# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Pimlico - Interview

  by Julia Willis

published: 13 / 7 / 2002



Pimlico - Interview

intro

"Lit-wit" indie pop rockers Fosca are back with a second album 'Diary of an Antibody' and a new line-up. Julia Willis speaks to frontman, Dickon Edwards, and the group's other three members about the new record


Arriving at the notorious Bull & Gate in the mid-afternoon, I walk through the ladies toilets and out into the vaudeville surroundings. The light streams through the skylight above the bar and I look into the backroom. Perhaps they’re hiding out here… As I look through the hazy shafts of light I see a tall figure with a shock of bleached hair moving gracefully around the room. Undoubtedly, I have found Dickon. Dickon Edwards, lead singer and guitarist of Fosca, is polite in the manner of a bumbling English dandy. Speaking with the assured self-importance of a public schoolboy, he introduces me to the delicately pretty shrinking violets surrounding him: Kate Dornan, Rachel Stevenson and Sheila B whose shyness is arranged in alphabetical order. I feel awkward and brash in comparison. An unconventional London based pop outfit with quirky catchy tunes, their second album, 'Diary of an Antibody' is due out in the Autumn on Shinkansen. Since the first album, 'On Earth to Make the Numbers Up', Alex Sharkey has left the line-up and Kate has now taken on vocals and keyboards. Fosca’s defining feature however is the intellectual, literary whimsy within the lyrics, dubbed by 'Uncut' as ‘lit-wit’. Dickon: I have to take the blame for the words. Although I come out with the basic songs and chords, I leave it to the other three to fill in the gaps and write their own parts. Partially in order to get a group arrangement going on, but also because I am extremely lazy. If I write parts for them, they might complain that they can’t play them. Dickon’s striking chiselled face, overtly bleached side parted hair, make up and bookish nature place him somewhat outside convention. As the lyricist, it’s clear that perhaps Dickon’s literary, intelligent songs are likewise highly personal, unconventional and anecdotal, reviewers often making comparisons to Morrissey. "I try to be as personal as possible but universally personal so that people can get what they want from lyrics. I am a massive fan of Morrissey and I think he’s the greatest living lyricist. I do like the idea of him being a completely displaced person outside the world and being apparently secretive and enigmatic, but really not bothered about joining in the games of real life." Perhaps taking his cue from Morrissey, Dickon by self confession is "unemployable and reclusive". He almost seems to be a character in the third person, living his life in his own little world. "That’s it, I have ceased thinking that life is to be taken seriously. All evidence is to the contrary. That’s why I haven’t got a proper job in all this time, I’ve reached thirty now and I still haven’t learnt anything at all. I don’t take on too much and prune my possessions. I am thoroughly useless individual, I live off the state and I don’t have a proper job, and my records don’t make money just yet, but my excuse is that I keep things to a minimum and that I haven’t hurt anyone. What’s important is to stop worrying about what matters to everyone else. I’m happy living in my own eccentric way." Rachel’s eyes shift in Dickon’s direction, confused "Wasn’t it a question about books?" She’s right, of course, but he defends himself. "I suppose what I meant was my days are spent reading novels in cafes rather than getting day jobs like everyone else." Fosca have defined themselves on their website as a co-operative, almost as if the band is an organic entity. It seems like a nice idea to have a manifesto in mind when creating a band as a unit. Kate: To an extent, the reason we’re in Fosca is because we knew each other and we’re into the same sorts of music. It’s safe to say though that Dickon’s lyrics and the way he lives his life are very much Dickon and the rest of us are very different from that and each other. I had read actually at one stage that Dickon had called Fosca a benign dictatorship. "I did say that, but they all complained" Kate: We did because you implied that it would be bad for anyone else to write songs. Dickon: You right your own parts. It’s just the lyrics thing I would complain about. If other people started writing lyrics, it might change the whole mood of Fosca but I’m always willing to accept tunes from anyone. Rachel: I think you were just being rather prattish that day. You’d said before that we were a co-operative. Dickon: I write the songs because no one else does. Kate studies music though. I have asked her if she’d like to write more Part of Fosca’s refreshing charm is their choice of instruments. Dickon sings and plays guitar. Kate and Rachel both sing and play keyboards, although Kate, a music student, plays a whole plethora of other instruments. Sheila plays the cello. They’re not therefore, your average guitar band. Dickon: One reason for doing a band at all is to do something different. People want to hear something they haven’t heard before. I wanted to make a band that was unusual. Our line up is therefore quite unusual. We have a male singer and three fetching female musicians. We don’t have a drummer or a bassist. We have three vocalists, lead and two backing, guitar, cello, two keyboards and pre-programmed bass and drums. We also have a ban on trainers in the band, which apparently is outrageous. I want to open a music paper and see footage of a festival without seeing bands all wearing the same clothes. That’s all. If people are paying to watch you, you should be worth looking at as well as hearing. Another reason why I have females is ‘cause they tend to dress up, although I’ve met a few showy boys who’ve upstaged me… I find this hard to believe as in Dickon’s bag is a Prom Queen sash he’s been threatening to wear for tonight’s performance. It seems of the band, Dickon is the most ostentatious and the others by comparison, although clearly have opinions and brains of their own, keep themselves to themselves much more, more often than not taking Dickon’s lead. I go back again to discuss Fosca’s definition of themselves as being "solipsistic and selfish". Kate: Well, I wasn’t in the band when you wrote that so… Dickon to Kate: Do you not believe you’re solipsistic? Kate: No, I honestly don’t. I believe I have a social conscience, Sorry. Dickon: Well OK. I on the other hand believe I have an inadvertent solipsism. All children are solipsistic. They believe the world revolves around