Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grumpy With Friends: Rory Satori

By Lee Bemrose

Dark psy for me is the ultimate dancefloor music. The drive and power it has is perfect for long energetic dancefloor sessions. It is music that is not about social interaction or standing around bopping away with a beer in your hand, but about full trance experience. It really allows me to go deep inside myself, leave my mind behind and lead with my soul.”

Several years ago I struck up a conversation with a random person on a dancefloor in Sydney. Her name was Kobie, and she was the DJ's girlfriend. The DJ was playing a live set of dark psy.

The girl's name is still Kobie, she is still Rory's girlfriend, but since then they have relocated to Byron Bay, Rory has released numerous tracks as well as his own album, Revolved, and together Rory and Kobie have brought baby Arlo into the world.

What were you doing before you sat down to answer these questions?
I was just walking around my property picking dandelion flowers to prepare for a floral wine. Oh, and dealing with a teething baby.

When did you adopt the name Satori, and what were your reasons for doing it?
I first came across the concept of Satori while reading a book about Zen Buddhism, at the same time my partner was reading a fantasy novel where the main character was named Satori. In Zen Buddhism, satori refers to the experience of Kensho, or seeing into one’s true nature. It is often translated as a sudden, momentary glimpse of enlightenment.
This was the idea I wanted to convey through my music. I love the way that dancing for hours in the middle of the bush can help you work through things and can lead to many little awakenings and I really needed to help facilitate that for others through my music.

Are you a Buddhist?
No. I have had interest in religions but purely out of curiosity. I would consider myself agnostic; I don’t think anyone really has all the answers. I would actually be happy if all religion was wiped from the earth tomorrow and we just started from scratch, simply living in harmony with each other and nature. We seem to have a real need to be told what to think and it would be great if we could collectively rise above that and start thinking for ourselves.

You moved from Sydney to the far north NSW coast a couple of years ago. What prompted that move?
I was working in Sydney as a gardener, it was real heavy labour type work, and I decided I wanted more from life than that. I wanted to go and study something, so I decided to study Medicinal Science with the goal to be an Osteopath. There are only three schools in Australia that teach Osteopathy, two are in Melbourne and the other is in Lismore. Originally I was going to go to Melbourne because I just love that city and having spent four years there I was missing it. But Sydney kind of wore me out, it’s such a fast paced life living in a city and both Kobie and I decided we wanted a shift in the pace, so we chose to come to the northern rivers. 

How are you finding life up there?
I love it! We live on a few acres in the hills behind Byron Bay, we have 10 chickens, an orchard and vege garden. There are koalas in our backyard, echidnas, all sorts of snakes, bandicoots and possums. We have views over the Nightcap Ranges which is home to some of the most magical pristine pockets of wilderness I have ever seen. It is an amazing place to live. It’s hard when it comes to earning a living though, not much work here. But that’s all right if you can live cheaply and don’t have any vices.

What's the doof scene like up there right now?
There has been some serious trouble at doofs in this region for the last few years. Basically there is nothing for young kids to do around here so they go to doofs. It’s amazing how young the crowds are up here. The violence is a big problem. There has been a lot of stabbings, lots of robberies and lots of predatory behaviour. It has kind of become too much. I mean, an AK47 was pulled out at a new years party in 2011/12!
I wouldn’t feel safe taking my family to most doofs in this region, but there are exceptions and lately I have heard some good things have been happening, so there is still hope. Everything goes in cycles and I hope it returns to the once loving party scene it was.

You've had a recent addition to the family. Do you manage to get out to party or play much at the moment?
I am still taking a few bookings to play, but that is really the only time I get out to doofs these days. I am really looking forward to taking Arlo (my son) to a party. I think his first one will be Moontopia in QLD at the end of this year.

How has being a new father affected your production output? Do you still produce as much as you did before fatherhood?
Surprisingly I have written some of my best music since he was born. It’s all written late at night with headphones on, but I think my output is still the same, if not better than before he was born. It’s hard to juggle uni, a family, and an artistic pursuit but with some good time management it can be done. You have to really use your time wisely when you have a child so if anything it has made me more productive overall.

I hear Arlo gets into your dark psy. Is he still into it?
Ha! Yes, he loves it. He can be screaming wildly and I’ll put on the fastest, most crazy darkpsy I can find and he just zones right out. If I put on prog he screams louder. Definitely not a fan of prog.

