Friday, April 27, 2012


(The following interview was originally conducted in 2009 and was later reposted.

Amelia Brightman is the youngest sister of the much-adored Sarah Brightman. She recently terminated her partnership with producer Frank Petersen (Sarah's spouse), choosing to leave his platinum-selling Gregorian chant project, Gregorian (as main writer and vocalist). As she was the moneymaking factor for Gregorian I am sure the parting of ways was not mutual, however for an artist that is clearly a unique talent, it has to be the right choice. Gregorian set aside; there are a plethora of tacky recordings available now with well-meaning monks chanting to groovy beats. Take your pick as you can find many of these $4.99 compact discs in any dreadful 'soothing-sounds' section at your local Wal-mart. This particleboard music has become as soul-less as plastic. Yet, it is still churned out by talentless producers as it is gobbled up by the musically ignorant. If Ms. Brightman had indeed stayed with Gregorian it would have eventually turned into a 'circus act' and her talent would languish.

I couldn't make it to the UK as I am at home in Texas making loads of money. I spoke with Amelia instead -

MFM: Amelia, tell us what musicians have influenced and inspired you over time? (And please ignore the cows you may hear in the background.)
ABGosh there are so many! Kate Bush, Julie London, Townes Van Zandt, David Bowie, Bjork, Nick Drake, Portishead, Velvet Underground, Eurythmics, Emiliana Torrini. The list could go on and on and on. I love, and have loved anything that truly tells a story, that truly experiments and doesn't take itself too seriously. My intention is to take a little of everything I like to make something that is truly me.

MFM: Which artists would you want to work with?
ABThat depends on what week you ask me. This week I am having a little bit of a Folk obsession so I would want to work with a group called Beirut, but last week it was Trip-Hop and I would have said Tricky. It's just dependent on what I am listening to at the time. I believe that an eclectic view makes for a more creative scope and fortunately I am working with people (Dean James, Glen Scott, Subject 13) that understand the core of what I am trying to achieve, so it always retains a consistent thread.

: What is a typical day for Amelia Brightman?
ABSince Giving up Gregorian I have had the luxury of being able to just be at home and write my songs for a while. When not in the studio I cover my duties as a mom in the morning, go to the gym or walk my dog then sit down to write. I am aware this will all have to change again when I get into the role of selling my work, so I am really enjoying this time to reflect and build my emotional strength ready for the ridiculous highs and battering anxieties of live performance.

MFM: What are you hoping for upon the release of your solo album (besides success)?
ABI hope to have created something that I am truly proud to present, to have used all the knowledge I have gathered from previous experience, good and bad, and to have weaved it into something that is accessible and, well, fun to listen to. And of course I am as egotistical as the next artist so I want some recognition for my work.

MFM: Your song ‘Fly’ has a strong emotional core that runs through the entire piece. Will Fly be featured on the album as well as ‘Release Myself’?
ABI am not sure whether I will put them on the album, as the "emotional core" stems very much from negativity based in my past that is no longer a part of me. I try to take things with a little more of a sense of fun these days so those songs are like looking at a me I have blurred at the edges of my memory. I still may put them in, but in the process of writing I have come up with many more songs I like better.

MFM: Do you have an opinion on American politics? What about Courtney Love? I know she is a big fan of London.
ABAs it stands, I am just glad she (Courtney Love) seems to have found some sort of peace now. Well, like everyone else I was pleased to see Barack Obama take the role as president, but I think at the moment both our countries are in the same shit heap financially, and reacting in the same way (i.e. throw more money at it and it might go away), so its a case of waiting to see whether all these new policies actually work.

MFM: Are you a fan of the cinema? What is a favorite film?
ABOh wow, again so many. I love, love, love Black Cat White Cat, Brazil, in fact anything directed by Terry Gilliam, various anime bits,I'm geeky I know, and a secret guilty pleasure in the works of Tim Burton and anything with Bette Davis in it.

MFM: Do you think Paris Hilton is a gifted singer? Just kidding. What do you think of the present Kate Bush versus the 1980’s Kate Bush?
ABWell she has evolved and grown as anyone would, and as far as subject matter in her lyrics are concerned, she has always been totally honest as an artist, writing about what interests her. So her interests have changed, and the words reflect that. And with the music I think with each album she has worked less to please others and more to experiment and explore her own boundaries. I love both versions, nothing that is truly great as she is can ever stay the same, and her music for me still retains its own elegance with the passing of time.

: What is the projected release date for your album and are you feeling pressure to release something that will be considered flawless?
ABThe intention is to start releasing some singles in late summer, but you can never foresee the holdups that happen, so I can't promise anything. As far as flaws are concerned, I don't think anyone can release a flawless album as tastes differ dramatically from person to person, and those who do not like that particular style will always find gaps. I can only pressure myself to release something honest.

: Regarding your paintings and moldings of mythical creatures, will you ever promote them and may I have one?
ABAwww your sweet, not quite sure it would survive the postage though! Someday when I have improved my skill at it I would like to perhaps sketch an idea for a video clip for one of my songs, but it is very time consuming, time being something I am going to have little of very soon. But someday, when I take a break again from making music, I will start them up again.

