THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH THE LAST ORDINARY SEAMAN
Just at the moment that I got used to the name of The Ordinary Seaman, Filip Gheysen who is in fact the seaman, decides to change the name to The Last Ordinary Seaman. To cut a long story short, I reviewed earlier some stuff by The Ordinary Seaman which was lo-fi stuff (I even took it so far to bring Fad Gadget along) but later Filip sent me a tape by The Last Ordinary Seaman which is his most current project. A quite different sound as on this stuff, Filip is the master of experimental soundscapes. Difficult to pigeonhole and it has no use to drop here some names of bands who are doing soundscapes too as The Last Ordinary Seaman is what you call a voyage for the ear, it’s like watching a movie but without the images, just your plain imagination. The Original Sin presents you an interview with his townmate Filip….
HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?
It started all in 1996 when I got my first electric guitar, I played under The Imperturbable Ordinary Seaman. It was also around that time that I got into bands like Sentridoh, Guided By Voices, Daniel Johnston or “Stereopathetic Soulmanures” by Beck. I was already some time into Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Breeders and Dinosaur Jr. From the moment I got into the lo-fi heroes I started thinking : “Oh, it’s possible to release your stuff on tape and got heard too”. Some time later I shortened the name to The Ordinary Seaman only because so many people couldn’t pronounce the other name, but I knew that the lo-fi direction would be the path to follow though…. I soon discovered the ways many lo-fi artists are recording, the art of homerecording. The first tape by The Imperturbable Ordinary Seaman was inspired by the sounds of Beck during his “Stereopathetic soulmanures”-album but the older I got, the more I got intrigued by pure experimental sounds and audio art. My later tapes as The Ordinary Seaman were like some mixtures of songs and experimental sounds. Later, I saw I made the mistake like so many others to be misled by the technology, in other words recording songs on a computer. I don’t think it are the songs itself as after all there are songs I really do enjoy, but it’s just the soundquality that I consider as inferior. Let’s face it, a song recorded on a laptop just doesn’t deserved to be called a song anyway… So I decided to buy some new recordingequipment but as this was some new start for me, I decided to change the name of my project as well…The Ordinary Seaman got buried, and The Last Ordinary Seaman got born.
I MUST ASK, OTHERWISE I KILL MYSELF…SORT OF, BUT WHY THE ORDINARY SEAMAN?
It has been 14 years ago I choose for that name and I can’t even remember why I choose it anyway. Maybe it was because I took some sailing lessons and came to the point that I wasn’t a talented sailor. Forget that, once I’m in a boat and the further I get away from the coast, the more I piss in my pants. It was around that time that I started playing as The Imperturbable Ordinary Seaman, ironically meant of course; it was just a funny name and there’s nothing behind it….
SHAME, THE MYTH IS BETTER AS THE BITTER TRUTH….. TRIED BUT I COULDN’T PIGEONHOLE YOUR MUSIC……
Me neither to be honest. All of my music is nothing but experimenting. Nothing’s been finished and everything can be redone. One day I try it like this, the other day I am fed up with it, change the whole thing…I guess I’m never satisfied. I know I don’t make it easy for myself but that’s the way I am….
WHAT I DID HEAR ARE MANY ECHOES FROM 80’S BANDS LIKE THROBBING GRISTLE, FAD GADGET OR CLOCK DVA. IS IT JUST ME OR AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK?
Totally disagree as I don’t even know who Clock DVA are… Fad Gadget I know a bit and lyricwise I can see the link. But I have only recorded a handful of songs that are 80’s-like just for the sake of it. Of course I know Throbbing Gristle, but they have nothing to do with the music I play…. Bands I like are in fact totally un-eighties, in fact I’m afraid I dislike the 80’s but for that you have to blame my 2 brothers who kept on playing fucking Simple Minds, Chris Rea or Phil Collins. Just like this wasn’t enough, my sister was a die-hardfan from Spandau Ballet so I guess I hate the 80’s…..
TEN YEARS AGO I WAS TOTALLY INTO THE DIY-TAPESCENE BUT THERE WERE TIMES, TO BE HONEST, THAT I THOUGHT THE MUSICIANS WERE MAKING MUSIC FOR THEMSELVES AS IT WAS QUITE DIFFICULT TO FIND AN AUDIENCE….SO DO YOU THINK THAT IN SOME WAY YOU’RE MAKING MUSIC FOR YOURSELF?
In the first place I make music for myself, that much is true. As I told before I consider all kind of experiments to enrich myself, going into new explorations. But I always had the need to have an audience as well. If it’s a big audience or just a friend, it doesn’t matter, if only someone hears it, I’m happy. Having said that, when I was a youngster I gave my music to everyone around and I took every opportunity to play, but by getting older I also have more fear. Ten years ago I played gigs just like I was pretending to play in front of a mirror, these days I kind of piss my pants if I have to go on stage solo.
