Singer-songwriter C.A.R. and guitarist and producer GLOK have crossed musical paths in the past, but it wasn't until last month that the pair collaborated for the first time as part of our Pen Pals compilation.
Both GLOK, which is the alias of Ride guitarist and Oasis bass player Andy Bell, and C.A.R., the moniker of RSN fave and 239EF member Chloé Raunet, make up a close part of the extended Ransom Note label family; the former releasing on our cassette-indebted offshoot Bytes and the latter putting out three albums with us, the most recent of which, Crossing Prior Street, came out at the end of March.
This year sees them both lending their hand on the remix for eachother's creations; Chloé putting her touch to 'Weaver' off GLOK's forthcoming Dissident LP and Andy working his magic on 'Becoming Strangers' off C.A.R.'s most recent LP.
In anticipation of these reworks seeing the light of day and following their recent Pen Pals collaboration, the concept of which challenged artists to work with one another remotely during lockdown, we asked them to fire some questions at one another; the end result touches on everything from nostalgia to productions techniques, being in bands and inspirations outside of music.
C.A.R.: So how’s it all going? What are you up to these days? How are you finding lockdown?
GLOK: It’s going pretty good thanks. In lockdown, and like everybody else with school age kids, we’re doing the home schooling thing, and attempting to work from home, so we haven’t exactly been trying to find things to fill the time. But being busy has been good, it’s made the time go faster.
C.A.R.: What do you make of working remotely?
GLOK: I don’t mind it at all. It’s how I make music a lot of the time anyway. When it comes to band music it usually helps to be playing it all together, but the electronic stuff, I like the thing where you exchange files, add something and send it off. Sometimes you need your own time to process music, it can be useful to work away at your own speed, in your own way.
C.A.R.: The first record you bought was…
GLOK: Blondie - "Parallel Lines" was my first album, absolutely worshipped Debbie Harry as a kid and I still do to this day.
C.A.R.: How did you get into making music and what was your first band?
GLOK: I got a guitar for my birthday one year, I think I was 9. I must have asked for it. I was signed up for guitar lessons but didn’t get on with them so ended up teaching myself from my dad's Beatles records and then from Smiths records when I started buying music.
C.A.R.: Tell me about the journey from guitar to synthesisers - how did GLOK come into being?
GLOK: When we were making the second Beady Eye album, the producer, Dave Sitek brought a ton of electronic gear to the studio, and I began to see how much it added to the music. There was a bunch of stuff I bought directly afterwards as a result of that, a Yamaha CS5 monosynth, Eventide Space and Time Factor effect pedals, an Ursa Major Space Station (1982 rack mounted digital delay) a flash drive MPC, all kinds of gear. Dave would just make these huge soundscapes in the studio and I wanted some of that!
This coincided with me starting to learn Logic after Jeff Wooton (Beady Eye bass player) told me that I should upgrade from Garageband - he was appalled to see me on Garageband on a train journey in Japan, he was like why are you using kid's software?
I have always written songs by constantly making demos, that’s how I write, and half the time I am just throwing stuff on tape, without a plan. I’d used 4 tracks, then ADATs, then a Mackie 24 track digital recorder, then had started using GarageBand. So anyway I made the leap to Logic, and I was doing OK with Logic 9, trial and error style, but then they brought out X, and I was totally baffled by it.
I decided to try and learn this properly, so I signed up to study Logic X at a place called DubLab in South London. I spent six months learning sampling and synthesis. There’s so much in the software aside from the capability to record. I just started to get more comfortable with it all. As part of the course I was remaking my favourite electronic tunes, stuff like 'Voodoo Ray' and 'Can You Feel It?' and inevitably I started to go down a more electronic route with the music I was writing in general. GLOK came about from there I guess.
C.A.R.: Does your approach to songwriting differ when you’re using electronics?
GLOK: No, not really. It all comes from the same place although there are differences in the way every piece of music is realised.
C.A.R.: Has the evolution of music making technology since the 1990s changed the way you write?
GLOK: Yes completely! Like I said, I write by recording most of the time, so I’m at the mercy of whatever bit of kit I’m using at the time.
C.A.R.: What’s your feeling on nostalgia and did it play a part in Ride reforming?
GLOK: I’m completely comfortable with the kind of nostalgia that allows you to revive songs you wrote a long time ago, which might never otherwise have been heard properly (like, live) again. I feel it myself for a lot of music, there’s nothing like a band you love playing a song you loved years ago, what a special feeling. People's nostalgia allowed us to start playing again, and that naturally led onwards towards new music, which was cool too.
C.A.R.: For me, your music has a real psychedelic feel to it. Would you agree? What’s your relationship to altered states of mind?
GLOK: Yes, I’d agree, I also take that as a compliment! The music I am drawn to usually has something about it that could be described as psychedelic. and since I heard minimalism that has also become part of the definition of my musical taste. Psychedelic minimalism ! Sums it all up for me. And altered states of mind are good too. My musical taste defines the music I make too I guess.
C.A.R.: I absolutely love your remix of my track ‘Becoming Strangers’. Do you have a specific technique when tackling reinterpretations of other people’s material?
