Daughn Gibson on Ohio preachers and homicidal Siamese twins.

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Our story begins in the quiet town of Nazareth. “It wasn’t quite in the anthracite region, but it was nearby,” said the man whose belly was a chamber and whose throat was a chimney. “Pennsylvania has a distinctive style of town – the houses are usually ‘half-a-double’ with gross mint-green sidings, kinda gritty and rough neighbourhoods. There are maybe four bars, a couple of pizzerias, a lot of heartbreak, and a lot of unemployment. But that’s it.”

 

In spite of the dour subject matter, Daughn Gibson seems an approachable character and exudes this unexpected gladness. I ask whether he was raised in a religious household, to which he rather dismissively shakes his head. “The Quakers came over, a few Methodists, and probably some Moravians; they founded these towns and just gave them biblical names willy-nilly. You’ll find Bethlehem and Emmaus in that part of Pennsylvania also, but it’s no Bible Belt. I was raised Catholic, more or less…”

 

“It can be pretty gloomy, but it’s not entirely unlike small towns over here. There are plenty of similarities.” He gestures to his skull. “It’s the same sort of face. When you consider the ancestral lineage emigrating from this island to that, it kinda figures.” Gibson discusses the tour as though it had transformed into a voyage of anthropological discovery. “I’m trying to connect dots and listen to dialects; to form analogies and tie them back to where I’m from, it’s an interesting process.”

 

His debut album, entitled All Hell, is a curious affair – its highly accomplished arrangements disguised beneath a sparse and foreboding aesthetic. The title-track opens with the following excerpt of dialogue:

 

One day his wife called him and said, ‘Sonny rush to the hospital quickly, the doctors have found that our baby has some kind of incurable disease, they don’t think that it’ll live.’ They got to the hospital, the little baby was screaming, grandma, grandma, get me my grandma, I want her to tell me about Jesus and I want her to pray for me.’”

 

It has always struck me as the disturbing crux of the record. Fortunately Gibson is kind enough to shed some light on this enigmatic scene. “I have a pretty substantial collection of preacher LPs at home, fire ‘n brimstone, Sam Kinison style.” He whispers with malice: “wake up… you’re on the way down.” He yells with delirium: “it’s all happening America, YOU’RE DOOMED!!”

 

Gibson exhales, as though exorcizing the spirit of Kinison, before resuming his explanation of the excerpt. “I picked out this record by Wayne Parks, a portly evangelist from Ohio. It’s very stark and the contents are just this man becoming completely unhinged while relating dark stories of damnation. The cover reminds me of a Swans record [*see Soundtracks For The Blind or The Great Annihilator] were it not for the goofy dude pointing at the camera.”

 

wayne parks

Reluctant to forsake this dismal [but remarkably articulate] little baby, and with no conclusion to the story at hand, I draw a tenuous comparison to Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.d city in the hope that this might provide some form of solace or closure. ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’ culminates in this poignant moment during which the grandma reaches out with restorative words: 

 

Come talk to me… why are you so angry? See you young men are dying of thirst. That means you need water. Holy water. You need to be baptized with the spirit of the Lord.”

 

Suppose this were in response to the little baby screaming?

 

“Oh man, I really appreciate the suggestion of a dialogue going on, cause I would love to speak with Kendrick any day, but I wonder if he was a little more serious about the inspiration for that then I was… I wouldn’t want to diminish his art by putting it on par with the Kinison of Ohio preachers.”

 

basketcaseWhile on the subject of zany collections the conversation turns to Gibson’s penchant for B-movies. “You go to the video store and there are all these hologram editions: the cover to Jack Frost has this friendly snowman but if you tilt the case… [in ghoulish voice] it’s growing teeth and oozing blood from the eyes!” “The thing about movies like Mutant Man or Lycanthrope is that until you see them in the right frame of mind they’re just one dumb pointless shit show after the next. But it’s not so much about the scare as it is the laugh, maybe a combination of both, the more obscene the better. Hanger is a good one, it revolves around an aborted fetus that comes back to life and mutilates everyone in its path. Along similar lines Basketcase I, II and III are about a Siamese twin blob that is surgically removed but returns to wreak its revenge, sheer classics each one.” You’d have thought the element of surprise would diminish with the return of the homicidal blob. “Not in the slightest, there is a huge demand for sequels. Audiences demand to know what happens to these creatures. If I were in the film business I’d be making sequels constantly.” 

 

Gibson has even given acting a shot, collaborating with filmmaker Saam Farahmand on a side project entitled Another Hell. It is conceptually derived from the debut, but comes across as more of an embroidered trailer. “The project was completely Saam’s baby. He’d just point to shit, shouting commands like ‘pick up that old lady!’ or ‘run into those woods!’ His ideas were written down on napkins at the time of shooting. Everything was spontaneous, everything was accidental, and I remained largely hands off because I knew that he’s a great director. It’s like a really weird perfume commercial.”

 

 

It is apparent that Gibson revels in a good story, whether in the form of gratuitous gore or the incensed ramblings of Wayne Parks. But beyond these reference points, Gibson’s knack for narrative on his latest LP, entitled Me Moan, bears testament to a lifetime of encounters [of the less glamorous variety]. Working as a cashier at a roadside porn-store, nights would be whiled away keeping watch over surveillance cameras, with a simmering sense of dramatic anticipation, willing for something messed up to occur. “It’s not the search for danger so much as for a scene to paint or to remember, hoarding these sentences and instances. For the longest time I didn’t do it for any reason aside from a morbid curiosity in human nature. It’s to be expected that prurient tastes tend to come to the surface a little more at a jerk-off booth.” “Most of the time customers are freaked out that they’ve even come in there, or nervous and they’ll avoid eye-contact because they’re embarrassed, but others are more at ease to chitchat, you give them the coins and they go do their thing in the backroom. It’s that kind of clientele.”

 

I’m intrigued to know how much Gibson gleans from such interactions, or whether they constitute the kernel from which his narratives are extrapolated. “Usually I avoid becoming hyper judgmental based on an outward appearance, but there are times when the imagination inevitably veers off on a tangent. For instance, there’s a guy who used to come in, maybe sixty years of age, who dressed like a woman… but didn’t try hard. There’d be lipstick everywhere and he would wear this twenties flapper veil with his mother’s old dress just like the protagonist from Psycho. You know something is happening there…”

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Piecing together these speculative portrayals, it seems as though Gibson seeks out an element of relatability. One of his more compelling characters is the old man in ‘A Young Girl’s World’, “a vampiric presence sitting outside the bar – yearning and ignored, watching and crying.” “He’s someone to avoid, because there’s a misinterpretation of him as being a creep, or a loser, or a fuck up.” Bewildered by this source of inspiration, I hesitantly ask Gibson, “I’m guessing you’re not he yet?” “At that time I’d enrolled at Temple University in Philly, working on a history degree at the age of thirty-one. Surrounded by these beautiful young girls, it’s not hard to imagine the crushing feeling that you’re on the precipice of decline. I think we’ll soon discover that part exists in all of us when we hit the cold cave of age.”

 

“Everyone can relate to vulnerability, that shows they are human. Unfortunately we live in a society that maintains an outward appearance in which everything is fine, as though everyone were trying to sell a frickin’ resumé. I’m tired of that. Why can’t we make mistakes and be goofy and stupid and not be perfect?”

