Currently based in Berlin, Rachel Margetts began the Yr Lovely Dead Moon project some years ago. Incorporating raw electronics, avant-garde songwriting and poetry, Margetts’ first album evolved into shape across Europe, taking in scenes from Manchester to Armenia.
Years later, this debut album takes equal influence from boundary-pushing music and literature, not easy to pigeonhole, but with nods to Jenny Hval, Demdike Stare or Anne Clark, while Margetts has also provided eye-opening support for the likes of Lydia Lunch and Giant Swan. Raised in the North-East of England, Margetts’ is the product of an little-documented scene for alternative and experimental music, and Yr Lovely Dead Moon is a fascinating debut; a sprawling pop-not-pop record weaved together by an individual with true outsider instincts.
As well as premiering album highlight ‘Floating World’, The Ransom Note asked Hot Concept founder John Loveless to speak to Margetts ahead of the release of ‘Yr Lovely Dead Moon’ on Friday 16th October. Expect talk of Alastair Crowley, theft, transcendence and masturbation.
You grew up in the North East of England. What musical scenes were you involved in while growing up there?
My introduction to experimental music was in a place called The Star and Shadow, which is in Newcastle. And, to this day, I’ve never really been anywhere else like that. It was a volunteer run, non-profit organisation that basically put on film and experimental music gigs everyday of the week. I was about sixteen and volunteering on the bar there and got to see lots of free gigs. I was in a band at the time, and we were just always smashed, going to see experimental films on a school night. But it just really worked as a cool education and I can’t really remember the names of a lot of artists as I was really young, but Richard Dawson was often there.
That sounds like quite a potent, influential operation to be involved in for a sixteen-year old.
Yeah, and it was all about volunteering for access, which was really cool. It’s still going, although I haven’t been in years, but they have a new space. There’s also the Old Police House in Gateshead, which are the only two experimental film and music communities these days. But equally influential, my Mum had a big collection of books and my Dad had a big collection of music, and combined, that was important.
You know much more about literature than I do about music, for example, which has made the record quite challenging to unpick for me. I know this album was completed some time ago now, but can you recall what were some of the key literary references?
The main one that jumps out is ‘Testo Junkie’ by Paul B. Preciado, which expands on Focaut and Judith Butler’s ideas about biopolitics, gender, society and the ways that development of pharmaceuticals, alongside pornography, has created a modern idea of gender. So, social and technological developments, but also claiming this idea of experimentation as a way to break out of certain binary constructions. So, this idea of self-experimentation, experimenting on the self until it’s unable to return to its original form, I find that idea really fascinating, as I don’t personally believe in the idea of any transcendence. A lot of this is in the texts I wrote for the album. Also, Silvia Federici and Guattari and Deleuze.
This all plays out in a very interesting and sometimes amusing way on the record. Did you approach the record with a view to writing about these themes, or did it just develop that way?
What happened was, I had a record finished, but I had my laptop stolen on Sonnenallee in Berlin. I had backed it up on my hard drive, but when I went on Ableton, I noticed all the samples were missing and couldn’t be located. And that was a concept album with an experimental narrative that I’d used to navigate with. And then I decided not to recreate it but to just create something new. So the tracks came off the back of that, really. The themes are still there, but a little more cut-up.
It’s a shame we’ll never get to hear that album, well, unless of course, whoever stole that laptop decides to return it…
Yeah, but I’ve pretty much faced up that it’s with some guy in Neukolln, just using it to wank off on Chatroulette.
I am glad you’ve accepted that!
It sent me under. It took me about two weeks to not feel like it wasn’t a serious life crisis, but it had a positive effect in that I’ve lost things since then and not reacted in that way. I mean, it’s not like it was Vasily Grossman having ‘Life and Fate’ taken off her by the KGB, is it?
No, it was just a bloke who wanted a wank on Chatroulette. Anyway, I wanted to ask you more about the lesser-know scenes you recorded this in. We’re more familiar with Manchester, but you also toured around the Balkans?
Yes, as well as Greece, Armenia and also Georgia. Armenia was the place that really felt like home. When I was there, a mostly peaceful revolution happened, so there was just a real feeling of something growing in a very clever, enthusiastic musical scene. It really inspired me.
Live performance has been key to a lot of what you do, and without live performance right now, is it difficult for you to work out how the material will resonate?
It just shifts, really. Personally, I’m the kind of person who has to be doing something in front of me to work out what it is. It manifests in reality. So, the album came out of live performance with the tracks slowly coming out of me performing them in a sort of ‘live’ way, except ‘Le Tempestaire’, which really just came out of the computer.
I’ve caught you on the way to do your monthly radio show from THF, which is based at the old Templehof airport base in Berlin. Out of interest, what records have you got in your bag right now?
Lots of new ones, actually. This record by Creme de Hassan, which has lots of folk samples worked through weird electronics and samplers. I have this Zazou Bikaye record, and a thing from my friend Sam Weaver, who runs a label called Cusp. And Laraaji & Sun Araw. So just all kind of glitchy, experimental stuff, mixed with some recordings of Alastair Crowley.
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