Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Filtering by Category: music

NO ZU & THE SPIRIT BEAT INTERVIEW

Andrew Ryan


hello beautiful no zus

as soon as that heat beat clip came on, i felt the climate and landscape drying my mouth out. i was in paris and it was contemporarily nostalgic (continuity with change) to get that feeling. i liked watching the sweat grow on the brows of becky sui zhen and daphne and then drip down. where was it? was it really hot (can you prove this by an anecdote?) what did you eat between takes or how did you get there?

The Spirit Beat video was shot in Clunes, Victoria (near Ballarat), at a few locations, but mainly in the old mining ruins that dot the landscape there. It was really hot and there was nowhere to hide because ever since colonial invasion people have had a fetish for ringbarking trees and destroying the earth to find rocks n shit.

I love that you got that dry mouth feeling. That’s exactly what I kept banging on about to the director, Jack Peddey. “We need people to be thirsty!” The producer of the vid, Ruth Morris, mentioned that she had never bought so much water for a shoot. We and the crew were desperate for water the whole time. We drank the dregs from warm water bottles left in cars, from hubcaps and licked sheep skulls, then shifted plenty of tins as soon as the sun went down.

i loved those big topless men wrestling and dancing. it all seemed very 2016 australiana and also ancient. yes/no? who where they (the men) and how did they end up in the desert with you?

So did I…. and correct. The video is a collage of an Australian Hades, a very down-under(ground) ‘Afterlife’ (out now on Chapter Music ). The characters in the vid represent ancient myths and some new ones of our own. All of the vignettes are connected by the fact that the people are stuck together in the same post-apocalyptic land, forever doomed to perform pointless tasks in vain for eternity. Australia is an ancient land that has experienced particularly dreadful upheaval from 1788 on. Australia is an absurd place in many ways – full of ugliness and beauty.

The wrestlers included James, a real wrestler that is a total purist when it comes to old fashioned wrestling… and majestic mullets. The other guy (sorry I forgot his name) was sourced by asking around at the local pub the night before and agreed to do it for two slabs. I drove James to the shoot and I have to admit I was a little wary of the kind of character I would meet. Turns out we got along like a flamin house on fire and connected over a love of Oz-ploitation films, which our video definitely references. He also owns five chihuahuas.

it seems like your music is ancilliary to an artistic/thematic concept. is that tru?

No. We make our music by feel and without intellectualising anything. The heat beat is body music that has no time for the brain. I later mould lyrics, art, aesthetics and so on around the jams informed by their mood, my thematic obsessions and referencing other ZU world spirits that have been floating around since 2007. I’m obsessed with the heat beat, mortality, x-rated taboos, euphoria, transcendental experience, history (ancient/Australian/evolution) and many more things that humans are curious about – these things come to the surface cover us like shiney sweat when we perform and are possessed by the Heat Beat™.

remember when you came to w.a. for camp doogs? i do. when you played the ‘yiayia’ song everyone was dancing, and at one point my hands went straight up in the air on their own. do you have a desire for what types of bodily or spiritual reaction you want your music to inveigle?

This is it. I want all bodies there, including ours, to turn to rubber with brains and hips melting to the heat beat and then for us to all levitate together leaving only clothing and sweat behind.

did we seem like ‘country people’ to you, or sophisticated music lovers, or miners etc?

Sophisticated lovers mining our collective ZU hearts.

if i’m allowed to have a favourite person in your band, it’s the trumpet player who looks like woody harrelson. is he the molten core of no zu and that’s what i was sensing?

blushing I’m actually a Natural Born Killer and the NO ZU director. The only talent I have is drawing much much better musicians into the Heat Beat gravity than me though.

please tell me if you really believe in an afterlife, and also is your band’s spiritographical universe an artistic creation or based on some old time/new age ideas?

No. I wish I did, then I wouldn’t have this obsession with mortality, eternity, infinity and so on. Human brains can’t handle this, eh? ‘Afterlife’ is a reference to belief systems taking over lives, to colonial invasion, to the our first LP ‘Life’ and taking its vibe into darker nocturnal sex-dream territory and also probably many other things.

Our ZU universe is an artistic creation yes, but I don’t see a great divide between a creative life and the everyday. NO ZU is our very own pseudo-science belief set.

same subject: on your fb page you list star signs of the members. is this something you really believe in or are you just being cute?

Neither. I don’t think we have ever been cute or ironic. In fact I began NO ZU in direct reaction to things like that. We are completely sincere, but also a totally zonked idea and totally absurd.

Isn’t it weird how we all know our star sign and like to hear about our supposed character traits? I’m seductive yet emotionally manipulative apparently ….

there are lots of you in the band. what joins you together?

We have a bdsm dungeon that we are locked in each evening. It has an eight set of handcuffs. It’s also where we store our land clearing and land mining gear as they serve as fetish instruments too.

Go Pies. Comment?

Bloody oath m8y ubloodyripper kickagoalson chest mark daicossssss swannyyyyy. Brain washed young. Rats tail grew naturally from my head both in my youth and again now in my adult life because of my belief in the Magpie Gods and I frequent the church of the MCG often. Nice Facebook profile browsing btw ;)

if all your dreams could come true when you play here next, what might be included?

A stage set that looks like the most gaudy new style gym Australia can offer with hundreds of human history’s gods (including Peter Daicos) working out as we play our jam, Zeus Zam. The crowd’s and our ZU brains will melt into hot Heat Beat lava that will flow throughout WA and into the Afterlife. Our rider will include a two tonne container of protein powder, vodka and techno.

thanks you legend(s). we loved you last time and are looking forward to your return. :*

Chats with Ana of Hinds

Andrew Ryan

Hinds. They appeared like all things should – suddenly and into thousands of loving arms. A few years ago two of the members (Ana and Carlotta) couldn’t play guitar, so the story goes. Now they’re pumping out hits all over the globe, grinning and chugging beers (and coffee) and being smart, confident, Spanish, and very very lovable.

I talked to Ana Perrote, guitarist and “second” singer. I wanted to ask more in depth-questions like “Do you guys wear lipstick in the daytime all the time?” and “What’s your actual favourite guitar tone?” and “Do you think more female bands have double singers because we’re taught to put our own singular desires aside?” and “Do you have any advice for me in my love situation?” Instead, the following is what I asked, and this is what she said, in a fluffy Skype call where I managed to hide that I was only in a midriff top, and Ana’s lovely face was mainly turned into a balaclava’d marshmallow thanks to a wobbly connection on the Birmingham side.

My advice is – go watch a few minutes of Ana talking on the youtubes so you can read this back in her voice…

A: Where are you at the moment?

Ana: I’m in Birmingham in the UK. Where are you?

A: I’m in Paris?

Ana: Paris?! We’re going to be in Paris in a couple of weeks.

A: Really? I’ll be here, I’ll come and see you.

Ana: Nice! Perfect!

A: What have the England shows been like?

Ana: Very good, very good. This is the first tour we do knowing it was sold out before, all the shows were sold out before we started so it felt like… We feel like queens, seriously, so so so so lucky. I mean there’s so many gigs, and every night it’s sold out and every night people are just so happy just because of us being on stage, like when we walk on stage, people is already happy! I dunno it’s just fantastic, it’s very exciting.

A: Has there been anything else you’ve done in your life that has been able to produce that? – Not for so many people, but where you’ve felt you can really change how people feel?

Ana: I used to be on a theatre drama thing and I felt that a little bit but it’s not the same cos… When you go to a theatre you don’t expect anything, you just go and suddenly feel, but when you go to a gig you’ve already felt something about the music, so when you come and you actually see it live, that makes you feel, like, stronger, you know what I mean? Just like you already have a feeling and suddenly it connects with another feeling you are having in that moment. An explosive sort of a feeling you know what I mean? It’s just stronger.

A: I read in interviews you guys saying that in Madrid the music scene you’re part of is pretty small and friendly. Do you think that that has changed how you’ve made music or feel about what you’re doing?

Ana: Yeah for sure! That’s how we started, with other friends helping us and telling us like “Ok this is a guitar amp, this is how you should set up.” We really started out of nowhere, really from zero so all these bands were helping us just because of friendship you know what I mean? Just because of love of art and new bands and stuff and they were like “Ok you wanna support us in this gig?” “I’ll help you..”

Like one of The Parrots, he’s the producer of our single and of our album – everyone helps each other just because of nothing, just because of friendship and art. So it’s definitely stuck in our brains and it feels like the way we would love the whole industry to work or something, like whenever we are touring with other bands we really start to get friends with them and we’re like “Ok I’ll send you my deemos for the next album” (“deemos” is the only time I’m gonna put in Ana’s bewdiful accent) or “Do you want to listen to this new song?” or “What should we call this album?”

A: That’s what it’s like where I’m from too, Perth!

Ana: Cool. Plenty of love.

A: What made you guys decide to write in English?

Ana: It wasn’t really a decision. It just came that way cause when Carlotta and I wrote our first ever song it was ‘Trippy Gum’, and we were pretty drunk and we were like, “Ok imagine, imagine, ok just be free be free be free be free” and when we write melodies we’re like “Wahwhwhwwahwahhh,” like we’re not saying anything but we’re doing a melody and you just could tell what we were saying in those melodies were in English.

I mean the music we do is the music we want to listen to, so it just makes more sense for our ears and it’s, like, better. All the music we listen to is in English you know what I mean, we’re similar to what we like, so it was just because of that.

A: I think it’s good because whenever you’re writing in a different language – even if you say something very simple – because you’re not expressing it in exactly the same way as a native speaker would, it always comes out more like poetry.

Ana: Yeah, yeah! It’s kind of like our own language or something. It’s not Spanish and it’s not English, it’s just like a Hinds vocabulary.

A: Are there any bands from Madrid that people wouldn’t know about that you wish people would know about?

Ana: Yes. I’m going to write in down in here.

PRESENTING ANA’S SKYPE LIST OF MADRID’S (AND FURTHER) GREATEST LESSER KNOWN BANDS the parrots los nastys baywaves lois miqui brightside John grey ex novios novedades caminha

Ana: Parrots, this is the band where the singer is our producer, and then Los Nastys, and err…

A: Your face is very fluffy

Ana: Oh really?

A: You look like you’re wearing a riot girl mask. A balaclava.

Ana: Hahaa :)

A: Hahaa :) I can just see eyes and a mouth.

(More lols)

Ana: Yes. I think, from Madrid that’s mainly everything I really really love. But then there’s also, not from Madrid
there’s this band (mujeres). There you go, there’s my favourite bands.

A: Do you guys ever get worried that touring so much you’re not going to be able to keep writing, or you know playing songs a million times that it will lose any magical –

Ana: It already happened!

A: Really?!

Ana: Yeah it already happened last year – not losing the magic – but this version of our record wasn’t written when we started touring, like we just had five songs and then we started touring and touring and touring and touring and suddenly… We only write when we’re at home, and suddenly we stopped being home, at all.

So I remember we were in Christmas and we were looking to the calendar and we were like “Ok so basically we are recording the album in April so then there’s like 3, 4 months, and we have like 10 days in Madrid. How the fuck are we going to do it.”

It was very very stressful for us because writing music is not like studying or something, it’s not about how many hours you spend. Just like randomly maybe you’re going to write four songs in one day or maybe like you’re going to be one month without writing anything you like, so it was very very tough for Carlotta and I cause we had to stop doing the laundry, stop sleeping, stop watching our friends and family when we were home.

We were like “Ok we just gotta focus on this” and “Ok come to our place,” so I drove to her place we got drunk as possible and we were like “Ok next song, Ok what about this?” and “We gotta close the next song, and another one,” and “We gotta change this one! and “I don’t like it anymore!” and “Yeah but we have one month to do it!” It was so so stressful but we made it and we are happy with the album and we really really like it so it was worth it.

A: Well I mean it’s hard to say no when someone’s saying “Do you want to come to this beautiful country, have thousands of people cheering for you…”

Ana: Exactly. It’s hollywood. At the same time at the same time I seriously didn’t even realised the world was this big until we had this band. Like there’s places all around the world and people listen to music everywhere so it’s just like wherever we just say “Ok Australia, we just have like these five dates, we’re coming in May!”, people are gonna say “Why don’t you come to this city! Why do you go to that one?” It’s just like “Dudes please like we’re travelling so much you could travel a little bit for us if you really want to see us.”

A: Hahaha.

Ana: Like it’s so shocking for us!

A: But Australia’s big!

Ana: Yeah but it’s incredible that people all around the world wants to see us so we’re like “Ok, they wants to see us, we better go! We gotta go!” But then we can’t go everywhere and write and be healthy at the same time!

A + Ana: lols

A: But you’re happy with how you’ve chosen so far?

Ana: Yep. It’s like really one of the most tiring jobs in the world but at the same time it’s one of the most incredible and satisfying ones.

A: Do you think you guys will keep going for a long time? Til you’re 60?

Ana: I think so.

A: Really?

Ana: I really think so.

A: Hinds reunion tour, 2060.

Ana: For another couple of albums at least. We have a lot of things to say yet.

A: I know that you guys are very very proud of where you come from. If I go to Madrid what should I do first that people wouldn’t usually do?

Ana: You should go to this neighbourhood called Malasaña. Whenever we’re in Madrid we’re always in that area, all the clubs that we like are there, all our friends are always gonna be there, there’s so many cheap restaurants, it’s just so nice it’s like a little town it’s just four streets.

And I dunno there’s just something about the streets in Madrid, the weather is very good and everyone is drinking cans for one euro in the street and talking to each other and there’s so many great bars with great music that we love to go to.

A: Yeah do you ever drink anything apart from beer? I always see photos of you guys chugging brews! Never a coffee.

Ana: Yes! No, I have two coffees here! (shows them) Yeah we drink a lot of coffee cos we’re always very tired. Cheers!

clink Ana and Amber’s coffees across Skype

Ok, so we drink coffee in the morning, during the day we drink water, and early like coca cola, and then when we get to the venue we’re very tired cos we partied the night before so we’re probably going to have a Redbull, and then after soundcheck we start drinking beer and if it’s a crazy night we will probably have a tequila shot or a gin and tonic or a Bloody Mary if we’re feeling very fancy and they’re for free.

A: I’m gonna write a detox program for people based on that.

Ana and Amber: Hahahaa

A: Hinds detox “Wash it down with a tequila.” When you come to Perth, which is in May, in Australia, I’ll show you good bands and good places if you like.

Ana: Perfect, awesome.

A: I better let you go to the next interview. It’s nice to meet you.

Ana: Nice to meet you!

DAVID BOWIE REINCARNATED IN A PARIS METRO AND OTHER BRIEF INTERACTIONS

Andrew Ryan

Let me give you an update on a few people. Remember Mehmed? He’s the man that sits outside the bakery and asks for money in a little plastic cup. And Amina? The lady that was sitting in a big triangle of doonas and bags in the metro. Well, I saw them again.

