SO, MIND DE-CODER. . .WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Hmm, well, I initially made Mind de-Coder as a mix of music to listen to should I ever feel the urge to drop some acid. Now, I'm one of those people who believes that acid should be taken in a comfortable, conducive place, with the lights turned low, maybe a candle and some joss sticks burning away in the corner, and hopefully a glass of wine or two to hand, and some cool tunes on the stereo - not in the pub, then, or a cold cemetery with your mates and bottle of cheap cider. To this end, I wanted some pretty trippy sounds to listen to, that I'd mixed myself, so there was no danger of something I didn't like turning up to ruin this carefully crafted ambience I was trying to create, and most importantly, the mix had to come in under 80 minutes so that I could burn it onto a CD and pass it onto anyone else who might fancy some cool tunes to listen to while they were, you know, somewhere else. That was always the fantasy - these mixes getting passed around and people getting really excited by these sounds I was putting together that could take you off to somewhere pretty wonderful given the right circumstances. So Mind De-Coder grew from there, really, and then pretty much took on a life of its own - playing these tunes on the radio is merely an extension of that initial thought. It seems a bit weird when I put it like that - music to drop acid to. You're not supposed to say that you like acid these days, but what can I tell you, I do.
SO WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU PLAY?
Well, it's all about the tunes, isn't it? My first love is classic English psychedelia from the 60's - Syd Barrett Pink Floyd era. I used to go to a club in London in the 80's called Alice in Wonderland that seemed to be run by The Doctor from Doctor and the Medics. He'd play all these fantastic trippy tunes that were absolutely out there but were poppy and playful at the same time - so I try to get a lot of those into the show. You're also going to hear a lot of what came to be called acid-folk, although that doesn't really do the scene justice. It's a genre of music that dates back to Britain in the late 60's and early 70's - in some ways it's what psychedelia turned into once the drugs turned bad. Bands either went down the heavy rock route or escaped to the countryside and got high on nature instead. In doing so they re-connected with a rich folk heritage which they then played in an often incredibly trippy way. I actually like both the traditional songs of this time as well as the creativity that the heads were bringing to it from the cities - at it's best this music was almost heat-breakingly lovely - an artist like Anne Briggs has an almost unbearably beautiful voice, but largely unheard of outside of underground circles - so expect to hear a lot of folk from that period. And speaking of heads, you'll also be hearing a lot of Krautrock find its way into the mix, featuring bands like Faust, Neu! and Ash Ra Temple. Like the British folk tradition, the Krautrock explosion of the early 70's also offered up an incredible body of work that remains, for the most part, unheard. In his book Krautrocksampler, Julian Cope explains that the music came about as a reaction of young German's trying to come to terms with their parent's recent Nazi past. Unable to look backwards for a musical tradition to draw upon they had no option but to create an entirely new music that was often completely unprecedented in its sound - it was cosmic, holy, cathartic and in almost every case trippy as hell. I think I'm going to make a Saturday Special about it at some point.
Then I play a lot of music that simply fallen between the gaps - I include mash-up's and sound collages (that get better as the shows play out, I must confess), new takes on psychedelia and folk, songs from bands you might never have heard of that nevertheless produced some fantastic music that I'd like to introduce to an audience. Because that the other thing about Mind De-Coder - it's me getting excited by a piece of music and saying: "Did you ever hear this!?", and then playing a track by The Dukes Of Stratosphear. It's what radio should be about.
ANY FAVOURITE ARTISTS WE'LL HEAR A LOT FROM?
Well, Julian Cope turns up on 15 of the 20 shows, so that's good news for all fans of the arch-drude out there. I seem to enjoy a rather large Julian Cope collection - his music has taken me to the moon over the years - so I have a lot of fun playing some of the obscurer tracks from his extensive back catalogue and hope it works for you too. I also have a soft spot for willowy maidens singing gentle pastoral folk songs about love, heartache and old boot wine - I definitely get to play a lot of that. In fact, Willow's Song, from the soundtrack to cult 70's horror film The Wicker Man, appears no less than 4 times in various guises on account of it being by far the loveliest song I've ever heard.
SO HOW DOES THE SHOW WORK THEN?
Well, you can't drift off into blissed out reverie if you have me interrupting your thoughts every 5 minutes banging on about how great that last track was, so essentially I stick around long enough to introduce the show and then return at the end to bang on about how great those last tracks you just heard were. In between you hear a seemless mix of music and sounds all effortlessly bleneded together by me in order to create the perfect vibe for your trip, whatever your particular trip may be - some people like just chilling ut on the couch with a glass of red wine, of course.
SO YOU'RE NOT ENTIRELY ADVOCATING DRUG USE, THEN?
Just say 'know'.
FAVOURITE TRIP ALBUMS?
Mark Fry Dreaming With Alice (1972)
Dr. Timothy Leary Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (1967)
Faust The Faust Tapes (1972)
The Dukes Of Stratosphear 25 O'clock (1987)
Pink Floyd Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
The Monkees Head (1968)
You've never heard Head, then?
WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT THE SHOW?
Introducing people to far out music that they might never have heard of, like The Monkees in their Head period. Also I like the Mind De-Coder podcasts where I can chat a little more about the tunes and tell people where to find a particular song or other if they like it - it's a lot better than doing it on air. I have absolutely the worst voice for Mind De-Coder - in my head it needs to be presented by Damon Albarn in that softly spoken well-modulated manner he has - instead, what you get is me, babbling away like a. . .
Well, yes, let's be generous and say a brook. I was going to say like a Saturday Morning Breakfast Show presenter, but a brook will do quite nicely. The best thing about the show for me, though, is the way the show develops over the weeks it plays out. You can actually hear me get better at it - which is not to say that the early shows don't have a lot to recommend them, but it turns into something really special, I think, as I get the hang of it. Mind de-Coder takes you on this trip and sets you down gently again on the other side. It's good. I like it. Can I go now?
MIND DE-CODER - THURSDAY NIGHTS AT 9 O'CLOCK
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