Podcast episode 3: Perhaps Contraption – Transforming live gigs to immersive experiences

On this month’s episode, Christo and Mickey from Perhaps Contraption talk to Steph about their dreams and vision as a contemporary brass band. But also on how to be flexible. And how that attitude has enabled them to create an innovative performance that doesn’t require their attendance. Curious? Jump right into episode 3 of the Revelland podcast.

As one of the three artists who joined Revelland to take their live gigs to a whole other level, Christo and Mickey share insights regarding their creative process and what people can expect of their show on September 18th at Sencity Festival. By drawing inspiration from sensory limitations and including deaf people and people with learning difficulties in their creative process, they explored new realms of possibilities. 

Curious how enriching the experience for a whole audience and making your performance more accessible can go hand in hand, regardless of any limitations people may have? Tune in and discover how KNARS (NL), Kormac (IE) and Perhaps Contraption (UK) transformed their gigs to multi-sensorial, immersive experiences.

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Transcript

Steph: [00:06]  

Hey everybody, this is the Revelland podcast and my name is Stephanie Singer. I’ll be your host today. This is the July edition of the podcast which is a deep dive [00:15] into the process of transforming gigs into accessible, immersive experiences. You can find an accessible version of this podcast with subtitles and a video on our website and YouTube, at ‘Discover Revelland.’ If you’re all comfortable, I’ll do what I [00:30] always do, and introduce myself. So, I’m a white woman, I’m living in Londen and I’ve got long, blonde hair. Today you find me inside my flat in South London and I’m sitting in front of a green wall with a white fireplace. I’m wearing a black top [00:45] and I have a silver ring on the index finger of my right hand. Bit of context, each month I get the privilege of meeting and chatting with another band on this adventure of transforming their gigs into experiences. Today it is [01:00] Perhaps Contraption. And one of the fascinating things is, about this journey, each band is totally unique. And part of the experience design is really encouraging a band to invite us into their world, which is something that Perhaps Contraption does very easily [01:15], considering there’s nine musicians, each of them a different brass player. So already, their sound is very immersive. But what is it when they take this to the next level?

Steph: [01:28]

So, I’m delighted to have Perhaps Contraption [01:30] in the space with me. Not the full band, not the full community, we only got two glorious members with us, who will introduce themselves in a second. But obviously I’ve encountered you before at a live show and I know that your live shows are huge and all [01:45] encompassing as well, so I’d love for you to introduce who you are and what you play and a little bit about the whole vibe of Perhaps Contraption. So Christo, we’ll start with you.

Christo: [01:57]

Hello, I’m Christo Squier. I am a white [02:00] man in a studio at the moment with a slightly fuzzy, bad moustache, a blue top, pink braces, a yellow badge, [02:15] that’s about it right? And I play in Perhaps Contraption. I play flute and piccolo and a bit of tenor sax and guitar. And singing as well. [02:30] And Mickey, yeah.

Mickey: [02:34]

And me, I’m Mickey and I play the trombone and sing, and shout in the band. [02:45] And today I’m wearing… well, it’s a t-shirt, it says ‘1st Taunton wilton scouts’, cause I’m obviously a very proud scout, I’ve managed to keep this, hold of this for a while. [03:00] I’ve got a white face and a sort of bedraggled… I’d say it’s, out of control stubble. It’s a beard but [03:15] it’s not really smart at the moment. There you go, what else do you wanna know?

Steph: [03:22]

[laughs]

Christo: [03:24]

A lovely hat as well.

Mickey: [03:35]

And a hat on and some headphones, and…

Steph: [03:30]

Very beard focussed introductions, I enjoy that.

Mickey: [03:32] 

How is your beard?

Steph: [03:34] 

I sadly don’t have a beard myself, so I can’t introduce that one. [laughs]

Mickey: [03:40] 

You could put your hair around your face. Cause your hair is long.

Steph: [03:42] 

It’s true! Maybe I’ll do that [03:45] for the whole podcast. Okay, alright, that’s for another time. So, Perhaps Contraption, I’ve encountered you at festivals first, that was my first encounter with you. I think… I believe… I think you were at [04:00] Wilderness? 

Mickey: [04:01] 

Yeah.

Steph: [04:02]

I think… cause we were there with BitterSuite and I believe you encircled me and a couple of people, so give our kinda audience a sense of… without this kind of [04:15] level of Revelland which is transforming your gigs into experiences, which are accessible and immersive, which obviously is the mission statement of Revelland. Tell us without Revelland, what is a Perhaps Contraption gig like already? Cause it’s [04:30] quite an experience, no? Already.