Thanks to you Amelia.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Chandeen are Harald Loewy, Julia Beyer and Mike Brown. Kalinkaland records is owned and founded by Harald as well as being the home for Chandeen. We are all together inside the Germany based eponymous Kalinkaland (which reminds me of a video game title) discussing their latest work, Teenage Poetry. Outside my window there are wonderful green pastures with a few roaming goats...

MFM: Dreaming A Thousand Dreams is quite amazing. The first two minutes are unbelievably placid, those tiny nuances are so profound. The first note sounds so very much like Song to the Siren, was that a deliberate attempt to test your listeners ears?

Harald: Thanks. Well, This Mortal Coil was and is always an influence for my musical output. I have enjoyed all releases since many years and probably, this is something which you can hear in Chandeen’s music.

MFM: The album's title Teenage Poetry is quite illustrative of the lyrics, however the emotion is very mature. I don't suppose this is meant to convey to the world that one must never let go of that magical feeling of youth and childhood?

The main subject of the album was the idea of Harald, and I tried to transfer and treat this subject as good as possible in my lyrics. It's a very complex subject with a lot of facets. Try to imagine a teenager - full of life, hopes and strength. Usually, you don't think too much about your future or even about being old when you are in your teens. But what if? This is the questions that we posed to ourselves. And the lyrics on Teenage Poetry followed from this.

MFM: I would like to specifically address some of the tracks in detail. But first, do you appreciate the comparison to This Mortal Coil? There is more than one track that reminds me of the groundbreaking musical project.

Harald: Of course, I do appreciate this. We are living in a very complex world and everyone is always influenced in all life-situations. I think the difference between a musician and the “normal” people is just, that the musician can show his influences within his music. It’s not that kind of secret.

From The Inside is stunningly gorgeous. Florian Walther's guitar meshed with heavy synth leaves the listener wanting more. However melancholic the lyrics may be, the music is hopeful and 'peace-approaching.' Was this your intention when creating those wonderful instrumental moments?

Harald: It was and it is the style of Chandeen to create beautiful landscapes. We are romantics, we love the epic and the silent moments of life. Regarding From The Inside: In a very early progress I had this soundscape and contrast of Florian’s guitar and Mike's synthesizers in mind which we created a month later in the studio. So yes, I think it’s beautiful.

MFM: New Colouring Horizon again has many nuances, you do not really notice them at first though. The crescendos carry a few delicate and pretty piano notes, however you have to be intently listening to hear the beauty of them. When you create these subtleties in your pieces, are you aware that some will not really 'hear' them?

Harald: Thanks, that’s another nice compliment. You know what, even after 15 years I still discover new things at the music of This Mortal Coil. Yes, I am aware that those little pieces are not to be noticed when you just listen to that album one time. We wanna create epic and detailed music, we have a vision of the whole mood and the whole art and this contains also some very little specials, piano notes or very quite parts like the end of Looking Forward, Looking Back. That’s the soundworlds of Chandeen.

MFM: The segway into Welcome the Still reminds one of a foghorn, a kind of spiritual interlude. Is this an accurate interpretation?
Harald: It’s an interpretation, I like or it’s Julia, singing between the tress of Lothlórien…..

At the End of All Days and The Sentiments of An Old Love Story contain various samples. Were these all taken from films?
Harald: This is something which we created in a very silent and concentrated situation. They support the feel of Teenage Poetry, the feel and the meaning.

MFM: Tomorrow features the voice of Anji Bee. It is a song that sounds almost gospel. Was this planned?

Harald: It was a cool thing to work on this song, to create a wide, spacey world behind the whole song. All these effects were created with Mikes own and self built synthesizer and again it’s the contrasts which is the charming moment of the song and always a challenge to create. Anji’s voice is so beautiful and it fits perfectly to the whole album.

MFM: Hearing your album sort of reignites the notion that music can still be something that is revered. What musicians inspire you, past or present?

Julia: As for my part, I think that music mostly inspires you only in a subconscious way. But if I have to name some artists, I guess these would be Tori Amos and Martin Gore. Tori teached me to bring more emotionality to my voice, and Martin how to write vocal melodies.

Harald: As I said, I am influenced by quite a lot of music. Pink Floyd, Dead Can Dance, or The Lord Of The Rings soundtracks, or Arvo Pärt, or Steve Roach, This Mortal Coil, probably also Nirvana and the Cocteau Twins.

MFM: Do you follow any certain faith?

Julia: To be honest - no. I was raised with the Christian belief, but I don't think that we need to go to church or decide for ourselves on one certain faith to be better humans. I believe that there's a major force out there and many things we can't understand, but in the end this is not what defines us as a human. Faith helps many people in difficult times, but it's also responsible for some of the most cruel wars in history. I think it's love we should believe in.

I have not finally decided about my faith, but I believe in Yoda and Gandalf.

MFM: The song Welcome the Still, seems to be the commercially
accessible track. Would you agree?

Yes, I think you could say so. It's the most accessible track because it's harmonies are more or less quite simple and easy to remember. It's melody is very open and the structure quite traditional, you could say.

