Gareth Davis – “I have a huge appetite. Doesn’t matter if it is music, cinema, books, design, dance, food or anything else”

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I see some nice box on top of one shelve: Magnolia Electric Co, an unknown (to me one) and David Thomas, and many CDs also of Pere Ubu elsewhere. Are they particularly important for you?

On that shelf is the Magnolia Electric Company “Sojourner” box, Deathprod, then “Jewelled Antler Library” and David Thomas “Monster”. The other Pere Ubu boxes are the repressings of the LPs that were done over the last few years. David Thomas, in his project ‘David Thomas and the Two Pale Boys’, has an important place for me. In my early teens cable television was just being introduced in London. The basic package, which is what we had, had maybe seven channels and one of those was MTV, back when MTV still had music. On Sunday evening was a show called “Alternative Nation”. I was listening to a lot of different things then, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, a lot of grunge, getting into John Coltrane… a pretty eclectic mix. One evening there was a live performance on Alternative Nation and it was David Thomas and the Two Pale Boys. Guitar, trumpet and voice. It just hit me. The way there were so many influences at once, the way these songs floated between improvisation and riffs, noise and storytelling and ambient soundscapes. I have no idea if it would have the same impact now, but that is not important. At the time , late on a Sunday evening mid 90s, it was so strong in how many different places it went, in how many ways sounds fit together. It took me another two years to find out who I had just heard as I did not write down the name! No internet at the time and all I remembered was David… something something… Pale…! About two years later I found it by accident at HMV in London just sitting on top of a pile. The box, “Monster”, has a CD in it of live recordings of the Pale Boys project. It’s a great mix of stories and songs and still reminds me of that MTV show each time I listen.

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A Jean-Luc Godard’s “Histoire(s) du Cinema” is also on that shelve top, along and many DVDs are shown in the following pictures. It seems that you love music as much as cinema…

Yes. For this I have a huge appetite. Doesn’t matter if it is music, cinema, books, design, dance, food or anything else. I feel that in most cases they are all complimenting each other. Cinema can create sounds, books make images, a meal can tell a story. I like how they all fit together and recreate themselves.

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Sure, and also other forms of art… I see an architecture book also, over a cool reel to reel machine marked Agfa. What is it exactly? Do you still use it? Funny also to notice the little minion sitting over it…

I have two tape machines. One is a 1/2 inch 8 track, the other a 1/4 inch stereo. I still use both. The 1/2 inch for recording and the 1/4 inch for mastering or playback. I have a few master tape recordings, so it’s nice to be able to listen to them without needing a digital version. Yeah, the Minion is looking after everything!

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What about the three boxes starting with “001-333”? In the same photo a see a valve amplifier (if I’m not wrong)…

The boxes are actually books. Three books of product design. Next to them is a similar set but with graphic design. For me design is fascinating, not just in the sense of now, but how so many things we just take as being, without much thought that even the simplest objects have an amazing history of concept being put into object or practice.

The amplifier is the valve head of a guitar amp. For a long time, playing bass clarinet with bands has been a challenge due to amplification. The instrument needs two mics quite far apart and a lot of gain which means there can easily be feedback. When playing with guitars and drums it can be almost impossible for me to hear myself unless there is a huge amount of time to set up a number of mics and a good way of monitoring , which is not practical and in the end still risky. Clip mics can seem like obvious alternative, but they still have the same feedback issues. So I worked on having a pickup made which goes inside the mouthpiece of the instrument. It’s closer to the idea of an electroacoustic guitar. The signal is strong, feedback not such an issue and with this I can also play through a guitar amp which works really well when playing with bands. The valve amps seem to work better with the acoustic instrument both in terms of sound and output power.

There’s also a charming black and white framed photo on the wall. It tells me something, but maybe I’m wrong, as it seems a famous one. Or maybe it’s a family shot?

I did quite a lot of shows a while back in art galleries. I made a comment once that instead of being paid they could give me a print. It was somewhere between a joke and a “well, why not”. In the end I’ve ended up with a few nice exchanges, one of the most bizarre being a huge amount of white truffles in Italy!

Gareth Davis plays clarinet(s), the result of a somewhat impulsive purchase whilst window shopping in Covent Garden, London, around ten years before the turn of the century.
The serendipitous location of a rather wonderful (and equally important, rather cheap) second hand record shop less than 10m from the bus stop required for seven years of schooling, combined with delivering newspapers on a daily basis, lead to a somewhat eclectic, dusty and generally unclassified taste in music.
The result: collaborations that have included the premiering of new written pieces by composers such as Bernhard Lang, Peter Ablinger, Toshio Hosokawa and Jonathan Harvey, soloist with orchestras including the SWR Symphonieorchester, Warsaw Philharmonic and Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, performances with groups and performers ranging from the Neue Vocalsolisten and JACK Quartet through to improvisers Elliott Sharp and Frances Marie Uitti, electronic artists Robin Rimbaud and Merzbow and multimedia work with artists including Christian Marclay and Peter Greenaway. | | |

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Photo: Ballad Opera – Xander Straat, Gareth Davis, NEWTON – photography Bas de Brouwer

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