In Conversation with Bob Geldof’s Drummer of 25 Years and Author of Timing Is Everything (a Memoir), Niall Power

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There aren’t many people who know me who don’t know how much I love Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats. Even though I’m not always up to date with the latest camp Geldof news, it’s a love that has lasted for 40 years. So, when Bob’s drummer of 25 years (for his solo career), Niall Power, wrote to me through Facebook to advise me of his story since their last Canadian tour, I was at first delighted and then saddened by the news of his retirement from drumming due to Parkinson’s disease. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this is a man who doesn’t let life get him down, which is evident upon reading Timing Is Everything, Niall’s inspiring memoir, published in 2017.

Niall, after reading your book, I was left with the impression that you consider yourself an ordinary man, perhaps quiet and shy, certainly easy-going, who just happened to have a passion for drumming. However, although you never had a plan for your music career, you ended up having quite an extraordinary experience as a session musician, playing for many bands, including Stepaside, Les Enfants, Ordinary Man, Eamonn Gibney, Westlife and most notably, Bob Geldof, with whom you performed for 25 years.

How does a musician get as far as you have in his career without a plan?

I can sum that up in one word, ‘Luck’.

I never set out to be a session drummer and end up playing with so many bands.
As a teenager in the early 1970s, my ambition was to form my own band with my friends, write our own songs and hopefully be the rock gods of the future, like our idols, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple.

Niall Power 1960

Niall Power in 1960.

My dad was a soldier in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, and there were two army marching bands who paraded past our home on most days. I loved their drummers from an early age. There weren’t many teenagers playing musical instruments in the area, so it was always going to be difficult to finalize a lineup for the band.

I was playing the unfashionable accordion and wearing a kilt in the school band during

Niall Power in 1970 on left with accordion.

1970, on left, with accordion.

the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. But as soon as I heard The Beatles on the radio, I realized then that I had to learn how to play another instrument to be in a rock band.  I chose the drums after seeing Mickey Dolenz, drummer with The Monkees on television, larking around and generally having fun.

After a few years of practice, much to the annoyance of the neighbors, I finally mastered the art of drumming and set out to join any band that would have me. I had no plan of action for how I was going to achieve this. My armory consisted of my dodgy first drum kit, long hair, a smile and buckets of enthusiasm for the task ahead.

For someone who clearly states in the preface of your book that you are not a writer, I congratulate you on the great achievement of having compiled your memoir, Timing Is Everything, which was written on an iPad with the index finger of your right hand! That, in itself, is a testament to your passion and determination to see a project through to its completion, and your resilience in the face of adversity. You are truly an inspiration, not just because of your drumming prowess, but because of the strength of your character.

I couldn’t help but notice your incredibly positive attitude about life in general and wondered to what would you attribute it?

My attitude to life has never changed from the outset.

I had a very safe and happy childhood and I seem to have kept that feeling with me throughout my musical career. My parents always encouraged me to follow my heart, even though they probably didn’t understand how you could possibly make a living from hitting things, whilst hoping I would come to my senses and get a proper job.  I don’t worry about stuff, including Parkinson’s. Above all, I love playing and creating music, just seeing people in the audience responding in kind to the noise that we make is good enough for me. Not many people get to live out their dreams every day…it’s been some trip.

“And what a drummer. Without question one of the best. I know from whence I speak. In the course of my 40 years playing rock ‘n’ roll, Niall Power is up there/alongside/on par with/equal to literally the Big Hitters. He’s a fucking amazing player.”

 

“Man he can sing.”

 

“He glued the band together. Everyone loved him. He was the spirit of the thing. The joy of it. The love of gigging. The fierce ecstasy of playing music…What a man to travel the world with for over 25 years. What a friend to share so much of your life with. The things we’ve done and seen and been together. He’ll remember. I won’t.” 

~ Bob Geldof, Introduction to Timing Is Everything

In the introduction of your book, written by Bob Geldof, he says that the tedium of touring never seemed to affect you. How was that possible? 

Sure, life on the road can be tedious at times. You’re living in a bubble with other musicians and roadies with deadlines to meet every day. Things can get a bit out of hand, tempers flare, we’d do a bad gig, one person thought the gig was great, the other five thought it was crap. Musicians live for the road and as much as I like travelling on the tour bus (your home away from home), it’s only okay for a few weeks. I loved waking up in a different country each day and going for a walk down the Champs Elysees in Paris after being in Amsterdam the previous night. But you also need to stop touring, stop moving at the speed of sound and be at home with your own family. I have always kept a low profile on the road and steered clear of any aggravation that may have been brewing from time to time. As our tour manager ‘The Mick’ (RIP) used to say, “we’re only up for the day.” 

You played with Bob for the Live 8 concert on 2 July 2005 which was undoubtedly one of, if not the biggest, career high of your life. I know that the experience must have been surreal, but what singular treasured memory do you take away from that event? 

I have many memories from that great day in July at Live 8.

The one that sticks in my mind the most is the fact that I had to play someone else’s drum kit without seeing it first. As I play left-handed, the kit was set up right-handed for the previous band’s drummer. So, I walked on stage in front of thousands of people in Hyde Park, live to the world on television, with no time to swap things around.

The song was ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and was probably the only song that I could play with the kit being the wrong way around. There was also no vocal microphone, so I did the backing vocals, “tell me why”, into fresh air. You can view this video on YouTube.

It was amazing hanging out backstage with all the other acts including Beatle, Paul McCartney, who signed a copy of my Beatles White Album CD cover, which I just happened to have in my pocket. Timing is Everything! 

 

Do you know if Bob has any plans to record a new album? If so, will you be singing background vocals on it? 

As far as I know, The Boomtown Rats are due to release a new album in 2019.

There are no new recording plans for another Bob solo album this year. I would hope to make a cameo appearance on backing vocals, when and if the opportunity arises.

I cannot help but ask, is there anything you can tell Bob’s super fans about him that they wouldn’t already know? 

Niall Power and Bob Geldof

2011 London. Photo by Eddy Valdameri.

I don’t usually comment on Bob, but I will say it has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to keep the beat behind him for all those years. I never expected it to last more than one tour. A truly amazing time that I will remember forever. His most thoughtful words to me were when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He said, “You have a job for life in this band.” I replied, “What if I can’t drum?” He said, “We’ll find something for you to do,” so I ended up playing the spoons. 

Do you think that your remarkable memory is simply due to genetics or a result of years having to remember so many songs? 

I put the memory thing down to the fact that I loved every minute of being in a band. It’s not just the Geldof band, but all the bands that I’ve been involved with. I can recall the musicians, most of the songs and how to play them, the venues, the years, etc.; it just seems to stay with me.

Don’t ask me to add and subtract as that part of my memory is definitely missing. 

Have you ever researched whether spicy food such as the Indian curry you so love, may have a positive effect on your brain?

I never looked into the benefits of spicy food on the brain.

Many musicians have a fondness for Indian curry and while visiting a new town with the band, someone would always be on the lookout for the best Indian restaurant.
My DNA tells me that way back many centuries ago, my ancestors are likely to be of Middle Eastern origin, so that’s good enough for me.

I love that your favourite television program during the 1960s was The Monkees! I was born in 1964 but I also remember watching that show when I was a kid and loving it. Have you ever been able to play with Mickey Dolenz? Did you know that he and Mike Nesmith went back on tour last year as The Monkees Present: The Mike and Mickey Show before Nesmith had a quadruple bypass? It might not be too late for you to jam with them! 

Yeah, as mentioned previously, The Monkees were a big part of my musical influences. Every Saturday evening, they were featured on our RTE channel. We only had one TV station in the sixties and music programs were few and far between. It was always ballad singers or light entertainment TV shows with very little choice for young people. Radio was the only option to hear the pop tunes of the day like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Monkees were a breath of fresh air in a dull television schedule.

I met their drummer Mickey Dolenz in Nottingham, England in 1985 when he was working for a TV station. Charming man, and I told him how I would copy his drumming style with my air drumming in front of the television. He’s likely responsible for me being a left-handed drummer as he never seemed to set his kit up the same way twice. He wasn’t a drummer at all, just an actor who played drums in a TV show.

It would be cool to catch up with him again.

One of my favourite sections of your book was on the Thin White Duke. As a lifelong fan of David Bowie, your recollection of having once been his driver delighted me! Do you regret not telling him that you were Bob’s drummer? That was surely a big lesson that timing is everything!!

No, I don’t regret not telling David Bowie that I was a drummer. First rule of employment is that you do the job you were asked to do. My brief was that I wasn’t allowed to speak or ask questions unless I was spoken to. This is normal with celebrities and their hired drivers.

When the opportunity arose and I was just driving David on his own to rehearsal, we did have conversations about various things during the three weeks that I was his band’s driver. Anyway, he did find out that I was a drummer for Bob when both bands played at a concert in Paris a few weeks after my driving job finished.

He was a charming man and I’m so glad I was able to be that close to an icon of the music world.

Niall Power Dubai

Niall Power in Dubai. Photo by Mark Cowne.

Your book contains a very matter of fact outline of your career as a session drummer who travelled the world with many bands, but I noticed that you refrained from including saucy road stories about the types of antics that go on between traveling band mates. Surely, you have one or two amusing anecdotes to share in this regard? 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase, “What happens on the road stays on the road.”  

Well you can’t blame a girl for trying!

On the road, you’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the greats in the music world. What was the single most exciting moment that you experienced and who was it with?

It has to be my first ever time to play live onstage, at the Liverpool Irish Centre in 1975.

Niall Power age 17.

1975 London, age 17.

For the previous four years I’d been bashing away at home, wondering if I was ever going to get it together as a drummer. I was a roadie for all of 1974 with a local band called Just Four. They invited me to go to England on tour with them and I managed to befriend their support group called Midnight who were based in Birmingham. I stayed in England after the tour and moved to London to stay with my friend Jim Sullivan and his family. Jim was the guitarist when we tried unsuccessfully to start our band in the Curragh some years previously. I had told Midnight that I was a drummer looking for a job, and if they were ever changing their drummer to get in touch with me in London.
I received a letter in the post a few months later to ask if I would like to return to Birmingham and join Midnight. I couldn’t believe it, I had never played onstage with a band before and that first gig in Liverpool was a blast. I was probably terrible on the night, but you have to start somewhere and that was where it all began. 

If you could have played with any musician in the world that you haven’t played with, who would you choose?

It has to be George Harrison.

I just loved his music and his vibe. Over the years I have played in many cover bands who performed Beatles tunes in their sets, but it would have been magic to get a chance to play “Here Comes the Sun” with George. 

You have travelled all over the world in your career. What is your favourite place to visit and why?