Mehmed was sitting in the same place as three months ago, the same bakery. This time he had more clothes on – it’s winter somewhere in the world that’s not heatdeath Perth – a big beanie, sleeping bags around him. He saw me from far off and his face went pink and happy, mine too. He speaks about 50 words of French and the rest is in Bulgarian but somehow last time he managed to explain to me the whole story of him and his wife and his family. This time we tried again but even though we were smiling the conversation was full of non-comprehension. Even to try and tell him “I’m very happy to see you” midway through the conversation dropped into a ditch of indecipherable sign language. He tried to explain something about papers and something about Monday and something about me coming at 1 or 2 on Monday to see him. But still, I guess like with birds and trees there’s something you understand and appreciate about each other even if you can’t actually talk. Hmm.

Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel? It’s somewhere in the bible, probably every way of understanding the world through a book has its story about how all the languages came to be. This one is about maybe humans trying to build a tower up to the sky, because they wanted to be as powerful as gods, but the god god was like, uh-uh I don’t think so and crumbled it all down and sent a wind that carried a million different languages so none of the people could understand each other enough to build large-scale constructions, the ones in the style of our love, C. Y. O’connor. Well, I made up the bit about the wind. I don’t have a book here to look it up.

But, I don’t want to build a tower to heaven, just want to be able to have one proper conversation with Mehmed.

There was Amina too. Remember her? She was the moroccan lady. She made me laugh when she explained how people holding on to their money are so ridiculous. This seems to happen here: if I sit down beside the right person they just start talking to me as if we were friends forever, even though we still do the getting-to-know-you part. This time Amina was again in the underground tunnel of the train station and at first I rushed by like everyone but then thought “What is life for” and went back. She got straight into it again, even though we’d only talked once and it was four months ago. And then she started producing food for me. I was going to meet someone I didn’t know for a drink, a fan of one of the friends’ bands who maybe wanted to become a friend, and I hadn’t eaten, and now I was being fed dinner by a lady sitting in the spat-and-peed-upon very all-kinds-of-grey concrete of the dirty underground railway station. She produced a sandwich someone had given her – with ham, so no good to her anyway – and some loaves of sugary bread which in the end I left elsewhere in the street, and a little jar of very good paté. She told me, in her accented French but still French, that she just needed money for her place she lives, to pay the rent, she didn’t need food. So, I gave her nothing again, and she gave me dinner and some paté.

And I guess because this website is about music I could tell you about some music I saw. Again, at the end of a day of thinking about bombs and plastic and love and “What is my place in this world” I went down the metro in another place and underground this time was music, but, BIG music. It’s kind of like Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree – each time you go up, or in this case down, some new weird thing is there to greet you. This time, it was some maybe Portugese people sad to be missing Carnivale, a guy on guitar with long big wavy hair, a man on bass, a man on drums, a woman just shaking a tambourine and all playing a raucous mixture of rock and ska and then two young boys taking turns at freestyling over the top with all their teenage friends egging them on and filming on their phones. The boys were sort of happily invited by the band and sort of wrestling the mic off the man with wavy hair at the same time.

And then there were people watching and then there were people dancing. A woman of maybe thirty in very plain clothes and spectacles who couldn’t help herself and a white man with combed grey hair and a pin stripe suit with pants slightly flared at the bottom and a red tie, and a big tall black man with a different type of suit, more ragged and a leather beret. All around other people were just watching but these three were really dancing and the boys were really singing. My body was moving a little and so the tall black man came and took my hand and danced me over to the woman and the pin stripe and within a few moments me and pinstripe were couples-dancing. He was a good lead, and even though I don’t know how to move unless it’s alone, he lead me through a series of steps that were beautiful, funny, romantic, close, and as I looked into his eyes I actually thought for several moments that he was in fact the reincarnation of David Bowie, come to dance with me for a few minutes in the metro.

Some people might think this is all naïve, but no-one’s trying to steal my wallet. It’s just all people doing what they’re made to do – work to live, dance to enjoy. There’s sometimes talk in my city and probably every other one about beggars ‘organising’ themselves, but you know, who doesn’t work for a corporation that’s organised? And who’s job doesn’t involved mainly sitting, not producing much – as in not producing food or art – and just waiting for a person with more money and the will to do it to put a few coins in your cup?

HOLDING HANDS WITH EVERYTHING: Tame Impala at Zenith, Paris.

Andrew Ryan

I’m jumping out of bed with one cat slipper on to bring you this little review of Tame Impala playing at Zenith in Paris. Yes, white boys from private schools* (fact check) playing successful music. This is a reference to Triple J’s hottest 100 – if you’re not from Australia, don’t look it up, look up the photographer Jean Gaumy instead – but really, that particular night – Sunday – if world justice wasn’t possible, then music from white boys was just what I and thousands of Parisians were in the mood for.

I nearly made Cam late for the show by spending too long drying my hair but when I got to dinner he and Ash told me I looked beautiful. That’s pretty nice if you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they look good most of the time – is that everyone? What does it mean to look beautiful? Where do hairdryers go when we die? Fuck. Anyway, Cam put bits of steak in my mouth with the fork, jiggled his leg and talked about projects, Ash be-d lovely and a small dream of soft-heartedness, I tried to think tough to not be on the heart-break mind train and just soak up some pleasure.

The taxi driver was real nice, Ash and Cam were going song for song on their phones, us three in the backseat – I checked if he minded us playing music but what I really meant was “Is it annoying to have three rich white people in the backseat just having fun as every single day and night and seeming to not know what real work is, what long shifts are, what putting up with shit from strangers is?” It’s not exactly like that, but it’s just that here it’s in your face, every bar you go to it’s all white people having a “good time” inside and the only not-white person is working on the door, sorting through who can get in and who can’t. Pewk. Everyone has their troubles and hardships, but the general sorting of who gets in and who can’t is the layer of weird injustice over everything, all the time.

Well, we made it, those two went through the backdoor, Cam with ten minutes til he was meant to be on stage, and I collected my friend from the front, who put his hand in the middle of my back making me dream of true affection and inside all the boys had already started playing “Let it Happen”. This song is magical, so many of the songs are magical. I didn’t come by to this music via music, but by personal familiarity, but all the songs have been working on me day by day since the first time I really had to listen when I was interviewing Kevin for Oyster magazine. Sometimes “everybody” is wrong about what they like – coffee in takeaway cups, Australia Day, formalised religion/atheistic agnosticism, Rubens/Hoops – but sometimes they’re right, and this is the time.

They played a million great songs, ‘Let it Happen’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, ‘Cause I’m a Man’, ‘The Less I Know the Better’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ – not in that order, and not only those, and usually I’m not the kind of person to care song for song, but I dunno this was something different, they are all hits and they were all hitting into that right spot for being in heart-break but moving you into uplifting abandon to the possibility of a happy ending despite all the signs to the contrary. And right in the middle of all of it was ‘Eventually’, the most perfect song for me personally right then and there, but also like I said before for several thousand Parisians. Everyone seemed to believe the words. I hear those words for my own heart and for the whole heart of the whole world – eventually, eventually, eventually. And maybe music by white boys from private schools is a wonderful part of that eventually. I believe it is.

Anyway, the whole crowd seemed to rise up in this song, and I didn’t know if it was just me but afterwards my friends said too, in his French accent “Eventually!!” Yes, the big spirit flowing through that song.

And yeah, the sound, nearly perfect, a little on the mud side, a little on the bassy side, the drums always take over but so they should, always simultaneous homage to Julien in the present and Kevin in the creation past, the most ‘Perth’ moment for me being when Kevin stood for a few moments longer than maybe even he expected just playing notes on the guitar to the oscilloscope, letting the notes and the shapes created ring out – like really ring out – creating stars and Lord of the Rings and splitting time and joining light and sound back together in green lasers on the big screen behind him.

Well, so it was a great show. Afterwards up in the room where the boys were there was Nicolas Godin from Air (I didn’t know who he was till they told me), with his gentle lovely teenage son fanboying on Kevin, Kevin and Gum fanboying on Nicolas, me fanboying in friendship on Dom who I only get to see every six months. Ringham who looks after gear talked to me about matters of the heart and possibly mathematics, Noemie who looks after tour managing gave me a true hug, everyone just moved along in their own worlds but at the same time taking care of one another, me included, even though truly they’d all already healed me a little bit in the show.

I could tell you about the rest of the night, but that will happen another time, when I’ve got both slippers on.

(Nice Day for a) ROMANTIC DOG WEDDING, 4th March 2016

Andrew Ryan

Just got my period. It’s pretty exciting really, the way it all works, “it” being our bodies and the whole entire thing. I’m living with another female person in the house so yeah, it all synchs up, and it’s really like magic. You know it’s coming – everyone starts looking more attractive, this time I got wildly angry at my friend for saying he was going to ditch his bass player, even though the sun was shining and we were riding home after a delux swim in the ocean listening to AC/DC – some smooth low-key number I had never heard before – in his beat up van that smells like Australia.

Anyway, nice reminder that one’s an animal. Sex-appeal, anger, tears, all linked up to tiny juices flowing round us, the moon, pheromonal molecules entering our skin. So, yeah, our friends put on a wedding for dogs – “Romantic Dog Wedding” – this week, and it’s good to suddenly remember once in a while that you’re pretty much covered in fur and at the mercy of mysterious forces and not just the workings of your big grey brain too.

The dogs were “Ben” and “Pony”. A Border Collie and a rescued Greyhound. Our country doesn’t recognise unions between two males at the moment, but countries are not as old as love and unions between two dogs or two men so the joke’s on us. (Fact check please). I put on lipstick and high heels, a dress with no bras – my female companion similarly dolled, as in, attired a little less animally that we might otherwise be, and headed to the river.

Big, pale, skin coloured gum trees towered upwards around us, all their crooked arms swaying languidly over the scene. There was a small crowd, writer Matt Giles passed us with his dog Abbey who had to leave early, maybe to finish their respective PhDs. There were tall women in dresses, Alex Last was djing with the dj set up laid out on top of a boogie board, a pathway of vines and flowers showing where the aisle would be, rugs on each side, and Chloe – human Mother of the Groom – came towards us to offer mimosas from a table laid with champagne, beverages and a beautiful coconut wedding cake.

Why a dog wedding? Because we are free, I guess, and because there was no better place to be, or event to conjure than a dog wedding by the river on a Monday afternoon in a city built on stolen land and stolen minerals and a decimated ancient culture. What else are we meant to do? Buy jet skis?

So everyone mingled, the Border Collie groom was a little late but arrived, then the celebrant, Paddle Clubb mastermind Matt Aitken, arrived, then Lyndon Blue, wedding band-member, arrived in a powder blue suit, and the ceremony could begin. The boogie board played “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal as the grooms and a dishevelled Border Collie bridesmaid were walked up the aisle, everyone took their places, and Matt fumbled through a wonderful and brief ceremony, starting somewhat irreverently with the words “Dearly Beloved, Who Let the Dogs Out?” There were salmon-coloured ribbons to tie the rings on to the grooms, they were pronounced husband and husband, kissed, and after much cheering the coconut wedding cake was served, musician Rachael Dease encouraging young kids to not be shy and take some first.

It was definitely the best dog wedding any of us had been to, and the band hadn’t even started. Stephen Bellair was there with Evie, a white teenage miniature falcor labrador. Tristan Fidler was there, resplendent repository of a million beautiful, and tragic, and inspired thoughts I’m yet to be privvy to, Julia Suddenly was there, ray of sun and moonlight showering gold and myrrh on us from her glowing face etc, etc, etc.

Me and my hot date were nearly ready to leave, deciding between going for a paddle on the kayaks or heading back to the coast by the flip of a coin. Luckily the coin said stay because then came the band. This will remain one of my musical highlights of 2016 even if a thousand more great musical things happen. The band was called both “His Master’s Voice” and “The Bark Simpsons”, two names picked from a communal facebook list of suggestions, and they were incredible. Lyndon Blue on guitar, Chris Last on bass, Brett Smith on saxophone, Alex Last on boogie board laptop, and, the pinnacle of the sinuous body of fluff, the unleashable Alex Griffin.

At first it was obvious they had all never played together, they didn’t know at all what they were going to do, and took a long time to set up in which Alex just danced at the front of the group, in front of the boogie board, in his fez and yellow jacket, with his big faux-sad eyes drawing up to the sky then glancing over the crowd, then eyeballing people one by one for effect. Eva next to me, French artist, was instantly obsessed and kept saying “He is Magic!” and it was entirely true.

Then the band began playing: Alex dropped a beat, Chris and Lyndon somehow locked in, Brett breathed panpipe sax over the top and through the just-birthed theme, and Alex started the first of three 100% improvised and 100% classic dog-wedding songs, with each band member having their moment to shine, and all the wedding guests laughing or swaying or iphoning in responsive pleasure.

Yeah, the whole thing was genius, actually filled with love, life-giving, under trees, by the water, honouring to another species, and only possible in a free land of this kind, with all the trouble and lack of trouble resting underneath our feet and in the air around us and up in the gum branches and way up into the spheres. Definitely the nicest day in the history of the world for a dog wedding.

THE MOLLUSC AND THE ENCYCLOPEDIA - Lyndon Blue and Amber Fresh Wrap 2016 and Toss It Into Your Lap

Andrew Ryan

Lyndon: Amber says I’m an encyclopedia and she’s a mollusc, which is very modest and kind, although at best I think I’m a pamphlet ready to blow away in the breeze – and (more realistically) maybe we’re all molluscs, trying to make the best trail of slime we can. Anyway, it’s nice to be able to look back on the year in music with Amber, who is both a musician and a music writer. With Amber those two things don’t feel like two separate sides of a mirror, but instead are both mixed together (with all sorts of other life endeavours) in the same rock pool, a place called poetry.  

Usually the two of us approach writing-about-music fairly differently, but I think one thing we have in common is a belief that music – the best music - is a singularly meaningful way to connect, a window into souls, food for the imagination and the heart. Speaking broadly, 2015 has been full of awful, trying things – on the global stage and close to home. I feel like music has responded gracefully, with thoughtfulness and energy and ingenuity and compassion. Even when we are reflecting on the rough stuff, music can reveal our best selves. L

in response to :

When I think about it, it seems like Lyndon has an encylopedic knowledge of music; me, a molluscic knowledge. As in, if you looked at Lyndon with your eyes closed, and got him to think about bands and sounds, you’d see his chest exploding outwards with a thousand pages, some coloured, some drawn, pencil notes, pen notes, a little typed text. If you closed your eyes and did the same thing on me, you’d see me advancing very very slowly along one line, leaving a trail of glistening slime. 

So, anyway, Lyndon Le Bleu and I both make music and write about music. Here’s our combined wrap up of the year. A

Lyndon, who do you feel blossomed outwards music-wise this year?