Christo: [04:34] 

Yeah, I hope so. You know it’s definitely an experience for us doing it. We do seem to get at least powerful responses from some [04:45]  audience members. And what… we’re a nine piece sort of contemporary brass band. Which… we write all our music, we can perform in procession so we’ve been part of lots of [05:00] parades and lots of site specific performances. So we’re very, sort of flexible with where and when we will perform and our movements. We love to move a lot. So there’s lots of choreography. [05:00] And we wear brightly coloured costumes, and we have lots of red and, no not red, so plum and yellow in our costumes. We got ourselves exuberant costume theme and the music [05:30] sort of walks this type right between celebratory and uplifting but it’s also quite heavy and visceral in places and… but I think there’s… we generally communicate quite [05:45] celebratory… celebratory atmosphere. Like it’s very effusive. We definitely put… give our all to the performance. So yeah.

Steph: [05:57]

There’s something very joyous about you. [06:00] And I think that part of the magic of Perhaps Contraption, certainly as I observe it, is that you are very much a community, because there’s so many of you, feels like already kind of when you attend… or when you become [06:15] part of a Perhaps Contraption gig, you kind of enter a community with you. You join the club. [laughs] And that’s really amazing. Because… and yeah, I think the level of noise that those instruments can make basically [06:30] kinda hits the audience already. And I know that, you know, in the past, you have also taken quite a theatrical approach, let’s say to the, kinda curation of your experiences in your gigs in the past. You had one very notable theatrical kind of [06:45] experience that you made. So this isn’t your first rodeo, is it?

Christo: [06:49] 

No.

Mickey: [06:50] 

It’s not the first rodeo. But we did a month in Edinburgh during our show called ‘Nearly Human’ which had movement [07:00] and lights and a sitdown audience which was new to us. Cause we’re quite used to walking around and getting in peoples faces reasonably politely and… [07:15] so it was odd having a sitdown audience. I think that was the biggest difference, transferring to theatre.

Steph: [07:25] 

That’s really interesting. Cause it’s like… I suppose, that’s not the aim of this [07:30] new Revelland experience, is it? So you can take that, learning in cause a sitdown audience watching you is not the same thing as kind of becoming part of you as a band, which definitely feels more ‘Perhaps Contraption’. [07:45] And so, I don’t actually know, if I did ever ask you this. But how did it… how did you guys start. Like, what was the first thing, what brought you together as a band? 

Christo: [07:57] 

Well it’s… it actually… The [08:00] band was born, well the concept was born in 2011. But ‘Perhaps Contraption’ as a band name, it’s been a band since 2004. But for this [08:15] first period of time it was a rock band. And it was still very experimental and unusual but after exploring that for a long time, I got really bored with guitars. I mean, I’m [08:30] the only guitarist. But towards the end I got really bored with using guitars and lugging amps around and I started busking a lot or playing with bands in the street. And I was just really inspired by [08:45] brass and woodwind instruments and having that mobility. And I really… I’ve always really liked marching bands. So in 2011. Actually, we’ve just turned 10! [09:00] As of last weekend it was this area of Perhaps Contraption’s 10th birthday. Cause we did our first shows at Glastonbury Festival in 2011. [09:15] So that’s kinda nice. It’s been ten years of exploring this kind of mobile brass band version of Perhaps Contraption. And I think it will… it finally arrived after those first six years of doing the things the brass band was really… [09:30] what it is meant to be. And yeah, I was… Mickey had been playing with an earlier incarnation of Perhaps Contraption where is this sort of… there is kind of acoustic guitar and glockenspiel and drums in a [09:45] cram, like a hybrid version of the old band and the new band. And I met Mickey, he used to play in a fantastic band called The Display Team and I used to go to more like gigs and I sort of approached Mickey from The Display [10:00] Team’ or said “do you wanna do this weird band with me?” And thankfully Mickey said yes.

Mickey: [10:08] 

Do you know why I said yes though? I just read that book ‘Yes Ma’am!’ Do you [10:15] remember that one?

Christo: [10:16] 

Yeah [laughs]

Steph: [10:20] 

I love that context that is so good. 

Mickey: [10:23] 

So I was just saying yes to everything so… [laughs]

Christo: [10:28] 

I’m glad you did.

Steph: [10:29] 

[laughs]

Christo: [10:30] 

Well thanks Mickey, cause the band at that point was actually quite bad. Or quite… Definitely lacked bottom end cause we didn’t have any bass. Just a stupid line up. So I’m glad you said yes [10:45] Mickey. And then through a series of… once Mickey was on board and this transition was happening, it was through a series of Arts Jobs, arts council mailing list adverts. We met some fantastic people through [11:00] Arts Jobs And then met our french homeplayer at the time on a training platform. She was carrying the French horn. And she said “Do the band! Here’s my card!” And there various people who’d come to rehearsals already knew other people [11:15], so kind of just branched out from a few initial connect… a few initial adverts and chance meetings and band and potential people from bands and then after a few years arrived…

Steph: [11:27] 

You grew like an organism.