What other styles of music does he react to and what are those reactions?
I sat down with him one day just after he was born and started running through styles of music. He likes melodic psy, stuff like Talpa, and he really likes folk music. He seemed to be a bit spun out by jazz, I put on some Miles Davis and he started to look around with a strange expression and act all scattered. But most other styles really calm him down these days. He is a natural music lover! It’s been a real buzz watching a human hear music for the first time.

What other styles of music are you into, both for listening pleasure and production?
I’m a big jazz fan. I love moody, psychedelic jazz like Yusef Lateef or Rashan Roland Kirk. I also really love folk music. Artists like Nick Drake, Arlo Guthrie (my sons’ namesake) and Neil Young. There is a heap of great music coming out of the U.S under the Neo-Folk banner that has been exciting me lately, bands like Bowerbirds, Iron & Wine and Andrew Bird. But pretty much any genre has its gold and I can appreciate any style as long as it is made with creativity.

Why does dark psy do it for you more than other styles of music?
Dark psy for me is the ultimate dancefloor music. The drive and power it has is perfect for long energetic dancefloor sessions. It is music that is not about social interaction or standing around bopping away with a beer in your hand, but about full trance experience. It really allows me to go deep inside myself, leave my mind behind and lead with my soul. It’s all about balance though, I really feel the need for the melodic side of psy after a good night stomp.

When did your love affair with music begin and what brought it about?
I was immersed in music from birth. My father has this amazing record collection, lots of old jazz, blues and rock. I grew up listening to some really obscure music from the 60s and I became obsessed with those records. I remember sitting there reading the covers and memorising the artists. That music from my early years was such an important part of my life. I don’t understand people who don’t like music. In fact I don’t trust people who tell me they don’t like music.

Judging from some recent comments from you, I would assume that you're a bit jaded with the psytrance scene. Is that a correct assumption?
It is I guess. I feel it has lost a lot of its original intention. It seems to be more about getting messy these days. It used to be about the cathartic experience the music could facilitate. It was primal. The music has become a bit stale for me, I don’t see much innovation in the Australian psytrance scene. We seem to like dubstep and glitch hop a bit too much as well. But there are still parties that I feel are getting it right and I still love getting out and having a weekend at a doof, just got to pick the right ones these days.You've put on many parties in the past. Any intentions of doing it again in the future?
There has been talk with a friend of throwing one up here to try and combat the lack of anything experimental and psychedelic. I hope it comes about.

What occupies your time when you are not making music? I think you are studying and making booze and cheese, correct?
Correct. I have been making cheese, and trying my hand at brewing beer and wine. Study takes up a lot of my time but when I can I try to get out into nature and do a bit of bush walking and camping. I am also very keen on growing vegies, and I have a bonsai collection so gardening also takes up a bit of my time.

We've had a few robust discussions about conspiracy theories and the state of the world. I'm curious about how you feel about bringing a new human into the world given the state it's in.
For many years I was adamant I would not have a child because I saw the world as hopeless. I thought bringing a child into this world would be cruel. But then I started seeing friends have children and watching them raise very conscious, aware children made me realise that the world's hope lies in the hand of the next generation and the best thing I could do for the world was to instil my child with the knowledge of how to live in harmony with nature and all Earth's inhabitants.I am actually very hopeful about the state of the world right now. I see revolution happening everywhere. It is an exciting time to be alive.

When writers write or painters paint, it's often to express certain feelings or convey certain messages. Music can do the same, but it can also be more abstract. It can be more an ornamental thing, the stuff we dance to. What does music mean to you? What motivates you to make music?
Music is life for me, I couldn’t imagine existence without it. It can give me energy, bring me to tears or lull me to sleep. Certain songs can transport me through time to a place I once stood, or to a future I can envision. I have always used music creation as a way to tell my story and release my creative essence. I just feel a real need to write music and I don’t think it will ever stop.

I like listening to the occasional track of yours, but for the dancefloor it's too fast for me. Are you ever tempted by less BPMs?
I try to write slower psytrance occasionally, but the tempo always creeps up to about 170 bpm. Whenever I write any other style of psy it’s not long before it has transformed into superfast darkpsy. I’m not sure why that is.