It would have to be India. We played there on three separate occasions and I loved it. The music is enthralling, the food is incredible, the friendly nature of the people and the sheer size of the place is amazing.

Driving anywhere is a task only to be undertaken by a kamikaze.

The sounds, smells, colours and the poverty have to be seen to be believed.
A truly wonderful country to visit.

Since you retired from drumming in 2015, you have been absorbed in genealogical research, both for yourself and others. What have you been doing in this regard since the publication of your book?

Initially, I only undertook the genealogical search for my own family tree. I found this process to be very helpful for my Parkinson’s situation as it gave me something positive to do after my diagnosis.

I needed a task to engage the brain, almost like doing a crossword puzzle and trying to find answers to the clues. There are many discrepancies on old documents, and it is painstaking work trying to decipher the handwriting and make sense of the information. I’m sure it helped me take my mind off the fact that I was losing the fine motor movements on my left side and my drumming skill was disappearing fast.

I have helped some friends with their own family research, but I’m not going to make a career out of it as it’s very time consuming.

Many Irish documents relating to births, marriages and deaths were destroyed by fire in the Irish Civil War, and only the 1901 and 1911 census records are available to view.
I’m still active with regard to my own family tree and I’ve traced many relations, in Canada and the USA. 

Are you and your wife, Michelle, still farming or working as entrepreneurs? 

Unfortunately, I can’t work anymore with my left hand shaking. It’s now 11 years since

Niall Power at home

Niall in 2016.

diagnosis and the motor skills on my left side are gradually disappearing. For example, I cannot put a letter into an envelope or hold a newspaper without my hand trembling.

I’m so used to the shaking that it that doesn’t bother me anymore, and even though it’s a progressive and incurable disease, I just get on with it and make the best of every day usually tending to the garden. Michelle is my career. 

Can you tell us more about your diet and exercise regime and anything else that has enabled you to make the best of your life with Parkinson’s disease?

Most people will tell you that they altered their diet after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, which I did. I did it as a reaction rather than a necessity. It’s a scary time and the need to do anything to solve the problem is great. My first move was to get supplements from the chemist and I also tried a course of acupuncture and meditation. No real benefits from any of these.

I was aged 50 at the time of diagnosis and in reasonably good shape, so I joined my local swimming club and gym. I rarely miss a day and workout on the treadmill and the bicycle, with some light weights. Then it’s into the pool where I power walk in the water and generally have some fun. This activity may not suit some Parkinson’s patients who have issues with their walking, but I find it very rewarding. You have to find something that works for you and stick with it. Never give up. 

How would you like to be able to help others who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? 

During the last year I spoke at a few Parkinson’s related events and basically, I just informed the patients about my exercise routine, and how good it can make you feel to do something for yourself that gives you enjoyment and has many other health benefits. 

What have you been doing since your book was published in 2017?

Since the publication of my book I’ve been trying to keep busy. I went to Australia last October and cycled around 1,200 kilometers in the glorious sunshine state of Queensland. My symptoms decreased significantly, and I will be informing my neurologist about this at my next checkup.

Timing Is Everything will be featured in the book nook at the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto this year, and who knows, a cure may be soon be found.

Niall Power in 2018

Niall Power in 2018. Photo by Frank Smith.

In Conversation with Wayne Byrne, Author of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out

Title: The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out
Author:  Wayne Byrne
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Released: September 2017
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9780231185356

The Cinema of Tom DiCillo

As the author of this insightful and entertaining book, he delves in deep and comes up with the goods. Through his conversations with Tom we see the thought processes and strategies on each of his films, his hopes and frustrations, and everything in between. One thing about Tom, he doesn’t hold back. We also hear from many of Tom’s collaborators, and he has worked with some of the best in this business.

In short, this wonderful book details the ultimate triumphant journey of one of independent cinema’s smartest, funniest and fiercest warriors. ~ Steve Buscemi


As a long-time fan of the award-winning, independent, New York filmmaker and recording artist, I was very excited to be among the first readers of Wayne Byrne’s well-written, fascinating, detailed analysis of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo.  Irish author Wayne Byrne’s book is comprised of a series of essays about each of DiCillo’s eight films – Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion, Box of Moonlight, The Real Blonde, Double Whammy, Delirious, When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, and Down in Shadowland – embellished with insider insight from some of the films’ stars.

Wayne, congratulations on your auspicious debut as a writer! I read somewhere that you never intended to be a writer, so how was it that you became one?

Thank you, Christine.  It’s such a great feeling whenever I hear those words.  It reminds me that the book is a real thing.  I’m getting used to the thrill of walking into a book store and seeing it on the shelf.

What I meant by that reference to never intending to be a writer was that I never consciously set out to become one, in the sense that I never said, “I would love to be a  writer when I grow up,” nor ever pursued it academically.  It just wasn’t on my radar when wondering what to do with myself.  I always thought writers were Ivy League academic types, an exclusive club that I would never be privy to, and my not being academically inclined meant it was just never a consideration.

I wrote this book out of necessity.  I wanted to own a book on Tom DiCillo and for that to happen I had to write it myself.  That is the essence of the “accidental writer” quote you are referring to.

Even though writing is now my life, there’s an element of accident, or perhaps fate, to my professional breakthroughs.  At some stage many years ago, I started writing my own movie reviews for nothing other than the fun of cataloging what I was watching.  At the suggestion of my friend I submitted this massive portfolio of amateur scribbling to the editor of a newspaper just for the sake of doing something with them.  I didn’t think anything would come of it, and looking back on those writings now, I’m surprised something did.  The editor replied to set up a meeting with me.  So, I went in and he pretty much hired me then and there as their film critic and columnist.  I couldn’t believe it!  I did that for two years, before the Arts pages were cut from the paper to allow for more advertising inches.  But it was the springboard for my professional writing career.

I’m currently a music journalist, again not something I intentionally set out to do.  I was asked by the editor of a highly-regarded magazine here in Ireland called Hot Press if I would be interested in joining them as a regular contributor.  This was after I had sold to them what I thought was a one-off freelance piece that I wrote about a musician friend of mine.  I’ve been an avid reader of that magazine for twenty years so it’s very exciting to now be part of it.  What an honor to be asked to join them.

I’m familiar with Hot Press as I’ve been to Ireland three times and read it while I was there. It’s an excellent magazine! I think that being a music journalist is possibly one of the coolest jobs in the world. Do you still have fun with it or is it simply work?

Oh I absolutely have fun. Of course there are occasions where you don’t necessarily like a band that you are reviewing, either live or their album, or you’re not familiar with an artist that you have to interview, but you have to be fair and diligent and go do your homework and have some context going in.  Often I end up very surprised that I like an album that I would normally have reservations about.  If I’m unfamiliar with a band who I’m reviewing I will often go and listen to their back catalogue.  But yes, I am fully aware of how cool a job it is.  Getting paid to go to a Morrissey concert or listen to the new Weezer album?  Hell yes!  But it is an important magazine and I treat it as such, with absolute professionalism.

Can you speak to your process as a writer? Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

My process has certainly changed over time, having become busier and juggling various writing jobs. When I began writing The Cinema of Tom DiCillo, I wasn’t under any contract, I had no publishing deal, and so I had no deadline.  While there was a certain level of uncertainty there in not knowing if all of this work was ever going to be published or not, it also gave me complete freedom of time and effort.  It allowed me to write the book I truly wanted to write.  It meant I could wait for people to become free to interview them.  If a very busy actor said they could talk to me in two months that was fine, I would wait, rather than having to move on without them.  Only when I was ready and happy with my book, and had satisfactorily covered everything I wanted to, did I say, “it’s finished!”  It took me nearly five years, from developing the idea, research, interviews, writing, editing, getting a publishing deal, proofreading the final text, arranging the illustrative materials, coordinating all the Interview Release Forms, and then seeing it published.

It sounds like a long time, but it is time-consuming, especially in wanting it to be of an extremely high quality and a definitive study of Tom’s work, and I was also learning to become a writer as I wrote.  I have no formal training and I’ve never taken a class on writing or literature; I learned as I was doing it.  I don’t know if that would work for everyone, but it worked for me.  And after it was finished, I submitted the manuscript to some publishing houses and there weren’t too many people I sent it to before I got the reply that I wanted.  I knew I wanted to sign with Columbia because they own Wallflower Press, an imprint that has released some of the absolute best books on films and directors.  It was the company I had always wished would release a book on Tom DiCillo. And now they have, but I wrote it, which is still surreal to me.

I tend to write exclusively, at home. If I don’t have my easy chair by the fireplace, then I don’t write. I don’t listen to music while working on the books, but when I’m writing about a specific film I will have it playing in the background, so I can jump in at any time to analyze a particular scene for any number of reasons: thematically, aesthetically, technically.

But when writing for the magazine I do listen to music, because I have to if I’m discussing a particular album or song, and so I will inevitably end up hearing something, some small musical flourish or nuance in a song that I didn’t hear upon first listen but I can now work it into the article or review.

One thing that you and I have in common is that we have both met Tom DiCillo and have had the pleasure of getting to know him. How did you initially meet Tom and how long did you know him before you decided to write a book about his films?

My first contact with Tom was just as a fan, contributing conversation to his blog posts. Soon enough I had cause to contact him in a professional capacity to request an interview for the release of When You’re Strange, as I was writing about it in my coverage of various film festivals.  The idea for the book came about a year into being acquainted with Tom personally, having written him several times and covered his work for various publications.  It was during this period that I mentioned to Tom that I had wanted to buy a book on his work for many years but all I could find were some career overviews in film encyclopedias and reference books; no books wholly devoted to him.  So, at some stage I put forward the idea that I wanted to write the first book on his career.

As Tom is my favorite director, I knew I was in this rare position of being able to talk to him and pick his brain.  Before I began the actual work I experienced some moments of insecurity, not knowing a single thing about how to write a book, and I started questioning how you go about doing that – do you have to go to college to be a writer? How do you become a published author?  I really didn’t know how the whole system of professional writing worked.  But when Tom gave me his blessing and support it encouraged me to just go for it, to write it and worry about becoming published later.

How difficult was it to gain access to the actors that you interviewed for the book?

Not difficult at all, thankfully, for 99% of them.  In almost all cases Tom introduced me personally to the actor and we talked and arranged everything between us.  Brad Pitt was a different story.  There was a team of “people” I had to maneuver through. I would get some positive responses such as “Brad is considering it but is very busy at the moment and will get back to you.”  This went on for a period of time and at this stage I was close to finishing the book.  I felt it was just about ready, so spending more time waiting on responses from people was starting to drag the whole endeavor out.  I asked once more, stating that I needed to know if Brad was in or out because I had to finish the book and they came back and said Brad had, after carefully considering it, decided he could not contribute at that time.  While it wasn’t the answer I would have liked, especially after the kernels of hope I had received, I appreciated that it was at least a firm answer.