First up, can I express my appreciation for the word “molluscic,” and your trail of glistening slime. Snails are underrated. Who blossomed outwards? I think a lot of people – 2015 in Perth music (to my mind) was a lot of people trying new things, going hard, being uncynical, and a lot of these people were one the periphery of my awareness but nevertheless hard to miss. I’ve felt privileged to hear the likes of Sam Atkin and Mining Tax and Lana Rothnie come into their own, fusing electronic hooliganism with a profound thoughtfulness and sensitivity. It’s also felt like a big year for garage rock, interesting punk, weird pop: Pool Boy, Helta Skelta, the Kitchen People/Hideous Sun Demon/Regular Boys sorta collective, the new Perth-based version of Rat Columns. Koi Child have, famously, kicked massive goals. Erasers finally released an album and it was a corker. Phil Stroud and Ben Witt’s solo releases – phwoooaarr! Lots of blossoming in good directions, I think 2016 will be a champagne year.  

 
Lyndon, what do you wish was different in Perth music? 

I kind of wish line-ups were less determined by friendship groups, and more varied and outrageous, but I guess things play out how they do for a good reason, that’s how scenes exist. 

Lyndon, if you were standing in a small group of Chilean teenagers at a party, everyone with beers and optimism in their hands, what would you recommend they listen to, from this year, from your city and from far far away? 

I like this question, and I wonder if I will ever stand in a small group of Chilean teenagers. from my city? Maybe Mei Saraswati’s Hyperdiversity, or the Ben Witt record, or… maybe I’d just get overwhelmed as usual and make them a mixtape for later. From far far away? Possibly Holly Herndon’s Platform, ‘coz it’d blow their minds into a million chunks and make their beer taste like starlight. I’d recommend the Tame Impala album, which feels like it’s from both my home town and far far away, but I’m sure they’ve already heard it.

Lyndon, what is your favourite music thing of this year? Show or album or experience? 

This is really tough. So many goodies. Listening to an old guy play jazz standards on a banjo in a bush hut near Launceston, Tasmania. Camp Doogs – the whole thing. Going around Australia with a band called the Burnt Sausages who dress up like a human-sized BBQ party and play BBQ punk. Watching Nick Allbrook play at NPBC with David Wirrapunda. The Outlordz mixtape. But ok, ok lists like this are a copout. I’m gonna say the Mining Tax EP. The only record that made me cry proper tears and dance in one go. There ya go. 

Who are your five favourites for music at the moment and why? 

1. Julia Holter – “Feel You” was my favourite song that came out in 2015

2. Tourist kid. Ooh la la. I should’ve mentioned Rory in my “blossomed” answer. This local upstart can do no wrong

3. The band/Joni Mitchell/Kate Bush on endless rotation… i.e. listening to lots of my dad’s favourite music

4. Lois Olney, I came across her in the documentary “The Coolbaroo Club” and am now obsessed with her voice

5. The Metronomes, they feel like the Australian band I always wanted to exist, and they do!

the ol switcheroo~

Amber, if you could make music with anyone in perth (who you haven’t yet), who would it be – and why?

mei saraswati – we were ‘married’ on new year’s eve last year, but have never made music together. i feel like she’s above me musically (that’s a fact in many ways) but still that would be a dream.

craig mcelhinney and i have talked at times in the past about making songs. could be fun but maybe it’s like realising you’re never ever going to work in a pizza shop or video store (i just realised that a few months ago).

maybe gum. because he’s a pop king. nick wants to do hiphop with me him and stephen bellair (my mc name is mc lavender) but dunno. we’ve played together but not written new music together so maybe either of them actually.

also, you, actually. because you’re special and pure.

i really really miss tho playing with dave egan – one time we just recorded us touching various grasses in the garden at his planet street house. true freedom.

Amber, what’s your favourite perth music to listen to while submerged in water, and your favourite for in the car?

for the car i listen most regularly at the moment to a methyl ethel ep called ‘teeth’ from jake webb, and a mix from nick allbrook with his last solo ep on it. all time favourites though include a selection of cds from emlyn johnson, particularly Armageddon Gomorrah Haemerrhoid. pond, hobo rocket + back catalogue. alex griffin – the album with him in a party hat on the front.

submerged in water i’d take erasers or mei saraswati or benjamin witt as my first thought.

*I’m gonna still your question – “what do you wish was different in perth music?” – cause I think your answer will be more interesting than mine. *

only that no-one would sing with an american accent and that no-one would ever diss another band. the second is ridiculous high schoolery. especially in public. also, i think a few things have changed after a few bands have been successful/semi successful – it would be cool if no-one thought about progressing too much unless they’re specifically making pop music for money, and just let it (the music and any success) happon.

Amber, what show did you see this year that made you laugh the hardest?

i more see visions than laugh… joni and tera playing at a friend’s father’s 60’s surprise viking birthday was one of the most moving musical things i’ve ever seen. also nick allbrook at the astor before unknown mortal orchestra, benjamin witt solo. doctopus’s recent album launch. peter bibby recently at the newport – watching with nick and also a bunch of strangers watch in awe – i love seeing strangers see pete for the first time – and one man who seemed off his nut did the most beautiful mix of drunken stumbling and honest interpretive dance (using that term non-ironically) to pete’s song “rich” which i get flows of spiritual energy through me when i listen to. oh, and for non-perth, no-zu at doogs. joy overflowing joy.

Any clairvoyant predictions for perth music in 2016? what do the tea leaves say?

every tea leaf’s a lucky charm lyndon. i predict half way through the year everyone will join together to change the world, with music as an important side-project/spiritual fuel propelling everyone to create a future with peace, care of the earth and all others.


Amber: hey lyndon ps

two cool things – last night i was eating an oyster out the back of my friend pete’s house and a possum was there with a baby actually clinging to its back (reminded me of a line from one of emlyn’s songs which is something like ‘clings with possum hands to timber tiger man’). 

second thing, i met a new friend in paris – a kindred spirit – who talked lots about wanting to play music but everyone would always say they were too busy washing their hair and that it all gets taken too seriously on the other hand, so i told her, move to perth, everyone will play with you, you’ll be able to play shows, you’ll find a drummer in the click of a hand, and that’s exactly what happened. pretty cool hey. the rumours are tru.

Lyndon: hehehe this is so good!!! jealous of your possum-spotting. one time in melbourne last year I had missed the last tram and was walking home at sunrise, I walked through a park near pete’s house and saw a shape on the trunk of a tree. when I got closer I discovered it was a huge possum – the biggest I had ever seen, like the size of a dog - just clinging to the trunk at about my chest height. we just stared into each others eyes for ages, it didn’t seem to want to run away, but I thought I might be making it anxious so eventually I just kept walking.

that is marvellous about your new paris friend! so theyre in perth now, playing music?? who are they?

we leave you into 2016 with a mystery…

Proximity Festival Opening Party

Andrew Ryan

.

we were standing out the front of the soup kitchen. last week one of the men standing smoking on the footpath had a joey with him, in a little pouch around his neck. he was all soft that night and told me everything. but this night there was no joey, so he stood off smoking with the other men, only nodding once or twice instead of telling the whole story.

the joey’s mum had been shot by his friend. they ate the mum and he bundled up the joey in his arms. its face was marked like nice icecream, vanilla, caramel, but you know, furry. it calmed him. it calmed me. i sat there for a lot of the night with the warm little skippy in my arms, heavy nice warm feeling that comes from feeling the heat and fur of an animal through material. you can pat a dog with a coat on for this feeling, or be in the melbourne cup.

proximity is a festival where all the shows are just for one person, but the opening night it was a general opening that allowed many people to be there at once. it was in the back outside parts of the art gallery, the steps and concrete terraces and carpark, and it was laid out with a bar, dj booth, a few hundred people in dress ups, sparkling or bloody, or the best one a robot dolphin – my friend loren – with a face veil and chain mail and underwear made of large hologramatic shards of thick plastic to cover just nips and tips.

there were vans in the carpark. the kind people work in as prostitutes around the big parks of paris, where i’ll go back to. inside these vans tho it was just music. tourist kid, soft loving hearted rory, was playing to the inside of the van, steel benches, room for only ten people. i looked at him and listened and then wandered round outside. going in and out through the art gallery, and everything, made it feel like being in the carpark of a blue light disco, going through the school offices at night, the weird feeling that would come from that, dressed in a way you’d never be for school. seeing everything a new way.

when i played a woman sat very close to the PA by my feet. she asked me what it was going to be like and i told her as best i could, by pointing to the casio and the loop pedal and also telling her she was ‘very close’ to the PA. she kept asking questions so i asked her ‘what do you want a song about’? ‘mother nature. and the aztecs’ she replied yelling, so that’s what i played, plus a looped cover of ‘when i was a sperm i had a lot to learn.’

catlips played next in our one little van. i felt like a creep dancing in there with four or six other strangers, just looking at katie the whole time. it’s ok, she understands i’m not a creep, just respect and like all her music. we all danced. we all danced too when mei (saraswati) played – it got wilder. loren was singing along to all the words of particular songs. i always feel like this is the best thing that happens when bands from our town play – other people singing along with the words, when there are words – no singalongs to mudlark, but people can nod, shake, sway.

hamish djed in overalls, lover jin island by his side. stephen was in stolen pants from target, dressed – for this was also halloween – as a real thief.

the best thing though was the mini magnolias. it’s hard to describe this but i’ll try. i tried to describe it to the person from another country who i love, and that was hard too but i managed. i was lying in bed under a cream doona and between cream sheets and he smiled at me as i told him about the night, proud of doing improvising with a casio, proud of all my friends, heated up from being all mixed in with different groups of pals all muddling together in another perth weird thing.

magnolias is usually a talk show that happens in my friends’ shed, or sometimes in public places. there’s all the normal tv talk show things, stand-up from the host, theme songs, segments. so matt and tristan did this talk show in a car in the carpark. people had to put their names down on a list and at some point in the night they got a call, and got led over to the car and ushered into the backseat and into a sparkling dark lit otherworld with matt and tristan as their hosts. matt had hooked up a small screen in the front seat on which to play ‘the matrix’ on repeat. they had a spin-wheel the guests (two strangers, ten minutes at a time, ushered into the backseat) had to spin to choose the theme of the questions. ‘a.m or p.m?’ matt would ask, and the guests would make their pick for a soundtrack. each time it would be ten minutes of laughing, scintillation and confusion, pre-made jokes, writing postcards to send to the guests’ place of work, and improvised personal banter, and then at the end matt says ‘it’s time to go but there’s a gift for you in the back seat of that car over there. take these, you’ll need them’ and hands the people a pair of scissors.

how do i know what happened? i visited as a guest once, and then with stephen bellair, six of us – hosts, interlopers, strangers – all crammed into the little camry (potentially). and later stephen bellair moving round the outside of the car shining a torch in for special lighting.

proximity, yes. up close, i love all the friends and strangers more. up close, the art gallery seems a small thing too, even if it’s our big one for western australia. up close joeys are calm, calming and feel like a warm cake you just want to hold in your lap on the way to a family friends’ place.

5 stars. 5 close stars all sparkling their way into the past, via vans, joeys, caramel, postcards, friendship, landing in your lap tired out and happy, tucking under the covers with the face of a love on a tiny screen very very close and far far away.

CAMP DOOGS 2015 - Utopia in the Water Parts 1 and 2

Andrew Ryan

how do you create a utopia? apparently it takes about six months and a lot of meetings, but it’s possible. some of my friends did it and it existed for one weekend down near nannup. the utopia happened before, in 2014 and 2013, and each time it was two and a half days where no-one got bombed, everyone washed themselves in the waters of the blackwood river under ‘the tree’ at spliffton, with music only for love and music’s sake, and hundreds of faces of hundreds of friends deep-smiling at you through the bush and across the big ditch of a dusty dance ground, nose getting full of black soot and spirit getting full of yellows and browns and greens of all nature and the clear idea that this is actually what life could be/is/was/will be.

well, we drove down for four hours, listening to mississippi records cds from jake from when we were true friends, and mixtapes from my old love with many tracks to jump over. a big fire had arced up over the country and we saw a tsunami, an actual tsunami of biggest smoke of all colours we’d ever seen, a big storm cloud coming, dark as doom to white grey of death bones, and then all the colours in between, oranges and reds covering and uncovering houses and weeping willows til i thought there was no way the whole world was not ending. the sky was black, fire orange, purple. we stopped and took photos on our phones at the edge of the world and i sent some to my love in france hoping for apocalyptical sympathy.

and then i was over again, we were through the smoke and fire and out the other side, and in fact later we learned from nick it was a ‘controlled burn’, but truly, i never saw a thing like it. the whole world up in orange, the whole sky turned to vapoured lava.

so anyway, next driving, with that memory behind, came the part that’s always the best, between balingup and nannup where hills come straight out of the ground all green with pines dotted across that has made me think the exact same thoughts each year. and sections where the road is all tree lined but the trees were there before the road and have the energy of their hundreds of years and the thousands and millions of years of the soil they draw from and the endless energy of the infinite waters they call into themselves and breathe back out again.

when we go through those trees i think already about all the people who’ll be on shrooms and ecstacies and mdmas and think how they’ll get to feel this thing that’s already there waiting for them, the shimmering of every leaf and every tree, the endless love that can flow from and to them from each face they see.

well, when you arrive it’s tent time, finding the perfect place, reacquainting with the river and beginning the stream of greetings that will last two and a half days and then into the community life that’s changed forever afterwards: nat, tera, joni, first three women to draw their smiles up and outwards, knowing special things about each to already feel thankful for…

kids already, tents already, food vans already, a newly flowered stage, CAMP DOOGS proclaimed in wood and fluouro tubing waiting to be lit, and vines and flowers wrapped all round it, and a million art pieces waiting to be lit or touched or listened to or moved across when everyone was finally in place for the weekend’s wanderings.

and so started the weekend of everyone choosing their own adventure, and everyone’s adventure mainly ending in something wonderful. mine took me back and forth from the stage, missing some of my favourite friends’ music and catching others but always moving with whatever felt like the persons or places to be at the time. missed hootenanny but took a special photo of hootenanny’s nan with her tiny child and bigger man behind her grinning face. saw methyl ethel, eyes open, eyes closed, some of the songs bringing me shivers, letting my mouth follow all the words to all the songs i already know and have deep down in me. missing mathas but smiling at him too each time we passed in the campsite, hiphop town boys under gum trees and beside only just waterproof tents. and big sounds from mutton and DEAD but i was in the zone of moving, swimming, tenting, watching boys jump from the highest branch over the river, taking photos of amber b and axel kissing with half their bodies in and half their bodies out of the water, ellen’s face lighting up and breaking into laughter at them hamming up the aquatic romance.

that first night i wore lipstick, ruby woo, big red, like essential tomato sauce on a hotdog. i was in the tent of ash baroque, drag queen, and his friend aaron, who became a friend too. the next night they’d both be in g-strings, spreading their cheeks toward amber bateup’s camera, ash whirlying his willy and little grey nuts and ginger hair across the stage and flying at me off the stage to dance me into the dirt. he took the fall though, flinging his white bodyback to the ground first to protect me from the impact. loren chastised him but he said “i protected her! i wouldn’t let amber be hurt!”

this is part of the freedom we were afforded, in this paradise made by the hands of friends – to be sexy one night, lipstick, lace, and the next day to walk along the forested dirt paths with dust encrusted bare feet, dirty tshirts, dirty shorts, sun-red noses. mei, finally making it to a doogs, and with her band it was the first moment of many to look out over a night-time crowd, CAMP DOOGS spelled now in pink light over us all, and see everyone together, dancing for the joy of pride of our place, time, sound, love. mmm.

i danced to brett murray djing and then wandered again with matt, him leaving me mid-d and m to make me go dance in the party van, and in comes laura, kucka, to get down lo together, gyrating and putting our hands to the ceiling which for once in this tiny club bus we could touch. and past deep doogs, which would go all night, all the next night, but which i’d pass by like a thousand other possible treats and conversations. but like i said, every adventure leads to wonder.

and so also with lipstick on we watched kirin callinan. i stood at the side with my friend shannon to bathe in kirin’s emanating heat and unbridled giving. when he sang the words “and god is in the water” it made my whole spirit shake at a fast and tiny pace, like it did when he played that same song at the Death of the Bakery(RIP). he asked if everyone knew donny benet and one boy did and started shaking visibly and so kirin got him up on stage. the boy kept shaking as kirin did perhaps a cover, and then called for all to come on the stage and so everyone rushed it, even shannon and i from the sides, til eventually kirin made us all hoist his glistening body upwards to the scaffolding of the tiny stage, and he hung on the railing posing for photos with the wild mess of people he’d created almost taking care where they were treading below and also spilling beers and happiness all over the stage.

i think i’d been dancing that night near little alby from shit narnia, in his long overalls, grinning like a country banshee, gentle and wild too, like almost everyone seemed to become. overflowing love, overflowing gentle spiritedness, overflowing baccanalian ecstacies where it’s all glow and glitter rather than vomit and tears.

there are always tears too. my friend told me about taking shrooms and crying for his mother, sick with dementia, and crying for feeling alone, even though his friends took care of him, whisking him kindly into some first aid arms til the shrooms were gone.

little rory too, shroomed or mdmaed or ecstacied, coming up and telling me his true feelings, his overwhelming love feelings of gratefulness, which made tears choke up into my own throat.

i felt toddy’s beating heart too, holding him close on saturday night as his body tried to work everything he’d poured inside it out without dying, the fastest beating heart, drooping eyes, words of affection and a body dripping into give-up.

