Nicky Bray (The Pop Up People, Penny & The Sausages) is always a reliable source for Youth Anthems bands (she was one of the first people to suggest Biscuithead and The Biscuit Badgers!) so when she told me to check out The Captain I made a point of doing so. What I did not expect was an absolute musical force of nature, sitting somewhere between Vaudeville, folk music, The Magnetic Fields and Lemoney Snickett the Captain is like nothing else you will have ever seen. We might have to push this gig finish to nearer 4:15 as our usual half hour set might not be enough for you or him (his recent album launch was scheduled for an hour and lasted three!). Welcome to the magical world of The Captain of The Lost Waves!
Hello there chap, could you introduce yourself to us?
I am the Captain of the lost Waves; a purveyor of the energy of seas… a Musical Brigand who finds ‘ hidden gems’ in the multitude of cracks that are neither evident or obvious….beauty is indeed within the eye of the beholder, though looking & seeing are two completely different things….
You seem to have an ever revolving (evolving?) cast of collaborators. How do you pick who you play music with and does this influence how songs are written?
Collaborations arrive, raw, untethered,unprescribed & gloriously unhinged…. the only remit is a shared ‘ Free musical expression’ without constraints of the rigid genre factory …. anything from Folk operatic nu vaudevillian warblings to electro pop experimentation have come to the party so far…. there are no margins to the vision… no adherence to how ‘things must / should be’….. that’s a lame recycled interpretation of some outdated idealogy/ golden rules of Art/,music making that many are controlled by…. I don’t do control…. so come forth if you enjoy exploration & true autonomy without ‘shoulds & shouldn’ts ‘ ever in the mix.
What are your top three influences from the worlds of music, literature and film?
… music… mainly classical / Ambient… though I adore the classic popular songwriters such as Cole Potter & irving Berlin… Jaques Brel & Edith Piaf….. also the bombastic magic of the operatic strains of Queen ….. the glorious luminosity of ‘the music of the spheres’ is mostly evident for me however in the sheer wondrous nature of the classical World…. From Ennio morricone to Beethoven’s 7th… movement two , Barbers Adagio for strings…and many more… filmic feasts for the eyes and ears of the soul would be ; Laurel & Hardy’s ‘ out west’ ‘ Guillermo Del Torro’s fantasy film noir masterpiece ‘ pans labyrinth ‘ & The Marx Brothers ‘ Animal crackers’…. plus anything by Chaplin. Literature as a desert island keepsake would be ; the Tao te Ching by Lao tzu, the Mahabharata & just as authentic, yet palpably & squirmingly funny in its lucid capture of the cacophony of human existence, the Catcher in the rye by jd Salinger….
Whats been your biggest musical highlight to date as a performer?
I have a myriad of such intangible connections that it is impossible to name but One… I’ve played to huge audiences and tiny ones. The whites Of the audiences eyes is a beautiful thing to behold… raw, unamplified performances can be overwhelming to the senses…. witnessing atmospheric shifts in a room as energy starts to morph, shift, blanketing into a mass of one …. that’s all it’s about for me… I could throw out and name drop the splendour of grand shows, but that’s not what it’s ever been about for me… instead I take the emotion of a space that I retain forever… would I dare say some of my shows in prisons & a One to one request , singing on the bed of a terminally ill amazing lady, I shall remember as Audrey….. and on to the hopping on and off buses in the Wild Wild West of Yorkshire on Blue Monday ( allegedly the most depressing day of the year) display a merit that may not be tangibly as evident or as rich to many who operate within our biggest is best/ ego- Sentric society…..
How much of an influence do you think where someone lives has on their art and with that in mind how has Yorkshire influenced you?
Very interesting… I often hear people describe my show as ‘European’ ‘multi faceted ‘, open, eclectic & wide ranging…. when playing around the country, many seem genuinely surprised that I reside in the Wild Wild West of Yorkshire, when of course, not navigating the galaxy as an intergalactic time detective!!!!..I am but a conduit, where my currency as a Creative explorer, is energy.. Yorkshire is an intriguing juxtapose.. it’s both moving forward and housing an old archetype at the same time… many are welcoming, many are slightly resistant and/or deeply suspicious…. the old and new worlds collide here in a multitude of expressions…. there is a key equanimity that aligns with all I do…. I am neither a nationalist nor a tribal activist …. I tie my colours to no flag…. I am a member of the human race. What if, just what if, we are boundless beings experiencing experiences of limitation and boundary….. that’s the paradox of existence for us all… Yorkshire is a very fertile training ground for exposing such aspects of oneself… it is like many places; Holding on as it tries to let go…. it looks forward whilst looking back… neither good, nor bad…. just the growing pains of change… for the individual, the village, the county, the country, the globe….
What else do you have planned for 2018?
I have learnt to not plan.. I try to remain neutral and engage with each proposition as if arrives… it allows me to remain ‘fresh’… where there are no expectations, anything can happens…. the constraints of ones own imagination, no matter how grand, cannot comprehend that which is incomprehensible….. so I ride the currents of each day in all of its challenging & rewarding fluctuations….. from a ‘ dry point of reference ‘ ( yes I realise that I co exist in a obtuse, abstraction often that cannot be measured or conveyed by the logical mind ) there is a new album , Hidden Gems, chapter 2, this particular episode all being created in the Analogue domain… ( two inch tape machines make the most beautiful sound… the whirring as it rewinds is almost as beguiling as it is nostalgic) …. after the critical acclaim of ‘ hidden Gems, chapter 1’ it is with relish and abandon we are recording these new sonic signatures…. the full theatrical show premieres at the old joint stock theatre in Birmingham at the end of Feb… unusual spaces and shows are happening… from the highlands of Scotland to the submarine museum at Gosport…. variety is the core of all I do… sometimes in the solo guise, often with muzwell the mute ( astonishing accordion player) & sparingly with the full band )….
Top three desserts?
Top three desserts; Creme brûlée, bread & butter pudding & Egg custard ( without the pastry) … there is a theme here, vanilla, nutmeg and beige at its best!!!!
What advice would you give you any young people starting out playing music?
Remember to enjoy it…. you can have success and stop enjoying it … it then becomes an Albatross around your neck… that which served you has become a unfortunate weight….. forget about what the industry and the ‘hip journalists’ subscribe to…. don’t follow anyone, be your own voice… naturally when you are young you will want to replicate your idols… that’s natural & understandable….. listen with a knowingness, listen to yourself most of all…. I don’t fit in to much of the ‘ scene’ … not Folk enough, not Rock enough, not this not that , not the other….. once you find who you are & what your path is, you realise you don’t want to walk in someone else’s footprints…. you’ve designed your own…. and you walk on uninhabited beaches making virginal footprints … better to be alone in your most authentic version of what you express…. many want to ‘ stand out whilst maintaining the need to fit in’…. I’m not saying it’s always easy: Many would rather fit in , as not being accepted leaves an imagined sense of isolation…. I say imagined, as once you connect with those who truly connect and accept you for who you are , then that is both liberating and rewarding… no more ‘ needing to be needed’ …. And play every day, write every day, explore another way of seeing things every day…. let life be your teacher ; she holds infinite stories, possibilities, ideas… and don’t try too hard… relax and work as hard as you can, with no expectations…. that way you experience the magic of music making with no agenda.
Anything else to add?
Laugh when you can, cry when you must, applaud everyone else’s right to their own opinion… in turn , know that you’ll always have opinions, but just stop treasuring them… we are all a work in progress, feint commas, never the full stop…. let nothing be final, all is transient, living is learning… learning is living. Smile, eat, dance, play, ad lib and repeat…. be yourself, nobody is better qualified