Interview with In The Nursery - conducted by e-mail - 12/20/96

Jester: What happened to your contract with Third Mind?

Nigel: We initially signed to Third Mind in 1989 and they subsequently merged with Roadrunner Records after a couple of years. Our relationship with Third Mind has always been good and we are still in regular contact with Gary Levermore, but the business relationship between Third Mind and Roadrunner slowly burnt out, with Roadrunner not being interested enough to maintain and finance Third Mind artists. Essentially they weren't the right company to promote and market ITN - and finally they (Roadrunner) decided not to take up the next album option after the release of 'Anatomy Of A Poet'. For us it was a great relief and allowed us to start up on our own and work with our own ITN Corporation label which had already been established to handle our back catalogue.

Jester: Can we ever expect to see your last album on Third Mind (Anatomy of a Poet) reissued via the ITN Corp label?

Nigel: Hopefully yes - Anatomy of a Poet was never released in the States, despite the track 'Hallucinations?' being featured in a number of film related projects. We are currently in discussions regarding the remaining titles held by Roadrunner. They are not doing a great deal with them - so we hope to be able to release 'Anatomy of a Poet' along with all the various Hallucinations? mixes/versions very soon.

Jester: Who is your US distributor for those of us who are having problems finding some of your material?

Nigel: The entire ITN Corporation catalogue ( titles corp 006-014) is now available in the US via Com-Four. The soundtrack CD "The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari" (corp 015) is distributed in the US by Caroline.

Jester: How did both of you first get involved with music?

Nigel: At the age of 16 we chose an electric guitar as our joint birthday present and that was the start of it all. Punk came along and inspired us to play music and we've never looked back since. Music has always been an integral and essential part of our lives.

Jester: Why do you still compose music today?

Nigel: Many reasons - Because we enjoy it. Because it's our means of self-expression. Because it's become our way of life - our reason for being. Because we have established countless links with so many different people across the world.

Jester: What is your primary motivation in making and performing music?

Nigel: Many of the reasons given above - but also you are right in distinguishing between "making" and "performing" music because we approach the two processes in different ways. We make our music (our records) as a documentation and expression of our creativity. We aspire to perfecting and fully realising each new project.

Whereas in "performing" our music - that is a much more physical, interactive and dynamic experience. In many ways it is (and has to be) less subtle but ultimately more powerful and visual. The audience feedback is essential.

Jester: Do you have any plans to ever tour in the US?

Nigel: Yes - we're currently talking with a venue in Minneapolis who invited us to play next May (1997). There is also the possibility of other dates in Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

Jester: How did you meet and invite Dolores to perform vocals on the new album?

Nigel: Dolores is a long time close friend of the band. When recording the 'Trinity' session it was felt appropriate to record the lyrics in French and translate those words in 3 languages. Being a trained multi-linguist, Dolores was the ideal choice. She has worked with us ever since, both in the studio and for live work. Her work on 'Deco' has been a continuation of that working relationship and allowed her great scope with inspiration drawn from references in French literature, poetry and culture.

Jester: What kind of musical training have either of you had, if any?

Nigel: We have absolutely no musical training - everything we know has been through trial and error, through playing by ear. At one point I considered learning to read music, but decided that learning the technicalities of music would undoubtedly change my outlook on music and the way in which I approached music making.

Of course we now know certain chords and notes - but essentially we apply no musical theory to our music. It's all achieved through instinct and experimentation - aided of course by the wonders of modern technology.

Jester: In your free time, what types of music/artists do you listen too?

Nigel: Very varied. Sometimes I listen to very little music - but at other times sources can be Talk Talk, Salt Tank, Ennio Morricone, Gavin Friday, Bert Kaempfert, Beloved, FSOL, Leftfield, William Orbit etc.

Jester: Where do you see your music progressing in the future?

Nigel: It's always difficult to predict - we just get on with producing music and see what happens. We know that we want to continue with another silent film commission, and are currently picking the right film to work with. Once again, under our alias of Les Jumeaux, we are busy experimenting with textured sounds - preparing new material for the next album. For the next ITN album we already have a fascinating concept to work around - phonetics and language , but that is something that will have to wait until we get these other projects out of the way

Jester: Where have you come upon all of the poetry and quotations which have appeared in your music?

Nigel: Most of the the narrated voices come from recitals, readings and recordings by notable people like James Mason and Richard Burton. Works by Oscar Wilde, John Donne and Jeanne Cocteau have featured quite regularly - it's just a case of what films, books, pieces of poetry have affected us. We'll know instinctively if a piece of narration will or will not work with a piece of music. Since getting the author Colin Wilson to recite some of his favorite poetry on 'Anatomy of a Poet' we have stopped using those types of quotations - it just felt right to move on.

Jester: Was there any particular reason why you have added an alias project under the name of "Les Jumeaux"?

Klive: Because we spend so much of our time, writing and recording in our own studio, we sometimes find ourselves creating compositions that are not strictly in the ITN style (if there really is one ). But since making music is our passion, we decided to channel these 'hybrid' creations into a new side-project, called Les Jumeaux. The project gave us a chance to explore new techniques, experiment more freely with some of our recording equipment and also introduce new sounds and timbres into the creative process.