…….but all the rest of that will come later, part II…..

SATURDAY

well, that part one was way too fruity, so this time i’ll just do you the highlights.

nick odell of alzabo brought his children, and his children brought everyone joe. little cuddle-pie zen masters, being cool always as in, being in the moment always. me, nick allbrook, and tiny archer walked around the grounds like a little glowy family. archer fell asleep with his tiny arms around my neck. we walked to the river, sharing holding him and nick stripped into his little undies and i stripped to my little white undies and we took turns swimming and watching over the tiny sleepypie daytime child of archer. boys were jumping off the big branch again, this time i think leigh from flower drums did a back flip off it. what is it like to have a family? i don’t know. but having a 2 hour pretend family is just grand.

nick had arrived earlier. the odells picked him up. i was waiting for a hamburger but then i got the feeling in my spirit ‘nick is here’ so i left the little burger ticket with some friends and ran to where i thought in my spirit they would be and there was nick, all glowing and ready for a day of wandering round as a pretend family and later playing one song with me by the river for the bigboy river set and later again getting up on the shoulders of steve summerlin of alzabo and me up on the shoulders of will stoker of will stoker and the embers and the bachelorette and half dancing half shoulder ride wrestling and nick getting so turned up that he jumped on stage after ben protasiewicz of pat chow played such a beautiful set of songs with his lovely eyes darting round the people up in the deep energy-brewing van he was playing in, people watching from inside and people like us watching from outside up on shoulders or down on haystacks. yes, great songs just him and his eyes and the guitar and his beard being great. and after nick got up and sung one alain bashung song called ‘osez josephine’ on ben’s nice guy borrowed guitar.

anyway, back to the very morning i was sleeping alone in my tent. friday night had turned into saturday morning and i had turned into what i am, a woman alone in a tent with dirty and clean clothes and batteries and musical instruments and a toothbrush somewhere and a little light hanging from the top of the tent, all this in a tiny sea on top of a body and a doona and a sheepskin jacket as a pillow.

then outside the tent i heard “AMBER FRESH, where is amber fresh?” and it was my two adopted brothers, jacob and matthew aitken, who helped put the whole thing together, and big burly emlyn johnson of emlyn johnson and kirin callinan of kirin callinan all wide and fluffy eyed and talking like charred steaks around the camp fire. i crawled out and there was talk of the river, but instead we went and go coffees and kirin and i finally became friends because he wasn’t able to talk having got heavily on all the pills and powders offered in the evening, night, early morning (this is just hypothesis).

everyone was wandering round, some people would have seen leure and erasers and sui zhen and alzabo and injured ninja but i was wandering and swimming and having stephen bellair help set up some little amplifier on top of the big leg root of the big special tree down by the river. i was so tired and slept in my tent while kitchen people played, but from my tent i could hear how great they were. it was just the same as last year when big blondey dean’s other band hideous sun demon played. that year i was laying out flat in my tent too and hearing too how good they are, always good in tiny places but even better with big boy speakers and out in the woods with nothing stopping them from being 100% real. yes, i like them bands, and they like to play great music it seems. all that big bass coming all the way down the sandy paths through the trees and to my tent by the river.

outlordz i got to on time, and stayed long enough to see hamish throw a can that hurtle struck beautiful toby in the nose and cut him open, big drops of lovely bright blood jumping straight out of his face and hamish feeling sorry and toby feeling surprised to suddenly be opened in public like a can.

then i had to run to the river. people came and sat all around and i tried to wait for stephen bellair to arrive but then had to just start playing, the river flowing just like it had when emlyn played the year before and when peter bibby played the year before, and everyone listening like then too as i sung, for once with my eyes open, hoping to give something very good to people and sipping on vb and nick coming down to sing one song in the middle about his grandmother gone and underground at karrakatta cemetery. it felt very special in the way that it seems like a glowing dream, a sea of faces and a big tree under us all.

i went to see that tree on sunday morning. i had almost forgotten how good it was, even though it’s roots stretched all the way out across the weekend. when i looked at it, with the river behind and it stretching all the way above everything, it started sparkling again and giving power. all it takes is to be by that tree for a moment, free, and it talks to you in a way you didn’t realise was possible, like extra ears opening up inside your body for a new kind of music.

and, missed lots of the other bands, even dear catlips, beautiful katie campbell who i like to just smile at as well and hope she thinks nice things back. she had dancers, but i missed them. and tim richmond band with the boys in it who became friends but i got to see them five days later at mojos all great songs like melbourne without sadness, just the good bits and tim the singer teaching me how to make beef stroganoff just by explaining it. and superstar – missed. and scott and charlene’s weeding – just two minutes of seeing them to make me in love. strong songs, the blonde man real and sweating out reality and true words and everyone in the band rising up like an australian castle. and then grace barbe. oh grace barbe. the doogs people did the right thing, to give honor to Real Musicians and to have someone humble and a star and making the crowd actually do dance moves at the most special time of the night. we all danced a lot, during the bands, between the bands. when i wasn’t dancing it felt like “i can’t possibly dance another moment” and when i was dancing it felt like “i can’t do anything but dance every again”.

when no zu played i was by the side with dom from injured ninja and with chloe from true dreamz. we couldn’t help our bodies moving and didn’t want to. at one moment the beautiful boxer shorts singer with a face like george foster from moist oyster sung the words “one touch and i live forever” and the words actually shot through me like a true shooting star and my hands went straight up in the air as if i were on some great drugs that made my body move in shooting ways to music, and i looked and chloe’s arms had shot straight up in the air at the same time. my mind wasn’t strange with anything except the music and the moment, and it shot my arms up like that. woh. NO ZU everyone loved it.

well. i could tell you a terrific number of things more, but there’s a tiny taste, of one person’s choose your own adventure of doogs. if you don’t like it, you can spit it out. if you do like it, you can take it to the river and make a little sail for it and send it out across the water and see if it comes back next year.

photo Aliza Caruso

A Lasting Tinder Date and CellF, from Reabold Hill

Andrew Ryan

Amber walked up Reabold Hill to see the city and listen to birds. On that highest point of the Swan Coastal Plain in the metropolitan area she reflected on David Craft’s video single launch, a Tinder romance that lasted, and Guy Ben-Ary’s recent CellF project through Symbiotica, where he grew an ‘external brain’ and taught it to play modular analogue synthesisers, culminating in a improvisation with jazz drummer Darren Moore at the Nedlands Masonic Hall.

You can listen to her review here.

Lessons From Betty The Pug

Andrew Ryan

Well, I’m looking after a dog at the moment and I’m trying to learn, from this particular dog’s life, things about all life. The first thing I got taught was to open my heart. Betty the Pug follows me everywhere, even into the shower where she smells my clothes for a little while, then sits down into them, then watches me while I enjoy very hot water on my skin.

The other thing she is teaching me is to not worry about anything, and that I’d be just as fine if I did nothing instead of a million things. I could live in a hut made of bark with no apple products and it would be just fine. And she’s teaching me to smell everything. I was walking on my own this afternoon, doing a more challenging walk than Betty can handle, but I was still thinking of her and at the top of the hill, with banksias and gum trees and zamias all around and the Indian Ocean full of sharks in the backdrop, I went onto my hands and knees for a little bit to smell the ground. I wondered if Betty can smell more because she’s closer to the ground, as well as having special skills.

Anyway. All my friends love walking, like dogs. Nick’s going for a month on his own tomorrow, into the wilderness. Jake says it’s the only thing that’s like music but I know he means it’s much better than music. Emlyn goes everywhere with a tiny backpack, even across the country, sometimes with not even enough underpants to last the time. Peter just wants to grow vegetables, instead of playing shows all the time.

I played with all of them this week, plus Erasers, who launched their album, and who whenever they play I really do go into a different place where The Big talks to me. Plus Mudlark, who, the same way, take you all over, just with four hands.

Peter Bibby, Nicholas Allbrook, Emlyn Johnson, Methyl Ethel, Dianas, Benjamin Witt, Mudlark, Erasers, all actually incredible, and all who I got to share the stage with this week, and all of whom have music out recently to listen to.

Anyway. It was good to get back to soup kitchen. Last week and this week, too many people to talk to for the amount of time and body I have. But I have to remember Betty, even doing nothing you can fulfil your purpose as a being, just letting love flow in and out, eating, walking, smelling things. That’s plenty for a life.

Well, I was on a grassy hill with Nick watching the moon come up – the biggest moon, the yellow moon, the moon to take your breath a little bit away, and then give it back to you, all the while seeming not to move but hurtling a very long and fast way across the entire sky that we know. We were talking about this country, and all the houses and computers and roads and cars resting on it, and how sad we still are that it’s just a stolen country without anyone really making it right. We talked about it a lot, and had all been thinking about it, me, Nick, Pete when he was deep in drugland during Wave Rock Festival the day before. So we were sitting on that hill and talking about it, thinking about it.

The next days I was at soup kitchen and a man who I met a long time ago and always tells me things told me again about when he was little. He doesn’t talk about it often because it’s too hard. It was in a Mission, even though he was only born in 1955. He told me, “My parents had to apply for citizenship, and they were denied the first time.” That’s people who’s ancestors had been on the land for thousands of years. And he told me, “When I was born, I wasn’t even a citizen.” And he told me, “My parents had to ask the government if they could get married, not their own parents.” And he told me, “We were considered like vermin. You don’t think twice before killing vermin.” And many other things.

One story he told me, that one day he will put into a film, was when he threw a little rock and it hit a boy “Here.” He showed me the place it hit the other boy, just next to his nose. And I could imagine it exactly. And then the people on the Mission made him fill a whole bucket with little rocks, and then they made him carry that bucket everywhere he went for a whole week. And beat him, etc. And of course my eyes were filling up, and he started to say to not think about it, but also, his own eyes were filling up when I told him, “We do think about it. I do think about it every day.” That made a good thing happen inside him and me. But the bucket with rocks, that doesn’t teach a little boy to not throw rocks, it just fills the boy up with rocks, you know?

Anyway, we’re all getting healed each day, healing each other, by listening to the story of the stone, looking at the moon, walking around, watching each other lovingly in the shower, singing songs etc, two hands, four hands, four feet, just leaves, etc, etc, etc.

Amber in Paris #6 An Old Moroccan Woman in the Metro Laughs in the Face of the Pride of Mankind

Andrew Ryan

well, hello! hello to all the sads, all the happies. whatever you are, you are not alone. none of us are alone. i was with my friend and we stopped by the side of the road in the french countryside to take photos of an apple tree, and i climbed up a fig tree, a big big fig, and my friend took photos of my feet as i climbed, as vines wrapped around me and as i wrapped myself around the tree, looked at all its lichens, looked at all its mosses, looked upwards through its leaves and downwards past my own body and the skin of the tree to my friend below. well i climbed back down, and a little branch made a big crack, and i lowered myself into the arms of my friend, feeling strong in my own arms, feeling grateful to be lowering slowly toward the heart and whole body of another.

as we walked to the car a man approached along the road. he had his hand bandaged and his face was bandaged with fear and anger. and in fact, he was angry, white and red in the face, keeping a little bit inside him and letting the rest out towards us, us who he thought were robbers, there to collect all his apples off all his apple trees, and all his peaches and pears. but he didn’t say hello, he just got white and red. i wanted to say to him many things, like, “you know, the universe is very very old,” and “you know, it’s not you who makes the trees grow and the trees grow apples and the rain come down from the clouds,” and “man, we’re very sorry to have caused you pain, you, beautiful farmer, making things push up from the ground so we can survive,” and “à qui appartient le monde?” but i stayed very quiet. and now i imagine him as a man walking towards us and saying “you seem like strangers, maybe you’d like to come inside for a hot chocolate and maybe you could play me a song on the piano and pray for my hand which i hurt as i grew delicious apples for all sorts of strangers like you to eat.” yeah, that would have been pretty nice.

well, this is about how to win in life. i’ve still been reading the book on the rwandan genocide. the woman who writes it finds a few small ways to win, but not many. but the thing is, if you have freedom you can still win somehow. how do you live to make as many people as possible win, when you’re from a part of the world that owns the boardgame? help me figure out it.

i was walking alone this time, in the bois de vincennes, big forest on the edge of the city where The Big took my hand and led me round for a few hours talking to me about the past, the present and the future. i dreamed about this forest before i came here, dreamed about the two lakes and about listening on a public telephone to men singing barber shop harmonies, and riding round the lakes on my bike. well, i was walking through the actual forest and started seeing tents. the tents looked like they’d been there a long time, like the people who stayed in them were staying for a long time, unmolested by the police or any men coming to claim a tree as their own. so i was thinking about these tents, and missing the men i usually see on tuesday nights who live on the street or in crappy dwellings in my city.