And as I finish writing that question I'm listening to one of your chill tracks, Peace Of Mind. Love it. Do you make many chill tunes?
Yes, I have been experimenting making some slower, more abstract tunes. I want to create a kind of lush, cinematic, dreamy deep techno project sometime in the future.

As a creator of good music, how much do you hate dubstep? Or are you one of those misguided people who thinks dubstep is good? Not being biased here, I just... yeah, biased as hell. I just don't get dubstep.
Haha! I’m with you there, not a fan of dubstep. I dislike glitch hop even more. There is some stuff I like that would be more in the ‘bass music’ genre, like Burial or Marina Faib, but generally I cannot stand dubstep.

Do you get out on the dancefloor yourself? Who do you like to dance to?
Yes, I love dancing. If I am at a party I will spend 90% of the time on the dancefloor if the tunes are good. Music-wise I like intelligent programming. I have had amazing dance experiences to international artists like Kindzadza, Penta, Electrypnose, and Kashyyk.
On the local front Dark Nebula never disappoints.

What are your plans for the future, both musically and personally?
I am currently writing my second album, and have a couple of compilation releases planned for the next few months. I hope to keep building my music career and get overseas at some point to perform. want to finish my degree and see where that takes me. I want to spend as much quality time being in love with my girlfriend Kobie and my son Arlo. I want to re-connect with nature, and build towards a self-sustaining future for my family. And I want to be happy and live a simple life amongst the trees.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grumpy With Friends: Bird

Grumpy With Sarah Bird Lewis-Hammond

I’ve kind of always been on ‘the writing journey’ but not necessarily always been writing. I have an incredibly prolific internal narrator who has spent the last thirty squillion years turning my everyday life into some kind of pseudo-noir half-arsed semiotic analysis of sitting on a bus and going to the shop.”

My friendship with Sarah – or Bird as she is known to her friends – came out of the blue when I was an editor of dance music mag 3D World. Hers was one of the many submissions I received asking to contribute to the magazine. Her first Acid Tongue column was, from memory, well written and came from a very personal place. I emailed to say yeah sure, I like it, but do you want to tone it down at all. I would find out that Bird is an all or nothing person.

The emails continued. A friendship was brewing. Quite a special one. I clearly remember the day the editor sitting across the desk from me asked what I was laughing about this time, and I said “It's this Bird person. I have to meet her.”

We met after countless, rambling, hilarious emails. Turned out I'd been walking past her twice a day; she worked in a pub just around the corner from my office. We went out. We got slaughtered. We laughed a lot. She moved in with The Dreaded One and me for a while. Eventually she continued her travels and went back to the UK and the rest of her life.

Ten years have gone by since that first random email. We've had our ups and downs, had our misunderstandings, have enjoyed a laugh or two. Much has changed in that time. What has remained constant is the essence of Bird. She is an impressive character and a wonderful human being.

You're a busy person, Sarah Bird Lewis-Hammond. What is this interview interrupting right now?
You are interrupting the following: Tweeting for the UK Crowdfunding Association; looking at an initial plan for my second novel; wondering why I’m not working on my first novel; drinking a glass of red wine (something Italian, can’t remember the grape but also not about to get up to check. Oh but my glass is empty. Hang on. Nero D’Avola Frappato.); swooning after a mental few days with an ill and clingy 15 month old; complaining that my tongue hurts; eating a chocolate chip cookie; trying to figure out when to write the renewable energy investment newsletter that needs to be sent to the editor tomorrow when it’s already 10:30pm. Also thinking about knitting an R2D2 outfit for my daughter.

What do you tell people you do when they ask you what you do?
It depends who it is. At the moment I tend to mumble a few things and hope they lose interest. The mumble goes something like this: I was a journalist specialising in environmental issues, then I did an MA in creative writing and then I had a baby. At the moment I’m half-stay-at-home mumming, half-writing for a company that does work around renewable energy investment, and half-finishing my first novel. But I also do stuff like run writing workshops in Brighton and look for a girlfriend for my brother. It’s all a little shambolic right now.

What do people think you do?
Fuck around on Facebook.

What do you actually do?
Fuck around on Facebook and Twitter.

