The Mojo Cams
IT has been interesting speaking with Steve Bull...
about his musical moniker, The Mojo Cams, and how that came to be. He talks about his David Bowie-inspired project, Nebula Tuesday, and the latest song from it, These Are the Days – he reveals a few albums that are especially important to him.
I ask Bull about combining literature and music together and whether there is a natural connection; what he has planned coming up and what his favourite musical memory is – he ends the interview by selecting a great Kate Bush song.
Hi, Steve. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m doing okay, thanks. How are you? I’ve been getting out and about and enjoying the early autumn mornings the last week or so. The amazing colours of the trees and the falling leaves seem to make me want to reminisce.. I’m hoping it will inspire me to write something.
It’s been such a very busy time with non-music stuff recently so it’s really nice to take time out and have a chat with your good self about creative matters!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a songwriter and composer with a keen interest in digital art. I love to get artists together to develop new songs and recordings. I like to produce music via collaborations and conceptual ideas. The Mojo Cams is my vehicle for delivering this music.
Can you talk about Nebula Tuesday and what it is about? When did the idea come to you?
The idea came to me shortly after David Bowie died. Nebular Tuesday is essentially about how we treat the ‘others’ in life: how we view strangers and outsiders who don’t see the world the same. It is also about injustice and truth.
In the initial stages, I was developing an idea for a concept album. I was also looking to reflect the changes in the cultural and political climate. It started off and remains, thematically dark. I wanted to speak about the blighted concept of ‘fact’; the rise of the populist right and xenophobia. Nebular has grown its own arms and legs now. It’s a fully-scripted musical story and I’m not exactly sure how that happened.
I’ve put some tunes in there, though. It’s not all heavy…
The first track, These Are the Days, sets the story. Were you inspired by particular films or books regarding the story arc?!
Absolutely. I was thinking about The Wicker Man and all its weirdness and spooky isolation. The setting and the feel were a definite colouring of my vision for Nebular. I also had Straw Dogs (the original) in mind - to express the terror of the outsider in the story.
Might we see another project like Nebula Tuesday in the coming months/years?
I’m in talks to produce a musical dramatic work concerning the Scottish bard Robert Burns just now. I’m also working on the songs of a new musical that I hope to unveil early next year. Don’t want to say too much in case I jinx it....
Do you feel there is a natural link between music and literature - and should more musicians create form a literary viewpoint?
Well. There is a link, in the fact that songs are essentially literal due to the words and concepts of lyrics. Great lyrics often set dramatic scenes, tells stories and explore themes in a very concise and clever way. Writing Nebular; I found that matching a lyric to a dramatic scene and storyline can be somewhat limiting and, conversely, a focus for ideas.
I had never really tried writing songs in this way before. The lyrics had to be described through the eyes of the characters in the story and confined by their motivation and situations. This forced me into a new way of developing words.
Should more musicians explore this? Well, I quickly realised that it was definitely something I should have been doing all along. It was creatively liberating in the sense that I could say things through a character that I could never say personally. Artists who write for other people must experience something similar.
Overall though, I feel that music is most relevant when it explores an empathic and emotional narrative. When the listener is captured, immersed and taken on an internal journey then I suppose they are experiencing music in its purest form. Whatever device a songwriter or composer uses to accomplish this is absolutely fine by me. It is not an easy thing to do. In songs, stories and themes will always play a part.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
I am looking at taking Nebular towards a full stage/screen production. I also have other projects on the go that promise to take up all of my time.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I’ve met loads of famous people. Muse, U2. Very cool experiences. I’ve had a write up in The Big Issue. Geri Halliwell was on the next page. A big highlight was supporting The Levellers and having Eddie Reader’s son ask for an autograph!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
For the sound of the guitars - and it sounds like they recorded it all last week.
Portishead – Dummy
For the spookiness the Mellotron, the vocal and the otherworldliness of it. It’s a seminal album that’s for sure.
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Because it’s Her Majesty Kate and that is enough. Right?
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
I would absolutely LOVE a two-in-one Neumann 24x4 analogue summing mixer by Vintage Maker. Sorry...you’re none the wiser? Gearhead geek alert! Do you think they will send me one now that I have mentioned them in your interview? In time for Christmas?
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to support Noel Gallagher. The rider would be beers and a copy of The Beatles Anthology.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
If everyone is running into the six yard box, head for the wing. Someone might pass you the ball.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
There may be some conventional gigs in 2019 but, right now, I’m organising a rehearsed reading of Nebular Tuesday in February.
IN THIS PHOTO: SIAN
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I love the vocal group SIAN
Niteworks (ft. Sian) - Air Fàir an Là:
‘Air fàir an là’ means ‘At dawn of day’. It’s a traditional Gaelic ‘waulking song’ and the melody is utterly gorgeous. One of the Sian singers, Ceitlin LR Smith, sings in English on Nebular.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Digital painting keeps me off the streets. Sometimes.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Please play Experiment IV by Kate Bush. Nigel Kennedy’s in it you know and I can play violin...so there...
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