Nauga in conversation with Roger Craig Searle – fashion designer to the stars

I’m feeling very slinky today because today’s guest star has flown in from the world of fashion and loveliness.  Designer of all The Gentle People outfits and of many human world designs, let’s meet the star of today’s interview. Roger Craig Searle known better in Gentleworld as Roja Von Galaxy.

Hello Roger and welcome to my beautifully designed lounge of Nauganess.

RCS: Thank you very much for asking me along. You are looking very dapper today.

Nauga: Why thank you! Us Naugae care about our appearance and so I have dressed for the occasion in my best Pucci outfit!

So let’s chat. You’ve designed lots of outfits for The Gentle People alongside your couture work in the rest of the human world. Can you tell me about the work that you do as a fashion designer?

Roger is a pixie

Roger is a pixie

RCS: I am a pattern maker and designer of clothing rather than fashion which means it is a lot more individual and personal to people.

I need to know about the person and what they are going to use the costume for. So, the more interesting the person the more interesting the costume.

Nauga: Of course, and you’ve designed for me on many occasions

RCS: I have, yes I have. I made you a little purple outfit. That is one of my favourites.

Nauga: Ah yes, indeed, the one described in the press as a giant crisp packet I believe…

RCS: Err yes. But I am more than happy with your normal natural hyde…

Roger pre-sewing skills

Roger pre-sewing skills

Nauga: As am I. So, tell me, how did you get into the world of clothing design?

RCS: It all started when young and I wanted to be punk rocker – couldn’t afford nice clothes so made them myself – well at least I tried to. And it went from there. I tried to make my own bondage trousers with zips up the back. I did that to my school uniform trousers and nearly got expelled.

Nauga: I can imagine! How did you move on from there?

RCS: I discovered I didn’t know how to make things properly. Things would fall to pieces. So, I decided to go to college and learn to do it properly

I went straight from college to Donald Campbell. I spent eight years learning, learning, learning. Making stuff for the Queen’s friends (Elizabeth the Queen of England that is). It was semi-couture, very old school and very high end. England doesn’t really have couture but it’s the closest thing to it.  And it was a good grounding for learning techniques and fabrics.

I’ve worked for Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hammnet and more recently for Camilla Staerk and Future Classics. All of whom really inspired me. I know a lot of people think ‘oh, they’re just clothes’ but they are among other things – warmth, coolness, sex and protection. They say so much about you whether you like it or not. They can be art for showoffs or somewhere to hide and all of this comes from designers and makers straight to you through shops. The act of shopping is you improving yourself like an iPod update or describing yourself to the world like a Twitter post.

Camilla Staerk Autumn/Winter

Camilla Staerk Autumn/Winter

Nauga: And I understand more recently you have got into shoes. Making shoes in addition to wearing them (smiles).

RCS: Yes, I worked for Camilla Staerk as a shoe designer.  It was very good – very enjoyable. Shoes are one thing that I cannot physically make myself. Well, I can now but it’s a long and complicated job and you need loads of equipment. So designing them was great – it completed the skillset.

Nauga: Not being a shoe-wearer, what is important to think about when designing a shoe?

RCS: Shoes have to fit comfortably but be sexy – you can achieve both. Again it comes down to what they are needed for and who will be wearing them. Women are, quite rightly, very particular about their shoes.

Nauga: Quite a feat… So, tell me, how did you come across The Gentle People

RCS: The Gentle People were strong figures on the London cocktail scene.

Nauga: Strong cocktails did you say? (Laughs)

RCS:  (Laughs) I had to speak to them. And it naturally went on from there.  They asked me to make some clothes for them, for the party scene. Then they started making music and asked me to make the costumes for the shows.

Nauga: You made countless outfits for them as I recall. What kind of influences came into the designs for The Gentle People?

RCS: Well, lots of things. There were a lot of 60s and 70s designers that I was very inspired by. For instance Rudi Gernriech and, of course, Pierre Cardin. I also always tried to keep in mind that The Gentle People had separate characters. The sexy socialite, the super spy, the action hero and the kooky professor. Not something that I was told but just an affectation to make designing easier. That way I could bring in various influences from films like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Super Vixens and Danger Diabolik for example.

Pierre Cardin designs

Pierre Cardin designs

Nauga: Oh I could see myself in a Pierre Cardin outfit – it would look fantastic on a Nauga. (Laughs)

RCS: Hmm yes, and there were other influences. For example the green and silver costumes used for the compilation album cover and shows was inspired by a lava lamp. And of course bubbles.

Nauga: Ah hence the transparent plastic jackets.

Future Classics designs by Roger

Future Classics designs by Roger

RCS: Yes, The Gentle People and my outfits are very influenced by space and the future. What will be listening to? What will be wearing and more importantly what cocktails will we be drinking?

Nauga: Ether?

