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Tasmin Archer: "Anniversaries Are Not My Thing!" [Feb. 17th, 2012|10:18 am]


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[Current Music |Tasmin Archer - "Sleeping Satellite"]

многострадальное и эксклюзивное интервью
британской певицы
Тасмин Арчер
нашему сообществу
(на английском).


?: 1992.
End of summer.

Your first single
"Sleeping Satellite"
just being released,
then it torpedoes to the # 1
in the British and Irish charts.

Though it was written
in the late 1980's, as i read...

Why did it take so long
to release the song?
So, as we all could see,
this whole delay-thing was worth it
to shoot then at the right time,
at the right place.

So, things happen for a reason.
And how did your life change
after you landed on top?

TA: The song was written
in the summer of '89
around the 20-th anniversary
of the first moon landing.

We didn't sign
a record deal with EMI
until September 1990
and after a false start
working with another producer
we finished recording and mixing the album
"Great Expectations"
in January 1992.

After pre-release shows
and extensive media showcases
the first single
"Sleeping Satellite"
was released in September 1992.

It hardly torpedoed to number 1
in the British charts,
it was quite a slow climber
and reached the top spot about 6 weeks
after release, if I remember correctly.

Of course,
there was an unbelievable amount
of media attention and an extremely busy
promotional schedule as the single climbed the charts
all over Europe.

It was all rather stressful
rather than enjoyable.

?: "Sleeping Satellite"
has such an expressive vocal-line.
You constantly jump
from a subtone into a drive.

you try to sing each verse
not as similar as the previous,
keeping though a basic melody line.
Plus such beautiful polyphonies
and vocaleses.

Having all this,
the song is very pleasant
and airy to listen to.

It would be interesting to know
who developed the vocal arrangements
and how did the vocal-recording process go
as there seemed to be
a lot of scrupulous work done.

Also curious to know
who is /are the song author(s)
and did you take part in writing it?
How was it born?

As for arrangement,
it would be great to learn
how did you come to such a semi-accoustic,
old-fashioned (in a genius way) for that era sound
with an old school organ and accoustic guitar?

After all,
there was an alternative version of the song -
more dance- and electronic-orientated.

TA: "Sleeping Satellite",
like all the songs on
"Great Expectations",
was written by myself,
John Hughes and John Beck.

Tasmin Archer,
although that is my real name,
was in fact a trio -
all three of us were signed to EMI.

John Beck
subsequently left the set up
after the release of
"Great Expectations"
but John Hughes and myself
continue to work as a partnership today.

The song itself came about
in the way most of our songs do,
just general 'jamming' to get the basic melodic
and harmonic ideas and some basic lyric lines.

We then develop
the arrangement of the song,
write any additional sections and usually
- though not always -
finish the lyrics last.

In the case of
"Sleeping Satellite"
I was singing the
"I blame you"
bit during the early stages.
John Hughes wrote the final lyrics.

(The 1993 second version of the video
"Sleeping Satellite",
filmed for the US market,
charted at # 32 in the USA)

The vocal arrangements
and the arrangements in general
were developed by ourselves
as we honed the song
and recorded the original demo
but they were obviously polished in the studio
as we recorded the final version
with Julian Mendelsohn and Paul Wickens producing.

We had some fantastic musicians
playing on the track too which led the track
in certain directions.
The acoustic guitar and organ solo ideas
were part of the original demo though
and are pretty much as they appeared
on that first recording.

All of our songs
are written principally with acoustic guitar and piano -
so it was and still is a fairly natural progression
to employ these sort of arrangements.

The only alternative version
of the song we've recorded
is a more acoustic version,
we don't really have any leaning
towards dance music
although there is quite a bit of electronic instrumentation
in our recordings.

?: While recording it,
did you feel you were creating something special
and it would become such a success?

And what is the secret of the success
of this song, in your opinion?

TA: I think that unless you believe
what you are writing and recording
is something extra special to yourself
you may as well give up on it.

This is probably the reason
why our releases are few and far between.
We are extremely self critical
and reject about 90% of the material we write.

Whether that which is released
becomes special to anybody else
or commercially successful is beyond our control really.

I like this song
because of its soaring chorus melody,
the rhythmic questioning in the verses
and the whole general sentiment.

The orchestration that develops
the arrangement enhances those qualities
and gives it its mass appeal.

We mustn't forget though
that the commercial success of the song
is largely down to marketing.

