Things I did last summer….

All through the summer I was invited to play at some small festivals and other events which were, for the most part, pleasing if not a little exhausting. I had imagined a peaceful summer, spent doing all those things I never have time to do, just popping away for a weekend here or there to do a show. Didn’t really work out like that as I always forget that most of the shows I do involve travelling great distances, careful rehearsal and all the other things that are part of my life, you know, like, losing my luggage, being selected for secondary screening and third degree at every airport I travel through and the other adventures I encounter every time I leave the house. So my summer didn’t really provide much rest and relaxation and I certainly wasn’t really very productive. Playing live is reproductive which doesn’t really count.
When arriving back into France after that little adventure in Seville I started to, perhaps regret, just a little, having spent the last few years giving France such a hard time. Curiously, the simple act of crossing the border gave be the impression of coming home, even if home was still two days drive away. That’s quite a nice feeling. I can’t say I have felt it for a few years.
One of the concerts I played was at Heyres, in the south of France, as part of the Midi Festival, an intimate gathering of Electronica, in a beautiful setting, the Villa Noailles, sitting atop a hill overlooking the Riviera town with an incredible view and an interesting history, it being a favorite hang out of Man Ray and Jean Cocteau. I was welcomed warmly and everything about the way the event was organized was warm and friendly. The gentleman who invited me, Frédéric Landini, was very nice indeed and I’m not just writing that because I want to get invited next year, he was really cool. However, it was strangely disconcerting to be playing a concert in France where no-one was running about being stressed and obnoxious. What was also a bit strange was that I played in the afternoon, without the benefit of my Lumiere film to hide behind which almost guaranteed that I’d do something stupid in full view of the public. Well, I don’t like to disappoint. A consequence of my clothes being stolen in Seville was that I had no shoes, so I had to go on stage wearing some flip flops, which, is not really very fucking cool. Worse though, was that when I tried to press one of my effects pedals, I pressed about five of them at the same time, because the aforementioned flip flops were about the same width as the snowshoes that arctic explorers wear. So I had to stop playing, take off my shoes and play in my bare feet, which was realllllllyy fucking embarrassing, maybe worse than wearing flip flops in the first place. It was not, as my loving family pointed out, attention seeking behaviour.

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me at midi
Doing a road trip is usually fun, doing one with your family on board, while you have some concerts to play is, well, interesting. It’s nice to cross a few boundaries every now and again, my life normally being so compartmental. Switching back and forth between artist and dad several times a day is something which, in our home, most often happens without effort although put me on a stage and have my six year old at the front trying to take a picture of me with the lens cap on and I’ll not be sure how to act.
Of course my instinct is to stop playing, put down my guitar and go to her aid but I’m guessing that’s not the right thing to do in that circumstance. That, and I’ve already stopped to take my shoes off a couple of minutes before and it could be taken as a sigh that I’m not really concentrating.
Then of course there the big one, the teenage daughter along for the ride as well. Who knows what goes on in her head as she’s watching her father looking uncomfortable on a stage with a guitar around his neck?
In fact, who knows what goes on in her head? Period.
I’ve had some totally surreal exchanges with her recently, the most outstanding of which I started to scribble onto a paper napkin as we were eating at the time. She was talking about turning up at some event or other dressed up as a persocom, to be precise, a chobit, a metal eared human looking robot or rabbit, I may have misheard.
I looked blank. “You know nothing about Cos-Play, do you dad?”
I looked blank again and scribbled some more. “Oh, no, you’re not going to write that into your web log are you? That stupid little window into your pathetic miserable little life”.
Too fucking right, I am.
I really wish that she’d been brought up by normal people.
Anyway as we sat eating a pizza my whole family criticized the way I pronounce dogshit in French. They broke it to me, gently at first, but then with a little more persistence, that when I tried to talk with the audience in French, no one understood a word of it and they were all being polite by not pointing and laughing.
To have the opportunity to pass the time with my girls, while rambling about the continent playing my guitar, well, it seemed a pleasant place to be right at that moment, even if they do remind me how retarded I can be all the time. You can’t really ask for much more than that. Unfortunately it doesn’t give me much to write about in a web log. I mean, come on, who really wants to read about me getting on OK with things. There’s no entertainment value in that, is there. Still, it doesn’t happen often, so indulge me.

Next, I ventured back to the country of my birth to play a couple of shows during the Edinburgh Festival, which were in a really unusual venue deep in the heart of the old town. Edinburgh is a great place to experience at any time, but during the festival it buzzes like no other place I’ve ever been. The atmosphere is only marred slightly by the presence of an unusually large number of mime artists.
Can’t say much about my shows, I think they were OK, or at least nobody told me that I sucked. What I do know was that they were really late at night and I dozed off just before showtime, only to be awakened by the applause after my introduction (which no one had told me about). Thus I entered the stage with that look of a startled rabbit, caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. I’m useless at the best of time after having a nap; it takes me five minutes to recognize my surroundings so I probably appeared even dopier than usual. Whatever. I found out what tired really means the next morning when I climbed to the top of Arthurs Seat with Violette as I had, in a moment of insanity, promised we would do before we left Edinburgh. I managed to survive the ordeal without being hospitalized although I ached everywhere for days afterward. I played Glasgow as well on that trip in a tiny little venue with candles on the tables, and met a nice bunch of people after the show, hung around and talked shit. That was fun.