IN SOME WAY, I DO THINK YOU’RE MAKING DARK ELECTRONIC MUSIC…SO HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BELGIAN, KNOWING THAT BELGIUM WAS A BIT THE COUNTRY THAT STARTED IT, OR AT LEAST HAD AN IMMENSE IMPACT ON THE SCENE……
My influences come from 90’s indie-guitarmusic and I was never into dark new wave or industrial stuff, even if I know that there’s some good shit among it. If you listen to my other project, Picturesque, I can understand that you hear some industrial influences as I love experimental stuff, drones or field recordings. But no, I have nothing to do with the Belgian industrial scene, I don’t even own a record by Front 242!!!!! My lyrics might be dark or cynical but it’s just for the fun of it….
WHAT’S YOUR GENERAL IDEA ABOUT THE BELGIAN MUSICSCENE IN 2010?
I live in Gent and these days everyone is playing music over here. It used to be different once and I still can’t make up my mind if it’s a good or a bad thing cuz let’s face it : the more people that are making music, the more good music there is, even as te more bad music. I just hear if I turn on the radio and it gets to Studio Brussel (the so called alternative radio station from Belgium-ed.) then you hear tons of Belgian bands, but after 5 mins I turn off the radio as well. Many bands that got played on Studio Brussel are so uninspired, all they care about is being hip and the rock’n roll-thing. But it has nothing to do with musical interest and I’m not interested in them either….
I MEAN NOTHING WRONG WITH IT, BUT IS IT SO THAT WE HAVE TO SEARCH SOMETHING BEHIND THE SONGS OR IS IT JUST A MATTER OF THE RIGHT TUNE?
I guess it’s more a matter of the bad tune, hahaha!!!! No, even if I told earlier that I take it all with some laughter, I feel the need to tell that I take my music in a rather serious way. What you hear is me, it’s the work of a lifetime…even if I’m afraid that I’ll never reach the end point though…
WHAT DO YOU THINK FROM THE CURRENT MUSICSCENE IN THE SENSE THAT IT IS NOW A REAL DIY-SCENE, ALMOST FOR EVERYBODY……
That’s of course depends in the way you see it…personally I think it’s a great thing but for the capitalists among us it must be a nightmare. But seeing all those majors going flat on their faces makes me only shrug my shoulders, thinking that is their own fault. It’s about time that music got managed again by those who really love music instead of men in suits who have no feeling with it at all. It’s just strange that I’m optimistic whereas I have to be pessimistic as well. It’s getting more and more difficult for little labels as well, not forgetting the tiny recordshops! People now buy their stuff in megastores, even those who like alternative stuff. I recently saw a record by Sunn O))) in the bargains in our FNAC (that’s a megastore-ed.) But DIY isn’t dead and it’ll never be!!! At the contrary, the worser it gets, the stronger the opposite-culture
DIFFICULT I KNOW BUT HERE YOU ARE….WHAT DOES MUSIC MEAN FOR YOU?
Nothing, absolutely nothing….. Haha! Being a musician there’s only one right answer : everything!!!!
HOW STUPID IT MAY SOUND, WHAT ARE YOUR MOMENTS OF “FAME” YET AND WHAT ARE THE GOALS IN THE FUTURE?
That’s a tough question…my moments of fame…dunno…perhaps the first time I got a gig, that was a moment I never forget. I already did 70 till 80 gigs which is in all honesty quite a lot for artist like me who is, let’s face it, rather unknown. I released some CD’s and those on Glasvocht Records were even quite succesfull in its own terms. I recorded hours of music and I’m not ashamed to say that this makes me proud in some way, but life goes on I guess. The best feeling I can imagine is when that moment comes that you put the final touch to a song, the point at where you say : this is it!!!
LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
That’s a hard question as I can’t pick up one fave album in particular, of course I can come up with albums that have influenced my life and I think I already have suggested them during this interview. Lo-fi artists of course, but someone like Steve reich is important as well. Music like the one from Stars of the Lid or “Music for airports” by Brian Eno were great discoveries for me, but I guess you won’t hear that in The Ordinary Seaman, but more in Picturesque, my other solo-project. I worshipped for years Sonic Youth even if their latest releases aren’t that good, I followed all spin offs from Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. It’s through them that I got into the world of experimental music. Of course the existence of (K-RAA-K)3, I can’t imagine my world without (K-RAA-K)3…I got to known so many styles of music, I am not even mentioning all the persons I got in touch with through them. I also got a great admiration for Jim O’Rourke, a real workaholic who did so many things and I can’t think of one thing he did which is bad… But you know, the more I think, the more artists that are drifting in my mind : from guitarnoise out of New Zealand like labels such as Siltbreeze en Corpus Hermeticum, from Bach to Autechre.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
With Jean-Marie Dedecker (he’s a Belgian controversial politician). Without anyone’s noticing it, I can beat him up and he can’t run away. Having that said I realises that he comes from the judo-world (he was a coach for theOlympic judoteam before he discovered politics-ed.) so it’d be rather be me who gets the beatings. Perhaps with no one is the best answer as then I have more oxygen left for myself. And believe me, no one wants to be stuck with me in an elevator for hours!!!!
DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS?
Yes, if there is one thing you don’t have to care about it must be the bollocks I told during this interview.