RCS: I think ether and lychee! (laughs)

Nauga: What is your favourite Gentle People outfit designed by your good self?

Gentle People Shopping World shoot - fountain scene

Still from The Gentle People Shopping World shoot - fountain scene

RCS: The navy and turquoise outfits for the Tottenham Court Road fountain party perhaps. No, actually, the white plastic outfits for Shopping World video and the cover of Simply Faboo. They remind me of Gentle Stormtroopers.

Pierre Cardin stormtrooper look

Pierre Cardin stormtrooper look

Nauga: Are they working for the rebel alliance?

RCS: They are Gentle Stormtroopers on the side of good and lovely things. Groovy things.

Nauga: Fighting for the groove.

RCS: Let’s face it, the universe needs a good groove right now.

Nauga: Yes… And in terms of your other work, what are you up to now?

RCS: I’m currently in Australia helping Sass and Bide make Australia beautiful.

Sass & Bide Spring/Summer 2012 Catwalk.com

Sass & Bide Spring/Summer 2012

 

Nauga: And are you working on your own designs too?

RCS: Well, I am currently working on Mardi Gras which is top secret – in March – we will be marching in March. I do have plans for my own menswear line too. Very exciting. I have mostly done womenswear but have done menswear in the past at Camilla Staerk and Vivienne Westwood and Australian men need it! I will make them look even more gorgeous!

Nauga: So, do you have a message for the Gentle friends, fans and family?

RCS: That is quite a big question. Every time you choose a pair of socks or part your hair you are making an artistic and creative decision which changes your personality and the way people view you so (sotto voice) you have to be very careful.

I think my message is try to be gorgeous to everybody, everyday.

Nauga: I do that every day (smiles). And finally, I need to know the answer to the most critical question of all: Hawaiian or Space?

Made of Star Dust

Made of Star Dust

RCS: SPACE! I have recently been reading lots of books about the cosmos and universe; how it was made and what it is made of and where we are within that. It’s very important. Hawaii is also important but space is our past, our now and our future. We are all made of stardust.

Lychee and ether cocktail?

Lychee and ether cocktail?

Nauga: Fabulous! We are indeed. And all that remains for me to say is thank you very much for joining me.

I think it’s time for a cocktail!

RCS: Woohoo!!!! Ether and lychees for me.

 

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 Kaoru Sato (aka Miss K) – musician, artist, and writer

I am feeling very artisitc today! The lovely new Nauga News area of Gentleworld.com inspired me to redecorate my living quarters at my home-planet. So I thought I must fly here today to speak to the creator of Gentleworld.com, and all-round creative, Kaoru Sato.

Let’s get lounging and our creative juices flowing with a few words about Kaoru. In between his own albums, Kaoru came up with the look and feel not only for the current Gentle People site and my very own Nauga News, but also, the original site and some Gentle People music artwork.

By the way, if you haven’t seen me on Simply Faboo or any of The Gentle People cover artwork, you can see some of it on iTunes

Now let’s meet the star of today’s interview.


Two sides of Kaoru

Kaoru / Miss K - double trouble

Nauga: Hello Kaoru and welcome to my Nauga home from home here on earth, my lounge of love!

KS: Hello. It’s wonderful to be back. Have you decorated since I was last here?

Nauga: Indeed! The new look Gentleworld.com is a fabulous creation. The Naugae of my home planet are particularly pleased to see me promoted to the home page and to get my own news area. They are also very interested to find out more about you as a musician, writer and artist.

KS: I’m glad I’m helping spread the Nauga message! If your kind can spread your message of love through your appearance on the pages I’ve designed then I am, of course, more than happy.

Now then, about me. Well, how long do you have? I could quite literally go on for hours on the subject as it is one that’s close to my heart.

I’ve always been, shall we say, undecided about where I stand – am I a musician, a designer, a writer, an artist, male, female, British, Japanese? I’d say that 99% of my work comes from those conflicts. I design websites like a programmer. I make music like an artist. I’m a man who dresses like a woman. It’s not that I’m trying to work stuff out. I enjoy sitting in the tramlines as you never know which track you’ll jump onto next.

My day job is as a designer or as a digital creative and I think I’m pretty good at that, but I’d say that my main passion is music. I spend almost all my social time going to see new music – London is a great place to live for that! And ever since my youth I’ve been in a succession of bands, none of which have made much money. But they’ve taken me places and given me experiences that I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world.

Probably the most significant to me are Deathline, my current band and Six Inch Killaz, from the 90s, for entirely different reasons.

Six Inch Killaz

Six Inch Killaz (l-r Luis, Mona, Holly, Jasmine, Miss K)

Six Inch Killaz (tagline: “tranny punks on the verge of rock n roll chaos”) was like a car crash in slow motion. We were constantly tearing ourselves apart, but there was a tremendous sense of excitement about what we were doing.

