An interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti
Almost 20 years ago I conducted an interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti for the third issue of Progress Report. This was an issue which concentrated on women artists such as Cosey, Annie Sprinkle, Cassandra Stark, Carolee Schneeman etc. The forthcoming release of Desertshore, Throbbing Gristles cover of the classic Nico album, seemed to make this a good time to catch up with Cosey and put a few questions to her. As Desertshore has yet to be released and not all of its details (who the vocalists are etc) have been made public Cosey was unable to answer most of my questions regarding it. The interview touched on other subjects too and here are Cosey’s answers. The interview was conducted via email by David Bourgoin.
PR: Some of the tracks for Desertshore recently premiered at the AV festival.... the reports of it came back as a big success how did it feel to you?
COSEY: Yes it was an amazing response to the tracks we played. A very emotionally charged atmosphere. Taking the tracks from the studio into a live situation was tricky but it also helped us make some final decisions about levels, sounds etc.
PR: You reissued a lot of the TG back catalogue last year. How did you go about remastering them did you have to bake the old tapes or was it slightly less drastic than that?
COSEY: We were fortunate that Mute had baked the old original master tapes and made digital masters. So Chris worked from those which was great because the new reissues (rather than previous ones) are from the original tapes
PR: There are few omissions such as In The Shadow of the Sun, Journey Through the Body, Mission of Dead Souls, TG1 etc that the Grey area put out on CD in the early 90s. Are these likely to be re-issued at some point too?
COSEY: We haven't made any decisions on that yet. It's been incredibly time consuming doing the reissues and Desertshore so we'd like some time away from TG to focus on our own work.
PR: There's presumably quite a lot of other TG archive material (some of which has turned up on labels like Dossier) rehearsals sessions and jams. I would imagine there are plenty of TG fans out there who would love to see a box set of these getting properly mastered and cleaned up. Do you have any plans to put out anything like that?
COSEY: Well like I said, time is the crucial point here - that and keeping booleggers at bay. But TG has always made a point of making their output available so it will surface in some form at some point.
PR: There were plenty of TGs shows after the release of TGV. There was an extensive tour of the USA. Were many of these videoed and is there going to be a TGV2?
COSEY: There's so much material it's crazy. Where would one start?
PR: At the last TG gig in London you seemed to be playing a lot of new material. Had any of that been recorded at all in the studio ready for another album? Can we expect to see any of those tracks on a sort of post TG album or even maybe an X-TG album?
COSEY: Sleazy, Chris and myself had done a lot of experimenting in our studio and we have recordings of that. A lot of the new material for the last gig was a taster for the new direction we were heading in.
PR: X-TG in it's brief existence looked like it was going to be an interesting project. Have any of the ideas that were generated in that short period of time been carried forward to any other projects?
COSEY: No, we've kept all X-TG experiments and ideas as X-TG. There's studio recordings and good recordings of the two gigs we did as X-TG. We were all fired up and in the throes of making new instruments when Sleazy died. It was a catastrophic time in every way imaginable. Just hours before he died I was emailing him about X-TG ideas and what we'd do when he came over in a week's time. So much excitement and energy for our creative future, just gone.
PR: Wasn't there a recording session with TG and S.C.U.M? If so how did that go and is anything happening with that?
COSEY: No TG never did a recording session with S.C.U.M. TG were asked to do a remix but only Chris and myself were really into what they were doing...hence the delay until Chris and I did a remix for them.
PR: With all the TG activity over the last few years it must make finding time for Carter Tutti projects harder but you've been pretty busy there as well. How easy was it to move between the two projects? Was there much cross over in the working methods and/or any similarity in the equipment set ups you use?
COSEY: We were determined not to lose sight of our own sound projects during TG activities. All TG members felt the same way but so much of the actual workload of TG ended up in our laps, mainly for practical and historical working practice reasons. It worked out but it took its toll and it's extremely exhausting. The lift we got from our own gigs is really energising. Carter Tutti Void was such a gem moment. One of those rare times when everything just 'is'. It ran so smoothly and I think that was because we made it as free as possible from the start. No preconceptions, no pressure, just pure enjoyment in making sound together. We were all lucky that we had the same open relaxed approach. It was a case of 'let's see what happens' and it was fantastic.
Working methods remain largely the same as always but with flexibility for the project and accommodating the people we work with. The joy of working with others is that you have to move outside the familiar and explore other sounds, equipment and methods.
PR: It's been a while now since you moved from being Chris and Cosey to being Carter Tutti. But can you explain why you changed to Carter Tutti and what you see as the essential differences?
COSEY: We changed because we had moved so far away from what 'Chris & Cosey' meant in terms of sound that the name just didn't suit the
material any more. That's another reason we call our revisiting of the C&C material 'Carter Tutti Play Chris & Cosey'. We are different people.
PR: Your Carter Tutti plays Chris and Cosey seems to have been a roaring success. Are we likely to see a repeat of that?
COSEY: We're thinking of maybe not doing it any more after this year. It's difficult because we thought we'd do one C&C gig just out of curiosity and because a friend's been asking us for 8 years. Then it just went crazy with gig offers. It's been so very successful, and totally unexpected. A case of 'do we / don't we carry on' now.
PR: Some time ago on your Twitter account you mentioned a book? It's now available for pre ordering on Amazon. Could you tell us a little bit about what's in it?
COSEY: The book is called 'COSEY COMPLEX' and consists of printed works from the original event that took place at the ICA in March 2010. The event was an all day affair organised by Maria Fusco and Richard Birkett who invited submissions and invited commissions from artists to create a work and explore 'Cosey' as methodolgy. So I was moved from noun to verb and the works didn't necessarily reference me directly. There were papers, discussion panels, audio and visual works. It was such a wonderful day to have such great artists create amazing works from the starting point of 'Cosey'. Everyone approached it differently and that's what was so rich about the day.
I was able to enjoy it because it wasn't directly about me.
PR: You've just released your album of the live performance you did with Nik of Factory Floor at the Mute event at the Roundhouse. I don't believe you've played with another guitarist before how did that feel? I believe the pieces were improvisations but was any sort of direction or themes arranged beforehand.
It was great having another guitarist in the mix. It moved me into
different territories. The tracks had a basic rhythm (by Chris) as their
foundation. Then we all jammed on the top. We did a couple of run
throughs at our studio just to see how we all gelled before taking it
into a live situation. The compatibility was just so instant. I don't
remember any moments or sounds that didn't feel right.
PR: You've had Nik from Factory Floor playing with Carter Tutti, Chris playing with Factory Floor for a couple of dates. Anything else lined up collaborating wise?
COSEY: Ha! It's a bit like Chris & Cosey this...the response to Carter Tutti Void has been overwhelming and totally unexpected. Gig offers keep on coming but we're all so busy with our own projects. But we're considering maybe doing some next year.
PR: What other plans do you have for Carter Tutti and other projects for the rest of this year?
COSEY: My head's spinning with Desertshore right now but we have plans to start working on a new Carter Tutti album at the end of this year. We've got a folder of ideas already. Alongside that we want to release some of the Harmonic Coaction series of shows and of course Chris has his own CCCL project ongoing, making new sound boxes. It's such a productive period for us at the moment and we're still getting excited by new gear and ideas.
Our thanks go to Cosey for agreeing to do the interview. The two photographs of Cosey are by Ian Cinnamon and the photograph of Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti is by Jon Baker. To keep up with what Carter Tutti, Cosey, Chris or Throbbing Gristle are up to visit these sites: www.cartertutti.com www.coseyfannitutti.com www.chriscarter.co.uk and www.throbbing-gristle.com