Nauga in conversation with Jean-Marie Marbach, producer/director h20

 

I’m feeling very chatty today! I am lounging on the sofa, about to get a behind the scenes, director’s view on things over a glass of pink champagne.

My special guest today is Jean-Marie Marbach, producer and director of the beautiful and amazing collision of art and science that is h2O,
the video. By the way, if you haven’t seen me in h2O, have a look here.

Greetings to the star of today’s interview and hello Jean-Marie. Welcome to my Naughty Nauga lounge of love!

Photo of Jean-Marie Marbach

Jean-Marie Marbach, Producer and Director, h20

JM: Very chatty indeed!

Bonjour Naughty Nauga, and merci beaucoup for welcoming me to your lounge of love! I’m wondering how naughty you’ll be today.

Nauga: (Laughs) Well, we will see! Your incredible attention to detail and high-quality finish have sent waves of appreciation across the Gentle universe and many Naugae were delighted to see me so well presented. I’m feeling very happy that you are here to talk about your inspiration for the h2O video.

JM: Well thank you for the compliment, and boy am I glad you didn’t notice that your face was inverted in the video! You’re probably looking at yourself in the mirror quite often…

Nauga floating in a transparent bubble in the galaxy

I’m floating, I’m drifting into space….

Nauga: Hmm hmm. OK, let’s start at the beginning. It was your idea to independently fund and produce h2O. What interested you in h2O as a song and why did you decide to produce and direct this video?

JM: Speaking of my reaction to h2O as a song, the word “interested” sounds pretty cold. I’d say “charmed” is more appropriate.

First, there was the pleasure of hearing some new Gentle People material after such a long hiatus, and the satisfaction of going back to a wonderful and unique universe, with untamed core basics despite a new sound and new producer.

Dougee pours chemical formula in the lab scene

Dougee pours chemical formula in the lab scene

Listening to this song immediately brought exciting visuals to my mind, and for once, I decided to bring those visuals to life, instead of letting my mind wander somewhere else as soon as the song was over.

Nauga:  I am glad you did. And apart from casting me, which was a great decision I must say, what else influenced the story you are telling?

JM: I just followed the lyrics, really. Everything I needed was in there. It was also the opportunity to visually explore a notion I had in mind for quite some time: Reaching the infinitely large through the infinitely small, which seemed like a good fit to a song dealing with the love formula. It sounds much deeper than anything shown in the video, but at least I gave it some thought.

Nauga: Infinitely large through the infinitely small – could you say more?

JM: I once pitched an idea for a science TV show opening sequence, in which the camera was following a DNA string falling into water. Beneath the surface, the air bubbles became stars… and the string was ending up in space. My pitch wasn’t selected, but my interest in this idea remained.

It was probably influenced by the intriguing and mystical ending of The Incredible Shrinking Man, where after fighting a cat and a spider (and despite even worse threats ahead), the shrinking man has an epiphany watching the stars at night.

My idea was just a different way to visualize this very classic notion that each infinite is connected to the other, and on both sides.

Nauga: Ah – as I am large from many small bites of cheese! Obviously as I spend a lot of time flying round the galaxy that had to be included in the video. But why did you decide on the other ways you have represented Gentleworld? And are there particular things that have influenced you stylistically?

Illustration in blue of people and pool by Shag

Illustration by Shag

JM: Again, I mostly followed the visuals that came to mind while listening to the song, and tried to blend classic Gentle People elements with my own personal tastes.

Still, I did quite a lot of research on the best ways of creating suitable and powerful moods with the most simple sets.  My research went from Verner Panton’s and Shag’s works, to 60’s sci-fi flicks like Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires. These films had the most improbable stories, and yet they were visually beautiful. They showed me that “fun” and “cheesy” could also be beautiful and classy at the same time. A formula I thought was a perfect fit for The Gentle People, as the way I see it, fun + classy = groovy.

Still from the film Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires

Oddly enough, except for a few things like the Panton pattern floor and the giant cheese set, nothing specific from these influences really made it to the video. Once I really get working, things tend to blend all together, fading in the background while others come up on their own. But to various degrees, general moods and colour schemes remained.

When I started to work on Gentleworld before the shoot, I decided to use the Panton pattern on the floor. And on the set, when Dougee got dressed as a scientist, I noticed that his tie had the very same pattern on it. As a result, the floor design in Gentleworld can now be interpreted as a projection of the scientist’s own tastes, which makes me look like a detail driven director indeed!

Two photos side by side, one of a Panton pattern tie and one of the Panton pattern in h20 the video

Dougee’s Panton tie and the set for the opening of h20

But even though we had discussed the scientist’s clothing, I never thought of discussing the tie. While I never mentioned the Panton floor, Dougee never mentioned the Panton tie, so the whole thing was just a coincidence, but a most happy one which convinced me I was on the right track.

Also, besides design issues, and in order to stay somewhat in line with all these 60’s references, I wanted the camera moves to stay as classical and realistic as possible. Restraining myself in such a way was frustrating at times since I could move my virtual camera any way I wanted, but I thought a more “modern” camera animation wouldn’t be a good fit for Gentleworld.