Deathline (tagline: “rock noir”) is brilliant as I’ve found a musical soul mate, Jennie, with whom we make music that is a synthesis of all the music that we’ve loved in our lives with our own idiosyncracies thrown in. And it’s probably the most financially successful of all the bands I’ve been in which is nice – to be “recognised in the wallet” as it were…

Miss K

Miss K - transgendered z-list sleb

Then there’s the transgender stuff of course. I’ve done a lot of writing on my long-lived blog about my experience of being Miss K, “transgendered z-list sleb”. It’s all out there. I’m most pleased with the creative writing – there’s a cycle of short stories and one webcomic on there that I think are well worth the time to read, dear Nauga.

Nauga: What an array of talent – rather like my good self (smiles) Now, what we really want to know is how you manage to do so many creative things from music, art to writing not only for your own projects but also for others like The Gentle People? Do you have a time machine?

KS: You’re funny, Nauga. Time machines are a causal impossibility! No, I perfected human cloning a few years ago. You see, as well as having several identities, there are also several copies of me scattered around the world amongst whom I distribute certain less edifying tasks like cleaning, accounts, day job etc.

No, actually, as people in the know will tell you, the real secret is that I never sleep. There is a touch of the vampires about me.

Nauga:  Aha! I see. Returning to Gentleworld, apart from featuring me, which was no doubt one of your better decisions, what else influenced your designs for Gentleworld.com?

KS: It came originally from the rich widescreen visuals of JM’s amazing video for H20. That demanded a very visually rich presentation.The Gentle People’s world is pretty colourful and swirly anyway so it suited them to have the website reflect that. Also, the Gentles are also pretty classy at times, when they haven’t got themselves a bit squiffy on fabulous cocktails, and I think I wanted to make it look equally classy (and a bit squiffy).

Nauga: Squiffy? That’s a new word for us Naugae to learn to love (smiles). As you know, I always have to appear wherever The Gentle People go to make sure they are spreading as much love via their music as possible. Apart from my news area, what other things do you think are really important when presenting musicians online? And do you take inspiration from any particular designers or digital manifestos in your online work? 

Warhol - Cheese Soup!

Andy Warhol's penchant for cheese revealed

KS: Obviously you have to make musicians look and sound as good as possible. If I’m anything to go by we are a stupendously vain race of people. This is untrue of the Gentle People of course, who are an unusually wholesome lot and unsullied by vanity. So in their case, I just make sure they are supplied with the aforementioned cocktails and other fabulous baubles. And cheese. Plenty of cheese.

In fact I can’t think of any creative problems that can’t be solved using a particularly whiffy cheese.

I happen to know that my favourite music related designer, Peter Saville, who designed all those iconic Factory Records sleeves, posters and flyers was fond of a Gouda or two. And my biggest influence of all in all ways of life, that incomparable artist Andy Warhol, was often seen with a runny Camembert stashed under one of his many wigs.

This is all true.

Nauga: I am delighted to hear about the Camembert wig but I must say it makes me rather peckish. I am delighted that you found a way to showcase the lyrics to my favourite Gentle People song – Naughty Nauga. What do you like most about the new Gentleworld.com what are you most proud of technically?

KS: Ah, you’re talking about the lines you speak when people hover over your grinning visage on the Gentleworld.com site. Yes, that is a rather nifty feature. I’m actually most pleased with the “Fromage Lounge” section which presents the rather complex Gentle People discography in a pretty easy to navigate fashion. More of a usability feature than a technical one I suppose but then your audience is the most important thing, eh?

Nauga: Very good. I adopted The Gentle People many years ago, they are now actually honorary Naugae. I am really quite fond of them even with their penchant for Primula. How did you come across The Gentle People?

KS: Ah well, that is a long old story… lights pipe and sits back. Swirly time effect…

It started back in the mists of prehistory when normal people didn’t have email addresses or mobile phones (it was about 1995, dear reader). But these were momentous times. I was a first jobbing fledgling web designer, newbie tranny and had just joined Six Inch Killaz – my life was opening up in front of me like a big, messy life shaped thing, with hooped earrings on.

Ahem, anyway, I digress. I believe by this time, that the Gentle entity known as Honeymink Foxmeister had decided that the human race was prepared to take the next step into cyberspace – a realm she had happily been inhabiting since before her arrival on Earth.

What better way of introducing people to the mysteries of the “information superhighway” as the Internet was rather charmingly known back then, than by materialising the Gentle planet into that domain? No better way, it turned out – I mean, look at the Internet now! It all started there.

This is where I came in. I was ushered into the groovy Gentle sanctum to discuss the birth of the very first Gentleworld.com. I was plied with exotic substances in a form very similar to strong beer. It took me to a new plane of consciousness and by the end of the evening, we had not only planned the next 20 years of Gentle web development, *and* become firm friends, but we’d also got quite squiffy in the process. Result!