them and it’s a terrible shock when they grow up and they realize the world isn’t created for them after all. Kate: I sometimes do find that people sometimes have a look on their faces which says "I can’t believe you’re encroaching on my world" and that’s a lot more solipsistic than anything we could ever hope to be. Dickon: So at least we admit it. PB : You also said you were antisocial, reclusive and elusive… Dickon: That’s certainly me anyway. Rachel: You went to four clubs the other night! Sensing that it might perhaps be better to change the subject, I ask them what their genre-defining term ‘Outpatient Pop’ meant, wondering if perhaps this was indicative of Fosca’s tendency to live outside the mainstream and promote individualism. Dickon: Well, on the first album we listed the drugs we were on and they were all I hasten to add, legal. A mixture of caffeine, nicotine, St John’s Wort and so on. I thought that was quite amusing. That’s why we’re outpatient pop really. There’s something very wrong with us, but we’re not taking up too much time. In fact on this album the songs are shorter. they don’t take up too much time… we’re more of a lean machine! This is indeed one of the differences between the first and the second album in addition to the departure of Alex and the arrival of Kate which has lead to a change in instrumentation and a different way of playing. So do they feel that this is a progression? Dickon’s not sure. "Hmmm, the idea of progression. I mean, what are you progressing towards ? A perfect idea? I think when you make music you do the best you can at that time. I’m slightly different to who I was when I made the first album and the songs on the second should reflect that. They are like snapshots of what went on in the studio in April 2002." Kate: The first album very much involved programming it all beforehand, but now what we do on record and what we play live are pretty much the same things. We also worked all the parts out pretty much as a band. There’s more of a group dynamic on this album. "So do you all hang out together as a band?" Dickon & Kate: Sometimes yes, we have been to venues when we’ve all been in the same room. We’ve been to the same places occasionally.’ "You seem to all have very different personalities…" Dickon: We went on tour together and we all nearly killed each other. So we’re not a gang. To be pretty fair though I think you two (looking at Sheila and Kate) get on together. I am quite aloof and so is Rachel. Rachel (looking put out): If you say so… Dickon: Say something then ! Come on ! What do you think?’ Rachel: Erm, I dunno. (Hastily) Next question. Dickon: We do share the same tastes and we do end up at the same gigs a lot. Kate: We do talk to each other when we see each other at gigs, but probably no more than we speak to everyone else. Rachel: We email a lot. Dickon : We do everything by email now. Kate: We’re on about twenty a day… Throughout the interview Rachel either looks as if she has something to say or sits there listening, bemused. Feeling curious, I try to draw her reluctantly into conversation on more than one occasion. I mention that Rachel described being in Fosca as rather like learning to play the oboe so you can get out of Maths at school. Is it therefore her form of escapism? Dickon: Yeah, what is it you’re hiding, Rachel ? Rachel: Tonight I’m playing a gig so I’m avoiding going to the School Disco or whatever’s fashionable at the moment… Dickon: Well, we haven’t made any money yet and those with day jobs or studies have to get time off, so they must all somehow like what they’re doing. Perhaps then Rachel’s day job is to purely finance her love for music? Rachel: I think it’s important to have some kind of purpose, I would actually disagree with everything Dickon said. Turning to Dickon, she continues "Well, I can’t remember exactly what you said but your idea is to live as Dickon, I don’t really agree with that. I like having different bits of my life. Dickon (derisorily) : You go on holiday Rachel (shrugs) : Yeah well, holiday. I have a social life that doesn’t involve Fosca… Dickon continues to talk at the same time as Rachel - "travel narrows the mind." Rachel: And therefore have different parts of your life rather than being the same person. (Talking through gritted teeth) All. The. time. (Looks at Dickon) Ssshhhh! Dickon: Sorry! Feeling bad as if I have pushed Rachel into a corner and haven’t given her the chance to speak I decide to discuss the band’s name instead. The name, Fosca, is actually based on a book of the same name, which in turn became a character in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, 'Passion'. Dickon: I am a fan of Steven Sondheim’s musicals so I really like ‘Passion’. It’s very intense about feelings and how you live for love. The female lead is called Fosca and it means darkness really. Such references are characteristically literary, and I ask if Fosca pride themselves on being intellectual and not mundane or dumb. Dickon: I always like artists such as Morrissey. There’s a Style Council album where they gave you a reading list, books to read after you’ve listened to their record. People say that’s a very pretentious way to go about making music but I like books and having them recommended. This is why I like spreading literary references. PB : And these things you read would give us a better understanding of what we hear Fosca play ? Kate: Well, maybe yes. On the one hand you can be proud of being intelligent which I think it’s fair to say we all are, but you can also try too hard I think to push the fact you’re intelligent I think ‘cause generally it comes across. Dickon: I like clever jokes but I also like lots of heartfelt stuff as well. The second album I think is poptastically catchy. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. They’re three minute pop songs, although you can throw literary devices in there you can still sing along and get that instant rush of popness which we all love. As the doors open and the engineer comes in to do their soundcheck we all begin to stir. They all offer charming smiles and proffer hands. Kate and Sheila disappear and return made-up and dressed in suits. Fosca the ‘entity’ begins to take shape. Fosca are nervous and shy but defiant and sly. Fosca are pro-style and anti fashion. Fosca make dysfunctional dance music with one hand, and coruscating chamber pop with the other. Fosca are stroppy and cute. Don’tcha just LOVE ‘em?! The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Matthew Williams



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Pimlico - Interview



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