 

In the case of Daughn Gibson, hindsight has forged an idealistic outward appearance, insofar as journalists harp on about his formative truck-driving days, regurgitating clichés of the mystic drifter. His own perceptions of this phase are more proportionately weighted between the conceptual fetishization of the highway and its less invigorating aspects. “People look for a different scene, because life is finite and limiting. People dwell on going places in the same manner that they dwell on taking mushrooms, like it were some kind of special gift, or like you’re going to come out a wise man from having been to Alaska. I don’t think it’s that so much. It’s the constant movement that fucks you up… in a good way. The feeling of loneliness can be obnoxious, because it is a miserable job, but it should also be romantic, because it is as romantic as it’s made out to be.”

 

Having lamented the finite and limited, I’m loath to wrap up the interview leaving such a bitter taste. To inject a nugget of lightheartedness, I pose the singer with this dilemma: “suppose you were presented with an inverse little mermaid scenario, whereby you grow gils and fins and mingle with the attractive merpeople, but in return you had to sacrifice your voice. What would you do?” Gibson’s response is resounding. “YEAH! I would throw my voice out the window and give up any of my limbs if I could jump into the ocean and become a frickin’ fish!”

 

 

Interview by Era Trieman

Photography by Jacob Perlmutter

Ten Minutes With Spoek Mathambo

Some time ago, on one of Saturn’s lesser-known moons, it is said that Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Arkestra were in full swing when the alto saxophonist inadvertently hit a super-sonic note unbeknownst to the ear, causing the fire-eater to spew a dusty globule that shot down earthwards on collision course with a barber shop where [by sheer coincidence] George Clinton was getting a rainbow dreadlock braided, whose strands were seared upon the meteoroid’s impact, fizzling into an ashy heap which in turn was licked by an inquisitive chameleon whose left eye became a bead that was sown into the fertile land of Johannesburg where the baobab tree birthed Nthato Mokgata.

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The Afro-Futurist otherwise known as Spoek has commemorated that fortuitous occasion with a mixtape entitled Escape From ’85, which he humbly refers to as an “extended exercise in fun.” He’s even launched an old-school arcade game where one must vanquish an eight-legged Madonna to the sound of ‘Centipede’ [featuring B.B. James], face a dance-off with mustachio Prince in a field of unicorns, avoid a clobbering from the raging Mr. T, battle a three-headed Grace Jones bot, and dodge the explosives-blasting megatron Gaddafi [in Rambo guise].

Spoek’s sophomore album, Father Creeper, was released on Sub Pop Records earlier this year, whilst more recently he has been working on a documentary entitled ‘Future Sound of Mzansi’, an exploration of South Africa’s electronic music scene. That aside, Spoek contributed to an upcoming tribute album entitled RED HOT + FELA with covers of ‘Yellow Fever’ and ‘Zombie’. The compilation also features ?uestlove, Tony Allen and TV On The Radio amongst others, with proceeds going towards the fight against AIDS.

Gracing the stage at WOMAD with a dazzling rhythmic entourage and a fierce dancing troupe, Spoek alternates between a fluorescent visor and reflective welding mask, clad in coyote-shaped high-tops and furry monochrome-patterned board-shorts with a hypnotic cape and puffy paper suit reminiscent of VÄTE, a pendant lampshade fromthe IKEA catalogue.  Sufficed to say, I was looking forward to the long-awaited eagerly-anticipated interview. Judging by the resounding reception such feelings were mutual.

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Remi: SHAOLIN!

FAULT: Presuming you’re Wu-Tang Clan fans?

Remi: We’re Wu-Tang Flan fans. Big up some Chinese pastry!

 

FAULT: To what extent are you conscious of maintaining an aesthetic and how involved are you in that whole process?

Spoek: My background is in graphic design, so for me it’s important that form and content coalesce within one other. But for the most part I just love collaborating with creative stylists, photographers, fashion types, illustrators, that kind of thing.

 

FAULT: What are the origins of the stage moniker Spoek Mathambo, meaning “Ghost of Bones”?

Spoek: That’s the direct translation, but to me it just means “ghost”. It was a funny instance. I heard it on my favourite sitcom, Emzini Wezinsizwa. It’s a wicked situational comedy centered around a bunch of migrant workers [of Sotho, Xhosa and Sulu heritage] who are unable to understand each other owing to their underlying cultural differences.

 

FAULT: Would you explain the term Township Tech?

Spoek: It’s been stretched a lot further than id initially meant it to. It’s a reference to new electronic music, the weird and dark sounds of house music coming from the townships of South Africa. I was DJing a lot back in 2007 and released a series of mixtapes entitled HIVIP. They sought to capture the post-apartheid burst of energy, those early years of democracy and what that meant for party culture, for electronic music. It marked the first time I’d locked into contemporary South African music. Township Tech was material that the world didn’t know enough about. Father Creeper, the record I’ve just put out on Sub Pop, is something else altogether. I’ve been playing with Mshini Wam [meaning “My Machine Gun”] and together we’ve been composing songs in a more organic sense.

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FAULT: Who would you cite as some of the important current artists in South Africa?

Spoek: My first tip would be to check out this phenomenal Afro-jazz performance ensemble called The Brother Moves On. I saw them a couple of months ago and just bawled into tears of excitement. The interesting thing with South African musicians is the fusion of contemporary issues with forward thinking techniques and song-writing structures.

 

FAULT: How politically driven are the themes?

Spoek: There are lots of different kinds of music and I wouldn’t like to generalize. But much of it revolves around party culture, because we have a lot to celebrate. We’re an energetic peoples, some people are high and others crazy. Twenty years ago we would have had no future but right now my generation have prospects, we have the whole world.

Remi: It’s the mindset of the post-Mandela era.

Spoek: But outside of that remains crime, transport strikes, bad hospitals, dog cut up by your neighbor cause they’re trying to make medicine from it, just everyday stuff, someone falls asleep and wakes up on the roof.

Spoek Mathambo 13 (2012)

FAULT: You’ve accumulated quite a substantial following over the internet. Is there a fear that the global outreach online compromises the emergence of the local scene?

Spoek: I don’t think it’s necessarily either or. People worry too much whether it’s gonna kill the neighborhood vibes but everything about it has strengthened the vitality of music and communication. With these little sparks all over the globe I’m linked with so many different sectors of society.

 

FAULT: How long have you been based in Sweden?

Spoek: It’s been two or three years now.

 

FAULT: Has the Stockholm scene impacted your work?

Spoek: Oh for sure. Everywhere I go creeps into the sound, even if it’s just a two-hour stopover at Kiev airport.

Remi: Do you know Sqweee? It’s like Swedish Wonk

Spoek: Old synthesizers layered with RnB grooves

Remi: Like Nordic synth funk. It sounds like Flying Lotus produced by Vikings. I shit you not. It’s called Sqweee because you try to squeeze as much outta that synth sound as possible. Swedes dance to Sqweee, and it’s sweet as…

Spoek: Sweet ass Sqweee

 

Interview by Era Trieman 

Live Photography by Ilana Garry

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“You Would Have To Be Half Mad To Dream Me Up.”

Words and Photographs by Jacob Perlmutter

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It’s the promise of mystery, the predictable unpredictability, the certainty of uncertainty that draws people back to music festivals each summer. And although this was my Secret Garden Party initiation, I felt sure that I knew exactly what kind of unexpectedness lay ahead.