That’s how it started and we’ve stayed Gentle chums ever since.

Nauga: Yes, Honeymink does have that effect! Music is really important to Naugae as the vibrations of sound waves are an important power source on our home planet. What kind of music do you love and what do you create?

Deathline

Deathline (Kaoru and Jennie)

KS: I like all sorts of music. Pretty eclectic, but of course my favourite kinds of music are of the dark and loud variety. I like nothing better than standing in a darkened cellar with other people dressed in black and having my eardrums pummelled by noise.

Favourites at the moment include Suicide Party from Southampton who are Gothic, Western, Surf, New wave, everything we like, Exit International, a Cardiff based power trio with twin distorted basses – incredible noise, HTRK, who sound like ice melting invisibly in the dark, and Teeth of the Sea, who are hard to describe really. But you should go and see them. Just make sure you wear ear plugs to avoid lasting damage.

The music we make as Deathline sits in among these but we have a more melodic / punky edge amongst the dark noise – probably that came from the fact that we both really like punk and hard rock as well as the dark stuff and there’s a part of us that likes shouting and jumping about as much as nodding silently in the gloom…

Nauga: Eclectic! The Gentle People told me that you have a new album underway. Do you have any songs about Naugae planned? Or is it something less intergalactic in outlook?

Deathline - SixtyNine cover

Deathline - SixtyNine cover

KS: Yes! It’s our second after our debut SixtyNine. We’ve been writing it over the last few months and completed that phase a couple of weeks ago. Now we’re in pre-production before flying out to Los Angeles to start tracking in mid-September with the amazing producer Josiah Mazzaschi at Cave Studio. We quite literally can’t wait and we believe we have a very very strong set of songs under our belt this time.

In terms of subject matter, it’s quite hard to describe it as intergalactic. It’s about Earthly monsters, human and otherwise, if anything. There is one song called Nova, an instrumental, which is about the death of stars exploding in deep space. But I wouldn’t like a nice chap like you to be anywhere near that to be honest…

Nauga:  My naugahyde is strong, so no need to worry on my behalf! I recently went to the moon and had a great time dancing in zero gravity! My next trip is to the ice fields of Titan – the chill-out parties are supposed to be ultra-cool. What are your next plans as an artist, musician and writer?

KS: It would be wonderful to visit the outer planets. They seem like a fascinating if chilly place. We’ll have to settle for the warmth of LA instead! We plan to tour with the new album next year of course. I will keep you posted on that, Nauga – it would be wonderful to have you pop in backstage.

I have some top secret Internetty plans up my sleeve also, and plans to collect and publish my photography in book form. Otherwise, the music is front and centre in my future plans.

Nauga: I am looking forward to seeing your secrets! Ah, the day is now drawing to a close with a wonderful Hawaiian sunset. I think it’s time for a cocktail or two – would you care to join me? Oh almost forgot, before I get mixing, do you have a message for the all the friends, fans and extended Gentle People family?

KS: I would love any drink you can conjure up based on dark rum, thank you.

kaoru

Kaoru

My message to the readers is that peace and love is by far the harder road to tread, but in these difficult times, we must keep trying to make things better.

Oh, and buy our album or at least add us on Facebook xx

Nauga: Thank you very much Kaoru, I will now teach you a little Nauga song to sing until we meet again.

KS: I shall set it to an arrangement of feedback guitar, overdriven bass and ominous delay drenched vocals. It’s been a tremendous pleasure. See you soon!

I am feeling very excited today! Nauga News goes live.

Greetings earthlings and fellow Naugae! Welcome to Nauga News.

Naughty Nauga at the Nauga News desk

Greetings from the Nauga News desk!

I am very excited to welcome you to the first of many posts curated by me, Nauga.

Nauga News is the cheesiest and naughtiest place to find out what is going on and what we are interested in here in Gentleworld.

I will let the Gentle People post from time to time of course. Laurie Lemans already has something planned for you and where Laurie Lemans goes, the others surely will follow.

I have also been inviting a variety of people connected with Gentleworld to my lounge of love to interview them. We have been chatting away, supping pink champagne while lounging extravagantly on naugahyde cushions shed by my family back on Naugalyne. I will be bringing you these interviews soon.

If there is anyone you’d like to hear from or if you have suggestions for stories, or other things you’d like to know about me, Nauga, The Gentle People or Gentleworld let me know. My flying bubble can get me into all sort of fascinating places.

In the meantime, don’t forget you can see more pictures of me and The Gentle People here and of course, I also feature in videos here.

I wish you much cheese-eating and naughtiness.

Yours naughtily

Nauga

A large yellow cheese with four different sized holes in it

Some cheese to whet your tastebuds