Without that
most people would never have heard it
and therefore would never have had the opportunity
to like it.

?: "Sleeping Satellite"
is still being covered
by various artists.

The most recent one
comes from
Kim Wilde.
Of course, you heard it...

what was your real feelings
after listening?
Pride, joy, irritation maybe
or just an indifference?

As for myself,
i find a Kim's cover
very poor and weakly done.

I was kinda disappointed,
to be honest.
I'm saying that not to please you,
dear Tasmin, but because i really think so.

TA: Our publishers
played me Kim's cover of
"Sleeping Satellite"
before it was released.

When artists do cover versions
I like to hear a different approach,
maybe even coming from a
completely different direction.

If there isn't a new approach
I often find myself asking what is the point.
Of course,
I do understand the pressures
artists are usually put under by record companies
to sell units and this often dilutes
any new creative approach.

I wish Kim all the best
with her recordings though.

?: Now is the endless era
of countless remakes,
covers, sampling, mixing...

Practically all the major artists
(not to mention smaller names)
released cover-albums
which already become an epidemy...
A catchy one.

Is it a lack of a new
and original material,
laziness, hunt for a quick buck
or something else?

Do you listen
to such albums?
If you do -
what were the recent ones
you listened to?

TA: As I mentioned in the last answer,
if there isn't a unique approach
to cover a song
I can't see any artistic point
and I conclude it's purely a commercial exercise.

I'm constantly asked
by various producers around the world
if I'd be interested in doing a new version of
"Sleeping Satellite",
perhaps in a different style or genre,
and I always decline.

Doing that would have no artistic merit
and that's all I'm interested in.

I don't particularly choose
to listen specifically to cover albums
nor avoid them.
If I come across any
I listen and if I like I may listen again.

I'm not against cover versions in any way,
only those that offer nothing new
over an already successful original.

Of course,
some artists/writers that don't sell too many copies
of their own recordings
have been able to finance continuation
of their creative careers
because a more commercial artist
has covered their song.

?: Where did you disappear
after your
"Great Expectations"

(by the way,
this October it celebrated its 20-th anniversary -
congratulations, dear Tasmin, on that!)?

Did you ever quit making music?

I even read on the net
in the 90's you worked
as a traffic inspector or something
and there were other versions
of your places of work.

Is there any truth?

TA: After we finished
touring and promoting the
"Great Expectations"
album we wrote and recorded

was actually finished
almost a year before it was released
but, because of the arguments
we had with EMI about its content,
it was delayed.

If EMI had released it
when it was finished
it would have been out just
over two years after
"Great Expectations".

So my apparent disappearance
was enforced by EMI,
I'm afraid.

I had to dig my heals in for them
to even release
as it was but they never put much effort
into its promotion
and our relationship never recovered.

(The 1996 single
"One More Good Night With The Boys"
charting at # 45 in the UK
was the first single
from Tasmin's second album

Jake Busey
stars in the video).

After that nightmare
when I parted with EMI
in early 1998
I decided to take a break.

I had lost interest
in the music industry though not music.
I was tired of the business side of it all,
being treat as a commodity,
and decided to take some time away
but never really completely stopped writing.

I was only planning
on taking maybe a year out,
but that turned into more.

By around 2000
I thought I really ought to get back to it,
but experienced a block,
so I worked my way through
as best I could by learning
as much as I could about these types of things.

During that time
I just got on with my life,
I watched a lot of football
and did some painting and moulding clay.

I walked my dog
and dabbled a bit
in Shamanic journeying.

It did make me laugh out loud
when I read the comment
left on my Youtube channel
that I was supposed to have worked
as a meter maid.

I replied to it of course,
asking them what the punch line was?
It just sounded like there must be one
but nope the person
who left the comment was serious.

I did ask where they got this information
and told them that they were misinformed.
I'm not sure
what other versions
of my past places of work
there are out there
but I can tell you the only paid jobs
I've held before I became
a professional singer/songwriter
are a sewing machinist
and a clerk typist and that's it.

The coming 20-th anniversary of
"Sleeping Satellite"'s
release means absolutely nothing to me.

It's fantastic
that it's still receiving so much airplay
and attention after all this time
and I'm eternally grateful for that
but anniversaries are not my thing.

Apart from the aches and pains
age is in the mind :)

(The 1993 single
"In Your Care"
charting at #16 in the UK
was the follow-up to
"Sleeping Satellite").

