I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE THE FUCK TO START, but I have to say I’m impressed AS HELL with what I’ve seen of this film so far, and the incredible score NOKO has crafted for it, REALLY FUCKING BEAUTIFUL STUFF. After getting some of the tracks sent to me, all I have to say is HOLY SHIT, sorry my hands are tied I can’t post them for you, but you can pre-order the score now and it will hit your inbox when they wrap their Indiegogo Campaign Here: http://igg.me/at/ex-dominatrix. Obviously, I have some vested interest in seeing a REAL FUCKING FILM about BDSM hit the big screen, but this story sounds incredibly cool, about the most FIERCE DOMINATRIX in Europe, and a life-changing event that I won’t spoil here, but shit gets dark, you hear all her war stories and follow her through the transformation she undergoes. I was given the opportunity to discuss this film further with the EYES & THE EARS of this project NOKO (Apollo 44o, Luxuria, The Cure, Pigface) and director DARREN CAVANAGH. Before I let you on to the interview I’m going to make YOU DO FOUR THINGS:
1. WATCH THEIR TRAILER (NOTICE THE SCORE):
2. HELP FUND THEIR FILM ON INDIEGOGO, EVEN GIVE THEM A BUCK IF YOU CAN, MAKE THIS SHIT HAPPEN FOR ME: http://igg.me/at/ex-dominatrix
3. WATCH MY FAVORITE LUXURIA VIDEO:
4. CHECK OUT THE WONDERFULLY NSFW BONDAGE FILLED VIDEO FOR “CALL ME X” FROM NOKO’S EX_DOMINATRIX: A TRUE STORY SCORE:
SITEMASTER: Noko, can you tell me a bit about the influencing factors that inspired your score for Ex-DOMINATRIX?
NOKO: Fundamentally, it’s the same as any scoring : there’s a story to be told and my job is to enhance moments that go beyond the words and images onscreen and then stay the hell of of the way when I’m not needed.!John Barry once referred to himself as a ‘musical dramatist’ – I like that – I enjoy being part of the theatrical team, telling the yarn!
The story here is a big one – it’s all about consensuality and double-standards. There has been a great injustice here in the way that Ira was treated by the authorities and the media and I feel compelled to be a part of telling that story as directly as it deserves to be told.
One of the most poignant scenes in Darren’s film is where Ira’s daughter Charlotte surveys for the first time, the rubble of their once grand and beautiful home – the metaphor for what has been lost through a set of circumstances beyond her control is blindingly obvious. This, of course, needed no music. If a few well placed notes of mine can go some way to redressing the balance and exploring this complex subject without judgement or blame and a mature moral compass, then so be it.
I’ve known Darren for years – we’ve shot the breeze on films and music we share and lots more for decades and I relish wholeheartedly the chance to help him tell this story.
SM: Can you tell me a little bit about recording it as well?
N: Most of the recording was done in my home studio (I’m blessed with a large space in an old industrial building that simply sounds great for acoustic instruments without much effort or the need for much remedial treatment), but a lot of the percussion I recorded in Apollo Control Studios in Kings Cross – I built up orchestral layers using drums tuned artificially lower than usual, played one instrument at a time by myself. Someone told me that Stevie Wonder did a lot of his ’70s stuff that way, so I thought I’d give it a try – with some unique results, I might add (as well as having a lot of fun!). On a technical level, I used phase-coherent Blumlein configured stereo ribbon microphones to maintain a ‘real’ stereo image throughoutApart from some gorgeous breathy vocals by Gaynor Perry. I played everything myself. Lots of electric and acoustic guitar textures, layered mandolin sections etc. There may be some other collaborators as the project nears it’s conclusion.
SM: I’m a very big fan of Luxuria, can you tell the audience a bit about your project with Howard Devoto and how it came about?