Christo: [11:28] 

Yeah, then it [11:30] arrived. We were six piece and seven… we eventually arrived at nine piece. That was like, okay, this is enough now, when we were realizing what sort of colours and textures we needed to do what we wanted to do. So, eventually we arrived at nine [11:45] piece, about four, five years ago. I think, that is when it kinda settled.

Mickey: [11:51]

It’s weird cause there was two worlds colliding where everyone knows each other, because we knew each other from sort of this, the weird rock world. [12:00] And then everyone who joined, that was sort of more from the classical world and they all knew each other and then… so there’s a bit of this crossover which, I guess, you know, comes out in the sound of the band as well. 

Christo: [12:15] 

Yeah, exact… you got the kind of art school kind of crunchy dirty rock scene, matching with the classically trained scene.

Steph: [12:27] 

There’s something that… it makes me think that, and you said it [12:30] cause all of that… there’s an experimental edge to you for sure, you know, I mean it’s like… and that’s what’s so cool about it, this is like very joyous, very accessible music, but it’s also quite densely composed [12:45] at that point, and that’s pretty experimental. So that’s exciting, I think. And you also mentioned the word like right at the beginning when you were describing the concept for the band and so far as I’ve known your brain, I know that [13:00]  you are conceptually driven in some ways. Is that fair to say? You draw in influences from lots of different places that inspire the music or the way in which you make. It’s not just [13:15] sort of sound driven. It’s kind of, you draw from lots of different places don’t you? 

Christo: [13:20] 

Yeah, absolutely. Mickey, you’ve probably got more to say about that.

Mickey: [13:26]

What a laze to say. 

Christo: [13:28] 

[laughs] 

Mickey: [13:29] 

I’m unsure whether [13:30] I should…

Christo: [13:33] 

Just let go.

Mickey: [13:34] 

Oh! I guess we are… I mean the whole idea of the band is a concept. It’s like… I think that if you could… it’s a weird idea [13:45] to come up with in the first place that’s… it’s a brass band, trying to play a sort of pop music with classical instruments. And we definitely try and [14:00] push the boundaries. And stuff like that with the sound as in… it’s really hard to say “oh we’re a brass band cause I think people think of…of a… no there are lots of really good brass bands, but they’re [14:15] playing like Happy covers, I mean the song ‘Happy’ And I don’t have a problem with them but that isn’t us, that isn’t what we’re trying to do. [14:30] Who knows what we’re trying to do but we’re making some noises.

Christo: [14:35] 

Well it’s always felt very important that we wear costumes as well, I think that’s obviously a big element. And we really sort of embody [14:45] our performing alter egos and at least have our drums in a victorian pram, it’s very like stylized, very… that whole side of it allowed us to kinda let go more in performances I would say. Just get in the role [15:00] a lot more, we got a separation between normal life and showtime. And that costume concept really helped that and…

Mickey: [15:08] 

And we always… I think movement has always been a big part of what we do because… because we can and [15:15] I think don’t many bands can. I mean orchestras are normally sat down and rock bands are sort of tied by their leads, and they can do head nodding and head banging, it’s called, [15:30] but you know, you’re very limited. They’re not doing pirouettes. Well there are members of the band who do pirouettes…

Christo: [15:37]

[laughs]

Steph: [15:38] 

[laughs]

Christo: [15:37]

I mean, that’s the defining element.

Steph: [15:38] 

[laughs]

Mickey: [15:45] 

It’d get a little twizzled up…

Christo: [15:48] 

It’s just so nice to be out to play completely acoustically. And the sound works, and that was definitely a very early decision. The composition should work whether there’s microphones there [16:00] or not and so we had to really build in core moments and really think very carefully about the instrumentation and when it’s used. But it’s one of the best decisions we ever made really cause it… we’ve played in [16:15] the maddest places I mean, we’ve played in the Dolomites up mountains, we’ve played on beaches, in forests and we’ve just been all over the place so I mean, we were doing a gig in Spain once and it was this street show at this brass festival [16:30] and it started… chucking it down and so we were just like, right let’s parade some around so we didn’t stop the show. We paraded through cover and we could carrying on doing the show and it was just such a wonderful moment to be able to be so [16:45] flexible and again, it gives that element that you felt when you sort of… Steph, why you feel a bit included. And definitely when we parade it’s like they’re taking us somewhere. They’re carrying us along. That sort of feeling of parade [17:00] and celebration. It’s really important and really fun to play with. 

