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Journal RSS journal posts · 2024 · 2023 · 2022 · 2021 · {and before that

Friends of Alice Ivy

Friends of P. B. Shelley

More chatting with Amps and Kylie

 | pall youhideme
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Oh dear, it is five years since I interviewed this beautiful couple the first time. Tempus fugit. Yet, to me, it's just yesterday. And maybe, here and there, some of the questions I posted are even the same. Nevermind, my interest in Kylie and Amps, aka Friends of Alice Ivy, is still vivid and growing, especially after their latest inspired release The Golden Cage and its Mirrored Maze: sheer elegiac beauty, a Music which measures dreampop, goth nostalgia, and ethereal writing.


komakino: Hi Kylie, hi Amps, a title such as The Golden Cage and its Mirrored Maze, this sounds pretty romantic.. not for nothing, also, the track Oars under glass is dedicated to P.B. Shelley (our big guy also makes a cameo in We are as ghosts video).. and, actually, all of your tracks pour out poetry in their titles.. that's classy, pals.. so, how much of literature there's in your music? I don't think there's a track of yours, talking about going out on saturday night, drinking like fools and throwing up like animals in a loo.

Amps: Ha ha ha...what a good opening question!  Well, I guess it's all about what actually inspires you to write something... so whilst we actually spend quite a lot of time drinking like maniacs... we don't write about it much!!!  I think our next album should be made up entirely of drinking songs.

Kylie:  Yes, a grand question! Pretty much all of our songs are inspired by literature; we both read quite a bit.  And I am the Shelley fan; I can't get enough of his beautiful poetry, but more so the many biographies on his life.  He was such a punk back in the day! I admire his approach to life and his absolute disdain for convention. Amps has a tendency to read music related books - such as biographies, magazines and old copies of NME and Melody Maker newspapers. In fact, he has about 1000 of these tucked away in a cupboard that I know will topple and kill someone one of these days.

komakino: Anyway, I read Shelley's ashes were brought to Rome for burial, and, how wonderful, you can still visit his grave nowadays, - again, pretty poetic - he's placed in a protestant cemetery, graveyard which is also home to the sole and only pyramid (a white one) of Rome. I'm kinda know where you'd love going to film your next video, now. 

Amps: It's amazing where pyramids pop up.  And when you least expect it too!  

Kylie: I've not yet visited Italy but it is high on my priority list of places to go; because of  Shelley and his life there.  Shelley's grave in Rome is up there as the first “tourist” activity as soon as we recover from the jetlag.  A film clip in the graveyard sounds like an interesting idea…very Gothic and probably a perfect fit for our music!

komakino: So, all this elegiac flow: Kylie, how much of yourself there is in your lyrics? I assume there's nothing autobiographical, but I have like the feeling you felt more free to let you go with your voice this time.

Kylie: Interestingly, Amps and I share the lyric writing as we share the music writing too.  Amps is definitely the main song writer though! From a lyrical point of view, we are both inspired by pretty much the same things.  And The Golden Cage and its Mirrored Maze is inspired a lot by the Cosmos, nature, early scientific discovery and weird 1970s British TV shows! In fact, most of the lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with us personally, we don't use the band as an outlet for that kind of stuff.  I suppose that's why there aren't any drinking songs or other such malarkey.  Like Amps said earlier, we get our ideas from a spark of an idea; it might be a few lines in someone else's song, an interesting melody, a book or spending time in nature.

komakino: Now you have also a cellist player, Zora Barisic; how did it happen she joined Friends of Alice Ivy

Amps: It was actually Clifford of Subterfuge and Ikon that introduced us to Zora.  We had recently been through a roster of cellists that made Spinal Tap's drummer appear solid.  None of them exploded thankfully, but they all did very selfish things such as moving to other countries and disappearing.  So Clifford found Zora for us.

komakino: What do you think are the notable differencies between The Golden Cage and its Mirrored Maze and In the Gloaming? What is the storyline related to the new album?

Amps: They couldn't be more different really.  All I hear when I listen to our early work is uncertainty, terror and "thin" sounds.  The Golden Cage is much more confident... I'm not sure why it took us so long to find our confidence.

Kylie: For me, the biggest difference is we sound much more confident on The Golden Cage….  When I listen back to the songs on In the Gloaming, although they are very beautiful, we sound so tentative, as if we weren't really sure of our own musicianship or musical direction.  It actually frustrates the hell out of me as the songs are just so great but are lacking a certain “swagger” that is so important in music - it's what people connect with.  But I think we really came into our stride with The Golden Cage... and I know the next batch of music we do will be similar … and quite possibly even more bold if I can say that without sounding too egotistical!  We also wanted to write songs that could be translated better into a live context; and I think there are quite a few songs on The Golden Cage... where we achieved that. 

komakino: Thinking about you two in your early days with Ostia and today, how do you feel? 

Amps: I have mixed emotions when I think about Ostia.  On the one hand I am very sad that it is no more... we had a lot of fun and did a lot of interesting things and we were part of a gang and there were lots of other bands hanging around us. On the other hand, I feel liberated and excited to be making music of our own as Justin (Ostia's guitarist) used to write almost everything.

