THE FOLLOWING TEXT CONTAINS EDITED HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE COSEY FANNI TUTTI / TIME TO TELL INTERVIEW ON THE PUGZINE (Zine of the Underground)
TIME TO TELL.
I 'd been wanting to get my work as a performance artist, musician, model etc. together in some form for a long time. For my own mind really. It's always after the event that you begin to see the relevance of certain actions and situations. It all begins to make more sense that events unfurled the way they did. And Time To Tell was a perfect way of expressing how I felt about all those moments and how they all related to one another in some way at varying times in my life. That all those different pieces of the puzzle were me and each a very valid part . When you're busy experiencing and creating for me, the last thing on my mind was what did it all mean? Maybe at particular stages along the way things just slotted into place and presented themselves as being just right, but it was, and still is, in the aftermath where I begin to piece it all together and gain in whatever way from my work and my life. The putting together of Time To Tell felt right and it didn't seem an awesome task, l was interested in looking back at myself. I was far enough removed both in time and emotionally as a person, to see my previous work in a very different light. It's weird reading your own thoughts from as far back as 18 years ago! Like reading the highlights of an old diary.
Time To Tell was in the pipeline for about 4 years. As a re-released version that is. First of all, it was with a Scottish label for a year and nothing materialised, so I got the parts back for safe keeping. Then it was with Waxtrax for a time. Then all sorts of things went wrong over there and I knew the release would never happen. I asked for the parts back, but never got a thing returned. All those photos, text, tape, everything just sitting somewhere. So I had to get it collated all over again . Dupe the photos etc. I think all along it was meant to be released on our own label. It was all too personal to be under the control of someone else. I'm glad because it meant I could take stuff out and add pieces that were more coherent or more relevant . I also realised that it had been impractical of me to expect someone else to sit and put this project together. I really had to be the one because there were so many decisions on small levels as well as larger ones.
Getting it together was a very strange experience . Stranger than re-mastering and going over the old TG territory again. For one thing I was in and out of hospital in a weird frame of mind at what was happening to me and there I was with my life's work before me, editing it and assembling it like some bloody epitaph. It was morbid at one point when things were uncertain, l was beginning to think it would be my last statement! I reckon we all think we're immortal until we get that ever so real jolt. It made me sort the crap out of my life immediately. I never was one to humour arseholes but now I dismiss them in a less aggressive way, a bit like changing channels on the TV. I'm less aggressive generally now and more efficient with my energy as to where, who and on what I choose to expend it.
I was sitting at my Mac with this huge list of performances, magazines I'd been in, films etc. and I looked at it and thought "that's me, that's what I did" and I could remember each one on the list. I could even remember the train journey there, the people I worked with, the smells etc., but I still couldn't assimilate the fact that "I" did it. Because me now is different to the person I was then, obviously, but it takes all the reading of the reference work to fully recognise the difference and change that has taken place. l've come to the conclusion that who I am, who I have become finds what I did on the way as just that. Other people see it in a different light: as achievements, sexual/art/political/feminist type statements etc. Because I never was premeditated about my "actions" to the extent of figuring out the content, method and conclusion for the art theory of it all, my actions were a means to an end for me personally. I was working with myself and the people who watched helped me do that. I was so caught up in the whirlwind of new territory and the thrill of discovery of so many aspects of life, sex, art etc. I didn't seem to have time to theorise. I knew why I was doing it and I was aware of the implications as far as my work, conscience and body were concerned, don't misunderstand me, but it was too good a ride to get off and have a break. It was whole new worlds presenting themselves to me and I just stepped right into them.