N: I’d been a huge Magazine fan – it’s true to say that band really changed my life : both the incredible wordplay of Howard and the amazing musicians he surrounded himself with. John McGeoch was a huge influence on my guitar playing – his elegant use of dissonance is a cornerstone of my musical world – power through tension/release and the left-hand-path through the least obvious notes (much the same non-rocky road Robert Fripp had mapped out a few years earlier in King Crimson). I started out as a bass player (stints with The Cure and Pete Shelley’s post-Buzzcocks band amongst others) and Barry Adamson, who I replaced in Pete’s band when he left to join Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds in ’84, was also a massive influence on that side of my musical coin. Peter was managed bt Raf Edmunds, who had managed Magazine earlier – that’s how the connection was made and I eventually met Howard, who was getting itchy fingers again after his second ‘retirement’ following his solo LP in 1983, and wanted to ‘burn again’, to use his own metaphor.We started working together writing songs in 1986, that would ultimately become “Unanswerable Lust”, the first Luxuria LP which was released in 1988 by Beggars’ Banquet. We put a live band together and toured both sides of the Atlantic that year. A second LP, “Beastbox” followed in 1990 and then Howard ‘retired’ for a third time, at which point I formed Apollo 440 with the Gray brothers Howard and Trevor and synthesiser prodigy James Gardner, whom I’d known since schooldays in Liverpool. I felt at the time that I’d had enough of where guitar music was going and decided to throw myself headlong into the new minimal electronic dance music that was emerging both in UK and America. In Luxuria, we’d based our core songwriting around the Sequential Circuits Studio 440 sampler/sequencer and Howard Gray had one too, so that’s the origin of that part of the name Apollo 440.
SM: Noko, can you tell me a bit about your first music project?
N: There are kinda two answers to that question :
Almost before I was a musician as such or knew any actual chords, I’d messed around with an old Akai 4000DS 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder and was already fascinated by the recording and production process – myself and a few friends used to make ‘solo LPs’ in the school holidays. My first band Alvin The Aardark And The Fuzzy Ants was an outgrowth of that. Our first gig was supporting Sheffield electronic pioneers Cabaret Voltaire at an amazing avant-garde ‘happening’ club in Liverpool called Plato’s Ballroom (like a cross between Warhol’s Factory and the original Cabaret Voltaire in 1916!), hosted by Nathan McGough, who would eventually manage Happy Mondays. The club has sort of been forgotten about, but was as radical and influential to the Liverpool scene of that time as clubs like The Blitz etc in London and featured a lot of the Factory Records acts due to Nathan’s strong Manchester connections – anyone who was anyone in the Liverpool music/arts scene at the time went. A true epiphany for me.
The second answer to the question : that band at various times included the Gray bothers and James Gardner, whom I eventually formed Apollo 440 with, so in a way that was effectively my first musical project – albeit separated by almost a decade! James now lectures in electronic music at Aukland University in New Zealand.
Can you tell me about some of your current favorite artists, local or elsewhere?
N: Lots of stuff (in no particular oder) : The Irrepressibles, Lightning Bolt, Deap Vally, Royal Blood, Bishi….
SM: What inspired you to want to be in a band?
N: Simple – that funny tingle that went throughout my whole body when I saw Marc Bolan on Top Of The Pops ( UK TV chart show) in 1972 followed by Roxy Music doing “Virgina Plain” 5 minutes later on the same show. Powerful times.
SM: Can you tell me about a song you consider perect, and what makes it special?
N: From my own stuff – It’s never really a question of a song being ‘perfect’ as such – more a case of the original vision coming out unscathed and uncorrupted from the rigours and compromises seemingly inherent in the process, however, the one thing I’ve done in my life on which I really wouldn’t change a thing in hindsight, is the song “Pain In Any Language” from the 2nd Apollo 440 LP “Electroglide In Blue” featuring the heart-wrenchingly raw vocal of the late Billy MacKenzie. It was the last thing he finished before his tragic suicide a few weeks later. I played all the instruments on that track and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Of other people’s music, there are simply too many (and for very different reasons) – “Metal Guru” by T-Rex, “Montagu Terrace In Blue” by Scott Walker”, “Lady Grinning Soul” by Bowie, “In Every Dreamhome A Heartache” by Roxy, “Easy’s Getting Harder Every Day” by Iris DeMent, “I’d Rather Jack (Than Fleetwood Mac)” by The Reynolds Girls….
SM: What was it like working with Robert Smith?
N: I was pretty young when I played with those guys.They were already pretty big in UK and Europe so it was quite intense (though the self-belief of youth holds you in good stead for such things!). I had (and still have) a great respect for Mr Smith – the Cure at that time were very much a one-man operation, with Robert writing and playing almost everything.