Finally, I also had to take Copy Cat Project‘s electro sounds into account, which prevented me from going too far on the retro path.

Nauga: I think my favourite part of h2O is my appearance at the end as I think my spin is particularly expertly shown. What do you like most about the final version and what are you most proud of technically?

JM: My favourite scene, visually and technically, is when The Gentle People’s bubble heads are singing in the water. I like the (almost) experimental look of it, and also the colours that remind me of 60’s groovy films. For this sequence, I also enjoyed playing with macro lenses with the help of my editor, and shooting deep inside liquids. The liquid environment in which the heads are singing wasn’t larger than two or three centimetres wide. I like the fact that what looks like a surreal liquid world on screen was in fact shot in a small Glencairn whisky glass, with just a few drops of oil and washing up liquid.

The Gentle People's heads in bubbles as they sing h20

The Gentle People as heads in bubbles in h20

Nauga:  Mmm whisky… I think it would have been even better if you’d featured more of me in h2Oof course. But if you were to do it all over again, would you change the video in any way and if so, what and why?

Jean-Marie Marbach directs Honeymink on the set of h20

Jean-Marie Marbach directs Honeymink on the set of h20

JM: Well you’re already featured in two shots… two shots more than Valentine… which is not so bad, is it?

There are actually quite a few things I’d change in this video now. But the main one would be adding some real interaction between The Gentle People. Although I had three Gentle People at my disposal, everyone was shot separately in the footage I used, and as a result, it lacks the spark that you get sometimes when members of a band are performing together.

Dougee caressing a test tube in the final lab scene of h20

Dougee’s discovered the formula for love

Most of all, there was a shot I wanted for the very end in the lab, when Dougee is spaced out on his steamy desk. I wanted to have the “real world” version of Laurie and Honeymink, dressed as his lab assistants, come and gently take him from his desk, and out of the lab. It would have been a cute shot, with all three on camera together.

Also, it could have provided a (possible) explanation to the presence of these two singing ladies in Gentleworld: Were they just a figment of the scientist’s imagination, adding his assistants to his dreams…?

But we didn’t have enough time left. Everybody was exhausted, the day was over, and eventually, you have to know when to pull the plug.

Besides that, I wish I had found a way to fit some Tiki influences somewhere in there. Somehow, a video on Gentleworld without anything Tiki doesn’t feel right, but I couldn’t find a way to properly blend Tiki style with everything else. For a moment, I thought about filling Dougee’s lab with Tiki stuff, but I quickly gave that up as that lab wasn’t supposed to be in Gentleworld yet.

Nauga: Maybe next time! Now, cast your mind back now to what got you started in making films and videos. Who or what would you say are your greatest influences and why?

Oskar Fishinger Komposition In Blau

Oskar Fishinger Komposition In Blau

JM: Tough one to sum up…!

But to remain in the h2O spirit, where things are done a bit off the beaten path, and entire worlds are created with little or no budget, I’d say my main influences are probably people like Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, and Lotte Reiniger.

These artists managed to create wonderful worlds out of nothing, and seemingly huge spaces while working on tiny sets. All this with little or no money. Sometimes even with no camera like Len Lye who’d scratch and paint his patterns directly on film.

Len-Lye-A-Colour-Box © BFI National Archive

Len-Lye-A-Colour-Box © BFI National Archive

They gave me confidence by demonstrating that as long as you really want it, there’s always a way to produce interesting visuals and tell any kind of story, even if no one gives you a decent budget for it.

And if they could do it in their day, anybody who really wants it should be able to do it now.

LotteReiniger: PrinceAchmed

Lotte Reiniger: Prince Achmed

Also, I cannot avoid mentioning George Pal and Gerry Anderson , who worked in the same spirit, but also with more comfortable production values to lean on, so their case is slightly different.

Finally, in a more contemporary area, I’ve become pretty interested in Mark Pellington‘s work. There’s something in his way of directing that just… gets to me. It’s difficult to pinpoint. His work usually displays a rare blend of unpredictability and “spectacular intimacy” I’m quite sensitive to. It’s like a wild blind date: You have no idea where you’re heading to, and the path is often of extremes. Loud noises and long silences. And I like that.

Cover artwork for The Gentle People Boy in the Window EP

I am the Boy in the Window

Nauga: Us Naugae are too chatty for long silences. But I have known the Gentle People for a very long time and appear on everything they produce as you know. Have you seen me on the cover of the Boy in the Window? I am very fond of that one. I also like my Gentle bubble boat on the back of Soundtracks for Living. But enough of me, how did you come across The Gentle People?

JM: I first discovered The Gentle People in 1996 or 1997, with the Aphex Twin remix of Journey, in Future Sounds of Jazz Vol. II. This was an intriguing and interesting compilation series from Compost, a German label… though I never quite understood what jazz had to do with it…

Anyway, I immediately got hooked, never heard anything quite like it. And a few weeks later, I found Soundtracks For Living in a CD store in Paris. I remember the first time I laid eyes on that pink cover, with the white glow, cartoon bubbles, and you flying by the psychedelic font… I wasn’t expecting that at all from the Journey remix… and thought “wow, who are these guys???”

