes as they have achieved a kind of iconic status. All the cassettes are the same dimensions. The interesting bits are small, overlooked factors like the screws (do they have screws?), or the window. Are there numbers folded into the front place under the window? (what use were these anyway?). These small factors inform how the cassette looks. Yes, I only do bands I like. No way would I do an Abba cassette – or Queen! Don’t even mention Queen! Having said that, my new series doesn’t feature bands/songs; it celebrates the object alone and I’ve concentrated on design/colour. The idea of Alexa scares me shitless!
I agree with you on ABBA, God forbid Alexa decided to play me that. Are you ever bored with making music?
Never! Music is such a wonderful thing to be able to perform. I can’t possibly imagine my life without it. Now and again I get fed up with a painting I’m doing so I’ll put it aside or scrap it. I never get fed up playing music!
Are you cynical about older bands getting back together to tour or make new music? I don’t wish to be crude, but making money is important – thoughts?
Well, at my age, I ain’t in it for the travel and I do have a family to support. I would by lying to you if I said that the money didn’t matter. You might be surprised that I still have a mortgage and I don’t have a pension plan, or even a new (or old) BMW! I have never been close to being a millionaire, more’s the pity haha! My accountant says that in a good year I make about the same as the average builder. The Specials is a big band with a large crew, the cost of doing a tour is eye-watering. Regardless, I love it! Being with Terry (Hall) and Lynval (Golding) and the gang is like being with family… we have decades of history!
Interview with Horace Panter – January 2021. To be continued…
Samir Guesmi’s directorial feature debut is described as being a ‘rites of passage’ in which a father and son will slowly grow to know and understand each other when ‘botched robbery’ and the need to satisfy older friends offer no end of conflict. Newcomer Abdel Bendaher plays Ibrahim, a youth hell-bent on finding himself and others at the same time. Here, Abdel Bendaher answers some questions about the role itself, working with director Samir Guesmi and finding his own feet in when dipping his toes into the world of filmmaking.
Abdel, How did you end up being a part of this project?
It was a bit of an eventful Sunday for me and my friends: we went to watch a friend – totally outclassed by older players – play a football match. At half time we dropped our ball near the spot where Samir Guesmi was. I felt he was staring at me. With his motorcycle helmet in hand and big as he is, we thought he was a cop! He introduced himself, and explained he was a director and actor. We didn’t believe him. He had to show us his Wikipedia page with a photo before we took him seriously. Then he asked if he could film us. Weeks went by and Christel Baras, the casting director, contacted me. I did a test with her first, then more casting sessions. I gave myself completely each time, because I felt the pressure mounting and I wanted to believe in this. When I found out I’d got the part I was really happy!
What was your relationship with cinema before this experience?
I only went to the cinema to watch American blockbusters. But with my best friend we often fantasied about making a film about our friendship and the bullshit we used to come up with together. Now I’ve started to watch French cult films, I’m opening myself up to cinema and it fascinates me.
Do you remember your reaction when you read the script of IBRAHIM
I remember feeling it was really alive. I was immersed and I believed in everything I was reading. I quickly identified with Ibrahim, who is a high school student like me. He’s shy and reserved too. It was easy to project myself into this role. I liked the friendship between Ibrahim and Achilles as I much as his relationship with his father and the connection he develops with Louisa.
What did you tell yourself about Ibrahim? The truth?
Nothing! I told myself I was going to play Ibrahim as I am. I understood that’s why I had been chosen, that I should stay as close to who I am in life to play the role of Ibrahim. I just thought he was an unlucky boy, not a victim. He wants to do things right and avoid problems, but his mate Achilles involves him in his bullshit and exerts a big influence on him. I also think he and his father love each other very much, but don’t dare tell each other. Ibrahim is a very observant character… Like me! I tend to observe a lot and am careful to not be noticed. I’m a champion at looking away if someone I’m looking at turns his head towards me. So I had no trouble finding the right attitude for Ibrahim, and Samir helped me a lot too. He guided my gaze, sometimes even during scenes.
How did Samir direct you, in other respects?
