Welcome back, my Gentle friends! I have been travelling through other dimensions and have discovered that spacetime isn’t the same in all parts of the galaxy… Thus for me time appeared to pass in a most languorous manner allowing for much indulgence in lengthy cheese-eating. However, on my return, I realised considerable time had passed for you earthlings! Most interesting!
And now, we return to the lovely Ms Lemans who has kindly provided us with some further fascinating insights into her world via her A-Z. Today we move onto letters C, D and E which funnily enough I also find to be pleasing chords.
Delicious, warm, buttery, French croissants - how can one resist?
I am feeling hilarious today! The unique and highly entertaining Lorraine Bowen joins me today in my space bubble for a spin about the stars.
As we whizz along, we’re listening to each of the five albums written and produced by Lorraine. These albums are packed full of beautiful, funny and touching music but Lorraine is also a regular performer. Her shows are fantastic affairs and we Naugae have enjoyed singing along on many occasions.
Lorraine joins me today in a resplendent outfit that would not look out of place in the ultimate party on Naugalyne!
Welcome to the star of today’s interview, Lorraine!
LB: Gloria, gloria to our gordi gnocchi, Naugae (laughs). Pleased to meet you.
Nauga: (Laughs) Thank you. We Naugae shed our skins regularly providing humankind with the wonder that is Naugahyde. More recently you have been celebrating Polyester in your Polyester Fiesta. Is that what’s behind today’s outfit?
LB: Yes it certainly is. I have had such a fun year this year. Last year, 2010, I’d been researching Polyester (because I wear it all the time for my shows) and I found it was almost the 70th birthday of the discovery of Polyester in 1941. It wouldn’t leave me so I invented this show. It’s been hilarious. I have enjoyed myself so much and I’ve got four other people with me on the team who love it as much as I do. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to put the songs into a sphere of Polyester alongside crackly charity shop records collected from nearby south coast seaside towns. It’s been a total joy.
We’ve still got quite a few shows left, Komedia, White Nights in Brighton in the library doing vignettes, Glasgow and in talks about more that I hope I can reveal soon.
Nauga: Exciting stuff! I look forward to these shows. But what’s so special about Polyester and what kind of polyester outfits would suit a Nauga? It makes me think it would be a great idea if you featured a row of dancing, polyester-clad Naugae in your next show?!
LB:Polyester or polyethylene terephtalate is wonderful. I have had a fantastic time collecting bits from my loft and going round charity shops, markets etc where I found a kaftan on a rail in the rain and I rescued it!
Embossed polyester coat
I love embossed polyester in particular. I love the fact that in the 60s there was a feeling of total optimism about the world. I feel that most of the outfits that were invented were of a new world that was scientific and resplendent. The clothes were made for going to the moon and up into space. It was postwar, optimistic and the clothes would shine out like the good things in life. If you look back at the futuristic shiny materials and textiles that used to be produced since then, it’s a bit depressing! Contrast it with today … Primark…
Naugae are a little bear-like but the texture is important to consider. I would say be outrageous, Nauga, be outrageous. Wear something that doesn’t quite match. Be a bit avant-garde. I’d say, Nauga, go out and find something embossed from vintage shops. Be very different from your usual sheddable naugahyde. Replace naugahyde with embossed polyester. Or embossed polyester jumpsuits. A series of naugae in jumpsuits (laughs).
Nauga: I would love an embossed polyester outfit (smiles). Thanks for the tip. So, as all Naugae know, Space is indeed a wonderful place. What makes it so special for you?
LB: Space is probably a very cold and boring place. It’s quite dark and sound doesn’t travel… But for me, because I watched so many space things as a kid (we had our first TV purely to watch spacemen go to the moon!) space is very romantic.
Of course I love Barbarella and the movie The Queen of Outer Space is a ridiculous kitsch film. I love the shininess of space. I know space isn’t shiny but you have to wear shiny clothes to go up there (laughs). Human imagination wants space to be shiny and brilliant and futuristic and optimistic
In my song it’s just ridiculous (sings) “We surf around the stars, go shopping on Mars.”
Nauga: Ah, shopping and stars a perfect combination. Just like food and Naugae. I am sure you are aware that food is very important to Naugae and in maintaining our gorgeous rotund shape. You often sing of something called “Crumble“. Can you explain this to all Naugae and non-earthly beings?