In 1998 Chandeen experienced some commercial success with the video for Skywalking which was played on MTV among others. Did this give the band more financial freedom?

Completely no! It just gave us an imagination about the pressure in that kind of music business. We enjoyed that time, because it was an exciting moment. But when I regard just the musical thing, the art as itself I think, beside Jutland, the best Chandeen albums were created long after that time.

MFM: Will the next Chandeen album continue on the same path and have you ever contemplated recording a strictly instrumental album that would mirror Chandeen's current sound?

Harald: This is something I have in mind since many years and probably I will do that sooner or later. I also have ideas for a new Chandeen album, we will see when we have the chance to work on a Teenage Poetry follow up.

Thank you to Julia and Harald. xoxo

Thursday, April 17, 2008

the monumental sToa

I meet Mandy Bernhardt, the current and third vocalist from the neo-classical band called sToa at CAFE NOIR, located in the city called Halle/Saale. I am visiting Halle-Saale to inquire about the purchase and transportation of a tiny castle located next to the enormous Moritzburg Castle. We order coffee and water with a side of orange slices and date muffins. The weather says it is going to storm today-

MFM: In what area of Germany does sToa reside?
Mandy: sToa is a band from Halle-Saale, but we are at present living a bit scattered. Olaf Parusel (founder/arranger/composer) is living in Halle-Saale, Christiane Fischer the violincellist, is near Berlin. I am living between Halle and Leipzig, which is not too far from them.

MFM: Why do you think you have a great following in Mexico? (Porta VIII entered the New Age charts in Mexico)
Mandy: Oh, I do not know really why. I think the things and events in life sometimes are happening because of a little bit of luck, sometimes because of predestination. Sometimes nobody is really responsible for it. But I can say, that the time and the concerts in Mexico have been unforgettable for me. We have experienced many amazing hours together there, with friends and many fans whose enthusiasm was profoundly catching.

MFM: What lies ahead for Stoa, as far as you know?
Mandy: First and I think I speak on behalf of Olaf and Christiane, in the foreground is the release of our new album. The work is in the final stage at this moment. And of course I'm looking forward to the next concerts, because each one shall be a very special event. Of course the audience is each time unique.

MFM: What are your greatest influences, musically and otherwise?
Mandy: My first musical influences are coming from classical music. In my childhood I was learning to play the piano, certainly because of my father and grandfather. Both are passionate musicians. Today I listen to music depending on my mood. Sometimes Enya, Loreena McKennitt, sometimes Springsteen or The Cranberries. I also enjoy Yann Thiersen, Hans Zimmer. Music has always been a comfort to me, the expression of my luck and my emotions. Now I can express it through the music of sToa. The music is able to find a voice for many things I am not able to say.

MFM: What is the future of music?
Mandy: I think music will be, always a connection between people. Through music the people of this world can find togetherness. Music is a language where communication by words must stop because of different spoken languages. But the music is for me also like a healing process. If I'm singing I feel the music in my whole body and when I'm hearing a fantastic sound, it’s like a massage of my soul.

MFM: Are there any musicians you would like to speak of?
Mandy: Oh, of course. There are many musicians that have always appeared as "normal" people. They see the world with realistic and critical eyes. But, these musicians are not seen very often on television, nor in magazines.

MFM: What do you think of America and its present state?
Mandy: When I think of America, I think of giant old time cars with a powerful bass sound. It must be great to drive in such a car through the streets of this country, without pressure of time, without appointed time. I'm very crazy about driving and I can imagine this. With the policy of the President I do not agree. He's only acting for his own interests, not for the people of his country, and also not for the democracy. At this moment I am thinking of the song by Pink - Dear Mr. President.

MFM: How do you feel about religion being mixed into politics?
Mandy: Each one has a personal belief. Believing just in the power of Luck, one is holding a point of view. But I think it is not good to force personal beliefs on other people, and surely never with brutal force. But in many countries this is reality. Definitely a wrong way!

MFM: Do you have any mainstream artists you admire?
Mandy: There are some artists I admire because of their personalities. But I don't want to use my admiration on celebrities that live far away. I would like to apply the word admiration to my father. He was an artist of Life, a person with a really great heart and a lot of love for his family. I have to admire him, because he sacrificed a lot for our welfare. He always thought first of his children. I am proud that he gave some of his traits to us.

The interview ends and Mandy thanks me, and I her. I hope to see all three of them together (Olaf, Christiane) someday...

photo: (c) 2008 ||

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Scream and Scream Again.

I'm just hanging around the Whitechapel area of London (not far from the music venue- The Whitechapel Factory). I am meeting Chris Savill and Sean Hewson of Monster Movie. I lovingly refer to them as the 2 singing ogres and another critic has called them "hideous boymen." They are nice boys, friendly and chatty...

MFM: Hi Chris and Sean, may I call you Chris?

Christian: Hello, you can call me whatever you like.

MFM: I really enjoy ALL LOST, it is the only album I own by Monster Movie. I purchased ALL LOST from, I did not download!

Sean: Thanks, we tried quite hard to make it good. We thought we should grow up and actually try to do something well. Although if you listen to some of my keyboard playing you wouldn’t think so.

Christian: Cheers for buying the album.