He told me to not act, to be natural. The fact that he himself is an actor helped me. During the first weeks we shot the scenes in Ibrahim’s and his father’s apartment. They were complicated scenes, because their relationship is complicated. The first days, Samir didn’t want to talk to me. He had warned me that the beginning of the shoot would be tough, and he piled the pressure on me. That’s how I felt about it anyhow, and it did help me to find the right emotions for the film. At first I concentrated on my character; I was in my corner and repeated the lines to myself, I was hunched up, like Ibrahim. I quickly felt I was the character. Bit by bit I understood this was Samir’s strategy, but I didn’t hold it against him. All the more so since at the end of the first week he came to talk to me and explained why he had talked to me so little at first. Little by little I started to feel more at ease with everyone.
Did you manage to forget the camera?
Only after several days. I got used to it gradually. I also had to get used to the crew, I was a bit overwhelmed by all these people around me. What helped me was being invited to participate in the location scouting. I got to know some technicians and quickly felt accepted. But on set, I was intimidated. It was really intense, and I felt there was no room for mistakes. I didn’t know that films were made like that. I thought you shot in front of a green screen with dialogues written on cards! Those first days were crazy – hallucinated the first few days: no comparison!
How did you find your character physically? Did the wardrobe help… the chapka hat for example?
Yes, even if at the beginning I thought that the shoes I had to wear were lousy! These must have dated from the time of Louis XVI, these trainers! I swear to God! I wore a chapka hat, a coat, had a green bag… At first when we shot the scenes at the high school, with kids around us who hadn’t necessarily understood we were shooting a film, I was a little ashamed in these ugly clothes! But it allowed me to feel like Ibrahim. The chapka hat physically defines his character. He wears it all the time, he’s attached to it. When Ibrahim takes it off the people who look at him feel they are discovering a new face.
Did you see Samir’s short film, C’EST DIMANCHE! before the shoot?
This short film helped me. It doesn’t describe the same father-son relationship but it gave me clues.
How did you work with the other actors?
They were all older than me and had experience on films. They acted like big brothers and sisters to me. They helped me a lot and made me feel at ease, by rehearsing my lines with me between takes, for example.
Were you able to leave this role easily? How did you emerge from this first film experience?
When I went back to school after filming, I was shyer than before, as if Ibrahim had rubbed off on me. But that changed quickly, particularly when I was back with my friends. It’s funny, because at the beginning, I was in a hurry for this shoot to be over with. But at the end, I was sad and wanted to start again as soon as possible. I really want to carry on acting. I know how lucky I was to have met Samir. I’ve always loved the idea of trusting my destiny. Samir arrived at the right time: I had bad grades in third grade, I wasn’t sure which way to head. This film has changed everything for me. I’m like a new person, in a way, thanks to this film. It is also the first step towards the professional world. When I finished the shoot, I was a bit proud of myself, without having become big-headed. Just proud to have taken on a challenge and to have been able to play a part in a beautiful film.
The following is an account of slightly cut excerpts and interview with the guitarist from the popular rock and roll band Radiohead. Felten Ink had the honour of catching up with Ed O’Brien to discuss lockdown feelings, his solo record ‘Brasil’, the passing of time, and of course, the future of the one and only Radiohead. Please enjoy responsibly.
How have you been coping with another lockdown thrust upon us – how do you find your own routine being affected for better or worse?
I can’t say that life has changed enormously from how it’s been the last four months, really. I’m quite lucky because I’ve had to implement more. Since, I think in 2001, things came to its point and I knew I had to change. So I knew I had to do something. I’ve had to do things like keeping fit, trying to get stronger, or eating the right things, and meditation have all been part of my routine for a long time now. So, with lockdown, actually, things became easier in a way for me in that regard, because suddenly there was a bit more time. Pre-lockdown, I would get up at 6.45 am and meditate for 20 minutes before the kids needed attending to school and stuff like that. With lockdown, things changed and suddenly I was like, “Oh, there’s half an hour for meditation.” And during the day I found myself being like, “Oh I can do such and such”. Rather than trying to squeeze in a run or train for an hour, I’ve got an hour, an hour and a half extra… So it’s been brilliant health-wise for me and being able to do all those other things.
What about as a musician and the structure?
