Author Archives: Ray Jackson
  1. Ed O’Brien: “I’m trying to demystify things.”

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    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.

     

    Why?

     

    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.

     

    Why?

     

    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.

     

    Ed O’Brien, thank you. 

  2. CARPARK RECORDS ANNOUNCES NO COVER: CARPARK’S 21ST ANNIVERSARY COVERS COMPILATION

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    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.
    Carpark is also offering exclusive anniversary merch, featuring a logo by Aaron Lowell, available via Carpark and Bandcamp.
    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.
  3. Deji Ijishakan: “I felt like I had to act like Zarathustra in a sense… just go to war with ideas”

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    Deji Ijishakan is a 21-year-old jazz musician from south London, his primary instrument being the tenor saxophone. Over a relatively short time he’s developed an eclectic and unique musical personality, infusing his passion for philosophy into his music, and forging an entirely new subgenre he calls jazz-drill. He plays in a number of jazz and fusion bands including Levitation Orchestra, Nihilism and Hypernova Militia. Over the lockdown he’s started releasing his own solo work under the name Xvngo. Ashwin Tharoor sat down with Deji to talk about his music, philosophical influences and new projects.

     

    Deji, Xvngo [Shango] is your stage name, right? Where did that come from?

     

    It actually originates from a Yoruba god, an Orisha in the Yoruba tradition. They have their own their pantheon and like, Shango was the god of thunder, fire and willpower. I was inspired by that.

     

    How was your lockdown?

     

    It’s been really up and down you know. I’ve had some really high moments, like for instance I just started releasing my music under the alias Xvngo, as a solo artist. I also finished my degree, got into the Masters I wanted to do and started a business. At the same time, in other areas it’s been quite negative. I know someone quite dear to me who’s been affected by coronavirus. I’d definitely say it’s been more positive than it has been negative.

     

    That’s good to hear.

     

    I think it’s good to go through some difficult times, because it makes you stronger, psychologically.

     

    So, when did you start playing music?

     

    I’ll never forget my earliest memory engaging with music, I think I must’ve been like 8 or 7 years old. It was on a laptop, not a music programming laptop or anything like that. There was this programme on there, for a game or something. I remember there being a wizard involved. I remember playing on a keyboard that allowed you to play [music] with the keyboard of the laptop. Testing sounds and being like, oh wow, what is this!

     

    Did you have any big musical influences in your family or at home?

     

    Funnily enough, one of my uncles is a saxophone player. And my dad forced me to play the keyboard when I was quite young, and at first, I was against it. Even though I must’ve shown him some type of musical inclination. But yeah, he wanted me to play and I was rebellious at first but then I really got into it and began to love it. So, my dad was a big musical influence, and then growing up throughout secondary school I was very much involved in music.

     

    What about your first musical love, in terms of an artist or a band?

     

    The first really profound musical love I had was for John Coltrane. I’d say when I learnt about Charlie Parker, I was like, wow, this is amazing. I was about 13 years old, so I was quite lucky to be introduced to bebop music. The way that I got into bebop is quite funny. I’d been playing the piano up until I was 13, and I used to go to this mentorship. And, at the time I listened to a lot of hip-hop music and my mentor looked at all the music I was listening to and he was just cussing me out for like an hour, and he was telling me I need to stop listening to this stuff.

     

    What was he cussing you out for?

     

    Like, he has quite a conservative taste in music, listens to Ben Webster and that type of thing. He said like anything after the 1980s is almost sacrilegious music (laughs), you know what I mean? But yeah, he was cussing me out for listening to like MGK, Giggs, Waka Flocka Flame, even Jamie Fox.

     

    Sounds like he didn’t like hip-hop at all.

     

    Yeah, he was very anti-hip-hop. And then after that, out of fear, I started listening to some jazz music. And I was like, you know, I really like this. Once I’d been introduced to it in that way I really began to fall in love with it. Then I started playing the clarinet. But when I found Charlie Parker as a result of this awakening, this jazz awakening, it really blew my mind. I couldn’t believe someone could make a sound like that, like a human being. I really couldn’t even comprehend. Now that I play bebop, and I can take the lines and I can play it, it’s kinda different. But when you’re standing completely beholden to it…

     

    With no conception of how it’s made…

     

    Yeah, it’s just so sublime. And then time went on, I kept on listening to jazz, and I found John Coltrane. It was beyond sublimity with Coltrane, because you could just see a man on a journey with music. And, he’s just leaving everything else behind, he doesn’t care about anything. He’s almost channelling – like he’s a vessel for his own unconscious mind. All the potential things in his brain, that he could release, to do with music. Like he’s trying to exhaust his whole potential musically. Which is such a beautiful thing to see.

     

    I really like the way you put it. So, which jazz musicians do you really like on the scene today?

     

    Well I’d say in terms of modern guys, I’d say like Joe Armon-Jones. I love his music; I play with him as well. Moses Boyd as well, really good music, KOKOROKO, Wonky Logic just put out some music. There’s hella people, Ezra [Collective]. And then you got other people like Levitation Orchestra, PYJÆN. I really like Empirical, another modern UK jazz band. There’s a lot of heads lying about doing some sick stuff, taking all different angles towards the music.