2. dancing

3. man with beer

4. paint fight

From the get-go magical fields swept me off my feet into a profusion of curious habitats and whirling worlds. Exploring the vast yet oh-so-intimate site I zoned into the attitudes, sounds and decor of each celestial space, from the woodland Badger Field to the all-seeing Psychedelic Lighthouse, flapping majestically in the wind. There really is something for everyone here. And if you have the mental capacity, you can become just about anyone during different periods of the festival, finding different part-selves in each territory. Indeed, if you qualify as a human being rather than a human doing, this lair is for you.

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6. mud wrestling

To momentarily curb the unbridled praise: the line-up was not quite up to scratch this time out, with the exception of a few left-field revelations from Bombay Royale, The Correspondents and a  wind-down performance from London Grammar, set in the mouth of the enchanted Where The Wild Things Are stage. But this place is not about the music. It’s about coming together, dancing, eating and flying; it’s about magic and self-discovery, exercising the mind and being open to whatever comes your way; for this garden party is secret, so whatever happens here, stays here.

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8. merrygoround

Presenting The Ruby Darlings

 

Let me set the scene. Make-up artists generously daub cheeks, flashgun wielding photographers scamper over articles of furniture, a clustered eight-piece band by the name of Kushti run through some honky-tonk numbers, the ornate stained glass ceiling throws an irregular colouration upon the Great Northern Railway Tavern as the audience descend with an assortment of makeshift seats. And yet amidst all the commotion neither Lily Phillips nor Rachel Le Moeligou appear all that ruffled as they emerge from behind a thatched screen onto tonight’s stage – a cabaret boudoir strewn with lampshades and emptied wine bottles.

FAULT Magazine is proud to introduce… The Ruby Darlings

The Ruby Darlings (b&w)

FAULT: How long have you been The Ruby Darlings and could you recall the moment of conception?
D: It was November. I was working at a burlesque club as a resident dancer.
R: I was teaching little children. Two ends of the spectrum.
D: One of the producers enquired whether I could perform a cabaret act, to which I agreed in spite of a nonexistent repertoire. So I approached Rachel to make one up…
R: Out of nowhere! The hardest part was finding a suitable stage name. Having toyed around with variants on “sisters” or “gals”…
D: [interjects] glad we didn’t go there
R: The Ruby Darlings eventually materialized… only for us to belatedly discover that there was already a Ruby Darling burlesque act. Just infuriating.
D: I think we should kill her.

FAULT: What would be your weapon on choice?
R: Our potent powers of femininity.
D: Or our diabolical high heels – that would work quite well.
R: Perhaps we could strange her with a feather boa or suffocate her with corsets?
D: How about drowning her in our signature rosé?

FAULT: Have either of you ever come up with some material only for it to be flatly vetoed by the other?
R: Darling usually cooks up the inappropriate ideas. I respond with a laugh and a resolute “no that’s too far”. Eventually the smut is used anyhow. It goes further each time…
D: Our pianist [David Tims] is obscene. If you leave the two of us together darkness will ensue in ways it ought not…
R: I’m there to rein it in. Parental guidance to stop the chaos.
D: Most necessary.

Ruby Darlings Rehearse

FAULT: Any anecdote-worthy hecklers, post-show propositioners, or shady stalkers?
R: A few suspicious lingerers occasionally hang around after the shows.
D: I think we should have a stalker, every great group should. We could get married and run away together.

FAULT: Have you acquired any particularly loathsome nicknames?
D: Lilco.
R: Twiggy, Twinkle Tits, Mowgli.

FAULT: How about any feedback from former partners liable to take issue with some particulars that you might have divulged?
D: A distant ex actually came to our debut show. There’s one point during the performance where I say, “as a matter of fact, I’ve been intimate with someone in this audience”, whilst he’s standing at the back thinking “oh my god…”
R: [laughs] freaking out!
D: Actually the subject didn’t come up afterwards…

FAULT: That sounds more like deep-seated animosity…
D: He just went home and wrote about it in a book, crying in his underpants over a burnt photograph.

The Ruby Darlings (1)

FAULT: You recently performed a show at the mysterious Baby Elephant Festival. How did you find your way there and once there what did you find?
R: We got very lost.
D: We came separately in identical Fords, led astray by deceptive satnavs.
R: Moments after I was shooed onstage in black regalia and sweltering heat to raise money for baby elephants.

FAULT: Would you rather perform a show in a penitentiary, to troops in the middle east, or as a support slot for Metallica?
R: It would be too predictable for us to play for soldiers.
D: Maybe we’d educate them?
R: I don’t know if they’re ready for us.
D: Metallica fans might be more responsive. There’d be groupies waiting outside to get us to sign various parts of their tattooed bodies.

Ruby Darlings Performance

FAULT: What is the single sexiest cinematic moment?
D: That scene in The Mask where Cameron Diaz performs ‘Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You’ to the cigar-smoking wolf-whistlers at the Coco Bongo Club.

FAULT: Presuming they were each in their prime, would you rather be wined and dined by Kennedy, Clinton or Obama?
D: not Clinton. That one is off the list.
R: That’s a really hard question.
D: I’d say JFK. Ruby can have Barack.

FAULT: Supposing The Ruby Darlings could be transported in a time capsule to grace one of Europe’s heyday cabaret stages would it more likely be 19th century belle époque Paris or 1920s Weimer Berlin?
R: You know how much I love the Parisian looseness…
D: In spite of this hypothetical scenario, I must admit I think that we’re needed in the present. It’s very important.

The saucy pandemonium that is Fever! will be running throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at City Nightclub from August 4th-23rd

 

Interview by Era Trieman
Photography by Jacob Perlmutter & Joe Traylen

INTRODUCING GABRIEL BRUCE

If you haven’t yet heard of Gabriel Bruce, you sure will before long. With debut album Love In Arms released 11th February on Mercury Records, FAULT magazine tracked our man down in the garden of Violet, a boutique bakery hidden from the sprawl, to discuss life, death and other mediums.

Interview by Era Trieman

Gabriel Bruce

FAULT: During an interview with Loud And Quiet you said, rather profoundly, “We’re never going to have another Ziggy Stardust, because Ziggy Stardust can’t have Twitter.” This struck a chord with regards to the role journalism plays in perpetuating the artists’ persona. Would you say that illusion and mystery have all but perished?

GB: I guess so. There are still individuals who try to create a cloak of mystery, and even in the digital age there are ways to disguise oneself, but it seems a bit anachronistic. Maybe mystery just isn’t something of our time: it’s not in accordance with our lifestyle, feeling compelled to share everything with one another in a way that’s never been done before, through social media sites. It’s quite fascinating really, but I don’t really understand it, I don’t know how to use those things, and that’s something that you have to learn if you’re going to become successful as a public figure. It’s an integral part of it, not necessarily a part that I subscribe to, but it is certainly a reality. You can’t be a luddite [one opposed to progress and technology], you can’t take off your clothes and throw them at the press, you gotta learn the trade.

There’s something much richer about illusion. It speaks to the imagination, it allows you to nurture fantasy or aspire towards something. When you don’t know something it’s easier to covet. The likes of David Bowie and Kate Bush reared magnificently captivating characters, and though you knew it wasn’t who they were, it was who they wanted you to see them as, and it was who you wanted them to be.