Who would you say provided you with the most detailed insight into Tom’s process as a filmmaker, aside from Tom?

It’s hard to name any one person.  Everyone brought their own great insights into Tom, but Catherine Keener, Steve Buscemi, and Chris Noth gave me perhaps the most detailed account of what Tom is like as a person and as a filmmaker, because they have either worked with him a lot or have known him for a long time.  In the case of Chris Noth, he and Tom’s friendship goes back to their acting class and cater-waiting days in the early-eighties.  Chris gave me so much insight.  We spoke at length about their very long friendship, reminiscing about the old days of trying to make it in movies in New York in the 1980s, and their time working together on Law & Order.  Likewise, Steve Buscemi has known Tom since around that time as well and so there’s a great history there between them.

What was the most surprising thing that you learned about him?

It was fascinating to discover the intimate details of his life before the films and the fame: his background, his family life, his influences, his world view, and the relationships created early on with other artists.  It was those more personal moments that were revelatory, and very interesting and rewarding to me as a writer.  No detail was too minor or superfluous.  It all added up to help me create what I hope is a definitive work of this great artist.

I believe your book is the definitive work about Tom DiCillo.

I really appreciate that, Christine. I’m happy to have written something that would be considered Wayne Byrnedefinitive, but I also always look forward to any other film commentators or scholars writing about Tom, I would always be interested to hear of other people’s opinions on the films, maybe spotting something I didn’t see or analyzing something from a different perspective.  The great thing about any arts criticism is that it’s completely subjective.  Every person brings their own personal history and sensibilities to their experience of a work that makes it exclusively their own. What I see in Tom’s work could be completely different to what another writer sees, and I would always be interested to hear what other people see in his work.

I find it difficult to pick a favorite of Tom’s films, can you?

It depends on what day of the week it is.  I find it hard to pick one favorite, but I do know the ones I connect most immediately with for different reasons.  Johnny Suede will always be the most important film for me, so it is probably my personal favorite, as it was the film that opened my eyes to cinema.  It’s because of that film that we’re having this interview.  While Living In Oblivion is perhaps the definitive DiCillo film, being so perfect in every way, and being released at the time it was, it’s such a crucial piece of American Independent Cinema.  But, objectively speaking, I do think that Delirious is a frontrunner as his best work.

That said, I have programmed Tom’s films at many events (festivals, clubs, etc.) and the film that most people tell me is their favorite is Box of Moonlight.  Something about that film really clicks with audiences.  What Al Fountain (John Turturro) experiences in that film is probably something many people experience in their lives at some point, and Tom pulls it off with such cinematic skill, a deft surrealist aesthetic, and with great humor and pathos, those elements which are so distinctly DiCillo.

I agree with you about Delirious.

It’s a masterpiece. It has such a vital energy, such a range of emotion, and a stunning command of style. Tom was really firing on all cylinders on that one; the performances speak for themselves, and it has some of the best scenes of Tom’s entire catalogue.  For me it is easily the best American film of the last decade. Certainly it’s my favorite film to come out since Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

For me, one of the things I enjoyed the most about your book was that you elaborated on the themes that run throughout Tom’s films. Can you reiterate those themes for my readers?

Yes, of course.  It is one of the main objectives of the book, to acknowledge and analyze the crucial and relevant themes that run throughout Tom’s films.  I have always been very unsatisfied with critical commentary of Tom’s work, because very few, if any, acknowledge the themes at the heart of the films.  Rather, they look to the immediate context of satire, trying to pick up on sly digs here and there at these venerated institutions, painting Tom as purely an iconoclast.  And that’s fine, but there is so much more to Tom’s films than that.  I think a lot of critics overlook the pathos of Tom’s work.

Look at the thread of familial discord that runs through from Johnny Suede right up to Down in Shadowland.  Even When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors, shares many of the same themes as other DiCillo films, such as the illusion of fame, the fragility of ego, identity crises, the severed connection of family and the toll that takes on someone.  It’s amazing that all of these ideas remain present in a documentary ostensibly about one of the biggest rock bands of the last fifty years. Because of Tom’s ability to weave these deeply personal themes throughout, the film becomes less an objective biography of a band, but, for those familiar with DiCillo and his work, a very intimate portrait of two artists: Jim Morrison and Tom DiCillo.

You’re so right!  That’s something I’ve never been able to put into words, but you’ve nailed it. When You’re Strange is how I first connected with Tom so it will always have a special place in my heart as a result, but I also happen to be a big Doors fan.

I was very familiar with The Doors but never a “fan”.  But, testament to the power of Tom’s film, I am now a fan.  I now deeply admire their mysterious style of music and their prodigious musicianship.  I love the whole social and political historical context that was going on around them, which makes them a fascinating band to write about. The chapter on When You’re Strange is one of my favorite chapters in the book.  I interviewed drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger for it, which is a pretty cool thing, to have those guys in there.

I love that you mention how wonderfully eclectic the soundtrack to Box of Moonlight (Wall of Voodoo, Peter Murphy, Nick Cave) is as it was a highlight for me.  One of the things that so attracted me to Tom’s personal music project, The Black and Blue Orkestre, was how his musical influences resonated throughout their first album. Tom’s taste in music really endeared me to him. Do you feel the same way?

Tom’s involvement in music is very important to me and to our friendship.  We have spent a lot of time working on music together.  I played guitar and piano on the Black and Blue Orkestre track In Your Dreams.  I’m very proud of it.  It was very exciting working with Tom on vocals and the actor Kevin Corrigan on bass – my job was made easier working with such skilled performers.  I love Tom’s voice and the sonic universe that he creates.  It just makes you want to grab the guitar and start recording, it’s so inspiring.

Tom’s use of music in his films is also wonderful, it is so crucial to the tone and atmosphere that he creates.  And the fact that he uses some of my favorite bands – such as those you just mentioned – just sweetens the deal.

I had no idea that you played guitar and piano on In Your Dreams!  That’s fantastic! I can’t wait for Tom to release the new songs that he’s recording with The Black and Blue Orkestre. Have you collaborated with him on any of them?

Thank you, I appreciate that. Yes, that song is pretty amazing.  I love how Tom mixed that song, it sounds terrific.  I have worked on a number of tunes, but I’m not sure what songs will end up on the next release, as this is Tom’s project and I just came in and did some guitar.  I like that session player aspect of working with the bones of a track, fleshing out the sound and my work is done.  Tom then does his production and engineering work on it and I just look forward to hearing the finished version just like any other fan.

Who are some of your favorite recording artists?

Music is a big part of me.  I love everything from 1930s dance bands, to 60s surf music, to 80s pop, to hardcore punk.  I’m inspired by every kind of music.  If you are over at my house for dinner or a beer, you could hear anything from The Circle Jerks to Slim Whitman to John Denver to Madonna.  I’ve started collecting vinyl, so I’m going back to albums I really love and relishing the great sound of records, so I’ve recently been listening to the first two albums from Bruce Hornsby and The Range (The Way It Is and Scenes from the Southside), Heartbeat City by The Cars, Lives in the Balance by Jackson Browne, Diesel and Dust by Midnight Oil, Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell.

I know I probably sound like some nostalgic dinosaur pining for my lost youth, when there is a whole world of new music out there, but I hear enough of the new stuff in my job writing for Hot Press (legendary Irish music magazine), so when I’m home and relaxing I tend to listen to the albums that continue to thrill and comfort.  I’m tragically unhip when it comes to music – I just like what I like.

My favorite albums would include:

Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac
Midnight to Midnight by The Psychedelic Furs
Déjà vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Book of Love by Book of Love
Heaven on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
Candy Apple Grey by Husker Du
Heaven or Las Vegas by The Cocteau Twins
In My Tribe by 10,000 Maniacs
Famous Monsters by The Misfits
Straight to Goodbye by Pale Divine

Wow, that’s an eclectic collection of favorite albums, but I love it!  If it’s any consolation, I’m probably just as tragically unhip when it comes to music because I still love listening to 70s and 80s music the most but maybe that’s the same for everyone who came of age in a certain time period.  The music of our youth remains special to us forever.  Are you familiar with The Tragically Hip who are from my hometown of Kingston, Ontario? I couldn’t resist slipping that in here…

Yes absolutely, I am a great admirer of The Tragically Hip.  Road Apples is a great album, and I absolutely love Small Town Bringdown EP – which has, for me, some of their best songs – Small Town Bringdown, Last American Exit, I’m a Werewolf Baby…just sublime! The production is fantastic, very much of that late-80s era. Just sublime!  You must have been able to see them live during those times, which would have been great.

What has writing this book taught you about filmmaking and The Arts in general?

That I know almost nothing about filmmaking.  I am truly in awe of filmmakers. They’re part of my intense interest in the subject of cinema.  Yes, I detailed a lot of the production methods and behind the scenes activity of Tom’s films, but filmmaking is still a mystery to me, and I hope it always is a mystery.  I want whatever magic is conjured in creating the art to remain elusive.  I want to retain some of that awe that was instilled in me upon seeing Masters of the Universe in the movie theatre when I was four.

I do sometimes ask the question of myself, “Who am I to write about or teach film?”  I have never been on a film set.  I have never acted or directed.  All I can offer are my opinions and thoughts on the films, back it up with some words from those who were there and have actually made the films, and then try and edit it into some kind of legible or readable context.  That, really, is my job.  I’m just spreading the word about movies and artists I love.  I consider myself less a writer and more a proactive fan.

Of the Arts in general, writing this book has made me appreciate the dedication of every other writer who takes the time to write about a subject that fascinates them, no matter what discipline they work in, because their passion fuels the passion of others.  I hope my book fills the gap on the shelf that Tom DiCillo fans have been waiting to fill, and I hope it inspires others in the way that other film commentators have inspired me.

Who or what will your next book be about?

This has taken a lot of people by surprise, because it’s a completely different cinematic universe to that which I cover in The Cinema of Tom DiCillo, but my next book will be on Burt Reynolds.

Some people think that because you love art films and write about independent cinema that you wouldn’t have any time for the kind of stuff that Burt Reynolds is known for, but I always ask, “well, what do you know of Burt?” and the answer is inevitably Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Cannonball Run.  They aren’t aware of or haven’t seen the eighty other films he has made, some of which are simply fantastic works of cinema. Reynolds has worked with some of the greatest directors, and to name just a few of the brilliant films he has starred in with these filmmakers: Hustle (by Robert Aldrich), Starting Over (by Alan J. Pakula), Breaking In (by Bill Forsyth), At Long Last Love (Peter Bogdanovich), Navajo Joe (by Sergio Corbucci), Semi-Tough (by Michael Ritchie), White Lightning (by Joseph Sargeant).