You didn't study journalism or writing in your university years, did you? What did you study?
Non. My undergrad was in maths and I got a well-deserved third. I was shit at it from the beginning so I think I should get an award for sticking it out

Before embarking on this writing journey (does that sound wanky? Writing journey?), where was your career headed? And how happy with your work/life were you at that stage?
After I graduated I got a job building websites and I proper hated it. I was miserable, my career was heading nowhere and I reached a point of near meltdown. Most days were spent in a dissociative state of fury and angst. It took me a while but I realised it was all a little daft and completely avoidable so I jumped on a plane and drunk some buckets on the Koh San Road with other over-privileged whities, sat on some beaches and on top of some mountains and did some Serious Thinking and realised that in my fantasy best future I hung around writing cool stuff and reading cool stuff and talking about both the writing and the reading. Actually making a living out of being a fiction writer seemed completely impractical so I hit upon journalism as an idea. I continued my cliché of a Grand Tour and headed to Sydney, whereupon I stumbled across your sorry arse and you foolishly started paying me to write shit. It transpired that I’m not that great at journalism and making a living out of reading and writing and talking fiction might not be quite so crazy after all so after the world’s most circuitous route I’m gradually heading over that way.

How happy are you now compared to then?
Immeasurably. It’s like different lives. Things are gradually slotting into place and although stuff doesn’t always work out, and the choices I make means things are sometimes tough, I can look back on how miserable I was and know why I can’t compromise on what is most important to me.

For someone with a non-journalistic background, you've had some pretty impressive achievements. Tell us a bit about those achievements and what they have meant to you.
Errr, I dunno if they are impressive to be honest. More luck, good timing and steam-rolling into things without thinking. I started a magazine on a whim because my ex-boss had pissed me off and I saw a gap in the market left by my ex-ex-boss. It was a financial disaster but was bought up at the last minute by the local rag. That gave me the opportunity to do some pretty cool stuff. I started an environment section in that local rag, which at the time was one of the first of its kind and I won an award for that. I didn’t win it because I was a great journalist, I won it because I was the only person doing that particular thing at the time. In subsequent years, when others started picking up on how big green news was getting, I wasn’t even shortlisted. I also started a local award scheme for grassroots environmental achievement, which was wicked fun and really valuable but, again, a financial disaster so it couldn’t carry on which I still think is a real shame. Then I applied for the creative writing MA on a whim because I had a conversation with someone during which we both whinged about how we weren’t writing as much as we want and I thought that was pretty pathetic and wanted to change it. I applied because I wanted to be able to say at least I had tried. It was a surprise that I not only got on the course but won a bursary from a literary agency, so that was all pretty excellent.

In terms of what it’s meant to me, I’m a little on the insecure side and need constant validation, so winning things is like yay! I can carry on! And then not winning things is like no! I need to hide under a duvet and cry! The MA thing has been both the biggest confidence boost and crusher ever. It’s very competitive so getting on it was all yay! I’m actually pretty good at this! But then I was surrounded by these phenomenally talented people which made me all no! I’m really shite at this!

How long have you been an environmentalist?
I wouldn’t really call myself an environmentalist. It’s a default state for anyone who lives on the planet and quite likes it. You wouldn’t call someone who likes breathing and wants to carry on breathing a breathalist, you’d just call them a person. It’s the same thing. I like the environment and want to carry on living in it thanksverymuch.

Having said that, it was probably around 2003 – 2004 when I started thinking about ‘the environment’ in less abstract terms. I had seen a lot of human impact in otherwise wild places and also started writing for a local hippie magazine. I wrote an article about carbon offsetting and although it’s not really a practical solution the lateral thinking really caught my attention. It built from there and I got a bit hooked on the science of the solutions. Human imagination at its best.
It kind of goes in phases to be honest. Right now I’m not so interested in doing my recycling and I’ve just got a new car which I love so I’m not exactly the model greenie, but I’m really into the potential of renewable energy and next-gen finance to drive it forward. I’m also really interested in the way we represent climate change in media and literature and the way our written culture impacts on the social and political discourse.

Among my friends I have a couple who absolutely deny that humanity is having any significant impact on climate change. What would you say to those people?
Nothing. I’ve got more interesting conversations to have with more interesting people.

I’m not a campaigner but if I was I would direct my campaign to where the most impact can be made, and that certainly isn’t wasting energy shouting at people who aren’t going to change their minds.