Steph: [17:05] 

Yeah, love that, yeah there’s definitely, undoubtedly like a togetherness kinda in the space with you. And so you already think quite… [17:15] have thought quite deeply and quite practically about like how your gigs are invitations I suppose. And how there´s been a certainly… it doesn’t sound like it’s been conscious. It sounds like it’s just been kinda like you´ve been styalizing things and selecting things as you go on refining [17:30] the bands identity. And kinda in relation to gigs and in relation to the audiences that you observe, experiencing your music. So versus some of the other bands I think Revelland is kind of like… it feels very logical [17:45] for you to be like yes! This is obviously something that you already kind of… this is the sphere that you’re operating and this is the brains that you kind of already have. But obviously there´s like a few challenging extra levels with Revelland. [18:00] At least the context of Corona virus. And we’ll definitely get to that but I guess, can you ground us in like in a as evocative way as possible, what is your dream vision? [18:15] for what you would do for Revelland or what you’re going to do in September? And I understand there are challenges but let’s go for the big vision now. And we’ll duck into the meaty bit of the challenge in a minute.

Mickey: [18:28]

You’ve got to hit that one.

Christo: [18:28] 

Ohhh, is this…

Mickey: [18:30]

You’ve got to nail this Christo.

Steph: [18:33] 

Don’t feel like you got to nail it. No no no. Just bring it to life, what are the things that… the concepts and the things you’re designing, making.

Christo: [18:42]

Okay, so this is what we are actually doing, not what I would do [18:45] without any restrictions. 

Steph: [18:46]

Yes… Oh, no let’s go for what you’re actually doing.

Mickey: [18:52]

It’s fine.

Christo: [18:53]

What we hope…

Mickey: [18:55]

What we hope we’re doing. 

Christo: [18:57] 

Yeah we hope we can be there and that the [19:00] COVID issue of us being able to travel is… complex, we’ll get to that. But the actual concept is, we wanted to create an installation, a short and emotional and musical experience that has multi [19:15] sensory aspects. And we’re channeling through that with theme… through the theme of memory and through a big kinetic installation, what you said, a pendulum. A giant sand [19:30] pendulum, which is a version of a thing called a harmonograph. Which is essentially a pendulum but it draws musical intervals. Kind of like a spirograph, very [19:45] intricate geometric structures are drawn with harmonographs. And it’s very simply… a large pendulum. And this pendulum is being used to represent memory. And we are… [20:00] the audience members are invited to fill up the pendulum with sand again. Sort of significance of their experiences in their memory and their hopes and… As the pendulum is filled, [20:15] this will be soundtracked by live music, hopefully we’ll be there, surrounding the audience as this goes on. And we are also going to be working with a deaf performer who is going to describe some sort of [20:30] emotional event that happens then… we’re still writing the actual event and we are actually seeking a deaf writer as well to help develop the narrative for the show. But essentially [20:45] some emotional incident happens. The memory is sort of locked and set in this… through this ritual of filling the sand pendulum with the sand the audience members have been given. And the sand is gonna be scented [21:00] and is probably gonna be coloured. So there will be this kind of most multi-sensory aspect from the start and then the pendulum is set in motion and over the cause for about ten minutes a beautiful pattern will be drawn and the band and the performer [21:15] will be surrounding the pendulum and playing music to match the movements of the pendulum and doing some choreography. And then once the… the memory has been set… the memory set on [21:30] in a pattern, then it will be destroyed. So it kind of feels this… there’s this kind of sense of preciousness and time passing and memories fading. And it’s going to be swept away by a performer. [21:45] It’s hopefully some very lovely and visually exciting way. And then the emotional event… the story that you heard at the start will be repeated, but this time some elements are gonna be changed. And the idea [22:00] of that is to make the audience members question what they’ve seen at the start and how it differs from the end. Get altering the… the story is gonna be quite key as to how [22:15] obvious we make that. So yeah, that’s essentially what’s gonna happen but it’s a giant pendulum and it’s about memory. 

Steph: [22:27]

It’s such an evocative and [22:30] detailed vision. I think. And it’s also like, I mean, knowing… like knowing where this all began, you know, a year and a half ago now. About the world in which we… where we lived in [22:45] then, is not the world we live in now. You know, the concept at the beginning at least, we could hear so many hopes in the thing you were saying. You know, we hope that this… that we’ll be there live to do the music, you know, [23:00] there’s so much… there’s still so many ifs around the kind of whether or not the experiences in your mind will take place in the way you imagine it. But the experience that you’re designing is so beautiful, [23:15] I mean it’s like, I can see it, I can feel like the ceremonial influences that are in it. Like I can imagine it being staged in lots of different spaces, in gallery spaces as well as gig spaces. Like it seems like a really versatile [23:30] experience installation that you’re kind of making. And so, obviously memory at this time, like is there any kind of relationship between the context of this coronavirus climate that we’re in and the topics that you’re exploring. Didn’t they’ve been [23:45] encouraged by this climate or are they separate. How did you arrive at memory I guess?