My writing process on this one is completely different to that of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo.  On that book I spent five years writing about eight films.  On the Burt Reynolds book, I have one year to write about eighty films and several entire TV shows, the major ones that Burt starred in, which means Riverboat, Gunsmoke, Hawk, Dan August, B.L. Stryker, and Evening Shade.  And I couldn’t be happier, but it means I am extremely busy. There’s a lot of people to interview, a lot of films to analyze and write about, and I still have my bill-paying day and night jobs (librarian and journalist) to keep me busy.  So when I’m not in work I’m still at work.

Will it be published by Columbia University Press?

No, this book isn’t the kind of thing that Columbia would go for.  Columbia is really focused on publishing works on contemporary, influential directors who are presently relevant throughout the entire spectrum of World Cinema, and whose work has immediate academic currency, all of which applies to Tom DiCillo.  Burt Reynolds, however, doesn’t necessarily fall into those categories because he hasn’t directed a film in nearly two decades, is mainly celebrated for his acting work rather than his directing, and some people might not see the “academic” value of my writing about Cop and a Half or Smokey and the Bandit II.

My Burt Reynolds book needed a publisher who understands and shares my perspective on Burt Reynolds; that he is one of the truly great American film stars and an enduring icon of US cinema. There is something absolutely compelling about him every moment he is on the screen, and he’s one of the few actors left who you can genuinely call a living legend.  As a book of film history and film criticism it will benefit from Reynolds’ prolific and expansive work which spans many important movements through American film history, going from the Golden Age studio system of the late 50s, through the New Hollywood of the 60s and 70s, to the blockbuster world of the 80s, and indie cinema of the 90s and up to today. For this book I’ve already been talking to some great directors, cinematographers, and actors – some truly fascinating people.

I signed with a distinguished publisher who have an amazing catalogue of film books to their name and who immediately understood what I wanted to do and shared my enthusiasm for the man.  They also saw the gap in the market for a book on Burt Reynolds’ actual films because while there have been books on him in the past, they were more concerned with his personal life.  I have no interest in his personal life, but I absolutely love his films.  He’s probably my favorite movie star, alongside John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Doris Day, Steve Buscemi, and Dennis Hopper.

I’ve definitely enjoyed some of Burt Reynolds’ work that I’ve seen but I’m sure that after I read your new book, I’ll want to revisit his work.  I’ll look forward to that!

Thanks Christine! Yeah, I hope it encourages people to check out his work which has gone under the radar or is simply forgotten.  It’s also a celebration of and tribute to this great figure of cinema and his vast body of work, as well as an opportunity to appreciate the art of the films.  Burt has recurrently worked with some of the finest cinematographers, such as William A. Fraker, Nick McLean Sr., Vilmos Zsigmond, to name just a few.  You don’t read much technical and aesthetic analysis of many of Burt’s films, and so that’s partly what I’m doing.

I think I could talk to you for days, Wayne, but I should probably end our conversation here. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and for sharing your passions with my readers.

It was my pleasure, Christine.  I hope people enjoy the book and go out and watch Tom DiCillo films. That’s really what it’s all about.

Mapping Media Scholars in the Art of Journalism

blackcocteau

Kofi Forson is a writer, poet and playwright living in NYC. His current blog is Black Cocteau, a mixture of philosophy and art on modern culture. His previously written articles include “Artistry and Celebrity: An Interview with Harry Goaz” among many others for White Hot Magazine.  Dr Samita Nandy’s (Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies) latest interview with Kofi Forson sheds light on his inspirations and advice for artistic and scholarly treatments of cultural figures and artifacts in popular culture. Read his insightful words below.

Samita Nandy: You blend cinematic art, poetry, and philosophy in ways that are rarely found in tabloid journalism. Why is it significant for you?

Kofi Forson: Primarily that is what drives me, hunger for art and intellect.

My video/film Cushion Pill premiered at curator Jo Derbyshire’s loft space in Liverpool back in 2005. It was originally staged as a theatrical play at The Riant Theater, NYC. The film was a production between me and model and actress Carolyn Day.kofiandaimee

Given the interview process I was interviewed for two films, Noah Becker and Steven Lane’s New York is Now and The Secret History of Contemporary Art.

Along with artist Daiva Gauryte, I participated in the Liverpool cultural initiative Transvoyeur’s video/film project, Gender, Space, Art and architecture.

Poetry and philosophy have been the basis for my dialogue and involvement with Transvoyeur and has resulted in projects both online and in art galleries, primarily Eickholt Gallery and Media Noche, NYC.

The relevance of tabloid journalism is that I’ve always felt being a pop star was the original idea, from my early experiences watching Michael Jackson, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond.

The intervention I do now on commercialism with respect to art and journalism is to express intellectualism as thinker, “cultural worker” and curator of dialogue between me and the celebrity through the interview format which is a manifestation of my ability to ingratiate the celebrity into familiarizing themselves with me, bringing about justified and favorable answers.

Samita Nandy: Do you think it is important for scholars to become critics in the media?

Kofi Forson: I definitely think so. I remember my first introduction to Roland Barthes. I read his book S/Z in a humanities class at the School of Visual Arts. It changed my life and to this day I draw on my experiences of having read books by Barthes.

The key here is language. The scholar bases his or her language on theory and philosophy and importantly research. Knowing how to cultivate use of language for merit of communicating makes the scholar overwhelmingly pertinent to how information is acquired, how it is expressed and importance with which it is articulated, showing responsibility and respect given relationship between news source and worldwide public.

Samita Nandy: Would you recommend scholars to use interview in their creative and media work? If so, why?

Kofi Forson: The interview is singularly the most important way of acquiring information
from a subject, be it on the spot in a harried atmosphere and conducted in a hurried circumstance. This is relevant to the beat reporter at a scene of a crime or even in war scenarios. There’s also the planned interview between journalist and subject. And what has become the everyday talk show where a celebrity host interviews an invited celebrity as guest.

kodarkglassespropicThe circumstance of an interview is a remark on love and respect. Love as in human love, accepting another person as they are given race, gender and identity. The result then is an overvaluing of a need to get information. When both parties; the interviewer and subject accept their roles, the interviewer is at an advantage to use what he or she values as the best way to get answers from the source. It takes on parameters of psychology, emotiveness and cunningness.

The scholar’s purpose therefore would suggest getting information and sharing it. Interviewing someone as a whole is a productive way of showing interconnectivity between two people, the very thing a scholar is known for.

Samita Nandy: How can scholars approach the media so that journalists can implement research further?

Kofi Forson: The basis for research is to add credibility to how information is acquired and how it is revealed. Best way for scholars to approach the media so that journalists implement research further is through the book format or conducting seminars. The act of writing and publishing a book is singularly the most revered and important thing expected of any writer.

The advantage the scholar has is an ability to express how information is acquired. This can be achieved by publications as in a journal or book.

Furthermore the scholar can articulate thought on the importance of research through coordinated classes or conventions. The journalist has a lot to gain from the scholar.

By making use of modern technology and social media, the scholar can interject a system by which the journalist can achieve a more admirable way of sharing information.

Dr Samita Nandy
Director, Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) & Co-Producer, Celebrity Chat
Author, Fame in Hollywood North. Toronto: WaterHill Publishing
PhD Curtin University, Australia (Media / Celebrity)

MA and BA York University, Canada (Communication)

URL: www.samitanandy.com | Twitter @famecritic

Artistry and Celebrity: An Interview with Harry Goaz by Kofi Forson

Harry Goaz

Harry Goaz, “Self Portrait” (2015), photographs, mounted on Dibond, 63.75 in. x 63.75 in. (All images courtesy of the artist)

By KOFI FORSON, JUL. 2016

Harry Goaz was first cast as Deputy Andy Brennan in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a role he has reprised for a continuation of the series to be broadcast on Showtime. Mister Goaz gleams from a jet set Hollywood allure, legendary in what he has become, an avuncular hero to millennials with works of fiction and photographs.

Kofi Forson: What a pleasure, Harry. I suppose everything goes back to and falls on your initial meeting with David Lynch.

Harry Goaz: Well, it’s a very famous and also a well-loved story by Mr. Lynch himself of our meeting. At the time I was a young whippersnapper scuffing around Los Angeles with some worn out Tony Lamas, working two jobs and studying. One of my jobs was as a driver for a private car service that specialized in getting high profile types in and out of places with little fanfare. One night I received a call to pick up Mr. Lynch in the Hollywood Hills to take him down into Hollywood for a memorial ceremony for the late, great Roy Orbison. At the time Mr. Lynch was already known to me as THE director of Blue Velvet, which happened to be an indelible game-changer of a film for me as a young and hungry artisan. He was very open, affable and completely without guile. After I dropped him off I impulsively decided to pull up and just sit in the car and see if I could see him coming out. He seemed surprised that I was still waiting. At the end of a very long evening as I was pulling up into his driveway he asked me what I did besides driving. I told him that I was an actor. His demeanor seemed to shift to a solemn and serious shade. He nodded his head and said, “It is the hardest life.” I said yes sir, but you have to love it. He nodded and said, “That’s it, you have to love it. You have to love it!” He told me he was working on something very special and asked me to send in my picture. Voila! Thank you Universe…and Mr. Lynch!

Harry Goaz untitled photograph

Harry Goaz, Untitled (2013), photographs, 31 in. x 48 in.

KF: You were cast as Deputy Andy Brennan in Twin Peaks. How did this character originate?

HG: Andy Brennan was a character created quick-on-the-draw as I was delivered to the set fresh and green in about two to three weeks after meeting Mr. Lynch.

KF: When did David Lynch contact you about reprising your role as Andy Brennan? Had you been in communication with him over the years?

HG: I started communicating with Mr. Lynch again two summers ago, prior to that I had no communication with him. That summer I had a very old-school cellular phone that was an expectantly low performer in the Black Hills of New Mexico, and with Mr. Lynch calling from Paris, our conversations consisted of us yelling at each other. I liked that. The conversations comprised of him asking many good questions. Many! Good times . . .

Harry Goaz "Kimmy on back lot"

Harry Goaz, “Kimmy on back lot” (2016), photographs, 18 in. 25 in.

KF: Did you sense early on David Lynch was making history? What was the mood on the set?