Musicians, well… unless you’re on tour or you’re in the studio, there is no structure to your day and you’re not always on tour, and you’re not always in the studio, so you learn how to be structured quite young. You can spend all day on the PlayStation, but it doesn’t really work… I learned that one 25 years ago, there’s something very unsatisfactory about it… it makes me feel like wasting my time away, so I’m pretty disciplined and on time with things.
Although you must have to still keep fit – in terms of mentally and even just through music…
Yeah, you have to. But what I think happens is, certainly for me the way that I’m trying to, or the way that the rhythm of life works for me and music and creativity and all of that, is that I don’t do it every day, 365 days a year. I don’t do it every day, because for me it’s often the gaps in between, it’s the space. I’ve got a young family, it’s important to be a father and I’ve got a wife. So, what I find is that I’m very much, I’m very intuitive, so when I feel a creative phase I can get to it. I have to say the thing about the first lockdown was I thought, “Yippee. This is going to be great. I’m going to have all this time to … No, I’m not going to tour this record, I’m going to do some writing experimentation.” And I didn’t feel like it. And it was really weird. And I just didn’t want to.
You’ve been through this with actually having Coronavirus. That must have affected your creative muscles (forgive the term)?
I think looking back on it, getting the coronavirus back in March, there was a very long tail on it. And I thought I was better by about mid-April, end of April, but actually, the way that it affected my energy and my health, it hung on there for a long time, probably until about six weeks ago. So, I haven’t felt it, but now I’ve felt it and you’re right, and what it is it’s like a muscle. I don’t know what is ahead of me, but I feel like I’ve got this big creative phase that I’m about to step into. And that will be probably, I don’t know, a year, two years, whatever it is, and now I’ve got to … I want to start picking up the guitar, start making sounds, new bits of equipment, to find new sounds, to find something new … And I’m working with the things for me as I said, the time away from music is as important. I feel like I’m still figuring this out. I think you’re always figuring it out, and I’m just trying to follow a thread and the thread is really the intuition that goes, “This feels right, or that, yeah I’m not sure about that, that’s not right, but this feels right. I’m not sure, yeah, yeah, this is good.” I’m sort of like Ariadne’s thread in the dark, sort of, “Oh yeah, okay.” Pulling on it.
I’m late to the party in many ways, I only just recently started to listen to your solo record, Brasil. It must have been a bummer, as a musician, to be unable to share your own solo stuff on a more widespread audience?
Ultimately it’s what we are, musicians, if you get down to what is it about, it’s about making some sounds that connect emotion with other people. I’ve been touring a lot over the last 25 years or whatever, 28 years, it’s a time when you grow and you evolve hugely as well. You’re playing in this band. I’ve got a band together, a fantastic group of players, and we just started, we’d done gig six, the last gig was at the Roundhouse, and we were just rather than it being ‘oh, rabbits in the headlights’ because it’s all new and you’re bedding down, and we were just starting to feel, just starting to relax, just starting to flow. So, that’s a shame. Having said that, it does allow me to move on from that record in a sense, so that next we go back out there’ll be those songs, but there’ll be some news songs as well. So, it gives you a broader palette. My whole philosophy in life is if you’re presented with something there’s rather an, “Oh shit, we’re fucked.” It’s kind of like, “Okay, here’s a challenge. How can I grow here? How can this be of some kind of benefit? What’s the advantage of this? What’s the opportunity really?”
Your own record ‘Brasil’ has a ton of really important and interesting musicians on it – how did you go about choosing people to work on it? I’ve heard you say you were apprehensive about it, which is weird to me as you’re in Radiohead– one of if the not greatest band of all time. Like, who the fuck is anyone to say no to you…
I literally was like, “Who are my favorite musicians?” Laura Marling is somebody whose work I’d followed since her first album, and then there’s David Okumu and Omar Hakim, and Nathan East.It’s a funny thing because my initial impulse wasn’t to ask these people because I don’t know if this sounds absurd or this sounds strange, but I don’t think of myself, I think the perception of Radiohead from the outside is a lot greater than the perception of Radiohead within. It’s really nice when you say those words about the band, but I don’t feel it. I know that we’ve done some really good stuff, and I know that it’s a great story and I know that we’ve been doing it a long time, but I don’t go round thinking, and I don’t think the others do, thinking, “Oh, we’re one of the best bands in the world.”