LB:Crumble! The basis of crumble and why it’s so nice is that it’s a comfort food. We humans like to be comforted at times. We like to sitting there next an open fire on wintery days as it’s quite cold in England and we’ve developed something called “crumble” which uses stewed fruit and a crispy topping. We enjoy the difference between the textures of the rich fruit and the buttery topping. It’s lovely to sit there after a big roast dinner with custard, cream and crumble, pigging out. You’re in a comfort zone that no-one can compare. It’s just lovely.
Crumble is more than just food. I use a little innuendo (sings) “Would you like some?”. It’s a bit rude – or maybe not. Take it as you want (smiles). In fact, I invented that song due to the mulberry fruit which is a soft fruit that grows on a hard tree. It only fruits after 100 years and if you buy from Harrods it’s £50 a punnet. But I had this glut of mulberries from next doors’ tree and became very good at making crumble. I gave it to someone who took my fancy. It’s always good to attract partners or lovers with food (laughs).
Cover of Music to Watch Comets By
Nauga: So true! Now, looking at your connections with The Gentle People. You’ve worked with Gentles in a variety of ways. Coaching, guest vocals (Fantastic Plastic Machine) and even on the compilation Music to Watch Comets By. It seems you are able to do anything! What was your favourite connection with The Gentle People and if you had the chance, is there anything you would do again?
LB:Music to Watch Comets Bywas just wonderful. No-one will ever understand the amazingness of the late 90s when that compilation was made. It was an incredible era. I’d met Dougee through Madame JoJo’s and an entire scene had appeared in London – it was wonderful. Dougee was at the helm of that scene. You could go out and see great shows, be part of a scene and be at the heart of things. It wasn’t just a London scene – it was an international scene and I haven’t seen the same with any other scene since then.
Then The Gentle People asked me to put Space on their compilation. I had invented the song Space at Club Montepulciano. As a song it zoomed out of me quite quickly although it was quite complex structurally. It was a wonderful opportunity and suddenly it seemed to go global with that compilation. Also, through my other track on that compilation, Julie Christie, I got all my Italian contacts (smiles).
I think Soundtracks for Living is symphonic and classical in its approach. I think it’s so beautiful and being a qualified person who has studied music for many, many years I constantly find it intriguing to listen to. It’s an aural delight! (laughs) It also goes under the category of stereophonic delight as well. I am of a certain age and my father was an absolute stereo nut. When stereo came out (from mono), he would sit on a leatherette vinyl chair on a Saturday afternoon with his headphones on shouting out “wow, this is amazing”… I suppose I didn’t really understand the difference but now I really appreciate it. I have quite a lot of stereo records such as Phase 4 and I delight in the package they give you: recording details about how they each track was created. Can you imagine? Anyway, I think Soundtracks for Living is wonderful like that. It’s a moving sphere of beauty and I’m never bored. Sounds come in and out and it’s perfect for a train trip.
Cover of Bossy Nova
I loved doing the vocals with The Gentle People and would gladly explore vocals and the sounds of the voices, Honeymink has a beautiful voice, Laurie’s is fantastic for speaking. I liked being in charge of The Gentle People and telling them what to do in the studio (laughs). I am the Bossy Nova.
LB: We have more Polyester Fiestas booked of course but there’s a new show coming. It’s a triptych show called Lorraine Bowen’s Comfort Zone at the end of November at the Marlborough in Brighton. I will be talking and singing about comfort. Each night will be different and will feature different special guests. The audience will sit on beanbags and cushions. I am going to have roast potatoes to hand out and the smell of crumble coming in the second half.
It’s also possible that I might take over an entire flat and turn it into a Comfort Zone. It’s all about getting through the winter from November to April – you have to think of the huge English winters in a positive way! (laughs) The Comfort Zone is full of ideas to take you through.
Another huge thing is that I am changing musical software from Cubase to Logic. I think there are more opportunities with beats. I also like Macs and I want to try something new. Never get into a rut. Keep finding new frontiers and new possibilities! (laughs)
As for new material, I have written a new song called the Isle of Wight (sings) “On a catamaran on the Isle of Wight, You don’t need your passport let’s go for the night, let’s have fun on the Isle of Wight.”
I don’t know about the album as a format. I think people will go back in 10 years time to CDs with beautiful artwork. Each album I make takes five years. In the first year after I don’t do songwriting…
Nauga: A long gestation for each song then. On Naugalyne, we were recently listening to the Shredder Song thinking we’d have very little to shred apart from excessively shed Naugahyde. Is there anything you would you recommend humans to shred?