Mickey: [23:51] 

It’s impossible not to have been influenced by coronavirus/COVID19 because it just… [24:00] it’s everywhere and I think of… even trying to remember what life was like before is… it feels a bit weird thinking I would [24:15] open a door and not worry about the handle or I would go on a train and not worry about pressing the button and all that stuff. So I think memory is really important [24:30] to us at the moment and because we also have the memory of what we’re trying to get back to hopefully after all this is done and I guess in the same way that the pieces trying to show that memory is also sometimes a bit [24:45] false, so a bit fake and possibly a bit more optimistic. Maybe some of the things we look back on weren’t quite as good as we’re remembering them. Like going to the pub was pretty nice but they also… [25:00] they’re a bit busy sometimes, you don’t wanna have to queue for the bar and now you don’t. So…

Christo: [25:05]

[laughs]

Steph: [25:06] 

[laughs] You don’t have to queue for your own fridge. Do you?

Mickey: [25:10] 

So, yeah why don’t we just do it about pubs? Do the show about pubs.

Christo: [25:15] 

[laughs]

Steph: [25:16]

And so let’s, I mean, I guess let’s from your perspectives, like, we’re in July and the gigs are happening in September, which always, I always think July and September sound so far away in [25:30] atmosphere because July is July, it’s the summer, you know, and September is the beginning of the next year, sort of somehow cause I’m still so imbedded in school brain. But obviously it’s not really that long away and you’re still saying hopes. [25:45] And I think there’s so many kind of musicians and artists and literally any human being will be able to sympathize or empathize with you on that because that’s a lot of uncertainty two months ahead of [26:00] a live show. What are you feeling? If you don’t mind sharing, what are you actually feeling about that? 

Christo: [26:08] 

It’s definitely very stressful. But yes, we just have to approach it logically and [26:15] find solutions if we can’t be there, you know, we’ll have to pre record the music and have to direct from afar and make sure that the vision that we have is accurately represented in the people [26:30] that experience, they have a powerful experience. So there’s definitely a sort of safety nets that we can put in place. But it’s really tested, certainly my skills as a producer to [26:45] plan other… yeah all eventualities, and just cover multiple outcomes. It’s… you just have to have your brain in two places at once. Yeah… but [27:00] it’s definitely stressful. [laughter]. Just yeah… just hoping. Hope… a lot of hope that we’ll be able to do what we set out to do.

Steph: [27:13]

It’s interesting as well because [27:15] I suppose I think about after this experience is done, and it’s happened, and then you’ve got an installation and a map and a production schedule and you… whether you are there or not, in your brain you have [27:30] designed something that could theoretically happen world wide, because you’ll have developed the skills and you might not even need to be there. There’s something that I can see, the stress is huge but the possibilities after that actually, [27:45] are quite massive, internationally, for like… as a separate way of like touring. But it’s… I mean, does that excite you? As a potential growth point for the music industry in that way, so it’s like, [28:00] you might not even attend all of these exhibitions that possess all of the qualities that ‘Perhaps Contraption’ feeling, but ‘Perhaps Contraption’, are not there. Is that of interest to you as musicians or does that feel like a loss? 

Christo: [28:13] 

It definitely interests me. [28:15] [laughs] I sort of like it. Mickey doesn’t like it. [laughs] It’s just cause, I’ve never done anything like that before [28:30] so it’s learning new things, and that side of it is exciting. I mean, I’d rather be performing, but it’s a new thing. But do you hate it?

Mickey: [28:42]

I mean I would, that’s the thing. Well no, [28:45] I just rather be performing that’s the thing, I’d rather go travel internationally. But I get that’s not possible and might not be possible for years and years and years and years, but who knows. 

Christo: [29:00]

The prospects of… in a way it feels very professional to have designed an experience and just be like, this is how you set it up, here’s the instructions, [29:15] the artists won’t be there. It feels like…like pro fine art.

Steph: [29:20]

Very Akram Khan.

Christo: [29:21]

Yeah right, fine art gallery kind of level of doing things that we’ve never even considered [29:30] doing before this. So, yeah, it’d be… it would… if there’s a possibility of kind of having the performance travel to different places, and it’d be able to run with gallery stuff or venue [29:45] stuff, are able to set it and make it run then we just use projections and recordings on the pendulum. That’s definitely really exciting prospects and a really unusual outcome… unexpected outcome but I think it’s a really [30:00] creative way of dealing with these limitations that we have at the moment. 