     

    So as far as I know, you’re in four bands? Hypernova Militia, Levitation Orchestra, Nihilism and KOKOROKO? Is that last one correct?

     

    Yeah, I’m not a member of KOKOROKO, but I play with them. I’m in the KOKOROKO family, but I wouldn’t call myself a member. But the other three yeah, I play in all of them.

     

    Are they all active at the moment?

     

    Hypernova’s active, Levitation Orchestra’s got some music coming out, Nihilism we’re gonna be getting in the studio to record an album.

     

    Nice! I’ve seen Hypernova and Levitation Orchestra live and they were both amazing, but how would you differentiate the styles of the bands that you’re in?

     

    With Hypernova, I’m the band leader, and the whole mission of Hypernova is one big philosophical, comical, abstract, absurdist, mess.

     

    It’s off the rails.

     

    The way that I approach that is gonna be way more primitive, and like almost letting your unconscious mind take control of the whole situation, whereas with Levitation Orchestra I’ll take a backseat. With Levitation Orchestra we’re all trying to write music together, so I’ll just try to contribute to the collective composition, as opposed to trying to drive it all. And with Nihilism as well it’s very collaborative, and a whole other sound world from Hypernova – which is typically bebop. The funny thing is we’re now putting the drill music with the bebop. On our EP there’s gonna be a drill track where we’re playing on it. First drill track with live horns.

     

    That sounds sick, tell me more about jazz drill? And your new single Entropy?

     

    Jazz-drill really started with me and Matt from Harris Westminster [our Sixth Form]. At university in first year, when I had my saxophone, I’d be hanging out with people but I’d also wanna practice and they’d be playing drill music and so I’d just play over the changes. And then, I was like, let me just keep doing this it’s good fun, it’s different. Now it’s become a thing of its own and I’m just trying to make as much of it as I can.

    One thing I appreciate about being an artist and putting out music, is you can just superimpose anything you’re experiencing or anything you find interesting into the general story behind the music, the artwork, or the name of it. With Entropy, it’s a nod at this thing called the free energy principle. It’s a neuroscience theory that says your brain is an inference machine, so your brain is always trying to make predictions about reality. Once you have a system making all these predictions, it means that entropy will play a role in it. What entropy is, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, is that we’re constantly moving towards more disorder. We’re constantly moving into more micro-states than previously were. Now as a statistical machine, what does it mean for you to be moving into more micro-states, moving into more disorder? It when there’s a prediction error, it’s when the statistical machine predicts something but then is surprised when the information it gets doesn’t marry up with what it was supposed to get.

    [Neuroscientist] Karl Friston has been using mathematical equations behind thermodynamics and entropy to apply it the brain, but there’s just so many implications behind it. There are even implications for psychedelic drug use. There’s this thing called the entropic brain hypothesis made by this dude called Robin Carhartt-Harris doing research at Imperial [College] about this right now. Saying how psychedelics increase the entropy of the brain, and that’s why it can help people with depression.

     

    That’s really interesting. How did those ideas inform the music, if at all?

     

    I don’t know if I could say that I consciously felt it informing it, but once I’d made the music, I feel like it represented that. And the music that I make is always in some way gonna be related to whatever I’m reading or whatever I’m thinking about.

     

    Was there any particular inspiration for how you incorporate philosophy into your music?

     

    I mean, Mr. Stone [from Harris Westminster] used to teach philosophy of music (laughs). But I can’t really think of any artists off the top of my head who used to incorporate philosophy directly into their music. I just felt like doing it, I just felt like it had to happen.

     

    What do you want people to feel coming way from your gigs? Especially Hypernova, which I guess is the most…

     

    Visceral!

     

    Yeah!

     

    I want them to feel confused, I want them to feel entertained, want them to feel like they may be learnt something. I want them to feel like they need to start questioning the way they view reality.

     

    What else do you like to listen to, other than jazz?

     

    I love classical music. I love Beethoven, Bach, Shostakovich, Vivaldi, I love Vivaldi. I love Stravinsky as well. Other than jazz music, I mainly listen to classical music. Listen to some dub, listen to some drill music. But I also listen to some indie rock stuff, I listen to whatever I’m feeling.

     

    Yeah, nice! You gotta have a mix. What’s on the horizon for you, in terms of new music you’re making or releasing?

     

    Hypernova records the EP this weekend, that’s gonna be released sometime before I die. (Laughs)

     

    Fingers crossed.

     

    In terms of my solo project I’ve always got music coming out. I’ve got another single coming out in the next three weeks. You can always rely on me to have a single coming out.

     

    I know you’re an avid reader of philosophy, but when did that start?

     

    When we were at Sixth Form, I was into philosophy but I never really read it properly. Mr Stone actually inspired me quite a lot. And from then on, I was very much into metaphysics, Plato, Kant as well. Having that philosophical viewpoint helped me when I got to university, but I think my real engagement with philosophy started when I started watching Rick and Morty. There was a period in my life, I think Year 13, when I used to believe a load of these crazy theories, like some batshit crazy theories. Then I remember watching Rick and Morty, and seeing Rick and seeing how much he only allowed what he believed to be dependent on logic, rationality, reason and science. That kind of broke down a lot of the way that I was perceiving things. From then on, I was introduced to Existentialism and Nihilism and started getting into Nietzsche. When I got to university, I was like I’m just gonna read as much as I can. I just devoted myself to it. I read Thus Spake Zarathustra and that changed my life.