 

FAULT: what was your gut feeling upon hearing news of Bowie’s imminent album following the release of ‘Where Are We Now’?

GB: I adored the song. I’d been worried that he was dying, so people were saying anyway. He’s a great hero of mine, perhaps my biggest hero, so it was really wonderful listening to the track, with its sense of Berlin during a bygone time, and naturally I’m very excited to hear the album.

 

FAULT: would you say our conception of Berlin during the Iggy Pop and David Bowie era has become a fabricated constructed?

GB: It was there that some great records were made, that’s all that I really see it as and not much more. Artists and junkies have always gone to where it’s cheap and at that time it happened to be Berlin. It was an exciting time. It still is exciting. Within such environments these people can thrive and create, but London is just not one of those places now, not in the slightest. It’s expensive and gentrified. Just look where we are at present – in this fancy coffee shop in the east end. I live down the road, in what was formerly a school where children were educated for free. Now it’s been converted to fancy flats, where I sit around in my pants, masturbating and being mean, it’s just what happens. It’s strange trying to do what I do, in this time, in this city, because it’s so expensive and I struggle with it. The money ran out, and working at a toyshop just isn’t all that, whilst I’d rather be working on music. [pause] I also have love for the toys, I do love them…

 

FAULT: are they shiny, mechanical and electronic?

GB: Some of them. I think that’s good though, can’t be a luddite as I say. Kids don’t want to have nice wholesome wooden toys, they want a Hot-Wheels car that does a double spin and then flies off over a mechanical gorilla. I’d rather have that as a kid then a really beautifully painted wooden ark, though we sell those too.

Photograph by Caspar Newbolt at the Union Hall, Brooklyn.

Photograph by Caspar Newbolt at the Union Hall, Brooklyn.

FAULT: how much devotion do you bestow the virtuoso that is past his prime?

GB: It’s not really about the stage of life so much as the quality of work, lots of artists continue to produce great work into their old age and some only start making great work when they’re old. Though generally speaking, having devotion to an artist who previously had created something that you appreciated, that’s a good thing. People go through less successful phases, but sometimes they pick it up again. I never liked Johnny Cash much, I was quite indifferent to most of the early recordings, but I think the recordings he did with Rick Rubin at the very end are some of the best recordings that anyone has ever done, and though I didn’t have much of a devotion for his work beforehand, it was at that point I really found myself devoted.

 

FAULT: throughout your career, how conscious have you been of the musical climate of contemporaries and peers?

GB: I made my record nearly two years ago now, but due to complications with the label it’s not yet been released. Whatever is current during the process of recording will already be past by the time the album gets released. In this case I was very much in my own world at the beginning of the project, and only as it progressed did I become increasingly aware of what else was happening, and there’s lots of good stuff currently, particularly in electronic music. I really like Clams Casino. It may be super trendy but I think it’s superb.

 

FAULT: it also seems that artists overtly trying to ride the wave and engage more directly with the current have proved to be more transient.

GB: I guess that’s the problem. To draw influence from contemporaries is certainly a fine thing, nothing wrong with dating yourself within a context, because that’s the truth, and being truthful is most important. But equally you’ve got to make your own wave rather than riding someone else’s.

To be retrogressive, to write and record in a manner of a time gone by, is ludicrous and absurd. To be of your time shows that you’re acknowledging the world, so while I try to always maintain my own voice, I’m equally influenced by the surroundings I live in.

 

FAULT: If you don’t mind me asking, why was the album release pushed back from October 2012?

GB: Because I don’t have any fans.

Gabriel Bruce Poster 

FAULT: you seem to have hit upon two things that are seemingly contrary: on the one hand, we begin with Bowie creating a persona or mystique which is outside of reality, yet you say that honesty is vitally important to the artistic pursuit.

GB: But that’s not my contradiction, that’s your interview. I guess maybe I’m trying to say that there’s no right or wrong way of approaching art. It’s interesting for me to be honest, and it’s interesting for me to be deceptive. But most of all, it’s interesting to use honesty as a deception. It also works vice versa, to lie as a means of telling the truth is the glorious coup. If you can convince people that you’re deceiving them when really you’re being honest, all the more better I think.

 

FAULT: Earlier I came across an interview with Francis Bacon, conducted by art critic David Sylvester back in the sixties, and thought I’d direct one of the questions to you: would you agree that there somehow a distinct presence or threat of violence in your work?

GB: [bewildered pause] I would agree that there’s a distinct presence of violence in Francis Bacon’s work… and also in some of my work. Yes. Yes I would. Not in all of it. But love is violence and my songs are love songs. When I perform on stage it’s a confrontational situation for me, I find it kind of daunting and my response can be violent.

 

FAULT: if you could elicit the spirit of a deceased literary figure, to take heed of their advice and counsel, whom would you draw forth?

GB: [contemplative pause] I guess for advice and counsel, I don’t think there are many wiser men than Bertrand Russell [a prominent early twentieth century philosopher in the field of metaphysics and mathematics]. I think he’s pretty wise and he’d be able to help me with most of my quandaries, but I don’t know if that would be the most fun I could have, raising someone up.

 

FAULT: if you were to raise hell with a deceased literary figure…

GB: I guess I’d have to choose ?[Federico García] Lorca?. He’d be fun to hang out with.

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FAULT: in order to become truly absorbed in a novel or any other medium for that matter, do you consider it necessary to identify to some extent with the protagonist’s inner workings, or can you equally engage with someone whom you share little in common?

GB: lets think. When a literary character strikes a chord with you, and you see yourself in them, it can be insightful. Those situations enable you to reflect on your own life, and it’s always interesting to see still how others think. I’m often curious as to what’s going on in people’s heads… I know that sounds really trite and stupid, but there’s this whole continually questioning monologue. “What’s happening there?” “Are they questioning themselves in this way?” Sometimes it’s refreshing to read a book and think, “oh no, they’re questioning themselves even more! I’m gonna be alright, because this guy is goddamn crazy.”

I’ve been reading this American writer, Gary Shteyngart, [it’s hard to spell, it’s got a T in a weird place], who recently released a new book entitled Super Sad True Love Story, which I think offers a little window into the mind of a kind of girl that I’m quite familiar with. I also like Henry Miller, but to be honest, and this is quite controversial, I prefer Anaïs Nin [renowned in the field of literary erotica]. I find the writing honest and little bit more open, a little bit more vital. I think Henry Miller is good at creating the psychology, you comprehend the characters what’s going on within, but the imagery isn’t as vibrant as that of Anaïs.

 

FAULT: would you be willing to discuss any recurring dreams, past or present?

GB: I used to have a lot of recurring dreams in my childhood. There was this particular sensation during sleep, a feeling of anxiety, of overwhelming reality. With more understanding now on the subject, I suspect it might have been a hypnagogic hallucination. I still get sleep paralysis from time to time, and dreams are too often annoyingly obvious in their meaning with regards to my life, if only my subconscious were a little more cryptic.

FAULT: looking back now, what are your feelings towards ‘Crypt Tonight’, a track released with your former band Loverman?

GB: I was younger then, not that I’m old now, and Loverman meant a lot. I’d been playing with guitarist Jon Jackson since the age of thirteen. I miss them all. I listened to some Loverman recordings a few weeks back incidentally, all of which I’m still fond of… apart from ‘Crypt Tonight’. It made me cringe, all that conviction. Back then the songwriting had more bravery, just one riff running all the way through, like a gutsy James Brown number.