How did those decisions come about?
I was out on tour, we were out on tour in America in 2016 and…. And this is the thing that happens, that when you go out on tour it’s a funny thing that happens, Radiohead, you suddenly step out and especially in America, you’re kind of like, “Oh, there’s a lot of people who really like this and there’s a lot of people who really rate us.” And so it gives you a bit of, you go, “Oh okay, all right.” So, that’s when you make those phone calls, you’re on tour and you’re saying, “Listen I know you live in New York, Omar, we’re rolling into town. Or Nathan East, would you fancy coming? Come to the gig and I’ve got this idea I want to talk to you about.”
I suppose you’re right because in a way there’s no way you could continue to make such important work if you did go about thinking how good you were…
I think so, yeah, and I think I mean it’s not like creativity is not something, I don’t feel like I’m responsible for it, if you see what I mean. I think for me I’ve never felt really comfortable with that thing of I’ve done this or we’ve done this, I think I have a different feeling to it, and it mirrors a lot of what my heroes and heroines have always said: “We’re conduits”. And that thing that when something of beauty, or something happens, it feels like it’s always been there, and I just think that we’re dialing in the frequencies and our job as conduits, as musicians, is to be the best shape that we can to download this information, this stuff.
I would argue that you and your band, Radiohead, are indeed so perfect, so unique… so I guess I don’t but the whole channeling thing…
Well, like when you hear Paul McCartney talk about ‘Yesterday’, it was a dream of his. He woke up and he called it ‘Scrambled Eggs’. It’s like, “Did I write this?” And that for me is the mystery and the magic of it all, and I really believe that in order for … Because I’ve seen it in my own kind a little way and in the band’s way, and I’ve seen it with other people. If you start thinking that you’re the dog’s bollocks, that thing stops, it’s like you get kicked up the arse. So, I’m very aware that I’m very reliant on feeling inspired and having that connection. Because I can’t really do it otherwise, I’m not a session musician, I can’t go okay, “G sharp minor, let’s go into this.” I’m not one of those guys.
“Coming out of the darkness into the light.” And I guess that’s to do a lot with your break with depression. Although that was a long time, it was interesting to me, and then I started to think about some of the practices you indulge in to keep yourself healthy and mentally healthy, and with the fasting and meditation. Are you a spiritual person much? Are you religious?
I’m not religious because religion for me is control, it’s organizing people, I don’t like that. But at the heart of all religions, as Aldous Huxley writes in The Perennial Philosophy, is the same thing, so I’ve taken a real interest in that. And I’ve read a lot, but also more than so reading it’s experience and feeling it. So, yeah and as I said to … I’ve said to people before I’ve worked fucking hard to be happy. I’ve been incredibly blessed. I had a very melancholic disposition, my childhood was really happy and there were very happy moments, but if you were to describe it I think it would be sad. I felt a lot of sadness, and I don’t want any self-pity for that, or anything, that’s just a fact and an acceptance. I always had a low-level of depression and problems with energy and it reached a point where it was, I just … It was very, very, reached a point in 2001 I’d had enough, and I was doing all the wrong things then.
Because I was doing all the wrong things like alcohol, drugs, all of that stuff, and that obviously, even if you’re in good health that brings you down and that was bringing me down in poor health and depression. There’s a whole six hours on the journey that I went on. I knew I had to change, it was like, I’ve got to do something. And I’d just gone on this journey that, and I wasn’t going to rule out anything. I was just like, “You know what? I’m going to experience, I’m going to do these things, I’m going to experience it, see how it resonates.” And of course, not everything resonates, and everybody’s different.
You have things along the way that really make a massive difference, and the massive one for me in the last … I’ve been doing it for about a month and a half now, and the fasting has been a big thing. I don’t want to bore you with my medical history or anything, but that’s been a big issue. But the Wim Hof thing, that book, and I’ve been doing the breathing and the cold showers, it’s unbelievable, and I’m on probably the fourth or fifth week of that. And it’s had a huge effect on me, profound effect. I work really hard to be happy, and I’m not happy all the time. But I know that good health, my spirituality, and being present, that’s what makes me happy and that connection. That’s what makes me happy, and there’s a simplicity to it, that I’m very lucky I live a very blessed life, but I don’t need to have lots of things. Shopping doesn’t make me happy, in fact, it does the opposite.
