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Richard Norris talks ahead of Liverpool Psych Fest
Mark the date in your diary: Saturday 29th September. This will be the day that your mind gets altered forever, as the first LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA takes root at Camp & Furnace. Harvest Sun and Bido Lito! invite you to join us for this celebration of all things psychedelic, on one condition - you leave your inhibitions at the door...
Welcome to Liverpool Psych Fest, an annual coming together of psychedelic sub-culture in the UK. The already gargantuan scale and vision of this event is reflected by the heavyweight performers that have been announced so far. DEAD SKELETONS, hailing from Iceland, will be appearing at the Psych Fest for what will be one of only two UK shows this year. The project of one-time Brian Jonestown Massacre collaborator Jón Sæmundur Audarson, Dead Skeletons' debut LP Dead Magick was originally created by Audarson to accompany an exhibition of his in Rekjavik, and the demand for more of the same hasn't stopped since. If you like your psychedelia with a tinge of doom then Dead Skeletons are for you.
Joining Dead Skeletons on the packed bill are fellow headliners WOLF PEOPLE (purveyors of the finest spindly psych rock), plus SHOOK-UPS!, THE LUCID DREAM, BLACK MANILA, THE KOOLAID ELECTRIC COMPANY, PIATCIONS, PLANK! and many more. The artist on the front cover of July's Bido Lito! - BALTIC FLEET - will also be in attendance, as will Liverpool's own lords of psyched-up space rock MUGSTAR. BERNIE CONNOR'S SOUND OF MUSIC will be on hand on the decks to make sure that our ears are constantly treated to some far-out sounds, accompanying the many and varied films, visuals and projections that will be playing out on Camp & Furnace's giant screen. All manner of psychedelic artwork will be in evidence as well with SCREENADELICA showcasing some mesmerising gig posters, and we're delighted to announce that Echo & The Bunnymen's WILL SERGEANT will be joining us for all manner of music and artwork. Make sure you buy your ticket in advance for this event to avoid missing out: still a snip at £17.50 with everything on the line-up, plus plenty more still to come, get on it...
One of the performers we're looking forward to seeing most will be the headline set by THE TIME AND SPACE MACHINE, the current project of sonic wizard Richard Norris. If ever there was someone perfectly suited to topping off the evening's entertainment at an event like this then surely it's Richard Norris: founder memeber of 90s electronic house behemoths The Grid and co-conspirator in Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve, his work with The Time And Space Machine marks him out as a true psychedelic pioneer. With latest brain-frying record Taste The Lazer Norris has developed not just TTASM's sound, but also taken the project beyond a faceless, recorded entity and transformed it in to a full live outfit.
As we salivate at the prospect of witnessing the Time And Space Machine circus in full flow at this year's Psych Fest, we thought we'd catch up with Mr Norris to ask him a few questions about the formation of his new record, and his thoughts on taking on festival season with the new line-up.
Bido Lito!: Hi Richard. The new Time And Space Machine record is very marriage of psychedelic/krautrock music with dance music. I'm intrigued in how that came about: can you explain to me how The Time And Space Machine formed and what you were aiming for in creating this particular sound?
Richard Norris: The Time and Space Machine started out as a project re-editing old psych tracks and adding loads of effects. It was a continuation of the edits I'd done with Erol Alkan as Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve. We were taking a break from BTWS, and I had loads of edit ideas, so released them on 12". I then developed it into a project making original music rather than edits, which has now released two albums on Tirk, and finally it morphed into a five-piece live band. It's evolved very gradually and it's at its most exciting right now, we're really getting in to playing the gigs.
The sound I like, in psychedelic records, dub records, electronic records, is a sound of sensations, where the effects and production on the record seem to heighten your senses, where those elements are as important as melody or rhythm. With the live band, we are interested in taking that heightened sensation feeling and amplifying it, adding in the dynamics of dance music - drops, builds, hypnosis, levitation - with a lot of volume. You feel it as much as you hear it.
BL!: We can see some similarities between TTASM and one of your previous projects The Grid, though I get a lot of eastern influences and sounds from Taste The Lazer. What would you say are the main things that distinguish the two would you say?
RN: The Grid was more electronic, while the Time and Space Machine is more guitar, drums, Hammond/Farfisa, vocals and effects, although the desire to enter a trance-like hypnotic realm has some similarities I guess. The Grid played their first big gig in Liverpool, at Nation (later Cream).
BL!: We've heard you say that you embrace modern techniques but keep it rooted in a 60s ethos. How do you manage this?
RN: I'm not keen to be a museum piece, retro 60s act, so it's natural to use the latest effects in combination with classic gear. Hendrix would have done that I reckon.
BL!: The Grid's popularity soared during the great Balearic dance music explosion of the early to mid-90s, and neatly tapped in to the hedonism of those times. Do you see today's acceptance and proliferation of that genre of music as a natural foundation for TTASM to build upon now? Where do you see TTASM placed: as a dance music collective or as a psychedelic happening?
RN: Much more on the psychedelic tip, although there's a bunch of other influences seeping in, particularly our kind of mind-warped, heavily echo'ed version of Lee Dorsey, the Meters, Dr.John, all kinds of southern funk. Plus ESG and Liquid Liquid, that live NY dance sound. With added oil wheels.
BL!: How did it come about turning TTASM in to a full live band? Has doing so changed your approach to how you write and arrange the tunes?
RN: It's totally changing the way things are written. Before, I'd spend two days in the studio with a drummer, laying down beats, then work up the songs from there, playing everything myself pretty much, which would take quite a while. Now I'm bringing the band half-finished songs and we are working them up in rehearsals, then recording them. It's quicker and has so far been very productive. The next record will have a new flavour.
BL!: What challenges does it bring in turning it all in to a live prospect? Are you planning anything to make it particularly visually engaging?
RN: The main challenge was finding the band, since then it's been massive amounts of fun... we love playing! Visually we have banks of oil wheels and video stuff too.
BL!: You’ve lots of appearances at festivals this summer, then you’re heading to the Liverpool Psych Fest in September: does that feel like it will be a bookend event at the end of the year to cap off this tour?
RN: Hopefully we'll be rolling on into next year, we're certainly looking at a lot more gigs later on. But yes the Psych Fest is gonna be something very special, I hope it's the highlight of our year. It's one we are all very much up for and I'm personally looking forward to, as I used to live in Liverpool and ran a weekly psychedelic club called the Hangout, on the site of the old 051 club on Mount Pleasant, many years ago. Liverpool had a psychedelic edge then and it still has now.
BL!: Are you seeing the event as giving you free rein to take the psychedelic visual element of the live show as far as you want it?
RN: Well we always take the visual and psychedelic element pretty far, and it'll be great to do it in the company of some other killer bands.
BL!: Can we expect you to be utilising the venue’s giant screen for something suitably mind-bending?
RN: Yes indeed... a retina opening box of delights... plus Pete Fowler's just done us a video so that might get an airing too.
The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia takes place on Saturday 29th September at Camp & Furnace. Tickets are priced at £17.50, and can be bought exclusively from bidolito.co.uk HERE.