My work always has been about pushing forward, breaking new ground for myself, discovering what can be and from then on expanded on. Or what can be but will not be explored for whatever reason at the time. We all have choices to make, but I presented myself with so many as a way of discovering the endless possibilities that are there for those of us who want the challenge of "life". Also the whole process fed itself. I was lead from one situation into another and at times I lost control, which in turn proved to be good in the long run. You learn such a lot that way. It's good to be out of control sometimes. What a lot of people don't realise is the "fun" aspect of everything I've done. I didn't sacrifice myself to sexual trauma for the sake of my art. I explored and enjoyed and had to deal with anything that I didn't like. I viewed the whole sex market as an art form in its own right. There is skill on all levels from the models to the technicians and through to the marketing. Sexuality is our most vulnerable side. it's our ultimate expression of emotion . What we've been through, how we've dealt with it is manifested in the way we are sexually. We are all reduced to the same level of physical indulgence when we have sex. It's one of the few things we all do have in common. Of course how we obtain that degree of pleasure whether its the route of S&M, power (physical or psychological), surrender fetishes, etc. the end result is the same Sure there's the analytical side and it's important in its own right, but I had, do have some great times. I think some of the people I worked with on films and stripping were just so real, they far outshone the majority of the people I knew in the art/music scene. I think a link with reality is essential for any creative person. How can truth be reflected in their work when they're living inside themselves like little idols? Art can be truly fantastic and it can also be utter commercial crap. A mix of fantasy and realism please. They should sell it in ready mix bags.
I think people who only know me from the music would be surprised to see me just having fun. Most of the time we're asked serious questions and about Magick etc. and people tend to forget the majority of our lives is spent "being" in the most pleasant way we can. We collect old toys from the 50's. 60's. I collect 30's and 50's pottery and kitsch religious artifacts. I suppose Nick's (ed. note: Cosey's son) friends think we're really religious because of the 3D Madonna on the wall etc. Then she has the little imp below her to keep an eye on things and a wonderful Rune carving Chris gave me to bless us all. Freak the fans out to see me at Nick's school parent night discussing his progress with his teachers. That's weird for me! Cosey being "normal" is what would appear strange to those who follow our music. Most people have seen everything else I've got anyway, inside out! The only thing left is who I am inside this shell.
IN THE BACKGROUND
I was brought up in a "working class" area of a large fishing port up North. My father was a fire fighter and my mother a wages clerk. I suppose they were professional people as opposed to "unskilled" etc. The North of England is very nationalistic (The Wars of the Roses and all that). North versus South divide still persists today. Their attitude is so bigoted it's frightening. Either way, the area was rough. Still I was the youngest of two daughters, never conformed and subsequently got "punished. " My father was very strict. In the end he threw me out, and there began my journey into discovery. I'd obviously been pushing for it all along. I did well at school though, for some reason I was always a conscientious pupil. I loved school, people can't understand that. It was the place I had most fun, but I knew it wouldn't last; home wasn't happy when my father was around, he was too severe and dominating to allow laughter to crack his face too often.
I realised at an early age that once you "grew up" all the freedom from responsibilities you had as a child would disappear, the freedom to "play" and act out fantasy situations in public is accepted in a child but not in adults. I made a conscious decision to delay the adult stage as long as possible. I knew there would be no way of recapturing my childhood. I fought a lot physically, it was that type of neighbourhood (still is). I can remember thinking as a teenager that I just didn't fit in and I couldn't get excited about boyfriends and engagement rings. The disco was a bore. Then I met someone who smoked dope and I met a whole set of people I could feel affinity with. I didn't take dope for long, l saw my friends just sitting round condemning those who got drunk and did fuck all, and here they were smashed out of their skulls doing fuck all as well. It was another drug but the same effect. I started drifting away from them then. It was all so clichéd and the "'fitting in" syndrome dominated the so called "alternative" scene. I think kicking against all the conformity that dominated the city I was born in shaped my future activities. It turned out a lot of very creative people indeed. I hated being told what to be. I got into the "art performance/cum street theatre" after that and there we are. I was free to do what I wanted. Seriously, when your parents are out of the picture, it's a load off your mind. That old fear of your parents finding out and having to answer for what you've done isn't there any more. I hated upsetting my mother by what I did and that guilt was removed for me. That had a great effect on my feelings of freedom. It gave me a license to explore without having to justify my actions to any emotionally motivated authority.