LB: So sad that song. But what I recommend is what I say in the song. If you finish a relationship just shred it all up. It’s not worth hanging on to all the old things. I wrote it for a friend who was coming out of a relationship and wanted to get rid of everything which made me feel both sad and uplifted. I have written two songs like that now: Lemon Disinfectant (sings) “Wash you away with some lemon disinfectant. Hoover up the hairs so there won’t be a reminder”. Tongue in cheek but a real loveliness behind it – a bit of Doris Day. For this song, I thought “how can I write an outpouring of emotion in a quirky way?” and the shredder was the way. I’d like to do a video for the shredder song with me on a chaise longue shredding away, being indulgent. I like the end which is quite chilling (sings) “Like a walk to the scaffold, like a march to the Somme. There’s no looking back til this love song’s gone”. Dramatic.
Nauga: Very and saying farewell here and now is making me go misty. A bit like Julie Christie! Do you have a message for the Gentle friends, family and fans?
LB: Yes! Keep trying to discover new music and buy artists’ work. Even just 67p from somewhere like iTunes rather than share a file – it keeps good artists going in this age of downloads. Keep searching for new music and be inspired by it!
Nauga: Thanks for whizzing along in my space bubble with me today. And finally, Hawaaian or Space?
Nauga: I am feeling very cheesy today! Multi-talented Bijou, who created the new Cheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown mix and video, is flying in for a chat over a large plate of fromage today. TheCheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown video features me of course, in my multiple shape-shifting forms, and is just one of many Gentle projects Bijou has worked on including a variety of cover art and even a forthcoming documentary.
Today, Bijou is taking time out of his busy schedule to float among the bubbles with me here on planet Naugalyne. It’s time to find out more about Bijou’s many artistic talents. Let’s meet the star of today’s interview, Bijou Clochard.
Nauga: Welcome to Naugalyne, Bijou! I know you like to travel and it’s great you could visit my home planet and sample some cheese with me.
BC: Thank you for having me Nauga. I tend to prefer the exotic and far-flung when traveling, but this is ridiculous! Naugalyne is stunning, and your outstretched arms certainly have the most welcoming of effects.
Nauga: My fellow Naugae are delighted you have shown our shape-shifting ability in combination with our other favourite delight, cheese! We thought it would be great to find out more about you as you seem to understand Naugae very well.
BC: Thank you Nauga. I hope I do not make you blush by revealing that you’ve been an inspiration for some time!
Nauga: I understand how I could be such an inspiration so please don’t be concerned about my blush response which by the way takes the form of the scent of cheese (smiles). So, tell me about this inspiration.
BC: Thanks to a swirling cacophony of influences during my childhood, I have always been interested in creating art. Originally, that took the form of doodling my own cartoon characters or visualizing theatrical performances that starred costumed action figures under the proscenium arch of my childhood desk.
Later, at the age of 11, I started heavily collecting 12″ vinyl singles and the proper paraphernalia required for DJing/ mixing music. These were the days of ’80s dance/ soul/ freestyle and acid house, of which I am still a fan. I soon started putting together mixtapes, leading to my own remixes of songs – I have not stopped since. Music is such an important tool for me and it informs so much of my other work.
Nauga: This other work includes painting I understand. Have you been painting long? Also, do you paint cheese? Or Naugae?
The Pyeceean (acrylic on canvas)
BC: Although I had always dabbled here and there, I started taking it a bit more seriously while in college for a film production degree. Focusing on surrealist portraiture with a graffiti edge, my influences were that of Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Tamara de Lempicka. After exhibiting work in galleries in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, a few of my pieces even turned up in Pop Art book releases. More recently, I have been involved in photography projects as well. And yet, along the way, I have always been writing – short stories, screenplays and even a novel.
I particularly enjoy when various aspects of my work converge, as with the Cheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown video. It was really fun to be able to create the remix, generate a ton of graphic design and then edit the images into one final piece!
Nauga: Yes, so let’s talk a little more about the Cheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown mix and video you created. What was the inspiration behind this work apart from my good self and the deliciousness of cheese?
He went to Edam, to Cheshire, Cheddar too, Pont l'Eveque and Port Salut
BC: Well, ever since I saw The Gentle People perform Cheese Freak many years ago in Moscow, I had always rooted for the song to be released in some form. Earlier this year, I was working on a more up-tempo, electronic remix of the song and in the midst, I happened to get tickets to the game show “The Price Is Right.” To gear up for the taping, I listened to some of the fantastic incidental music cues that composer Edd Kalehoff created for the show back in the 1970s. When his track “Dig We Must” came on, I immediate starting singing Cheese Freak over the top, no doubt since the lyrics had already been so much on my mind. The resulting “mash-up” was a very quick process. The entire mix was finished in a day or so, with some additional tweaks made later.
