I'm certainly not saying that all Northerners are good and Southerners are bad but I will say that there's a certain instant upfront quality of connection between Northern people and Scots that certainly doesn't translate to the South.
Incendiary interview Ramesh from Voxtrot
It's hot as only Germany can be in August, and backstage at the Haldern festival band people and festival organisers descend en masse to the shade and coolness of the catering tent. I have an interview with Voxtrot singer Ramesh, whose breezy set has managed to lift the drowsy crowd into life. I've heard that Voxtrot are with their professed love of books and Mozzer, something of a literary band; so with the best excuse not to talk about bloody music I could find in many a moon, it was time to have a little literary chat
IN: I wanted to talk to you about books, as I get the feeling that Voxtrot are a well read band, is that true?
R: Yeah, I'd say so. I like humanistic fiction with really good prose. I really like JM Coetzee, John Berger, he's my favourite author, who else... erm any book that's on the Booker Prize shortlist, I always try and get hold of them.
IN: What's the thing with fiction and non-fiction for you then?
R: Well, I guess I've never read much non-fiction. But I always find fiction is in many ways autobiographical anyway...
IN: In vino veritas sometimes, in scribo veritas always...
R: I love Alan Sillitoe's books, all that kitchen sink genre, like a Taste of Honey and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, because I'm obsessed with the Beatles; and that was something which grew into an obsession with all things British from those post war years. There's something really compelling about Britain when it was a dark depressing place (laughs). Sorry it sounds horrible but it is true... There's a good attitude that comes from it though because I was living in Glasgow for so long, and... you get some Southern English people who are great, and I'm certainly not saying that all Northerners are good and Southerners are bad but I will say that there's a certain instant upfront quality of connection between Northern people and Scots that certainly doesn't translate to the South. In the South you get people who are very polite and there are a lot of social niceties but you don't really feel like you're having a conversation, you're always one step removed from them.
IN: You lived in Glasgow, why did you pick Glasgow?
R: Because it's cool and because of the years of music history there.
IN: I do hear a few things that remind me of the Postcard bands in your music, through the way you approach certain changes of tempo and chords... you make very positive music, which is another quality have in common with those bands.
R: I guess for me it started with bands like Belle and Sebastian and Arab Strap. I would say as far as the Postcard records go, it wasn't until I moved to Glasgow till I got into that stuff. I also think the recent scene in Glasgow is brilliant too.
IN: Glasgow's always been a place where artists mingle, and I do like the fact that the more successful bands help new bands. Did you find that you could plug into that straight away?
R: You do and it's the same kind of thing you get in Austin, In Austin it's too easy to be an Austin band forever...
IN: That's something you want to break away from? To start the creative process anew you have to destroy what is around you?
R: For me it was, but in any case it was easier for me, in that all the people I'd been obsessed with from the age of twelve were about ninety percent British. I mean there were a couple of American things, huge things like, Bob Dylan and Nirvana. So I thought even if I only do it once I have to go and see if I can be a part of it and understand why I'm so obsessed with all this...
IN I like the fact that your music is very positive; you don't try to play ironical, silly games with your audience. You try to open up emotionally. It's a nice thing is that something you deliberately try to do.
R: I think we try to have no barrier between artist and listener. I know people think that sometimes we try and take things too far but it's an intentional thing to make people enjoy and access the emotions in the music. We don't want the music we make to be part of an industry....
IN: My splendid art, my sad profession... do you have a stance as a band then?
R: I think our record label is good in that its indie and its ethical, I think in our case it's not so much that the people at the label are watching what you do and trying to change things, it's more from us; I mean getting signed was great, but making the first album was really difficult process, but now we've done it, we'll know how to do it properly and people are giving you that opportunity so that's great...
IN: As a last question; give our readers a tip on a good book.
R: Maybe I could tell you about my favourite book at the moment; it is a John Berger book, it's a new one, called Here is Where We Meet; a collection of not so much short stories, rather each chapter is a different place in a city. He meets up with a person who he's known all his life, but is now dead... and then they tour that city. I suppose you couldn't really call it autobiographical (laughs) in that sense. His language is really good and he does a great job of communicating the way that history and maybe tragedy are attached to a place, and how hard it is to erase that feeling. I empathise with that because when I go places I get a really strong sense of history and can sometimes relate to things that have happened in a particular place way before I was born. So that's my book choice.
IN: A most worthy one, we may say!
Words: Richard Foster