Monday, April 16, 2012

EIC's 10Q's w/ Leyland Kirby

"..the ghosts of a thousand chamber dwellings.."

Leyland Kirby
Articulate Apparition

Leyland Kirby Bio:
James Leyland Kirby is the real name of The Caretaker, an artist formerly known as V/Vm. In recent years his tireless trawl through obsolete 78rpm discovered in a Stockport record shop have provided the source material for a ghostly new sound centred around that school of hauntology identified by Simon Reynolds. Since moving to Berlin over two years ago, Kirby has been exploring a sound beyond the mottled loops of his ‘Persistant Repetition Of Phrases’, seeking to encapsulate a deep feeling of loss and alienation. What started out as a concept for a single album, soon blossomed into a triple double-vinyl series, and triple CD pack as the material proliferated. To give some background to the feelings exposed in this music Kirby himself says “Here we stand, twenty years on from the first CD, and our optimism has been gradually eroded away collectively. ‘Tomorrows World’ never came. We are lost and isolated, many of us living our lives through social networks as we try to make sense of it all, becoming voyeurs not active participants. Documenting everything. No Mystery. Everything laid bare for all to see”.

Hello, how are you?
Well I am in great spirits but in a lot of pain after a show in London last month where I dived off stage head first into the ground. Always good to risk things like that, even if we are in pain for weeks afterwards. At the time it made complete sense to do it as it gets the crowd onside and offers them something different. They really see you mean it connect and respond to it.

What are you currently listening to?
Usually my drunken neighbor who lives above me. He keeps me awake every night, wandering around lost in himself drinking. It may seem trivial but got so bad last Summer that he broke his leg up there drunk, so you can imagine what it’s like working around that. You can hear and feel the desperation. Makes it hard to concentrate this side and work but I do my best.

Patience (After Sebald)’ is your first soundtrack album, care to explain how the process behind this release differed from your previous works?
Well the source material Grant wanted me to use was very specific from Franz Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ and I knew I had to make a very gentle work which would complement the visuals Grant let me see. Usually I have a completely blank page when creating work. It was interesting to work on this one and apart from being given the source material Grant was fantastic because he offered no other input or comment on what I did. I think we need that trust between creative people. It all seemed very natural and always when it’s like this the best work is made. When things become forced or compromised you can hear it.

How did the collaboration between Grant Gee and you begin? Also, memory's role in both W.G. Sebald's and your work is an obvious artistic parallel, so I'm wondering what your relationship was with the documentary's subject beforehand?
Grant had two things in mind when he made the film which was the film stock he wanted to shoot his footage on and using myself to make the soundtrack. He has stated that he read a review of one of my releases and at any point he could have substituted my name for Sebald’s as we both explore the same facets of memory. Once Grant approached me I read the ‘Rings Of Saturn’ as I was unaware of his work and knew it was important to experience it before working. Even now I’m not sure if I like the book or not but it was fantastic to work with Grant on the whole project and I’m hoping we can work on something else in the future together.

On the ‘History Always Favours The Winners’ webpage, accompanying many of your releases are literary quotes from figures like Charles Baudelaire and Charles Dickens. What role does literature play in your life/music?

Well I like to read, but it doesn’t play a vital role in what I’m doing. I just look for inspiration from everywhere. The quotes on the site maybe sum up some feelings towards specific projects I do.

You've been performing now for well over a decade, from the vast stylistic palette of V/Vm to the binding ballroom walls of The Caretaker, how do you feel your artistry has evolved?
It has evolved without a plan and in a natural way. I am still there and people are still listening and maybe because there is no plan and it’s not calculated in anyway this keeps people interested. Honesty goes a long day in these manufactured times. V/Vm was an incredible project to work on. At some point I hope to revisit it all of that work and maybe make some kind of sense of it all. It paved the way for what is happening now and equally what is happening now in my work adds so much more weight to it too.

All your projects, though they differ in approach, circle around disintegration, a constant cutting up, looping, and fragmenting of the past's sonic treasure trove arguably defines your work. How does this preoccupation relate to the title of your previous work ‘Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was‘?
Well ‘Sadly the future’ really was a very personal album I made which defined a specific time I was going through. I needed to do something very personal to show people it was possible. Before that was made I had destroyed so much music and offered only glimpses of what music I was capable of making. It surprised a lot of people and was a statement of intent. Nothing was sampled on there (As in existing records) everything was made piece by piece reaching for a big connection to the sounds and pieces, using a somewhat recognizable sound palette to trigger my own memory hoping others would feel it too.

Which artists, contemporary or past, do you revere as major influences on your fascination with nostalgia?

Well my music may be nostalgic for something, myself though I am not so nostalgic. I don’t sit here saying it was better for myself in the past than now. All I have is the now always and it always has been hard but rewarding my work. It’s very hard to say what influences this direction in my work. For me it’s just sound, trying to find a specific feeling from sound. This could either be found by manipulating existing works or making my own work and hoping to connect with it emotionally.

You can only keep/listen to ONE album for the rest of your life... Which album would it be?

It’s an impossible question to answer, from a selfish point of view I would take the "Sadly.." album I made and this is because for me when I recorded that album I had such an amazing time of discovery and many adventures linked to that album and the music on there I am sure would trigger those memories. From a point of being broken to running around with so many girls it was untrue and drinking for free in some incredible places in Europe and beyond. Interestingly I have not listened to the album at all since it was released. I guess you never do that when you make something and are submerged in that World.
If I had to take another work I would take the tracks Shigeru Umebayashi did for the 2046 film. Tracks like this I hope soundtrack my dreams and offer so much.

Are you living your dream?
I just try to survive and make time to do what I want to do with no compromises in my work. Always following instincts as I have done since day one with no plan. I live a reality here which isn’t always so easy and compromise in lifestyle to do this. Right now I’m in an amazing place creatively and have so many opportunities and always hope I don’t let myself down and those who support what I am doing. Hopefully some exciting works appear over time in natural ways and people feel connected and moved by the creations.

Thanks James!

Mr. Kirby is always working on new music, he recently released a (FREE) bonus album for "Patience (After Sebald)" HERE.

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