Let’s have a bit of a round-up of things and stuff that have happened over this past week or so. It’s been a busy one, and one that, for the past few days, has been hampered by an ugly hay-fever/cold situation.
I was lucky enough, a little while ago, to get sent a copy of the mysterious Andy Devine’s latest, Words.
I ate it up. I loved it.
But, because it’s so new and fresh and different, it’s not the easiest book to describe. That won’t stop be trying though.
It’s made up of a number of sections. There’s a list of words that should not be used in fiction. There’s a list of words that should be used in fiction. There are alphabetical stories. There’s a 90k word novel that’s been condensed into something that’s twenty pages long. And there’s a revealing afterword by Michael Kimball.
All in all it’s an utter, utter joy to read and it is so original. It’s also a lot of fun.
So. I got in touch with Andy Devine and I asked him if he’d like to contribute to this post. And he said yes.
So, I give you:
Way back in December I read this interview with Polly Scattergood over at the Decoding Static blog. Intrigued I popped Polly’s name into Last FM and I loved what it came up with. I bought her album and there’s hardly been a day when I don’t listen to it. It’s wonderful. You can have a listen here if you want to see how right I am.
The oldest song on the album was “I hate the way” which was written when I was 17 and the last one I wrote was Other Too Endless... So they were written over a few years, location wise they were all written in various bedrooms!
“I hate the way” was in a bedsit in Selhurst, Nitrogen Pink was in a white box in Streatham, Other Too Endless in my little flat in the attic in North London.
And what’s your writing process?
How important are the words in your songs? What’s their relationship with the music?
The words are very important to me, especially on that first album, as I wrote much of it whilst growing into myself. The words were almost like my diary, my thought process, my vent. I think the relationship between the words and the music was sometimes difficult. I often write too many words for a line, but it was a stream of consciousness. My music is just another part of me and I am constantly battling myself, so I guess the battle between the words and music was inevitable.
What does a song need to do to be great?
‘Polly Scattergood’ is going to be entered into the dictionary and you can write its definition, what would it say?
Well the actual definition of Scattergood means “here today gone tomorrow”. I am a creative personality that comes with its pitfalls which makes trying to define my personality hard, as it changes on a regular basis.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you do?
To always be true to yourself and not change to fit into someone elses idea of who you should be. I am libra. I like balance and I am very diplomatic, but I learned the hard way that you can’t please everyone and even if you spend months or years working on something that you have put your heart and soul into, someone will still inevitably sit there from the comfort of their living room hiding behind anonymity and shoot you down. So you just have to have belief in what you love to do and ultimately do it for yourself and your love of music, otherwise what’s the point.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
I guess the first tour was a eye opener as we travelled back to London every night after the shows. It wasn’t very glamourous traveling back after a gig at 3am, me and all the band boys all sweaty in the back of a transit van, then lugging flight cases into our lock-up, but the thing is, I have worked in shopping centers, in a ice cream factory under a escalator, on a market stall, waitressing, and whilst I was doing those jobs I was dreaming about doing what I do now, so for that reason I could never complain. Every job has its difficult bits and I am very lucky.
Who do you like listening to? Any recommendations?
I have been listening to Massve Attack recently and I am still a big Bowie fan. I also love Vampire Weekend and MGMT’s
Tell us a secret.
When I was little I would go out wearing 3 hats at a time.
What’s next for you?
I am writing my new album which I am so excited about. it is quite different to the first album. I feel like it is a very natural progression though; it has lots more beats and I have built on the soundscapes making them bigger in places, its still quite dark, but this time I would say its slightly more comfortable in its plastic cover.
Anything you’d like to add?
And here’s Polly’s cover of New York, New York, appearing in the trailer for Crysis 2 (EA Games). It’s been going down a storm…
So. Here it is. This is the announcement. Above is the cover of my new book, my first collection. It’s called Not So Perfect and I’m really, really, really excited about it.
The book itself, because it’s published by Roast Books, will be a little bit different. Beautifully different. It’s going to be square. A perfectly square book.
