Thursday, July 7, 2016

INTERVIEW : I Know I'm An Alien

We're very lucky indeed to have an interview with I Know I'm An Alien, an enigmatic entity with thoughts to share on earthlings, Basquiat and upcoming new material....

"let me say that Walter Weirdheadd is not a part of the live band as it said on bandcamp. 

He is the one who writes and records all of the I Know I'm An Alien songs and albums.
He's recruited a band to play his stuff, he hasn't even met all of them I don't think.

I showed him the questions and he answered them to me through watsapp. He hates watsapp."

I read this on your blog, "I always felt from a very young age that I was different." – can I kick this off by asking what made you different from others?

Yes, Walter has always felt out of place and could never relate to other kids his age, this is true. I would say this is due to him being highly sensitive which by society's male energy standards is kind of frowned upon. So what is actually a gift if viewed from a spiritual perspective can become a weakness. He could never see violence, fighting and competing as natural things and not having the same interests and perspectives as his peers made him sad and depressed. Later on he would start to act as a social chameleon to fit in, causing him even more trouble, it almost cost him his life.

Your bandcamp says your London based - what are your observations of London as an alien?  Why did you pick this city to live in?

Walter is a real cool cat in terms of musical tastes too. He moved here because Jimi Hendrix lived here in the late 60s. Jimi was the first Alien who he identified with.

As far as his observations of London, it's a love and hate thing. The album I'm an Alien I'm not from here and Sometimes (most of the time) I wanna go home but I know I have to try and understand you is 100% inspired by his struggles to survive here in an extremely consumer based fast paced society. He has a 9-5 to job to support his music habit. He gets very irritated when people ask him "what do you do?" or call making music a "hobby".

What does London look to you through the eyes of an Alien?

Over-stimulating. Half of it is creative positive stimulation, half of it advertising. People with their faces to their phones. Selfishness, greed. Bad weather. But also, lots of talent, energy and creativity flowing around. It's like being in Babylon, which he could've lived in in a past life. He says that's the other reason why he's settled here.

What does your universe look like?

His home is in the Pleaides where beings vibrate too fast to be seen in physical bodies. They live in Crystal Cities in the Ether. They are the original founders of Lemuria. It is a place of art and beauty where, when someone ends a relationship in a couple, the other one understands and doesn't hold a grudge and threatens you over the phone.
The Pleiadians are here to help humanity evolve through peace and light, using art as weapon. Guitars and basses are machine guns.

We are multi-dimensional beings, this physical manifestation here on Earth is just a tiny fraction of our large Souls which are alive through consciousness in different dimensions, or even in physical form in other planets in faraway galaxies.

I saw that Jean Michel Basquiat is a big influence can you talk me through why he's such an important artist to you?   Do you remember the first time you saw a piece of his work and how it made you feel?

Yes, Basquiat was also an Alien. First time Walter saw his work was instant connection and a feeling of identification, Walter felt it was ok to be himself here. Basquiat was also very sensitive to this world; he checked out of here at 27, it was too much for him. Walter was lucky (or maybe not), because he wanted to check out too but for some reason he was picked to stick around. 

Walter believes highly sensitive people make the best art because they go through suffering and pain.  They are more evolved and can therefore tap in to the creative wisdom with more ease then normal folks. Eventually, through evolution, he thinks everyone will be able to do that too, as we are all on different levels of consciousness on our Soul's paths, some people's veils of thoughts and belief systems are thicker than others, they are asleep to spirituality and other forms of life, just concentrating on survival an reproduction. Dating apps and ebay.

Based on what I've read so far am I right in saying you started the project last year solo and developed into the four piece you're in now?
Yes, as I said before, Walter is a loner, he makes all the music by himself and then he teaches it to a band member who passes it on to the rest of the musicians.

Can you tell us a little bit about your band and how you work together?  Is song-writing a collaborative thing?

See above.

How did you pick the instruments you perform with?  Did you have any experience playing anything prior to this project, or did you jump right in and take on something new to develop?