What shape do you think humanity is in right now. Any hope for us?
Things are a little wobbly around the edges, and some days it certainly seems as though we’re heading straight towards some kind of epic implosion but it’s also a very interesting time. Human imagination is genuinely awe-inspiring. At the moment, I spend a lot of time researching the expansion of renewable energy capacity and output. There is a lot of positivity that isn’t reported because We’re All Going To Die is a much better headline. Unsubsidised solar and wind power are now cheaper than subsidised gas and coal in some parts of the world. That’s big news. I mean, that is proper massive. While there are plenty of other serious issues, I think cracking clean, cheap, renewable energy is the key so I’m in an optimistic phase right now. If nothing else, we’ll beat it by sheer force of numbers. I mean, wiping out 10 billion of us fuckers is gonna be a tough job.

How long have you written fiction? Did you dream of being a fiction writer as a kid?
My turn to wank! No wait. My turn to sound wanky. I’ve kind of always been on ‘the writing journey’ but not necessarily always been writing. I have an incredibly prolific internal narrator who has spent the last thirty squillion years turning my everyday life into some kind of pseudo-noir half-arsed semiotic analysis of sitting on a bus and going to the shop. It’s only really been in the last ten years that I started seriously putting it down in pixels.

Somewhere I’ve got a few stories I wrote as a teenager, there are a few diaries and notebooks kicking around. As a kid I think I wanted to be a research chemist and then a waitress and then a computer programmer and then a dinosaur. I didn’t dream of being a fiction writer but I was a big reader and remember getting to the end of books and thinking ‘I’m totally going to do one of those one day’.

So when did you start taking fiction writing seriously?
I think it was about 2002 or 2003 when I finally sat down and wrote a story that I didn’t think was awful. Before then I knew what it was I wanted to do but really struggled to put a shape to it, if that made any sense, so I spent a lot of time writing very long and wistful emails to people that somehow sated the hunger but without providing any actual nutrition. I kept all the emails in the same way I’ve got all my dairies and notebooks but stupid Yahoo deleted them a couple of years ago. It was devastating.

And where are you at now with fiction?
Frustrated. I feel like I’ve been working on this novel forever and I just want to get it finished and published and have a couple of people read it and tell me what they think and then move on to the next thing. But also elated, it’s now part of my life in a way that really was only a dream a few years ago.

Can you tell us anything about the novel?
It’s the story of a young woman whose terminally ill, estranged step-father asks for her help getting to a suicide clinic in Europe. There’s some shit about bridges and flowers too.

You're furthering your education, aren't you. Or doing something university-ie? Something to do with something I'll never have anything to do with. (I don't even know how to spell PHD). What's happening there?
Ummm nowt at the moment. I want to study the way climate change is represented in contemporary fiction and the way that feeds back into the popular culture on the subject, and whether our rampant anthropocentrism is actually the key to behaviour change. But there are many complexities involved in going back to uni at this particular juncture.

Why do that when you can just, you know, write?
Two reasons: Firstly, because I can’t just write. I have to make a living as well. Realistically, I’m not going to make a living out of writing fiction, but I could make a living out of writing fiction and lecturing about fiction and writing the occasional overwrought academic paper.

Secondly, because it’s really all part of the same thing. The more I know about stuff the better writer I am.

Tell us about family life and what impact it is having on your writing endeavours.
Being a mum is pretty much the best thing ever but I am fucking knackered from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed. In one respect having a kid has been very positive for my writing because it’s forced me into a strict routine and made me focus on my goals, but in another respect it’s been a bit crap as I’m fucking knackered all the time. It’s also very motivating in that I want my daughter to think I’m awesome, which means I have to make myself awesome.

What's your favourite Edie moment so far?
It’s all been pretty cool (mostly). Just watching someone start from scratch and figure stuff out is incredibly compelling. If I had to pick one thing it would probably be a few weeks before Christmas when she had just learn to walk. We went to a cafe by the ice rink with some friends and Edie was running around grinning at random people, squealing at the little penguins that kids use to hold them up on the ice. It was all very festive and lovely but that wasn’t what was so great, it was the first time she wasn’t a little baby anymore and while that was sad in its own way it also felt full of a glorious potential.

Your favourite Toby moment?
It’s all been pretty cool (mostly). There’s so many times he’s made me laugh till I thought I was going to die. And just being a family is great. Also he made me a cup of tea the other day that was particularly delish.