MFM: I really enjoy your more ethereal sounding ‘ice-village’ sounds. You have many pieces which bring to mind a magical town lit with only Christmas lights.

Sean: We go there in our heads sometimes. It would be good if we could do an album of that stuff but we keep writing pop songs. I always think we’re quite experimental, but when I hear our records we just sound like Take That without Gary Barlow.

Christian: I think your description sounds better than the record itself.

MFM: Tell me how do you feel about Kate Bush? Do you know her? Or have you ever sat and gazed at her big house way up high in the South Hams? Do you think Jack the Ripper was of royalty?

Sean: I like some of Kate Bush’s stuff, she’s not an important artist for me, a Greatest Hits would satisfy me. I don’t care who Jack The Ripper was, but I do like From Hell by Alan Moore though.

Christian: I remember hearing 'Wuthering Heights' for the first time. My mum was in the hairdressers and it came on the radio and I thought 'wow what's this?'. I was only about 8. It is one of my first pop music memories. However, it wasn't a catalyst to me stalking her. Don't know about Jack the Ripper. I think he was left handed though (Like me).

MFM: I would expect that Monster Movie would be getting offers for Film and T.V.? Is this happening?

Sean: I think we had music on MTV once. My Dad thought we were on CSI. We weren’t. It’s nice to know that my own father can’t even be bothered to familiarise himself with our albums.

Christian: Nothing like that happens.

MFM: If you had access to a time machine where would you go?

Sean: I imagine both of us would go to a point just before we decided to accept jobs working in Software Support and kill ourselves. I don’t care what time I live in, it’s always going to be the wrong time. If that wasn’t the case people wouldn’t talk about time machines.

Christian: I'd find a nice quiet time, hit the pause button and take a nap. Time machines have a pause button, right?

MFM: I owned one years ago, it did not have a pause feature. I sold it for a very large sum of money, however I still have the blueprint if I ever decide to build another. Time machines are quite dangerous, depending. As far as purchasing music, what have you guys acquired lately? What are among your favourites?

Sean: I think Camera Obscura’s last album is the best one this year. I have also enjoyed A Place To Bury Strangers, British Sea Power, Interpol, Patrick Wolf, The Legends, Klaxons, The Horrors, Broadcast, Scott Walker. My favourites are Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Nick Drake, Big Star, Eno, The Only Ones, Richard Youngs, Current 93, Neu!, Soft Cell, the Jesus & Mary Chain. Those are the ones I rip off the most.

Christian: I'd like to be able to say I've purchased some high brow stuff, but the purchased list on my iPod tells a different story. Recent purchases include. 'Male stripper' by Man 2 Man meets Man Parish, 'Better off alone' by Alice Deejay, 'Tarzan boy' by Baltimora, 'What is love?' by Haddaway...and other stuff like that. My defence is that I was making a CD for a friend as a christmas "gift". Sean told me to listen to The Legends and that was excellent. I downloaded the Radiohead album and liked some of it. My favourite song at the moment is 'Melancholy rose' by Marc Almond.

MFM: What comes to mind when you think of Texas?

Sean: I can’t think about Texas without thinking about that awful band. I really don’t like bands where you can hear how much the singer loves themselves in their voice. Like Annie Lennox, Mick Hucknell, Bono etc.

Christian: 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', one of my favourite films. I've got some good friends in Austin. My wife really like to watch the Dallas repeats on TV. She likes the clothes.

MFM: Are you still close with Rachel Goswell? (the lead singer of their former band SLOWDIVE)

Christian: No, I'm not close with Rachel. I talk to her occasionally by email, but that's about it.

MFM: Are you a fan of the old 4ad bands of the 80’s? Do you think music will ever re-capture the magic of late 80’s underground music, you being the exception?

Sean: I’m not a massive fan. I just liked the obvious bands like the Cocteau Twins and Pixies. There’s always good music around, but maybe the press, radio and TV has changed. The end of the ‘80s was good though, we’d get the music papers (Melody Maker etc) and there’d be people like My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr and World Domination Enterprises on the cover, total freaks with holes in their clothes. I even saw Swans on TV once. But you can find anything on the internet so I don’t feel I’m being deprived.

Christian: I loved 'The Cocteau Twins' and 'The Pixies' but the rest of it didn't really do much for me. There was good stuff in the late 80s, but there's good stuff all the time. I don't think the late 80s was anymore special than any other time.

MFM: Your band name MONSTER MOVIE is quite evocative. Especially for me being a horror fan, I think of HAMMER HORROR (which in fact Kate Bush paid homage to).

Sean: I love Hammer Horror but we took the name from a Can album. In Hammer Horror films everything looks brilliant: The settings, the clothes, the ladies. I used to live near Bray studios, where they filmed some of them, and I used to go running in the woods around there looking for Christopher Lee. I think he was in Middle Earth at the time.

Christian: I like horror films. I'd like to see a movie called 'Bugs' again. I saw it about 25 years ago and never seen it since about some bugs that could create fire, I think they was an earthquake and they came up from that? It might well be crap, but at the time it seemed great. (Christian is referring to the 1975 William Castle produced, Bug)

MFM: What does MONSTER MOVIE want to say to the world through my blog? (not that anyone reads it much)

Sean: We don’t believe in numbers or names.