The instruments are chosen on their availability as Walter's tastes and ideas change by the minute sometimes. He is familiar with and has a vast musical vocabulary on the ones he uses. He believes he's a receptacle that channels the Universal Thought of beings from different realms of existence. The ideas that come to him though, are slightly different than those of more conventional musicians as he feels that he has to express something different on Earth, something that has never been created. That is why making money from music is difficult for him because he cannot repeat himself and is always in search of a new sound. That has always been his approach from the get go.

Walter started on the piano at the age of 10. He plays guitar and bass since the age of 15. He can play most genres of "straight" music, is fond of harmonies and has great knowledge of the laws of music on Earth. His drive to create something new forces him to destroy conventions and choose atonality over melody on most occasions.

Had you written any music or played in any other bands before I Know I’m An Alien?

Walter has lived in other parts of the world. He has a pretty considerable discography and in South America they know him as Walter Willy. He was also famous in a band who does not reveal their personal identities down there, playing and touring and was even on mainstream media. He speaks three languages too.

How has playing live been so far?  What's it like taking the songs out into the world for the first time?

Walter does not attend the live shows. He does think that not everyone who's seen the band live gets where he's coming from though. He admits that he does get a kick out of confusing them.

"I'm an Alien I'm not from here and Sometimes (most of the time) I wanna go home but I know I have to try and understand you" – I was curious to know what you’ve understood about us so far?

Humans are complex yet simple. Over the years Walter has come to terms with himself and accepting who he really is. As a rule of incarnating on Earth, we are born with amnesia due to the density of the vibration here and we completely forget who we really are. It is part of the trip. So he's been remembering over the years. And music helps him remember. So when he remembers, he feels he can help, like a Boddhisatva serves humanity from a Buddhist point a view. He feels some humans (mostly westerners) are dishonest with their feelings and thus project a false image of them as a means of survival in this reality, causing confusion, anger, violence and hatred. Walter works extra hard on his meditation routine to be as cool and chill as he can to just help out and to not harm and also to put himself in people's shoes, be a mate, if he can. 

At the time of the writing of the first album he was more disturbed by this, also on the second album in which he knocks obsession with technology. I think he's mellowed out now because he's dealt with this stuff through the music.

Is there anything you would change about humans?

Walter's words are: "I guess it is not up to me as Creation has created them this way and the things that really drive me crazy about them are related to the struggle to evolve that I believe all species must grow through. We all inside have Infinite potential to do amazing things but are being held back by puppet string pullers in the 4th dimension that keep humans enslaved in their lower chakras. Humans can be lovely creatures."

I’m finding ‘I Am Hobo Shaman’ from the recent album a really addictive track, can you tell me a bit about the song?

Walter says thank you.  The idea of the Hobo Shaman comes from Walter's belief that people who have hard and difficult lives consciously chose them to be this way before coming to Earth as a way to evolve their Souls quicker. He has a habit of smiling at homeless people in the streets of London as he knows they are the true spiritual warriors here, and the most evolved people are not the dudes in the suits making a buncha cash from apps they invented and who think technology is a sign of greatness. Technology only makes us lazy. That's what the song is about. 

Oh, and also about how some people think that what you do for a living, how much money you have in the bank and where you were born define who you really are.

Have you read any work by Alice Bailey from the Theosophical Society?  She believed in Seven Rays of Energy, essential dynamisms behind fundamental creative forces of the universe that forge our world’s evolution.  Each ray relates to something - stars in the heavens, planets and human psychology … what do you make of this idea?

Walter is familiar with Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky, C.W. Leadbetter, Jiddu Krishnamurti and The Great White Brotherhood. He is aware of Alice Bailey within this context but has not read much of her writings, he admits. He knows of the Seven Rays as a sevenfold division that runs through all things from the book he has called The Masters and The Path written by C.W. Leadbetter. 

Yes, this is very interesting in regards to energy. It was a view touched upon and shared by Jimi Hendrix on his song Bold as Love from the album of the same name where he describes each of the colours and their relation to his emotions which in their turn are crucial to creativity and represent a multitude of things.