     

    How did it change your life?

     

    For me, after I read that book, I felt as though anything that was some trouble or something that caused me pain, it felt more like a war. Like a righteous war. Because after reading Thus Spake Zarathustra, I felt like I had to act like Zarathustra in a sense, and like just go to war with ideas. That helped me ground myself philosophically and intellectually.

     

    Since you’re the band leader of Hypernova Militia, how do you incorporate philosophy into the music live?

     

    There are several ways that I do it. There are some commands that I do, I give the band commands. Some of them would be stupid shit like, ‘quantum spin’ and then everyone spins around or like ‘roid rage’ and then everyone plays this mad music. But then also I’d just randomly get on the mic and say some philosophical passages. Whenever I feel like it, within songs. I also say some political stuff like ‘free the market’ (laughs). But like, there’s philosophy always being drawn throughout the whole thing.

     

    In terms of improvisation on the sax, is there a particular way you approach it? Feel free to get technical, or spiritual.

     

    For me, playing the saxophone is so therapeutic. It allows me to escape into myself and let my unconscious mind just be expressed aesthetically, artistically. At first, whilst I was learning how to play the saxophone, there was various ways I would approach it technically. You know you have to learn your scales, gotta learn the harmony. But even the way that I approach harmony, I see the whole thing as one big game. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, or like a maths problem. Harmony, composing, improvisation as well.

     

    When I play music with other people, I often feel a kind of metaphysical, mind-melding connection. How do you feel about that?

     

    I get what you mean, there definitely is a metaphysical component to it. There’s the band right, but there’s the non-physical, non-temporal elements of the band, you know? Even if you killed every single member of Hypernova, as an idea it would still exist. Like, the meaning behind you guys playing together, and obviously the idiosyncrasies of the musicians themselves. Personally, when I play in a group setting it’s all about listening. Trying to produce something that’s conversational.

     

    As someone who performed live so much are you itching to get back out there?

     

    It has been a while, but one good thing about the whole lockdown is I could just focus on being in my room and studying and going on all these other intellectual journeys. So, I was able to explore that part of myself even more, and almost forget about performing. But then also, I really wanna perform. Human desires are really all muddled up.

     

    How do you feel about the government’s response to the whole music industry?

     

    (Laughs) I think they tried…We can’t spend an unfathomable amount of money on any project, any domestic policy, because it will cause problems for the economy in the future. And then people end up dying as a result of it, whether we like it or not. So, we have to be reasoned in what we do. I think they’ve given it a shot; they’ve tried. There’s always gonna be problems. We’re in unprecedented circumstances. I mean, I’m fundamentally a libertarian – stop the government from having too much power.

     

    During lockdown you started a project with the slogan ‘Buy, Back, Build’, what was the name of it?

     

    The name is Owó, and it means money or business in Yoruba.

     

    What are your aims with this project?

     

    So, we’re creating a black business directory app, so you can use the app to find your local black business, and you can also use it find venues and galleries and that type of thing. And, eventually, I’d also like to incorporate information on finance, and that type of thing. With that project, it was in response to the George Floyd death. For me, the reason why I made it was because I was like, I’m seeing people respond to this in a way I don’t think is gonna effect change in the long term.

     

    What do you mean by that?

     

    Just posting on social media this, posting on social media that, putting up black squares. There’s no long-term impact of this, this is all performative. People are like, I’m in solidarity, but people actually end up dying because of real economic problems. My whole approach, I don’t wanna be on the whole political thing, I’m more on the economic development approach to it. That’s why I decided to make the app. I think that many of the problems black people face in this country are class problems as opposed to race problems. And that’s an economic issue as opposed to a policy issue.

     

    Do you not think they’re interconnected in a lot of ways? Policy and economics, but also class and race?

     

    Policy and economics are definitely connected, but the reason why I favour an economic perspective on it is because policy is top-down, but economic development is bottom up. If you build a company, or you and your people build companies, then you can actually put money back into the community. You don’t have to wait for my man to change the law, so that he’ll give more money, you can actually do it yourself. I’m not a fan of top-down control, I’m not a fan of government getting involved in everything. So, I think the economic route is the most prudent thing to do.

     

    Isn’t top down change necessary to provide the conditions in which black businesses can thrive?

     

    Yeah, there do have to be some policy concessions, for instance allowing for small business owners to not have to pay ridiculous rates on licenses, and random regulations for starting businesses. Freeing up the market basically, but especially for small business owners. Yeah, we need policy change to happen, but if you take the economic route first, the policy won’t even matter to you.

     

    Finally, what would you say to the thousands of young musicians coming up now, trying to do stuff and be original?

     

    First thing I’d say is, listen to as much music as you can, so you can see what you’re naturally disposed towards and hone in on that. Another thing I’d say is, know that there’s gonna be times when you feel like you’re not perfect at your craft, but that’s the whole point of it. It’s the whole point of it. It’s a dialectical process, you know what I mean? You need to come up against the problems and then get through the other side. So, keep fighting the good fight, keep making that music, keep listening to music and just do your thing.

     

    I think that’s about it. Thanks a lot for chatting with me.

