Please Your Soul
Earlier this week I went to the launch of a book: Conform to Deform: The Weird and Wonderful World of Some Bizzare a history of the notorious indie record label that sprung out of the mind of the teenage Stephen Pearce at the beginning of the eighties. While there I realised that Some Bizzare had been a huge influence on my musical taste and personal aesthetic, ultimately contributing the mental DNA of whatever it is that makes me me.
Quite fittingly this happened by stealth.
It all started when I got into Soft Cell in 1981. For some reason (well I was on holiday – a school trip to the USSR) I completely missed out on the summer of Tainted Love and my introduction to them was their far more subversive follow up single Bedsitter. Before long I'd become an obsessive as was so often the way with me and the completist in me led me to seek out the Some Bizzare album, a compilation LP (which I seem to recall may have had a "Pay no more than £2.99" or similar sticker on it?) which had an otherwise unavailable Soft Cell track on it, as well as eleven other tracks by new bands such as Depeche Mode, The The and Blancmange.
All bands on both sides of the LP (Fish Side and Lamp Side, not Side 1 and Side 2) appealed to me and stimulated my musical taste in interesting new electronic directions, and to this day electronica is a genre that still speaks to me.
The fact that Marc Almond was a prolific artist also helped - his darker and less commercial project – Marc and the Mambas – that ran alongside Soft Cell and was also released on Some Bizarre introduced me to other artists such as Matt Johnson (The The), Anni Hogan and Jim Thirlwell (Foetus), and through them I discovered even more in a kind of runaway nuclear fission reaction, each artist leading me to discover two or three further ones and on and on. It was through Anni Hogan's debut 1985 album Kickabye that I first became aware of Nick Cave who wrote and sung on one of the tracks. Through Foetus I discovered Lydia Lunch and Sonic Youth.
The music also affected my attitude to life. I was never that comfortable with conforming or fitting in or trying to be like everyone else and many of the bands featured here - despite the involvement of major labels in release and distribution - put the music first and foremost, even going so far as to almost sabotage the commercial success. This subversive attitude is something that also stuck with me and while nowadays I accept that, yes, you do need money to survive in the increasingly dystopian future into which we've washed up, I absolute do not respect money and have never been tight fisted or miserly. Sure I've been through times when I've had to tighten my belt but if anything that only increased my disdain for the capitalist ideal. I'd like my books to sell not to get rich but so that more people read my stories.
And lastly anyone who's ever met me will have clocked my eccentric appearance, queer hair and a dress sense rooted in gothic but evolved into its own thing over the years. While there's a large portion of Toyah in there I think many of the darker eye lined and nail painted aspects of my look stem from using my pocket money to buy that LP back in the early eighties.
And probably for no more than £2.99.