Mickey: [30:07]

I guess most art, the artist isn’t present during the viewing.

Christo: [30:13]

That’s why music is the best.

Steph: [30:15]

It’s the privilege, I know, it’s true cause the artist is present [laughter]… but in this, it’s interesting, isn’t it actually? To kind of observe whether that… I mean, I guess we already see that that is the shift, I mean, [30:30] And if you’re listening to an album, I suppose, then the artist is not present… but sometimes the recording gives you the pressure, the way that the person his mic, though, the environment… you know that’s why lots of albums… when they have those moments in between the sessions where you hear [30:45] the musician like, have a chat like that in the background. Whatever, you feel like they are present but it is rarer. 

Mickey: [30:55]

I hate live albums. [laughs] Yeah, I can’t get into them.

Steph: [30:58]

You want everything live!

Mickey: [31:00]

No! I mean, I like an album, I like listening to music, but a live album always feels… it never sounds right. And it doesn’t feel… even a live album or something I’d see probably wouldn’t feel right because [31:15] yeah, all the vibrations and the atmosphere when you’re actually there. Which… that’s thing makes it a step up. And, I guess that’s what we trying to create in some ways.

Steph: [31:30]

That’s interesting actually cause when I think about experience design, generally, the thing that really excites me is kind of increasing the liveness, the people. And as… i’d like the reason to stimulate the senses, the reason to think [31:45] sensorially. It’s because, it kind of it holds people’s attention just that little bit further. If you do it right, it keeps people present, keeps people here with you… and so, it’s so easy that in gigs and just, I guess in daily life [32:00] at the moment, to slightly disengage. And yeah, it’s interesting, kinda pushing that point further, what you’re saying Mickey, pushing liveness. And in the case of Revelland generally, [32:15] their mission statement is, immersive and accessible, or immersive and inclusive. And I just wanna to kinda explore that in the ways in which the process as well as the outcome and [32:30] your relationship to, accessibility and inclusivity, like I’ve said before in this podcast in the other ones, I don’t identify as disabled, I’m not disabled. And there’s been a… quite a strong feeling [32:45] that this process has not involved necessarily deaf voices at the center, partly because there has been an issues with connecting groups by the technologies we’ve been using. But I just wanna to get your thoughts on how you, [33:00] as a band, I know, you’ve done work to involve deaf voices already. What do you have to say on the matter of accessibility and in relation to this piece?

Mickey: [33:12]

Well, I think we have had our things of [33:15] immersiveness and inclusivity. I think, immersiveness is something that we’re probably strong on, but inclusivity, it’s not something we’ve really had to do before. We’ve done a few things here and there. But I think [33:30] there was… we definitely haven’t spoken to enough people who you would say that are disabled or deaf people…. And I think that’s one of the things, cause I was thinking about the narrative, and I suddenly… [33:45] I just suddenly felt awful writing it. Thinking I’m gonna write the story for us to perform to a deaf audience potentially. And that’s not… [34:00] that’s not enough, you know, they’ve probably had enough of my voice. So, you know, in the grand scheme of things, could I not hopefully find somebody who could write from that viewpoint.

Steph: [34:15]

Which is what prompted your decision to sort of discover it… a deaf writer?

Mickey: [34:21]

Yeah, which yeah, I’ve connected with a deaf writer. But, I don’t know if they’re gonna be the final one. [34:30] I contacted a few and it is actually quite hard to, haven’t managed that many. So, we shall see.

Steph: [34:40]

And what other kind of creative decisions do you feel like you’re [34:45] making at the moment that embed accessibility inside of this gig? And how has that process actually felt for you to discover those solutions or… I sort of hate the word solutions, it sounds very reductionist [35:00]. But what have you discovered, I guess, in this process?

Christo: [35:05]

It just sort of makes you increase the sort of the breadth of the design and you really have to… it should be something [35:15] instinctive done by all artists and all venues et cetera it is… I hate it’s change… it seems like it’s changing but then again I don’t identify as disabled either. [35:30] I’m not tuned in to these issues as well as someone who is disabled. But it really makes you consider all senses, makes you want to make [35:46] sure that the narrative is very clear, so we are having everything signed… but it’s also going to be, pre-written the narratives are going to be recorded. It will be signed and you’ll be able to hear it, [36:00] and it will be… hopefully it’s going to be videoed as well so we’ve blown up really big, so it won’t just be one performer signing, there will be sort of bright and bold in the space as well. [36:15] So, yeah all of these things obviously are really important because it makes… increases the level of enjoyment and inclusivity. And hopefully, it increases it for everyone. It’s not like those perks [36:30] are just for disabled people. Like those production elements should feed into everyone… makes the performance as a whole much stronger, much more powerful. And I really think it works. So we’ve never [36:45] had to thinking in this all encompassing way before and it has been a really worthwhile process and we’re really glad to be connected with people from the community and actually performing with them. Like that is the really important part for us, [37:00] that we don’t feel like we’ve actually connected with people from these communities. So, if we can connect in a very deep creative sense and being with them and rehearsing with them, performing with them [37:15] and collaborating with them… Then I think that is one of the best things we can do. Because it’s just… means more people involved and more people are represented.