     

    My pleasure bro.

     

    You can follow Deji on Instagram at @xvngo and his bands:

    @hypernova.militia

    @levitationspacebase

    @nihilismband_official

    Ashwin Tharoor is a 22-year-old graduate living in London with a passion for music, writing and visual media.

  4. “It’s all about resurrection and shagging…” – Arab Strap rise again

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    “Bullies, burglers, paedophiles, Bird Flu and passive smoke. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, heart disease and strokes. Terrorists with homemade poisons, factions everywhere. They’re drinking in the street, they could steal your home, and I don’t care!”

    It’s hard to comprehend the fact that it’s been 15 years since Arab Strap effectively signed off with their last original arrangement, ‘There Is No Ending’, from 2005’s The Last Romance. Since then they’ve came back in some form with various remixes of older tracks, the release of their ’10 Years of Tears’ best of record and of course, satisfy the band’s hardcore fanbase with the obligatory sell-out tours, the last of which took place in 2016.

    But just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any better it would appear that Glasgow/ Falkirk icons Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton are back together again. The news thus far is brief, only that they have a new tune to showcase, but a new album and dare I say live shows (Dear COVID…) are surely to follow… news of which will indeed follow.

    “The Turning of Our Bones is an incantation, a voodoo spell to raise the dead. Inspired by the Famadihana ritual of the Malagasy people of Madagascar, in which they dance with the corpses of loved ones; it’s all about resurrection and shagging.” – Aidan Moffat

    ‘The Turning of Our Bones’ comes with the band’s signature guitars, deadpan vocals, and a fresh batch of poetry. The music itself also manages to mix electro, synth and congas. And its enough to get exited about. The new record is available to download now!

    Have listen to it via a backdrop of vintage horror movie clips below:

     

     

     

  5. Matt Morgan: “I don’t need to sort out the mysteries of the universe.”

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    For some, mainly Matt Morgan Appreciation Society members (like myself), Matt Morgan will be best known as Russell Brand’s sidekick on the hugely popular XFM and Radio 2 shows. Those familiar will also know he’s the man who as a school-boy suffered a horrid but hilarious ‘pin-pinning’ (thus becoming the original victim), he who as a child believed he had a crow living in his bedroom wall, and the man who, by his own admission here, sometimes thinks about going back ‘into the shadows’.

    For everyone else, these days Matt is better known for his work as a writer for TV (‘Mr Winner’ and ‘The Mimic’), broadcaster, and now the host of his own regular show. On Patreon he hosts Q+A’s with himself, publishes videos of his extreme camping trips, and broadcasts interviews with his ‘mates’. Thankfully these happen to include the likes of outdoor survival expert Paul Hayes aka Hazes Outdoors, comedian Rob Beckket, and my favorite, the often curmudgeon but always funny and frank singer-songwriter Mr. Noel Gallagher.

    Here, we chat about the future of his Patreon show, the decision to make the move to paid-for media, what it’s like to be friends with and piss off the most talented Gallagher brother,  and why going into baby-mode is so comforting, among other things…

     

    Matt, on your Instagram there are some videos of you dressed as a baby. What’s that about?

     

    That came from when I was with John Noel who was the agent Russell was with at the time. It came from was a sketch with my friend Kieron Hawkes, he directed shows like the The Mimic and Power. It was from the idea of ‘immersive’ documentaries, so it was one step on in telly evolution from Louis Theroux going somewhere. At the beginning, it was like, “I wondered if I could live as a baby. I used to do it without thinking, but as a man, can I do it now?” The point of the joke was how utterly stupid those immersive docs were. So I did one where I was an adult baby, and I went and had an adult baby experience, which is like, basically not sexual, but she [the lady providing the service] changed my nappy, she gave me a bath.

     

    It’s pretty funny

     

    I think I’ve always had an interest in adult babies. It’s just really funny to me. The oversized babygrows and stuff, it’s very visual. We stayed the night with her. She was saying how it’s very rarely sexual, a lot of is men with powerful jobs who get to switch off and go into infantilization. They get to go there, she puts a babygrow on them, she reads them stories, she gives them warm milk, they sleep in a big cot and then the next day, they get dressed and go back to their normal life. It wasn’t completely immersive because we were filming it but I did just let myself go and have the experience. The bit where she was reading me a story and I had warm almond milk in a thing, and the bit where she was changing my nappy, that was just a bit awkward. There was no poo involved, but I’d wee in this nappy and she changed it. Honestly, when she was reading me the story and I slept in this cozy little cot… there was something about it that was really nice.

     

    I’m still not trying it

     

    *laughs* At the time I remember saying to Kieron, “They should do this at spa hotels. Instead of having a massage and then some face peel or something, you should have a big nursery, where you put on a babygrow, you play with Lego, and someone reads you a story and they give you warm milk.” Like honestly, it would revolutionize the world. You’d make so much money.

     

    The comedy world is changing in terms of what’s deemed acceptable. I remember Russell Brand comparing you to one of the men dressed as women on the old Bounty kitchen towel adverts. How do you feel about the fact that some stuff wouldn’t be acceptable these days, in comedy terms, with ‘cancel culture’ and the trans debate which is in full flow (on Twitter at least)?