along the path i saw a man, with dreadlocks and a beanie and dark skin and big eyes and a guitar swung over his shoulder. he said to me “hello pretty lady”. instead of keeping on walking i stopped, because i wanted to hear some music. despite the “pretty lady”, there was something about the man that made me know he was friendly, and so when he invited me to his tent i said “yes”. he was going to be practice for a festival and i wanted to listen. as we walked to the tent he asked me if i play music too, and i said yes, and asked if i sing and i said “yes, but not like an angel”, but, you know, in french.

by the tent there were bits of rubbish and bits of useful things and the man called to his girlfriend in the tent, who didn’t want to come out. he started making a fire out of coals and pine cones and asked me to sing. again, instead of saying “no” i said “yes”, and sung a song to him, to the forest, to the trash, to his girlfriend in the tent, to my friends back home, to the clouds that i’ve been dreaming about, to the future and past and present. and Ja Prince, the man with the dreadlocks who lives in a tent in the forest, made his fire, and got vegetables ready to cook for dinner. that was nice.

i sat for a while by the fire, soaking up the smoke with my hair, and eventually Ja Prince’s girlfriend came out of the tent, an old lady with just a dress and no other clothes on, with hair a little bit like my mum’s, and limbs a little bit like the limbs of someone who puts needles in. it was nice there by the fire, with sparks coming off the pine cones far into the air as those two talked over each other a little bit in a mixed argument but like they were giving up arguing all the while they were arguing. they talked about living in the forest, and the girlfriend about her rich family and all her rich friends from the past and of how france has turned to merde, and about how parisians are so stuck up. i understand it’s hard to live in a forest on the edge of the city, but at the same time, i also see it as winning, in certain ways. it’s not perverse, trust me.

there was also an old lady in the metro who talked to me for a while. she was sitting against a wall with a cup out for money, a big coat and doona falling around her like a beautiful triangular frame for her soft face. i know her face is soft because she touched my hand after talking for a while and i felt her skin, soft like my grandmother’s whose skin i can’t touch anymore. she was losing too, in a way, here on the dirty concrete of the metro, a cup out to collect money, but she also told me her secret thoughts as well, that the people who don’t give her any money are actually ridiculous, holding onto their coins as if they can take it all down to the grave with them. she made a motion with her hand as she said this, indicating the grave, and we both laughed about the silliness of this idea, holding on tight to things that cannot last.

hmm… she didn’t let me take a photo of her, even though we’d talked for a long time, which made me happy for her, and also reminded me of peter bibby’s song ‘material’, with it’s ‘i’m not your material’ refrain running through all ironic and iconic and strong. well, i finished the film anyway and took it into the lab and it came back all white, just light, because there was no battery left, and i guess because everything is made of light. i nearly cried as i thought of all the photos of all the friends i never see, and of the woman with arms stretched out across the wall of the cemetery i love, with men’s faces engraved all around, on the day when she glowed in a way she surely can’t always glow. anyway, i nearly cried, but then i realised i could give the money i would have spent on developing prints to medecins sans frontiers, going into all the world to bandage poor wretched people wounded by ridiculous wars, and in the face of that i laughed, and said to myself “i know the secret to win in the world!”

yeah. so, apples, genocide, rastafarians in tents, old moroccan women with soft skin. see you soon.

Amber in Paris #5 Tame Impala at Rock en Seine, Paris 30 August 2015

Andrew Ryan

Pretty much every morning I wake up with songs of one of my friends or acquaintances in my head. At the moment it’s the last 135 seconds of “Let It Happen” by Tame Impala, or, as it’s affectionately known in my mind “Let It Happon.”

I got to see this song played to a billion people in Paris on the weekend. Like, to a sea of people. I tried to get them all into my eyesight at one time but it was impossible. A sea of people all loving the same music. This was the thing that was beautiful about it. Friends’ faces a billion metres high projected beside tiny normal them, hair bouncing, playing these special creations to a whole sea of humans.

While they played we stood in a little loose group, Nick, Ash, Anne, Julie, dancing, grinning at one another. But yeah, the biggest thing was that – that these songs are inside so many people now, right inside, and watching them pour the songs out over this sea was what my mind called over and over ‘The Biggest Treat.’ After dancing the normal way for a while, except always with my hands in front of me in the air, I closed my eyes for a very long time. The new songs – I didn’t understand them the first times I listened… ‘What is Kevin doing!?’ I asked myself – and then after one moment, a simultaneous moment with another friend who was on the other side of the country in Australia, I understood them. We wrote to each other on Facebook, like ‘Ooohhhh, now I get it!’ Suddenly it just happoned.

So yeah, I closed my eyes and put my hands out in front and felt the gathering into my hands of all the good feeling of this whole sea of people. I wondered if we were glowing, the sea and my hands; and then I put my hands down into the waters of the Seine – it was a long way away but with my eyes closed it was right there in front of me – and I shot the good feelings out of the ends of my fingers into the waters, pouring healing into the river that makes its way continually through the whole city.

There’s a story in the bible about some river where people go to go put their bodies in and get healed. There’s enough bad things in the world that something like that could possibly spontaneously happen, a river turning into a river of healing and everyone takes their heartbreak and depression and war to dip in it and be fixed. So, while Tame played that’s what I was doing, making the river with every good feeling around. And then the sun went down slowly over the top of us, and Nick and me had many hugs which meant ‘We’re so happy our friends are so amazing,’ and also meant the joy of being with these tens of thousands of people who had the same tastes some amazing how.

Out the back Nick tried to explain in hilariously great beginners French to a French boy how AFL works, our version of football, and I laughed when we were making crude semen jokes and a French person joined in the conversation and within two minutes it had traversed to Molière and how French and English and German diverged as languages and how much of a role various playwrights had in this process.

~ ~ ~

The next day Jodie said to come to a place called La Géode, so my temporary sweetheart took me there on the tram and left me in sight of the big silver ball (http://wfiles.brothersoft.com/l/la-geode-france_106375-1920×1200.jpg). I didn’t know what was going to be happoning, but I took a few steps after the goodbye kiss and then heard those magical songs again. Down below all tiny and sweating in the sun were the boys, I waved and the security man let me in. They were filming for Blogothèque, a French website. Kevin had apparently chosen this massive beautiful landmark to film in front of, and again as the clouds and the sun moved over the sky, the ball lit itself and the boys up in beautiful ways, the water of the moat below playing its own frequencies and making a million waves of glowing light, and it was exactly the cover of the album as well.

They played the songs over and over, and I talked to Jodie about album business and love and I almost broke a coffee machine, and sweated with all the other hangers-on. The boys were listening back, Cam folding and stuffing as much pizza as possible into his body, and Dom said to me ‘Aren’t you getting sick of hearing the same songs over and over again?’ But I told him the truth that I hadn’t realised til then: that these songs are like a place you can stay for a very very long time, and perhaps that’s why they’re special for a whole sea of people all across the silver globe. Like, right now, I’ve been listening for an hour to those 135 seconds of the end of Let it Happen over and over, and I’ll be fine for another hour still. I said to Dom that it’s like how you never get sick of looking at the clouds, right? And, yeah, that’s the way I feel.

Nick had brought me Vegemite and gave it to me, the boys kept sweating and recording til the power died, and Ringham and Joe and I played the game where you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on your own body and if the other person looks in it and doesn’t stick their finger in it you get to punch them pretty hard on the arm or the chest. It’s not Molière, but it’s a pretty fucking great game. Dom gave me sunglasses that some shop had given the boys, new beautiful sunglasses like the quality of things I never have because I never buy anything and am not a rockstar. My hands and heart were full. Cam and I made a deal that he’d also get me sunglasses, we spit in our hands and I made him eat it after. So gross. But we are Australians. And Gum was getting deep into Instagram and we tried to convince him Peter Cole is the person to follow if he only wants to follow one person in the Instagram world, as he started unfollowing people and then had to unfollow everyone else to not offend anyone, golden boy that he is.

Anyway, all of this to say, Tame Impala at Rock En Seine were a thing to behold, tiny and enormous, and all the more tiny and enormous as we caught the train home and heard French people discussing the songs, humming them, glowing a little bit in their faces from having seen something they’d been waiting for, dipping their bodies into it, coming out a little bit better for it, some magical how.

Amber in Paris #3 Frogs are the Best People

Andrew Ryan

so soft other humans. i hope wonderful things are happening for you. wonderful things arriving from wonderful times, and wonderful things arriving from times that seem to hard to bear.

im in the apartment in the dark. beautiful david who lives in a tiny room upstairs and comes down to use the kitchen and the bathroom just came by to brush his teeth or collect condoms or just to see our faces. we’ll never know. he just came down in his boxer shorts, his hair is blond at the ends and dark all the rest of the way through, and his mum sees lights flashing by when people in his family die.

asleep, perhaps by now in her bed is melody, getting rested before flying away to america to do shows. i was sitting by her room on the loungey chair, while eva made me a special drink with herbs from melody’s parents garden to help my little throat, and i took the guitar and played ‘hot date’ very softly and without singing the lyrics, just humming, through to melody lightly through the wood of her bedroom door. i imagined her with a smile across her face as she fell asleep, remembering the days of friendship we clothed ourselves in, tears, embraces, prayers, much talk of how dear our dear friends are.

and andras fox is on his way back here with a bottle of wine that i’ll leave to the others, after passing a day of swimming in pools and a day before of buying sunglasses from a man who played the ud in his store and watched ud youtube clips as andy browsed all the frames from 1920 and 1950 and 1960 with special names of special designers. i left after 20 minutes but andy was there for 5 hours, eventually getting taken to a small cafe by a rival vintage sunglass frame peddler who said he had the same pairs for half the price.

an architecht came to see me today. he told us great stories about the way the air feels at his parents home in the south of france after the rain. i remember the word “felt”, as in, that soft touching jumper you might wear while you’re doing meditation in a room with your friend, and all your other friends are brought to mind before your closed eyes, and as each one comes before you, you put good energies across them and see lovely things for and about them and you clothe them in light and touch their faces and their private parts but only as much as you’re meant to.

so last week a man drove me to a forest here, in a very old mercedes where only one door opened so we both had to get in on one side and squiggle across. we went walking in that forest, and came upon a marsh after a while, and some frogs were talking in it. i tried to see – was it frogs or was it little fish jumping in there? and i had the feeling to go over to one side of the marsh and sit by it, and even though it’s hard to express my feelings in a different language, i did, and so we went to the other side of the marsh and sat there by that tree i’d felt to visit. after a few minutes we were quiet and just listened as one by one the frogs jumped, and i tried to learn the name of dragonfly – “libelule”, and touched my hand against the mosses. and after a few minutes a new things happened, in that the entire marsh slowly awakened with ten million thousand billion frogs all singing at exactly the same time. the sound flew in a slow immense wave from one side of the marsh to the other, our two human mouths open in the most complete awe possible at this two minutes of magic, until it all stopped and we sat in awed silence waiting for it to happen again, which, in fact, it never did. we had come just at the right time to hear this one thing, one thing i will never forget.

i went to a big party too, on a boat that david explained a few days later had been sailed over from england where they used to use boats as lighthouses instead of building them on rocks, to show where the sandbanks were. there were drugs around (not in me), and there were just the normal people that go to bars all over the world, andras fox did djing, and my friends asked “how do you know it’s him?”, because he was far away in the dj booth in the dark with a sea of french and australian people swinging their bodies in front of him and i said “i recognise the way he moves” which is in fact the best way to recognise people from afar even if you hardly know them. a great dj set with some australian music with the old languages in it that made me grin wildly in the dark. but still, the frogs, they took the marshy cake.

we went to radio france too, and got to play on the big steinway piano where they record all the famous classical musicians and i played to the others in the dark and we all did duets and the french friends did fake french improvised operas that i wasn’t sure when to laugh in, but yes, still, the frogs win everything.

one thing i’ve been thinking about and saying a little to my friend here, and my friend who sends voice messages back and forth with me from tour, long messages that go in waves across the marsh of time and distance, is that in perth everything is free in music and art – as in, people don’t really try too hard. i said to eva how someone will make something that took five minutes and everyone will say “that’s siiiiiiick!”. and we discussed how this is the great thing and the not so great thing – but mainly great. there is freedom there. (this is an intense generalisation and not particularly true, but there’s a truth in there that people from that place might recognise.) and soon afterwards she was talking with another australian who explained mr squiggle to her, after she’d said how it takes about a year for her to make a drawing. he showed her mr squiggle on the internet, and showed how in one minute, upside down, mr squiggle could take a spontaneous piece and turn it into exactly what it was meant to be. so, i’m going to wonder for a moment now, whether those frogs try or just do, and then head to the dream world where i’ll see them again and maybe speak the same language too.

Poststructural Exorcism/ Jatz and Chillblanes. Up Close and Perthonal with Jake Webb, Methyl Ethel

Andrew Ryan

OPTIONAL PREFACE TO INTERVIEW – fifty shades of physio.

it’s been a great day already… abc radio in the car on the way to the physio, beautiful physio putting needles in my back, his elbow into my back, strapping a mystery square of tape across my shoulders and body, me thinking ‘stereo tape delay’ as i felt it pulling against my skin, big thick heat pads on my back, looking at his shoes, his soft voice, him revealing his body’s in trouble too… then going to matt’s and him showing the ‘eggopoly’ pieces he’s been making out of fimo [perth/egg-themed monopoly sets, handmade], explaining how in the game if you buy enough street food vans you can then buy a street festival, etc. cooking up fruit toast from the soup kitchen for breakfast, coffee from matt, giggling, spinning my shirt round my head while showing the physio taped wings across the body… then the big drive back to freo, hearing the voice of The Big say ‘stop the car NOW, john’s gonna be there, round the corner, go see him’.

john was there, he lives on the street, nick copied a bunch of albums onto my computer at john’s request so i can put them on his ipod – “‘another brick in the wall’, you know who that is?” john asked me, “pink floyd”, i said, “yes! bizo music, that’s what i need.” john said etc. so i have pink floyd for him, and some arthur russell etc. we’re meeting tomorrow to make the exchange.

THE INTERVIEW – DERRIDA, JATZ ETC.

and now, we present to you an interview with jake webb, singer, guitarist, creator of methyl ethel. top memories of jake – 1. sitting under big mulberry trees in bayswater, alongside a stream and weeping willows in this secret green wonderland you have to jump big fences to get to, talking about how good camp doogs was, drawing with mulberries and grass on the pages of the diary. 2. playing at doogs together, him me and sam, planning the show down by the blackwood river before we played, sitting in a little triangle in the long grasses of the riverbank, planning without instruments because that’s the best way. 3. driving with jake out to the pinnacles, white salt and sand rises growing out of the desert landscapes on the way, the heat nearly sucking all life from one’s body out among the ancient yellow pinnacle phalanges, all their sandy veins in delicate ancient impermanency, lasting forever.

anyway. jake made a great album more or less recently, as was always going to happen. his two eps as methyl ethel before were beautiful – not as beautiful as him singing the songs in front of you in a warm dim loungeroom, coloured paper lights and orange heater making it all perfect – but, beautiful. they get played more than anything else in my car, to and from everywhere, i sing along when i’m alone. nick and i listened to ‘oh inhuman spectacle’ all the way through together in that kind of silence that a true thing of beauty can create, just breaking the quiet once in a while only to say how good it was, etc. etc. anyway, whatever, here is an interview, conducted on the slate of chris wright (methyl ethel drummer)‘s studio room. thom, methyl ethel bass player, and i made up a game a few weeks ago where one person draws some ‘thing’ some small thing that’s not meant to be anything in particular, and the other person has to come up with five things it might be… “it’s the beak of a bird, piercing water”, “it’s a heart on a string” “it’s a shakespearean fence separating lovers” etc. then you make up a system to order the answers and ask the person to pick a number between 1 and 5, and whichever answer your system means it lands on, that’s what you owe them. [i just wanted to mention the other players in the band, done.]

so yeah, here’s jake webb, of methyl ethel, talking about some of his feelings, french deconstructionist/poststructuralist theory, storm troopers walking long distances, jatz crackers etc, sitting on the slate floor in the dark with yours truly.