HG: I did not think in those terms, and in retrospect I guess that may have been because I was so young and excited to be on set. I think everyone was very cognizant of how special it was that Mr. Lynch was going to venture into television. There certainly was a palpable amount of wide-eyed exuberance on the set and on location. Months later, after all of the post production and editing, I remember being by myself on the night of the premiere on ABC Television. I was in bed in a glass room in the hills overlooking the entire Los Angeles basin. When the opening credits began to roll I remember looking out and the entire basin had turned a beautiful, forest green as thousands and thousands of televisions glowed with the opening credits. But, for the sake of our conversation let’s say MILLIONS, Kofi. In THAT very moment I realized that history was being made…

KF: Has it been an easy transition getting to play the same character after all these years?

HG: My apprehension was that I had lived in character as Andy for some very long periods. I had a hard time letting him go. I think that Mr. Lynch knew that a lot of us veterans were just going to need to know our marks and allow him not to direct us, but to paint his sets with us.

Harry Goaz Untitled 2016

Harry Goaz, Untitled (2016), photographs, Edition of 5, 64 in. x 60 in.

KF: You studied with William Traylor at The Loft Studio.

HG: The Loft Studio was a brutal and life changing experience for me. There were eight of us in our class. I remember regurgitating on the afternoons before some of my scenes because I was so nervous. Not one day passed during those times though when I had definitive flashes of just how lucky and privileged I was to study there. At nights I would get on the bus in those scruffy Tony Lamas to go home and be incredibly grateful. I remember all those rides home at night. All of them!

KF: Was it William Traylor who inspired your love for acting?

HG: NO!!!! Hahaha. He was one of the best things that happened to me in my education, however. He really drove me deeper into characters and vastly increased my concentration for timing. I’m sure he is in Hell somewhere right now kicking Andy Warhol’s feet off of a coffee table. Hahahaha. Can I say that? When I look back at my early exposure to film and television, Michael Caine comes to my mind. There was something about how much larger he resonates on a full screen as opposed to his physical stature as a mere mortal. I of course didn’t know that in my youth, but was able to fathom what was happening later as an actor.

Harry Goaz "Dakota's Death Bed"

Harry Goaz, “Dakota’s Death Bed” (2015), photographs, 36 in. x 71 in.

KF: What are your impressions of art? Do you value the role of the artist as an enfant terrible or do you enjoy works of art on the basis of talent and craftsmanship?

HG: BOTH!! Might I also say that there is an incredible amount of ravishing and impressionistic art coming from some very, very young kids in Istanbul? I’m not privy to what the protonic combustion happening there is, but I’m there two trips from now. Won’t that be a great phone call?

KF: Like the Tom Waits composition… Telephone Call from Istanbul!

Who are some of your favorite artists? What period in art do you like the most?

HG: Very young I was a devotee of Rauschenberg. Even though some viewers considered the strokes and texts as being impulsive, I found them to be frightfully complicated and in some ways crippling because of how much inference could be placed on the piece as a whole. There were also images of Ruscha floating around in my head and I did not identify them as such until later. I was very moved that art was being facilitated in such a clean and minimalistic way when Ruscha was delivered upon me. The messages seemed vast to me and I had never thought of art in that way. There seemed to be such honesty in it for me. I could go back to them over and over again.

KF: The movie Figurehead centers on the making and selling of art.

What interests you about the making of art? Do you still paint?

HG: I don’t paint anymore and have returned to photography. There was a rebirthing for me to return to the old Screbneski black and whites and the colors of Bourdin. Something just fired up in me again. It’s been simmering a couple of years and I have dived right into the deep end of it again. And you must understand I left photography in the late 70s!! I have curated a number of private collections and even that seems to be careening back to photographic images. Life — ‘Tis a tale of revisions and rewrites!

Harry Goaz "Skippy's Ghost on Bel Air Road"

Harry Goaz, “Skippy’s Ghost on Bel Air Road” (2016), photographs and Tempura, 8 in. x 12 in.

KF: You recently published a series of short stories which were translated into Russian, French and Portuguese.  

HG: I have a tidy little army of lovers for my stories. They run anywhere from one to three lines and are usually accompanied by my older images. It’s like when Keith Richards said “yeah” off-mic at the end of “Brown Sugar.” The kids are eating and I am feeding.

KF: Would you say your love for art is primal? Who are some of your favorite writers?

HG: Oh, excellent question! As for me I would say yes. Well let me amend that; I think art is primal for everyone until they get all layered and shellacked up and become encumbered with all of the “business” of becoming a human being and trying to live in a world with others.

Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, John Berger’s “The Shape of a Pocket,” John Cheever and Richard Bausch will all send me to a happy grave.

KF: In the book Image/Music/Text the French philosopher, Roland Barthes speculates on the theory behind the image, text and music. You have experienced the practice of art as performer, visual artist and writer.

What has been your involvement with music?

HG: Interesting that you would mention Roland, you psychic devil. I always go back to how his MANY hardships were the catalyst for his greatest academic concepts and victories. At this point in my life, as a more mature viewer, I rarely am able to ‘view’ ANY images without music. I compose all images with music whether it be conceptualizing or editing.

Harry Goaz "Door Open at 3:00AM"

Harry Goaz, “Door Open at 3:00AM” (1995), photographs, chromogenic print, 12 in. x 14 in.

KF: We now live in an internet and celebrity culture. Are you fascinated by the spontaneity in what has become a quick path to fame? Is the role of the artist as genius still relevant?

HG: I was, but so many people are famous now. I think artist as genius is relevant, but not to say that all great art has come from genius. I would like to think that there is more than an army of us out there who spend inordinate amounts of time consuming art and trying to find our place as mere mortals… WM

Kofi Forson
Kofi Forson is a writer, POET and PLAYWRIGHT living in NYC. His current blog is BLACK COCTEAU, a mixture of philosophy and art on modern culture.

*Originally printed in Whitehot Magazine in August 2016 issue here. View all articles by Kofi Forson here.

Meet Dr. Samita Nandy, Founding Director of The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) in Canada

Dr Samita NandyI’d like to introduce my readers to my friend, Dr. Samita Nandy, who just happens to have a very interesting story and is the founder of The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies in Canada. Dr. Nandy holds a Doctorate in Media from Curtin University in Western Australia, a Masters on Communication and Culture from York University in Toronto and is a certified Broadcast Journalist. Her research and writing focus on celebrity culture, shifts in stardom, and intersection of cultural meanings of fame and social identity. Her work has been sponsored by international and national grants and awards in Canada and Australia.

Her international media relations and work led her to be featured with Global Television’s Anwar Knight and Allison Annesley on Daytime and prime-time show First Local on Rogers Television, CBC News, CTV’s Breaking News CP 24, OMNI TV, The Globe and Mail, ANOKHI Media, SNAP Downtown Toronto newspaper, Eternity Watch magazine, ATN Television Network, CINA 1650 AM, Rivaaj, Starbuzz Weekly, Cineblitz, Mississauga News, and J-Source in Canadian Journalism Foundation. Nandy has taught postgraduate and honors degree courses at University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and Curtin University. She is the Founding Director of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) and Director of Communications at non-profit organization Nouveau iDEA (International Dimensions of Entertainment and Arts) with over 8,000 members and 80,000 online readers. She has spoken at many international conferences and her published writings on social and cultural issues inspire many readers.

Samita and I initially became acquainted on Facebook when she wrote to me. She was still studying in Western Australia and wrote to me about an organization called Nouveau iDEA, for which she is Director of Communications, because I’m a big supporter of the Arts.  I told her that my best friend had lived in WA for many years and she shared that her boyfriend lives in Kingston, Ontario where I live and she calls Kingston her second home when she’s not in Mississauga. Samita told me that she’d get in touch with me when she was back in Canada and she did. We met in person over a year ago and became fast friends. She is one of those people who actually walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to living her life with passion, integrity and spiritual purpose. She’s a truly lovely, intellectual and creative soul and I’d like to give her this opportunity to tell you about The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies.

Dr. Nandy, please tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to pursue your particular course of studies.

Dr. Nandy: First of all, thank you for wanting to interview me for your Scully Love Promo blog.  A bit about myself: I am an academic, artist and activist.  Prior to joining university, I had a science background.  With a passionate interest and score of 86% in biology, I had the option to become a medical doctor. However, I preferred communication that brings social justice and change in representations of talent.  For me, media is a tool in communicating the change that I intend to see.  This intent and fearless determination led me to conduct my Doctoral research in media and celebrity studies.

What is the primary mission of The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies? 

Dr. Nandy: The primary mission of The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies is to administer and facilitate teaching, training, research, creative productions and an international network of scholars in critical studies of media and celebrity culture. We are committed to developing courses, conferences, seminars, workshops, discussions, writing retreats, exhibits, and performances in open-access formats.  Since we aim to restore the Latin root celebrem in the etymology of the celebrity, we recognize its connotation of celebrating distinction and merit in both academic and non-academic career paths. 

What inspired you to create it?

Dr. Nandy: While I was conducting my Doctoral research, I saw the Dr Samita Nandy receives her PhDgrowing academic and public demand for knowledge of fame and its practices. Soon after my Doctorate, the Routledge journal Celebrity Studies in the UK and its inaugural conference in Australia offered a formal and honorable introduction to its study and practices including creative arts.  I always felt the compelling need to bridge gaps between higher education and arts that Celebrity Studies enable. I also felt the urgency to make research and creative practice available to the public in artistic spaces, and empower social change through knowledge communities.  There were a number of faculty members that were inspired to make a significant difference in the public sphere.  I took up the inspiration to apply theoretical perspectives and methodological concerns, and enable social change that academic teaching and research often seek.

Who are the people who would most likely benefit from affiliation with The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies?

Dr. Nandy:  Faculty, graduate students, and creative practitioners in academic and non-academic career paths will benefit from affiliation with the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies.

Are you presently looking for staff and/or volunteers for CMCS? 

Dr. Nandy: CMCS will appoint an educational outreach coordinator and social media manager to disseminate our growing content.  Apart from that, we are always open to interns who are determined to develop and contribute academic knowledge and professional skills.  We have qualified faculty members, post-doctorates and media professionals that can support the development with adequate supervision.

What exactly does a Fame Critic do?

CMCS LibraryDr. Nandy:  A Fame Critic is a critic and commentator on celebrities in higher education and media industry.  The function is similar to that of a film critic offering reviews, analysis, and evaluation of films but in this case, media representation of celebrities is examined.  For a Fame Critic, criticism does not mean negating a celebrity’s work.  Rather, the critic positions talented personalities within varied yet specific contexts of fame, thus adding intellectual and aesthetic value to media representations.  In tabloid journalism, talent and emotions of celebrities are often commodified and sold as standard objects of trade.  In this respect, gossips, scandals and rumors are common but overlook journeys and contexts that are central to creating and understanding celebrated artists.  Through written reviews, spoken words, and performing arts, the Fame Critic offers an empowered understanding and appreciation of celebrities as well as media that represent them.

