ARTiST ASK Artist: NIk of FACTORY FLOOR interviews peter gordon.
It all started with a fan letter
Hey Peter, just noticed you on a Rhys Chatham link. Just want to say I adore your work, I had a release on DFA recently, and they sent me some of your releases you did with Jonathan so brilliant! Ive had Condo track for a while, this completely catches my personality and when I feel disillusioned or need comfort, I always put this on, and it makes me feel good and strong..i will stop gushing now! Thank you!
Nik Colk Void x
Peter: “I was immediately struck by the haunting and evocative nature of the track, the analog synths feeling fresh and familiar at the same time, the vocals having a primal quality of breath and phrasing. I loaded the track into Ableton and instinctively began recording some overdubs. I used analog (Prophet 5) and digital (Moog iPad) synths and a soprano saxophone. I then sent a mix to Nik.
Nik responded quite positively, and over the next few weeks we exchanged files back and forth, experimenting with different mixes and submixes. After a couple of dozen rough mixes, accompanied by email discussions among the three of us (Gabe had entered the process after the first few exchanges,) we settled on a final mix. Shortly after we had a final mix, I synchronized the track with a video that my partner Kit Fitzgerald was working on. This long extended shot fit the music perfectly, and we had a video for Beachcombing.
(A still from this video serves as the artwork for the 12.)
As this sublime beauty makes its way into our ears we ask Nik and Peter to interview each other about the making of the record and other things besides. This week, Nik Colk Void of Factory Floor asks Peter Gordon… read on.
Ooh and have a listen whilst you do. There’s also a competition at the bottom to win a copy of the little beauty too.
Nik Colk Void asks:
Factory Floor learned a lot during the run up rehearsals with you for the ICA, what is it you enjoy about collaborating? Is it the challenges, the new energy?
Peter Gordon:++++ On a basic level, music is form of social interaction. Most music is involved in teamwork – playing in a band, recording in a studio, composing for others to perform – all involve folks working together. On a personal level, I love challenge and exchange of ideas. When collaboration, one is posed with situations that one might normally not encounter and this gets the creative juices flowing in unanticipated ways.
NIk: Did you enjoy the performance?
Peter: I loved it. There is something special when a performance just clicks and this is what definitely occurred.
Nik: Where did you first hear Factory Floor and what were your first impressions? Was it from the rough Beachcombing track?
Peter: I first heard FF when you (Nik) contacted me and then I did some searching and found recordings and youtube clips.I was really struck by the crisp groove combined with such ethereal texture. I was also quite taken with the Carter-Tutti-Void project.
Nik: Tell me about the No New York scene how did you fit in with people like Arto Lindsay, Lydia Lunch & Lizzy Mercier Descloux ? Or was there no scene at all and did it all begin and end with Brian Enos NNY Album ? please tell me it didnt.
Peter: At the time, there was a critical mass of talent in downtown NY. I lived in the East Village – first in a railroad apartment on E. 5th Street, then I had a double storefront on E.6th, part studio/part residence. The storefront was on what one might think of as the Soho/East Village “caravan route”, with lots of folks dropping by. I knew Arto socially and he played on some of my recordings. Sally Young and Jacqui Ham shared an apartment two doors down from me and we sometimes hung out on the roof on balmy summer nights. Arthur Russell would sometimes join us. When they wanted to start a band, I suggested Nina Canal, who was their friend, and the result was Ut. I didn’t know James Chance well at all, but he once asked me to play some horn parts with him when he was still known as James Siegfried. I would frequently go hear Teenage Jesus, Contortions, DNA, UT, as well as Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca’s performances. At the time, the term No Wave did not exist – these were all local bands made up of both musicians and visual artists. (I didn’t know Lizzy Mercier personally.) Musically, my own work was different, in that I had played and studied music since a young age, so I was inherently more “musical” than what became known as No Wave, although I did incorporate noise and dissonance in LOLO. The Eno album did get the scene some attention, but he sort came and went while everyone else just kept on working and playing. But it was as much a neighborhood thing as anything at first, albeit a neighborhood with dialectics..
Nik: Do you still perform at The Kitchen?
Peter: Yes, Last March I directed a concert of Arthur Russell’s INSTRUMENTALS at The Kitchen, and the year before LOLO gave a show.
Nik: Kit Fitzgerald your life long collaborator and partner, when meeting her was it the first time you thought of sound in a visual sense?
Peter: At the time, we were part of community of artists and this was certainly in the air. But I always had an interest in music and images – Although I switched to focus on music, I did begin college as a film major at USC. And before then, I had an early interest in avant-garde cinema and opera.
Nik: Tell me about the Arthur Russell / John Hammond sessions your contribution and a story of how it all came about ?
Peter: I met Arthur shortly after I moved to NYC in 1975. We shared interests in both pop music and experimental music and had both recently moved to NY from San Francisco, so we found we were kindred spirits. A month or so after I met Arthur, he had the demo session booked with Hammond. Now Hammond expected Arthur to show up with his guitar and to lay down 30 or so songs direct to 2-track (like Hammond had done with Springsteen and Dylan). Arthur showed up, however, with eight musicians playing complex arrangements. Hammond was not happy, but there we were! Arthur had met Hammond through Allen Ginsberg (Hammond had produced Allen’s recordings, which featured Arthur in the ensemble.
Nik: Love of life orchestra you are the frontman/band leader but you are very altruistic in your work & I love that about you, have you always approached working this way ?
Peter: I am not sure about “always” – but I initially thought of LOLO as a political statement. Most “experimental” music at the time was dominated by academia and a certain “uptown” establishment, but had no connection with actually listeners, or people for that matter. I was interested in creating a populist music that could engage both the intellect and the body. I also saw it as a egalitarian ensemble, in which musicians and performers of all levels of experience and skill could make music together.
Nik: What are your impressions of England ? How long have you been coming here?
Peter: I love England. I first visited when I was 14 and living in Germany – my folks rented a flat off Vauxhall Rd for a month for holiday. Later, while still a teenager, I’d make period trips to get my fix of the London scene. I also hitch-hiked around: up north to Scotland, west to Bath and Bristol. Later, when I was performing, I would frequently pass through London on my way to Europe. I’d often stay at Michael Nyman’s flat, and there I met David Cunningham, with who I’ve had an ongoing working relationship. And I’ve performed in London with LOLO, Robert Ashley, David Cunningham and various productions. I feel very much at home in London, and recently have enjoyed spending time in Shoreditch and Dalston.
Nik: Have you plans to come over this year for more performances?
Peter: There is talk of doing some performance of the Arthur Russell INSTRUMENTALS in the fall. And I am hoping that I can perform with FF some more! I am also long overdue for another LOLO tour.
The wonderful Part 2 coming next week where Peter interviews Nik… watch this space.
For now and watch the video below and if like us you’re in love with it as much as we are, you’ll want to own said beauty on a piece of black plastic. We have a copy for one lucky reader. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Factory Floor love Peter Gordon and so do I” in the title. Names pulled out a random hat in a few weeks. x