Having a son who is an adolescent in the nineties is frightening, but I'm hoping his grounding has been sound enough for him to cope. He's pretty selective when it comes to what's on offer. He's not a victim of technology toys. We are! We find what's up at the moment, we want to try it ourselves anyway. We've consciously tried to educate in him some kind of responsibility for himself. Spiritually as well as physically; what with AIDS and the drug scene being my worse fears for him. Chris and I experimented recklessly in our youth, but in comparison, it was pretty safe in the sixties with both sex and drugs. He'll never have that "privilege". He has to think first, which is not always the best way to enjoy anything. I've no doubt he'll find his way. He's sensitive but strong. Being a parent is bloody hard work you know.
Don't have much to do with the neighbours really. We speak and help each other out, feeding cats, etc. All very pleasant, but we have nothing in common with any of them other than living in the same street. I must say they are some of the better neighbours I've had. They aren't noisy, but are there if you need them. I'd move into virtual seclusion if I had the chance.
A PERFECT DAY?
Wake up around 9.00 a.m., have sleepy sex. Have a cuppa tea, then have intense sex with "toys" and much self indulgent activity on both sides. Get up and sit in the garden with the cats for half an hour or so. Go shopping for anything I fancied, indulging in a cream tea. Head off to some remote spot, beach or castle, and just sit with the wind gently blowing and the sound of nothing but natural activity, and drift for a couple of hours. Ideally I would somehow magically be in a swimming pool next, just skimming through the water, and feel it rippling across my body. I'd have a full body massage then and a little sleep. Maybe paint all afternoon or I'd watch an old B/W British Ealing film . Have tea cooked by someone else. I'd go out in the evening, movies or back to the beach. I love the beach at sunset. The air feels so wonderful on your face. All the people have gone . Come home and have a bath, cappuccino and cake while watching Married with Children or a very English comedy programme. No good giving it a name, you don't know what they are. Love Kojak and Rockford files late night sleepy viewing. Then have cuddles and go to sleep a very happy girl, but thinking I must "do" something tomorrow! That is the day off version!
When I'm working, an ideal day is the same up till the cats in the garden. Skip them and go straight in the studio. Everything goes perfect, all the sounds slot in the right place, the vocals go in one take, no trouble with the lyrics or finding appropriate sounds to work on. We do a mix and, when we play it back after a stroll through the woods at Sandringham, it still sounds great. Then we start on a new track, break off around 7.00 pm and watch video/film or decent TV programme. A shower and off to bed.
To be 26 forever. For the energy levels, drive and instinctive risk taking, abandonment. The enthusiasm, but the knowledge I have now. That's self defeating. Unfocussed mayhem. I wouldn't be like a 26 year old then would I? I can remember someone being asked what would they wish for and they said they would like to have that magical fairy tale excited feeling you have as a child on Christmas Eve. Just to recapture that. That'd be nice too. Sounds like I'm mooning after things gone by, aye? You never appreciate things till they're gone they say. I sometimes wish I could have a gun that eradicated the shits of this world. No trace they were ever there so you wipe out all the sadness they created too. And don't go into all the details of if they never existed this wouldn't happen etc., etc. Don't care, just get rid of 'em. People make me so angry sometimes I begin to despair. Take me back to the Stone Age and let's start again.
The Victorians always fascinated me. It's not an era I'd like to have lived in. It was too dishonest and insensitive. Where I lived as a child there were a lot of old Victorian buildings and they kept themselves intact enough for me to get some really strange feelings from them. They had a certain smell, (dust I think). The darkness of the furniture and decor was sort of mysterious. Everything was hidden from view. It was so "private" but so hypocritical at the same time. When I left home, I lived in a house built in 1700 and it had about 20 rooms. We discovered all kinds of little things old chocolate boxes, glass spoons, honey pots, carpet beaters children's names written on walls etc. etc. It was so fascinating. The whole system of servants and their rooms being 'below stairs". The kitchens and methods of preparing food etc. Everyone seemed to have some ritual to perform each day. So austere. As a child me and my friend used to explore derelict houses and imagine the children who lived there. Often finding old toys that had been left behind or dolls prams, bicycles. pianos left in the garden. I have a fascination for the past triggered by glimpses in my childhood. There were still old highway milestones and stagecoach steps. horse troughs when I was a small child. These "relics" were still around in the 50's .1 suppose they got overlooked because priorities were on restoring a decent standard of living rather than getting rid of the old in favour of the new. Some very old (and I mean old too) Victorian ladies were knocking about too. They looked almost evil. One was in a wheelchair that must have been made in 1910. It was one of those all black three wheel jobs with the pedals being turned by hand. Big basket chair with this old hag dressed in black turning the pedals.