     

    Well, it depends. There’s context. I think as I remember that Bounty ad, it was part of the joke; don’t men with beards, you know, big fat men with beards look silly dressed up as women. So that was their joke. You have to be careful. You wouldn’t get away with that now, because people are so much more aware. I remember, when I was a kid and I worked in a shop as a teenager, there was a woman who came in who I previously would have said, “Oh, a bloke dressed as a woman.” But who was trans back then. I remember seeing what I think people called transvestites at the time, which was just something else. People didn’t understand did they? So transvestites are someone who has dressed up as a woman for a kink? I think it’s really important to be caring about it because imagine the shit they get. I wasa once actually writing something with a transgender character in it and I don’t think I would now, because I think…

     

    You’re straight and male?

     

    Yeah, because I think now it’s like, “Well, you can’t speak for them.” Which, I mean, that’s a whole other thing to get into, because then you get into, well, can men write female characters? and could an adult write a child? And that’s mental. Of course they can.

     

    Do you think it’s important not to be going after the more vulnerable, punching down etc like to be more wary and compassionate?

     

    Yeah, I mean, I’ve done stuff… Everyone in comedy has done stuff where you’re wearing women’s clothes if your a man or the other way round. But I’ve never blacked up, I think I would always known, “No way. Not doing that.” But that was common on our TVs not that long ago really. I think it’s good that things are changing because I’m very aware, you don’t want to make anyone feel excluded, like the idea of punching up and punching down. I think comedy’s better when it punches up because you should be attacking the people in power, not the disempowered. But then, to go back to your original point, I think that you’ve got to have compassion and I think, punch up. In the context of a stand-up gig, someone like Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr, you know what you’ll get when you buy a ticket. It’s not like, “Oh someone called Jimmy Carr’s on, I think I’ll go and check it out. It sounds like a light entertainment evening.” But when you get there, you know what they’re going to do. And also Louis C.K. I know he’s canceled for being a creepy sex pest, but any comedian, they stand on stage and they pick through things, do you know what I mean? They’re not making blanket statements. 

    You can’t stop people from being honest and going through things. Even Jimmy Carr, who’s not doing that sort of conversational comedy, he’s doing one-liners, right? But it’s in the context of his Jimmy Carr gig, and it almost goes with it that you go, “If he’s saying this joke, then he knows the power of what he’s saying, and why it’s funny is because “Oh you’re not allowed to say that.'”

     

    You’re removed in that sense because you write for screen?

     

    Well, thankfully I don’t have to worry about this particularly because I don’t do that sort of comedy. Everything I’ve ever written is pretty mainstream, really. And also, I’m not a stand-up, so I’m not up there saying stuff. That’s the thing. I think it’s good that people are much more aware of the idea of “who’s this hurting?” Because I think that’s important, but of course you can’t police people’s honest thoughts.

     

    When did you start doing that whole survival type thing as a hobby? What’s the attraction to that?

     

    One night, for some reason, I was watching this Ed Stafford show, where he goes somewhere and he’s got nothing. He’s basically naked, but as a survival expert, he quite quickly finds water, then he does shelter. And depending on the environment, basically, if it’s cold, then fire is a priority, if it’s warm, then shelter is a priority. So I was learning all this stuff. But I used to be a Scout and what I liked about Scouts was lighting fires, playing with axes, knives, but it was also controlled. It awakened something in me that was basically put away at the end of my teens. And then I think I spoke about that with Russell [Brand] – “Oh, I want to do this. I want to go camping and stuff.” And the idea of camping in this country is obviously at a campsite where there’s a shower block and toilets and all that stuff. And I was like, “Well, how do you get away from that?” And then when you look into it, wild camping in this country in illegal. In Scotland, it’s legal because you’ve got ‘Right to Roam’. But here, I mean, England’s not massive, It’s not like America where you’ve got vast fucking national parks where you could literally get lost in and die. I was like, “Oh, I want to go somewhere that’s not like, ‘Oh hello, here’s your pitch.” 

     

    Which brings us to you and Hazes Outdoors…

     

    Yeah, he said, if you’re interested in this, I’ll send you some stuff, because he basically… Well, It can get expensive actually, because you start buying all this kit. But he sent me some stuff he didn’t need anymore. It was basically everything I needed. Sleeping bag, a folding saw, like a knife with a fire steel so you can start fires and all that stuff. Somebody else, through listening to the radio show sent me a message and said, “I’ve got a small woodland on my farm in Essex that you’re welcome to come and camp in.” So I went. I was quite to keen to do it when it was cold. I’ve been camping in Summer enough to know that it’s not very difficult. You’re not even cold at night if you’ve got a sleeping bag. So I wanted to be cold. What I was craving was the simplicity of, “I’m cold, I need to light a fire, I’m hungry, I need to cook my food.” That sort of thing, as opposed to the stresses of everyday life which are so often abstract. 

     

    It must be difficult getting used to long hours in the darkness (sorry if I sound like a therapist)?

