soon as I started playing music I realised that's what I wanted
to do from that point on. If I didn't play music I can't imagine
what other creative outlet I would have."
AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL TURNER AND MANDY
COUSINS FROM TITANIA
Q: You've been
making music for well over a decade, what have been the most rewarding
and what the most disappointing things all these years?
The most rewarding thing is finishing an album and listening to
the songs in sequence. Knowing that it's right and feeling committed
enough to that body of work to put it out. The most disappointing
thing is our work being ignored.
Michael: I would have to say the most rewarding thing is the music
itself. I like listening to our old music and realising that we
are still improving. The most disappointing thing for myself is
that we are virtually unknown where we live, even though we have
been around for many years. Our lack of success locally means that
even our families don't seem to take what we do very seriously,
Q: Finding a label never seemed to be a worry
for you - how hard is it for a band to get signed and to what degree
does a band need to compromise in order to stand out and do a break
Mandy: I guess it's not hard for a band to get signed if they play
the game, I'm just not interested in all the bullshit that goes
along with it. As far as trying to "breakthrough" I don't try, I
just do what's true to myself.
Michael: I think it is probably quite difficult to get signed. Only
a small portion of groups end up having any sort of success, I think
there is a lot of luck and timing involved in any sort of commercial
success. I have known a few band's that have had dealings with major
record labels, from what I have learned this is not a path I would
ever want to go down. Most labels are only interested in shifting
units. I think a lot of groups compromise their art to sell more
records. I know it sounds precious but our music is too important
to us to to just relinquish control to someone else.
Q: What is your source of inspiration for
making music? If you didn't make music, how would you release your
need for self-expression?
I just knew I was meant to sing, there was no other way! If I didn't
sing I really would have no other means of expression.
Michael: In my teen years I was inspired by Joy Division and other
post-punk groups. Joy Division in particular impressed me with the
simplicity of their music, simple yet powerful. It seemed at that
time that anything was possible, the future of music seemed so exciting.
So many great bands emerged in the early 1980's. As soon as I started
playing music I realised that's what I wanted to do from that point
on. If I didn't play music I can't imagine what other creative outlet
I would have.
Q: How would you describe your music to someone
who'd never listened to it? If you were to put a label to what you're
doing, what would be it? Do you feel part of what some call the
Mandy: I find it very hard to describe music by putting it into
words. It would do a disservice to any music I love by trying to
describe it , I just can't do it. I don't think our music fits into
Michael: I get asked this question all the time by people that haven't
heard us. I usually say that our music is quite slow, a little melancholy,
with lot's of layers of guitars and beautiful female voice... I
never felt a part of the so-called shoegazer scene at all . I'm
not even sure that there was a scene to start out with. The key
groups linked to the so-called shoegazer thing (My Bloody Valentine,
Pale Saints,Ride, Lush) seemed to distance themselves as much as
possible as soon as the label was invented. I think it is always
easy for the music press to put a bunch of groups under one umbrella,
it's lazy journalism really.
Q: Do you feel that the music scene is healthier
now than, say, ten years ago?
Mandy: There is a lot of great music out there but you've really
got to look because it certainly doesn't get any radio play. Unfortunately
the "image first / music second" attitude has resulted
in a lot of great artists being overlooked.
Michael: There are still lot's of great bands releasing great music.
The downside is there are a lot more awful bands releasing awful
music. It is much easier for a group to record and release music
these days. The sheer volume of groups competing for attention from
magazines and radio stations makes me less likely to discover music
I like purely by chance. When I was a teenager I used to buy records
just because I liked the record cover (and was often pleasantly
surprised). Nowadays I am more likely to buy something if it is
connected in some way to something I already like. I'm not really
sure if that means the music scene is healthier or not.
Q: How was the Angelmark project born? Is
it a one-off project or will it continue for more records? Except
from the vocals, what other differences are there from the Titania
music as to what moods and soundscapes you wish to create?
The Angelmark record came as a result of Mandy taking some time
off from singing. I soon realised that the project had taken on
a life of it's own . I found the process very rewarding personally.
In the past I had released instrumentals on the Sensualists albums
but I never really thought people would be interested in a whole
album of instrumentals. The initial response I got from friends
was very encouraging. The big challenge when making instrumental
music is to make something compelling enough that people want to
listen to it. Vocal music is more appealing to most people because
most people feel more of a connection with someone singing. The
human voice is a very good medium for conveying emotion, it is a
challenge for an instrumental artist to achieve the same result.
I intend to continue releasing albums as Angelmark as well as working
with Mandy in Titania.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Mandy: I myself have had a bit of a break from music because of
a loss of self confidence. I just want to make a great album that
tops the last one.
Michael: I want to get our record label (Resplendent)
distributed properly and to start work on the next Titania and Angelmark
albums as soon as possible. The most exciting music for me is always
the stuff I'm going to be working on next.
For more info, please visit the official
Titania site and this fan
In addition to the limited edition Titania / Angelmark CDEP included
with Sense #32 and the impressive decade-long catalog released under
the name The Sensualists, both Titania and Turner's solo project
Angelmark have new albums released in the fall of 2003 by the band's
own label Respendent.
Also, the Minneapolis based independent label Words
On Music has offered Titania a spot on "A Houseguest's Wish",
the label's tribute CD to the Wire pop gem "Outdoor Miner", due
out in 2004.