Things a person should Know? About what? Me? Life? My cats? Essentially we should all not only know but realise that we are not here to act in a play and please the audience into gratuitous applause. We are here to "live" and experience whatever we choose. Some can grasp the meaning of that. Some haven't a hope in hell. They lost it a generation ago. Tragic? Or is there only room for so many of us to be active at any given time? Would the world spontaneously combust with the energy of so much positive action flying around? Live with yourself or else when it comes to the big farewell you may not know who you've been. It's too late then, you're gonna have to come back and try again. I do strongly believe what we do, we become. We reap what we sow. We can't blame anyone else when things go wrong. Fate and destiny are the names we give to the events we have dictated.
MAKE ME LAUGH
Old English comedies with Peter Sellers. Carry On films. French & Saunders. Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer. Dick Emery, Billy Connolly. Actually, comedy which is based on characters you see every day. These are the people who fail to recognise themselves in the joke which is them. Vulnerable comics are appealing too like Norman Wisdom, Morecombe & Wise. Those people who've the gift of being able to recognise and present the parts of us that looks daft and we try to hide. Irony. Eccentrics.
MAIL FROM FANS
We get a fair amount of mail from all over the world. Some of it is from "nutters" some from very serious people, frivolous and then there are what I call the special letters. They are so beautifully written, not full of glorifying compliments, just writing of life and what they have found etc. If I'm feeling vaccumous and isolated, one of those letters really picks me up. So it's a two way relationship mail wise. I get these terrible guilt trips when I haven't replied to someone for months. Stupid but I just think that they've written after wondering whether to or not, and then heard nothing. So I always write back even if its just a postcard. There's no one question that's asked a lot. just mainly what have we been up to most recently. Our letters are not the "normal fan" type. They are very philosophical really and very personal too. I get a lot of heart rending letters for reassurance that they are not crazy in this mad insensitive world. It's good to talk with people about all aspects of life. The letters are very seldom specifically about tracks from the albums we've done, more about our attitude to life and our work and how that's enhanced the way they listen to our music. A question we're never asked enough is if we'd like a million dollars. To which we would undoubtably answer YES PLEASE. People assume we are 'rich' or at least comfortable. That myth is now dispelled.
PEOPLE I'D LIKE TO WORK WITH
I don't have great ambition to team up with people I admire, and they would be the ones I would be most likely to want to work with. I usually have admiration for them as individuals and would often like to just know them as fellow conspirators. That would be more important to me. Allies are hard enough to meet up with as it is, so the more we all make contact the stronger the whole push becomes. I often find that working together comes by natural progression of events rather than pre- determined decisions to collaborate. When we work with people on musical pieces for collaboration albums it usually come from a long association between us.
CTI seems to confuse a lot of people really. CTI is an umbrella name for whatever we do whether it's a video piece, photography, music etc. CONSPIRACY INTERNATIONAL is our label. Most people get it the other way around. Doesn't bother me ultimately because we play on words and call projects CONSPIRACY INTERNATIONAL projects anyway. Well they are sometimes a bit like an episode f rom The Man From U.N.C.L.E. We've centralised everything now and decided to make the focus of our projects our work as a whole. That is, commercial aspects of the music business will no longer play a part in our CTI projects. It's getting back the control of all aspects of our work that's become important to us rather than the market viability of any one work. Painting again has had a lot to do with this shift in focus. It's a very personal form of expression. more so than music and the marrying of the two. like on CHRONOMANIC brought to light what had been the missing link over the last few years. Now I feel much more fulfilled and the circle gets closed again.