: Do what thou wilt.

MFM: (this interview took place Christmas 2007) The conservatives of America have done a fairly good job of 'demonizing' and perverting the name of Jesus Christ. What do you think of them? What do you think of Jesus? And what do you say to those good-hearted intelligent people that still wish to study Christianity in spite of this?

Sean: For every person there is an opinion or ‘a belief’. If someone tells me not to like someone or something, I don’t believe them. They always have an agenda, and the agenda is not their belief in a god. If someone is conservative they will read The Bible in a conservative way, if they are liberal they will read it in a liberal way. People window shop for religions that agree with what they already think. They are too cowardly or inarticulate to put forward their own views. I personally don’t believe in invisible gods in the sky, and I don’t need a book to tell me what is right or wrong.

Christian: I'm a pagan.

MFM: So there it is! Thank you Monster Movie I love you both very much.
bye - bye 2008

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Fairy-Tale Icons (and lovers of carbs)

We are sitting around the monumental grave of Baudelaire (Montparnasse cemetery), it is cold outside in Paris, France. We have coffee to keep Geraldine, Jac and myself warm. I am excited about seeing the catacombs with them later and ask if their are rooms to rent down there? They are called Mediavolo, and we are here to discuss their new album A Secret Sound. It is their 3rd effort. Their sound is quite momentous, it reminds me of something one would hear in a icy village way up high in the mountains with the Abominable Snowman just outside. They have been at times compared to The Sundays, The Cocteau Twins and Love Spirals Downwards (among others). The comparisons you hear are but tiny glimmers and last only seconds until you hear something indescribable. They are phenomenal- they can sound at any given time like many different bands without ever sounding 'like' them at all. Their present label is Kalinkaland Records which I believe in a year or two could become the 'old' 4ad. Time will tell.

MFM: So Geraldine, Jac, who wants to begin? What do you think of the comparisons people make about your music?
Jac: Comparing us to The Cocteau Twins or to Love Spirals Downwards is not misguiding, but it is not fully describing what we really are. Our influences are diverse and numerous, some even have nothing in common with each other. Our music is many faceted. However, we understand the fact that our record label, Kalinkaland, bases its communication on comparisons. It is a means to make us identifiable to the public, to position us in the musical landscape.

MFM: The song Humane & Live, what is it about?
: Two or three songs are connected to the same theme in the album. A Secret Sound is not a concept album, but Jac imagined this story he wanted some songs to talk about. Two scarecrows standing in a cornfield, one is male, the other female, they form a couple. These two non-living characters have a life of their own that humans around them do not notice. One night, the female scarecrow decides to live her dream to leave the field and wander around the world. The male scarecrow lets her go, but soon after her departure he realises he wants to be with her, and decides to go search for her. Humane & Live tells about what he thinks of the world of humans: what he observes, what puzzles him about our ways and most of all it tells about Man, speaking of himself as "Humane". While in most of his actions and behaviours he is far less than an animal. It is a glance towards "humanity" from a distance. You might guess what are the other songs related to this theme.

MFM: Your cover art (by French artist Obion) is wonderful, like a children's fairy tale. How did you two meet him?
: We met Obion at the very beginning of the band. He was part of a collective which published a fanzine called “Le Violon Dingue”. It was a collection of comic strips, created by the members of the collective. But the fanzine also contained a column dedicated to other types of artistic expression, such as art, literature and music. They asked us to be the subject of one of their releases. That’s how we met Obion’s scriptwriter, Kris. Very soon after the publication of their article, Kris invited us to a cartoonist’s exhibition taking place in our home town. That’s where he introduced us to Obion, who exposed his work there. Jac who is a huge comics’ fan, spotted him then. We directly thought about him when the making of our first release’s cover came into question.

MFM: Will the cover art be made available for purchase, in perhaps a limited edition?
Jac: We’ve actually never thought about such a possibility. But I’m sure it is an idea that would appeal to Obion. In fact, it all depends on him.

MFM: Geraldine, how do you go about writing Mediavolo's songs? Do they just show up?
: Writing songs for Mediavolo is a meticulous and difficult process. The writing of the lyrics comes at the very end. Jac writes all of the music, which means the lead melodies as well (although he sometimes happens to ask me to propose him something when he is not convinced by his own idea). He also has a very precise idea of the phonemes he wants to hear, and where; and most of the time, he has already decided what the subject of the song should be. I then find myself with a certain number of parameters that need to fit together. Writing the lyrics is like assembling the pieces of a puzzle. So, Mediavolo’s lyrics do not just show up, they are the result of hours of brainstorming. I’ve known days where I had to deal with the blank page syndrome, true mind torture. Traumatizing!

MFM: Are you expecting that this album will propel a song into commercial radio? I can see it (Misunderstanding).
Jac: When we listened to the full final version of the album with our close friends, we spotted the tracks which had a radio potential. Some songs like Misunderstanding indeed seem to have an immediate contact with the listener. Like for any other band, a song playing on commercial radio represents a bridge to the rest of the album.