As for the video, I was really looking for a way to get my digital editing feet wet again since I am to deliver an as-yet-untitled Gentle People documentary by the end of the year. I was having difficulty sleeping one night and it was then that the idea for the video came to me: a simple white background with various fonts and Pop Art-inspired graphics that mirror the words of the rap, almost like a children’s TV program but groovier, and minus the bouncing red ball that follows the lyrics at the bottom!
Originally, I had made a challenge to myself to complete the video in under four hours, but once I sat down and counted how many times words and phrases like “Camembert” and “Cheese Freak” were spoken, I realized it was going to be a bit more involved. The trick was to sustain interest during the entirety of the video, making certain that the different slides retained the same visual weight throughout. Simple changes of font and color were just not going to cut it. To bring it to the next level, I thought it might be fun to play around with the logos of many famous cheese-related brands from around the world. In the end, I think the new direction faithfully brought things full-circle, back to the consumer-savvy “Price Is Right” game show that inspired the mix.
It certainly was not an easy task to redesign so many iconic logos, especially since few of their fonts were readily available. With many of the slides I had to simply re-create the font myself, letter-by-letter. I think my diligence paid off however in some pretty neat results, and that is ultimately what kept me moving toward completion.
Nauga: Mmm I am thinking of all those cheese types and it’s making my mouth water. How many cheese logos are in the video?
A selection of cheese logos created for the video, some of which didn't make the final cut
BC: I think there are 117 different slides of graphic design in the final piece, though I created over 260, many of which were ultimately revised or tossed in the cosmic dustbin. In fact, the original ending depicted you and your fellow Naugae flying through a large piece of Swiss cheese in space!
Nauga: I was wondering when you were going to get round to my involvement!!
BC: Oh yes, Nauga, how could I forget your appearance? Aside from all the logo fun, I also wanted to pay homage to The Gentle People. It was really fun to include “gentleness” into many of the slides, and as always Nauga, you were a thrill to work with, the consummate professional… no matter how naughty!! (Nauga giggles)
Laurie by Norn
Nauga: Thank you. I was wondering about the Naugalyne mouth at the end of the video with the delicious large cheese, however. It’s most odd!
BC: That is Laurie Lemans chomping away at the cheese! The caricature was rendered by the very talented Norn Cutson in New York. You can view more his work here.
Nauga: Ah yes, the lovely Norn. But back to you. I know you’ve worked with The Gentle People a lot over the years, and of course you have featured me on much of your work. How did you initially get involved?
Gratifiyingly, Naugae appear on three of four Bijou cover designs for The Gentle People
BC: I think the first artwork I did for the Gentle People was for the iTunes release Galactic Confections. That started off a chain of different pieces for albums, compilations and EPs. It is always fun to play inside Gentle World with its array of zany colors, textures and bubbles!
I am the Boy in the Window...
Nauga: Indeed it is. My favourite cover artwork by you is Boy in the Window where I am in my contemporary living space. Which is your favourite?
BC: I really like Boy in the Window too! There were originally three different versions – one with a groovy spy boy hanging out in a window, another with a gentleman that had only a Naugalyne head, and the final version that featured only you! I think it is definitely the most well-balanced of the three!
My favorite piece though has to be the work I did for the double-sided single Plastic City / Naughty Nauga, particularly since it was made into a 7″ record in Spain! No offense, but it was fun to introduce a new character in the mass-produced plastic baby that features on front. Of course, the swirl of Naugae on the back and on the label was really fun to imagine as well. I really liked the idea of taking Gentle People artwork in a completely different direction since much of the earlier stuff was laid against highly saturated pastels. It was a challenge for me to feature a completely black background that still read as part of the Gentle World.
Plastic City single release cover artwork
Nauga: A change indeed. So, other than Naugae, what influences your work?
BC: When designing cover artwork for a musical venture, you definitely want to think of the content that it is portraying. Usually though, I like to take that concept and then turn it 90 degrees or so to put it in a new, less literal context. A good example would be the What Do You Know?EP. That’s the one where I placed you as a contestant on the “What Do You Know?” game show, a concept which, although still groovy, had nothing to do with the actual lyrics.
Nauga: You are a master of juxtaposition! So, looking at some of your other work, you’ve had a variety of art exhibitions, have produced a multimedia photographic series and I understand you are currently working on a Science Fiction soap opera novel. This I know will be particularly of interest to Honeymink who is a big SF fan. Have you been taking cloning lessons from Kaoru?