AT PRESENT WHAT EXCITES ME IS
My paintings and Macintosh manipulations of them and the prospect of exhibiting them. It's all very inspiring and the creative process changes as possibilities present themselves. After the ICA and the Art Performances at the Hayward, I felt I needed some space away from the art scene and going over into the world of music was refreshing. A new field to play. But forums of business are all the same and you have to find your own space within them where you can feel at ease and create without considering anything other than the work in hand. I think real political statements through "art" (any form) are made almost by mistake, as a byproduct of the work. Presenting the bloody obvious isn't Art with a capital "A" . It's an inability to transcend the pressure of stimuli around you. We act as filters, some manage to sift the shit from the cream and others get bogged down in it.
Working on Time To Tell brought a lot of ideas flooding in for presenting my work over the years. I want to bring a coherent representation of what inspired me to do the work I did, what effect it had both on myself and others and in retrospect what I think of the actions I performed as an "Artist" and an "Artiste". It 's formed a lot of important opinions within myself and others I meet, and at the time it all took place I was not in a position to analyse as I was too busy exploring. I think it's important to put forward my own view of my work and that's what I'm working on now. I'm looking for a space to show my retrospective "SELECT REFLECTIONS," a space free from censorship. It's a sad fact that as an artist there are such strict definitions. You're either a painter, sculptor, performance artist, musician etc., etc. and I have yet again fallen out of the categories. Because I work in all areas, my C.V. applies to none in particular. If I were to apply for an exhibition of my work at a gallery, my C.V. would read from 1979 that I 've not had any exhibitions. But I've sold work in the form of paintings, video and music and live video performance. The system as ever dictates. All these years later artists are still in the same frustrating position of performing to a formula that can be marketed and exploited.
I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED
When I look back and see that as an artist, l represented the UK at the Paris Biennale and in Italy, Germany etc. it's hard to believe it happened. Having dinner with Bridget Riley, Mark Boyle and meeting the established "artists" was just such a natural progression of the situation. A wealth of experience from the inner sanctum of the art world as such. Just to know that they are very real, decent people compensated for the hassle I went through. The irony was that they stood by me when all hell let loose over the ICA and the so- called fellow performance artists slinked away fearing their Arts Council grants would be under threat if they were linked to me in any way. I seem to have a self destruct streak in me. Just as I get notoriety, I move on to something else when others would milk it for all its worth. Maybe because I've got all I needed from that avenue of exploration and it's reached its conclusion. Money has never been a motive for work. It's helped keep me working the way I work best, but it will never act as my inspiration. Am I destined to be poor forever? Who knows...... does it matter ultimately anyway?
VISUAL & AUDIO ART
I suppose the most obvious connection is the fact that we do the artworks for the CD sleeves now. We've gone from overseeing the whole thing ourselves to handing it over to someone else, like Steve Gilmore and now we're back to doing it all again. It's been inevitable really since we went over to using the Macintosh. We got a set up that would enable us to use it for anything we chose. Not just music software but art, video and word processing too. It's a great machine and so inspiring when we get on it, we find it very difficult to stick to the job in hand. There's so many possibilities present themselves we have to be very strict about getting diverted away from our original aim. That's especially true where video and art programmes are concerned. We always come out of a project with loads of ideas, which is frustrating because you have deadlines and you think well I could have done this or that. But where do you stop? You have to draw the line somewhere and say this is the finished piece, all the time knowing that it is ultimately never finished. It could go on forever evolving. I like that idea, it gives the work a life of it's own.
