interview

My Computer – Chips With Everything

In the first instance, it appears as if My Computer have managed to enviably achieve a signed deal literally from out of nowhere. This is true, but its not without a few twists and turns along the way  - the result of which is perhaps one of the most important albums out of Manchester for some time.

We speak to Dave and Chesy the duo who claim some modest and maybe even accidental responsibility for their recognition.

How Did You Get Into Doing The My Computer Sound ?

Chesy – it was him! (…and meeting) (Dave) – I was really into a change of direction - doing something different

Dave  - Bjork and Portishead started me  - when their initial stuff started coming out it   - I just started thinking “f*cking hell that’s amazing” – as simple as that – the soundscapes and the whole painting of it was just beautiful.

Do You Write More Traditionally Rather than Via the Computer ?

Dave – It’s a mix of all sorts really – there’s no definable approach

Chesy – I had a bunch of about half a dozen songs in various states of completion – Some were old ideas. Some stuff goes back to when I was in One Lady Owner. As Steve was the songwriter I carried these around with me and developed them, waiting for the chance to do something with them. Even in later bands, it was a case of “it’s alright, but won’t fit in the set…” – maybe that’s what the album should have been called !

The Album track “Somebody Else” mixes a trad pop / rock sound with an alien second half that  just blisters electronic hardcore out the speakers . . .  

Chesy – Derek (Ryder – Manager) just said its like going to a gig and then a club all in the space of one track, which I suppose it is –

Dave – When I listened to the lyrics that Chesy had laid down (Chesy writes all of my Computers words) it just felt like it needed something hard and heavy at that point – just drive it home – no rules !

The Lyrics Seem quite heavy and have a doomy sub-text ?

Chesy – in my last band, I got into writing lyrics – real lyrics and I think it just got me into expressing myself well. 

 

Just prior to the interview I pull out a copy of the One Lady Owner album from my bag and chat with Chesy about how underrated the music was and what happened to one of Manchesters lost bands . Chesy explains that Steve (the original singer) wrote all the songs and that he needed a band for the Creation deal. Chesy was in Kid Dynamo and the two merged to become One Lady Owner. Central to all of this was their mutual manager, Derek Ryder. Worth mentioning on the basis that Chesy now finds himself as part of a new and refreshing partnership with Dave. Nathan from OLO plays bass with them live and the old drummer, Bo is of course in Nylon Pylon. It's Nylon Pylon that Chesy quotes as the next biggest and most massive thing that will come out of the city. For any OLO fans out there, Steve Dougherty has been doing film soundtracks in the US with some success. But back to My Computer...    

Sitting Down and Writing?

Chesy – I bring in some of my ideas and Dave adds his…

Dave – its very much a case of arrangement as well – I learnt a lot of this from Dance Music-

Dance Music ?

Chesy – I really hated dance music at one point – we did this (My Computer) out of mutual respect for each other – there was an instant willingness – it just seemed right

Dave -  I was working in a Dance Studio – Well I ran one  -  again the lyrics were just a nothingness – they were just a tone of vocal – the words meant nothing. But when we started putting the songs together we discussed the words and embedded them into the  flow of the music very deliberately.

Chesy – I think we got a lot off our Chest !

Storytelling ? – There Seems to Be This Consistent Style in The Words ?

Dave – it wasn’t intentional, but the songs came out and there was this “emergent behaviour” of the song.

Chesy – it was always a mingle of words and music and until I met  Dave I couldn’t get the relationship between the two properly understood. All the greatest songs ever written have that balance between words and music.  

 

On speaking to Dave and Chesy, you feel immediately at ease and for them, making this music is already a fact of life. They seem surprised about the way in which things have happened, but aren't in any way bewildered by the fact that they are out there making music. It's obviously always been the goal, but the music most definitely came first and luckily, the industry piece of the puzzle, just happened to slot in. The down to earth passion for their work speaks volumes but is underpinned by bags of experience and a clear focus. 

 

Tech – How did  you record the Album ?

Dave – Basically 13amp heard the whole album – so it was complete – they did offer us studio time to do a final mix but I was like “No Way” its fine – oddly their response was “We’re Glad You Said That ! We Agree !”

The whole thing was recorded into an Apple Mac G3 running Cubase. That’s it – with a few extra plug-ins.  Everything was quantised as it went in and nearly all the stuff was done on a first take.

We kept running out of processing power so I had to do sub-mixes of drums and  other stuff to reduce the number of tracks, so the computer would run. Basically everything is running within the machine.

Chesy – It took about a year to record in all, although some songs were done and completed in as short a time as 2 days. We’d enough material for the album and three singles plus original B-Sides.

Dave – Before doing the album, the biggest single investment was on a good microphone which has paid for itself – basically it’s Nueman copy which allowed excellent audio capture. Keyboard wise the best investment was a Roland VP9000 – I got that on credit but its been worth every installment.

The Road to A Deal

Chesy – Derek (Ryder) asked us for some film soundtrack music (dark drum and bass was the request) so we gave him three songs :

Vulnerabillia (Original Vers) / Don’t Care How You Treat Me / Good Time

It was quite dark material for the film, which suited us – again no rules. On the basis of the 3 tracks we got a publishing deal with BMG. I just thought “fuck ! – is that all there is to it ?”.

We finished the album and after seeing loads of record companies, 13Amp had the best grasp of what we were about – it definitely clicked between us. We did meet a few plebs along the way, but we didn’t see them for long – one guy even said  “I’ll give you a large amount of money, but I don’t want anything to do with the band…” (picture door slamming in face).

Whats Next ?

The next steps for My Computer are venturing into the live arena. A small tour covering half a dozen major cities is imminent.

Chesy – we’ve  been rehearsing for six weeks and have got this line up which really is working. (Dave Keyboards and Electronics, me - Chesy -  Guitars and Keyboards, Angelo Guitar, Jason Drums and Nathan - ex fellow One Lady Owner compatriate -  Bass).

We tried a click and computer track but it sounded like karaoke. I was on a serious downer after that.

Dave – we started about 6 weeks ago and it’s all come together really well. I’ve made sure everyones got a keyboard (even the drummer) – seriously there’s eight sets of keys in the live set!

The Name – So Simple, So Apt – How Did It Come To Be ?

Chesy – I was unemployed and on an IT  training session. Tapping away at the machine, the computer seemed so smug. So I stole “My Computer” as a name – it was staring at me from the desktop. So it’s our band name…

and the ironic thing ..adds Dave…is that we don’t even use a PC

My Computer’s debut album and single, both entitled “Vulnerabilia” are out now on 13Amp. The album really is that well recommended. It's a collection that  mixes good song writing with spine tingling electronica and live instruments. Believe the plaudits.

visit the my computer website at : www.vulnerabilia.com

   

  interview by jon ashley - photos/images courtesy of my computer / 13amp -  (c) (p) musicdash 2002