Shopping does make me ill unless it’s online. What does make you happy?
The things that make me happy are very simple things, watching the sunrise, having a great cup of tea, I really appreciate those things. And I don’t know why, but that’s just how I do it.
I’ve been watching a lot of your Instagram live isolation broadcasts. It’s fascinating to have someone like yourself, someone from an utterly life-changing band (in my view), be so available – excuse the term…
It’s like one of those things where it started at something and it’s become something else altogether. I mean, I’m perennially with it, going every Thursday, thinking, “God, do they want to hear me? And that universal thing, I put it out there, I put it, “Do you want me to do it?” everybody’s just like, “We do…”. I think it’s about connection. It’s always, for me, it’s always about connection. And taking something like social media is such a, can be such a destructive force, but there is something absolutely unbelievable that, and we take it for granted now, but 20 years ago we wouldn’t have it.
It makes me contemplate the world – in yours, it’s been 5 years since ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ which really brings reality home.
One of the things that I’ve been part of in Radiohead is that we constructed quite a big … After Pablo Honey and then we just started constructing the world as how we wanted to be perceived and that means a lot of the time you don’t have any contact, you have minimal contact you just place a few things and those are the things that do the work. And you understand what I’m saying, you let the work be done in the imagination, and it’s very cool, it’s a really good thing to do. But I felt intuitively on this record that I wanted to, my … Because it’s five people and it’s a collective thing, but I just wanted to tear that wall down, I wanted to … I’m kind of trying to demystify things.
And you’re doing that…
I think we live in an age of authenticity. I think a lot of those things that were relevant 20, 25 years ago … You think about, bands and stuff like that 25 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, you think of bands like The Clash and Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Smiths, and they create through photography, photos, through music, through videos, they create this world. And most of the time that world is these people are demi-gods. They’re the coolest people on the planet and all the bands do that, you create it. And it’s completely disingenuous. Because all these people are human beings with problems and I’ve met a lot of these people and some of them are stellar human beings and some of them are complete dicks, and I think what’s amazing at this time, and I know there are a lot of people in my generation who go, “Oh, Ed Sheeran, oh. Bla bla bla.”
I think what we’re living in, and it really struck me about three years ago roughly was Glastonbury, when Adele headlined that Saturday night and she’s just almost doing this girl from next door with an incredible voice and Ed Sheeran’s the boy from next door with … And I’m like, this is brilliant, this is fucking brilliant, this is like looking behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz, it’s like it’s taking it all down. And that’s something I feel comfortable about, and that’s why I kind of wanted to start the in isolation pieces because again social media is being used. I say it’s an age of authenticity, but there’s also a huge age of inauthenticity, we’ve got the extremes, you’ve got the way people construct the way they live this perfect life on social media, and I’m like, ‘I’m not interested’.
Adele and Ed Sheehan are one thing but: What does interest you in terms of making your own music?
I’m interested in searching for the truth, the authenticity of whatever it is. And what I’m hoping is that when we start working in the studio I’ll be able to drop bits of music live. And let people in a little bit into the world of me and creativity and something doesn’t come out and it’s fully formed. I’ve always been interested in how you get there, and I think that’s really important. Because if you explain how you get there, I think that’s empowering to other people because they go: ”Well actually maybe I could do that as well.” And I think that’s so important, That whole thing of demystifying to me is part of bringing down hierarchies. There are so many hierarchies that have existed and creative hierarchies, hierarchies within bands, who’s the best songwriter, who’s the … Hierarchies of who’s the best musician, who’s the greatest artist, and I’ve got no time for that.
Because everybody has a part to play and partly our job on this planet, I think one of the things I feel is to find out what it is that you as a human being, what is your role? What is the thing that you’re meant to do on this planet? And I honestly, I don’t, just because I’ve been blessed with what I do, I don’t feel any superiority to anybody, and equally, anybody who might feel superior to me, fuck that, I’m not interested. It’s like there are bigger things here, there’s a bigger picture. We’re all here, so it’s all part of that, it’s all part of that whole thing.
