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Very Things - Interview

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 20 / 7 / 2004



Very Things - Interview

intro

Since leaving the Cocteau Twins in 1998, Robin Guthrie has developed both an instrumental solo career and formed a new band, Violet Indiana. He chats to Olga Sladeckova about Violet Indiana's new second album, 'Russian Doll'


I remember the first time I saw Robin Guthrie’s Violet Indiana. It was on the 8th October 2001 at the Borderline in London. (I still have the ticket of course!) Listening to the band’s beautiful melodies and sensual tunes I knew it was love at the first “listen”. I remember receiving the band’s EP ‘Special’ in the post one evening shortly after that. That morning I had managed to flatten 2 tyres on a Land Rover (which was my boss’s…), so it wasn’t one of my best days. I can still, however, remember that comforting and calming feeling when I put ‘Special’ into my stereo that evening. A year or so after that Robin, who until 1998 was the guitarist in the influential Cocteau Twins, released his debut instrumental solo album, ‘Imperial’. The album arrived in the post on the day I was going to see my friend’s photographic exhibition. I took the album with me and played it on the train there and back. I can remember sitting on a bench of a quiet train station somewhere in the middle of nowhere with the exotic music coming from my headphones. The album is actually inspired by Robin’s travels and somehow I could really feel the hot sun of faraway places in the music. After all I’ve gone through with the music I was very excited when Violet Indiana’s second album ‘Russian Doll’ came out. I’m not going to tell you when I first played that because that time is more personal to me, but it was certainly no less memorable. That is, however, is just me. Violet Indiana music is sold and being played in the UK, Europe and US so there will be many more stories from other fans accompanying the band’s live events and releases. ‘Russian Doll’ came out in April this year and, as Robin describes it, is “delicious”. “This is a good word, isn’t it ? It covers everything” explains Robin talking to Pennyblackmusic over the phone from his home in France where he relocated two years ago. “I’m very happy with that record. We haven’t been playing shows in the UK, but have been playing other places in Europe and the shows have been very successful.” The name ‘Russian Doll’ can have many meanings to it. “You would have to ask Siobhan.” says Robin. “I think it’s partly because at the time we were doing the album she was having a baby. So there’s an element of her in that name and of her having life living inside her.” Siobhan de Mare is Violet Indiana’s vocalist and it’s only other regular member. Violet Indiana’s music and lyrics have always had a great amount of passion and beauty in them. The lyrics often deal with different aspects of love. ‘(My Baby Was A) Cheat’ “What did you do when I wasn’t with you I heard something that they said. It cuts like a knife to hear the words and know that you’ve been somewhere else.” ‘Touch Me’ “What’s the matter with your expression you say you’re just thinking. Nothing that you want to share with me do you still care? Whereas your heart just tells me is there someone else? Is there someone you love? Please don’t you want me?” “What often happens with our songs is that we hang around and talk about stuff.” explains Robin. “While making the music we sometimes gossip. Siobhan is the biggest gossip in the whole world” he laughs. “When you hear about those things that people go through they sometimes end up going into our songs.” Not to be misleading, the majority of Violet Indiana’s lyrics are about falling in love rather than just about the sour feelings associated with guilt and betrayal. The interesting thing is that the music is very seductive and justifies temptation at any time regardless of the lyrics. It is also an album that is very easy to fall for on the first listen and even from the very first song. It is also very unpredictable and sounds fresh every time you listen to it by showing itself with each new hearing in different colours or shades . “There is always something to go back to” agrees Robin. “There is always something new . It has a little bit more depth to it and there are always things you can come back to. That was really the aim of it.” The artwork of the album shows the lower part of woman’s body from the chest down. The picture is blurred and the woman is wearing only a blue shirt and white boots. It was designed by Robin. Robin also designed the artwork for ‘Imperial’ which also shows a woman’s body in a similarly artistic fashion. I personally believe Robin could quite happily any time become an artist. “Thank you” he says modestly. “What I did there was found an old black and white picture, retextured it and and made that into the cover.” The future is definitely open for Violet Indiana and Robin. After the release of ‘Imperial’ last year, he is already thinking of putting out another solo album. “I will definitely do another on.” he confirms. “I might do that next. I don’t have a shortage of things to do. I just don’t quite know what to do first, but then I think that’s a good place to be in..” “Things are far more difficult now then when we used to be successful in a successful group” he continues. “There were many more people involved and it was easier for us. I don’t have a manager now and have to take care of everything myself.” For the last few years, unfortunately for Britain, Robin and Violet Indiana have only performed in Europe and America. “I can’t really get any gigs in UK” he admits with a surprised voice and no wonder considering the Cocteau Twins used to sell out venues capacity around 5000 people. “But I don’t bother looking for them now. I’m obviously not in the loop. Every time I speak to someone they say, exactly like you,that there are people who would want to see us. The reality is that I have been playing in Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, Russia, Croatia and Japan, but I am not getting any gigs in Britain .” After two years of living in France Robin has become active on the French music scene. “I’ve been doing some shows with a French band in Paris” he reveals. “And I have been doing some solo gigs as well which are very popular. And then do a lot of producing for bands from all over Europe. Apart from that I’ve just finished a movie sound track that is coming out soon. The film is called ‘Mysterious Skin’. It was directed by Gregor Yaki. It’s very good film with some beautiful music.” Well, having experienced so much with Violet Indiana, my next aim is to see the band live again. It might mean I will have to travel out of UK but that will be another memorable memory for my “Violet” collection. As for Robin, having been busy so much this year already, he is at the moment enjoying spending time with his wife and two daughters. “I don’t really have a plan what to do the rest of the year, but I will definitely be making some more beautiful music” he concludes leaving the future open for anything to happen.



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Very Things - Interview


Very Things - Interview


Very Things - Interview


Very Things - Interview


Very Things - Interview



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