?: What would have you done
if you had become an Invisible woman for a day?
Or for a night?

TA: Gosh,
that's something
I've never been asked before.

Well I guess
I'd use the invisibility
to help release victims of kidnappings
or something like that.

(P.S. And that was the first time
i ask somebody this very question - hehehe!)

?: Is there such a person
whom you 100% trust?
If so - who is that?

TA: I trust my partner
John Hughes.
We've been together
for over 20 years.

?: What is the book
(song, artist, musician)
that touches your soul?

TA: In their different ways
there's a few artists
that touch my soul.

Bill Hicks
is one that does that for me.
His philosophical
and wonderfully observant blend of comedy
was always revolutionary and inspiring to me.

It's a shame
he had such a short career.
He was a comic with a unique
but serious spiritual way about him.

You probably think
this is a strange blend but I like to laugh
and I also like things thought-provoking
at the same time.

I remember how I felt
when I first read the book
"Animal Farm"
by George Orwell.

It had a big impact on me,
it left me with a feeling
that I'd just found out something so important
which left me wondering
why I hadn't seen this clearly before.

It just seemed like all of sudden
a light went on and I just realised the truth
about society.

J Kristnamurti,
was someone who touched my soul.
He was a very real
and wise spiritual man.

He wasn't a musician,
an artist, a guru,
a leader or a guide.

He was a speaker,
a philosopher and someone
who encouraged conversation by observations,
on all things and on all spiritual subjects
for those who would look
to discover things for themselves.

There are far too many musicians/artists
for me to list here -
most of them have depth and tone
but one voice that I heard
very early on as a child was
Stevie Wonder's
and his musicality touch my soul.

It's was like sunshine
and like medicine for the sick.

?: Yesterday
it's been 20 years
since a legendary
Freddie Mercury
passed away
(questions were written last November).

Did that loss
have a personal impact on you?

TA: I remember so clearly
my first experience of seeing
on a British music tv program.

Freddie Mercury's
performance of
'Killer Queen'
was dazzling
and is still imprinted on my mind.

His voice was heaven to me
and I couldn't wait to hear
those warm rocking glittery tones again.

I'm thankful
Freddie Mercury/Queen
made such an impact on me that day
with amazing and powerful music -
artist's like that come along too infrequently
and so it was particularly saddening
when I heard of his passing.

For sometime afterwards
I couldn't stop thinking
about all the amazing music
he would still be making
if he were still around.

What an awesome musician
and showman he was.

?: Do you remember
what you were doing
while hearing those news?

TA: I remember
things being pretty hectic for me
back in the 90's
and we would have been in London
mixing our album
'Great Expectations'
in Sarm studios
around the time he died.

?: Is there a movie
you can watch over and over again?
Are you sentimental?

TA: Over and over again?
Not really.
But off the top of my head -
I did watch the Godfather sequels again
last Christmas and New Year.

I even stayed up
'til 4am in the morning
because I couldn't bear to leave
any of them only partially watched.

I am sentimental sometimes
and somethings can move me to tears.
I like it when your heart feels
as though it's rising within you
with so much emotion you think you're going to burst.

I think there's a real art
to capturing moving moments in film
and evoking feelings within the context of a storyline
is what makes a film remarkable and memorable.

As a child I watched
on tv.

It's described as a mini series
based on the book by
Alex Haley.

There's a famous scene
where a slave by the name
Kunta Kinte
had been captured
after his escape
and is finally broken by force
of the overseer.

He is given his new name
which destroys the last relics
of his homeland that he will never see again.
Yet hope remains, for us all.

Whilst watching this scene
I had my face
hidden with a cushion
so no one in the family
could see me crying.

(P.S. That's specially for you,
dear Tasmin!

do NOT hide your face
in the cushions now!
this series was not shown and known
in Russia).

?: How would you spend
your fantasy 24 hours
if you had not destination restrictions?

TA: If it's only 24 hours
I guess it would be a short journey,
so bearing that in mind
I'd love to go up in one of those jet flights
to the edge of space.

Who hasn't dreamt
of flying up among the stars?

As far as dreams go
I've experienced many odd and surreal ones
and floating among the stars is one of those,
so who knows
maybe one day
my dream will come true.

?: Your site says
you're fond of watching football,
modelling clay...

Which football team
do you support?
To make a little confession,
i myself do hate football!

TA: Yes,
I do enjoy watching football.
Myself and John
have season tickets at Sunderland
and attend quite a few away games too.