Steph: [37:30]

Makes me think that if this process is to be repeated, actually that would be a much more profound way of kicking this process off with people to literally bring communities together, to create something, like a deviving process that’s held where there is… [37:45] members of the, creative members of the deaf community brought together with a band and then together in a process that is ideally in person. But if not, it’s held digitally somehow, that is how the decisions [38:00] are made. Because it kind of… it makes me think of that sentence which is so… It’s all around the UK I think: ‘Nothing about us without us.’ And I think that that kinda says it all.

Mickey: [38:13]

It’s so interesting when you bring two worlds together. It’s that.. I spent a while on deaf Youtube just looking at videos that were so cool, there’s so many good things… I would never have… That’s a world I just haven’t [38:30] looked at. And it’s so interesting. And you suddenly see sort of a whole array of like, media that people are taking in that I would never look at. And [38:45] that’s… I think that is what it’s about of sharing with different communities. Cause that can be true of any community. As, suddenly I’m interested in football, I’ll look at all those things. And it’s just about sharing [39:00] communities. And Wow, I never thought I would say those words. [laughter]. Something that brings communities together.

Steph: [39:12]

It is, I agree with you [laughs]. [39:15] And it’s making me think as well. You know, one of the big things is, this has been… this process has been incredible in lots of ways because we’ve had to adapt so many times. There had been a struggle at points, and I know there had been some real challenges [39:30] for you. You know, not only are we trying to do something not in the country that we all live in. You’re trying to do something with nine other individuals who don’t live near you, and… or you can’t see and you can’t practice with to create the score [39:45] of music that you’re going to use in a gig, is coming up in a place which you don’t even know you can be at. [laughter] With instruments that I commonly thought of as being the ones that would pass Covid-19 the most, right? Even though we know that that’s been [40:00] disproved.

Mickey: [40:01]

Disproved.

Steph: [40:03]

Disproved! Disproved! So, how have you been approaching this creativity, like holding your group together? And [40:15] if you wanna share some of the challenges, feel free. But I’m really interested in what kind of… how have you been producing this, how have you been directing this, what has worked for you as creators to kind of keep yourselves going.

Christo: [40:30]

We’ve had to… we’ve got a smaller team within the band, there’s a kind of a core team of three who are working on this particular show. Just cause it’s… it gets harder with other people’s [40:45] schedules and other people’s other projects to have all nine voices involved. We gave everyone in the group the opportunity to be involved but some people opted out. So everyone who opted in [41:00] to produce the show opted in. And so we’ve got a core team.

Mickey: [41:05]

They were very narrow minded.

Christo: [41:08]

[laughs]

Mickey: [41:09]

They didn’t… they weren’t interested in the project. Narrow minded people in the band.

Christo: [41:15]

Yeah some people, bit mean, a bit nasty. [laughs]. No not really, we love you. But it’s… so yeah, there’s a core team of three really who’ve been bashing out the [41:30] main creative elements. The main thing that we’re waiting to do in terms of composing, people have been sketching and composing on their own. We are gonna get in the room together this Sunday [41:45], providing, well actually we don’t have a drummer because [laughs] he’s got COVID, which is not funny. Our drummer has COVID. [laughs]

Mickey: [41:56]

It is funny because the one thing that, you know, we’ve been tryna do is like [42:00] we did it… we also rehearsed last week and now, you know, we’re having to test and things cause Ricky did have… he did test positive after that so suddenly rehearsing becomes a bit risky again and… [42:15] it’s a freaking nightmare.