GLOK: Thank you! I tend to load all the stems into iTunes folder and listen to them in the background for a while, like a few days on and off, until I get to know what’s on tape. I’ll normally latch onto certain moments within the stems, and at a certain point I feel confident enough to pick those favourite parts and jettison the rest. Then I’ll build a track from what’s left. With your track I loved the atmospherics and the vocal. That vocal is incredible.
C.A.R.: I know you were due to play your first live GLOK show earlier this year but tragically it couldn’t happen. Can you spill the beans and tell me what you had planned?
GLOK: Yes, I was asked to do a GLOK live set by Andrew Weatherall, as part of a “Music's not for everyone” event, which never ended up happening, due to the absolutely tragic passing of Weatherall. Such an immense loss to the world. The fact that he’d asked me meant I had been thinking about how to bring the GLOK album to the stage but I hadn’t quite decided how to do that. I’m still thinking about it! I actually had another live debut planned which would’ve been around now - but COVID-19 meant that never happened either. I’m hoping it will be third time lucky, but I think there won’t be anything live for GLOK on the horizon now for quite a while. It will probably happen when I get another album together.
C.A.R.: Outside music, what inspires you? What do you read? What do you watch?
GLOK: I have two young kids so family life takes up a lot of my spare time. I have two older kids as well, who live in Sweden. But apart from family stuff I like films, books, TV, trying to think of examples, we just finished watching “Normal People”, that was great, just the stuff everyone watches really, “Unorthodox” was really good, and I loved DEVs which was amazing and had an excellent score.
Book-wise my favourite writer is David Foster Wallace, I love the density of his writing, I also enjoy stuff like F Scott Fitzgerald and J D Salinger. I’m currently reading a biography of Kraftwerk though, so music gets in there as well. Other stuff - I like the outdoors, walking, running, hanging out, and then just seeing friends and having a drink, nothing out of the ordinary. In Andy Warhol's words “I like boring things".
C.A.R.: What do you make to social media?
GLOK: I’m on Instagram and Twitter, which I think are OK, there are good and bad sides to it all.
C.A.R.: Do you have any favourite, secret spots in London?
GLOK: I don’t know if they are secrets but I love The Gun and The Compton Arms pubs, and Piebury Corner, for a drink (and a pie). There’s also Pellici's which is an excellent place to get breakfast, that’s in Bethnal Green.
C.A.R.: Have I missed anything?
GLOK: No I reckon you covered everything! Some questions for you - although I’d love to hear your responses to the same questions you asked me as well - so pick and choose from these …
GLOK: So how’s it all going? What are you up to these days? How are you finding lockdown?
C.A.R.: If you’d asked me this question a few days ago I woulda regaled you with sunny thoughts, bursting with inspiration and creativity, however with an end to lockdown in sight, the wave of optimism I’ve been riding seems to have crashed spectacularly. I now find myself floundering up against the rocks, licking wounds, somewhat baffled as to how such positivity was even fathomable. The reality’s sinking in.
I mean, I guess some change happens slowly and I’m no better equipped to predict the future than the next poor soul, but I feel I was kidding myself into thinking we’d be able to seize this golden opportunity and change the world. Fact is, we still have the same prick in Downing Street who’s only concern is maintaining the status quo and getting the flawed, unjust economy back up and running. The rich and powerful are gonna hang on to their castles with all their might and the rest of us either haven’t had enough time or are too wrapped up in our own survival, to really protest. Humanity’s still in it’s adolescence, brimming with same unfounded confidence, egotism and single-sightedness as a petulant teenager. It fills me with despair. That’s not to say I’m depressed, just back to treading the more familiar turf of pessimism. I’ve gotta remember to laugh and stay afloat, focussing on the bigger marvels of existence. As a wise friend pointed out this morning, "Remember that the birds are dinosaurs and that is all you have to know. Angels survive, Chloé"
GLOK: What do you make of working remotely?
C.A.R.: Like you, I feel quite comfortable working in my own space, at my own pace. I can get a bit stage-fright trying to knock out ideas with someone else, which probably stems from the fact I’m self-taught and still suffer the occasional bout of imposter syndrome.
GLOK: The first record you bought was…
C.A.R.: Rap Traxx 2. Someone gave me a $5 gift certificate for this Canadian record store chain, A&B Sound for my 7th birthday. I remember walking up to our local branch with my cool, older sister. I’m sure there was some guidance involved in my selection, but boy did I ever cane that cassette. It featured Nenah Cherry, Salt-N-Pepa, De La Soul, Run DMC, Tone Loc +++ and ignited a love of all things hiphop which carried me through the next few years.
GLOK: Do you have a specific technique when tackling reinterpretations of other people’s material? With reference to your fantastic remix of “Weaver”!
C.A.R.: Gah, thank you! I lay all the stems into Ableton, sometimes listening to them individually to figure out what I wanna use and what direction I might go down. In the case of Weaver, I was already really familiar with the (edit) version off your Dissident LP. I’ve featured it on my NTS show and it’s an afternoon staple, plus a track I love to play in my calmer DJ sets. The whole thing came together really intuitively, without much effort. It doesn’t always work that way though! Sometimes finding a path is really difficult but with yours, I was guided by the original and the pieces just fit into place. Looking back, the ease almost seems bewildering, one of those magic, "how did that happen" experiences, no doubt spurred on by the strength of what I had to work with!
