Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Entretien avec Cindytalk"

Cinder interview for French webzine/fanzine Trinity,
August 2007,part 1.
Trinity will soon release a 10th anniversary compilation CD titled
"Ruines and Vanites" to which Cindytalk contribute two tracks:
"Canto" and "Surrounded by sky and the stillness of time".
The CD comes in an edition limited to 500 copies of which the first hundred are especially numbered and contain inserts.


Entretien privilégié avec Gordon Sharp (aka Cinder), figure culte de la scène underground depuis ses débuts débuts post-punk avec Freeze, puis Cindytalk, en collaboration avec Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Pankow, Black Rose... ou dans ses digressions électroniques sous le nom de Bambule (cf: R.W. Fassbinder).

Partie I:

Since « Wappinschaw » Cindytalk almost disappeared, why?
We heard about your electronic projects (Bambule...), but what about Macbeth...?

Cindytalk has always existed in half-light,so "almost disappearing" is something we are very good at... It has been a difficult journey and invisibility is often very necessary so that we can concentrate on the work.Concentrate on the passion.
Shortly after recording Wappinschaw,the record label we were contracted to,Midnight Music,went bankrupt.The assets of the company were in the hands of a British bank,who were in no hurry to sell us our back catalogue and unreleased material.It took us a couple of years to wrench the rights to our work away from the bank and at the same time stop Cherry Red records from buying it as part of a "job lot" along with the rest of the Midnight Music catalogue.
During those years [early 1990's] we regrouped,started writing new material and began to rehearse to play live for the first time.
It seemed obvious that if we weren't able to concentrate on recording [due to lack of label and finances for decent recording equipment],we might as well try to see what we could be like as a live entity.
So in 1993 Paul Middleton [drums],David Ros [engineer] and myself hooked up with Paul Jones [guitar],Andie Brown [bass] and Mark Stephenson [tapes,sampler & keyboards] and began a new phase for Cindytalk.
At the time most of us were squatting in the Hackney area of East London,so it was relatively easy for us to rehearse without cost at any time we wanted to.It allowed us a lot of room to be playful with our ideas.I actually consider this a classic time for Cindytalk and although a lot of our work [in rehearsal] wasn't heard by many outside [until we started performing live],it was one of the most creative and inspiring times for me personally.In that period we were also starting to become more and more influenced by the London underground techno scene.The structure of the sounds,the parties and the dj sets had a huge impact on us and although we didn't immediately try to make techno music ourselves,those shapes and structures were beginning to creep more and more into our improvisations.This all led into Bambule and beyond that,my work in Los Angeles with Darkmatter Soundsystem.
Macbeth was in many ways destined to become a one-off project.In truth,the track "Help Me Lift You Up" was intended to be a Cindytalk track [for the cd compilation Volume5] but I never felt happy with it.The line-up on the trackwas all wrong.Robin Guthrie and myself managed to cancel each other out,leaving only Nadia Lanman's cello as a bright spot.I decided not to use the name Cindytalk as the whole process lacked the energy or creative spark that was always present in our recordings.It just felt wrong.In doing so,I had a brief flirtation with the idea of more songs of that nature but time just moved on so quickly and left that idea in its wake.It's always possible that I will return to the idea of recording some acoustic based songs in the future but I doubt if I will resurrect the name Macbeth.

You often talk about Scottish culture and mythology, is it always an important influence for your work?

Yes,it is important to me.I was born and brought up in Scotland,weaned on the stories,the music and the songs of our history.I love the poetry of Scottish folk culture and I use the word poetry here,not in the literal sense of poems,although I love them too but in the broader sense of the use of imagery,rhythm and dynamic.
With that passion I can't imagine not being inspired by it within my own work.I also think the landscape of the country or area you were surrounded by whilst growing up,affects who you are and what you do.Scotland has a ragged and sometimes desolate quality but the people are warm hearted and often sad.Not without hope but melancholic.The bad weather could be a reason for that melancholy but I think also the fact that ultimately we are a tiny country that has been subsumed by a larger one [England],which means we are less of a force within our own destiny.I think this affects the psyche of Scottish people and at times gives us an identity crisis.This is compounded by British reluctance to fully identify with being European.The Scots generally feel European and a lot of us see ourselves as Scottish first,European second,bypassing being British altogether.
However by law,we are British,and this makes British leanings toward the USA,as opposed to Europe,all the more galling.
"It's shite being Scottish", I think Irvine Welsh said in "Trainspotting".Half right,the other half gives us a reason to be alive and to remain being creative... Alasdair Gray often begins his writings with the words "work as though you are in the early days of a better nation",I think both those quotes are an essence of being Scottish,the desolation of being a conquered people and the hope of a better future... Those same elements collide within the work of Cindytalk.

When you began Cindytalk,which bands and artists were you listening to?

I remember very clearly the moment I decided to detonate The Freeze and create Cindytalk from the debris. It was late in 1981 and The Freeze were on a trip to the Northwest Highlands of Scotland to play some gigs.I had made a special tape compilation for the trip and one of my band members had done the same.Those tapes were to be the spark that signalled the end of The Freeze and the beginning of Cindytalk.I remember being appalled that my band members' tape was filled with middle of the road classics like Donna Summer,Phil Collins,Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd whilst my own was full of fucked up punk and post-punk tracks by the likes of The Slits, Subway Sect,The Mekons,Fire Engines, Pop Group,The Fall,Josef K, Clock Dva,Scars, P.I.L.,Virgin Prunes, Birthday Party,etc.The dichotomy presented by the tapes alone wasn't the real problem but the conversation that came from it,highlighted some very serious differences in attitude and direction between the band.I was left thinking that my personal vision for the future of the band was not fully supported by those around me.So at that moment I started to dream of something more far reaching,more exploratory.Something edgier,darker,something more poetic...
I started to dream of Cindytalk.
Along with those artists mentioned above,in the early stages of Cindytalk,I was also listening to Test Department,Einsturzende Neubauten,SPK as well as the music I grew up with.I was a crazy Roxy Music fan when I was a youngster and that led to a lifelong love affair with the music of Brian Eno [pre-1985] and related artists.The eponymous Roxy Music album followed by their second album "For Your Pleasure","Human Menagerie" and "Psychomodo" by Cockney Rebel,and the "Ziggy Stardust"/"Alladin Sane" period David Bowie were a huge inspiration to me.Random artists like PeterHammill & Nico.British punk circa 1976-1978 and not forgetting Scottish folk music.
I always considered Cindytalk in its beginnings to be a post-punk band,maybe the second generation of post-punk which led into industrial and gothic,although, I've never considered Cindytalk gothic.

The death of Midnight Music and the difficulty to found records via World Serpent sadly affect the possibility to hear the music of Cindytalk.Is there a chance to found again the whole discography of the
band (self-production via TouchedRaw...)?

Yes,the intention is to set up the touchedRAW label so that it can activate as much of the back catalogue as possible and also release new and existing [unreleased] work.
Beyond that,I would like to release other artists as well.We don't have much money at the moment so it will take some time.

Stanislas , vendredi 31 août 2007


spaewaif said...

English translation coming one of these days...

spaewaif said...

Thanks to Stanislas for providing the English version of the interview.

andyhtc said...

I may have once been told that the name MacBeth might be used in connection with the recording of some great but lesser Scottish songs \ poems. Perhaps it was a dream, a pleasant dream.

andyhtc said...

Sorry LESSER KNOWN not lesser

cndr said...

i would have liked for macbeth to have followed that path but with me travelling a lot in the last decade and me not really working with any musicians who had
a particularl interested in those kinds of songs it just hasn't happened.who knows what the future might bring though...