The feeling of coming in with the bassline to “A Forest” to 3000 ecstatic Germans whilst being filmed for TV after only a few hours rehearsal will stay with me for life! (Though “100 Years” still remains my fave Cure tune).
It was a privilege and definitely an education to be around in the studio when the LP that ultimately became The Top (1985) was taking shape. (SM NOTE: MY FAVORITE CURE ALBUM)
I saw Robert for the first time in over 25 years last year backstage at the Cure’s mammoth 3 hour show at Royal Albert Hall in London (I really don’t know where he gets the stamina!) and he hasn’t changed at bit.
SM: What was it like working with Howard Devoto?
N: I’ve now known Howard for nearly 30 years so we’ve been through a lot together. When I heard on the grapevine that Magazine were going to be reforming, I felt that I was uniquely qualified for the gtr slot as I’d worked with all the remaining members in various capacities over the years and the aesthetic was ingrained in my very soul – McGeoch had died in 2004 so someone was going to have to do it and I would have been very disappointed had someone else got the gig! Kinda unfinished business. Playing a rip-roaring version of “Give Me Everything”, “Parade” or “Motorcade” onstage with those guys was certainly closure on that one. More great times.
Much has been written of the ‘intellectual’ aspect of Howard’s words without giving him his due credit for the great seam of humour that runs through the work as well as the bleakness – much in the same way they miss it in Morrissey or Samuel Beckett! On that note, I saw an amazing Robert Wilson production of “Krapp’s Last Tape” a couple of days ago and it reminded me that Howard had wanted to start the Luxuria stage shows in a similar way, with him alone on a stage with a reel-to-reel having a dialogue with an earlier self – it could have been amazingly theatrical, but alas, we never got round to it.
SM: Some are saying this is the greatest era to exist as a musician, others say it’s the worst, what has your experience been like?
N: People have always said both! – I guess they’re right.
SM: What has been your favorite moment from being a musician?
N: Oh, you want a David Bowie anecdote?!!……There have been so many great moments (a few of which I’ve already touched on). Recording Billy MacKenzie’s voice on “Pain in Any Language”, in the vocal booth with him with us both on headphones with me conducting the ups and downs of his immaculately controlled voice. R.I.P.Listening to the chart-rundown in 1995 and hearing that “Astral America” by @440 had just gone in the charts at #36 was up there, as was getting to be on Top Of The Pops with subsequent Apollo singles.Having the greatest living guitarist, Jeff Beck round our studio every day for a week while we were working on co-writing and producing tracks for his “Jeff” LP was a bit special.
Seeing my first scored feature film “Une Affaire D’Etat” on the big-screen at the premiere in Paris.
Playing onstage to over 100,000 people on Bastile Day ’98 with Jean Michel-Jarre as a million pounds worth of firworks went off on the Eiffel Tower immedioately behind the stage.(France had won the World Cup the day before, so people were still out on the streets and there was so much joy in the air).Seeing Van Halen open for Black Sabbath in Southport in 1978 and realizing that playing guitar was never really going to be quite the same again!
SM: How did “Ex-DOMINATRIX: A True Story” come about?
DARREN CAVANAGH: I met Ira and was immediately taken by her style, presence and great story telling capabilities. I wanted to make a film about her life. At the time she was still a dominatrix but I could tell she wasn’t enjoying the process anymore and longed to do something else. The incident in 2010 changed everything for her and she gave up the work after that and started on a new life journey. This is where the real idea of film came about.
SM: What is your perception of the BDSM scene in the UK?
DC: It is still very active even although a lot of people who part take it (including lots of people in authority or government I may add) would deny it. The fetish club scene is still very popular and people love to do kinky stuff in the UK. It’s kinda part of our tradition.
SM: What is the message of this film, what do you want people to take away after they see it?
DC: Explore your creativity to the max in all that you do and when just when you think life has you whipped get back up and follow your vision even more.
SM: For those who you want to help finish funding the movie how would you describe the project, and why is this project going to be different from every other movie this year?
DC: It’s been a labour of love for everyone involved and challenging at times to get the best footage on a very small budget. The film has been shot in the UK, Europe, Goa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Belgium and the US. It’s a truly international production and we need the funds now to finish it in style and actually pay dedicated members of the crew, including myself who have worked very hard on it. I quit my job of 20 years last year to make this film so I have no other form of income right now until I finish and sell the film. It’s a specialised genre but the message in the film is truly universal and Ira’s story is totally fascinating, entertaining, shocking at times but ultimately very inspiring. I think people will be truly surprised after they see it.
