MUDKISS FANZINE

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'OUT THERE IN THE NIGHT' - MUDKISS MEETS CHRIS VALENTINE - INTERVIEW BY DEN.

Music's always best when it’s got a bit of the unexpected about it, so I was delighted to come across a really interesting singer/songwriter at our recent Camden punkfest all-dayer. Chris Valentine had the honour of being the opening act on that momentous day, introduced by yours truly, no less. Now I must admit my heart tends to sink when someone comes on stage with a guitar & says, “These are some songs of mine...” usually followed by lengthy tuning up. However, drawing strength from the small but partisan crowd, Chris proceeded to blow us away with a series of concise, witty & original songs. Despite having just his electric guitar as backing, Chris showed that the songs are conceived on a grander scale – we were hearing  scaled-down versions, sans arrangements & harmonies, but still really inspiring & intriguing. Later on Chris & I shared a drink or two, got deep about Bowie, the Only Ones & The Associates, & agreed to talk at more length for Mudkiss a bit later.

I'd suggest it might be an idea to go to chrisvalentinemusic@myspace.com & hear the songs (no “Sex Kitten”, alas) before reading on...

Den - How long have you been playing & writing songs?

Chris - Well, after playing bass in various bands for years I just decided to start doing my own music in the mid '90's, so I switched to 6-string guitar & started a group called Valentine Jeep (hence Chris Valentine).

Valentine Jeep played many of the Camden gigs, like the Splash Club, Dublin Castle, Underworld, Barfly, the Falcon etc … and a few fetish gigs as well, like Club Fantastic & Submission. This was the height of my cross-dressing phase & I performed quite a bit in frocks. The band had various line-ups, but eventually came to a bit of a halt around 2000. Then I decided just to carry on writing & do stuff by myself, or until I found people to work with.

Den - Influences & aspirations – what kind of things inspired you & are you aiming for?

Chris - I think most of my songs come directly from my life experiences. They are a diary of my adventures & inspirations I suppose. I'm not very good at actually sitting down & writing a song – they seem to jump out & write themselves.

I guess musically I have a few different sides which sometimes I find difficult to bring together – this is an ongoing theme in my life as well. There is a definite trashy glam punk side, then a more harmonious Beatles side, & more recently a bit of an acoustic side coming.

In terms of influences, I guess the big one is Mr Bowie. The first time I heard the “Space Oddity” album I was stoned with a friend & it was a kind of epiphany. I couldn't believe someone human had made it.  This started my addiction to him. I really love his voice & my favourite album is “Scary Monsters”, & in particular his take on “Kingdom Come”.

Whilst I was in Berlin I really got into Leonard Cohen. One of my flat mates was really into him & I love the humour in his lyrics. The Beatles are an underlying influence as well as T Rex, the Velvet Underground & Iggy. I've always been drawn to things a bit theatrical.

Den - You seem to be into books as well as music – any favourites?

Chris - Well, if I have to pick a favourite book, it's got to be “A Picture of Dorian Grey” by Oscar Wilde. Then second perhaps “Mr Norris Changes Trains” by Christopher Isherwood. And then – once I'd managed to read it (it took several attempts) - “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky.

Den - I'd love to know more about some of the songs – e.g. “Fucked up Berlin Staircase”, really reminded me of my squatting days … what's the story?

Chris - The “fucked-up staircase” was the first ever flat I lived in Kreuzberg, Berlin. I remember applying to a flat-share ad & climbing to the second floor through this truly magnificent, smelly, dirty decrepit dank creepy Dickensian staircase. “Treppen haus” as they call it in German. I fell for the staircase before I saw the flat & knew I had to live there. It was like waking in the belly of a sleepy scary monster. Berlin was a great experience. It was the first time I'd ever lived outside the UK & it was a great city to go to.

Den - Sex Kitten” - best song about a cat since the Only Ones' “Out There in the Night”?! Love that “Mi-aoow” chorus!

Chris - “Out there in the Night” is one of my favourite Only Ones tracks. I didn't realise it was about a cat though. I saw them last year or maybe 2007 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. It was one of the best gigs I've seen in ages.  Peter Perrett had such stage presence, an elf-like prince of darkness with his lazy laconic voice … 'twas a great gig. The woman next to me had not seen them in 26 years – she was in tears. He is a true rock star!!

I got into the Only Ones by listening by chance to the “Woke up Sticky” album by “the One”, seduced by his voice.

Den - These songs sound like they're designed for full group arrangements – have you had a chance to play them with other musicians?

Chris - Yes, I would love to have a band, but the last one drained me of so much energy that for the time being I think I'll just carry on doing stuff by myself.

Den - Coco”?

Chris - The story of Coco is all pretty much factual & straight out of the Fetish scene. Her real name was Adam & he worked as an accountant during the week, & led this secret double life as Coco at the weekends.

Den - Any plans for recording?

Chris - With regard to recording, I have a small computer-based set-up at home which I record all my demos on. I went into studio recently & recorded a real drum track for a new song called “Talking Picture”, which I am now finishing at home. My plan is to do an internet mp3 single release with this song.

Longer term I want to try to get more of a web presence, & most important of all do more gigs. There are lots of places to play in London, but I wanna play at interesting gigs, & not troll around expecting my friends to turn up all the time!

I've had such good feedback from the Mudkiss show , which was totally unexpected being that it was a punk gig.

So there you go, thanks Chris – I'm really looking forward to hearing more of his music & catching more of his unique live persona. All being well, I'll introduce him to the radio-waves via resonancefm's “Mining for Gold” in the New Year, courtesy of Mudkiss' special mate Johny Brown.

Next gig:- Sunday, December 13th, 8pm @ the Cavendish Arms, 128 Hartington Road, Stockwell, London SW2, entry £3-00

Interview by Den 04/11/09
Photos supplied by Chris Valentine