lunedì, maggio 23, 2005

I'm in a hurry to catch a bus!

sono decisamente felice. ho scoperto che, come immaginavo, Glen Johnson, anima cuore e cervello di Piano Magic, e' una di quelle persone che definisco gradevoli ed interessanti. e notate che per me gradevole non e' un aggettivo di sufficenza ma di assoluta eccellenza. quella che segue non e' un'intervista, bensi sono semplici domande per aver maggiormente chiariti alcuni aspetti di una delle band che preferisco. quindi una questione privata tutta mia. semplice curiosità da appassionato. quindi chi legge non si aspetti vette di esemplare giornalismo, ma semplici domande da un appassionato di dischi ad una persona che fa dischi che appassionano.

(un ringraziamento particolare a simone "screamo" barbieri per le lezioni di inglese... se non ci fosse lui oltre a me e glen johnson in pochi avrebbero capito il senso delle domande da me scritte in inglese)

1) The new record was done with the same line-up as
the previous two
works. Can we consider this line-up as the official
one? Or is Piano Magic
to be viewed as a collective open to occasional

Piano Magic has absolutely been a solid group for a long time now.  I have to make that clear out of duty to the rest of the band who are tired of being seen as Glen Johnson's little helpers.  They put as much time and effort into Piano Magic as I do so I'd like to see them get as much credit - Jerome Tcherneyan, Cedric Pin, Alasdair Steer and Franck Alba.  The days of Piano Magic being a "revolving door project" are long over.  Though, of course, we continue to collaborate with singers when the mood takes us. 

2) Tying into that, I’d say you can boast a lot of
great collaborations on your records. What is your
motivation behind it and can you tell us about the
process of asking other people to be part of your

For a long time I wasn't confident about my own singing voice and so, I asked other people to sing my words.  But as time has gone by, I have realised that it's not about being technically perfect - it's about conveying emotion.  Even so, often I can hear my words being sung by certain people (in my head) and I have to approach them to do it.  Like John Grant on "Your Ghost" on the new album.  He has a depth to his voice that I can't reach with my tired little heart and lungs. 

3) Eps have always been a fixture format in your
career and they seem to have always introduced a
new theme in your musical production. Do you feel, as
I assumed, that they are important to test the ground
for new musical solutions?

Completely.  I think singles and EPs show you the artists' true intention.  The album, essentially, let's face it, is there to make you a) popular and therefore b) rich.  We are neither but we certainly aim for these two things more and more as time goes by.  And yet that seems to false and untrue to Piano Magic's integrity that we release a multitude of experiments on other formats - 7", EPs, etc, etc.  I'd say that our most "complete" record is the recent "Opencast Heart EP."  At least, it gets to the core of our true intention as recording artists. 

4) Let’s move on to the 4ad chapter: "Writers Without
Home" didn’t seem to be a very lucky
release. I really like all of your releases but I felt
that one fell a little short. That is not to say there
are no ideas in that one, in fact there seems to be
many but not fully as fully developed and exposed. I
could associate it with Low Birth Weight (which I
consider a true masterpiece) with the way it’s done
but it doesn’t seem to carry the same energy. Could it
be that the idea of coming out on 4AD was a sort of
intimidating element? How happy were you when 4AD
proposed to get you signed to them?

We were happy to sign to 4AD.  It was a dream come true.  But with a signing to a label like that comes great compromise.  They give you money, which makes you happy and comfortable but there's a price to pay - the label wants to have input into what you do.  Piano Magic doesn't need anyone else's input.  We aren't a band that compromises.  Therefore, the relationship tuned sour.  *However*, that had nothing to do with "Writers Without Homes."  Both the band and the label were very happy with that release and it got some great press and it sold pretty well.  Even so, I'd agree that it lacked cohesion.  It didn't fit together as well as some of our other records.  It was intended to be a diverse scattering of ideas and sounds but that was too much for some people.  Including you.  ;)

5) Speaking about you, Glen... Could you tell us a bit
about the textile ranch
experience ? What made you decide to get involved in
that project? Was it meant to be
a comeback to how things were in the past, trailing
back to early Piano Magic territory? Are there any
other new projects connected to you?

I record music every day so I have hundreds of tracks lying around my appartment at any one time.  One day, a label came to me and said, "Do you have any music we can release?" and I said, "Yes, here's a couple of tracks."  From that, another label came to me and then another and before you know it, there's an album.  But Textile Ranch is just an outlet for my sonic experimentation.  I don't expect it to rock the world and it's not entirely serious - in comparison with Piano Magic, that is.  But I'm certainly very proud of all the music I've made.  If people like it, I'm very honoured.  As you say, Textile Ranch is a return to the early, more electronic days of Piano Magic (see "Popular Mechanics") because there's less and less of an outlet for that within Piano Magic.  Piano Magic is, essentially, a ghostrock group. 

6) One of my favourite releases is "Piano Amigo" on
Morr Music? Could
you tell us a little about that release, such
the project was first conceived as well as anything
related that you would like to share with us?