MFM: What inspires you, music or otherwise?
Jac: Or course, the music of other musicians and their ideas inspire me. But inspiration often comes from many other little and simple things, moments in the day. Like the end of the afternoon, when the sky wraps everything in an orange light. Photographers call it the “magical moment".

MFM: Describe your homes to me? Do you two ever shop at the legendary French fleamarkets?
: I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you, my interior is very sober. Not that I don’t develop a taste for decoration. I’ll actually have an opinion about people’s interiors if they ask me, but I discovered a few years back that I had no real attachment to “things”. In fact, I dedicate most of my time and energy to music and people. It is a choice that I’ve made.
Jac: I’m very fond of flea markets. That’s where I find most of the treasures of my LP collection.

MFM: Who would you say are your favorite musicians?
: The very first singer who’s responsible for my interest in music is Aretha Franklin. My father was a huge black music fan, and he had several EP's from her. The power, sincerity, but also virtuosity of her singing is what was most striking to me. So, rock music was not part of my world at all, until some friends made me listen to U2. By then, I was a teen. Bono made me discover that imperfection actually sounded great. The cracks in a voice sometimes convey the importance of a message. Later, a musician I was collaborating with made me listen to Van Der Graaf Generator. Curiously, Peter Hammill’s voice introduced me to extravagance and theatricality, when someone like Freddy Mercury overran the radio waves at the time. Finally, I discovered other voices: Björk’s, Mike Patton’s; some in retrospect like Elizabeth Frasier’s; and I rediscovered some I had neglected, like that of Kate Bush.
Jac: My favourite musicians, in general, are either self-learnt, or people that handle every single aspect of the creating process (from composition to production); people like Brian Wilson, Prince, Mike Oldfield, Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa, or Kate Bush.

MFM: When can we expect another album?
Jac: 2007 will be too soon. I already have several ideas of songs that I store on an old K7 recorder. Compiling enough material, choosing what’s worth keeping, recording it, having Gé work on it, wrapping it minutely enough to convince on a possible release. All of that takes a lot of time. 2008 seems more realistic.

MFM: Have you two traveled extensively? Where did you go and what sort of musical influences (if any) did you get?
Jac: I’m not a great traveller, though I’ve been to England, Germany, the Netherlands and the States. In fact, I feel the most wonderful trips I’ve made are the ones I’ve made in my head. Listening to music makes me travel - I imagine cities I’ve never been to, and never will.

MFM: Alright there is one certain song, and the first line is "I was born at the wrong time." Now in this song we are discussing, your voice (at times) very much resembles Elizabeth Frasier's. If I did not know better I might have thought so. Not only this but with the musical arrangement I thought I was listening to a 4ad song from the late 80's. How did you capture that? And Geraldine do your feelings reflect this piece?
: This is one song for which Jac had only but a very vague idea of the subject. He pretty much left it up to me. They are the darkest lyrics I ever wrote. To the question “do I feel I was born at the wrong time?” My answer is that I’d rather have known the world when there was still some freshness about it, when humanity still ignored a lot about itself, and so when there was yet much to be discovered. When some irrepressible hope was in the air. Some might reply that a lot is still ignored by Humanity, and that progress is still marching on. It is true, but the main aim of research today is to resolve the back effects of the deteriorations caused by Human activity. Our existence has reached a new stage: we are aware of it, and the general mood is down because we have a notion “happy go lucky” times are over. Man lives in fear of tomorrow, which is not the ideal set of circumstances to show him in a flattering light. I feel I’m seeing some of it today. I wish I weren’t here now. I don’t long to see anymore of it. Yet I don’t think it could have been otherwise. I think Humanity’s fate is inexorable. Any type of development of our kind would have met the same end. Yes, man has evolved through the ages. Yes, man is capable of “civilization”. Despite all that, Human nature is perpetual. It is the only thing which has remained unchanged. And the reason why there is no way out.

MFM: Were you always encouraged to listen to music. Did you study Music at school?
: My mother registered me to a harp class when I was 7. She asked me first if I wanted to, and my answer was yes right away. I guess I had the notion back then, there were not that many other musical options. We lived in such a small town, in the centre of Britanny. My parents never had to push me, I loved to play music. I think it would have been the same with any instrument. When we moved to Brest is the time when I started to listen to rock music, and when I joined my first band. I put the same effort into it. Time passes, bands change, but the passion is the same. Music at school? We do have music periods at school but nothing like what you have in the States. I was amazed at the material means you had when I did my senior year over at North Stafford High School (Virginia). The choir rooms, the auditoriums, and you get that musical period everyday. In France, we get our music course once a week. Real musical education takes place in National Musical Schools, and after school, which means between 5:30 and 8 pm. Or on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
Jac: I bathed into rock n' roll music during the whole of my childhood. My father and mother both had their own band in the 60’s; some Elvis Presley, Eddy Cochran, or Gene Vincent was always playing. So I started my musical culture early. At 5, I was able to name the biggest stars of rock n' roll and their biggest hits. My father’s guitar ceased to be a toy (one that you smash against walls) when I turned 11, when I figured it would be a means to play the melodies I had in my head. Later, I enrolled in a National Music School. I wanted to be able to write my music.