SM: What is your idea of a perfect movie?
DC: ‘Badlands’, ‘ The Wizard of Oz’, ‘ ulp Fiction’, ‘ melie’, ‘ was , ‘Taxi Driver’, Any one of the ‘ The Three Colours Trilogy’, ‘Le Reine Margot’, ‘ Searching for Sugar man’, Watching any one of these film with my darling wife.
SM: What is your favorite scene from a documentary?
DC: In ‘ Man on Wire’ when Philippe Petit describes walking across the wire between the twins towers and his friends cry recalling the majesty of the moment, beautifully accompanied by classical music.
SM: What inspired you to want to make films?
DC: My father inspired me by taking me to the cinema constantly. Sitting in the dark for probably a quarter of my life being transformed by images., music and the craft of film making. I was hooked at 7 always and have been since.
SM: What has been your favorite moment from being a filmmaker?
DC: Being in the moments pure and simple. The process is made up of them but creating them with people is the magic of film making.
SM:Have you started to consider your next project, can you give us a hint about what it’s going to be like?
DC: Lots of ideas and a documentary on my family from Liverpool and one about Edison and cylinder music from early last century.
SM: What is a perfect moment that music and film come together that you could spotlight?
DC: Ext – The ocean, dum dum dum dum. It doesn’t get any simpler. John Williams masterstroke at pure cinematic perfection for drama and music to create a terror we can’t even see.
SM: Do you have any strange addictions? (biscuits, latex, tv shows?)
DC: Too many to name and the older I get the more I let them go.
N: Those sour blue and pink fizzy jelly worms (3 packs for £1) – I go all crazy-hyperactive at the thought!
SM: If I were to vacation in your hell what should I expect to find there?
DC: Myself thinking I’m actually in heaven.
N: Wasn’t it Jean-Paul Sartre who said it best : “Hell is other people”
SM: Have you had an experience with the supernatural that you’d be willing to share?
DC: I saw a ghost on a school trip when I was 14. It was pitch dark and it hovered in front of the window and looked at me. I was happy it was outside in the forest not in the room.
SM: If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead who would it be?
DC: J.S. Bach – I’d just put a bit of compression and reverb on his church organ and take half of the credit for his genius (like all producers do!!)
It saddens me to say but recently deceased film composer James Horner who tragically died in a plane crash on June 22nd. I finally got to meet him this year for 2 hours and he was as gentle, kind and as creative as his music. I would have loved to have him score an inspiring documentary of mine.
SM: What are some of your favorite films, and a favorite line of dialog from a film?
DC: I can only do recent as there are too many. I loved ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Boyhood’ last year and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” and “Go get the gimp” Almost every line from the scene where Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwick start flirting in Phyllis Deitrichson’s house in “Double Indemnity.”Almost every line of Eddie Murphy’s cheeky back-chat in “Beverley Hills Cop”.
SM: Can you describe your most emotionally moving moment involving music/film? Or, the moment of live music/film that has had the greatest impact on you?
DC: The end of ‘ he Double Life of Veronique’ when Znigniew Preisner unleashes the film symphony by the dead composer in the film and the end of E.T. No words just lots of tears and a 80 piece symphony sending us into the heavens and ending on a boy’s face without a father.
N: The first movie I ever saw in a cinema (with actual loud music!) was “You Only Live Twice”. The first time John Barry’s amazing “Space March” started it’s ascent, near the beginning of the film, the course of my life was set.
SM: Have you ever been to a psychic, would you be willing to share that experience if so?
DC: My wife reads me better than any psychic better ask her.
N: “No” and “Yes”.
SM: Do you feel things happen for a reason, do you have an experience that would be evidence of this?
DC: Life is as it and every moment is trying to wake us up to our true selves. Notice this and be in the moment and nothing else matters.As Bob Dylan put it ” The highway is for gamblers you’d better use your sense, take whatever you’ve gathered from coincidence”
THERE’S STILL TIME TO BACK THIS INCREDIBLE FILM SO YOU CAN SAY YOU WERE THERE BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE WHEN THEY’RE NAME DROPPING THIS SHIT IN THE FALL: http://igg.me/at/ex-dominatrix