~the sound of two people taking thin slices of cheese, jatz crackers, and their own bodies into a small dark studio room ~

amber dictates to her iphone: “we’re in chris wright’s room. jake just went to put on his dressing gown.”

jake: coughs sorry i was cough cough i have very bad cat allergies apparently. so my bronchioles, broncosauruses are swollen, so i may cough throughout.

amber: that’s alright, it’s gonna be typed up, and i know how to spell ‘cough.’

j + a: ~ brief talk of asthma puffers, steroids. cheese and crackers, cupie mayonnaise etc ~

j: yesterday i had cupie mayonnaise on jatz.

a: that’s pretty disgusting.

j: give that a try, maybe some peanut butter on jatz…

a: that’s not crazy. just mayonnaise though, that’s crazy.

j: what can i say, i like condiments.

j + a: ~ crunching sounds

a: um. what shall i ask you about?

j: i dunno, that’s your job.

a: what are you reading at the moment?

j: kim gordon’s book.

a: oh yeah, what’s it like.

j: it’s good.

a: oh yeah. what’s it about?

j: kim gordon.

a: REALLY, what’s it about?

j: it’s about her life. you know who she is, right?

a: yeah.

j: well, yeah, it’s just about her. [this is the sound of an interview not going well up to this point, just wait though, he’ll warm up]

i’ve done that thing again where i’ve just read four or five chapters of a lot of books and stopped. i’m also reading the three stigmata of palmer eldridge by pkd [Phillip K Dick]
which is really good but i’ve just stopped again, you know?

a: ok so… the songs on your album. um. what are they about? [both laughing]

j: [laughs more at shit question] hmm. heaps of different things.

a: are there any books in any of them?

j: yeah, i guess so.

a: what books?

j: there’s a reference to nietzsche in a song, slightly.

a: like to an idea of his, or a specific …?

j: the title, but also to the whole book itself.

a: what is ‘oh inhuman spectacle’?

j: it’s a – this won’t surprise you at all amber – but it’s from a lecture on derrida.

a: yeah, by who?

j: i can’t remember what his name was. he was talking about… … it was either derrida or baudrillard… it was probably baudrillard cos i think it was a reference to reality television. he called it the great inhuman spectacle. because it’s supposed to be a direct representation of life but it’s kind of completely the opposite.

a: hm

j: so, i guess as far as the whole album goes, it’s like… the side of your life that’s not private. that you live, kind of before everybody else. how your business just happens to be everybody’s business. so, it’s funny when people ask me what the songs are about directly… i mean, a lot of what i talk about in the album is how i don’t like to talk about what is my own private business, because it’s not for anybody else, it’s for me to know.

a: yeah… i know you’re quite private, but is that something you feel like is a good thing? or do you want to be more open to people?

j: i’m getting better, but… i don’t think it’s a good thing. i think it probably does more damage than it does good. but i’m getting better… at it. [being more open]

a: how come?

j: how am i getting better?

a: how has that happened?

j: instead of assuming that people are thinking things, i’m just going to them and saying ‘hey look, what’s going on, what’s happening?’ you know ‘this is what i think, is this right?’ generally i’m wrong, and it fixes things. who would have thought?! who would have thought that talking about stuff can generally heal things.

a: me

j: [both laughing] i’m learning. but…

a: what did that lecture have to do with nietzsche? or is that a separate topic

j: it wasn’t nietzsche, it was derrida and baudrillard. he was just explaining their theories. don’t ask me to explain them. i feel like i’ve got a rudimentary grasp on it all…

a: my brain’s not good for philosophy. i feel like that’s a ridiculous thing to say, but it’s true.
… you know ella harwood who did that picture of your face, do you still talk to her sometimes? [ella is a teenager in england who drew this beautiful and melancholy portrait jake used to use as his band photo https://www.facebook.com/methylethel/photos/pb.718073734902237.-2207520000.1438234250./718075458235398/?type=3&theater]
j: no, i don’t.

a: how come?

j: well, i’m lucky if i even talk to my own sister.

a: oh ok.

j: you know, i’m not a very good communicator.

a: ohh yeah! [both laughing, this is true]

j: it sounds a bit strange – but i do think about her often, just in a … i feel like i want to do something nice for her.

a: maybe we should go and visit her one day.

j: she’s a supremely talented young girl.

a: yep. what was it about her art that you liked?

j: i dunno. nothing specific.

a: was that a dumb question.

j: yeah.

a: so is ‘what are your songs about’, but that’s ok.

j: she drew those crayon drawings of herself. self-portraits… jean cocteau did these single line drawings, a whole range of them, and i loved them so much. there’s actually a guy who sells them online and i contacted him once asking him how much they were. and they were very expensive as you could assume. however, i love those.

a: you would have to sell a lot of lemonade at your lemonade stand. do you look at art every day? i mean – obviously we don’t have a million spectacular galleries here – but do you go searching down different rabbit holes of art on the interwebs? or not really, you just have people who you love already…?

j: i do, yeah. everyday. i always feel like i’m searching for new things. it all seems… … one reason i don’t really like talking about things is because it’s nice having my thoughts up in my head and as soon as i put them into words i automatically start to hate them. i put it into words and i think ‘oh… i don’t like the way that sounds!’

the word ‘inspiration’, i don’t like it. because it seems like when you say ‘i’m always looking for inspiration’ it’s like inspiration is something you can just pick off a tree. or it’s like filling up your purse full of…

a: raspberries?

j: [chuckles] yeah.

a: i wasn’t thinking about art as in for inspiration, just for like, pleasure, looking up artists… um… when you are singing, do you feel free, then? like is any of it about expressing things that wouldn’t be expressed otherwise? or not?

j: yep, you got it.

a: well, i feel that way. you know, i say things in songs that i, to certain people, wouldn’t say.

j: yep. it’s all that. which is a bit unfair.

a: why?

j: because… if it is instead of having a conversation with someone, i would put it into a song, and i get a release from it, every time, it’s like a catharsis for me but it’s not for anybody else. and it’s only recently that i’ve realised that… there are things locked in those songs that every time i play them … it’s another exorcism you know? or that i play those songs sometimes and i have to put things out of my mind otherwise it’s just too much.

it doesn’t seem real, to talk about it. it seems like ‘oh that’s too romanticised’, but it’s the truth. it can be pretty difficult. and i know that for you it’s a … it’s completely [laughing]… it’s even more so.

a: hm. do you ever feel like your songs get reinterpreted back to you in a different way when you’re playing them? you know, that like you write it about one thing but then you find more things that it’s about that you didn’t know?

j: yeah.

a: hm

j: but also, i feel like a lot of them are just for me they’re stuck in the moment of when they came into existence, which is nice.

a: it is nice.

j: and i’ve got that for the rest of my life. i feel like the reinterpretation, the reinterpretation of the songs is the majority of the reason why i like to make music. for people to interpret things themselves.

a: you know how me and nathalie and caitlyn used to play with you, and then we didn’t anymore.

j: mm hmm…

a: how did that happen?

j: i guess, out of necessity.

a: i mean, how did you decide for that to happen?

j: it was as simple as nathalie and caitlyn, supremely talented musicians, much as yourself, had other commitments. and so, yourself as well, being a committed person… and sam went trekking..

a: but why have you decided to go for three instead of bigger?

j: it’s cheaper to travel with.

it’s cheaper and streamline. i mean, not to say that you guys aren’t all my close, good friends…

a: well, i can hardly even play guitar.

j: neither can we! it’s never been about playing ability. it’s been about being able to enjoy each other’s company. yeah, that’s the priority.

a: did thom and chris play on the album at all, or what it all your own…

j: thom played organ in a song and chris did some percussion.

a: but you did the rest of the drums?

j: mmhm.

a: mm… mmm

j: was that sounding like a ‘mmm i thought so, i would have done some things differently’? [laughing]

a: as if! was there any point at which you realised you had a special singing voice?

j: no. [pause] i don’t really like my voice.

a: awww. well everyone else does! really!? do you not like it at all? or you just don’t like when it’s so special?

j: what i like about it is that it is versatile. and that… i’m not constrained by gender in my voice. that’s what i like about it, that i can hear other people in it.

a: you mean just in your range, or in other parts.

j: i guess other parts.

a: what else, apart from range, do you mean you’re not constricted by the gendered voice in?

j: i’m lucky that i can sing the melodies that i want for the songs.

a: yeah, that’s so cool!

j: i feel very lucky about that. and i guess i write everything from my being able to sing it, you know. i’m super lucky i can sing all the harmonies… that’s the easy part.

a: that’s so cool. i often think about – like i imagine – being able to sing the notes that i could imagine, but then i’m like, ‘well, other people have that as their gift to everyone else.’ you, my friend sheryn. you know sheryn who used to sing with me sometimes? i might have played you her music… anyway

j: oh, yes! you have played me her music. it was…

a: like, nice pop music.

j: yeah, you played it for me in your car once driving somewhere.

a: yeah, she made one album, and she sold heaps of copies.

j: and she has a baby?

a: yeah, she has a baby.

j: and she just has a baby she doesn’t

j + a: do music anymore!

a: yeah, and many people were contacting her about making it big because she could have. [end of segue about people who can sing all the notes they can imagine]

so… what don’t you like about your voice.

j: i don’t like me in it. that’s what i don’t like. it’s like when you become aware of yourself speaking, it’s that feeling.

a: so. is there some other place in life where you don’t feel… like when you’re playing shows or whatever, well, you might be looking at what you’re doing but you’re still free, of that ~thing~… are there any other outlets that are in that way where you just feel free, or places in life where you just feel free to let yourself –

j: walking. walking long distances. going running somewhere. running around lake monger or something. there’s something about walking isn’t there.

a: yep.

j: seriously, that’s it. i guess if anyone ever wanted to know how it was to play music, they’re very similar aren’t they.

a: yep.

j: i was thinking about this yesterday as well.

a: yeah?

j: and i guess because it’s the one thing that every body, well, pretty much every body has experienced, when you’re a kid it’s like your first independence. first part of independence. i remember walking down to point walter as a kid from my house, a fourty five minute walk, and people would think you were crazy. but i loved it. where you have your cd walkman or tape cassette walkman which runs out of batteries half way through the walk, yeah, i dunno, i love it.

do you remember when i got on that big – i walked to fremantle and back –

a: yeah, i remember.

j: that’s right, we walked –

a: you walked to my house [20ks or something]

j: yeah, that’s freedom. for a couple of hours or something.

a: what were you thinking about yesterday, to do with walking?

j: this whole conversation. that anecdote about as a kid. it’s the great centering act.

a: nick said he’s going to walk the bibblemun after tour. in kung fu shoes [laughing]

j: alone?

a: yeah, of course alone.

j: of course. i was thinking how long it would take to walk to mandurah. probably a long time.

a: i feel like we’ve talked about that before.

j: my mind tells me that you can just walk the greatest distances.

a: yeah.

j: did you read actually in the news, that a guy in america, a stormtrooper in america, walked 800 kilometres –

a: a storm trooper, off starwars?

j: yeah, to comicon.

a: oh! you DO mean a stormtrooper.

j: yeah, a stormtrooper

a: walked how many?

j: 800 kilometres. in memorial of his wife, he walked to comicon. 800 kilometres.

a: ohh that’s beautiful.

j: that’s a long way to walk in a storm trooper suit.

a: yep.

j: so there you go. great things are possible, if you believe in the force.

a: it’s true. oh yeah, so what are your current thoughts on –

j: the force?

a: yeah, the force. the big.

j: the big release.

[laughter]

j: i dunno if this is an analogy or if you’re actually talking about star wars…

a: i’m actually talking about the universe. so yeah, i guess star wars in a way. like, you know, the bigger things.

j + a together: uuummmmm [laughing]

a: nah, you know like, have you had any special, like –

j: you know what. you once said to me something that i repeat very often.

a: hmm?

j: that sometimes, on a clear day, heavenly bodies appear in the sky.

a: [giggling]

j: and i say it often, and i look often.

a: hmm.

j: hmm.

a: hmm. alright.

j: and take from that what you will. i feel like we approach that same that exact same thing from different angles. but it’s the same angle.

i want to stand on that moon and look back at earth.

a: well… you can.

j: i know.

a: that’s within the – you know – human experience is within that circumference.

j: i do feel like one day, that will be very possible. what a view. have you seen pluto?

a: oh you mean, how the stars are at the moment?

j: no, the pictures…. well, last night, yeah venus and jupiter are [the stars are being very intense at the moment, lined up in a special way… but this is not what jake was trying to tell me]

a: and who’s the orange one to their right? cos they’re being so intense with one another.

j: so the bright one is venus. the one below is jupiter.

a: and you don’t know who’s to the right?

j: no.

a: i’ll put ‘bracket’s ed dot’ and the planet. [ed. didn’t find out yet] um but with pluto, is the planet/not planet thing happening again?

j: no i think there was a ship –

a: new photos of it?

j: the first photos, ever.

a: really!?

j: yeah, we’ve never really seen it before. anyway.

[ooohhhh]

a: but if you were asking me if i’d like to see earth.

j: ohhh my ass. put that in [more squealing]

a: what have you got a spasm or some shit?

j: i’ve just got, my ass has gone to sleep!

a: you gotta pummel it.

J: pummel it? [pummelling noises]

a: when i told jamie the name of a particular song, dr. honey’s whistle yesterday, he laughed so heartily.

j: oh did he. [whistling]. dr. honey’s [weeheww]
[giggling]

a: yeah i would prefer to just see everyone on earth be able to freely walk as far a distance as they like unmolested, than to see earth from the moon, you know?

j: yeah.

a: it’s not one of my desires.

j: that’s fair enough.

a: but i’m happy that it’s someone else’s desire, same as i’m happy that you can sing all the notes.

j: it’s not that i want to conquer the moon –

a: yeah.

j: [oooh] it’s just, hmm.

a: what is it?

j: you know – it’s like when you look at a view… and you sort of think ‘i want to look back here from there’?

a: hmm.

j: it’s kind of like the greatest example of that.

a: like, if where you are for music is earth, and the moon is you know, a far off destination, what is that moon? … that would be crazy to reach but you could reach it.

j: ok so, i think all it is is a just point of perspective to be able to look back… and… see the distance that you’ve travelled. and be able to have to perspective to say ‘wow, i’ve come a long way to be able to look back from here.’ and whatever happened to get here… … i guess to be able to just say, that the view’s pretty good.

