Reed 013 / Norma Loy - May 2001 Lyon (F)

 

 - Can you give me a brief biography of yourself?

- From the beginning? We are already going to run out of time... How did I or how did we start, depending on what we are talking about. i was born in "province" in Troyes. I met Usher at that time. We were in school together. We started by releasing books, readings of excerpts and texts from cut ups. We were influenced by the whole bite generation, William S Burrough, Georges Bataille and all those people. At this time all was very literary. I was also already working on graphics at this time. We released several things. At the beginning only books and newspapers that looked like Bazooka a lot; which impressed us a lot around 1977. We were also doing music, but thesewre the years of Punk, so we were doing Punk Rock, destroy, like Metal Urbain and so on... with a shitty little drum machine and saturated guitars. Voilà. Then I moved to Paris as I started to work on photography around 1980. We established a great correspondance and released a book called Attitudes at this time where there was already photos and graphics mixed with letters. I was supposed to have an exhibition called Mechanique Bébé using photos reworked; at this time there was no computers so it was mainly cutting and paste. We thought this would be good to make some music for this exhibition where all the light was coming through skull x-rays. It was quite special and we wanted a soundtrack that would fit with it. We saw David Lynch's Eraserhead just before and we wanted to go a little bit in this way. All the bands we liked at that time had mostly the San Francisco sound like Chrome,... We started rehearse for once, we liked it and it kept going. We started to get serious with this at the same time. I was writing in a magazine called New Wave in Paris; this was the fanzine of all the alternative culture. They asked us to release a record as Die Form cancelled it. So, we ended up making the record instead of Die Form. Since then we kept doing music. We changed our style a lot in the meanwhile, as it was extremely noisy at the beginning; terrifying noise. not really industrial as we did not have the right equipment. This was the time of the monophonic senthetizers. All of this disappeared on the first record that was really "cold". We were not recording at that time. Anyway this was more close to performance or happening work; not meant to be recorded. when we really wanted to make music, we got more towards Joy Division and stuff like that, but more experimental as we loved that disturbed rock & roll. We had a pop structure at first, we kept the melody, which is better to sing on it. All got linked. We met several people who helped us. People from les Nuits Magnétiques on France Culture paid for our second record. After we got in touch with labels. We got on Divine where were interesting artists for us like Tuxedomoon, Minimal Compact, Blurt, and our friends from Complot Brunswick. Sadly, the label went bankrupt just before paying our album. So this was a rather negative experience. Then, we went on other labels like New Rose, with Kat Onoma and Jad Wio, which was quite coherent. At this time, everything went fine. The sales were good for this kind of music as we have to go back to that time's context. This is not like nowadays, as this music was rather hard to get in. Now when we hear sounds like that it seems fine, but we had to clear the land first...

- Absolutely. Earlier on today, I was listening to the Anton Shield tape, and it seems to me more easy to listen to than when it was released...

- Of course, but we were in touch with people from labels. We played with Tuxedomoon and people like that, but the concerts we were going to as a part of the audience were more like Throbbing Gristle... for me that is industrial. When it started to become mechanical, noisy without any humanity beyond, I got away from that music. I like strange things, but not 40 minutes of loops, it doesn't interest me.

- Neubauten?

- Yes. There are songs I like. Anyway, now we do much less music. And what we do is more electronic sounds, more pop. I do not feel like, I dot have the age anymore also, I am 40. I do not want to play the Iggy Pop or the "destroy man"; which isn't what I am anyway. This doesn't correspond to a reality; this would be cheating. This is also why the band stopped at a time. We were trapped in a system where we were going to end up parodying ourselves. This is one of the reasons. There are many others. There is also tyring; the band did last for 15 years. I think that there is a time when you have to look back, as you get more involved into other things.

- What do you think of reunions of 80's bands like Bauhaus and others...?

- I have no advice about it. I think that's good if people could not see those bands when the bands when they were still active. It is a kind of re-broadcast. This is like saccarine compared to sugar. I do notreally go to see shows now as I think this is much less fun than before. It is also expensive. And there is nothing that really turns me on enough. I'd rather go clubbing in parties with DJs; I think this is more interesting now. For about 3 years, we do organize fetish parties in Paris under the name of Alien Nation; each month last year, and less often this year as we want to create bigger events with lots of artists. Next Saturday, we'll have some concerts too. We will play a couple of songs too just for fun, and we will work on the performance we created with Kiki Picasso and other members of the association. We will have this multimedia performance going on tour. It includes live music, videos, singing, all this mixed together. We will play it in Paris on Saturday, and at the Torture Garden in London and in Nuremberg next month.

- What can you tell me about the CPM movement?

- CPM... everybody know that it was a record label. That's it.

