excerpt from an email to Vincent Vanoli, illustrator
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Over the past few months, I’ve been collaborating a little with French illustrator Vincent Vanoli. He’s been putting together a book: first, he chooses a pop song he’d like to illustrate, then he asks a friend if they could write a short story about it. I enjoyed doing these so much, we ended up doing several – as part of the ongoing Song Of The Day series. If you want to see them, go here. They’re written in quite a different style to the rest of the series.
I thought it might be of interest to reprint an email that clarified some of the original entries for his translator (if you want the fuller stories, click through on the link supplied throughout the text). I do still have two to run on Song of the Day – The Sneetches and Elvis Costello – and Vincent has changed several of the illustrations from the ones portrayed here, but … well, I thought it’d be a good behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at Collapse Board.
On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 10:26 PM, Vincent Vanoli wrote:
sorry again for yesterday evening, I thought 9.30 PM wasn’t too late and was the best time to call…
No worries, Vincent. it was very nice to hear from you, and I’m sorry I couldn’t chat any longer. We’d had a bad night with Daniel the previous night, and we were very tired. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I might post my replies up on my blog, as I think your questions are interesting. If that’s OK with you.
Well, here are the questions, I need answers to help the translation and to add notes sometimes at the bottom of the pages in the book, everything to help the french reader to fully appreciate yours texts!!
I hope you’ll have time to give me full explanations.
Here we go:
text about AuPairs:
What do you mean by “hum of feedback”? Is it the sound of noise feedback from amps or feedback from the musical press about the Au Pairs?
I’m referring to the live experience: the constant background noise amplifiers often give off after a certain period of time. So that sentence is meant to refer to how bands like Au Pairs helped to politicise my concert-going (and general everyday) experience.
When you talk about reassurance coming from belonging to the right clique, why do you add that it could sound too negative?
It’s a guarded reference to the fact to Riot Grrrl, and its earlier precursors (of whom, the Au Pairs were one) – the fact that I was looking for approval from a clique that I wasn’t a part of. I should have just forged my own path, but it took me a while to learn that (as often it does, as you’re growing up). Hence my reference to not wanting it to sound too negative: I was being cynical about the way it’s often perceived to be OK to behave in certain ways once you’re in certain circles, but at the same time I think that’s kind of nice.
texte about Hole:
“Folk showed up wearing homemade tee-shirts”: “Folk”? do you mean a guy in the crowd?
My memory isn’t that great, but I think there was more than one. Maybe there was just one.
Please tell us more about the text on this t-shirt ( is it linked with or does it refer to Thurston moore wanting to rip your head off?) Could you tell why Thurston Moore (boring last album by the way) wanted to rip your head off? Because of a bad text you wrote about him in a musical paper, maybe? (a bad review you wrote in Melody Maker?) (How could this guy with the homemade printed t-shirt could have known the argue otherwise?)
It was a quote from one of the UK music magazines, made about me. I think it was made by Courtney Love, during the couple of months she was being bitchy about me (shortly after we first met) before she realised I was much more use on her side. It was some convoluted, distorted take on sexism (during that period, I would simultaneously be compared to Valerie Solanas and Camille Paglia, and be called misogynistic AND anti-male). Thurston’s remarks came because Courtney had been complaining to Kim Gordon about me. (I hadn’t met him at that point, only Kim.) Also, I’m guessing here, but I always suspected there was a slight needle because I preferred Kim’s stuff to his in Sonic Youth, and he resented that. I could well be wrong, though. And I think I might have written some flippant remark about Sonic Youth somewhere. Quite probably. I’ve never been precious about the bands I love. Anyway. Both Kim and Thurston soon changed their minds about both me and Courtney.
2) we didn’t get your line about Neil Diamond in the text about Boney M…
Neil Diamond is a consummate showman. And Boney M were consummate show people.
texte about Joe Jackson:
Can you tell me about the “Rachel Mac Millan”? Is it a school? What kind of school? Primary, College? Secondary? In Deptford? Why the “city of fun”? What about Deptford? The tiny corridor? Is it the corridor in the building or an outdoor way leading to the house? Or, nothing to do with a proper corridor but it’s a very small part of the town where you used to live, so small you call it ” a tiny corridor”? Or an outdoor way bordering the school with shrubberies juste like, remember, the “Crocodile walk” behind the Brighton and Hove sixth form college (school at the cross of Old Shorham Road and Dyke Road)???
Rachel MacMillan was my Hall of Residence at Goldsmith’s College, New Cross (London). (The same college that Blur and Malcolm McLaren went to. They studied art – it was mostly an art college. I studied maths – it definitely was NOT a maths college. I dropped out during my second year.) I lived in RM first year, but squandered so much money on record shopping that I had to squat, start of the second year. (The corner of the street I lived on was called “mugger’s corner”.) Deptford is an area of London, well known back then for being a bad area (i.e. poor), next to New Cross. The fun city part is a reference to the record label Deptford Fun City, which released early records by ATV and Squeeze.
The group that went to see Joe Jackson play mostly lived along the same corridor in RM on the ground floor. All the utility rooms were also on the ground floor, and the canteen etc – so it was actually a comparatively small number of students who lived there, maybe a dozen/two dozen, compared to 200 or 300 in the rest of the building.
text about Vic Godard:
what do you mean by “no one felt used”? : is it because that special night no one expected ( because lot of people in the audience didn’t really know Vic Godard?) he could ever been a so charming gentleman while being on stage playing his set?
“No one felt used” is a reference to the idea of “everybody being a prostitute” … prostitutes are “used” (they’re paid to be used) … so I was just saying that in the context of this live gig, no one felt taken advantage of, everyone had a good time
text about I, Ludicrous:
“I once covered an Art Brut song before they’d even released it”, tell me more about that! Is it because you received some press copies before the releases and then you tried “Formed a band” while practising with a band of friends in Brighton, even before the Bang bang R’n’Roll album was out?…
I got sent promo CD copies of their first two singles – would have been when I was working on Careless Talk Costs Lives, I think – and absolutely loved them.
Incidentally, Eddie Argos was at that same Loves gig mentioned in the Vic Godard piece – he remembers meeting me there, and me telling him how I’d covered ‘Formed A Band’. he was blown away, and mentioned it in his end-of-year highlights for that year. I was very drunk the night I met him, so might have exaggerated a little. We didn’t actually ‘cover’ the song, but we did reference it shortly before I played my first ever show with Chris Anderson – which was the set of TVPs covers at the Albert, two of which later got a 7″ release on Unpopular as ‘The Legend! sings the songs of Daniel Treacy’. I quoted several lines from it before we began our set. And I would have done that before the single even came out.
and Rotherlithe? I need details…
Rotherhithe (note spelling) was an incredibly bad part of London. We lived on a council estate – the only flat that hadn’t been either burned out, or squatted. You saw someone else coming down the street, you ran! (And the tube was a fast-paced 20-minute walk away.) This area doesn’t really exist any more. It became a load of yuppie warehouses, and Docklands. And good riddance, frankly. Scariest area I’ve lived in in my life.
Hope this is all good. Sorry you had to wait so long.