Jester: Have you done any other soundtrack work besides "An Ambush of Ghosts" & "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari"?

Nigel: Our music has been used for other projects (please refer to Home Page for exact information) but 'An Ambush of Ghosts' was our first feature film commission, and 'Caligari' our first silent film, with hopefully many more to follow. We also provided new sound designs and music for a German Cable station called Vox TV.

Jester: Do you know of any easy way to acquire either of these films in the US?

Nigel: Unfortunately no. "An Ambush of Ghosts" has still yet to receive a cinematic, or even video release. The producer seems to have a real problem and no distributor has been found - it's a real shame and we try to forget about it, but so many people really want to see the film.

With regards to "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" - we have only produced a soundtrack for the 35mm cinema version. We will be looking into the possibility of combining it with a video version - but nothing as yet. We have learned of a new US video release (Kino Video) of the same film (the US has a different copyright owner) with a soundtrack by Timothy Brock. As yet we've not heard it.

Jester: Would you like to do more soundtrack work in the future?

Nigel: Affirmative.

Jester: When you sit down and write a new track, do you use any formal compositional method?

Nigel: Neither of us can read or write music - it's the way we started off with producing music, and, even though I considered learning the basics, we feel that our music is representative of that fact. Even though we aspire to our music being of the highest quality we don't adhere to any technical pre-requisites, structures or musical theory. Instead we play by ear and from what we instinctively feel to be right. Computer sequencing is therefore very important to us, allowing us to orchestrate, arrange and compose in our particular style. Digital music technology is also an important and inspirational aide for us. So, in answering your question - no, we don't use formal compositional methods. A new piece of music can take many forms - it might start with a melody, a found break beat used as a foundation or building block, a manipulated sound from the sampler or even just simply a mistake that creates inspiration.

Jester: Where do your biggest musical influences stem from?

Nigel: When we started off making music, our influences were definitely based within the punk ethic that anyone could make music. Groups that instigated our early sound were obviously those like Joy Division, Bauhaus, 23 Skidoo, A Certain Ratio etc.

Then of course we started developing our sound with selected elements of classical/orchestral music which in turn influenced our choice of instrumentation with sampled strings, horns, military snare and percussion. Other influences are varied and wide ranging - from film music (like Ennio Morricone) to experimental dance (William Orbit and The Beloved).

Jester: Would you be interested in collaborating with other artists in the future? If so, which ones?

Nigel: We're currently preparing tracks for the follow-up Les Jumeaux album for which we will be collaborating with people like Beaumont Hannant, Jagz and Gary (from the Aloof and ex-Sabres of Paradise) along with Andrew Weatherall, who has promised a contribution following our re-mixes for his label. I have also been in contact with Bill Nelson for a number of years and would like to eventually work together on a track with him - who knows, maybe for this project?

On a different level we are also looking at collaborating with a Sheffield based dance company in order to create an interactive music and dance performance.

Jester: Now that you run your own label, do you find it occupies more or less of your time than in the past?

Nigel: Despite the added advantages of being in control of our artistic output, the demands and everyday running of a small record label and all the related press and promotions, do take up an enormous amount of our time - much more than when we were with a company like Third Mind. But even then we still managed ourselves and were involved at all stages of production. There are times when demands of the business side do start to infringe upon the simple necessity for time to sit down, experiment and create music - so you have to make sure to manage your time effectively.

Jester: To my knowledge there are no other recording groups consisting of twins who have released such an extensive musical catalog. How has working with an identical sibling to create all of your musical compositions contributed to or detracted from your overall work performance?

Nigel: To be honest we don't really think about the fact that we are twins because to us it's something that we're very use to. We just know that together we work very well as a productive team - it's like one individual with an identical partner who understands exactly what you are thinking without having to communicate. We work both together and individually on our music and have gradually allotted ourselves certain 'roles' within the working relationship, although we are both able to cover all tasks if necessary. In many ways we act as a kind of 'quality control' - because once we both agree on something, then we know it's going to be right. Of course there are are disagreements and heated discussions, but that's all part of the creative process.

Jester: Can you describe what your live performances are like?

Nigel: ITN's live performances are very dynamic and visual events. We present the more upbeat and rhythm based numbers, utilizing a lot of orchestral percussion including tympanis, orchestral bass drums, snare drums and hand cymbals. There are 4 personnel on stage - Klive on the orchestral percussion, Q on military snare drum (worn on a strap) and percussion, Dolores on vocals, percussion and some keyboards and myself dealing with the musical backing which is a mixture of programmed sequences and live keyboards, using samplers and electronic oboe.

A trademark feature are the two plain flags (which have traveled all around the world with us) which are strapped to the sides of the two bass drums mounted on stands on the drum riser. Onto these we project random slide images; a mixture of ITN images and other found sources. They are used as an abstract backdrop. Interwoven with all this is a custom designed light show.

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