I'm not so keen on football on tv,
I like watching it live.

I do understand
that not everyone likes football
and I guess there was a time
when I had no interest in it myself.

It wasn't until I met my partner
in the 80s' that I started to take a keen interest
in football.
His enthusiasm for the game
got me hooked.

is the team he had always followed
ever since he was a young boy
growing up in the north east of England.

I haven't done
much clay modelling for a while.
I took up modelling clay
just as a creative outlet for me
to work through the writers block
I experienced back in 2000.

I wasn't completely blocked,
I started plenty of work
but couldn't finish a thing.

Writers block wasn't something
I had ever experienced before
so at first I had no clue
how to deal with it.

I took a practical approach though
and tried to find out
as much as I could
about it and in the meantime
I just got on with my life.

Eventually the block lifted
and I started finishing songs
off again.

?: Your song
"Take Care"
is devoted to your late mother.

I am so sorry
and touched at the same time
to hear that.

- who also suffered that loss -
would like to ask you
how did you survive that?

What helped you to carry on?
How long did it take
to get back to senses?

TA: So very sorry for your loss.
I know it's strange
but as a child
I'd dreaded the thought of one day
I would lose my mum.

I just didn't want
to let go of her ever
and so my thoughts are with you
because I understand completely
and it does take time
to get over losing your mother.

She was the one person
who was always there for me
and when I realised
she would no longer be around
it was hard to take in.

In time
I accepted my loss
with some grace
and I could conjure up
all the good and positive things
I remember about her
and that keeps her close to me
wherever I go.

Whenever I listen to
"Take Care"
I see her smiling at me
and it's a real comfort
to think of her
and how she would always look out for me.

I'm so glad
we made that song.
Sadly she passed away
a few years ago
and never got to hear the finished album.
I think she would have liked it.

?: My first two years
were just like in the dark...
All i can remember
is that i kinda lost any motivation
to move on.

I came home in the evening,
closed the curtains,
put some music on
(especially i started to like
"Blackmore's Night")
and turned off all the phones,
turned off the lights, lay down on the sofa
and stupidly watched some DVDs.

You also said
your mother wrote letters to God...
and that's what sometimes you also do...

TA: I can really empathise
with how much you were hurting
at that time.
It's never easy
to get over the loss of someone
so close to you but somehow you do.

It's a wonderful thing
to share inspirational art in this world
whether it's a film, a book,
some poetry, paintings or music,
it all helps to lift our spirits.

Sometimes people tell me
our songs have had a great significance
in their lives which makes me feel good
especially because I'm helped by songs too.

My mother wrote
what she called
"letters to God"
but I really think
she was more spiritual than religious.

Looking back,
when I was a bit down hearted
or had a bad day at school
my mother would leave
motivating messages and notes on my bed
for me to read.

They always made me feel
loads better about life.
As I got older
I started to write these same letters
but more to the Universe than God as such.

I'd make a note
of any worries on my mind
and store them away in a jar.
This was like shaking the weight
of the world off my shoulders
because now,
I'd left all of my worries with the Universe.

It was like saying -
I can't think of a way to fix it now
so I will leave it with the Universe
and so then I was able to forget about it
and move on.

?: Did
Amy Winehouse's death
last summer touch you in some way?

TA: It's always saddening
to hear when anyone passes away
and especially in the way reports say
she had died.

I have never met
Amy Winehouse
and I didn't know her
but I found the news of her death
hard to comprehend
because she was still so very young.

It's a real shame
because so many people
got so much from her music
and there was surely more
for her to give had she lived on.

?: You were saying,
dear Tasmin,
you're in the middle of the recording
a new material.

Could you please
pour some light into it? What is it gonna be?

When is it expected
to be released?
Are you going
to perform solo or with the band?
What kind of songs are they?

TA: Well we write songs
so it's song based as always
but hopefully it's production will offer
some new areas to explore.

I'd hate
to make a clone of a previous album.

We're hoping to have it ready
sometime this year
but there's no scheduled date.

We're liable to change our minds
about which songs are going on it
and have to reschedule
if we committed to a date.

There's no rush
and there's no record company
breathing down my neck.
It'll be done when it's done.

We're considering touring again
once we complete this album.
It all depends on
how much of an interested audience
there is really.

?: Do you think
it became easier now
with all these internet and technology development
to promote your music
and get some gigs than it was, let's say,
20 years back?

