INTERVIEW WITH KATIE JANE GARSIDE
By Lucy Watson, Laura Morrison and Tom
Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are
you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse answers to questions...It's
never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looking forward to it. (Laughs). It's difficult
to say because the last few months have felt strange, it's felt like
going down a plughole. I've got a real sense of vertigo at the moment.
So I can't tell you that I'm looking forward to it. I will get through
it and find where I land after that. That's what will happen.
Lucy: 'Taxidermy' and 'Drink Me' are quite drastically different in
their musical styles, so what kind of sound can we expect from the 3rd
KJG: We don't know yet. We're playing a lot of new material tonight
so you'll be able to judge that for yourself. When I'm this close up
to it, it's really difficult to tell. I'm on a bit of a negative slant
today, but usually with our music I can only hear the bits that have
gone wrong rather
than anything that went right. When you reflect back on something it's
very difficult to give an objective opinion, and I don't believe in
objectivity anyway, I think everything's subjective. I just throw a
deck of cards and
wherever they land, that's where she finds herself. I'm not really the
one to explain my part in it, you must do that as the observer really,
and of course that will reflect your part in the grand scheme of things.
Lucy: Do you enjoy playing live more than the creative process in the
KJG: (Laughs) I don't enjoy any of it. It comes and it goes, ok? There's
nothing like when you're writing and you manage to catch something by
tail; when you're looking for those things underground that are skittering
out of sight just when you're about to catch them. And when you catch
them it is worth it, but it's a momentary pleasure. I've got so much
noise upstairs, and I can hear things in my head that to me are absolutely
devastatingly beautiful. I'm always trying to download them and get
here, but they never get here in the right state, they're always very
disabled and they don't even begin to imitate what I can hear in my
It's a frustrating process in the main.
Lucy: Your lyrics are simultaneously emotionally expressive and cryptic.
Are you looking to be understood by your audience?
KJG: I'm always trying to understand myself, but it's like there's a
point in the centre of the room, and there's a hundred windows to look
at the same point from. All I can do is give you different angles on
the same thing. God, you know, if I could find one conclusive thing
in anything I would probably have something to put an anchor down on.
But I cant, and I haven't met anyone that can. You can pick out anything
you like in my lyrics, I don't seek to be cryptic. I love words for
the sake of words, for me they're kind of free standing, and they don't
really need to be explained. I think every word has its own character
and colour and picture and the result you get with lyrics just depends
how you put them together. You could just do it in a William Burroughs
esque way, or throw the deck of cards, and you'd probably still find
something that our tiny little minds would latch on to in order to gain
some kind of emotional understanding. I don't think there's a constant,
the only constant that there is for me is that there is no constant.
I use myself as my canvas, I gut myself and fillet myself the whole
fucking time, I'm always hooking myself out of the water, I'm always
cutting my own head off and disembowelling myself, and as you can probably
tell I'm quite angry about it at the moment. I'm very tired of it all,
process and how I find life, because it always seems to be about living
and dying all in one breath. I'm getting pretty fucking tired of that.
Lucy: Do you think drugs stimulate or hinder creativity?
KJG: Well that depends on the drug, because I think most things arrive
in the form of a drug really. I know in myself that if anything I am,
much to my greater expense, an adrenalin junkie. My synapses don't work
well enough to put pills in my mouth, I can't do that, despite popular
opinion. I don't need any help breaking down, put it that way. There's
not much holding it
together. If there was a drug that could put aline between two polar
opposites and make them in to one thing I'm sure I would have it
intravenous, but I haven't found it. I think drugscan be a bit of a
lazy way for creativity anyway, you're better off in the cold light
of day in the mirror.
Lucy: As a band, you are distinguished by the extreme physicality of
your live performances. Do you consciously make an effort to put on
a show or do your performances just naturally come to you, and whatever
KJG: It's a bit of both, because you see, I think taking the stage is
one of the most unnatural things anyone can do. In a way, just walking
on stage actually creates an altered state - its not right, no one's
meant to do that, unless you're a priest or a magician, or something
like that. To put somebody who's very incapable in many ways in to that
position creates a combustion reaction inside me. I know that, and I
take the stage knowing that. Obviously there's all the usual things
that affect my performance; if I'm on my 45th day of a tour I'm probably
gonna be pretty fucking tired, so I'll be dictated by that. If I'm doing
new material like tonight I don't
know what's going to happen, because we haven't built the train tracks
yet. The beauty of playing live is when my drummer goes in to 5th gear
or in to 10th gear, and for some reason there's something that hits
me in the base of the spine and I'm gone, and that's Halleluiah for
me. During the last few months a lot of strange things have been happening
onstage, I think the process is changing. I don't know what's going
to happen tonight, I've been having quite a tough time on stage, I feel
like something's pulling me under, as if something's got me.
Lucy: So does the crowd influence your performances on stage?
KJG: Yes they do. I'm unkind enough to be pretty impersonal about how
I do it, so I use them for me to kick against in effect, or to surf
on, (I don't
mean physically surf). If you're in an empty roomand there's a couple
of people at the back, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a bad
they might get the show of their lives. And then again when something's
really heaving and going off, I get quite a distorted view of it, because
can feel quite overwhelmed lose my sense of place in the situation.
I lose control of myself. I don't know, I probably wasn't meant to do
wasn't built for this. It wasn't a career option, I didn't start there
and go there, I didn't pick up the things on the way. I've sort of gone
Lucy: As the lead singer of the band, most media interest is focused
on you. Do you feel pressurised by your position or do you enjoy being
the centre of attention?
KJG: I've been here on this wheel long enough,(and I say this with a
little bit of trepidation because I think you have to be really careful
with this kind of thing, because the motivation to do it in itself I
think is usually pretty corrupt) I'm not doing it for anyone else, I
need a cheque through the door like anybody else does, you have to keep
eating, you have to keep living. I'm looking for some sense of going
home on my own terms, and people's critique of me is not relevant, whether
it's positive of negative.
I do need a cheque through the door though, otherwise I'll have to go
and be a butcher or something.
Lucy: What is the religious meaning behind the song "For I am the
KJG: If you use the word religion in its truest sense, all it means
is communion, it hasn't got any of the attachments to any written word.
understanding of the word communion is loss of the sense. Another way
of looking at it is you've got to get in to get out, and the only thing
know to be true is me, is this tiny little dot in the centre of the
universe. It's the only thing that I know feels pain; I can see other
people's pain and I can feel it in an emotional way, but not in a physical
way. I find myself in the unfortunate position of feeling like I am
centre of the universe and that everything is a projection, made by
me - i.e. you two don't exist, you're something that I created. I don't
sense upon anybody because it's not a good one. Through 'For I am the
way' I'm saying that you've got to get in, because the only thing one
knows to be true is oneself. And on a good day, if you stand on top
of a mountain or go to the desert or stand in the ocean, and become
completely inconsequential, linear time stops and you become everything
and nothing. That for me is
communion, that's how I define religion. I thinkthere's a line in there
which goes "Today the only bridge I have I burn" which sums
it up really, because it is about cutting all lines of communication
in order to really truly commune.
Lucy: Do you think that in the future your creativity will move from
the sphere of music in to literature for example?
KJG: It's real hard to say. In a way, that sounds like a much easier
life. But for all I know I'm deluding myself. I'm looking for someone
to help me frame something at the moment, and someone is actually, someone's
being really good to me. I would love to write, but I don't know if
enough to do it.