As for technologies to work with, no not really. I'd love to have a means of outputting my artworks from the Mac. My own large format dye sublimation machine would be fantastic,. so if anyone's got one they'd like to donate. Send it c/o BM CTI blah blah blah. That's the only stumbling block I have right now because of the cost, travel to London and mainly the content. It's sometimes (not always) what they call "sensitive." Most print shops here are very puritanical and it's extremely difficult to get prints done that show nudity or pussies, tits, cocks etc. The more I speak with people about this insidious censorship the more the return of Victorian hypocrisy as a reality in the 90's is confirmed to me. The whole guilt trip of actually enjoying sex in all its many glories is frowned upon as being "perverted' . I'm invited on the panel of a debate all about the resurgence of political pornography in performance art. Mouthful or what? Yeah, l can get into that debate on levels of humour, art, sex, feminism etc., etc. I've never enjoyed defining things very much, boundaries as far as I'm concerned are there to be broken down or at least challenged.
We've got so many ideas and finding it hard to get more than 24 hours in any one day to finish them all. We're flitting from photography to music, video and all in between at the moment. We'd like to add to the growing CD ROMs that are emerging and have to figure out a way of getting all the info programmed into the Mac. Most people have others to"'do"for them. We two are just that, and it's nearly impossible to do things sometimes. However, we have compiled some video pieces for the CHRONOMANIC CD that emerged from an invitation to submit video work for a Spanish electronics festival this July and also the French TV programme too. That goes out this December. Funny, it's because we did those that we got into working with video again. We tend to get so bogged down with creating the music sometimes (there's enough projects for that alone) that other activities get put to one side for too long. That's another reason why we've decided to bring together all our work as CTI from now on and be responsible for its release. Our work's too diverse for a run of the mill record label to deal with. The commercial aspect of the music business just doesn't sit happily with our philosophy about what we do and the reasons behind it. It becomes dictatorial in the end.
Thinking about sales and image shouldn't influence the work in hand at all. I suppose we're going to be financially worse off but to me, that's not as important as living with myself and knowing the work runs true through to the core. Reward in the form of money will come by default rather than by motivation. That seems to have happened so many times already I have faith in that. If not then we find other means. We want to get the live C(hris) and C(osey) video out in the very near future (on our own label) so we'll be looking for distribution for that especially abroad. Maybe license it to keep the price realistic, especially in the USA. We've tons of tape of gigs, it's a matter of sifting through them all. The possibilities are endless really, we can add to them, or have them as they happened so to speak. We'll just get the best from all the tapes.
Next really for us is a C&C album which we've been meaning to do for ages. So much has cropped up over the past two years to steer us away from it. That doesn't bother me really because I think it's good to be away from lyrics for a while, something new comes through then. We'll see what happens when we get started. I've a book of ideas that's got lots in it specifically for the next album. We tend to have a continuous stream of ideas for the CTI Library of Sound. Just as we finish one we've been inspired by sounds we work on for the next. Number Three will be based around the theme of Numerology. That'll be fun music by numbers. We had that idea about 4 years ago, but never had a coherent theme to apply it to, so now we have the green light, it's all systems GO.
If you remember CORE, the collab we did with Coil, Lustmord, Robert Wyatt, NON, Monte Cazazza etc., well we've decided to do CORE TWO. Collaborators to be confirmed as yet. We want to work with different people, except for COIL. We're going to do a track with them again, a personal preference to work with them whenever we can really. We're always talking about it and CORE seems to be the only time it happens. Hopefully we'll get in the studio together this time. Sleazy's always here there and everywhere so it's getting the timing right. Oh and there's various remix projects to work on too. At present the only music that sems to kindle any excitement in us are the people who do remixes. The experimenting with sound and placing "unlikely"sounds thrown in amongst everything else structures etc, are more what we would look for to interest us. Ironically some of the people doing all this have known and used some of our work along the way, so it's been a great link up to make contact and maybe work together. We'll see what transpires as they say. It's breaking into that spiral of activity and making things happen. Everyone is just so busy it's hard to get things off the ground. Most great things all happen at once, we can have a lull of activity and then just as we get two projects going, in come more and more. It all feeds the great pool of ideas.1 suppose that's where managers come to their fore, if there was ever a manager with true empathy for what we do.