[both giggling]

a: do you want some jatz with that cheese?

[more giggling]

j: or maybe get there and sort of be like ‘oh… it looks better in the pictures’.

a: it’s just the same, one’s blue and one’s white.

j: yeah [laughing]

a: cool. got any shout outs? shout outs to your crew?

j: nah. oh i guess we’re sitting in chris’s office. my first – when i was born i grew up in a house with slate.

a: yep.

j: and to the slate i have returned. i’m quite fond of slate. although my grandma used to say ‘don’t sit on the slate or you’ll get chillblanes. and i never knew – what are chillblanes?

a: it’s sort of like a soft version of frostbite, where your body’s permanently affected by the cold.

j: well, you know what grandma, i’m sitting on the slate, and i ain’t got no chillblanes!

a: cough.

Mark Ronson at Metros City, 22 July 2015

Andrew Ryan

.
one thing i like to do is have two musics playing at the same time. today it’s a song called ‘the gold hall beckons’, by a local band, and an album called ‘pensée d’automne’ by jean lumière. you just put two songs on pretty loud and let them slow dance together, or just let them be in the same room with their own thoughts, perhaps unaware of how they’re affecting one another, but definitely affecting one another.

i was thinking that maybe that’s what he likes too, mark ronson, putting two musics together. this morning i woke up with the words “what is a ‘mark ronson’” in my head, and a bruise on my nose, and i’ve been turning both things over in my mind. it’s fine to not know who someone is or anything about them, in fact, it’s very normal. so yes, when i went to the show last night, i didn’t know what a mark ronson was. i was lifting my body to see what was happening on stage, but the man singing had long curly hair which was a surprise to me. i’d seen a photo of ronson on my friend’s phone and his hair was slicked back and not like this at all. who was this man with a high slung guitar and what had he done with mark ronson?

so this morning it reminded me of meeting a no-home man from deep in the wheatbelt who taught me how to throw a spear – crack a stick to make the animal move, then throw. and he mentioned eating ‘bardies’ to me, and i asked “what’s bardies” and then he had a funny look on his face and we both started giggling and i said “is that like asking ‘what’s eggs?’” and he nodded and grinned. i’ve told this story before.

so i don’t really know what happened at the show, except that a beautiful man with slicked back hair who apparently is a type of soft genius sat up on top of a big screen, words flashing over, as in big lyrics, and underneath him people sang in the way of him putting music together, weaving the thought of someone’s voice into a song by some other one, and a glorious sound coming out. at one time when kevin parker was singing, and kirin callinan was playing guitar and mark ronson was puppetteering them, or more like life coaching them from the side, i danced so ferociously that i banged my nose on one of metro city’s many shiny silver poles that hold the whole place up, hold all the people in, away from each other, close to each other.

so that’s really my review, to sum it up: “i have a little red bruise across the top of my nose from mark ronson.” i showed kevin, to prove that i’d enjoyed the performance, but really, a few thousand people glued to his voice and the rest of the band is proof enough of something special, this time.

it was a lovely thing, just floating around in that room watching people watching the stage. everyone singing along – that was the best part. a whole crowd of people who didn’t seem to be sleazy or fucked up, just very glad to be there. and a stream of famous singers and players who were like bardies to me or eggs to a martian that hasn’t spied on us for long went on and off the stage being energetically optimistic and wonderful.

i went upstairs sometime, right, right upstairs, to some sky bar that was just a big open space of tiles and the night sky, wide open, and you could still feel the music lifting you up up there and so i went running and sliding on the tiles with my friends jules and freddy, dancing across the big black space with no-one to bother us, except the hundredth person of the night going up to freddy to ask “how tall are you?” or to make the unbelievably vapid comment “hey, you’re tall”. being tall or being famous, it’s a daily small burden until you’re on a desert island, or maybe deep in the wheatbelt where everyone knows who you are but in a very different way.

up at the sky bar The Big told me ‘go now, find your friend, he’s downstairs outside’, which was very helpful as the friend didn’t have a phone. and that’s the main thing i think about these days, how there’s these two songs going on the same time, getting helped to find my friend by a large cosmic voice, and all sorts of nasty things happening to lovely people everywhere, every moment. like, maybe one day you just have a tiny bruise on your noise from saucily dancing into a pole, but then the next day someone from the next town who wants to live in your town comes and smashes you and all your family and burns down your crops…

well, the last thing is, at soup kitchen this week i met a man who was really hanging out to talk. he had the big grey fluffy hair of someone who has no-one to look after him, and the real sad look in his eyes. but we got talking about music, and he can play everything, guitar, mandolin, piano, harmonica, some drums, but found it hard to make his own songs. “i’d get to a certain point and then at the end, it was just really hard to finish.” he lived at a place called ’55 central’ that sounds like something from a book about down and out people, but is a real place that real people actually live. anyway, we talked for a long time and he told me about his real dream he’s working towards, even while things are rough, and it’s some way to help kids on the street in malaysia and also developing an app to help people start their own small businesses, people who are down and out, a real comprehensive but easy way to get things going. i asked him why he cares about kids on the street in malaysia and he said how he’d once watched a program about children in rwanda, after the genocide, and just seeing one little kid crying, alone, parents gone, and he decided on that spot that he would do something for children who are in that predicament. malaysia is closer than africa, so he’s planning to start there.

try not to be cynical. listen to some mark ronson over the top of some mendelsohn, and just see how it all fits in. mark ronson and pond at metros city, 5 stars.

Pre-interview Warm Up: Songs of the Beemaster (It's More than a Game)

Andrew Ryan

hola! today’s article was going to be an extensive interview with jake webb from methyl ethel. but i munched my hand a little playing footy so it’s too difficult to type it all up. nick was going to type it instead but then we watched a bit of a bee documentary and it was just too much.

this documentary, called ‘more than honey’, like footy is ‘more than a game’, was following the bees so closely from behind. it showed footage of the man who discovered the ‘waggle dance’, where the bees draw complex shapes with their asses to show the way to get to sweet things. i had a friend john who was a brilliant writer and introduced me to kerouac, properly, by reading kerouac to me as i lay on his couch in cottesloe with ocean air coming in through the balcony windows. he would always make chai with fluffy milk, taking a very long time, and my in-loveness made the fluff and the extra sprinkling of cinnamon on top into a really big deal. anyway, john was in a big group of singers and they created and sung a huge cycle of acapella songs entitled ‘songs of the bee master.’ this week i went to hyde park to read some kerouac to long jamie, he was in yellow leather allstars, and we began ‘satori in paris’. satori, in one of the ways kerouac describes it, is like a ‘kick in the eye’. i’m going to be in paris in three weeks, hopefully getting kicked straight in the eye daily.

so, the documentary followed the bees, and followed men who followed them, in pick up trucks [utes], in white allover suits and extreme googles worn so as to not be killed by the same spray they were spraying on the bees, and other men following the bees just with their eyes (one man was sitting in a field at a desk, on which sat a small jar of sweet things for the bee to find, the man noting ‘red675, arrived at source’).

jake used to like that cd, ‘songs of the bee master’, one of my many cds thrown into the glove box as if i didn’t care about them. if you treat them unkindly, they can’t last forever (cds, bees). so down at hyde park i kicked a piece of palm tree out into the lake, trying not to scare the birds, but then the next day that i tried to catch a ball sailing over from nicholas at the other end of the small field inside the bigger field that our activity had designated. in this moment, i was the sweet thing, and the yellow and black (yes, a burley) football was heading towards me. i put my hands up, like for prayers later asking for my finger to be fixed, and the rock ball hit the finger and i heard a crack and went down to the ground.

there was a moment in the film where a bee is sprayed by the man in the white suit and the strange yellow goggles. the bee slows a little, teeters a little, and then drops to the ground. in my mind i said ‘get up!’, but we were never shown if the little guy (of course, they’re all males) gets back up again. they could do that in football games, to increase the tension. just never cut back to the player who goes down.

down on the ground my face was covering in sweat, and from my lips the words ‘fuck, fuck, fuck’ dropped in little hard whispers. as we were sitting there watching the female bees spew drops of honey back into the structure i looked across at nick and thought ‘will he ever eat honey again?’ he’s been speaking about eating weetbix and honey for days, but he’s there seeing this too, will being reminded honey is bee puke change things?

one time i was friends with a WAFL (western australian football league) player. i got fascinated by the motions he had to go through to prepare for games. he would send me long messages detailing ice baths and how many weetbix he’d eat and what songs he’d play before going out on the field. we had a deal to stop eating sugar together – honey was not included. i still remember the first bite of chocolate i had after the deal ended, a tiny nibble after my body and mouth had got used to the change. it just seemed way, way too sweet.

