Moongoose is directed, to all intents and purposes, by Yorkie and Mark Jordan. We caught up with these two recently and asked them all about this new project.
IN: There's a very strong link, (umbilical?) between music and image with Moongoose: can you tell us more about why that is?
Yorkie: When I decided to take Moongoose to the live stage, I wanted to avoid the usual Rock band presentation, as well as the usual Rock band venues. Something more was required/desired, something that paid homage to the great experimental shows such as The Exploding Plastic Inevitable (The Velvets/Warhol) & The UFO Club (The Pink Floyd). I wanted the audience immersed in the sound and visuals, with the band almost invisible to the proceedings, but at the same time indivisible from the whole.
IN: I'm interested in the type of images the band presents in its videos. Because I feel the videos don't really work as videos, they're not promotional in the classic sense. So why this kind of presentation? What's the aesthetic you're trying to create?
Yorkie: The video side of Moongoose is mainly down to Mark Jordan, with some input from me. In keeping with the 'Reaction Music' banner that all Moongoose projects now go under, he is given free reign to produce backdrops for the live shows using whatever visuals the tracks suggest to him. The visuals so far have encompassed everything from birth, loss, nightmares, travel, beauty, sex, death, frustration, fulfillment and so much more.
Mark Jordan: I think the fact that myself and Yorkie have had a common ground since our school days, our interest in the visual culture of whatever time we were situated in and our 'future gaze' combined with iconic classics and film noir allows us to collaborate separately at times, i.e., not even being in the same room. Yorkie can send me a track, without a title and entrust me to use the rhythm, general vibe or just noises and me to translate that into how the music makes me feel, then we can offer this product to an audience as a final piece without an obvious narrative being suggested. Moongoose tracks are very filmic, soundtrack orientated. Before the inception of MTV and the video package as an audience isn't that what we used to do? Lie back and create our own visual interpretation of the music we listened to? That isn't to say that that we are doing anything new, with influences such as THX1138, Warhol and through to Derek Jarman's ultra-slow super 8 moving canvasses or even Crass and their emotive and informative live films as background culture for our own moving images. Of course the benefit of the technology being available to almost most of us nowadays increases the possibility of artists working on such multi layered projects where each medium is as equal and valid to the final performance.
Yorkie: For the video for Silhouettes we basically wanted something that was similar in many ways to the traditional 'promo video', but much slower. I thought that the video should bring out the dreamlike quality of the tune, and also the underlying menace. The shoot took place over 1 day, with most of the editing done the following day. Originally, it was to be very “Noir-ish”, in keeping with the theme of the Silhouettes & Shadows EP. However, whilst playing around with effects at the editing stage, Mark suggested a sort of 'Gilbert & George' look. I think what we ended up with is superb, and a finer calling card I can't think of. Psychedelic backdrops rendered in Black 'n White. Monochromatic band members shuffling around in Hi Def state of the art colour. And visuals running at a dreamlike pace against a rather frenetic tune.
IN: Why the band's fascination with instrumentals?
Yorkie: The whole idea with Moongoose has always been to create evocative, visual, lyrical music without the need for vocals. Having worked on 3 volumes of the YORKIE series of CD's 'Let's Evolve' , as well as numerous film projects over the years, my interest in wordless, purely instrumental music has become somewhat heightened. I was always disappointed when an instrumental was included on an album by an artist, when it was plain for all to see that it was basically a song that was never finished. However, I was always excited when hearing an instrumental piece that was so self-contained, and of itself, that it couldn't possibly have vocals.
IN: I'm guessing but you may have an interest in making film soundtracks?
Yorkie: I have been in love with soundtrack music for as long as I can remember. My brother used to think I was weird, as I used to spend my pocket money on soundtrack albums, often without even seeing the movie itself. Childhood favourites that have stood the test of time, and are still played regularly are: You Only Live Twice (John Barry - I pretty much love all his stuff) Logan's Run (Jerry Goldsmith - his 70's sci-fi soundtracks are brilliant. Others include Planet Of The Apes & The Illustrated Man), Rollerball (Various)… Logan's Run was, in fact, my first ever introduction to the Synthesizer: the soundtrack has dated much better than the film. Interestingly, looking back on it, it is a huge influence on 'Organic technology', fusing, as it does a symphony orchestra with electronics. I’ve also worked on numerous film projects over the years, from so-called blockbusters like Lost in Space to more independent films such as Alex Cox's Repo Chick, or Andy Wilton's 20,000 Little Reasons as well as numerous student films. The thing I love about soundtrack composition is the initial gut reaction to the images and scenario set out before you. You can radically alter the mood of the piece by the music that you place with it, hopefully enhancing, rather than ruining it.
IN: The music is abstract, impressionist, and sensual. Despite the technological gloss, it's also got a strong late sixties/early seventies feel in that it's quite unregimented and open. Fair comment?
Yorkie: It is certainly a fair comment, and also an astute one. I am a sensual abstract impressionist, whose life is fairly unregimented and open! The album were are currently working on has the title Organic Technology and this was born out of the idea of not only 'jamming' along to the computer, but also getting the computer to do likewise. The speed of computer technology now allows this to happen, as you can process signals live and bend the computers clock to follow the performers, rather than being dictated to by the dreaded 'click track' of old. For both the live shows and the forthcoming album I wanted to assemble the best musicians possible for the task and firmly believe that I’ve succeeded.
I should point out before we go further that as well as Myself on keyboards, bass and treatments, Moongoose are: Paul Cavanagh on guitar (The Balcony, The Room, Top!, Smaller, Gloss); Alex Griffiths on guitar also (Flynn's Piece); Vicky Edwards on bass (The Aeroplanes); Iain Templeton on drums & percussion (Shack, Baboon). My main role in Moongoose is to present the musicians with slices, or unfinished pieces of music which they contribute to, both individually and collectively. The musicians are given free rein to do whatever they wish, with only instructions on how the mood of the piece should be: somewhat like a director would instruct his actors. I then take what they have added and mould all the elements into a finished tune. Once I am happy with the results I play the finished piece to the musicians and take on board their opinions. Any modifications are then made before handing over the finished tune to Mark Jordan. He then puts together a sequence of images which he feels enhances the music, without supplying a weighty or obvious narrative.
The EP Silhouettes & Shadows:Reaction Music 1 is now available from all online outlets.And a special limited edition version of the EP, (containing a bonus disc of the 'Silhouettes' video, an interview with Yorkie, Posters and media) is available from www.moongoosetheband.com