I like Thomas Morr a lot. He's a funny man.  He's always ill and he doesn't make sense sometimes.  He told me that he wouldn't sign Piano Magic because he likes to know where a band is going with their music.  I am the oppopsite.  I don't like to know where a band is going.  I want it to be a surprise.  But, yes, "Panic Amigo" (an anagram of 'Piano Magic' if you hadn't realised) is a remix project on which our friends and peers got their grubby little hands on our songs and made them sound weirder.  I like it a lot too.  Though I'm quite bored of remixes these days, that was a golden age of reinterpretation, I feel.  People like Aphex and u-ziq were really using the remix as a means of creating some extremely innovative new music.   

7) I understand that Tugboat records was a project
started by you (Correct me if I’m wrong). What
happened to the label? Is it now part of Rough Trade?
Are you still involved in any record label experience?

I quit Rough Trade a year ago and so I'm no longer involved with the Tugboat label, which I helped start with Geoff Travis.  I believe the label still continues though. 

8) I must admit that there are two Piano Magic songs
that drive me totally crazy: the fucking amazing "
Crown Estate" and "No Closure". Do you have any
comments about that?

Crown Estate was recorded in the basement room of a flat in Gospel Oak, North London by myself, Matt Simpson and Simon Rivers from The Bitter Springs.  Simon is a poetic genius.  The two vocals he contributed to "Low Birth Weight" are up there with the best of Jarvis Cocker. 

and "no closure"?

France flooded around 1999/2000 at New Year.  The Seine broke it's banks.  My girlfriend and I went walking in the French countryside - a place called Nazelle - where all the trees were drowing in water from the river.  It was a surreal sight.  "No Closure" is about that time and it's also a goodbye to a previous girlfriend and a monument to the beautiful French countryside. 

9) The next question might sound a little harsh but I
thought I’d still include it. You can leave it
unanswered if you wish and that of course would be OK.
It seems that the band has never had much success in
the UK, whereas Spain and France have always seemed
more friendly and showed greater interest in your
music all along. What do you think is the reason for
that? If there is any truth to it (and it seems to me
that it does), did that have an impact on the band,
and if so, how?

We're not fashionable and we're not backed by a major label in the UK so we're ignored.  Or maybe they just don't like our music so much here?  That is : people buy our music here but the journalists don't review it and the radio stations - well, they're too obsessed with The Bravery and Interpol and these other "firework" bands (they go up quickly, they shine beautifully for a short period of time and then they come crashing back down to Earth).  Fashion sells.  A band that's being doing it's own thing for nearly 10 years holds no interest for a fashion-obsessed press.   I'm not angry about this.  I'm just amazed how much space you can give to these awful, awful bands that won't be around in a year.  France, Spain, Italy, Greece don't seem to be as easily led as the UK.  People follow their hearts on the Continent, not what some trendy cunt at the NME tells you.

10) I noticed from the playlist section on your
website that you like Speak About Records. I also
happen to like that label. I was wondering what your
formative records are, both from a musician and
listener points of view. Some important records

"Important" is not a word I'd use. I don't think music is "important."  I think it's therapeutic, yes but so is yoga and going to the gym.  Hopefully, by writing the playlist (which I do each month at, I am drawing attention to records our fans might like.  I try to be favorable because I'm tired of cruel journalism.  If you don't like a record, don't review it. 

11) What records from new bands/projects/producers do
you listen to? What do you think is the state of
independent record labels and artists today? Do you
perceive it as stagnant, with nothing new really
hitting the airwaves, or perhaps as a point in time
where hyped up bands rule the scene, such as Kaiser
Chief etc?

75% of the time, I listen to old music - that is, music from my youth.  10% of the time, I listen to BBC Radio 4 (no music) and the rest of the time, I listen to new records.  That says a lot about me and my relationship with music, I think. 

12) Do you have any news about what future releases
you might have in store for us?

We are releasing a limited edition mini-LP  on vinyl on EN/OF in July. It's a collaboration between us and an artist.  There will only be 100 copies.  It's for the hardcore fans.  After that, there are no plans for new Piano Magic records.  We will be concentrating on playing live for the next 9 months - hopefully, as you know, in Italy too.  There's more Textile Ranch stuff coming out on Static Caravan though. 

13) Why should we consider 80's music important?

Again, "important" isn't a word I'd use about music but I certainly derive a lot of pleasure from music made in the 80's.  It's probably because I grew up with it and thus, it's familiar but also because it has an experimental spirit and sound which I like a lot.  But there's good music every decade.  I'm just more attracted to the 80's for the spirit : Rough Trade, Cherry Red, Factory, Creation, 4AD....

Bellissima intervista, grazie Jr!
bella. bel blog. ti rompo subito. vai qui

e rispondi alla catena.

ciao da 'uno degli amici di este'

good interview, mr. reverberi!
Ahahahah BambuiiinII MuoRtiIIIII!!!
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