Why do you think that Celebrity Studies deserves to be considered as an important course of study?

Dr. Nandy: Celebrity culture has a pervasive presence in society and effect on our lives. In tabloid journalism, images of celebrities represent what Richard Dyer calls a ‘success myth’.  It is based on lucky breaks, special talent, hard work and ordinariness.  The basis of this success is not complete.  The reality is that fame is a media construction that conceals the role of publicity and promotions, and is not inclusive.  From this perspective, a celebrity need not be talented.  Rather, as Daniel Boorstin asserts, “A celebrity is a person who is well-known for their wellknownness.”  Many talented people do not know of necessary tools, remain unknown, or limit themselves to future hopes and standards of fame.  In order to celebrate one’s path and shine as a star, it is important to carve out a niche talent and know necessary tools but, more importantly, to focus on the journey and its moments that unfold limitless possibilities of the talent.  Celebrity Studies is important because it focuses on the critical exploration of fame in historical and contemporary contexts.  It also demystifies the industrial and political processes of production, circulation, and distribution of talent. Since fame is a media construction, Celebrity Studies is indispensable to critical understanding of knowledge and practices of media.

Tell us about what you’ve most recently been working on.

Dr. Nandy:  On behalf of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies, I am developing courses, publications, and performances.  The performances are based on music composed by Australia’s Myles Wright (www.myleswright.com). The work has been an exciting part of the post-doctoral phase of my career.

What is your primary goal right now in terms of your career?

Dr. Nandy: Right now, my primary goal is to facilitate integration of teaching, research, and creative arts in academic and non-academic programs.

What can students learn from the courses that you’re currently developing and teaching?

Dr. Nandy: Students can learn theoretical perspectives, research methods, and practical tools that are essential to understanding media and celebrity culture.  Since I incorporate an element of performance in my courses, students are able to use an arts-based approach in their career as well as their personal journeys in developing talent.

What role does spirituality play in your writing, public speaking and course development?

Dr. Nandy: For me, spirituality is a shared non-physical relationship with self and others.  A unique creative self is rooted in one’s spirituality and is expressed through embodied practices.  In order to push material and social boundaries, it is necessary to explore and accommodate one’s spirituality in the act of creating.  In my writing, speaking, and course development, spirituality is often expressed as unconditional love, which I bear in my relation to self and others. 

You talk about unconditional love a lot in your writing. What does unconditional love mean to you?

Dr. Nandy:  There are two kinds of emotions: love and fear.  I choose love Dr Samita Nandyand yes, I often mention it – I am passionate about it!  For me, unconditional love is a commitment to care that is free from past and social conditions including sexism, ethnocentrism, speciesism, and class discrimination.  From this perspective, unconditional love starts with self and ends with non-judgmental recognition of others.  If we question a practice, it should be about the conditions of society and not victims of the conditions.  Unconditional love is not meant to be perfect but rather a progression that includes taking one step at a time.  I believe that unconditional love is one of our highest talents that are not taught for the privilege of few. Yet it is easy and empowering once explored.  When we release ourselves from conditions, our creative core is free to recognize its distinctive path and shine as a star, which is the underlying message of all my work.

What is Nouveau iDEA all about and how can people get involved?

Dr. Nandy: Founded by media personality Tushar Unadkat, Nouveau iDEA is a non-profit arts organization that offers an inclusive and motivational space for diverse artists.  I started working with Nouveau iDEA as the Director of Communications in 2004.  Currently, Nouveau iDEA supports independent artists by sharing and promoting their upcoming work through our regular newsletters and posts.  The best way people can get involved in it is by joining the Nouveau iDEA groups on Yahoo and Facebook.  In the near future, we will be holding public events where artists can meet and share information in person.

Tell us about your favourite form of creative expression.

Dr. Nandy: I would say performance.  Writing is an embodied act and I find it fascinating to extend it into performances!  I am particularly interested in contemporary dance that offers living examples of change in intimate spaces as well as on stage or screen. 

Who are you most interested in connecting with and how can they reach you?

I am always interested in connecting with individuals open to learning in both academic and non-academic careers.  I can be reached at info@cmc-centre.com.

Thank you very much Dr. Nandy for your thoughtful and insightful answers to my questions. It is always such a pleasure to have a conversation with you and I hope that my readers will find not only information but inspiration in this interview that will resonate with them and inspire them to look at fame and the study of celebrity culture in a different way.

Don’t Miss The Science and Art of Opening Your Heart Telesummit Sept. 9-13th

The Science and Art of Opening Your Heart Telesummit Sept. 9 - 13, 2013Media Contact: Trina Becksted
(480) 668-6400
Trina@cloudninemarketing.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(8/15/13 Phoenix)
“The Science and Art 
Of Opening Your Heart”  Telesummit Sept 9-13th.

WHAT: A free week-long, online telesummit hosted by filmmaker Ronna Prince. Spawned by the success of her film Sacred Journey of the Heart, this telesummit will reach more people with this important, heart-based knowledge. This online event will showcase 20 of the best heart-centered, transformational experts in the world.

WHEN:  September 9-13, 2013

There will be four interviews per day at 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

WHERE:  Register for free at http://sacredjourneyoftheheart.com/telesummit/

WHO:   Schedule of Speakers Includes: 

  • Mary Morrissey: Why engaging your heart and feelings is essential to manifesting your dreams – Monday, Sept. 9, 9 a.m.
  • Colin Tipping: Heart healing and radical forgiveness – Sept 9, 12 p.m.
  • Ronna Prince: Heart-based tools for living in deep connection with yourself and others, and in alignment with your highest purpose – Sept 9, 3 p.m.
  • Bob Proctor: Shares his step-by-step process to abundance – Sept 9, 6 p.m.
  • Dr. Deborah Rozman: Exploring science and health in depth with the film Sacred Journey of the Heart- Tuesday, Sept 10, 9 a.m.
  • Dr. Donald Backstrom: Exploring science and health in depth with the film Sacred Journey of the Heart with a holistic approach – Sept 10, 12 p.m.
  • Dr. Robert Pease: How to highly effect change and break through any block or stagnant pattern – Sept 10, 3 p.m.
  • Dr. John Demartini: Shares how he progressed from homeless, illiterate and near death to a world-renowned motivational speaker – Sept 10, 6 p.m.
  • Cynthia James: Her thoughts on healing the fragmented heart – Wednesday Sept 11, 9 a.m.
  • Liz Dawn: She shares her secrets to manifesting a loving marriage after 40 years of being single and how she created the business of transformational consciousness conferences and events. Sept. 11, 12 p.m.
  • Sarah McLean: Special Guest! She shares her journey to becoming a meditation teacher and author- Sept 11, 6 p.m.
  • Larry Running Turtle Salazar: talks about walking the “red road” and the dream that he is dedicated to fulfilling in his lifetime – Thursday, Sept. 12, 9 a.m.
  • Caroline Sutherland: Shares her formula for abundant health and divulges how she survived the devastating and public breakup of her marriage – Sept 12, 12 p.m.
  • Nick Ortner: Reveals how and why EFT tapping heals the heart. Sept. 12, 3 p.m.
  • Mat Boggs: Offers his practical approach to creating the life of your dreams. Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
  • Sunny Dawn Johnston: Reveals some simple yet powerful day-to-day practices to open your heart. Friday, Sept. 13, 9 a.m.
  • Betsy Chasse: Shares what happened “after the Bleep” which is somewhat shocking. Her down-to-earth approach moved her life in a new direction. Sept 13, 12 p.m.
  • Kyle Cease: Shares his secrets to overcoming crippling anxiety and his proven technique for how to manifest in extraordinary ways. Sept 13, 3 p.m.
  • Nick Lowery: Shares his transformation from athlete-egoist to a heart-centered leader that is inspiring kids to kick off to success. Sept. 13, 6 p.m.

FREE GIFTS: Speakers are offering free gifts to people who tune in to their talks.

Listeners will receive:

  • A worksheet process to use in challenging situations
  • A $500 off coupon for 3 Steps to Heart-Centered Healthy Living Weekend Wellness in Chicago October 2013
  • An online tele-training program validated by 30 years of heart and brain science
  • A 16-minute mp3 on Right Brain Meditation and Creative Intelligence Activation
  • A free audio download on how to successfully set and achieve goals
  • A 3-month membership to Cynthia James’ support network that will provide tools, guidance and meditation
  • Enter to win a free ticket to Celebrate Your Life in Scottsdale, AZ February 14-16, 2014 ($395 value)
  • Free useful and practical guide of 5 successful essentials to meditation
  • A complimentary copy of the first two chapters of The Pipe and the Pen by Larry Running Turtle Salazar
  • A PDF of Bio Id Hormones – Stay young with Balanced Hormones
  • An EFT Tapping 101 video and Tapping Points Reference Chart
  • A link to the “Attracting Mr. Right” webinar
  • A reference guide to the principal characteristics of the Archangels
  • An e-book download of Metanoia, A Transformative Change of Heart by Betsy Chasse
  • A one hour video on how to live a panic-free life

Other speakers have not submitted their gifts yet.

REGISTRATION/MORE INFORMATION: To register for the telesummit or to find more information, visit http://sacredjourneyoftheheart.com/telesummit/

For interview opportunities for Ronna Prince contact trina@cloudninemarketing.com

###

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My First Podcast Interview on The Rachel Love Show

 

The Rachel Love ShowI gave my first radio podcast interview on Thursday last week about how I turned my passion for music into my dream job and am finally living an authentic life at age 49 (although I wasn’t supposed to discuss age!) on The Rachel Love Show on A2Zen.fm with authors and radio hosts Rachel Love and Dianna Bellerose and thought that you might enjoy listening, as it’s an opportunity for you to get to know me better, so here’s the link:

http://podroom.a2zen.fm/podcasts/the-rachel-love-show/the-new-rachel-love-show-5#.UgQzhdK1GSo

A big thank you again to Rachel & Dianna for asking me to do the interview. I had fun, we had some laughs and I’m happy with how I came across! 

 

Christine Bode of Scully Love Promo on The Rachel Love Show: Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Rachel Love ShowI’m very pleased to have been asked to be interviewed on The Rachel Love Show, an online podcast on Thursdays at 4:00 pm EST that features topics such as education, self-help, health, spirituality, entertainment and more.

