A Q&A with Mike Lindsay from Tunng on ‘Outsider’
Mike Lindsay of Tunng on his collaboration with Philippe Cohen Solal for ‘Outsider’…
How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
It’s a direct reference to ‘Outsider Art” or ‘Art Brut’. Henry Darger was considered to be an Outsider Artist which I believe means, a person who is creating art with no formal artistic training and is creating it solely for their own cathartic use. Henry Darger spent most of his time ‘inside’ creating hundreds of paintings and a book depicting this parallel universe called ‘In The Realms of the Unreal’ where children are slaves to adults in the land of Glandolinia and there is a rebel uprising by ‘The Vivian Girls’ who fight wars with adults.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
It was a totally brand new experience, to be so conceptual from the beginning. This though actually made the creative process easier as we were informed by his magnificent images and his words. The words were discovered in the unpublished book which is 15,000 pages of hand typed fiction. Within it there were lyrics or poems written in the context of this fantasy world. War songs and ballads and perhaps hymns. We obtained the rights, from Darger’s estate run by Kiyoko Lerner who was his landlord and a friend of Philippe’s, to use the words and to compose music to them. The hardest part was making sure that we were respectful to his memory, the art and his legacy. I feel that we have been very respectful and hope that transcends to the people when it is finally out.
What do enjoy most about producing your own material?
It was produced by myself and Philippe. I have always self produced all the projects I worked on since I was 12. I just love bringing sounds together in a way that has never existed before until that day. Conjured from the air. It’s so immersive and in a way you enter into your own fictional universe when producing and composing music.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
We want them to feel the escapism and the magic of Henry Darger. To then discover his work or if you already are aware of him then to immerse yourself into his words sung by Adam as if you are hearing the voice of Henry. Feel the joy and the sadness and the wise innocence.
How did the tracks come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
Well, between Philippe and I, we each picked the lyrics that we felt a connection to and independently wrote melodies and structure, drum loops, chords and production vibes. Then we came together in my studio in London, at that time, and really dug into the textures and arrangements. Bringing in old sound effects on vinyl and working with vintage synths, hammer dulcimers and 60s bass. After it is in a special place, we asked Hannah Peel to arrange strings and horns. She is also the voice of the Vivian Girls so we recorded all her vocal parts in London. Later we went to LA to record all of Adams vocals on an old 40’s RCA ribbon mic though vintage pre-amps that were sympathetic to that crooning, Scott Walker-esque rich vocal that Adam is just amazing at. Finally we recoded all the live drums with a great drummer and lovely guy called Roger Brogan in that same studio in LA.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
For this project, there are quite a few influences from different times fused to make this magisterial sound. Scott Walker, particularly Scott 4 was an inspiration, not just because of Adam’s voice, but also the confidence and delivery of the vocal production and special arrangements. We imagined Henry’s inner voice being projected like this heroic version of himself. We wanted the record to feel timeless, of the time of Henry’s life but also otherworldly and of now. So there are influences from Brian Eno, Neil Young, Suzanne Ciane, Moondog, Serge Gainsbourg, alongside Flaming Lips, Aphex Twin and Deerhoof… Not that we were particularly conscious of these influences, it’s more like a palette from our memories to create a collage that’s independent.
When the world is back to normal where would like to tour, and why?
Well at the moment, the show is the animated film that will be streamed from art galleries internationally on what would be Henry Dargers’ birthday. If it does become a live show I would like to start in Chicago where he lived. Then the world!
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
I think ‘Can A Boy’ is extremely powerful, it’s epic and straight from the heart. It also then segway’s into ‘851 Webster Avenue’ which is a haunting instrumental that carries you right into Henry’s room.
What ambitions do you have for the record?
That it inspires people and moves people as it has done with us.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Someone get me a Bourbon and Ice!!
For more info visit: smarturl.it/outsiderdarger