BC: Guilty – as charged. I think what keeps me going, chipping away at the many projects I have going on, is planting a seed and watching it grow. It may sound simplistic, but I really enjoy the creative process and learning how others take that same journey. I have a ridiculous spreadsheet and calender that keeps me on schedule, writing a certain amount of chapters each month, or completing a series of photos and/ or drawings during a certain time period. It may sound a bit unorganic, but ultimately, it’s very Capricorn!
Nauga: Capricious too no doubt (smiles). Naugae just love to travel through galaxies – they are so full of wonders. The Naugae and I were therefore very interested in your new book, Stars of the Desert. How did this come about, and have you any plans for a book about Naugae?
The cover of Bijou's book: Stars of the Desert
BC: Stars of the Desert is my first travel photo book. It follows my partner Doug and I on a voyage across Southern Tunisia to locate the last remaining “Tatooine” sets from the Star Wars saga. The book features 68 pages of images and text that detail the adventure. We just released it in August in conjunction with ourSet of Drifters travel blog and I am very proud of the way it turned out. Even if you are not a fan of Star Wars per se, I think the subject matter can relate to anyone who is interested in travel and/ or archaeology.
And as far as a Nauga book is concerned… After seeing how easily it was to transform you into a slice of Brie, just think what we could do with some gelatin cubes, a glockenspiel and a basket of ostrich plumes! The possibilities are endless!
Nauga: Oh yes! I can’t wait! Recently I have been really enjoying conversing with friends old and new who have been involved with Gentleworld. I have a entire series of items planned for the entertainment of the wider Gentle family. What do your plans include?
Bijou and Binnorie photograhed in "Past Lives" multimedia project due out 2012
BC: “Past Lives“, a multimedia photo series that tells a number of pre- and post- histories via “Past Life Regression” hypnotherapy is nearing completion. I hope to have the project in a gallery later this year or the beginning of next. I am also working hard on the aforementioned “Sci-Fi soap opera,” a story told over three books, the first of which should be out late next year. And then there is the Gentle People documentary. I must tell you Nauga, there is a great scene of you traipsing down the lane in Brighton on Christmas Day! I think it will bring a lot of laughs from the audience! You always know how to steal the scene!
After that, I am going to come back to Naugalyne for a well-deserved looooong vacation. I hope you’ll have me!
Nauga: Of course, as part of the Gentle family, I consider you an honorary Nauga so you are very welcome. It’s been a real groove eating cheese and chatting with you today. Do you have a message for the Gentle friends, fans and family?
BC: I do! Please remember, Gentle friends, that we are all here to share love and experience life to its fullest. This means that even if you may be lactose-intolerant, it’s important to indulge in cheese from time to time!
Bijou sips a cocktail in a tropical island paradise
Nauga: Thank you so much for visiting today. May your travels be fun-filled and fabulous. And can you just tell me, Hawaiian or Space?
BC: Nauga, you’ve saved the toughest question for the end! More often than not, it’s space, though anyone will tell you that I am a sucker for tropical landscapes as well. Can we call a truce on “tiki rockets?”
I am feeling very confused today! The ancient conundrum that is the question “Hawaiian or Space” is perplexing me. I am having to consider this over a nice cheese selection. I always find a little Camembert helpful if there is a tricky decision to be made. Especially Camembert made by Uncle Berbert.
I am considering this question as I am choosing my outfit to wear this Friday. Dougee Dimensional has told me that Honeymink is going to appear as a guest on Radio Readymade with his good self and Felacity Dickman this Friday. 9-11pm PST which is perfectly aligned with our Naugalyne evening. We shall be listening in as we dance under the starlight. This radio show is the ideal time for a celebration the likes of which we are well-known for throughout the universe. Us Naugae are expecting much reference to our good selves and hopefully a few song or two may even feature my good self.
Man not enjoying his spacesuit as he should
With every celebration an appropriate outfit is essential. Spacesuits are certainly fun although this chap doesn’t seen too enamoured.
Hawaiian shirts can be dazzling and these pillow shirts could be a lot of fun in low gravity.
Puffy pillows in Hawaiian patterns
Perhaps I should wear a spacesuit made of Hawaiian material? I may well be the belle of the ball in that number. Hmmm, a bite more Camembert may help me settle the matter.
Next week I have a lovely surprise for you all. I am featuring again in yet another Gentle People video. I can reveal no more as yet but watch this space, my little cheese freaks! Your appetites will truly be sated.