I will be appearing live on Thursday, August 8th at 4:00 pm for my very first podcast ever and will be interviewed by Rev. Rachel LoveGhost Whisperer / Medium / Intuitive, Transition Coach & Associate Minister – Intuitive Instructor, Sacred Hoop Center and Founder of Goddess Love, Rachel Love’s School of Intuitive Intelligence, as well as Dianna Bellerose who is an author, motivational speaker, radio host and women’s advocate. I’m a little nervous but I understand from testimonials from other women who’ve appeared on Rachel’s show that it’s more like having a conversation than an interview. So bear with me if I choke at all!  I’m quite good on the phone so I hope I’ll be as good in a live podcast.

******

Learn to Change your Perceptions and your Life by the woman who understands better than most about transitions, Rachel Love!

Join Rachel Love and her Co-Host Award Winner Author for Best Romance Dianna Bellerose, author of the Novel Fire and Ice every Thursday at 4 pm eastern on A2Zen.fm.

Rachel & Dianna interview some of the most interesting New Thought Leaders available. Everything from Activism- 2- ZEN,  The Rachel Love Show Has It All!

Sharing the Passion with Cuban Dynamo and Latin, Torch & Sexy Jazz Artist, Deborah Ledon

Deborah Ledon Main promo photoCaptivating…Electrifying…Unforgettable…

Sexy singer-songwriter Deborah Ledon is as extraordinary as her life story.  A native Cuban, her family pulled off a daring escape to Canada when Deborah was just a two-year old toddling around her impoverished neighbourhood looking for food.  That audacious theme seems to have set the stage for her life.  The epitome of charisma, fierce determination and exotic beauty, Deborah Ledon frequently draws from her own fair share of challenging life experiences for lyrical inspiration.  The vocally versatile high-energy dynamo has a spellbinding stage presence and boasts a varied and eclectic background as an entertainer and performer.  Past gigs include everything from commercials and voiceovers to acting, modelling, musical theatre and touring the US with a funk band.  Deborah Ledon’s powerful, melodic voice led to her fronting a variety of bands ranging from a 25-piece big band, country, rock, punk, dance and Latin bands, as well as touring and performing for the Marriot Hotel chain, and fronting the house band for the Parkway Best Western for eight years. She’s also performed at numerous jazz festivals.

An entertainer at heart, Deborah studied acting at Brock University, later landing a lead role in the musical “Man of La Mancha”, a performance that earned her critical acclaim.  Deborah also performed in Vancouver’s “Vagina Monologues” to support a charity fundraiser, and played numerous roles in Carol Shield’s “Departures and Arrivals”.

Deborah Ledon’s raw and edgy independent album “Spilling Inside Out” earned her international acclaim.  The album won Best New Jazz/ Folk Artist inSpilling Inside Out 2004 and hit the Euro Americana Charts as one of 2005’s best albums.  In autumn of 2008 CBC Radio’s Hot Air program showcased Deborah and her former band Locura including a recording session and an hour-long interview.

Deborah Ledon is boldly reclaiming her Cuban heritage with her latest music success.  Her explosive Latin band promises to rock and shock and put you at serious risk of dancing.  Deborah’s contagious passion for her Latin roots defines her exotic, seductive jazzy sound, unmistakable in its unique versatility.  Deborah’s band members are some of Vancouver’s most talented musicians: Chris Haas on drums and vocals; Brent Gubbels on bass; Nick Apivor on percussion; Boris Favre on keyboards and vocals; and Musical Director Graig Robertson on sax, guitar and vocals.  The River Rock Casino in Richmond has become a frequent gig for Deborah and her band, bringing in an ever-increasing stream of fans.  But then it’s really not surprising.  Deborah’s captivating performances and sincere, un-Diva-like attitude could win anyone’s heart.  I love this woman!

If you’d like a CD of Deborah’s original material, it is available through her website at www.deborahledon.com and at CD Baby.  Her original material is unlike the Latin presentation but does have, along with Rock some Jazz and Latin influences.

Deborah in black performing at a casinoA Few Words from Deborah

“My influences growing up were quite eclectic.  I loved the versatility of Linda Ronstadt, the smoothness and range of Barbra Streisand, the Rock growl and scream of Heart’s Ann Wilson and Pat Benatar, the stage dramatics and comedy of Bette Midler, the dark edge of Carole Pope and finally, the infinite musical potential, sincerity and absolute femininity and style of Selena.  I’ve always admired women who had a backbone and never sold out to accommodate some suit sitting behind a desk.  It’s important to be true to oneself and able to sleep at night.

As for my music collection, I loved everything from Rush to Dreamtheatre to Sara Brightman to Gloria Estefan.  My favourite group is The Eagles although Rush is another one.  In concert I’ve had the privilege of seeing The Pointer Sisters, Wham, Michael Jackson, Carole Pope, Eurythmics, Seal, Bonnie Raitt, The Corrs, Rita MacNeil, Jann Arden, John McDermott, Natalie MacMaster, Pink Martini and the one and only, Ricki Lee Jones.  She was great!

The Internet is amazing because it exposes you to those who would normally have no chance of hearing what you do.  I love getting emails from around the globe from someone who has bought my CD and wishes to share thoughts on it.  I also get emails from those right here at home who’ve come out to see a show and want to share their thoughts on songs or thank me for a lovely experience.  The Internet can be a very good thing when used properly.  The downfall, of course is all the traffic and competition on it not to mention the garbage. So many artists and so little time.

I hope to make as many people feel the joy that lives in my heart when I perform and to be a living and breathing example of faith and importance in following one’s heart despite adversity and hardship.  Anything worthwhile comes at a price but surely if people were to know every detail of this journey I willingly signed up for, they would wonder why I didn’t change course years sooner.  I can’t imagine living a false life and yet so many out there do.  It’s a very sad thing and one of the reasons I believe we’re so out of touch with ourselves not to mention why we have high blood pressure.  People are afraid to be truly authentic.  One has to live one’s own song regardless of what anyone thinks.  I’m so darn lucky to have had a 4 foot high grandmother who encouraged my huge Cuban stubborn streak!  Ha!

Into my second year there, River Rock Casino out in Richmond, BC has been my regular musical home.  It was a strange thing initially to walk into that “Vegas style” atmosphere. There were lights everywhere and noise!  What noise!  I didn’t know how we would be heard above all that ringing and talking but once on that glorious stage with state of the art gear and amazing sound men like Tony and Steven at the helm, all was forgotten.  The place is magical and after all this time, we have a following which makes our shows that much more fun.  I love to tease audience members and include them in my act which makes my show very “in the moment”.  There’s no planning whatsoever and we fly with whatever material is at hand.  Along with this I’m blessed with incredibly talented players who along with their monstrous talents, like to laugh and can take some serious teasing themselves.  It’s really a wonderful mix of all positive and bright.  I’m beaming the entire four hours we’re on stage.  It’s such incredible fun.”

Upcoming Shows

Deborah will be playing at Lulu’s Lounge in the River Rock Casino in Richmond, BC on January 23 at 8:30 pm and January 24 at 9:00 pm.

She’s also performing at a very special Real World Benefit Concert for Cuba Benefit for Cuba Posterat St. James Community Square, 3214 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver on January 26 from 7:30 – 11:30 pm.  Advance tickets are available at Ali’s Dollar Store, 2881 West Broadway.  Door tickets are $25.  This event is co-sponsored by the Rogue Folk Club.  For further info, contact 604-266-3644 or visit www.dinosaurmusic.net/Concerts.html.

Connect with Deborah Ledon

www.facebook.com/DeborahLedonMusic
http://twitter.com/DeborahLedon
http://www.youtube.com/DeborahLedon

Interview with the Transatlantic Musical Collaboration that is THE BLACK & BLUE ORKESTRE

“Heavy beats, deep bass, wild guitar, moody vocals–some might call it Sturm und Twang. The Black & Blue Orkestre’s vocals and instrumental music sips from the sticky cups of Spaghetti Western Surf and Cinematic Gothic Rockabilly Groove on acid. Their sound was once described by someone as “sweaty vampire Elvis”, which resulted in a punch in the face and the instantaneous collapse of a multi-million dollar recording contract.”

The Black & Blue Orkestre (B&BO) is a transatlantic collaboration between three musicians who at first don’t seem like probable band mates.  Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Tom DiCillo (NYC) is also an award-winning independent filmmaker (Living In Oblivion, When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors) while lead guitarist Will Crewdson (London) has a busy career playing not only for his own project, Scant Regard, but also for the likes of Rachel Stamp, Johnette Napolitano, Adam Ant, Bryan Ferry, Bow Wow Wow and even Celine Dion and Tom Jones. Backup vocalist and bassist Grog is the lead singer of her own successful London/LA based neogoth/hard rock band Die So Fluid, and has been known to delve into the session world with the likes of Melanie C from the Spice Girls, Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne, Mike Smith (Gorillaz) and Dave Rowntree (Blur).

Mike Scott of The Waterboys once tweeted about The Black & Blue Orkestre’s music, calling it “Fab Morricone influenced music”.  Lyrically, their music possesses just the right combination of irreverence and irony, not to mention a seriously cool sound.  So what else makes this trio so special?  Come join me for my recent conversation with Tom, Will & Grog to find out.

CB:  Tom, how did you, Will and Grog connect and decide to form this transatlantic triumvirate?

Tom:  We all met in a strip club.  Will was on stage.  Grog was the bouncer. Actually, it goes back a few years.  I’d started a website chronicling all the sordid details of the release of my film, Delirious.  Well, Will wrote in with a very cool comment about how he liked my films and offered his help with the British release. He mentioned he was a musician and we started exchanging emails about the kinds of music and films we liked.

I’d been knocking together some songs for a while; very simple stuff.  I’d gotten my home recording system to the point where I could lay down a few tracks and I experimented with some singing.  I started with 16 Tons because it seemed like it was easy enough for me to handle it vocally.  I also liked the dark undercurrent of the lyrics. Something prompted me to send it to Will.

I’d never played music with anyone, nor had anyone listen to my music other than my wife, Jane.  I think I just sensed a real compatibility with Will and I really hoped he didn’t laugh at me.  Will, I’m curious what you thought when I sent you that first mix of 16 Tons?

Will:  Initially I was very impressed with the vocals.  I couldn’t compare them to anything and I found it hard to believe that they had only been heard by one other person.  I knew they had to be heard by more.  I always liked that song anyway so to have a crack at arranging a new version with a fresh take on it was really cool.

Tom:  I was blown away by Will’s musicality.  Suddenly, the song had a whole new dimension.  Will’s guitars were very rich and atmospheric.  They helped me clarify this vague idea I had about creating a sound that was very modern but that drew from the coolest parts of some older music; like the surreal twang of the surf guitar or some of the chunky, stomping beats and rhythms of Bo Diddley.

So, I emailed Will another song; the 2nd song I’d learned how to play on the guitar–St. James Infirmary.  And then I sent Whiskey Promise, the first song I’d completely written.  And in each case our shared sensibilities resulted in better songs.