MFM: What is your favorite thing about France?
: We don’t live in Paris. It is an amazing city, but it’s very hard to live there: rents way beyond your pay, and such a palpable tension in the air. I enjoy going there on visits but just for a few days, discovering new places and going out. We live in Brest, a city situated at the most western tip of Britanny. I found out about what were my favourite things about France, when I spent a year over in the States: I missed French food, bread especially; and French cafés. There aren’t any places in the States where you can enjoy having a cup of coffee outside, at a terrace, except maybe a restaurant. But then they’ll make you feel miserable because a coffee is all you order, when a coffee is all you want! (Before the dawn of Starbucks)

Let us go to the flea markets and find a wonderful 18th century Pricket stick.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Ms. Napolitano of famed band Concrete Blonde lives somewhere in the heat, with the rocks and red sand. Her friends are the lizard, the hawk and the smiling sun, to name 3. I had the chance to communicate with her in three's, that is three questions only and that's it Mister! I remind myself that God works in three's and gladly begin my cosmic interrogation-

MF: Okay Johnette let’s hurry, the Sun is rising! You were quoted around 1986 on the Houston Video channel TV 5 as saying, (when asked what you would be doing if you were not doing music) you said (paraphrased) 'probably not something very respectable.' What did you mean by that statement?

JN: I have no idea. And that probably is paraphrased, because I can't imagine having said that. However, I would probably be into forensics, be a vet. I had a couple mail order lessons in veterinary science but because I was on tour, fell behind. I've worked for a psychic line and I still like that work and intend to always do that. I can be an old lady out here in the desert, studying gypsiology and doing readings. I've had the best mentors and teachers in the world. I really love that.

MF: Regarding your indie film work as a director. Will we be seeing possibly a feature film from you?

JN: I doubt I have the attention span. I always think I'd like to write a book or do a film. I will probably do neither. My ADD bursts of inspiration are as long as they last and I've finally decided to just stick to what I do. I have a second installment of 'Cocktails in Paradise' ready to edit but am waiting for my computer to be replaced. I may start editing on someone else's computer because it is very cool. It features Al Capone's old Deusenberg and Mike Andolini back as the villain in my song 'Long Black Car' from Sketchbook 2.

MF: Do you have great financial freedom from your success with Concrete Blonde?

JN: If that means have I made a lot of money, I've made some. But I'm far from able to kick back and not worry about what will happen when I'm 60. I've scaled down my life to such simplicity that I could support myself delivering pizzas if I
had to. I probably spend most of my money on dog food and wine. I do own my home, humble that it is, and for that I'm very grateful. I don't have a lot of overhead. I suppose then maybe I do have more freedom than some. But I'm far from set for life.

MF: Your fans were expecting a Johnette Napolitano album many moons ago. Why did you never release a recording under your name? (Well, it was suppose to be only 3!)

JN: I had one ready to release on Island but personnel shake-ups in the company prevented me from doing that. Strange that I should be finally releasing one next year, but I am. I'll enjoy the whole thing more now than I would have in those days, anyway. I'm happier and more grounded and have more supportive people around me. And it's a much better record than the last one would have been.

Thank you! We love you. The Sun has risen, it's going to be a beautiful day.

Of course! xxj

Visit Johnette at
photo by Michael McGrath

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Louise Rutkowski was part of Ivo Watts-Russells' groundbreaking project This Mortal Coil. She performed (along with a slew of others) on Filigree & Shadow (1986), Blood (1991) and the spin-off project titled The Hope Blister (1998) in which she performed all vocals. I had the surprising treat of interviewing her recently. The air is filled with Vanilla and a touch of Bourbon. With roses just outside the window she speaks to me about keeping the wolf away...

MF: It is so lovely outside at the moment, I'll have to take a walk around the pond before I leave. So, what has been
happening in your professional life since The Hope Blister?

LR: Well, I moved to London in 1995 and did The Hope Blister record in 97', I think! The reason for that was to do live
performance. Most of my career seems to have been studio based projects. I worked with a fabulous pianist, Roland
Perrin, and together with a drummer and bass player, put together a show called Short Stories – The Songs of Randy
Newman. I played in small theatres and art centres and also did Edinburgh Festival, very hard work and very
expensive! I put together another show after that, featuring songs by Bobbie Gentry, Bessie Smith and various obscure
but kitsch country singers. I left London last year to return home to Scotland to focus on songwriting and learning a
musical instrument, the guitar was the item of choice and I am loving it. I do not read or write music so it’s a whole
new journey for me. I have begun to write with someone and the early signs are good. Sorry, it’s a bit of a Kate Bush
time scale.

MF: Regarding Kate Bush, do you have any comments on her recent return to the public eye? Are you a fan?

LR: One of my happiest moments was seeing her face on MOJO magazine. It was like a dream come true, plus an
interview! I adore her and she is a huge benchmark for me. I have always thought if I could write as well as that.
She is truly amazing. As for the album (Aerial), I think it will take me a while to get into it but that’s okay. I was only
just revisiting The Sensual World (1989) recently. I just didn’t hear it at the time and I’m thinking this is awesome!
Great music is like that. It has its time and it keeps on surprising you.