- You do not want to tell more about it?

- No... We were very close to to situationists; all our work, mostly at the right beginning, was really like that. Spreding an information right or wrong; this doesn't matter. What matters is what it could represent, and what are the reactions you can get off it. On 3 records, we tried to treat the subject of conscience and how to control it. Is this control positive or negative? It depends... If it is oneself who woks on himself the work can be totally positive; if we let somebody else doing it it can be absolutely terrifying. We wanted to do tests. We spread several trails from which we gort response that confirmed what we were thinking: it is really easy to manipulate people. And when we saw that everything worked and that we were able to manipulate people applying very simple recipies, we stopped it. Our aim was not to become a sect. We just took position opposing these mechanisms by seing what was inside first. Other groups did not take enough layback about this whole problematic.

- We discussed some of your background, what are your influences ?

- European artistic movements from the turn of the century. Dadaism and all that derived from it : Lettrism, Surrealism . I adore Max Ernst. Also, for me personally, American authors especially William S Burroughs, le cut-up. It is what I prefer to this day.

- Are your influences the same as when you started out?

- Yes. Influences are what creates, welds a personality. We then become who we are. We are all based on something. Now I meet more people than I did before starting to « create », but Iím not as overwhelmed by them. What interest me now is just meeting people, talking about what they like, seeing what they can offer, whether they are interesting. When there is a certain equilibrium in a person: Iím very happy when I like a personís work and upon meeting the person I find him/her very human, very kind. This is what I find most important, not the frill or fame. I couldnít care less about that.

- Stupid Questions I enjoy a lot : Your favourite colour?

- None, the colour of the eyes.

- Favourite food?

- I love food. Asian food

- Favourite drink?

- Wine, a really good bourgogne

Favourite pizza topping?

- I donít like pizza, but when I have to eat some, I opt for strong tasting toppings: anchovies, capers. Pizza is really a last resort for me.

Last movie seen at the movie theatre?

- Experimental Japanese sado-masochist film. I donít recall the title as it was in Japanese. It was featured at the FFF : Fetish Film Festival that we co-organised, great festival. Otherwise the last one would be La Si Jolie Vie by Jeunet. I liked it, just like everyone else. It was very poetic, although not very original. The Japanese sado-masochist film was better obviously, but...

- Have you seen Requiem for a Dream?

- No, I donít have a lot of time now. I have a lot of projects going on and I donít go out very much. My professional life is very hectic : Iím involved in lots of festivals, in Imagina: visual communications and CDs. Iím involved in the Alien Nation nights, my girlfriend is a dancer. There all these different activities and those of artist friends. I much rather go see one of my friendsí work rather than a film or play.

- How did you come up with the Alien Nation nights?

- From an encounter I had with Poupee Mechanique who had already conceived of these evenings. They lacked a bit of substance in my opinion, they were slightly isolated. They hooked up with different people, plasticians, and it finally took off. Iíve been working with them a while now. Itís quite exciting as we meet a lot of people. We can bring in people that we really like, we can work with people we really like. Itís great. Weíve organised exhibits with different people from Europe and overseas. Thereís a lot of communicating going on. Excellent performers as well, some who most people never heard of. Thereís also the idea of giving people who do not have access to communication a space where they can really express themselves without restraint. These evenings are all about openness. Itís a place outside of « normal » rules, where each person can pursue his/her own fantasy as they see fit. As long as they respect the people around them that is. That goes without saying.

- What about the London evening ?

- Itís the same thing pretty much, very similar. At the TG there is really no artistic research, no exhibits. Thatís our position. If it were only a fetish night, I donít think it would greatly interest me. I mean, I like fetishism. I do photography and I have some photos which are very much of that universe. I really like bondage, but I find it limited. What really interests me is the creative aspect. In fetishism there is some creativity involved : the creation of a personality outside the day-to-day world. There is a lot work regarding the clothes. Well not for a real fetishist actually. A real fetishist will not change his clothes. You can be a fetishist of anything. It doesnít have to be spectacular. You also have the hard SM world, etc. We like those images.

- Itís something you used in Norma Loy.

- Yes, itís pretty coherent, it continues along those ligns. I donít see any break.

- And you see yourself evolving in which way now?

- I donít really know. I didnít know this is what I would be doing. Thatís life. Luckily there are surprises otherwise we would be really bored. I donít think people should be static. I like people who are in movement, who are open.

- A word for the end?

- Yes. Please buy my book. It will be coming out in the fall, itís called Fetish Vision.

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greetings to Alain / Demon Eyes Tatoo

interview by Albérick © by [walnut + locust] 05/2001 - transcription + translation by Albérick + Yaël / photo illustration © Reed 013 used with kind permission (back to interviews)