Christo: [42:18]

Yeah, but we hope he’ll be in the room on Sunday. But the main musical development is just gonna come when… we’ve got two days in [42:30] production with the pendulum in August. So just being in the space with this contraption, with these contraptions. We’ll have two days to play with it. And just… [42:45] when we get together we can normally come up with things like very quickly, we’ve got this lovely joined musical mind. We’re used to co-composing in the room. So [43:00] in that sense if… as long as we can do that session, that feels very comfortable, because I know there’ll be interesting things that will come from it. We’ve got a nice big space, we can rig it, we can repeat it and just [43:15] develop the music. So that’s where the majority of the music will be built. And then aside from that, Mickey and me and Jin are there kind of co-casting it and looking for people, developing the narrative. [43:30] So yeah, we’re confident but yeah, times tight, the sands are trickling away. [laughs] You like that link, back to the… yeah…

Steph: [43:45]

I loved it. Yeah I loved it, actually I most appreciated the contraption link, that was very real to me. That was very very deep [laughs]. I was like wow, it’s the contraption of the ‘Perhaps [44:00] Contraption’ that was very exciting. And it’s… it’s definitely… it’s coming through this whole thing that, you know, the… it sounds like this piece… that the Revelland gigs is the beginning of something [44:15] of a piece that will go beyond the Revelland experience, I would assume, is that safe to say? This is not gone just… it won’t be something that you do for Revelland and then you go, and that’s that piece, over. This is something that is the kind of beginning [44:30] of a new installation for you.

Christo: [44:33]

Yeah we, absolutely we hope so and that was part of the brief from the very start of Revelland,  is to be able to devise a performance that can be duplicated [44:45] and won’t be too costly. So it can go on and yeah, travel to other places. And the way we’re designing it might be the… we could take the piece with the full cast of musicians and performers or [45:00] maybe there’s a version of the piece that we can… that can travel quite easily, just with instructions to set up so that’s… that’s really nice that the pieces… it should be scalable and we hope that it’ll have a long life [45:15] and legacy… You go: legacy. I’m gonna do my politician’s…

Steph: [45:20]

Legacy.

Christo: [45:20]

Legacy.

Mickey: [45:21]

Legacy.

Christo: [45:21]

Alright, going forward [laughs].

Steph: [45:26]

It’s great, I mean it’s really fantastic. And if [45:30] you would imagine another band kind of next to you getting involved into this process and presumably we won’t have another COVID19 during… or pandemic during their experience, but who knows, but let… if we keep it focussed and sort of not including [45:45] COVID19, what advice would you give to those bands?

Mickey: [45:51]

I think… be flexible. [laughs] I think we… [46:00] it really helped us not having a really solid vision at the beginning, which sounds wrong. It feels like you should start with a solid [46:15] vision and then walk towards it but it’s been really helpful not having that solid vision, because the circumstances have been ever changing so I think it would have been quite sad if we’d really [46:30] bore into this idea of this one show and then it’s gone. But as a result, we have created something that fits the circumstances, which maybe is of its time and is a reflection [46:45] of where we are. So that would be my advice. That’s not advice is it?

Christo: [46:54]

Well it’s good, yeah it’s good advice.

Steph: [46:55]

Be flexible, that’s definitely advice.

Mickey: [46:55]

Keep smiling guys, [47:00] that’s my advice.

Christo: [47:01]

Yeah, be nimble, I’d say nimble, not flexible, but you know.

Mickey: [47:06]

Nimble, yeah, I like that.

Christo: [47:09]

[laughs] And yeah, just use… use the technology around you. You got… there’s plenty of [47:15] ways to collaborate even though you’re separate. I got one of these things called a phone the other day, so any time I can just… Mickey’s got his own number so I just call him up and we connect.

Steph: [47:28]

[laughs]

Christo: [47:29]

So use [47:30] the technology around you people [laughs]. But no, sorry I’m messing. I’m… even things like you can use logical different DAW’s. That you can co-compose in so many different ways now. [47:45] So just use those tools as well as being very flexible.

Steph: [47:52]

Well I am super excited to see or experience the pendulum. And the next time we speak to you [48:00] will be during the gigs somehow. So thank you so much for sharing your experiences and if you’ve nothing else to say? Then we can wave goodbye.

Mickey: [48:10]

I was just trying to call you Chriso, but it doesn’t work. Have it airplane mode.

Steph: [48:14]

[laughs]

Christo: [48:17]

I’ll call you back. I’m busy, bye.

Steph: [48:19]

[laughs] Why is no one calling me?

Christo: [48:24]

Have you got one?

Mickey: [48:26]

Meant nothing.

Steph: [48:28]

A phone?

Christo: [48:30]

Yeah.

Steph: [48:30]

I think my neighbour’s got one yeah.

Christo: [48:32]

I’m glad, they’re gonna be big. Thanks for having us and [laughs]

Steph: [48:35]

[laughs] Thanks for being here.

Christo: [48:40]

Hopefully we see you in the Netherlands.

Mickey: [48:43]

Yeah.

Steph: [48:43]

Yes, fingers crossed [48:45], bye!

Steph: [48:48]

And that’s what we have time for today, thanks for joining the July episode of the Revelland podcast. Stay in touch with us at ‘Discover Revelland’.

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