Now, all this time one of the most crucial parts musically, the bass, was being poked at with one finger by me on my synth.  Will played a series of gigs with Grog and after a while he suggested we see if she’d be interested in adding her skill to the mix.  I was kind of dumbfounded when she said yes. But, from the first track we sent her everything and it just clicked.  There is nothing comparable to real musicians playing and what she does with the bass really brings the song into a kind of trio feel; voice, guitar and bass all working off each other.

CB: Where did the name of the band come from?

Tom:  It just hit me one day.  It implies something bruised, something that has felt the impact of something and is showing signs of the encounter. It’s not homogenized or smoothed over–the bruises show.  I realized it touched the tone and theme of some of our music.  The songs are about people who’ve been knocked down or who are really struggling with something.  I happened to see the word ‘orkestre’ spelled that way and I really liked the way it looked.  And, I like that implication too; that there’s something a little formal about us–but just skewed.

CB:  What does each of you bring to the B&BO?  How do you technically manage to put all the pieces together to record a song?

Will:  Well all the original ideas stem from Tom’s incredible imagination.  He is definitely the driving force.  I try and embellish what he has come up with, with guitar lines and production/mixing ideas.  It’s definitely unlike any other collaboration or band I’ve been involved with.  The bare bones of the song – lyrics, melody and chords are normally sent to myself and Grog with some expert direction from Tom and we do what we can to make it sound like we’re all in the same room.

CB:  Although Tom writes the lyrics for the B&BO’s original songs, Grog, what themes would you like to explore if you were to write material for the group?

Grog: 
Well, I do nearly all the lyric writing in my own band, so I guess I’d want to write about things that don’t necessarily fit with Die So Fluid’s vibe.  It’s pretty hard to put my finger on what that would entail but I might indulge in some ‘my man done me wrong’ stylings, more raw emotional improvisational stuff, which might piss off some of the post neo punk DSF fans but be most therapeutic for me.  That’s all hearsay anyway because this is Tom’s baby.  It’s refreshing being in a band where that’s not my role and I can really focus on the bass and embellishing the feel of the songs Tom comes up with.

CB:  Tom, were you simply a shower singer before you sang for Will or have you had a secret desire to perform as a singer for a long time?  

Tom:  
I’m not really a “shower person.”  I don’t like getting my hair wet.  No, I sing more when I’m walking down the street which might explain why all the songs are in a kind of straight, walking 4/4 time.

I’ve acted in front of people in plays and on film.  I’ve given speeches in front of thousands of people at film festivals.  But, I have never, ever sung live.  I’ve come to trust my voice more but at the beginning it was really hard having people listen to me.  I like singing a lot but I’ve never fantasized about making a career out of it.  I’ve had an interest in music for quite a while though.  I’m very involved in the music for my films and have written songs and music that appeared in them as early as Johnny Suede in 1990.  This more serious interest just kind of happened because of some long periods of waiting between films and I decided I should try singing instead of going insane.

CB:  Will, you wear many hats: musician, producer, programmer…what is it about the entire process that you enjoy the most?

Will:    First and foremost I prefer being a musician.  All the other stuff for me is only a means to get across the original song or idea.  I still prefer playing live to wearing any of those hats.  That’s the real test.

CB: You have a stunning voice, Grog.  Forgive me for making a comparison but your voice immediately reminded me of Exene Cervenka (formerly of X), not to mention you’re incredibly photogenic with a real flair for dramatic video performance.  Who are some of your musical and non-musical influences?

Grog:   
Thank you kindly, that comparison is a first, but a good one to add to the collection!  I enjoy all the aspects that go into presenting that magical ‘other’ world created by music.  I’m inspired by many diverse artists ranging from Billie Holiday to Iggy Pop, with Debussy, Tim Buckley, Soundgarden, Deftones and Shirley Bassey in between!  They just need to excite me, if not with their technique, with their spirit, vision and energy.  Non musically speaking, I’m attracted to strong, don’t give a damn, larger than life iconic female figures such as Bettie Page, Vivienne Westwood and Wonder Woman, creative and spiritual forces like Paulo Coelho and Alan Moore for example, and I’m a horror fan; film and books.  Rob Zombie is great. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate plenty of other styles.  I enjoy Tim Burton films and also love the Coen Brothers, David Lynch, the weird world of Guy Maddin and, oh yeah, that guy Tom DiCillo…

CB:  It’s obvious that Will’s Ennio Morricone-style guitar-scapes stand out in the B&BO’s music, but whose style would you say that you most borrow from as a musician?

Tom:   I’m not sure I would say “whose” style but more “what” style.  Obviously, something about the surf sound imprinted on my brain at a very early age because I could listen to an Am chord with the whammy bar for days.  There’s something very evocative about the sound.  It is strange and beautiful but it also carries the potential of emotion and drama.

I’m not into nostalgia in any way.  I just like interesting musical sounds; I don’t care where they come from.  You look at Morricone’s work on his Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns in the 60’s and the musical ideas he incorporates into those scores are more original and modern than anything I’ve heard today.

I like singers, both men and women who have an organic, original sound–where you feel something truthful when they sing–whether it’s early Elvis or even Eminem. There is great energy today in the way rhythm and beat are recorded and mixed that was more subdued in the early days of rock music. I like combining the punch and grit of modern sensibilities with some of the cool ideas that came before.

CB:  Will, how much has film influenced your music and if you could score a major motion picture production, what would the genre and plot be?

Will:   
A hell of a lot.  Because I’m really into instrumental music the visual side is very important even if it’s only in your mind’s eye while you listen to it.  When you write words and use them in a song there are, of course infinite possibilities for interpretation by the listener.  Those possibilities are always multiplied infinite times when you leave them out.

I would like to score an improvised Zombie/Sci-fi/Noir/Comedy/Thriller please.  The plot, like the music, could take you anywhere at any given point in the film.

Tom: I would very much like to see that film and to listen to that score.  Most film music today sounds like it was all written by the same person.

Will:
 It probably was!

CB:  Grog, if you were to conceive and direct a music video for the B&BO, which song would you choose and how would you tell its story with images?

Grog: 
I would choose our most recent track Ball and Chain because it’s my favourite so far and it has a ‘f*ck you’ thing about it I can relate to.  It would probably be each of us escaping three individually harrowing scenarios trying to reach a destination where we finally meet and rock out.  I’ll let you know when I’ve written the treatment.

Tom:  
That’s a pretty cool idea, Grog.  I can see it!  Also, I’d like to say that though I write the vocals and sketch out the body of the songs I don’t feel this is my gig.  I depend very heavily on both you and Will for your musical and thematic ideas.  I see the songs as really coming from all three of us.  I know this way of making music, you know–none of us in the same room–could seem a little strange but I like the way it allows us all the freedom to do what we want.

I hate it when somebody tells me what to do; especially if it is even remotely creative.  Grog writes all the bass parts. The same with Will.  All his guitars come from what he feels like playing.

CB:  How did you create your first music video for the instrumental track Frozen Sunset?

Tom:   I was excited when we finished that track.  I think we stumbled into some very rich territory in terms of sharpening and defining our sound.  I was also beginning to think about ways to get the music out there more.  And suddenly it struck me this would be a perfect track to do a music video for.  There is no singing so that complicated (and expensive) element of syncing to the words wasn’t even an issue.  Of course, we didn’t have any money to spend and that was an issue.  So, the first thing I thought was, “Well, since we’re all in different parts of the world, maybe we could just film ourselves alone, as if we each were just sitting in our homes privately playing the music.  Will and Grog liked the idea so I suggested we each shoot ourselves with our iPhones.  They sent me the footage and I started trying to cut something together with other stuff that was free–which was some footage I’d shot over the years in NYC.

The little drop of glue that pulled it all together for me was dribbling some food coloring into a glass on my windowsill.  It cost $1.39 for the food coloring.  But, it added something–it was almost like a visual version of the Am chord on the whammy bar.

CB:  Will, what is Scant Regard Radio?

Will:   
It’s an online show I do once a month where I subject…er, enlighten my listeners with my own personal choices.  I mix up a lot of different styles and sometimes it even works!  You can tune in the first Wednesday of every month at www.wickedspinsradio.org from 8-11pm GMT.

CB:  Although you’re from the UK, Grog, you’re based in LA and tour extensively throughout Europe with Die So Fluid.  How does the music scene in LA differ from London’s and why did you decide to move there when it appears (from your website – http://www.diesofluid.net) that Germany & Finland love your band so much?

Grog:   I moved here about three years ago from London mainly to be with my now husband in LA.  We met on the road in the UK and started to visit each other until we reached the point when we needed to be in the same city!  Die So Fluid has done one extensive and very successful US tour with Mindless Self Indulgence and we have been discussing more work here, but of course Mr. Drew and Al can’t just jump on a bus for a couple of shows six thousand miles away.  It has to be financially sound and a well planned tour route; bands are fighting tooth and nail for those opportunities right now.  We love touring and I travel to Europe to play a lot. We’ve always said we’ll play where ever we find our audience around the world and that’s what we’ve embarked upon doing.  If you plan on being an international outfit then you just have to get used to the travel.  The internet definitely enables you to achieve a lot more as a band without being ‘together’, as The Black and Blue Orkestre proves!

CB:  When can we expect a CD from the B&BO?

Tom:  
Well, soon I hope.  We’d like to get at least 8 tracks.  Originally, I thought we’d use one or two of the covers we’ve done but since we’ve altered them slightly from the originals it makes getting licenses for them very difficult.  I still think our version of Ring Of Fire takes the song to a whole new level but we can’t use it.  So, I decided to come up with some more of our own songs.  That push resulted in Fade To Black, Frozen Sunset and Frozen Heartache. And Ball & Chain which is still in progress. That might be enough.

CB:  Do you have a title for the CD?

Will:    Not yet, no.

CB:  Do you see yourselves performing live and/or touring with the B&BO in the foreseeable future?

Grog:  I think it would be really fun; I’d be up for it.  I think Will would too.  But then we’ve been travelling minstrel poseurs for some years now, haha.  Tom goes pale and shudders at the mention of it.

Tom:  I shudder but I don’t go pale.

Grog:  Well that’s how I imagine it to look because I never see you!  Maybe some stiff whiskeys would be involved in making it actually happen.  If he received enough red roses and fan mail begging him to perform I can kind of visualize him adopting a rock n roll swagger and rising to the challenge.

Thank you for the pleasure of this interview Tom DiCillo, Will Crewdson and Grog Rox and for talking to Press +1 magazine.

Currently, you can listen to The Black & Blue Orkestre’s tracks exclusively on their BandPage on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theblackandblueorkestre.