Thought For The Day
Thought For The Day
I Love My Work
It's going to go a bit quiet on this website for a while, because I'm working on music. Stars Forever is finally being recorded.
I love my work. I don't go out for days, the phone hardly rings, I watch the lights in the Barbican towers go out one by one, knowing I'm the only one awake, poring over my machines.
Arte has a theme night about the writer Georges Perec, and I'm taping it while working. My projector TV shoots the images of Paris, 1974, onto the white wall above the winking lights of my synthesisers and processing units. The little Mac SE30 I bought to do my sequencing throws a hula hoop sine wave screensaver around on its tiny, silent screen.
All my broken machines are finally fixed. All except the printer I need to get the lyrics out of my Macs into the physical realm. I looked at some the other day and decided they were all too ugly and boring to have in my house. I went and bought some orange cups instead. Aesthetics are important.
Now I'm writing my lyrics by hand in a diary of architecture which I bought in Vienna. The words trail all over pictures of Werkstatt interiors, and those strange spaces change them. It's better than Helvetica on blank A4.
Songs so far completed: Jeff Koons and Karin Komoto. The first has a baroque O'Hagan / Stereolabby feel. I made a first version that didn't really work, then restructured it entirely. There's this compulsion to go back, to get it right, always. Sometimes it comes right first time, though, like the Karin song. That sounds like My Bloody Valentine, it's got a great contrast between soft, sensual, ambient verses and a slowly stomping disco chorus. The yearning, the mystery... I didn't know I felt that, Karin!
This collaboration is so weird, it's more intimate than sex. It's like borrowing people's souls, remaking 'The Incredible Journey' through their bodies in a tiny space capsule full of musical technology. I have a feeling this album is going to be my best ever.
I'm trying to keep to a rate of a song a day. I now have forty compositions to complete in about six weeks. I don't mind at all. Working with this intensity is what I was born for, it's really the only time I feel fully alive. Time goes at a different speed when I'm alone with my recording equipment, it really is an invocation of spirits and my emotions change. Normally cool, restrained, polite, distant and shy, I suddenly overflow with tenderness for people when I'm working. I find myself, like the astronaut in Christmas On Earth, thinking 'I wonder if my family back on earth are okay?'
I don't know what it is, except that when you make music you're aware of time passing in a totally different way. You're working directly on the fabric of time, like a tailor running time's material through your sewing machine, snipping a bit here, trimming and tucking it, rolling time into a sleeve or a fancy lapel. And suddenly you feel a compassion for all the people who are smothered by time, who don't have this control. You hope that they're not being harmed by its passing. You wish you could teach them how easy it is just to grab time by the lapels and take control of it. The secret is to play. The secret is to collect unimportant, neglected scraps of time nobody else wants and turn them into something fabulous, like a child making a rag doll and investing it with all his imagination, making it a living thing.
Suddenly the world looks very far away: the office workers you pass smoking in the car park, the city (and London is springlike just now, full of a childish lightness, sun and warmth) seems like an ant heap, milling with pointless activity. Only what you are doing has any meaning, this play which is decisive and makes a pact with time and will talk deeply to people (you know it) in inconceivably different circumstances, different times and places, and pass on its preserved emotions.
Perhaps this benign distance is what it feels like to be a star.
I love my work.