     

    I remember Hazes Outdoors said, “Be careful in Winter because the sun can go down very quickly.” When the sun goes down and you’re in woods especially, it’s even darker than the fields, it’s pitch black, so you’ve got your head torch on but the world shrinks down. You’ve got your little glow of your head torch, and that’s it. The first couple of times I did it I did get freaked out. You’re so freaked out by noises, and just the vulnerability that you’re out there and you think, “God, what if someone just saw my fire and my tent and came up and just fucking stabbed me through my tent.” You start thinking such mad shit. Because usually, you go to sleep thinking, “Right, the doors are all locked, I’m pretty good, I’m pretty safe.”  I don’t know, it’s just really good. And it’s not survival, survival, I’ve always taken food with me, I’ve had 4G. You’re not really looking at your phone, but you can. You don’t feel like, “Oh shit. I’m in the middle of nowhere.” But it’s still good to do it. It’s still quite extreme compared to what most people would call camping.

     

    On your video you posted recently on Patreon, Hazey sleeps on the ground?

     

    Fuck that. I’ve got a Hennessy hammock with a bug sheet net and stuff. Honestly, I sleep in that as comfortably, if not more than I do at home. Because you’re slightly swaying and it’s like being a baby. It’s just like hanging in the air.

     

    There’s that baby thing coming up again.

     

    Haha – all it does is just give a bit of a reset, to go outside. You’re away from your troubles for a bit. It’s masculine in a non-toxic way, do you know what I mean? It’s not, “Oh, I’ve got loads of stress, I’m going to go and get absolutely fucking pissed and I’ll be fine.” It’s not that.

     

    Onto the podcast and your Patreon site where you now post your content. 

     

    You’ve spoken on the Pod how Noel Gallagher was pissed off when you joked that Morrissey had died (It was, in fact, Russell Brand’s cat, Morrissey, RIP).  Was he genuinely angry with you?

     

    Yeah, he was.

     

    What’s he like when he’s pissed off?

     

    He swears loads. He’s up for a laugh. So I just thought, “Fuck it, this will be funny.” So I text him: “Fucking hell, Morrissey’s dead.” And he text me: “What the fuck, what, what?” Like that. He was freaking out and then he called me and he went, “Are you fucking serious, what the fuck, he’s fucking dead, he’s fucking dead?”. I went, “Yeah, he’s dead mate, he died this morning.” And he went, “Fucking what?” And I went, “Yeah, yeah.” He goes, “What? Morrissey’s dead?” I went, “Yeah, yeah, Russell’s cat Morrissey’s dead.” And he just went, “You fucking prick… Oh, you wanker… You fucking idiot, you fucking cunt, you fucking…” He just went like that and hung up. I was like, “Oh god.” And then he text me loads more swear words.

     

    You’ve used up all your prank points on that.

     

    I know. Afterward, I was desperately trying to think of some other famous pet. I was thinking, “God, is there anyone else I could do this to”. Like I’ll just leave it a week, and then do it again. Noel said to me later, “It really freaked me out because I had been listening to The Smiths so much. And thinking about Morrissey a lot. And then when you said that….” And then I felt really bad.  I knew he’d be all right. He’s had a go at enough people over the years.

     

    The stuff with you and Noel is all gold, really, it’s amazing to sit and listen to.

     

    He’s good, isn’t he?

     

    You both are. It’s purely unguarded, no PR, no bullshit, none of the usual pre-prepared answers you get with a lot of Podcasts and interviews.

     

    Well, that’s the thing I found. The thing is, it’s like normally, and I did try and do this with the Podcast in its first iteration, which was to be like “I’m talking to people about what they find funny, and whatever.” Which was great and then, Coronavirus happened, and it was like, “I’m not going into London to do the interview.” I can’t remember who was lined up, but any stand-up comedian who’s a pro isn’t going to be totally unguarded and have a chat. They’re going to be like, “Oh yes, the first gig and, oh, worst gig of my life.” And all that shit, and I just thought, “I’m bored by that just thinking about it.” 

    So I just reverted to calling people I’d already spoken to and people I actually know, like Jo Lycett, Rob Becket, Noel Gallagher, and that seemed to work. And I think now actually having moved to Patreon, I’m going to impose a bit more format on it going forward, because I’ve got this little squad of people that I call… this is exclusive to some extent.

     

    *Semi sarcastic* Ooooooooh!

     

    It’s only me, so it’s nothing great. In the future it’ll be more like, “What have I been doing this week?” That’s the format. And in the way that a stand-up comedian will tell you a story, but then relate it to bigger things, like, “Oh, I wonder what that says about me?” And just investigate things a bit. Basically, if Noel was on that week, I’d have four things that I’m going to be talking to him about. “Oh, I got my patio done, and I had to talk to the builders. And how do you feel, like being working class? And then, when a builder’s around your house, what do say? Hello, mate, do you want a cup of tea?” Or are you awkward or whatever. That sort of thing really interests me. What I hate is artifice. You know like these podcasts where, and I’m not judging them, but if it’s like… I don’t know, they’ve got such a format, the person is a slave to the format.

     

    Like I was saying, so many other Podcasts have that banal nature…

     

    Yeah and also, that a lot of those things, you can only have that guest on once because you’ve applied the format to them. “What are your favorite sporting moments in your life, or whatever?” And then you can’t come back on in three weeks’ time and say, “Oh, I’ve got seven different ones.” I could think of formats, but if it was like, “Okay, you’re allowed to pick one footballer, one musician…” All those variations on parlor games. It’s your ideal dinner party or whatever. And I just think that won’t work because it will just fall apart so quickly. So that’s what I’m going to do. Like, ‘What have I been up to, what have I been thinking about this week, what have we done this week?’ and if there’s a guest or not, because I quite enjoy doing them on my own and it seems to work.

