Janie Nicoll “In the Mix”
Creative Lab CCA Glasgow 4th -27th January 2012
It’s now over a week since the closing event of my Creative Lab – ‘In The Mix’ on Thursday 26th January, in the Creative Lab space at CCA. The event was pretty much a baptism by fire as we only had three weeks to work together, but having an event tends to focus the mind somewhat, and it felt important to set a goal of some sort, and in a strange way it seemed like a good thing to do. I’m currently uploading some video footage to Vimeo and it’s a nice record of the event. http://vimeo.com/36142720
I met Martin O’Connor at a ‘Words per Minute’ event one Sunday afternoon at the Arches. Kate V. Robertson was there but I didn’t really know anyone else. I sat next to Martin and started chatting to him until he got up abruptly saying he was ‘on next’ , and gave a blistering rendition of his piece “Fame”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjydoUsNwgA)
Douglas Morland is an artist who I worked briefly with on documentation for Sh[OUT], GOMA 2009. I knew he had been in various bands e.g. Mother & The Addicts, Older Lover and Big Ned and that he had done various art/music/performance type events.
Rebecca Green is an actress I got to know through my collaborative involvements with artist Alex Hetherington [‘Linda Fratianne’, “A Million Lies…”] and theatre director Sally Hobson. “Everything I Do Is A Love Letter To Life”, by Sally Hobson and Stillpoint Productions, during Arches Live 2009 was a foray into the world of theatre and acting. I might as well admit now that I am not particularly keen on acting, – in front of a camera is fine, I’ve no qualms about that but the thought of performing live in front of an audience is pretty much my idea of hell.. As far as I’m concerned it’s a very unnatural thing to do, if other people are happy to do it – fair enough, but it’s really not in my comfort zone.
I was hoping that the Creative Lab would give us the chance to get together and explore various collaborative relationships that would allow us to come up with something interesting, in a cross-artform type of way.
My Creative Lab began on Wednesday 4th January, the first official working day of the year. Kenny the technician had said I could have the use of some of their equipment for the month, which took the form of a drum kit, microphones, guitar amps, and a bass amp. People kept asking me if I was starting a band. Having a drum kit especially seemed to force the idea that there would be a musical performance. I had originally thought that during the Creative Lab I would work with the idea of playing around with existing music, remixing and working with sound and I had my records decks also set up. As things evolved it became more apparent that it would be good to use the band equipment more like a stage set, to play on the idea of a band’s performance, however the point I found that I was making was that this wasn’t a band and that the written and spoken components were of more interest than actually creating any songs.
Ironically, I was in a band in the late Eighties when I was at Edinburgh College of Art (The Vultures), at the time of the Shop Assistants, the Motorcycle Boy, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. We released a 12” single on the Narodnik label, did a Radio One Janice Long session and 17 gigs in total with bands such as the Pastels, the Thanes, Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, the Motorcycle Boy and My Bloody Valentine. The mixed feelings I have as I look back on that time seemed to be something that came to the surface and needed to be explored, alongside the current talent show culture that channels a pipe dream culture into the heads of our children.
To get the ball rolling for the Creative Lab, Martin and I started working with two songs by PJ Harvey ‘Dress’ from her first LP and ‘Let England Shake’ segueing the two sets of lyrics together. We added the sound of Dougie’s Fender guitar, a bit ‘Paris Texas’ or Ennio Morricone-esque with a lot of reverb..
Martin and I both worked on texts that recalled our younger “going out’ days. I guess I was thinking about the hedonistic good times whereas Martin looked back with a slightly more jaundiced eye. From this he developed the “Night Oot” poem that starts “Change, Taxis, Chips, Pakora…” which we recited as a round with three voices at different stages until the third rendition where it’s repeated in unison. This was linked by some funky guitar from Dougie, into a piece by Rebecca that looks back at a child hood fascination with comedienne and TV Talent Show presenter Marti Caine. This is accompanied by the sound of me beating a drum and the odd cymbal crack as she tells ‘jokes’, highlighting her acknowledgement of severe stage fright and Caine’s untimely early death due to cancer. Stage fright comes up again in a short piece by Martin that runs through a list of celebrities who suffered from stage fright and this leads to more anecdotes about my own experience of stage fright and the unglamorous nature of being in a band. The piece ends, in a way, questioning why we do this to ourselves repeating “Id, ego, super ego”, and echoing the tyranny of the verse -chorus formations of songs.
The performance on Thursday 26th January went well, the red lights went on and footage of Marti Caine from a 1987 New Faces TV show was projected behind us. I managed to overcome my own misgivings about performing live to an audience and we hopefully managed to hide the fact this was only the second time we’d all been together.
The Creative Lab has been a wholly positive experience allowing me the space and time to collaborate with other creative practitioners, opening up new doors on many levels.