Writing-wise, what are your goals for the next 12 months, five years, 10 years?
I’ve only got one goal at the moment and that’s to finish my novel by September of this year. Nothing else really exists at the moment.

How confident are you in achieving that goal?
Meh. I am riddled with insecurity but with a completely idealistic undercurrent of absolute certainty that everything will fall into place. So, you know, it will either happen or not, and either way I’ll be right.

You must have times of doubt. What keeps you going through those times?
If I’m writing and I’ve spent more than thirty minutes thinking I’m writing a big pile of shit I’ll walk away and come back to it later. If I still think it’s shit a few days later it gets sent to the great Word document in the sky. I once asked Ali Smith (who I totally adore) the same question and she shrugged and said “You just have to ignore it”. It seemed so clear cut for her, and for some reason that really enabled me to be better at ignoring the doubt. You have to be stubborn otherwise nothing ever gets done, and you have to think about it as a job. No other occupation would allow you to swoon at your laptop for three weeks. There are deadlines and they have to be met.

Toby is also fantastic when I’m full of drama about how terrible it all is. He’s a creative type too so he really gets the necessity of the occasional flap and always has the right thing to say.

You'll probably hate this question, but creatively, who are some of your biggest inspirations?
I hate this question. The minute anyone asks me I suddenly forget EVERYTHING. I guess my main source of cultural input is text-based: books, articles, blogs, etc. I’m not a huge consumer of music or visual arts because I think I’m probably dead on the inside. At the moment I’m really into magical realism in a Salman Rushdie kind of way, and also realism that seems very magical in a Colum McCann kind of way. In terms of storylines I get a lot of ideas from real life, things people tell me, situations that arise. I’m a chronic asker of “what if?” and a perpetual creator of drama, although I try to keep that mostly to my fiction these days. In general I have quite visual ideas of how I want things to sound when they’re read and how I want them to make people feel, which I guess doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense.

What advice would you give to a younger you? You pick the age.
Stop being a twat. Age < 30

What was the last thing that made you LOL?
Someone I know posted some conspiracy thing on Facebook about why the Pope resigned, and it stated as a well known fact that the Queen regularly makes human sacrifices at Balmoral.

Now that you have finished these questions, what are you about to do?
Go to bed. Cold sheets are the best.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grumpy With Friends

Well as it turns out, 2013 has gotten off to a pretty weird-arsed start. I've realised that the quiet, outsider me is still very much there. All that's happened is over time I've managed to find (they have found me) some really good people who I'm relaxed with and that brings out the confident version of me. I've been reminded that there are emotionally retarded, irrational people out there and that they can make things unpleasant simply because they view the world in a very self-centred way. My friends, my good friends, are generous, caring, intelligent people. I love them dearly and have new-found appreciation of them. I miss them and look forward to seeing them again. (My Nadia and my Cuff buddy are visiting for Maitreya in a few weeks... bring it on).

I recently said to one friend, fuck humans, I'm going back to being a recluse. Typical of the things I used to say. She said the things that a true friend would say, and of course I was only half joking. I am genuinely not very interested in making new friends... in fact that's probably always been the case; I have always felt my friends have found me because I don't go looking.

Having said that, out at a day party in the park yesterday, The Dreaded One and I lay out our plush red blanket and settled in for a day of just us with other people who knew each other. We're pretty good at spending loads of time together so all was cool. But someone came over and said hello, gave us a hug, brought her things over to sit with us. Clearly we had met before but I was rusty. It was one of those situations where you've forgotten details and it's obvious and these days I don't bother with tricks, I just asked what her name was and soon we were talking. Confident me made a reappearance and she was laughing and telling us we had really good stories. She seemed genuine and funny and spoke only of positive things about other people. I admire and respect that in a person. A friend of hers joined us, then more friends and soon there was quite a group of us. And they were all cool and funny and interesting. The music was pumping, I danced, people on the dancefloor talked to me and there was no nonsense. This was what life was about. Joy. Kindness. Laughter. Meeting good people. Music. Dancing.

Which brings me to my new project. As I haven't told you, Tsunami mag/website has folded and my Grumpy column is no more. It must be approaching 10 years now so it's not been a bad run. Gutted, yes, I was; I'll fess up here and say that many times, writing that column brought me out of really dark moods, possibly actual depression. And for so long I got to tell people that I have my own humour column, which was good for my self esteem. No more. But I think of that little saying, don't be sad that it's over, be glad that it happened. It was a fun ride. And I do need to compile The Book Of Grumpy.