Kylie: I don't really miss Ostia that much although when we were in Ostia we used to play lots of shows and subsequently developed really great friendships with other musicians. I miss that! We would play gigs together, hang out at each other's houses and help each other out musically.  Also, Ostia's songwriting was very much in the control of others and I remember feeling kind of frustrated with this.  As much as I love Ostia's music, when listening to the songs, I don't feel a strong sense of me in them.  With Friends of Alice Ivy, I feel as if I have much more control over our creative intent and direction.  I sound like a bit of a Dictator don't I?  Hah hah, I just have a very strong vision of how I see Friends of Alice Ivy and where I want the band to go and it's easier to achieve this with just Amps and I.  We're both on the same page and so far, neither of us has had to compromise on our individual contribution to the music. 

komakino: What about the cover artwork? Pretty cryptic. What is your own definition of Beauty?

Amps: I am not sure I have a definition.  It sounds a bit like a cliche, but I do believe that beauty goes far beyond the surface or the appearance of something... there is beauty in the depths of something... so not only is it beautiful to unravel... it's beautiful because it has depth to unravel.  Does that make sense?  

Kylie: I think the artwork for the album is pretty beautiful. For me, it captures both an ancient-ness, as the image we used is from an old 17th century illustration, together with the beauty of nature. Both of these things are really important to me and encapsulate what we were trying to articulate in the music. In terms of a definition of beauty… oh dear, how to capture a thought so complex in a couple of sentences! Beauty is so incredibly important to me - but not in the vain and obvious sense! I find true beauty in nature mostly and also in literature and art and music. I suppose I've tried to create a world that is filled with the things that I find beautiful.  As we can't really afford to go and live in the countryside – we have to live in the city for work and the like; I have tried to build a bit of a bubble around our living space, so we can live outside the vulgarity and violence of our modern society.  We have no TV, radio or anything here… just the things that I think are beautiful like a crazy wild garden choked with vines and flowers and plants and where loads of birds and animals call home; about a trillion old books and old bits of dusty furniture and fabrics and the like.  I also think this lifestyle effectively supports the music we write.  I like to think that our music is beautiful and unique, like our lifestyle. Does this answer the question?  Yikes, I don't think it does ☺

komakino: I think it does ;-) - Amps, you're in charge for most of instruments played in this record.. basically, what is your first instrument?

Amps: My first instrument is certainly bass guitar.. it always will be I think.  There's something I love about the bass guitar... I can't put my finger on it.  When a bass goes from one note to another, it can sometimes make the whole song!!  But so far as writing this lot of songs, it was mostly an "in the box" experience sadly.  We brought the live instruments in to replace stuff that I had already written.

: Did you already perform the new tracks live? Do you have a different line-up ready for a live show?

Amps: Yeah, we played a wonderful show in August at the Tivoli Theatre, an old art deco theatre in Brisbane.  We played at a vampire masquerade ball, The Bloodlust Ball!  It was great. We had a different line up as we re-worked a lot of the songs to make them better for a live context; so Clifford Ennis of Ikon joined us on guitar.

komakino: What are your interests / hobbies besides music? In this internet era, do you still buy CDs and vinyls? What's your daily life like?

Amps: Gosh yes, we both still buy a lot of music and don't download stuff.  I like records and CDs... I like the artwork and the whole package.  I don't object to the whole download culture but it's certainly not for me!!  What is our daily life like?  That's a hard question to answer... it's much like anyone else's I suppose... get up, go to work, go out to the pub, eat a dodgy pizza and then go home.

Kylie: Oh yes, we love discovering new music and to date, I haven't downloaded anything!  I'm very proud of this.  I will use technology to discover new music using sites such as Bandcamp.  My preference is for vinyl; there's nothing like an ‘at home' DJ set of 7” singles pumping out of the speakers!  Our daily life is work, music, eating and drinking, playing with our old cat and reading.  We don't actually go out that much. I collect stuff too; in fact, I'm a bit of a collector-maniac - particularly old ancient things like paper ephemera, clothing, china and the like. I spend an enormous amount of time hunting out for more bits of stuff that we don't need, nor have the space for.  

komakino: Is there any particular movie, you think Friends of Alice Ivy would perfectly fit with the soundtrack?

Amps: "Ghostbusters".  Or maybe "Herbie Goes Bananas".

Kylie: How can I respond seriously now that Amps has referenced those two films?

komakino:  Well, these two movies may sound very haunting/goth for several reasons.. hahhaah anyway, any chances to catch you perform somewhere in Europe or USA? Did you get any offer so far?

Amps:  We are trying to line up some European shows for next year, but it is very difficult to do this from a distance.  It is definitely on the cards though... we get asked to play in Europe all the time from our fans.  

Kylie: We would absolutely love to play in Europe!  In fact, we really hope to head over in the next couple of years and play.  Next year, we intend to do a lot more shows here in Australia to continue honing our skills as live musicians.  And to keep writing songs that can be translated into a live context more easily.  Then we'll be ready to take Europe by storm!  Hah hah!  

komakino: Last but not least; what's next?

Kylie:  We are already writing new music in the hope of releasing something at the end of next year.  In fact, we have 3 or 4 tracks floating around that are just amazing already.  We won't be doing an album this time round, more like a 5 or 6 track EP.  We are really excited about following up The Golden Cage… with something really special.  I simply cannot wait to get back into the studio again!

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