I bought it immediately, and the music was also quite a shock. Although completely out of left field for the 90’s, it felt very innovative and familiar at the same time. The kind of discovery that makes you realise you’re not alone in your own bubble.

Nauga: Yes and I love bubbles. I also love dancing – I danced with the Gentle People in Moscow you know. The crowd loved me so I jumped offstage and danced with them too. Apart from music the Gentle People, what other music do you like and what do you dance to?

JM: Another tough one to sum up !

If I had to pick one band to dance to, it would be Los Amigos Invisibles. Other than that, my musical spectrum is pretty wide: From Sergio Mendes to Fantastic Plastic Machine and Vikki Carr, from Khachaturian and Los Fancy Free to Matthew Herbert and Akufen, etc…
My favorite recent discoveries are Connan Mockasin, Le Futur Pompiste and Modular. Last year’s was Minnie Riperton (better late than never I guess…).

Nauga:  Groovy. I have plans to travel to the moon for a while. I have heard that moon dust is really something and I am looking forward to the lack of gravity. What are your next plans for film and video making? Are you planning any further adventures I can star in?

JM: Luckily, I have a few projects coming up. I’m currently working on a new promo for La Casa Azul, with Elefant records.

Jean-Marie Marbach directs Guille Milkyway

Jean-Marie Marbach directs Guille Milkyway, La Casa Azul

By the way, Guille Milkyway is also a Gentle People fan, and debating Gentleworld was the perfect way to get acquainted during our first dinner.

As to any new adventures you could star in, rest assured that as soon as something worthy comes up, you’ll be among the first to get the message(s).

Nauga: Ah, the pink bubbles are running low so I think it’s time for me to return to my space bubble for a lovely nap. Before I go, do you have a message for the extended Gentle People friends, fans and family?

Still from the film Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires

JM: Yes, and a most important one. If some among you haven’t seen Planet of the Vampires and feel like checking it out, be warned that the title is slightly misleading, as there isn’t a single vampire lurking on that alien planet. But there are a few zombies wandering around though… and alien zombies are cool too, so you can give it a try anyway.

Nauga: I am not so keen on zombies but I am most definitely alien so perhaps I will. Finally, JM, if you had the choice, what would it be? Hawaiian or Space?

JM: That would be Hawaiian IN space. I want to have my (cheese)cake and eat it too.

Nauga: A fine answer. Thank you very much Jean-Marie, until we meet again, may you have much Nauga naughtiness.

JM: I’m working on it every day. Thank you Naughty Nauga.
Have a lovely nap.

Nauga in conversation with Lorraine Bowen – singer, performer, comedienne

Lorraine in a dress of CDs

Lorraine Bowen in her CD dress

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!

Yellow Submarine 60s embossed polyester coat

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).

Lorraine Bowen in her spacesuit

Lorraine's spacesuit

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.”

Crumble

Crumble

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.

Mulberry fruit

Mulberry fruit

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 The Gentle People Compilation: Music to Watch Comets By

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 By was 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).

Soundtracks for Living album cover  l-r Valentine, Laurie, Dougee, Honeymink

Soundtracks for Living album cover

I have actually always wanted to explore The Gentle People further. I have often wanted The Gentle People to get back to Soundtracks for Living and explore more and become more avant-garde with sounds. To get together with a producer who would trigger things off like George Martin with the Beatles or Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. I’d go less of the disco route and more into a new wave of chill with Mantovani and light beats coming in and out. I am so aurally fixated on Soundtracks for Living, my ears love it. I don’t think enough people know about it. II think Soundtracks for Living should be on the UK ‘A’ level music list!

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

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.

Cover of Suburban Exotica

Cover of Suburban Exotica - the new album

Nauga: You are indeed! I know you have been on earthly TV recently, your new album is out plus you were played on LuxuriaMusic‘s Radio Readymade and BBC Radio 6music. What are your plans now?

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.

Vital Organs album cover by Lorraine BowenAnother 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)

The Lorraine Bowen Experience Greatest Hits cover 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 aLorraine's first albumbout 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?

LB: I’d like a Hawaiian bubble in space! (laughs) Just like Bleep and Booster.

 

Nauga in conversation with Bijou Clochard – multimedia artist and writer

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. The Cheese 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.

Bijou Clochard May 2011

Bijou Clochard

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, visit www.vivabrady.com for more information

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?

Cheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown video cheese logos

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 from the Cheese Freak Velveeta Pricedown 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 Lemans by Norn Cutson

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?

Four of Bijou's designs for various Gentle People releases

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!

Cover artwork for Boy in the Window

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

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?

Book cover for Stars of the Desert - a journey across the dunes of Tunisia to discover lost "Tatooine," the new travel photo book by Brady Walters, as part of the www.setofdrifters.com

The cover of Bijou's book: Stars of the Desert

BCStars 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 our Set 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?

Photograph from "Past Lives" multimedia project due out 2012

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

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?”

Nauga: A fine idea! A très bientôt, Bijou!