GLOK: Outside of music, what inspires you? What do you read? What do you watch?
C.A.R.: I’m inspired by films, art, books. I’m backcombing through the BFI archive at the moment and have been watching a lot of female directors - Věra Chytilová, Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, Laura Mulvey... Just before lockdown I was happy to make it to the ‘Among The Trees’ show at the Hayward, which I really enjoyed. Books, I’ve never read as much as I should and am a bit embarrassed about the holes in my literary arsenal. In saying that, I’ve just finished this beautiful novel, ‘Primeval And Other Times’ by Olga Tokarczuk and am now working my way through James Balwin’s ‘Another Country’, on recommendation of a friend. It’s blowing my mind!
I also run a lot and am constantly inspired by the little things I see and think about whilst pounding the pavement - from passing seasons to the hard realities of the streets of Hackney.
GLOK: Do you have any favourite, secret spots in London?
C.A.R.: It’s not really a secret spot, but I’ve been spending quite a lot of time up Abney Road Cemetery. It’s especially magical this time of year, when the growth erupts and it suddenly becomes this dreamlike terrain where I can get completely disoriented and lose myself down the transforming pathways. Of course I'm aware of the more sordid reputation of the place, but the cruisers leave me alone, especially now the hair’s grown and I’m looking more feminine. I also spend a lot of time down on the marshes, Hackney and Walthamstow. I love that we have such semi-wild spaces in our city.
GLOK: I also had a few more questions to add... So I read that you’re French Canadian but moved to London at 16, I was just interested in what prompted the move, how often do you go back, how do the places compare, that kind of thing.
C.A.R.: I moved here out of necessity after a stint studying in Marseille. At the time, I never expected I’d stick around. England seemed this cold, dark, arcane place and I fancied myself Mediterranean, which now really makes me laugh as I’m obviously much better suited to these climes. My family is still in Canada - mum, sister and a set of nieces in Vancouver, dad, half-sister and a baby niece in Montreal. I end up alternating between the two and recently, go back most years. I’ve been gone such a long time though, neither city feels like home.
GLOK: I was sad to find out that one of your bandmates in Battant passed away at a young age. Sorry to hear that. This may be a sensitive question but do you miss being in a band? Maybe just on a more general level how do you compare being a band member with the solo artist thing?
C.A.R.: For ages after Joel’s death, I couldn’t imagine working with anyone else but recently I have been craving a more collaborative approach. I also miss the energy of playing with Battant, especially the first album when it was the three of us and I could just jump about raucously at the mic. It’s taken me awhile to find my bearings on stage as C.A.R. There’s a lot more to do - triggering samples, playing keys plus the odd hit of the SPD-S, but I think I’ve finally managed to work out an upbeat enough set to let go a bit and really perform.
GLOK: Tech-y question but I’m really interested... I know you use Ableton, can you describe your process, maybe just kind of take me through the different methods you’ve used to record stuff? How much do you engage with the technology, do you enjoy it, is it just a means to an end?
C.A.R.: I started my music-making journey with Reason and have used technology ever since. It’s all I know, really. In saying that, I’ve never spent much time digesting tutorials and have worked out my own, unique way around the software. The process differs from track to track. Sometimes I’ll start with a load of drum samples, building a beat and developing things from there. Other times I’m triggered by a synth or other piece of external hardware. I also use a lot of plug-ins. I’m sure you can hear the Arturia and NI packs plus familiar Soundtoy etc textures. I’m definitely not geeky about it. I see the computer as just another tool to compose music with. It’s the vessel that carries my ideas.
GLOK: What’s the story behind the track “Glock’d” haha! (It’s a track I really like by the way).
C.A.R.: It’s actually a song about Joel. I remember wanting to capture his light while singing about his death.
GLOK: Who are your biggest musical influences?
C.A.R.: Gahhhhhhh that’s a tough one. I’ve never been one to consciously reference but I think over the years, a while sleuth have left their mark. I struggle to pinpoint them but I guess our 239EF show on NTS is a pretty good indicator. Beyond that, I’ll leave the detective work to the journalists.
GLOK: What’s next? How much has Covid-19 fucked with your shit?! Do you have a plan for the future? Both personally and in a musical way.
C.A.R.: Covid-19’s fucked with all our shit, hasn’t it? It’s definitely been an interesting time to release an album. At first I was pretty panicked with the tour dates slipping away, but I’ve got my head around it all now and realise it’s out of my control. I can only hope I’ll be able to claw something back after this is all done a dusted (although I do wonder when that might be and under what guise our industry is likely survive.) It’s too early to tell what the future holds. At the moment, I’m taking things day by day. I’m writing more than I have in ages. Personally, I can’t complain. Despite my opening lines of despair, the metaphors have been reignited and I’m still feeling more inspired than ever - counting the blessings, really. I have it a lot better than a lot of people!
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