TA: It used to cost
a lot of money in studio time
to make an album in the way we work.

Now we can do it
nearly all at home.

The internet allows us
- independent artists -
to distribute our music digitally
but the major labels
still have the financial clout
in the marketing of recordings.

Of course,
the majors generally want their say
in what an artist releases
when they are funding the marketing
and that's fair enough.

We prefer to have artistic control
and so unless
we can find a totally sympathetic marketing partner
who would completely respect our artistic ideals
that is the way it'll probably remain for us.

Social media allows us
to maintain and communicate with a fan base
so as far as recordings are concerned
that gives us pretty much
a break even point financially.

Marketing is not really one
of our strong points
and so we probably miss many opportunities
to 'spread the word' about our music
but we are doing our best
with the financial limitations we have
and hopefully improving in that department.

It does take up time
that we'd prefer
to be spending creatively though.

There are also other areas
such as media music
that we are looking to get involved in
to finance the marketing
of our future albums.

It's another tough area
to break into
but it's an interesting creative pursuit
in its own right anyway.

(The 1993 single
"Lords Of The New Church"
charting at # 26 in the UK)

?: On the other hand,
i read a while ago some artists
(like, for example,
Andy Bell from
complained the musicians of their generation
just get banned by the radio-stations
in favour of younger,
newer and bigger ones...

Though, for me,
for intance,
Andy Bell
is big enough
to avoid such obstacles.

Is there any sense
in his words?

TA: I think the major labels
still have a stranglehold
over the mainstream media
and hopefully their influence will diminish
but I doubt it will
because they are experts
in marketing and have huge budgets.

certain media outlets
will always be focused
on younger age groups
and in general that audience
will want artists
of their own generation
that they can relate to more easily.

That however has little to do
with the actual music
and more to do with fashion.

There is, of course, a great deal
of musical snobbery around too
where things don't get played
or supported because of past perceptions
rather than present reality
but I don't intend to devote any time
complaining about it
or trying to change the narrow mindedness
that seems to exist
in certain sections of the media.
Life's too short.

I make the music
that is true to me,
what I do has to be honest in that respect
otherwise it is meaningless to me.

If sections of the media
like what I do and want to support -
it that's great
and I'm very grateful
for the support,
if they don't
- for whatever reason -
then there's nothing
I can do about it really
and I move on.

You can't seriously expect everybody
to like everything you do anyway.
I've been flavour of the month
and also experienced media snubs.

If you regard the two equally
you'll probably find the right balance
in the end.

(The 1993 single
charting at # 40 in the UK
in January 1994)

?: What do you think of

Her present music,
to be more exact...
And as an entertainer?

TA: I have much respect for
commitment to her art form
and her work ethic.

She has had
a sustained successful career.
She has always adapted
to what's in vogue
and kept up with trends
by adding her own fashion slant
and flavour to everything she does,
each time making her live
and vocal performances unique.

She's like a chameleon.

I must admit
I don't follow her music as such
but whenever I've heard her past work
much of it I've liked.

I haven't kept up
with her present music however,
now that you've mentioned it -
I'm intrigued to go check some of it out -
so cheers.

?: Do you like
living in London?

It becomes
more and more tense and dangerous city
in the wake of the recent events -
such as street riots, for example.

Where else
would you like to live?

TA: I don't live in London.
I live in Leeds in the North of England
but right on the outskirts of the city
in a fairly rural area.

the summer riots
didn't only happen in London,
they spread to a few cities across the country.

I don't condone violence
in any way shape or form
but I am greatly concerned
about the increasing divide
between the haves and have nots
in our greedy self centred culture.

Our society should do more
to help the less well off
and to reconnect
with an increasingly disillusioned youth
who see no future
because their lives fall well short
of the me me me celebrity culture
that is rammed down their throats
at every available opportunity.

?: In the wake of the recent
Whitney Houston's death
i wanted to ask you
what are you thinking about that
and if it had any personal impact on you?

TA: I have never met
Whitney Houston
and I didn't know her
but whether you know a person or not
it's always sad to hear of someone's death.

I should think that most everyone
has heard of
Whitney Houston -
she was a huge star,
with a powerful voice
and I'm sure she is certain to be missed
by all of those who knew her
and loved her.

?: What else question
would you like to get asked
but you didn't?

Sorry for that in advance -

TA: Oh, I don't know
but if anybody wants
to ask me anything else -
I'm happy to answer on