Walter is marvelled at this question and says that yes, with this knowledge, colours can be directly applied to summon different ideas into manifestation within the Earthly realm. Walter is fascinated by the connectedness of everything and synaesthesia. Creation is very wise and playful and there is an underlying energy present in all there is. Even the illusion of life is not that serious anyway.

The Rays where also applied to the Hierarchy of the world according to Leadbetter, each Ray standing for a stage of evolution in the personal Soul's path until it merges with the Creator in the First Ray.

Finally, is there anything you want to say about your band that you’ve not had a chance to let people know yet, a message for the curious, upcoming events or releases?  WE WANT TO KNOW MORE!  

Well, Walter has been very busy lately; he has three new albums ready for release as far as I'm told. One of them is a meditation album using Theta Waves for healing and creativity. He used 432Hz tuning and Binaural Beats technology to make it. It works well as an ambient album too. There is an album of instrumental atonal guitar songs too centred around the Rohonc Codex. The third one is an album which he has just about completed that will contain a few cover songs. It will have some 17 or 18 songs in total. He covers Roky Erickson, The Beatles and David Bowie. There's a song about Brian Jones on there too. 

Thank you.

Friday, May 20, 2016

I Know I'm An Alien : Still Alien Still Dreaming (I Am Hobo Shaman)

In the last post I mentioned a few things had got me posting again, I Know I’m An Alien is that other thing.  It was easy to like them straight away; as I worked my way through their recordings on Bandcamp the material just became more and more fascinating.  From what I can gather since 2015 Walter Weirdheadd, Freddy Finefinggers, Buster Bashkitt and Susie Spacebrainn have two self-released records.  ‘Still Alien Still Dreaming (I Am Hobo Shaman)’ is a continuation of the Londoner’s outsider lo-fi recordings, not so long ago ‘lo-fi’ felt like the most overused/misused description of bands,  and it’s albums like this that makes one want to reconsider the genre in modern terms entirely.  I Know I’m An Alien impresses on the listener a take on the world through the view of someone on the fringes, their songs invite one into their space looking at popular culture, boring culture, historical culture, drinking culture, work culture, digital culture through collaged sound bites set alongside the band’s synth/bass/drum/guitar experimentalism.  

Human’s imagining being aliens imagining to be humans has a proven track record of being a powerful thing …. Bowie and Sun Ra both established that when one is in charge of one’s own universe there’s room to concisely define parameters in order to communicate ideas.  I can’t tell if these 13 songs feel dysfunctional as a result of rebelling against or actually reflecting our everyday life in this city.  Could well be a bit of both.   I was drawn to this record because it so clearly gets this concept across; it conveys the sensation of having oneself mirrored back –part hilarity and part surprise.  With songs like ‘Hey Hi Tech Lover’, ‘Becoming Human’ and ‘Hare Hare Against Genetic Engineering’ I Know I’m An Alien captures both those things, the absurd side to being human and the shocking.

The distorted sound of these recordings reminds me of V/VM videos and even The Coneheads in places; it’s the manipulation of famous pieces of music and heavily effected vocals that suggest these parallels to me.  I don’t know if the songwriters even listen to that stuff but it came to mind.  Some tracks lock into a groove the way Excepter might do, especially on ‘I Am A Shaman Hobo’.  I know I’m An Alien strive to make a room in this world to take you into theirs with songs that resonate with all sorts of alchemy.  It’s exciting to catch a band like this at the start of their work, download their releases and keep them on your radar.

* Just announced, I Know I'm An Alien will be supporting Colin Self soon, tickets for the show are here

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Other Music

Had a little break from writing...recharging batteries, recharging everything I think.  I was unsure how I’d know when to start back up again and then a few things came about this week that lit a fire under me.  Firstly, the sad news of Other Music closing, I’m proud to say I got to work there during my time in New York.  It’s never nice to hear about an independent record shop closing down but this one particularly stung.  On a personal level working at Other pushed me to learn and appreciate more music just by trying to meet the high standard of the shop.  It’s the first place I’d contributed to a blog doing music reviews, I was in awe of all the other writers and those people were definitely an inspiration.   When I started living in NY I was bouncing around different temp jobs and Chris Vanderloo gave me a break – he’s one of the people who gave me steady work and more vitally somewhere I felt like I belonged in a city that I didn’t really know anyone yet (nods to Helen Rush, Dave Martin and Gavin Taylor too).  