I’d be criminal to interview you and not ask anything about what’s happening with Radiohead. Time to me seems like a small vacuum – on that, it’s been almost 5 years since ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’? What’s next for the band?
I know, time has concertinaed, hasn’t it? I don’t know. I’ve got no idea. People ask this a lot because obviously, they’re interested. I think my answer’s the same as it’s always been, I think in order to make a record, and a Radiohead record, one of the strengths of us is we’ve always made records when we’re inspired to make a record. It’s not been about fulfilling a contract or making money, it’s always been about are we ready to go, “This feels good.” And I don’t think we’ve got that impulse at the moment, and it’s again it’s not a mental thing, it’s not something you say, it’s something you feel. And I think that’s always been our strength is to feel it, but I do think that what happened at the end of ‘Moon Shaped Pool’, it’s the end of another chapter. When we started touring ‘In Rainbows’, that was the first time we’d really loved touring and we got it. ‘In Rainbows’ was more about, ‘fuck me, this is amazing, aren’t we lucky touring?’ And I think that has continued, and I think it feels like it’s the end of another chapter. And we just have to figure out. Also, I think, I’m speaking personally and I think it’s the same for Phillip and I think it’s the same for Thom and Johnny, that everybody’s kind of really into doing their own music at the moment. Everybody’s growing, everybody’s continually growing. The problem is with bands, when bands … kind of the level of success, say, that we have, and have made the amount of records and stuff like that, what often happens is you see the band lose their mojo. Do you know what I mean?
I guess. But Radiohead never lost their mojo?
My understanding of that is the mojo being lost is directly linked to the band that starts making, that has always made creative decisions, that starts making financial decisions. And goes, “You know what? We’re going to do it because we’ve got a contract to fulfill and we get lovely advances.” I’ll never, ever, ever, ever be part of that. And I’m sure the other guys wouldn’t either. I’m not interested in that. I’d much rather walk away now and it’s got to be in the right spirit, it’s got to be because you’ve got a love for it, it’s got to be because you’re inspired, it’s got to be. And it’s because that’s where it’s always going to be, and I think also the thing is if we made a record that wasn’t that way, then it’d be like the Wizard of Oz, the truth would be revealed that actually … I think it’s that intention and that spirit that elevates what you do because it makes it more powerful. When you remove that and it becomes about status, power, money you can fill out every stadium, you can fill out every arena, but you lose that. But I will never, ever go down that route. I would much rather, literally, honestly, I have no qualms, I would much rather walk away and dedicate myself to working in my garden. There’s people who recognize that there’s a purity to it. And it’s real, and there’s honesty. And if we were to lose that it’s like a bond that’s broken. I think that underpins everything. You might not like our music, but there’s an integrity, that’s at the heart of it.
Carpark Records is turning 21 and to celebrate they are releasing No Cover, a compilation featuring 21 Carpark and imprint artists from all throughout Carpark’s history covering fellow labelmates and pushing the already eclectic music into exciting, new territory. And it features our own publications personal pals Ed Schrader’s Music Beat!
From its early days as an outlet for the growing IDM scene, to releasing the genre-defying music of over 60 artists, Carpark has a lot to boast about in its 21 years of existence. No Cover includes previously unreleased covers by Sad13, Cloud Nothings, The Beths, Emily Reo, Madeline Kenney, Dan Deacon, Johanna Warren, Melkbelly, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, TEEN and more.
No Cover: Carpark’s 21st Anniversary Covers Comp is available digitally today and the double LP on stracciatella colored vinyl is available for pre-order now and due March 19th.
Additionally, Carpark artists The Beths, Cloud Nothings, Fat Tony and Dent May have collaborated with Collective Arts Brewing for their Audio/Visual series. The series, which aims to broaden their community’s musical horizons, celebrates the intersection of art, music and beer featuring a record label, four bands and one visual artist who creates unique art for each band. Carpark’s limited edition Audio/Visual lager is expected to be available in stores in January 2021.