MF: How was day to day living in London?

LR: I am glad to say I am now not living in London! It was hideous towards the end, not least because of bombs and things.
It’s too overcrowded and I just couldn’t think anymore. Scotland is welcome escape.

MF: Are your musical tastes pretty eclectic? I mean, are they a mixture of commercial and not so?

LR: Yes, I’d say they are a healthy mix and reflect someone who truly loves music. I listen to virtually every genre I suppose.
Commercial music maybe not so much but I do like 'boy bands' because I do think there is craft in the writing and the
production of these records. More so than people realize and appreciate. But in terms of what I listen to, massive fan of
Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave...and I am a massive fan of Led Zeppelin! They are the top ones. I also love Dusty
Springfield, Gerry Rafferty, a superb songwriter and arranger. Also, Frankie Miller a Scottish blues rock artist. I was
initially blown away by the Sex Pistols and loved the Buzzcocks, Stranglers, Blondie and Public Image Ltd. I also love
Frank Sinatra. Who I consider one of the best singers ever, along with Dusty. I love Michael Buble he is an amazing live
performer... Bobbie Gentry, Free, John Martyn. Their is a classical pianist called Emile Gilels, now dead but there is an
amazing DVD of him, rock and roll! Some great Classical singers are Andreas Scholl and Cecilia Bartoli.

MF: What was the last CD you purchased?

LR: It was Dogs in the Traffic by a Scottish band called Love and Money, who I did backing vocals for on it and somehow,
had lost my copy! It features the amazing songwriting talents of its frontman, James Grant. Check him out. He has a
website so just find him that way.

MF: Has a professional career as a singer given you some moments of financial freedom?

LR: Many moons ago! That’s a hard question, especially at the moment when I certainly gain no financial input at all from
it. The last time was when I was signed as part of The Kindness of Strangers (Craig Armstrong) to Interscope. The joy of
such a thing, not needing a day job, is a distant but hopefully not dim in the future memory. Got to keep the wolf from
the door. But, the aim is to secure a publishing deal with new material so I can get out of that scenario.

MF: What would you like to see happen in your musical life, if it hasn't already?

LR: Now there’s a question. Well, my aim at present is in my own songwriting. I haven’t touched that since very early in
my music life. An album under my own name and who knows, including my guitar playing! This is the goal for next

MF: What vocalists or musicians would you next like to work with?

LR: One's that love music and support my own vision so we can create something really special. I’ll send that thought out
into the ether.

MF: What about a collaboration with your sister Deirdre Rutkowski (Blood)?

LR: Possible, we’ve been doing our own things for years and it’s never really came up. We’ll see.

MF: Were you encouraged as a child to seek out music?

LR: Absolutely. My sister, brother and I were all into music and were in a church related musical show every summer! My
parents love music and we were surrounded by it. One of my earliest memories is watching Top of the Pops. I had loads
of my parents’ records to play too, as well as what my brother and sister were buying. I was also greatly encouraged to
follow a career in music. Never once did I hear “get a proper job”. Thank the good Lord.

MF: Did you ever think of pursuing acting in addition to music?

LR: Yes, many times. I took a short course last year and quite enjoyed it. It was very interesting in that it was an entirely
new creative discipline, very mentally stimulating. So I’ll try that again I suspect.
MF: Do you think the THIS MORTAL COIL recordings will be remembered as golden remnants of music history?

LR: I believe they already are. I’m astonished at the amount and varying types of people over the years who have spoken to
me about how much they loved This Mortal Coil and how much it meant to them. That’s absolutely priceless. Also,
things come round don’t they, so I’m sure it will surface again at some point when I’m an old lady. (we laugh)

MF: Do you think there will ever be a fourth This Mortal Coil? If so, is it possible that you would return along with Caroline
Seaman, Lisa Gerrard, Alison Limerick and Elizabeth Frasier?

LR: No. It was of its time and in any case, Ivo would never do it.

MF: So, Ivo has, to quote Shakespeare "...shufflel'd off this mortall coile..."?

LR: Ivo just wanted to move on and do other things and lives happily in the US! I'm sure he will return to music at some
stage, my personal view. I hope he does, we need people like him.

MF: Yes we certainly do. As far as working with other masters, if approached by Rhys Fulber of Conjure One, would you
perform as a guest vocalist?

LR: No idea who Fulber is, gulp! Enlighten me.

MF: I'm sorry I should have said Delerium, that name is more accessible. He (along with his partner Bill Leeb) is a fantastic
musician and producer. Sarah Mclachlan, Poe and a host of other vocalists have worked with Delerium and Conjure One.

LR: Yeah. In a word.

MF: Do you appreciate antiques and fine candles?

LR: Is this a metaphorical question? Antiques yes, my parents collect so. Fine candles no. Better to be happy within than
worry about your surroundings.

MF: But, you know This Mortal Coil requires candles and incense for optimum listening! I'm going for that walk now, you've
got some fairies out there don't ya? (maniacal laughing follows us - picture James Whale's Dr. Frankenstein) PLEASE VISIT MS. RUTKOWSKI'S WEBSITE
Photos by Brian O'Connor, visit him at