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