Meantime, I'm doing something called Grumpy With Friends. I woke up last Sunday with the thought that fuck me I know a lot of creative people. I'm lucky enough to interview people like Nick Ravenswood and Imogen Kelly (as well as all the really famous people I've done over the years - put interview into the search box if you're interested), but I personally know some really good DJs, music producers, actors, writers, globe trotting hair dressers, film makers, pixies, fashion designers... why don't I interview them? They have equally interesting stories to tell as the ones with higher profiles.

So that's what I'm going to do. It's just for this blog and it's just for fun, but they get to tell their stories, I get to do what I enjoy so much (engage with these creative types) and hopefully it will make for some good reading. It makes me happy to do this kind of thing. The response, when I put it out there, was pretty solid, and I think once the ball gets rolling, others will be interested.

Grumpy With Friends, it's going to be fun.

Monday, February 04, 2013

It's a Dream, You Idiot

Grumpy - It's a Dream, You Idiot.

Last night I had a dream. I was hanging out with an old friend. Not old in age – she's younger than I am, but we've been friends for a long time. We're buddies. Mates. We do the kind of things buddies and mates do together. We phone each other up when we feel like a bit of a chat. Sometimes we go to the movies or out for drinks and talk shit. You know the kind of person. We all have them. They're easy to hang out with. They've known you for long enough that they've decided that your foibles are worth putting up with because you're a good egg. And you think they're a pretty good egg too. (Is that a thing? 'Good egg'? Do people say that or have I just made it up? It sounds like a thing. Must look it up...)

I don't recall exactly what my friend and I were doing in the dream, but I was quite shocked when she started rubbing herself suggestively against me. It was just not something I ever expected her to do... I'm going to have to give her a name, but not a girl's name in case I give her identity away or give someone else the wrong idea that it was them... let's call her Egg.

Egg! What in the hell do you think you're doing?”
I'm feeling you up, Grumpy. Feels nice, huh? You wanna fool around?”

I moved away. “No. We can't fool around. It's us. We're mates.”

Mates can fool around. C'mon. Haven't you ever thought about us doing it? I have.”

Her arms were like tentacles, all over me. It was insane. What the hell did she think she was doing? There had absolutely never been any indication that this kind of thing was going to happen. Ever. We've been really, really drunk together and been on benders but had never done anything remotely resembling what was going on here. This was really shocking. What was she thinking?

Come on Egg. Stop it. This is ridiculous. Stop it. Stop it! Get off me!”

Stop being silly, Grumpy. It's not ridiculous – it's sexy. Here, give me your hand and -”

She totally made me feel her breasts, and although not altogether unpleasant it was just so utterly, utterly wrong. We're both in relationships... what was The Dreaded One going to say when she found out that Egg made me touch her on the boobs?

I realised with a kind of horror that it was more like Egg was feeling my hands with her breasts, and I was kind of paralysed, just unable to move properly away. Not only that but Egg was really getting into it.

It was the most awful thing ever. We were going to get into so much trouble if anyone found out... and yet... nice boobies...

NononononononononononononostopitEggstopitatonceverybadthingswillhappen... your arse feels really nice, btw...”

Mmm... mmmmmmm... touch me here, Grrrrrumpy. Ooh yeah, that feels so hot...”

Seriously, no. This is so wrong. If The Dreaded -”

I was cut of by what can only be described as a voice-over. A very commanding voice came over a kind of dream PA system and said, “It's a dream, you idiot.”

I looked around in confusion. “What?”

I said it's a dream, you idiot. Just go for it.”

I thought for a moment. The voice, which sounded quite a lot like my voice, was making a very good point. This was a dream. This wasn't really Egg, it was dream Egg. And this wasn't real me, it was dream me. And this wasn't real sex, it was drea-

Suddenly Batman was bitch-slapping Robbin and saying, “We fucking get it!”

And then Grumpy and Egg... that is, dream Grumpy and dream Egg were totally getting it on. And it was hot. Egg was sensational. And I'm happy to say that I was really, really good.

See?” Egg said afterwards. “How fun was that? We should totally do it again sometime. We could do it every night... every night... night... night...”

