I interviewed my favourite singer in the whole world, Diane Cluck, and her touring partner Barry Bliss for the Stool Pigeon this summer. The word count I got for the article was too small to contain everything I wanted to say, but here is the transcript of an amazing evening with two amazing people.
Green Man Festival campfire, 14th August
D: I never know how sensitive those things are (points to Dictaphone)
E: Not sensitive. How you feeling today?
D: Spicy (laughs)
E: So you grew up in Pennsylvania?
D: Moved to New York when 18.
E: That would be where the song Penn state vs. Louisiana Tech [from the mini album Diane Cluck]came from?
D: My dad hasn’t missed a home game in about 35 years. The year I wrote that song they had a really bad season.
E: And Barry grew up there as well?
B: I grew up in Virginia. Is Pennsylvania under New York? We met in 99/ 2000.
E: Do you make much music anymore?
B: I guess you would say I still do it, I don’t know what I’ll do when I get back. I’ve done 5 albums I believe, in new York.
E: Have you ever made albums together?
B: Not together but in the same room. While each other was out. Oh Vanille was made in the blue room, a couple of mine were made in the blue room.
D: We had opposite work schedules, which is important. We had a day off together, then I’d have a couple days on while he was off.
B: I forgot about that. (chuckles)
D: I was working in a restaurant, you were taxi driving. You had Wednesdays off I’d work Tuesday Wednesday Sunday and you’d work the other days. That way we’d have time to practice when the other wasn’t there.
E: Talks some shit about her own relationship.
D: Yeah, it worked really well for a while.
E: What are you doing in Georgia now?
D: Setting up my house so I can do all kinds of stuff I like, I’ve been mostly gardening. And I got a drum kit so I’ve been learning to play drums. The house doesn’t really have neighbours round it so I can make noise.
E: Is it yours?
D: No I’m renting.
E: What’s the community you were talking about, composting together and eating vegetables?
D: It’s not so much a community, but there’s individuals that I‘ve been interacting with. I feel like I’ve started interacting with people on a macro level, not micro, like even though I’m doing a lot of things by myself, I feel a lot more connected to people in general. But most of my individual relationships are all about that stuff, like connecting people, and composting and eating, is all about connecting people making the most of the relationships. And I do feel that actually I’ll probably want to eventually – I mean – I feel more of a pull of not having all my own stuff, it seems really boring to have ‘my house’, ‘my kitchen’, ‘my fridge’, ‘my dishes’. But I don’t feel yet ready to live communally, but I feel like that’s probably something that might interest me eventually, cause I think that’s it’s a better way to live.
E: Some bullshit about bullshit (my phone goes off) Why did you move to Georgia?
D: Cause NY was so expensive for me, to have a place to make noise. We had a really ideal setup, we kind of knew but we didn’t know how great it was until the building was sold and we had to leave. We had a carpenter upstairs, so there was good reciprocity with the noise there. He made noise, i made noise, he made noise, and the people downstairs, they just kind of ignored their neighbours anyway, and we had an absent housemate on the one side, and a stairwell on the other. But then after I moved about four times in new York, and spent about as much on rent, if not more, but never found anywhere I could sing. Now I have a whole house, with big land around it for the same price I was renting for a tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, so it made more sense.
E: Is this the first time you’ve had land to tend?
D: Yeah, it’s actually a lot of work.
E: Do you not feel the pull to go somewhere a bit more spacious as well?
B: Yeah I used to do a lot of hopping around, I’ve lived out of garbage cans I've done stuff like that. It’s only just the last couple of years that I’ve hit my stride and been able to do work without thinking about it, find a place that’s mine, and a lot of free time, and so I guess unless the pulls strong enough I’m scared to shake all that up. I have a small room, I meditate quite a bit. I don’t hang out with anybody ever. So I have lots of time, if I want to suddenly sit up and meditate for an hour I can do that. I have nobody to answer to. I sing into a box. I hang a box on to the back of a door and put up foam. I play my guitar and sing with my face right into the box, so I am able to do that and so yeah right now ok, I think about it a lot, and we’ve talked about should we share a house, which we decided was not a good idea as of now. But still I’ve thought about moving to Georgia anyway. Um but I can’t say that’s where I’m going right now. After this I believe I’ll go home, and Wholefoods [Barry's employers] will have their busy delivery season, and I’ll probably do that for the next six months, then maybe move.
E: What are you doing creatively at the moment?
D: A lot of it is the art stuff, and people, relationship stuff, like learning to communicate openly with people, and regardless of consequences having really honest relationships with them. And I have been working on music. I just don’t feel the urge to be productive. Like when I first started, I must have had this left over work ethic from somewhere and I felt like every year I had to make an album and I did. For six years I did that. And then I felt the cycle was getting longer. Like even the last couple it kind of felt like it should have been a little longer but I pushed it, I was like ‘I have to do one this year’. And then all off a sudden I was like I don’t care. If it takes me five years to do something and I feel like it’s important to share, I’ll do it, and if I never do it I’ll never do it, and if I want to do it tonight and share it tomorrow I’ll do that. But I’ve been working on songs, I’ve always felt like music is an expression of a life well lived and I just like living in a way that I feel good about. There’s always a lot of food in my life, I like to cook a lot, so I spend like three hours a day in the kitchen, I make so many things from scratch, I just resign myself to the fact that that’s how I am. Like sometimes I think, oh man I spend so much time doing this, like I make all this stuff, maybe I should taper it down and then I was like, no I really like doing this. And that’s what people have been through for thousands of years. It’s like normal. They used to spend a whole day just heating up water. Not that it takes up my whole day, but it takes a lot of my time.
E: blah blah food is great [I agreed with everything she said, it was quite embarrassing but I couldn't stop myself]
D: Food is a really bug part of my life. I tend to make things and then even though I live alone I’ll always share it with someone, I’ll either bring it to work, or take it to the co-operative shop or to the friend around the corner or invite a friend over for dinner, there’s always a lot of food stuff going on.
E (to b): You don’t have a pull to make albums every year either?
B: I don’t you say?
B: The only thing I have a pull to do, is to realise my full potential as a human being. As it so happens I’m drawn to make music, but music per say, I’m not interested in. you know, I’m only interested in being a successful human being, in being a servant of the lord, I guess you would say.
E: But you don’t mean that religiously?
B: No I’m not religious, I hate religion. I just use the word lord sometimes.
E: In the same sense as ‘nothing but god’ in Diane’s lyrics?
B: She has her own way of doing it, but I resonate with the vibe, or whatever, of the things that she sings about, even though she words things differently than I do sometimes.
D: I’m not religious either. Well I think it’s all the same words for deepest intuition. I don’t think that people are bad, I think our strongest voices are the thing we should listen to, and that’s what god is.
E: Shall we walk towards Robert plant?
for a review of Robert Plant (gag) scroll down.