There will be 22 short, short stories inside it.
But that’s not all. Oh no.
There will be illustrations as well. I’ve seen them. They’re wonderful. (I was reading a proof of it in public a little while ago and a stranger asked me if I was reading Kurt Vonnegut. That made me happy.)
And because I’m not particularly good at blowing my own trumpet, here’s what a couple of people whose work I LOVE have said about it.
Do you know what? It’s just been one of those days.
I’d just written the longest blog post I’d done in ages (about losing things, about spring cleaning, about what I’d found, about Dr Who, about Caroline Smailes’ terrific interview with Jon Mayhew, and a whole bunch of other stuff) and I’ve just gone and deleted the bugger.
I know when to give up.
Tomorrow, there may be an announcement. Perhaps. Maybe.
A friend of mine is working in Nigeria and she’s just sent me some incredible photos of the wildlife there.
And it reminded me of the best wildlife documentary I’ve ever seen, The Eye Of The Leopard, which in turn reminded me of the best bit from it: Lagadema, a maturing leopard cub has killed a baboon (bit of a taboo round those parts) without noticing there’s a day old baby clinging to its leg. What happens next is about the most wonderful and tender thing you’ll see. Promise.
Have a look:
Is that not just wonderful and gentle and moving? Yes, I thought so.
And here’s my favourite photo my friend sent. I think someone’s being told off good and proper. I wonder what he’d done.
It’s a short film by Spike Jonze called I Am Here. And it represents pretty much everything I love about fiction and pretty much what I try to do with mine. Weird situations that seem so normal. Excellent characters. A bit of magic and a heap of real sadness. This feels so real. Watch it. It is awesome.
(Thanks to Carol-Ann for the heads up.)
I couldn’t not mention Malcolm McLaren’s death here. I can’t talk as eloquently about him as most other people can (one of the best things I’ve seen is that over at The Guardian and what Alan McGee said here) but I do want to say something.
I think I want to thank him. Not only for changing (shaping?) music and culture and for inspiring people. Not only for managing the Sex Pistols and kick starting punk. It’s bigger than that. It’s the people who have created wonderful, fresh, new art BECAUSE of what he did (there aren’t many great bands who won’t reference the Pistols as an influence now, are there? – and the Pistols wouldn’t have been the Pistols without Malcolm McLaren).
And I’m a result of that as well (though not nearly as good or important as most by a mile).
Discovering The Clash, aged fifteen (I think) changed me. It educated me and inspired me. Not only did they look and sound incredibly cool but the things they sang about were not things I’d have been exposed to or considered relevant before. They gave context to what I’d learned about the Spanish Civil War. They sang about race issues, about dictatorships, about repression, about friendships, about governance, about socialism, fascism, and about fighting the law and not winning (credit, of course, to Sonny Curtis — and there’s another thing – they introduced me to other, older, songs and singers, such as (and how cool is this – The Bobby Fuller Four)). They made it okay to be interested in those things and made me more comfortable with being a bit different – with not fitting in. And they inspired me to create, to be brave, to ask questions, to learn.
I wouldn’t have been a writer were it not for them.
And they wouldn’t have been them were it not for Malcolm McLaren.
So, yes. Thank you.
Do you know, I’m sure I’m programmed to only delete/archive email messages on certain days. Like, once a month.
I’ve spent most of the day trying to get up to date with things and I’m happy to say I’m pretty much there. Hooray. But amongst all the Important and starred emails there’s just so much junk. Google alerts, Twitter and Facebook notifications – all stuff I’ve actioned when I’ve had them. Is it just me? Is anyone else as, ahem, disorganised?
So. If anyone’s waiting for stuff from me, they should either have it now or very shortly. I feel so much more relaxed now I know better where I’m up to.
So, I’ve not heard a dickie bird from either Rhoda or Katherine so I have put my hand back into the tin.
And that hand pulled out Sam and LM118.
Congratulations to you both. Could you either DM me your addresses or email them to me here please
so we can get your signed copies of A Razor Wrapped in Silk to you.