 

FAULT: I found the accompanying video somehow reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby.

GB: At the time I was consuming a lot of horror films, MGMs midnight classics, B-movies and some real sixties nuggets. Really filling myself with all that horror and gore, it’s good material, it’s meaty if you really get your teeth into it, but ultimately it is a little bit draining to immerse yourself in all that.

 

FAULT: how did you initially respond to the Pina Bausch stylized choreography whilst rehearsing the ‘Perfect Weather’ video?

GB: I’d the idea to pay homage to this scene from Pina, in which some guy dances along the cliff’s edge, and so discussed this proposition with Jacob Perlmutter, a most talented filmmaker. There was only one small problem: “you’re not a professional dancer Gabriel…” [laughs] Nonetheless, he wrote a treatment and enlisted a choreographer, affiliated with the Theo Adams Company, by the name of Nando Messias. He had this very intelligent and emotional approach to how he choreographed, deriving from the source material, such that it came out exactly as I’d envisaged.

FAULT: it seemed to resemble some sort of primitive ritual trance, dislocated from body or mind…

GB: there’s this wonderful footage of voodoo rituals in Haiti, where they dance completely removed from themselves, almost liberated, but very violent. Quite fascinating.

 

FAULT: most of Pina Bausch’s choreography is immensely violent, with certain elements of the psychopath.

GB: she was immensely astute in documenting relationships and the violence of lovers. To fall in love is maybe the most violent thing you can do to yourself emotionally, and her choreography [though I’m no expert] really captures that punishment we put our bodies through. It’s very brazen and vulnerable.

 

FAULT: would you agree that the imagination is innately sinister but in most individuals the awful thoughts are nipped at the bud?

GB: No, no I wouldn’t agree with that. Some people have tendencies to veer towards the sinister, and most have the tendency to dwell on what might go wrong, rather than construing how things might go right, but I think that there are those who genuinely think good thoughts. But I don’t think the imagination is innately sinister, I think it can be joyous and wonderful.

 

FAULT: where were the serene blogotheque recordings filmed?

GB: Nearby the Rue de Montmartre. Blogotheque intended to shoot some footage, so we just strolled down various alleys until finding this beautiful mosaic arch with a great rich acoustic. Afterwards we were due to play a show at Club Silencio, a venue designed by David Lynch, though at the time we were unaware it was members-only. Our performance was greeted by a half-empty room of cocktail drinkers, who were a bit surprised by our presence there.

FAULT: thinking back to your choral background, are there any compositions in particular that struck a chord with you?

GB: choral background is quite a generous term, but I sang in choir. Certainly a lot of madrigals stuck with me, these medieval British acapella pieces. I particularly enjoyed ‘Weep, O Mine Eyes’, a beautiful piece of music. I also love some Guiseppe Verdi, in particular his ‘Requiem’.

 

FAULT: You’ve spoken fondly of your old Farfisa Bravo and the Hammond organ in the studio, but have you ever had the opportunity to play a church organ?

GB: I’ve fucked around with a few of those, but never recorded them. It’s amazing some of these big old organs found about derelict churches, and so often there’s no one there so you can have a little play. There’s actually one up the road in Stoke Newington, where I recently went to a recital, a beautiful sounding organ. I’d quite like a go on that, but I’m no organist and if you turn up and start playing just whatever the vicar will be quite unimpressed.

 

FAULT: what aspect of the organ most appeals to you?

GB: It’s an almost human sound, redolent of a choir. That’s why I like brass instruments too – it’s something about air passing through pipes. It would be great to play with a big eight-piece band, alongside the lovely backing singers [ma girls].

 

FAULT: to what extent would you say that European art history is indebted to Christianity?

GB: hmm, to a huge extent. So much of our cultural production was created in praise of God, whether or not that praise was genuine. The grand Cathedrals, the masterly paintings, the intricate Requiems – some of the most beautiful stuff was crafted within a Christian tradition and that’s what captivates me, though in a secular kind of way. As a child I pondered being Buddhist for a while. I’ve also always been intrigued by Judaism, I’m a bit of a self-loathing goy really.

 

FAULT: in including the closing track ‘Sermon On The Mount’ on your record, do you feel that you’re tapping into a richer vein of imagery?

GB: it actually references something else altogether, so maybe it’s a bit lazy, but by using words derived from the Bible you’re referencing something larger and bringing with it all the attached connotations. It’s about death [pause].

 

FAULT: do you prefer to work in a creative space that is cluttered or bare?

GB: I may prefer to work in a bare space, but I’ve never really had the opportunity because I clutter my life. The studio is ridiculous at the moment, wires coming out of everywhere, boxed in on every side with keyboards, trying to shuffle without knocking over microphones, it’s just madness. Objects tie you down to where you are, that’s why I resent my treasures, because they keep me here, where I’m compelled to guard them.

 

FAULT: For the writer, would you say that the more fertile soil lies in unrequited love or fulfilled love?

GB: I guess that depends on how horny you are. There’s nothing like the chase if you’re a virile young man. Feeling longing is undoubtedly powerful, a well-trodden path, but at present love is my source of inspiration.

Gabriel Bruce 

FAULT: What is it about the poetry of Pablo Neruda that speaks to you personally, and would you say that such an impact is universal?

GB: Pablo Neruda! I love Pablo Neruda! The essence of his poems lies in song, capturing poignantly that unrequited love. One after another the works completely resonated with me – it’s like we discussed earlier, material that I could apply directly to my own life. Though I’ve been unable to read his volumes in the original language, his use of words is just mind-blowing. It is encapsulated by the Spanish word ‘duende’, or ‘saudade’ in my native Portuguese – that is the feeling of physical longing. The English language doesn’t really have a direct translation for missing someone physically. [Lorca is known to have given a lecture in Buenos Aires in 1933, in which he imparts, “I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say “The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.”]

There’s a lot of duende in Neruda, that pain, that desperate need, where the object of your desire isn’t so much something that you want but something that you need. Very fleshy. But I don’t understand why the breasts are always songbirds, you’ll notice in a lot of Neruda, there are always these two upturned songbirds.

 

FAULT: his collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair was written when he was nineteen.

GB: huh. it’s always upsetting that kind of stuff, best not to dwell on it. Leonard Cohen didn’t write his debut album until he was well into his thirties so…

 

FAULT: what would you say so enthrals the public about the prospect of a Mayan apocalypse?

GB: it’s been and gone, or is it coming again? [pause] cause we all just can’t wait for this shit to end…

Wild Nothing

Breathing through conjoined straws in bubble bath immersion, one truly sinks into the abandon of Nocturne as though into an ocean of felt and tissue paper, ensconced in a shoal of hermit crabs and mantis shrimp. FAULT Magazine spoke with Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing about his latest release, various adventures and creative juices.

Interview by Era Trieman

Jack Tatum: Photograph by Shawn Brackbill

If you were to describe Nocturne as a dish, what would it most closely resemble?

Man that’s difficult, cause I’m trying to think how I would describe the album… it’s pretty dense but not necessarily onerous by any means. There’s a lot going on in a multi-layered way, but it doesn’t necessarily weigh you down… maybe a lasagne? Now I’m just thinking about what I want to eat…

 

How amenable is your music to being performed acoustically?