On a wider scale the thing that’s amazing about the shop is a sense of community it created - from in stores, to regular friendly faces passing through and ace colleagues.   The remarkable thing I found from working there is how every Thursday once the weekly mailout had been sent, customers would come in with a list of stuff they wanted to buy based on reviews, stuff they hadn’t heard but either liked the way someone had described it – or a member of staff they knew and could count on their taste had raved about the record.   That’s what always made Other Music inimitable and will make it irreplaceable; all the people that brought the shop to life and all the connections made there, the customers, the staff and the bands.  To think it won’t be there is something that’s kind of strange to get my head around – I’m sure it is for everyone.   Other is at the heart of something really special, and whilst it’s knocked the wind out of a few sails by announcing its closure, what a fantastic legacy to leave behind. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

This Heat : Reissues


Marking the band’s 40th anniversary Light In The Attic has reissued 1979’s ‘This Heat’, 1980’s ‘Health and Efficiency’ and 1981’s ‘Deceit’.  The LP’s are in gatefold package including a booklet detailing not only the lyrics but sources of the songs and how they came together – a really nice touch.  This Heat’s timespan as a band was very short, but the impression the left was lasting.  What started as an experiment out of the heads of some kids in Camberwell with homemade recordings comprised of looped tapes, clarinets, violas, bass, keyboards and lots of manipulation became some of the most vital improvisation led recordings of its kind.  John Peel’s radio show was the yard stick to reach for when gauging the calibre of new underground bands, and when This Heat joined the esteemed list of artists who performed on ‘Peel Sessions’ their fate was sealed.  

A vast amount of ground got broken when This Heat started writing and playing music, going live almost immediately they wasted no time trying out and refining their ideas.  Despite the forward reaching approach This Heat were never popular, I’m not entirely sure ‘popularity’ is what they were even after, but you’d think this innovative kind of sound would turn more people on than it did at the time.   I don’t think they even set out to be revolutionary, the mindset focused on creating their own language – which would be teased out in eight hour rehearsals, documented in meat lockers and various other South London spaces.  This Heat abandoned technique for something they considered more important; using intuition to guide what was played and how to play it, crossing the line from inventive to radical.

Drummer Hayward had been playing in a prog group called Quiet Sun featuring Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera in 1970 but split up two years later, briefly reforming in 1975 to record ‘Mainstream’.  This recording featured Hayward’s first vocal track ‘Rongwrong’ revealing a Robert Wyatt/Soft Machine influence.  A Quiet Sun tour was scheduled but Manzanera had his hands full with Roxy Music.  A new line up was assembled of Hayward, Bill Mccormick and Charles Bullen who previously knew Hayward from playing in Dolphin Logic and Radar Favourites.   By the time the Quiet Sun London show came around only Hayward and Bullen were available to perform, they were joined by Radar Favourites manager Gareth Williams, and in Hampstead 1976 that was it, their first gig and they were called This Heat.  

Gradually moving away from Quiet Sun’s sound and eschewing punk and prog which was booming at the time, This Heat took on something more isolated and avant garde.  Williams - not being particularly musical, was the spark plug that initiated all the unusual elements of This Heat’s song-writing, he had the advantage of following gut instinct completely uninhibited.    In their lifetime as a band they released three records, the first a self-titled album, the second a superbly experimental piece with one long track on each side of the LP, and the band’s best known and universally loved ‘Deceit’ is where they ended.  Hayward continues to play in Camberwell now as Massacre, The About Group and as a solo artist; Bullen performed in Lifetones and Circadian Rhythms whilst he's active today in Ground.  This Heat did reassemble in 2001 but Williams became terminally ill with cancer and they wouldn’t perform again together again.  

These reissues were produced along with the surviving members of the band.  Not only are these available now but a cassette (made in collaboration with Mario Boyer Diekuuroh) will be on sale at the Not This Heat show at CafĂ© Oto later in the week.