     

    They do work, even the ones on you do on your own.

     

    It’s weird, isn’t it? Because it doesn’t bring the mood down if you’re having a laugh. I think that stuff needs to be handled properly, you can’t just be flippant about it. So that’s the weekly podcast. And Noel can fit into that, because I can just tell him what I’ve been up to and he’s… the thing with Noel is, he never… he’s similar to Russell in the way that he’ll never dry up. He’ll always have something to say about a subject. And also, to be honest, his fucking anecdotes are star-studded, because of the life he’s led. So he’ll just be like, “Oh, I was with Paul Weller and McCartney.”  and you think, ‘Fucking hell’.

     

    You were talking a few weeks ago about the chance of you and Noel doing a regular thing together. Is that still a possibility – like a co-host situation on a show?

     

    Yeah we have been talking about it, because he’s got his studio, so he’s got a brand new studio that he’s built himself, it’s just for him basically, and he was like, “Oh we should do something regularly.” So I guess he meant we should sell a podcast, do it for someone, like Spotify or something. And that would be a regular podcast. So I’ll carry on doing my Patreon podcast and that would be a second thing. What’s been interesting about it, what everyone seems to have realized, like even doing this call, it’s like, we don’t need to be in the same place to record. Or to do anything really. I’ve been amazed. That’s why I’ve moved really, because it’s like, “Oh shit, I don’t need a studio. I don’t need to go in and use a studio, I don’t need to even go to meetings.” Me and Noel could potentially do something where we’re at our houses, but we do something regularly.

     

    On your move from the ‘Funny How?’ podcast and taking your content over to Patreon, you obviously did it to make more money which is common sense. On the original setup, did you try to sell it in any way, or was it just not a viable option really?

     

    I was doing it with Global so then it’s on Spotify, iTunes, and all the main places. Basically, you do it and then they sort out the advertising and they sell advertising if they can, and then the ad split is negotiable but basically starts at 50/50. So you provide the content, they provide the advertising and you take half the money each. And so it makes some money like that. But I think Coronavirus did affect things because people weren’t buying new cars, people weren’t going on holiday, people weren’t buying high street fashion stuff, because they couldn’t and so I think a lot of advertisers just pulled their ad campaigns. So that didn’t help. I don’t think that was the complete problem. With podcasts you have to accept that it won’t make much money for the first six months or a year. I was sort of okay with that at the beginning, but then when I saw how much it was… I was just like, “Really? This is almost not worth doing for the hassle.” And I’d quite happily just disappear back into the shadows and do my writing and stuff, but I was quite enjoying doing it and it was going down well. I didn’t want to just walk away from it. I looked at different options and found you could use Patreon to boost your income by doing extras. I just thought I should take the risk and just go completely on Patreon. You do lose people. You lose numbers, but the people who are left are actually paying you instead of going for advertisers, so in terms of how much of my income it takes to do it, it’s much better. 

     

    Maybe more work or expectation? 

     

    I think it’s a little bit more work because I feel like I’ve got to provide, not just podcasts, I’ve got to do… I’m doing extra bits and video and stuff. Yeah there’s more expectation, and also, you go, “Well, these people are customers now, they’re not just getting it for free.” So I’ve bought some equipment now and I realize it’s not just audio. It will include video as part of it. 

     

    You seem like quite a laid back person. Is that a fair comment?

     

    I suppose I am laid back in some ways. But I can get really fucking angry.

     

    I’ve been listening to you for a while, going back to the radio show days with Russell Brand. You’ve always seemed like the kind of calm, quiet voice of reason?

     

    Yeah, I suppose, but then you’re forced into certain roles aren’t you, by the person you’re with?  With Russell, I’m naturally going to become the straight man to someone that mental. When I say mental, now he would look at me and think, “Fucking hell, you’re mental.” He’s extreme in whatever he does, so now he’s an extremely spiritual person. He’s weird, Russell, he’s not just like, “Oh, shall we have a cup of tea and a sit-down?” It’s like he’s always intensely up for something. And he’s on this big sort of journey to work out what this all means, this life and stuff like that.

     

    And you?

     

    I just think I’m sort of vaguely interested in spiritual stuff and whatever, but I don’t have that yearning that Russell has to understand the universe and stuff. I sort of feel like I’ve worked my version of it out when I was about four. And I’m just coasting on whatever I took life to be at that stage. I think I’m much more practical. Like now I’ve moved house, I’ve been camping, I’m swimming in the sea, I just think that’s enough for me. I don’t need to sort out the mysteries of the universe.

     

    Onto Withnail and I. Allow me to self indulge. I adore that film, and you’ve spoken of your own love of it on your shows. Do you remember when you first watched it?