We’ve done a couple of little sessions on this tour, though for the most part it’s a really difficult transition to make. I think certain tracks are more suitable than others. ‘Shadow’ [the lead single from the new record] seems to really work acoustically as it’s more chord based, but mostly the tracks are so multi-layered and effects-driven that certain parts don’t translate so well. Both Gemini and Nocturne rely quite a bit upon synthesisers, a Roland Juno-106 I own and a Korg PolySix that was used extensively in the studio too.

 

Would you tell us about Nicolas Vernhes and the Rare Book Room?

Prior to recording I’d met with a handful of people to figure out where I wanted to take the record sonically, and almost immediately it felt as though Nicolas could take my ideas in the direction towards which I’d aspired. The Rare Book Room is not your average recording studio either, mostly because he lives above it. The studio itself has a more homely feel, loaded with gear and fun toys for audio geeks [which I profess to be]. It never felt stale there, just a very comfortable environment to get a studio quality record with someone I really enjoyed hanging out with on a personal level. Jeff Curtin from Small Black came in for a few days on drums, but other than that it was just us two.

 

Was it an intuitive understanding you shared or did he really challenge your preconceptions and ideas on approaching the record?

I’d expressed a real interest in learning more about production and he was totally willing to let me take on that more involved role too. I had pretty specific ideas about how I wanted certain things to sound and so was able to take certain segments of home recordings and integrate them into the sessions, that’s the case with most of the title track guitar parts for instance.

 

Which record has most impressed you over the past twelve months?

The latest Tame Impala record, Lonerism. Either that or Chromatics’ Kill For Love… I’m pretty out of the loop in terms of new music; I’ve not been keeping up much.

 

You’ve recently performed support slots for Beach House and The Walkmen. What was your experience of those shows?

It was only about three shows with The Walkmen, but the Beach House tour was pretty extensive, we went all the way across the United States and back around. Those shows came just before the album’s release, so it was the ideal opportunity to play new tracks. I’m a huge fan of what Beach House do, and I learnt so much from watching them perform every night, particularly so on a technical level, using that as an attainable goal to strive towards.

 

You cite Antonioni’s Blow Up as an influence. explain?

I like films where you’re not necessarily supposed to be rooting for anyone. It’s a little bit elitist, a bit full of itself, I also find the protagonist totally icky and frustrating too, but I’m cool with that. It’s not so much the characters but the picture that it paints of London during that time. It’s more of a mood thing, like the scene where The Yarbirds are playing in this underground club, it reminded me of so many shows I’d been too, totally dead crowd, just really funny. I got such a kick out of that, nothing much has changed. The closing scene feels especially poignant, though I can’t really put my finger on it. I like that vagueness, meaning left to interpretation.

 

You’d enrolled in creative writing classes at college – are you of the opinion that creative writing can be taught well as a subject?

It takes a certain amount of inherent talent or knowledge or interest, I suppose. I’d thought about studying architecture for some time, but ended up in the liberal arts, a kinda weird place to be. Creative writing classes can be beneficial, particularly the group critique. Having that experience of other’s berating your output is good; it guides you, pushes you. It’s good to have someone explain what it is they either like or dislike about what you do, you can learn from that.

 

You also dabbled with journalism, do you have a positive outlook on the medium?

When I was younger I spent a long time thinking I wanted to be a writer, maybe a music journalist, for some reason I thought that was the more realistic path. I was making music all the while but I never really thought that was something I could realistically do, at least I could write about it. But now I have so many qualms with music journalism, especially the internet culture, I find myself becoming more and more frustrated with it, so it’s funny that I’d originally strove towards it…

 

In what ways does writing poetry differ from writing lyrics?

At school I would write some poetry and short fiction, the process is sort of similar with lyrics, very much observational, but I generally try to separate them. I feel a lot more free with poetry or fiction, there’s more room to try things, whereas I feel a bit more confined within the song, having to fit words into a context. I revel in the simplicity, love songs in the vein of pop music; you can almost express a lot more in the simpler terms.

 

Do you have an all-time favourite lyricist?

There’s quite a few. I’m a huge fan of The Go-Betweens. In fact just yesterday I got to interview Robert Forster, which I was really excited about, he is definitely one of my favourite lyricists. All their songs have this literary quality, I don’t feel I’m there yet, I don’t even try to push to that level, but its definitely inspirational. More contemporarily I also really like Destroyer, he has some really interesting moments.

 

What are your insider recommendations for NYC?

I’ve been there almost a year, spending a lot of time around my neighbourhood – Greenpoint, north Brooklyn. There are a lot of places I feel at home, a lot of good stuff beside the river around Franklin avenue; I regularly eat at this French restaurant called Le Gamin, it’s pretty low key. Also on that street is my habitual bar, the Pencil Factory, though there are other spots, this sweet donut place, Peter Pan, tonnes of stuff…

 

Where do you envisage yourself five years from now?

At this rate probably still recording albums the same way. I was really happy with how things went in between Gemini and Nocturne, being able to take some time off and occasionally working on music. I’ll definitely start working on another record at some point, maybe some other projects too, working with some other people, try something in a different style?

 

Would you consider Wild Nothing as ostensibly being a component of a scene, who would you identify as your peers, or do you not really consider the notion?

I think we’re part of some strange sort of musical corner. I feel somewhat connected to a lot of artists on our label. It derives from Iggy Pop and shoegaze, but also contemporary indie-pop. From Captured Tracks I particularly enjoyed a record by Chris Cohen, Overgrown Path, and I’m hoping more people pick up on that. Beach Fossils also have an album coming out somewhere down the road soonish, their frontman Dustin actually lives in Greenpoint too, we hang out quite a lot and speak about collaborating all the time, but how things go we constantly get caught up doing our own things.

 

Are you a believer of horoscopes?

No. not really. I totally give off that impression right? [laughs] I’m marginally interested by it, perhaps slightly intrigued by it, but I don’t necessarily believe in it. At times it’s a fun thing to play along with the discussions, especially where personalities are involved.

Nocturne is out now on Captured Tracks

 

Jacob Perlmutter – FAULT Magazine speak with the London-based film-maker and photographer

 

photograph by Johnny Finch

 

FAULT: Tell me about your near death experiences?

Jacob: Geez, that’s a pretty intense opening question. At the forefront of everything, I suppose, the one that stands out is the tsunami that unexpectedly hit Sri Lanka in 2004. At the time my family were on vacation in Galle, and we all thought we were going to die. Well it was looking like we were going to die. We were awakened by yelling outside the hotel window, a tidal wave had engulfed the entire road. In the parking lot below a thousand tuk-tuks were submerged and buses floated on their sides: scenes of utter chaos and mayhem, we didn’t know what was going on. The hotel held an emergency meeting to inform us that another wave was coming that afternoon. We were presented with two options: to flee into the nearby jungle, a dangerous prospect to say the least [wild tigers in tune with the devastation of Mother Nature would in all likelihood eat us alive], or alternately we could stay in the Lighthouse Hotel. Which way would you rather die? In the midst of all this the hotel kept running, staff were serving, the bar was thriving, on the balcony they were serving chips, waiting for the wave to come. I had my camera with me and, when it eventually came, I just started photographing.