there’s a recording of jake and i singing a song called ‘dr. honey’s whistle’ on a piano where the bass notes didn’t play and we were in a room full of all our friends. little rex was sitting under the table with one hand reaching up backwards to some high notes to play a few notes into the song, all bodies and friendships intact.
~~~
while we were playing basketball and soccer in the sun in jake’s backyard before the interview i said ‘maybe we could just play a series of games together and i’ll put the scores instead of writing an article.’ that’s not going to happen, but if you want today’s article stats, this piece references:

1 song cycle
1 song
1 film
6 men
1 kerouac novel
3 sports sessions in the past week
2 injuries
and an undisclosed number of weetbix.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveller Gives You a Book List

Andrew Ryan

i’m very love sick. it hits me at 4 in the afternoon, sometimes earlier. i wade my way through it til sunset and then i pop out the other end. after that i can cook, think about the future, do soup kitchen, luxuriate in the shower. before that, i’m a mess. him him him, my mind hums. him him him.

last night at soup kitchen one of the men started talking to me about nabokov. i don’t know how we got there, but we got there. “the problem with nabokov,” he said, “is once you start reading him you can’t stop.” once i start anything i can’t stop. except yoga, and quitting smoking, and swimming and learning swedish and all the rest. “is it such a problem, to not be able to stop?” i asked. “56 novels, yeah it’s a problem.”

anyway, the guy made me a list of books to read in his lovely curly font, curly like all the tattoos up his neck and onto his face and the big glossy spacers in his ear lobes and his manner to me, all curly, all lovely. all the young guys were at one table last night, giggling, asking for toasties and teas and ice cream and giving me and each other funny looks. curly cheekily threatened to not finish his sentences if i stopped his flow again by getting up to get something for someone. i like all these men. i don’t know if they’re dealing drugs under the table (‘junky’ by burroughs just put fresh ideas of what happens outside my vision into my head) and laughing when i walk away, but i’m pretty sure what’s happening is just that week by week we’re becoming friends.

these are the books curly told me to read. i’m going to read them in order, except nabokov who i’ve given up on already. maybe we can have a bookclub except we never talk about any of the books or know who’s read what. (like moss growing in iceland. it’s probably happening and that’s a nice thing, but you can’t know for sure):
“desperation” – nabokov
“boredom” – alberto moravia
“contempt” – albert moravia
“if on a winter’s night a traveller” – italo calvino
“the island of the day before” – umberto eco
“white noise” – don dellilo
“satanic verses” – salman rushdie

nick allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that louis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

nicholas allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that lewis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

so those two and a bunch of others played on friday at the oddfellow. the oddfellow is down some stairs and into a wide limestone and wood cave, carved out by men maybe even pre-hi-viz. i went down there and sat with nick, him in a great outfit of big dark blue overalls and a black long-sleeved shirt. clothes don’t really matter but if you’ve got food and freedom it’s nice to look around and see people wearing the exact outfit you’d also like to be wearing – this is what happened in this case – or an outfit that brings your eyeballs pleasure, like stephen bellair in sportswear with two cute buns for his hair to nestle in.

anyway, we talked about france and all the other things, and lovely andrew campbell, smelling like a man and with a secret look that says “all pleasures belong to me” came and sat with us too. i was looking round the room trying to see all the men from darling rangers – i’d been waiting to see them play, and almost seen them a bunch of times, but always left whatever place it was too soon. drage, one of the kings of songs here in perth, and strawberry pete gower, who i’ve told you about before, everyone acknowledging his talent and waiting for him to either self-destruct or play a million great guitar songs on their backporch til 5 in the morning, were both maybe late for their own show, but in a way that’s all part of the show.

so then it happened, they all were there and started it up, straight into drage pouring his organs through the sound of his voice and wild in the eyes, and redhead felix who gives me free icecreams sometimes at the movies being perfect on the drums, and ash who is the groomed lynchpin of the ungroomed, grimey 208s, home to the darkest, heaviest shows we get even when the music isn’t that dark or heavy, where drage sleeps under the staircase, and their great bassplayer with his elbows up high, and lewis, the best person to watch going nuts on his keyboard. all their friends were watching and also a few little scatterings of marines who were all in town to eat kebabs and look at women’s asses in between playing cards on the ship and learning to kill things. poor guys. i felt happy for the ones down there, seeing drage sweating away at a similarly bizarre game, violent in its own way but violent for creation rather than destruction.

in between sets i was up the stairs outside on the pavement, watching marines flow by. nick sung me ‘war pigs’ because i couldn’t remember how it all went, which he was going to cover in his set, and i laughed as he sang and remembered being 14 listening to that song and holding hands with my friend’s cousin very softly and surely, me on a couch, him laying next to the couch, with black sabbath on tape and surfing stories as the backdrop to a non-fatal holiday crush.

that holiday we all floated in a fat black tyre tube out across the deep waters of king george sound, all the way from bombie rock to goode beach, me seeing sharks everywhere in all the weedy shadows, and the boys pushing us off at intervals into the water, everyone tight in their wetsuits and loose in pleasure, all the days stretching out before us to be filled with weed and black sabbath tapes and that big ocean, salty frozen hands and faces getting warmed back up again in front of fires on the couches and carpets of someone’s grandparents’ house.

so yeah, then hamjam played and nick played, great as every time i’ve written about them. i went off walking in between, feeling lonely but still happy, joe and ben arriving at the right time to buoy me, and stephen bellair giving me a hug at the right time to buoy me, and i didn’t watch hideous sun demon even though it was their special show, but whatever they did couldn’t have made me love them more than i already do (lots). but dean, singer, feature-film star in the waiting, poured cool, gentle water during the week over an internet drama involving some raging family, hurt at life and at the fact their son/brother got beaten in a band competition, and that made me love him more. cool water to let them fizz away their anger and get back to loving their family’s music, to the exclusion of all others.

so there you go. time to read.

Microbial Universe and a little Tired Lion at the White Star

Andrew Ryan

Whenever I go away, I never go to see music. See, when I’m away, down the south way, I drive for five hours straight into this womb. It’s a womb made of cute parents, heaps of granite, cold blue-green water flecked with seaweed and moonlight diamantes, If You Are the One episodes, and a bed that lies on top of suitcases full of love letters.

By the way, something happens between when we are an embryo and when we shoot out of the womb, (a lady squeezing the hand of her friend and screaming swear words with sweat all on her brow and wearing a big rainbow coloured poncho even though the nurses tried to get her into white scrubs too, as the exit strategy), wherein we are “seeded” with a whole heap of microbes that stay with us for our entire life. My friend, a hot partly red-headed doctor with a well-cut fringe, told me over breakfast. I’d slept on her and her boyfriend’s couch, and soon I’m going to room-share with their housemate. Me and the housemate talked about having bunk beds, and about making a movie with him (from Methyl Ethel), Drage (from Drage and Darling Rangers), Jake Suriano (from Hideous Sun Demon and Kitchen People) and Lochlan Gibbons (from being a DJ). All the hot tall boys in the city with striking faces. Me and the housemate talked about that tall boy movie, but me and the doctor talked about microbes.

So, we get this universe of micro-organism planted into us. My friend’s finding out the source – the lady’s vagina? The lady’s butt? The lady’s gut? Some alien implantation. In three years when she gets the answer I’ll pass it straight on.

So yeah, usually down south I don’t go to shows. I’m in that womb, seeding myself on the past in my childhood bedroom, with the bed-on-suitcase scenario.

But this time I sent my friend Amber (yeah, same name) a message to say “Want to go to the Earl?” So we went to the Earl of Spencer (corner of Earl and Spencer streets of course) and drank some wine and listened to her friends complain a little bit about Bali. Amongst the conversation pieces she said “If you feel like you should do something about something, then you should listen to that voice and not silence it.” This was her summary of her and the friends talking about Bali and poverty and everything else, and it made me very very proud that we are highschool friends She’s seeded three babies with microbes for their life, she started young, as a teenager, one of my favourite teenage mums.

So then we went down from the Earl of Spencer, old Albany pub with nice lighting and leftovers of people’s pies dying slowly again on their plates, a real fire in the fireplace, people talking about their coastal town real jobs and swilling red wine and beer, to a babies’ pub, the White Star. Amber works at the drug rehab place in the town and I could see her recognise and not acknowledge people who come in to get help, protecting them by looking out across the room and not stopping her gaze for more than the tiniest moment. She knows how to protect people and how to seed them, as I told you.

Well, yes we were at the White Star. What a name for this bright beacon of just drinking and some music. It’s brighter than it would be in the city. The music made my ears bleed a little bit inside, all the interior universe running away from the sound. A local band played first, earnest, with their own neon sign of their band name chewing up power on the stage as they played. The music was not good for my taste, but they were still beautiful, sweating away, so many cables, so many pedals, their own mixing desk. Too much, but I still watched the bass player with a happy feeling in my body, swinging his glittery green bass around and jumping in time to the lead singer. I wondered if they played in church as well, with all the jumping and all the enthusiasm. If they sang with their own accents I could have loved it too.

And then the PERTH band, all the way from PERTH were almost ready to play, Tired Lion. I was a tired lion (oh shit, they probably have that said by people all the time), but I was very much wanting to see some songs, we were bored in the White Star and it was all too too loud even in between, but I wanted to see what would come out of the body and mouth of the beautiful singer, swinging her own interiorly glittery self through the room, humour and disdain all mixed together it seemed to me from her spirit. When they played what came out was beauty and glitter too, her beautiful voice strong and grungely and clear and wiping lipstick accidentally over the microphone and back over her face, her hair going all ways, she acting and being like someone where people look and know “She’s a star”. But then mainly I listened to the guitarist. So measured and true to what was needed. It was like other music, so I couldn’t float into it and away, but it was a powerful, skilled version of the things it was like. The other Amber loved it too.

Well eventually I had to get back to the womb. Climbed up on the suitcases and put the covers over my head because it was actually the Winter Solstice or one day off, and talked on facebook into the night to my friend Ben about poetry and video clips and family matters and all the other things. And then floated out into sleep. Me, my microbes, the image of the Tired Lion girl’s face all strong and pure, the image of my friend Amber’s measured summary of all of life, the forever thankfulness for warm things and knowing up in the city there’s a couple hundred interconnected friends, microcosm, all making things, loving each other, symbiotically growing some good, real thing, even if it’s just for a little while.

Dimly Lit is Still Lit

Andrew Ryan

i call you by a secret name
this is my only secret
i see you every night in every dream
it’s the only thing i talk about

when we are high up there
above everyone
with everything
all forms are one
and sense belongs to us

there’s no jealousy
all the light comes
all the way through

and we are free

.

this is the way i’ve chosen to describe my love. it’s a music review. when someone says “i don’t listen to music much”, i listen to the sound of their voice. it’s my brother’s voice, and everyone’s my brother.

sometimes i get really really really sad, like all my friends do. mei was playing in a yurt built by our friend who has cancer and heaps of tears poured down my face. as i went to my seat i stood on the guy behind me’s ankle. i cried about that. i cried about our friend with cancer. i cried about how good mei’s music is. i cried about all the people who are not free. i cried about my perpetually brokeback heart.

the yurt was dark inside. it was a saturday night, after dinner, after playing new recordings to my friends with my face in my legs on the floor, their thoughts about it flying all around on top of my own thoughts. after seeing ben witt play at the bird. after seeing hayley playing in the cafe. after playing in the cafe. every night there’s many shows in this city, all friends, all astounding. every night birds wing over head playing too. every night i dream of the same thing. but dreams and wishes are different.

hayley is very very strong. it was right to see her in a room – a cafe – where everyone’s eyes were trained on her. her voice is a gift to all of us, and her songs are a gift too, one she’s crafted with care from trouble and heartbreak and strength. when she plays i send prayers to her body to make it stronger, and her voice and guitar playing send prayers into me to make me understand the earth better. when she plays people hear the beauty of her voice and travel on it through her words into the brief feelings and scenes the words are conjuring – i’m pretty sure. she sung ‘donna donna’, a song from the fourties about a calf being lead to slaughter and at this moment these worlds combined: fragility, strength, purity, blood. in the moment it was about being a woman, being breakable, being gentle, beauty and sadness. anyway… there were all sorts of people there who belong together in art and music, and that’s what every afternoon and evening in the city is like. lyndon blue was there, hero of our town, among those i get shy in front of even though they are friends, quietly taking it all in while i wondered how he was experiencing this moment. lyndon, how were you experiencing it?

well, i’d like someone to write to me and tell me how they experience music when it’s at its biggest. when ben witt played at the bird the same night, i couldn’t understand afterwards how people could go back to their same conversations when it ended. had they felt what i had felt? had they really heard what he’d done? his new songs are more and more intricate, and his live solo performances more and more 3D with sounds filling a bigger space than the room itself – way, way out into the world. intricacies, man-made, arpeggiated, intertwined, trifles and decade-saved heirlooms tucked preciously in various pockets of soundspace and others laid extravagantly out on the table, going through you and through themselves to land as a final pollock of chaotic balance and richness right in front of one… or something.

i was overwhelmed. so i went to the dim-lit yurt and bawled my eyes out, among rows of silent appreciators in the flickering light, only enough light to see dark shapes thrown against the soft walls, constructed by our slightly crumbling friend fighting against the attacks on his insides. when hayley had played that afternoon, i felt the spirit of our friend kate-anna who died, there with us, i felt her actually there. so maybe that’s another place the tears came from.

when nick played guitar parts into a song in the little room i felt it big too. in the lamplight, with aden in one corner, me in another, nick in another, the tiny room and my body filling with energy flowing from the sounds and back into the sounds, my face glowing, my hands hollowing themselves upwards, my legs beginning to shake, all the room shimmering, like the cloud aden later described explaining how he moves the sounds into their places in space for every song.

we’re all made of all of this, heart break aside. shimmering energy of light and sound, all bathing in it together.

(love to sestri-levante)
(next times i promise i’ll write more normally)

Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence at Mojos and Some More Reflections on Dirt

Andrew Ryan

.
bibby was back again. but that’s not a miracle. this is a miracle: on tuesday night at the soup kitchen a man came in, right at the end of the night. he had a shirt and a vest and washed hair and nice pants and nice shoes and a big fat smile on his face and A JOB. everything has changed, his body said. how many times has this happened the year we’ve been going there? only once.

saturday night: mei and matt and i were walking to mei’s show. we saw a man on the pavement, very scab-ridden and very dirty and very smelly. ‘hiiii amber’ he says. ‘hiiiii jason!’ i say. yes, i take pride in my friendships, especially with the dirtiest people on the crust of the earth, because people only become dirty if they had some big lack of love. if someone pushed them into the dirt as a child. or they had some loose bit in their brain that made them annoying to love. when they get dirty and scabby and full of drug holes they need more and more love to make up for the lack, but they get less and less because they’re covered in a layer of ‘go away’. jason met mei and matt a few weeks before when we were all on the street with my mum too, and everyone did hugging both times. human touch. that’s what we learned in first aid is the thing that actually starts the healing process. the teacher was talking about head injuries and car accidents and heart attacks but she was a legend and reminded us all: human touch is the thing.

jason told us good information too. “all the old men out here are hurt and don’t trust anyone because they’ve learned not to.” it was simple information, the kind that he lives inside every day. who turns to alcohol and drugs? all my friends. who gets turned to dirt by alcohol and drugs? mainly people who learned that the world is mean from when they were tiny.

anyway, you want to hear about a rock show? it was pete’s album launch. at mojos of course. me and sam were running late, because of my indecisions about everything, but we got there, and me, he, and nicholas played one of those very enjoyable sets where you don’t mind if no-one liked it cos you all liked it. it felt special. we played ‘hot date’ because it’s about pete, and some new songs pete hadn’t heard yet, and one of his songs ‘cordial’ where i changed the melody and changed the words but kept ‘mother fucking’ in it for comic effect. it was mainly all for him, cos it was his show and we love him. the set took a little dive at the end, but it didn’t matter.

hamjam were next. i saw them play as a two piece once at bar 459 and it was one of those times when you see people that never do anything wrong play not as perfectly as usual. but that place is hard to play unless you’re doctopus or borty torty (ed: aborted tortoise). 2 piece hamjam is more contemplative. more smooth. anyway, this was the 2-version as perfection. the crowd was pleased, the connoisseurs were pleased. like, it was special. there was a row of beautiful girls dancing at the front, so beautiful i was looking around at all the mens faces to see if they understood that this was one of the greatest sights that could accidentally be before their eyes. (apologies for heteronormativity.) sometimes one of the beautiful girls would turn to me and i’d be overwhelmed. but yes, these two: hamish’s songs which i’ve always loved, and just james ireland, who everyone knows is musically untouchable, effortless. he reminds me of the bboy from jandakot who i loved and went ice skating with once at the rink at cockburn, where no-one i know has ever gone, where it’s all dark and rough and a nice place to hold hands with someone in a tracksuit. this is what instruments they had: guitar, keyboards, drum machines, pedals. everyone in the crowd was turning to one another during the songs and saying ‘this is sooooooo good’, and everyone turned to one another at the end of the show and said ‘that was sooooooo good.’ hamjam, play forever.

hmm. then i got bored and nearly went home. then i went in the bandroom and did ridiculously silly dancing with nick to a whole song, being wild with our limbs each and cracking up laughing at ourselves and one another. i was glad i didn’t leave. i was glad to see my friend be free.

but back to that saturday night for a moment… we were still on our way to mei’s show, when we saw brandon who comes to soup kitchen. he hardly said hello and looked very very sad. he was sitting on the ground with a group of people and one lady said with her hand to come close and sit, so we did. brandon was crying! he said he wanted to kill himself and run out in front of a car. all his things had been stolen earlier in the week. all his good clothes and his bad clothes. ‘come see my friend play at the bird,’ i said, even though i knew it would be too hard. ‘i don’t have any good clothes’ he said, and he was in a dirty tracksuit which is perfectly reasonable clothes to wear at the bird. but i didn’t insist because of the divide. he is used to being outside, asking for money, hanging his head low, and we are used to going into the bird with our heads high and having money for whatever we want. ew. me matt and mei were going to have pasta at a place i’d never been before. ‘it’s not fair!’ my brains insisted.

well, the lady who had become brandon’s mum for the moment offered mei and matt a blanket. they didn’t know what to do with it, neither did i, and then we all realised she was offering it to sit on instead of the ground, because i guess we didn’t look like people that sit on the ground and also because she is used to sharing. she had a snaplock bag of lollies and made sure they went all the way around the circle. this sharing is a special thing that happens with people who have less things, and it’s a very good thing that also sometimes comes to bite them when the sharing is not just lollies. or maybe sharing can never bite you. i dunno.

anyway, we went and had our food at the nice slightly posh place. brandon and his ‘mum’ were just around the corner, at the back door of another bar. every now and then brandon would come past and make a funny joke to us, or pretend to scare me by grabbing my shoulders and all the other clean people would look at him a bit askance because what was he doing round here? and i felt the ‘it’s not fair!’ the most strongly it can be felt, when you are eating a big bowl of delicious pasta in a chair and have a bed to go back to after a glass of wine at the show, and just around the corner is someone who cries just the same as you, has the same feelings but maybe from different experiences and is going home to ~~ NOWHERE ~~ with no bed and now NO BAG because someone stole it.

i always write about the same thing. but it’s just a brief moment in time, and it’s fine. and these are the things i’m trying to work out.

so, pete, nick and johnny played. pete was completely mesmerising. he’s still surprised that strangers know the words to his songs but he writes classics and has “it”. usually whenever pete plays with others i wish he was on his own – this time, no way. they as a three piece were perfect, and when lyndon joined as a four-piece, were perfect. people were talking some of the time, but mainly all the eyes were just on pete. and yeah, people know the words to the songs, people call out the songs they want to hear. “red xf falcon!” they demanded. “cunt!” they demanded. last year in october pete had never been overseas. he talked to me about being scared to go on the plane such a very long way. but now he’s been to america twice and as i write this he’s in that little england place. travelling round with his shirt undone on the back of a flying body of songs which in my imagination looks like the body of falcor from neverending story. he goes country to country now, holding on tight to falcor’s fur, and then sings out the songs. through this process falcor goes to visit many people in many countries in their rooms at night after the show, half-sleeping by their beds (they all have beds) and warming up the room with his big white body. pete was captivating, the other boys held him up. at the end of the night for the last kylie minogue cover hamish joined pete to sing and i juggled heavy whisky glasses behind them on stage til the glasses broke and i had to use emu bitter cans. i’d promised pete i’d juggle, so it had to be done.

my drummer sam had just been to see sufjan stevens play at the opera house in sydney the night before. he was still all aglow and said it had been the most incredible musical experience of his life. this mojos show wasn’t that, but it was very special and very fun and i watched faces of pete’s fans enraptured from the moment he started til the moment he sung the last la-la-la by kylie with ham at his side. blah blah. much love. hope you get a visit by a falcor, and some extra miracle happens so someone has enough money to have a soft place to rest their head.