Earlier this year Regis’ Downwards Records announced it would release The Other, the experimental LP formed through a collaborative project between industrial innovator Samuel Kerridge, and spoken word artist and one half of DVA Damas Taylor Burch. The record came out last month, along with its very own tailored A/V concept, the brain child of London-based film director Daisy Dickinson.
Whether its through the gritty Deficit of Wonder for James Ruskin’s Blueprint, the slow burning Auris Interna on Horizontal Ground, or his contrary electro EP The Silence Between Us on Downwards, Kerridge has remained at the forefront of pushing boundary-breaking avante-garde electronic music with this latest offering following suit.
Burch has most notably found her acclaim through DVA Damas and Camello Lobo’s band Tropic of Cancer, in which she joined the live set-up in the early 2010’s. Producing a similar post punk and industrial aesthetic (DVA Damas had released on Downwards previously as well), it’s easy to see how the meet with Kerridge came about.
Following the release of The Other, we ear wigged a conversation between the pair as they discussed their muse for the album Jean Cocteau, Burch’s initial reservations to get on board, and how the accompanying A/V show came about.
Taylor Burch: The Other is based on Jean Cocteau’s speech, A Letter To The Year 2000. How did you first discover this speech and what was your initial response to it?
Samuel Kerridge: I’ve always been a fan of Cocteau’s work, but I stumbled across his message purely by chance. The beauty of the internet I guess. It struck a chord instantly, the narrative seems more relevant now than ever before.
T: I agree, the relevance this message still has today made me feel both sad and relieved. Sad that progress has not been made but a weird sense of relief in that these criticisms and grievances are not specific to time or place. I feel like we often think the world is going to shit and after reading this I felt more that this is just how the world has always been and will be. And though that is not a good thing at all, I do find some comfort in that.
S: I had a similar experience. Strip away all the hype and we’re essentially just going around in circles. Its human nature. Technology evolves but do we, really? Is any culture, on mass, actually doing anything strikingly different?
T: So how did you go from watching this Jean Cocteau speech on YouTube to creating an entire AV performance and album based around it?
S: LST in Barcelona approached me a few years ago to score a one off live performance to any film of my choosing and this speech stood out instantly. But I wasn’t content with using the Cocteau video, so I set about editing the script and creating something original. At that time your DVA jams were ripping through my system. Early last year I approached Daisy Dickinson to bring the visual side of the project to life, and then in the spring of 2018 I hit the studio and composed an entire LP around the concept. It was a slow burner! I was thrilled to get you on board, was there any moment you wanted to run away? The duration of those takes must’ve been laborious?!
T: Of course we had met in person before but when you initially hit me up about doing this I wondered, “does he remember what my speaking voice sounds like??” Because it is so different from the voice I put on in DVA and because I think most people find their own voice to be, well, annoying, there was some fear for me at the start of this project.
I couldn’t bare to listen back to my takes- I remember after sending my first take, without previewing it at all, you replied asking me to do it again more slowly. I listened back and was shocked! I sounded like a shy student who got called on to read out loud in class, rushing through the text in the most monotonous voice.
S: I do remember your reservations, but I knew you were the one! I kept the vocals as raw as possible, apart from the obvious audible effects. I’m not one to sit there for days, endlessly fine tuning parts, all that guff seems far too anal. It misses the point of art in music, and moreover, the whole message in The Other. I’m not interested in the science, soul rules over everything!
T: Speaking of soul, there is a part of Jean Cocteau’s speech where he says “inspiration should be called expiration. it is something that emerges from our depths, our soul” Do you identify with this? Do you ever feel like there is a “mysterious force” that inhabits you?
S: This is exactly what got my attention. I’d never related to an artists philosophy before. You could scoff and write it off as complete bollocks, but it all boils down to purpose. It just so happens my output is electronic and I’m not sat around a camp fire singing lullabies. So many interviews want an explanation for this apparent “inspiration”, but sometimes it just is. The unexplainable is far more sexy than the obvious. Do you feel affinity with that or do you have a different approach to art/music?
T: Yeah, I do believe that inspiration is something that “emerges from our depths” and when I have experienced this sort of “expiration” it is effortless and magical. For me, this not something that happens all the time, which may be what makes it feel so special. Sometimes it’s for a few days, a hours or even minutes. It comes when it comes, I haven’t figured out how to tap into this as I please but I feel like there is a way.
S: Do you know a good Shaman who can guide us? Those really special moments ultimately depend on so many factors coming together at one time. I’ve learnt not to force it, that approach always ends in tears. Honestly, this is the first record I’ve had no regrets about, repeat listens haven’t filled me with over exposure. Have you come to love your voice in The Other?
T: Love is a strong word! I guess in a way I have learned to love it. I am seeing my real voice creeping more and more into other projects I am working on so I have definitely been drawn to it and am much more comfortable using it since The Other. There is still just one moment on this record, one word I say that makes me cringe. Shall I keep it a mystery?
S: Keep it to yourself! The record is perfect for all its perceived triumphs and flaws.
T: Totally, I feel that is the moral of the story with me and my experience working on this record, triumphing flaws. How do you feel your experience with The Other has informed you and your work?
S: To some extent it has backed up my existence in a time where I’ve felt more isolated as an artist than ever before. It reaffirmed my belief to not get hung up on the smaller details of a record. The whole project made me take a step back and assess where I wanted to go, it was considered. Theres been a natural progression stylistically, but where previous records had pummelled ears into submission, there was a clear objective to show restraint with that power and bring back some melody from my very early work. The Other has set me up to move forward, I know where I want to go which brings a real sense of comfort compared to the struggle which can sometimes consume.
T: I really appreciate that you didn’t make a bunch of tracks and just throw some message on top like a bumper sticker. It feels considered. Do you think you will continue to make more work that prioritizes a message as you have with The Other?
S: Yeah, it’s a direction I am going to explore further for sure. Not that I consider any of my work functional but I get a much bigger sense of satisfaction and purpose creating and touring records like this. So…. more art, less bar mitzvahs! On that note, I noticed you’re playing the DJ at an upcoming Hospital night, is this something new?
T: No I am not a DJ now, the Hospital show is a one night only kind of thing. I have to ask, what do you want written on your gravestone?
S: I told you I was ill
The Other is out now, you can buy it here