FAULT: Would you say shooting photographs removes you from such a situation or brings you closer to it? In such a frenzied scenario, did photographing have a cathartic effect upon you?

Jacob: I’d say so. I’d not had much prior experience of photography but it was a weirdly natural thing to turn to. Retrospectively, eight years on the only thing I can think is that it gives you a purpose and something to do. As soon as you’ve finished a roll of film and it winds back into that airtight canister, no water can get in, so even if that canister were floating or buried for a hundred years before it was found, it would still be in working order. When you’re helpless there is nothing more to occupy yourself with. Like a spider in water there is nothing to cling onto.

FAULT: Would you say photojournalism predominantly serves a didactic purpose or do you consider it an outright art form?

Jacob: At the heart of everything, photojournalism ought to be about raising awareness; it’s about documenting and informing. The reason I quickly steered away from it, and instead refer to my photographs as reportage, is that nowadays photojournalism carries the negative connotation of exploitation. William Klein, one of the best street photographers ever, led the opening talk at the photojournalism conference last year and basically slated the conceit of those telling war stories whilst swirling martinis beside big glamorous framed prints.

Sweet India 

FAULT: Since Sri Lanka you’ve travelled quite extensively, does this often provide source material?

Jacob: Even if it involves being held at gunpoint, I get a real kick out of adventure and as long as you don’t die it makes for a great story. I’ve hitchhiked with truckers across the Himalayas, watching a little swinging Buddha tied to the rear view mirror and thinking perhaps this is the time to start believing. Everyone has told you not to do it, but nonetheless it’s thrilling. Still at certain points, such as when you see the carcass of a burnt-out truck beyond the precipice, you think “I really shouldn’t have gotten myself into this…”

FAULT: Can you think of any characters that left a lasting impression on you from the excursion to India?

Jacob: In a courtyard prayer service I met a restless crazy named Denn, with an appearance funny and indistinguishable. He took us to a cabin up the foothills; even then I prophesised that everything would go wrong. By the time the sun had set, the second whiskey bottle polished off, I had little idea of what was going on, talking Tamil Tigers and reincarnation and the caste system. In a bright blue kitchen wielding knives Denn spliced up veggie omelettes. Wherever you go in India there always seems to be a lone yellow light bulb swarmed by flies. Then there was a power cut, candles shimmering in the storm, Denn squatting in the corner of our room, slurping acid droplets with a camel-pack filled with liquor. The following day I wrote him a farewell note and ducked out discretely.

FAULT: Your photographic project 88 Days was exhibited at London’s Orange Dot Gallery. Whilst there have been many iconic photographic projects portraying the Americans, it somehow doesn’t feel overly saturated.

What really impresses with this series is that each shot seems to encapsulate its own anecdote or story. The accompanying book also includes some of your own observations and diary excerpts. Are you eager to include a supplement with a photograph or are you a believer in allowing the photograph to just speak for itself?

Jacob: Both. Originally I was just going to release the main book showing the gallery selection, which is a direct homage to Robert Frank, whose photos certainly speak for themselves. With the debris book, it just felt like I had more material and I wanted to do something more personal. The former is predominantly street photography whereas the latter shows the actual people that I stayed with on route, a fuller representation of my actual journey. I’m currently cutting a ten-minute documentary out of a bunch of footage shot in the states, probably to be released later this year. It provides an abstract sense of place, entitled the debris of my 88 days.

FAULT: In what ways was film-school formative and beneficial?

Jacob: The greatest aspect of Bournemouth Arts was the people I encountered, who opened up the way that I look at film. There are so many different ways to tell a story and you get different insights whilst creative minds come together. Actually having a degree in film means nothing, it wont get you a job in the industry, but it does give you three years to collaborate and indulge your interest, without anyone telling you that your wasting your time. I’m lucky to have Tim, a man that I can confidently call my producer, and a great friend. We have a working relationship and a mutual understanding. If it weren’t for Tim I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now, I’d undoubtedly be back to photography.

FAULT: You’ve been involved in the making of several music videos, would you say this form is thriving?

Jacob: Since the internet generation, music videos are going through a really big revival. They have no boundaries. I’ve seen the most outrageous things, such as the Duck Sauce video for Big Bad Wolf, and I love it.

FAULT: Could you tell us about the filming for the Gideon Conn track, Wild Fire?

Jacob: Logistically it was a really difficult shoot, because we had to cover so many locations within two days shooting doorframes. Fortunately when you’re at film school there isn’t that unionized attitude and you get to work with a crew willing to work arduous hours for no money. The buzz is just amazing. Gideon has got a very loving but quirky fan-base and I think he always will. He’s an extraordinary songwriter who just does what he does. Even though Wild Fire is a slow and challenging track, it carried so much weight that the video just had to be done. As I didn’t want anything generic or gimmicky, I wrote numerous treatments, striving to really amplify the words in an intelligent way that was on par with the track whilst bringing something new to the table.

FAULT: More recently you also worked on a particularly well received, albeit quite impromptu, video for a track called L.A. How did that come about?

Jacob: Whilst I was in Peru I’d found out that a fifteen-minute short I’d directed entitled French Exchange had won an award at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase in Los Angeles. Honoured and shocked to receive the award I flew out there. Previously I’d heard that Fanzine were soon to be releasing the single, [coincidentally called L.A.], and so it seemed logical to email their manager, with whom I’d been previously acquainted, and suggest shooting a video. A simple and complicated task: I had no contacts and no resources in California but that was the great challenge.

FAULT: What does it feel like to be sat at a screening of your own work at an awards ceremony?

Jacob: I’d slightly forgotten about French Exchange, having moved on and worked on other projects in the time elapsed, so to have it suddenly revived with a theatre full of people watching your work felt brilliant, the beginning of its life as an actual product. It was totally out of the blue, I didn’t even know that we’d entered the festival. The morning of the flight to California I’d been feverish, chucking up in the taxicab on the way to the airport, so by the time I arrived, gutless and debauched, I looked very scraggy. I walked into the crappiest clothing store around to purchase a shirt and some shoes, a budget of fifty dollars a day doesn’t go far.

FAULT: So what’s the outline to the L.A. video?

Jacob: There were to be certain limitations: money, time and crew. Essentially it was the worst video camera ever and myself. As the screen was broken I relied upon the tiny viewfinder, where sunlight streaked in and everything looked far away. The rubber was all worn away so I had to tear up cigarette packets and tape them to the side to create an extended eyepiece. The track is particularly dreamy, and I tried to reflect that. It’s a story about this waif-like girl, a vacant and sexy being that emerges from the sea holding an analogue film camera. She ventures beyond the beach, wandering the streets of Los Angeles and documenting everything she sees, oddities that might otherwise seem normal. When she gets the film developed, the contact sheets are filled with pictures of fish and, realising that she actually belongs to the sea, she strips off, running back naked before diving back into the ocean, back to nature’s calling. And that’s the wrap. Shedding a false skin. You know L.A. is all about false skin.

FAULT: How much luck and how much doubt is involved?

Jacob: Doubt in every heartbeat, but it can also spur you on and it’s something you learn to live with. I’ve been fortunate to have made valuable acquaintances, but overall you make your own luck, I really think that.

French Exchange

FAULT: Whilst writing do you find it advantageous to get a second and third opinion on what you’re doing? If you were to have more people inveigh upon your projects, would that hamper your resolve, or vision, or confidence?