Then I woke up and felt very odd. Such a vivid dream. Egg and I... we did it. And it was really good. And perfectly okay because we can't help what happens in our dreams, right? And there would be no repercussions. Not even if we did it every night.

I trudged upstairs and flicked the lappy on, thinking that the voice-over bit was pretty damned funny. I had to share this with Facebook.

And suddenly there were repercussions.

The Dreaded One was not impressed. “It's a bit creepy, isn't it?”

Creepy?” I repeated, hurt. “It's funny. Hehe... the voice-over saying it's a dream, you idiot.”

But what's it going to be like when you see Egg – and I don't want to know who Egg is, by the way. All the girls are going to want to know who it is and...”

I palmed the air. “All right. All right. I'll delete it. It's good material but I won't use it on Facebook.”

Good. Very sensible of you.”

I'm a very sensible man. We'll just keep this between you and me.”

Grumpy is freelance writer and dream lover Lee Bemrose (leebemrose666@gmail.com)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Rape Of Lucrece, Camille O'Sullivan, Review

(Photo from The Guardian, UK)

The Rape Of Lucrece

By William Shakespeare.
Performed by Camille O'Sullivan and Feargal Murray.
Directed by Elizabeth Freestone.
MTC until Feb 10.

It's Shakespeare, Jim, but not as we know it. Or, it's Camille O'Sullivan, Jim, but not as we know her.

Okay, so there's more truth in the former than the latter. This is Shakespeare, but it's a lesser known work, a very long, tragic poem. It was not written for the stage and was not written as music and song. And yet...

And it is Camille O'Sullivan, just not the unpredictable wild cat of cabaret that we're used to. But it is the dark Camille who sometimes turns her brooding gaze and devastatingly, powerfully, emotional voice upon us.

The story is legendary and partly historical, although it's debatable how much of Shakespeare's version is accurate. Lucrece is the chaste wife of Roman nobleman Collatine who is raped by the king's son Tarquin when he hears of her purity and decides to put it to the test. Devastated by the act, Lucrece kills herself, in doing so bringing about the fall of the Roman royal family and the establishment of the Roman republic.

It's a big story. It's a long poem. But this Royal Shakespeare Company production has it pared back to around an hour and a half with the emphasis not so much on the political as the personal. Here, we get an insight into the mindset of rapist Tarquin and victim Lucrece, both played impressively by Camille O'Sullivan. The result is unsettling (Tarquin is portrayed with a degree of sympathy, regretting his crime) and unrelentingly compelling.

Where this reviewer went along as a fan of Shakespeare, I went along as a fan of Camille. In reality, this is a perfect match. Murray and O'Sullivan have done a fine job of turning the Bard's words, at times, into contemporary-sounding songs. I guess the text lends itself to song so well due to the rhythm of the prose, which is not to take credit away from the two musical collaborators on stage; they have done an impressive job.

But for me it's the performance that shines. Poetic recital gives way to to song, Camille inhabits these two extreme opposites, and when she unleashes that raw emotion... well, it's breath-taking stuff. You don't doubt for a second that she is feeling the emotion she is conveying because you feel it too; the standing ovation was not unwarranted.

It was nice to see Camille return to the stage as the applause broke out and smile and scratch the air with her cat claws. I look forward to seeing humour in her next show, but I wouldn't have missed this one for anything.

 Go to Australian Stage for my recent interview with Camille.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

It's A Dream, You Idiot

I just had a dream in which a friend was hitting on me, was really pushing for sex. I was refusing because it would be wrong - we're both in relationships. But she kept pushing (literally) and I kept saying no and moving away (even though part of me thought it would be shitloads of fun).

Then a voiceover came on and said, "It's a dream, you idiot. Go for it."

I said oh yeah, you're right. So I went for it. We really got into it. I... erm... went down on my friend and she had the most amazing, long and loud orgasm. It was quite beautiful and as sexy as it gets.

But we didn't go further because suddenly there were other people in the room, and although they seemed to be taking all this nudity and sex in their stride and not judging us, we knew that even if it was a dream there were still limitations. The door swung open and people were walking past, glancing in but walking on by.

So we got dressed and my friend kissed me and told me next time it was my turn. We basically made a date for next time.

And I woke up feeling pretty fucking odd.