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me@punkt

After that, well I was invited to Kristiansand in Norway to appear at the Punkt festival. That was a real quick trip but included six flights to get there and back but nothing untoward happened to me at airport security, no planes were missed, no luggage lost as Madame Guthrie was with me and things like that don’t happen to her. She has a smile, you see, which melts people. No one would ever lose her luggage or remove her toothpaste. Arriving in Kristensand at night left the biggest surprise for the morning, when, on opening the hotel room curtains, was revealed the sheer beauty of a small Norwegian coastal town, with the full complement of blue sky, water, mountains and trees. Soundcheck was at 9am so we had the rest of the day to look around and took up an offer made by the festival organizers of a little boat trip around the fjords, stopping at a little island for a delightful lunch of fish soup and returning a few hours later. It was like being on holiday. Lovely. The only problem is that my Madame now imagines that I get spoiled like this every time that I travel to do a show and therefore has ceased to believe me that what I do is hard work. I was very impressed with this festival, and I not saying that to get invited back there either. I loved the venue and the care taken over the production. I was able to use multiple projectors in the theatre which is something I’d do more often, given the chance.

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me@punkt

Don’t know when that’ll happen though, as I’m kinda really needing to get some new music done, my studio needs to have a little life breathed into it and a layer of dust brushed away. It’s been a while since I wrote any music, for me at least. It’s overdue.

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7 Responses to “Things I did last summer….”

  1. I read this interview w/christian fennesz and he was talking about this box he has made of old Telefunken transistors, “most powerful distortion you can have” apparently. He said he was some place called “Bratislava” and they made him play his guitar for them to prove it wasn’t a bomb.

    Something about it seemed very silly.
    http://www.semtexinc.com/interviews/interview.php?ID=32

  2. liquoriceater Says:

    wow! Kristiansand… I’ve just been there this summer on Qart-festival. Extreemly beautiful town) It amused me even more than the fest itself.

  3. Adolfo Ruiz Says:

    Hi Robin,
    My name is Adolfo Ruiz. I’m a graphic designer/independent filmmaker from Edmonton, Canada. I know this is a bit of a long shot (I should probably contact your label). I am currently working on a short, live action, film and was wondering if it would at all be possible to use the track Amphora from Continental in the film.

    Please let me know if you would be open to this idea, if you want to know anything about the project, or if you think it’s best I contact Darla Records regarding the cost of using the track.

    This will be a non-commercial film to be screened only at festivals.

    Either way, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you so much for creating such beautiful music.

  4. I enjoyed reading your misadventures of flying from Seattle to NY and from Miami to Lima. Good stuff a la Raymond Carver. keep writing Robin!

    Of course your lady couldn’t go through that kind of happenings, some women are magic enough to control that kind of ion.

    Speaking of ion, i recorded a piece called “Harold Budd” i used the “submarine Piano” a patch from the Alesis ION synth, the other instrument is midi guitar roland G-33.
    I posted it in http://www.jamwave.com/DamienOlsen
    Take a trip over there any time and listen it.

    And i don’t really care much about what the downlanders think but
    the people of south South America (I won’t mention the city, take a guess, i just was born there..) they don’t like my music.or they do not got it..
    Or they don’t want to like my music because in their minds i am an sculptor; so you just can’t do two things like those in one lifetime.
    They love Fripp and you because they are a bunch of snobs. There’s also some good people down there but the history is dense as oil and dark as oil too.
    Straight mind isn’t it? i had have time enough to make music as well as sculpture. what can i say!?
    for some reason i move to NY long ago.

    Are you going to play in NY one of this days?
    Play at the Warsaw in Greenpoint Brooklyn.
    Yes?

  5. Really enjoyed your set at Punkt… Ours was pretty much one big technical hitch, but I enjoyed the whole atmosphere immensely. Should have come and said hello, but I got all fidgety and rubbish, and probably would’ve burbled on about how lovely the fish soup was on our little trip. Hope all is well, and hopefully our paths will cross again. Best, Tim (from Sweet Billy Pilgrim)

  6. Hi Robin!!!

    I’m from Chile. We walked down the Pio Nono Street at Santiago, on one winter’s day. I will never forget that day… and your beautiful music… A soul’s gift from your heart.

    You are a very great person, Florence, too.

    Your family is wonderful… I laugh with your daughter’s history… Lucy Belle likes the Cos – Play?

    Visit http://www.elbeso.cl
    A Chilean web site about all the japanese music and anime.

    Thanks for come to my country…

    Victoria

  7. robin guthrie you visit in chile was great and your song i love ….welcome to my
    http://www.myspace/luismigueltrance
    http://www.myspace/luismiguel
    hall my song is there ….good bay ..

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