Chris and Cosey
Dave Elliot drops in for a discussion on love and lust with Chris and Cosey...
Last year was a busy one for Chris & Cosey. Since the demise of Throbbing Gristle in the Spring of 1981 the two camps have followed quite different paths. Genesis P'Orridge and Peter Christopherson, always the more controversial half of the group, went on to form Psychic TV and recorded two albums for WEA and CBS, grabbing a great deal of media coverage in the process. Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti instead have quietly got on with various projects — records with Rough Trade, video work, concerts, performance art ventures, collaborations with other musicians — all of which have escaped the attention of most people.
Their new album, 'Songs Of Love and Lust', has just been released on Rough Trade, and with the promise of an album on Doublevision plus at least three 12" singles all to be released in the next few months it looks like their relative anonymity could be a thing of the past. Chris comments: "It was a really productive year. A lot of people thought we'd not done much but in fact we did a tremendous amount, and now all the releases are coming out."
Was there a conceptual idea behind the title of the new album? Cosey explains: "Sort of, yes. We had the title at a very early stage and we were going to do one side for 'Love' — all twee and romantic, and the other side really raunchy, but as is so often the case once you start recording, things develop differently... But it's definitely an album with a certain feel to it; a similar sound throughout with consistent production."
Stylistically, the latest Chris & Cosey sound falls somewhere between 'Trance', their last album, and the one-off pop single 'October Love Song', released last summer. Electronic tribal dance music perhaps?
"We don't treat recording like a 9 to 5 job because somedays you can tell that it's not working, so rather than waste time trying to get something good, we'll just leave it and go out for the day or catch up on the mail."
Cosey again: "I think what people were expecting was follow on from 'October Love Song', but the album's not that. We don't want to be commercial; we're quite happy to be not as sweet as the stuff that's around at the moment. I mean, it's easy to do that. For me it's too superficial — there's already too much music like that around."
One of the most noticeable things about the new LP is the slick production, achieved mainly by upgrading their studio to 8-track. Chris explains: "We bought a lot of equipment in January of last year: a Tascam 8-track and a Seck 24 into 8 mixer, both at a really good price. So we recorded the single on these. Then we bought a Korg digital delay (the SD3000), a Dimension D which gives that really spacious effect. And we've still got the big modular system which sees us through loads of things — the Roland 100, to which I've added my own modules. The MC8 runs that; in fact the MC8 runs almost everything. It's so good because it has so many outputs on it; it's got eight output channels and an extra six multiplex outlets which you can use for the drum-machine. In fact everything on 'October Love Song' was done on the MC8, even the drum patterns. You can control so many different things at once... With the MC8 we've got the Roland SH101, and we also have a Casio MT30 which has a voltage controlled input so we can put a chord on the Casio and then actually sequence a chord with the MC8. Although we have in fact stopped doing that so much now and Cosey plays quite a lot of Casio, especially on the new album". Other effects units and rhythm machines include Roland's Chorus Echo SRE555, Pitch-to-Voltage Converter SPV355 and Vocoder, plus an Eventide Harmoniser, Korg and Boss digital delay units, the Roland TR808 and Bassline rhythm composers, Wasp synthesizer, three guitars and a great deal of customised or home-built modular units.
"We don't want to be commercial; we're quite happy to be not as sweet as the stuff that's around at the moment.. it's easy to do that."
Asked about the obvious attractions of computer music, Chris and Cosey express keen interest but the sheer cost of the hard and software is a prohibitive factor. "If we had the money then yes, we'd love to try it. When Graeme (of SPK) gets his Fairlight then we're going to try and borrow that for a while. I'd love to experiment with that kind of thing, because you wouldn't really need anything else." As they have their own home studio Chris & Cosey can record when they like and using their own methods, as Cosey points out: "Sometimes we start with a lyric now which might set the mood of the piece, or other times Chris will go up and he'll tinker about and then he comes up with something and we'll see how it develops from there... We don't treat it like a nine to five job because somedays you can tell that it's not working, so rather than waste time trying to get something good, we'll just leave it and go out for the day or catch up on the mail."
Not content with limiting themselves to recording their own albums, last year saw them collaborate with many people. One such venture is a 12" single with Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of Eurythmics. It's practically finished (barring some re-recording and mixing), but since the chart success of 'Sweet Dreams' combined with Chris & Cosey's touring commitments it's proved extremely difficult to complete it. However, it should see the light of day later this year.
Two other 12" singles, collaborations with Lustmord and Glenn Michael Wallis (Konstruktivits), should also be out in a few months. Asked about other people they'd like to work with they are cautious: "There are a lot of people around on this scene but not many that are compatible... Someone like Daniel Miller would be interesting."
Another collaboration is the Doublevision video and LP soundtrack due out in the Spring. For this Chris & Cosey were joined by John Lacey who has contributed to many projects going back to early TG days. In fact it was he who introduced Chris to Genesis & Cosey in the first place. The rest is history... "There are seven different scenarios and each one is a different soundtrack — it's not consistent. We did all the visuals first and then adapted various tracks we had lying around to go with those particular visuals. But I think it stands out quite well as an album on its own. And the video can be watched without the soundtrack. That's what we wanted it to be. All this palaver about promo videos — I mean once the single is out of the charts you've seen it once or twice and that's the end of it. It's just a waste of money."
Both Chris and Cosey are happy with the way things are going. Their two year old son, Nicki, is growing up fast and with this in mind they hope to move out of London sometime in the near future and cut down on the amount of touring. So apart from recording commitments, video work and various other related projects they have certain domestic responsibilities to adhere to. The family obviously comes first, but all the same, I think we'll be hearing a lot more from the duo this year.