Jacob: I’m currently co-writing a feature-length version of French Exchange with my father. On top of that we have weekly meetings with Tim. I work with a very small group of people who are always involved: when something is ready to show they’ll be the first port of call, I’ll take feedback on board, make my changes and will keep rehashing until everyone feels positive about it. Too many cooks will spoil the broth. Aside from that I’m also incredibly hard on myself. 

FAULT: At what age did you start to film?

Jacob: Probably aged around five, alongside frequent collaborator Theo Adams, who to this day remains a great companion. Many of these transcend boundaries and are outrageous even now!! Pastiches of films we loved like Billy Elliot and Cabaret alongside intertextual references to Bay Watch. We paid homage to Plan 9 From Out Of Space, the biggest B-Movie flop of all time, heralded as the worst movie ever, in a film entitled Attack of the Killer Monster. I’ve recently found tapes and intend to get them digitized.

FAULT: Several years later you directed Bugs, featuring two enormous creatures. What was the process behind these?

Bugs

Jacob: We wanted to make a film that looked like it had been shot on microscopic level, so two production designers created these puppets in which a couple of actors sat inside each bug with a third puppeteer moving the antennae and tentacles with fishing rods. My student house was covered in costume designers and painters, papier mâché through the night during the fortnight preceding the shoot, a non-stop operation.

FAULT: It’s certainly endearing how handmade they seem. Would you say established filmmakers strive to recreate that essence professionally?

Jacob: These are the good old days, and I’ve been warned many times already that if indeed I pursue this career, I will forever be looking back, craving to recreate these times when it was just me, Tim and the team. Having full control and handcrafting everything has been amazing.

FAULT: In The Science Of Sleep for instance it feels as though Michel Gondry went to great lengths to create this sense of childish abandon. Do you already feel that it’s lost upon you or is it still something you can strive to retain?

Jacob: I think I’m still in an artistic embryonic phase, at the stage where I’m so unknown that I can still do whatever I want, and whatever that is may well inform what is to come. I need to be very careful, but it’s very exciting.

FAULT: Are you an advocate of thematic continuity, even at the risk of being typecast?

Jacob: You gotta do what you gotta do. Any kind of art is about working through something, if you really care about that thing you won’t stop until you get to the bottom of it. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, one of the Bauhaus figures, spent the final thirty years of his life painting colour combinations, abstract wheels of block colour, simply because he needed to suss it out. Everyone works in different ways. The Coen brothers choose to tackle a different genre and style in every project they undertake.

FAULT: Would you describe yourself as a dabbler?

Jacob: At the moment I’ve got no interest in science fiction or action movies and no interest in horror either, so that narrows things down somewhat…

FAULT: Who would you single out as an unsung film director?

Jacob: Kenneth Lonergan. Lately I watched Margaret at the cinema, his second direcotiral work featuring Anna Paquin and Matt Damon. It had been on the shelf for five years prior, a work of genius that plummeted in the box office. It’s unbelievably good, but the guy has a cult following, he’s an unsung hero.

FAULT: Armstrong stands out from your portfolio as a highly challenging character piece, relying very heavily on facial expressiveness and dynamic physical presence. What was your experience of this?

Jacob: I did loads of research on Neil Armstrong as a character and tried to impart that to the actor, talking him through becoming Armstrong, rather than recreating Armstrong. As a technical exercise it was really fulfilling. The character-study depicts a dream occurring the night before the mission to space: immediately as soon as you start fictionalizing a real person you have a certain responsibility, even though the story is fictional.

FAULT: Does the process of filmmaking ever go as smoothly as expected?

Jacob: Things go wrong, but you can work around them. Low budget filmmaking is about taking all of the mistakes that happen and turning them into your advantage, a happy accident. If you know the vehicle for that scene, anything can be manipulated, whereas glitches only become an inconvenience when you don’t know what you’re trying to say. Film is like snooker, it’s not just about the one shot but about what comes before it and what comes after it, building blocks that cut to the next scene. I’m a great believer in accuracy and technical precision and knowing how everything should play out.

FAULT: More recently you started writing a blog called Scenes From A Bowling Alley. What did you look to gain from the process?

Jacob: Over a period of two months I was working at a bowling alley. The idea behind the scripts explores character and place; a technical exercise. For me it’s an interesting breakaway, exercising writing skills, learning about the dynamics of scenes and dialogue.

FAULT: What’s your stance on literary adaptations in film?

Jacob: Alexander Payne springs to mind immediately. I’m a big fan. This year he picked the Oscar up for best adapted-screenplay [The Descendants] and it’s something that has become a lot more popular in the past few years because it’s a safer bet. In my humble opinion though, original screenplays are usually better, if a story is written specifically for film it has an immediate visual sensibility and it’s knowingly going to converge music and picture and performance.

FAULT: Do you have any aspirations to embark upon any adaptations further down the line?

Jacob: Yeah I’m pretty open-minded. It’s not to be disclosed, but there’s a graphic novel I’ve got in mind, and over the next decade I very much hope to bring it to the silver screen,, working on the screenplay in conjunction with the graphic novelist, who is still alive. Did you know that Alexander Payne’s next film has been co-written with Daniel Clowes, an adaptation of one of his graphic novels. Big news.

strange sights and sounds in the woods

Words and Photographs by Jacob Perlmutter

Like ‘love’ and ‘hate’, ’boutique’ is not a word to be used lightly. But In the Woods stands to be one of the few exceptions. With only 750 punters, this festival is the real deal; an untouched woodland paradise, idyllic and intimate. It oozes wholesome Hobbit joy from every feathered edge, enriched with locally brewed ales and hog spit roasts. The one-day festival commences at midday, with performances featured on two music stages and a quiet corner tucked dreamily away for the poetry and spoken word stage, complete with hay bales for seats and headphones for each audience member. In the Woods essentially takes the gems from Glastonbury [that everyone brags about having ‘discovered’] and rebirths them into their natural habitat, more like a 360 degree piece of fantasy immersive theatre than a music festival. It thrives with exuberant energy, alive and kicking with no stories harking back to bygone glories.

As sun sets, the fun really begins. The warm incandescent lightbulbs illuminate the hay-strewn pathways and it’s time to ping pong between the stages and several organic food stations. Through the evening the music plays, each artist rejoicing in the attentive atmosphere. Ale, beer and heart-warming whiskey mingle and blend, the clock strikes twelve and the grand bonfire is lit. The flames roar high into the inky countryside sky and sap fairies pop and fall like flares, watched in the reflections of young hopefuls’ wet eyes. The silent disco is off somewhere in the background. And you stop, and pause and reflect and realise that this is, in actual fact, almost zen-like in its peace and serenity. A few pointy madcap characters dart between the shadows and as you crawl into your tent, a damp hush falls.

The next morning brings about heads poked through dewy tent flaps, mole-eyed and peering at the rising smoke from the grand bonfire, one or two silhouettes hugged in animal skins, bleary-eyed and swaying having whispered secrets all night. The breakfast queue lengthens due to high demand for splendid fresh fruit smoothies and a countryside fry-up. Tents packed and love thy neighbour… and like that, all of a sudden, poof! In an instant, it’s all over, like a beautiful dream that never even happened. Better come back next year to check whether the walnut hasn’t cracked.