Incendiary grapple with Morton Valence

"I'm having dark visions of blokes with berets and goatee beards, smoking French cigarettes, reading Kerouac and Anias Nin, drinking black coffee in the New Piccadilly, fantasising over Joyce Grenfell and wondering why they never get shagged.

We prefer the shallow types! 


Incendiary grapple with Morton Valence


When you do interviews it's always a good idea to mug up beforehand on the band you are interviewing. After all we can't have people accusing incendiary of being a bunch of lazy good for nothings, who (misquote Martin Amis quoting Sir Kingsley Amis) parade the journalistic qualities of "intrusiveness, negligence, vulgarity, dipsomania, (as well as) non-committal superiority of manner, pervasive unspecific irony and cruising hostility". Oh no.


However, this is what you get when you try mugging up on Morton Valence. What earthly use is all this stuff I've printed below? How can you regurgitate this in the form of questions?


Band members; MORTON VALENCE JUNIOR (vocals, trumpet, harmonica, megaphone, guitar) ANNE (vocals, keyboard, xylophone, tambourine) GIGI (keyboard, synth, vocals)

LEO (bass) YURI (maracas) FEDERICO (Korg) JUAN (Drums)


Morton Valence have existed since 1781 when Morton Valence Junior was born in Morden, England. In his youth he became a fan of enlightenment literature and fled to London to pursue a musical career. Before long he was performing to Prime Minister Pitt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and an array of European autocrats. This earned him a fortune, which he prudently spent on 200 years' supply of opium.After finishing the opium, Morton stumbled across a group of travellers in an Inn called "The White Horse King and Garter". Anne had travelled from across the Irish Sea; Leo was a dock-worker from Colombia; Gigi a trader's daughter from Hong Kong.They laughed, and drank, and wrote thirty songs by closing time.Today, one year on, they are a successful electro-pop five-piece on the brink of fame and fortune. Miraculously, none of them age.Morton Valence are commonly mis-spelt as- Morton Valance - Morton Vallance - Morten Valence - Morten Valance


So, faced with publicity that needed the Rosetta stone to decipher, and realising we'd actually have to think, incendiary did what all lazy journalists do, namely adopt a whining, self pitying attitude, make everything up and get stuck in.



IN: Morton Valence, a baroque name, which maybe belies a baroque attitude to making music? You do like dramatic sweeps and angles in your music don't you?  

Junior: Blimey - you make us sound like a prog rock band! Mind you I found an old Emerson Lake and Palmer quadruple vinyl album stashed amid my brother's Razzle magazine collection and discovered the greatest musical aberration known to humanity...wonderful stuff.

Gigi: I am very into Wagner so you could imagine how much I like big dramatic sweeps. 


Annie: I guess we're either minimalist or maximalist in our approach.

We're big fans of gun-toting psycho genius Phil Spector (he liked the odd swoop) and anything from the Brill building from the 60's.   

IN: How come there are so bloody many of you? 


Junior: Because we don't know much about contraception and none of us have mastered the jumping out at Stockwell technique yet. 


Gigi: Blame the Colombians, they tend to come in pairs. 

Federico: I'm sorry, it's out fault. We don't even know what we're doing here.



IN: There is a trend towards eclecticism in bands (as regards instrumentation, influences, even on stage image) Do you see this as a positive well of inspiration or do you worry that you will be branded a novelty act by shallow types?  


Junior: It's a strange one that, when people ask what type of music we make I'm always a bit stumped myself and my only answer is, it's not like we have some sort of modus operandi or whatever, we just go into a rehearsal room, play and if we like what we're hearing, we'll go out and play it at a gig, we're not very analytical and are possibly shallow types ourselves. 


Gigi: I don't generally like many other bands at the moment, and the ones I do like are often branded novelty acts. Other bands bore me witless.  And I am very shallow so I really don't care.   


Yuri: We're all quite different. This isn't deliberate, it's just natural really. Who would want to see seven identical musicians on a stage?   


IN: How dreaded are the terms Library Rock or Bohemian Rock, for example? 


Gigi: Ha-ha, what does it mean anyway? I am trained to live above stylistic terms and periodisation. Bohemian Rock conjures bad visual imagery - bad patchy clothing, bad long dirty hair.  Eugh.  


Junior: Yes, I'm having dark visions of blokes with berets and goatee beards, smoking French cigarettes, reading Kerouac and Anias Nin, drinking black coffee in the New Piccadilly, fantasising over Joyce Grenfell and wondering why they never get shagged.

We prefer the shallow types!  

IN: Why are the kids so serious? Do you think too much Joy Division & Radiohead is a bad thing? 


Junior: I love Ian Curtis... 


Annie: ...but not Radiohead 


Junior: No. 


Dr Jules: I like them. Sorry, you were saying... 


Junior: Yep, Ian Curtis, he's the nearest thing this country's ever had to Elvis.

What happened to the Goth revival by the way? This country has a great tradition of spotty kids in provincial towns, sat outside shopping centres grazing on their own dyed black hair before an evening of self-harm. It's a great English tradition, a bit like fish and chips I suppose, definitely a good thing!  


Leo: It's not easy to be serious when Federico's on stage.  



Annie: No. 

IN: Funnily enough you aren't the only band to use an ironing board on-stage (check out fabbo Amsterdam band Electric Fans, kids). Why do bands go for the ironing board over the normal keyboard stands? 


Gigi: You don't have to buy it especially, plus one could multi-task the object. What else could you do with a keyboard stand otherwise?  Make a table?!  Mine was bought for some hard core ironing from Woolworths by my ex-flatmate's brother, not for putting a keyboard on.  I bartered it off her with a £4.60 bowl of Vietnamese pho with Chicken. 


Junior: I wish I had something interesting to say about this, but one night Gigi's keyboard stand went missing so we used it instead.  



IN: Do you dread being typecast? Is London (MV's base) so spiritually oppressive that you feel the need to be noticed, to go overboard in your mannerisms and image? The architypal wide boy game, (a la Madness at their peak)  


Junior: The only thing we truly dread is being run over by a bus.

However, I'm definitely going to wear a sheepskin coat and strap an electric bar-heater to my cloth cap at our next gig, enter stage-left with a grande-jete pirouetting into a rand de jambe whilst screaming 'AVE A BANANA GUV, NOT ARF!' So I can only respond to your inference with an emphatic "No Sir!"  


Gigi: Everyone gets typecasted. London is great. They have theatres that occasionally put on decent plays with decent actors.  Sod the rest. We don't have a collective image and we could never have one.  You can't tell say, the Colombians to wear skinny jeans with a ripped t-shirt and suspenders. (Or make me wear skinny jeans for that matter).  Damn any boys that wear a jean size smaller than mine.    

IN: In a slight change of tack, can MV furnish our readers with an eccentric or interesting image? 


Gigi: Codpieces are the height of fashion these days.  So are multi-coloured tights.  


Words: Richard Foster



As a link on to this interview there's a review courtesy of our chums at in our London Calling section this month. Click here.