     

    I remember when me and a mate Rich were around 15, in the days of VHS. Back then, there was basically four channels. And I used to stay up late to find boobs in a film. It would be like quick, record them, yeah, Channel 4, late at night, usually some sort of vaguely artistic thing. We were really bored, I think my parents were on holiday and I’d been allowed to stay in the house.Rich went through tapes desperately looking for something to watch. And my mum and dad had accidentally recorded it… So we fast-forwarded to the end of this film hoping there would some boobs, so tragic, and then that music starts, King Curtis. We hadn’t tuned into the comedy at all, we thought it was a serious film, and we were watching a bit going, “This is fucking mental.” And then the bit that really, really made me laugh was when they sit a chicken on a brick in the oven. And also the line, when he says, “Kill it before it starts making friends with us.” It’s so ludicrous, that idea. It’s a clever idea but worded like a child, ‘making friends with us’. 

    Years later I thought about it and I never knew what it was called. I just remember this mad fucking film, with a chicken sat on a brick and these two blokes. And years later when I went to university, somebody said, “Withnail and I.” And it was like, “Oh my god, I watched it. Oh, fucking hell.” And then when I watched it then, I was like, “Oh this is a comedy, this is hilarious.” I thought it was some mad thing on a VHS video, with no boobs.

     

    “I mean to have you even if it must be burglary!” – What’s your favorite line from the film?

     

    Let me think, best line? Well, there’s a couple, God there’s so many. Once you start thinking, you go, “Fucking hell.” But like I really liked the bit where he [Richard E. Grant] says, “There must and shall be Asprin.” Because it’s perfect for his attitude to life. He’s so entitled that because he wants it so badly, he can will it into being. “There must, and shall be Asprin.” And I love those sort of characters. I like it when he’s talking to his agent: “How dare you, fuck you.” He’s such an arsehole. I do think about the line, when he goes, “This is really a rather groovy long white hat.” Or whatever he says, and they go, “It’s a wig.”

     

    Yeah. They were talking about a judge and some hat, and Danny the dealer says, “No, man, this was more like a long white hat.”

     

    Fucking brilliant. I’ve watched it so many times, but by talking about it now, because I couldn’t remember the lines around that, so I clearly need to watch it again. But, fucking hell, it’s just so good.

     

    Lest there’s anyone reading this who would like tips on becoming a writer or at least practicing as such, what are your own regimes in terms of working. I myself find sitting up really late with some wine as the only good time to work. 

     

    Well, my natural instinct is like you said, same as you, stay up really late. It feels like in the daytime, not just because the doorbell’s going and stuff… It just feels like the world is alive. And then once you get into the evening and the night, it feels like the world shrinks down, and you can think clearly. That’s how I am. A lot of writers, like the majority of writers, when you read books about how to write or you read articles about the process, honestly 90%, will say “I get up at five, I’ll be at my desk, and I do four rounds of writing before…”. What the fuck? I’ll never be like that. I’m never good in the morning. And I come alive at night. So I don’t go to bed until late, and I could never get up early. But there’s other people who stay up late, but then the thing that fucked that up was having kids.

     

    Of course, your wife must be great in that sense?

     

    Well, she is pretty understanding, but then one of the reasons we’ve moved is because I need an office. I need a room to work in. Before it was in our bedroom, and then we had two children, so they all end up needing a bed, a bedroom obviously. So I’d sort of out-bred myself office wise. I get up for 8.00, 8.30, 9.00 o’clock now, which is fucking way better than 11 or 12 like I used to. And I haven’t tested it since we’ve been here, I haven’t had a real deadline where I’ve got to get something done, but I’m much more comfortable at night. My wife’s understanding. She can get up with the kids, and if I get up later on, I’ll do the end of the day with the kids, like bath time, bedtime, and stuff like that. It imposes structure, and I think structure is actually quite useful but I’ve not mastered it. I don’t think I ever will. I’m really bad at being my own boss.

    People can impose structure on themselves, but the problem with me is, I am me. I don’t know how people act like, “Come on, back to work, you” to themselves, because then I’m just like, “Fuck it, I’m not feeling well, I’m just going to sit down.” I’ll keep going back to it and there’s nothing happening, and then suddenly I’ll hit the theme of something, and you look up and it’s like four hours later, and you’ve done loads of work. With writing there’s deadlines, there’s money involved, there’s people saying, “Did you get that thing?” So I can’t’ just float around and go, “No, no, the sun is too low. I can’t write today” because I wouldn’t get paid ever. 

     

    If it’s not happening, it’s not happening and then when you try and force it, you just make a mess… 

     

    Yeah. I actually thought that I would pay for a service where you tell someone what your deadlines are, what work you’ve got to do, and then they basically call you in the morning and say, “Get up.” And then they say, “At the end of the day, send us what you’ve done.” You could make millions from self-employed people just running a self-boss service where you phone them up and say, “Right, can you email us everything you’ve done today?”… because then at least I’d fucking think, “Oh shit, I better do this.”

     

    Yeah, there would be pressure on you to things done.

     

    It would probably work for a week and then I’d think, “Hang on, I’m paying them to do this. Fuck off. They’ve got no power.” Do you know what? It should work like you’ve given them your credit card details and if you don’t hit your deadline, they charge you. Because then you’d be like, “Fuck.”

     

    That might actually work.

     

    Imagine that.

     

    Brilliant.

     

    Mate, you can have that.

     

    So I’ve got a man-baby pamper business in hotel spas and I’ve got another one where you get charged if you don’t meet deadlines…

     

    Mate. I’m full of good ideas.

     

    Matt, thank you. 

     

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