Holly Willats, Art Licks: Interdependence Mix presents a mixing pot of electronic music, field recordings, spoken word and performance – can you explain a little about where all these various elements came from, and how you stitched them together?
Simon Bayliss: Some of the music and both the poems had recently been written, and this presented me with an opportunity to bring them together. I also wanted to make new music, which was the cover of Naked in the Rain, a dance classic by Blue Pearl, and my version of a Shipibo icaro (medicine song), which I heard during a shamanic ceremony. I use Ableton to make and mix music, and often import audio and midi recordings or found samples. For example, Naked in the Rain features audio recordings of me making sounds on my primary school recorder, and midi recordings of my friend Christian Guerreni improvising on keys.
The two poems were written while I was having poetry mentoring (a Cultivator Cornwall funded scheme) with the brilliant poet Ella Frears. In very basic terms, I stitched it all together by matching the tempos of the tracks and extending sections of music as backdrops for the poems. I learned the analogue way as a teenager, mixing drum & bass and jungle records on my Technics 1210s!
The work was commissioned as part of the Art Licks Weekend 2019's radio programme, and in response to the festival's theme of Interdependence. How did the title of Interdependence resonate with you?
It was an intense time for me – while making the work I was heavily involved in Extinction Rebellion in Cornwall and the wider South West and helping to plan the blocking of Lambeth Bridge. I think some of the excitement and anxiety comes across. And if anywhere, the grief I felt for the earth is channelled into my version of the Shipibo icaro, which is a hauntingly beautiful melody that I felt compelled to work with and share.
In practical terms, I interpreted the term ‘interdependence’ as a mix or DJ set in which there is typically a continuous and evolving rhythm.
I like how the two poetry readings slow the pace of the piece down, offering waves of calm amongst the intensity of some of the music. Did you work on the two poems for this piece; how does your poetry take form?
Ella taught me that all poetry and creative writing sits within a vast tradition, and to write well one needs to learn some of the structures and ‘rules’ that support it. For example, Exit a cloud has a particular syllable and line form borrowed from WS Graham. Dave was deliberately more experimental in structure but has a more obvious subject matter to do with unrequited queer desire.
The cover of Blue Pearl's Naked in the Rain is fantastic – it makes me smile every time I hear it. Who is it singing?
Ilker Cinarel, Cornwall-based artist, and one of my best friends. Ilker is a big, gay, exuberant Turkish man who worked in the fashion industry and now teaches and makes brilliant performances and paintings. He is an anomaly in Cornwall because of his background and queer identity, and his presence here makes the county a better place. As a self-conscious introvert, I love working with extroverts who help bring out my wilder, funnier ideas. I asked Ilker because I knew he couldn’t sing but would give it a go. It was a lot of fun!
Had you worked in radio / broadcasting before; and have you continued to work in this format since? Do you think that radio broadcasting offers something unique as a format and way of working?
Yes – I took over as producer of Lucy Stein’s NTS show Squriming the Worm in 2015: it was monthly for about two years and I learned loads in the process. Making the Interdependence mix spurred me to take on my own radio show – Meet me in the Carpark is a bimonthly Saturday night show on RTM.fm, for which I play a mix of rave bangers, sprinkled with readings of queer poetry. The show gives me the opportunity to bring together these two disparate fields and further explore ideas around rural queer identity. I like the idea of introducing dance music audiences to poetry, and visa versa. The next show is at 9pm, Saturday 17th October, with poet Richard Scott as my passenger-seat guest.
Simon Bayliss is an artist and music producer based in St Ives, Cornwall, UK. Trained as a painter and more recently as a potter, he works mainly in slipware ceramics, dance music and video, with occasional forays into poetry and performance. Bayliss makes dance music both as a solo artist and in collaboration with Susie Green, as Splash Addict; has a bimonthly radio show, Meet me in the Carpark on RTM.fm. Born in 1984, Wolverhampton, he was raised in Andros, Bahamas, then East Devon, UK and has been living in Cornwall most of his adult life.