‘I grew up in total ruins’: Irmin Schmidt of Can on LSD, mourning and musical adventures

The last founding member of the visionary German band left alive, the 81 -year-old remembers how he repudiated his Nazi father to discovery freedom in music

In the dining room of his jogging farmhouse in Provence, Irmin Schmidt pours a glass of rose in preparation for being interviewed. At 81, he is twinkly, genial company, a little at odds with the image he projected as the keyboard player in Can, the Cologne band once described as” the most influential and worshipped avant-garde band of the late 20 th century “. While his bandmate Holger Czukay used to play up for the camera, Schmidt tended to stare sternly down it from between a pair of immense sideburns, every inch the serious musician who had trained under Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Since the band split up in 1979, he has induced solo albums, conducted, written cinema scores, penned an opu. He says he doesn’t much concern himself with the past. He is dismissive of Can’s brief late-8 0s reunion on the grounds that it” voiced too much like Can” and balked at a suggestion that he should join an all-star Can tribute group at the Barbican’s 2017 celebration of the band’s 50 th anniversary:” It was a wonderful performance they did, but I entail, playing a Can piece as a sung, having to learn the fucking piece and remember it …” He giggles.” We never cared about what people expected. I always imagined if one day we would go onstage again, people would think:’ No, this isn’t Can. This is another group- we are in the wrong place .'”

Can in 1973( left hand: Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, Holger Czukay( standing ), Irmin Schmidt and Damo Suzuki. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

But, of late, he has been dwelling on the band’s history. For one thing, 2017 left him the sole survivor of Can’s original four-piece line-up. Guitarist Michael Karoli succumbed of cancer in 2001, while drummer Jaki Liebezeit and bassist Holger Czukay both succumbed last year, the latter in the disused Weilerswist cinema that had once housed Can’s Inner Space studio, and where Czukay had continued to live after the band broke up. And then, at the urging of Hildegard, his partner of 51 years and Can’s manager since the early 70 s, he has co-authored, with Rob Young, a definitive biography of the band, All Gates Open.

It is a fascinating book , not least because Schmidt’s life was extraordinary even before he formed Can. Born in Berlin in 1937, he can remember ensure Allied aircrafts strafe a German military train with gunfire while he was an evacuee in Austria; returning to Germany in 1946, he found it” absolutely flattened by bombing. I grew up in these total wreckings. That was an experience that is still deeply within me: growing up in this town, this land, where everything was devastated, all the buildings, all the culture .” His teenage years were marked not only by the usual teen surliness but by an obsessive ferocity over his homeland’s recent history: he was expelled from school for using its student publication to expose his educators’ Nazi pasts, while his relationship with his father- another Nazi supporter who had done nothing to intervene when their Jewish neighbours were taken to Auschwitz- was ” pure war “.” Always asking,’ Why did you do this ?’,’ Why didn’t you do that ?’,’ How could you? How could you ?’ I think there is this kind of … mourning within me which I can never get rid of .”

By all accounts a brilliant musician from an early age, he was already a professional classical pianist when he signed up to study under Stockhausen at Cologne’s Rheinische Musikschule. Czukay was a fellow pupil, and Schmidt is rather proud of the fact that, when Stockhausen was subsequently played a selection of experimental German stone tracks, he rejected all of them except Can’s 1971 track Aumgn.” When he found out who had made it, he said:’ Well, of course it’s good- these were my students .'”

Schmidt was all set for a life in classical music until a 1965 journey to New York changed his mind.” Germany was very strict; there was this phrase’ serious music ‘. But in New York, there was no barrier- people is no more than interested in whether music was wild and interesting and beautiful .”

On his return, energised by both rock music’s more avant fringe- Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground- and by the funk of James Brown and Sly Stone, he recruited Czukay, free-jazz drummer Liebezeit and Karoli. None of them seems to have had any notion what they want to get do, other than attain” new music “.” But when we came together, we all knew what the other had done and where he came from and what he was able to do, and we all had quite a confidence- a brilliant jazz drummer, a bass player who was classically developed but was also a strange and powerful musician, a guitarist who was immensely gifted and inventive, very sensitive. It was that atmosphere of 1968: let’s dare something, let’s have an adventure, we will find an art .”

Can in full flow performing on German TV in 1970

But even given their backgrounds and the work they put in- they improvised for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, recording everything on tapes pinched by Czukay from Stockhausen’s studio- the art that Can saw seems utterly extraordinary. While their music was avant garde, it never sounded like a cerebral workout. Quite the opposite. It was raw and propulsive and funky, Liebzeit reacting against his free-jazz background by playing hypnotic, cyclical dancefloor grooves.” That was something we had in common ,” Schmidt tells.” We wanted music that relates to the body. Holger and me, with all this Stockhausen and contemporary music experience, we wanted to be free- we definitely didn’t want intellectual games. If it was intellectual, it never indicated. It was even banned in interviews: if I would start talking about sophisticated things, Holger would always butt in:’ I’ve never read a volume in my life !'”

They recruited vocalists – first American expat Malcolm Mooney, afterwards an itinerant Japanese street performer called Damo Suzuki- and between 1969 and 1973 released five of the most acclaimed and influential albums in rock history: Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and the sublime Future Days. They began playing gigs, always completely improvised.” Ask Hildegard how awful we were when it didn’t work ,” chuckles Schmidt.” The astounding thing in the concerts that went totally wrong, where we didn’t get the groove and it didn’t come together, was that the public didn’t run away or scream’ Shit !’- they suffered with us, they didn’t give up. You felt that empathy, and very often we’d play a second situate and it would click .”

Indeed, how quickly Can found an audience is one of the more remarkable aspects of All Gates Open. Devoted that the contents of their albums bore almost no resemblance to any music that had come before, you might expect them “mustve been” greeted with bewilderment, but no. They had reached singles in Germany and won music press polls. Schmidt recollects a gig in Glasgow where one punter expressed his delight by jumping onstage and hugging him so tightly that one of his rib transgressed. They enjoyed themselves in time-honoured rock’n’roll style: Schmidt’s method of killing day on the road involved ingesting” a microscopic dose of LSD” and then taking the wheel. “Wonderful!” he insists , noting my horrified expres.” You get extremely concentrated, but it is like driving through a movie. You have to drive extremely carefully. Never had an accident .”

It was, he says,” the most wonderful hour of my life “; but still, from the outside, life in Can seems curiously stressful. As well as the constant, obsessive rehearse, and the high-wire act of their improvised gigs, there was the ongoing tumult of German counter-culture, which had curdled from hippydom to political indignation to terrorism and which Can did their best to conscientiously avoid (” I met Andreas Baader in a commune in Munich once and from the first position, I didn’t like him ,” says Schmidt ). Both Mooney and Suzuki left in cloudy situations- the former had a nervous breakdown, the latter joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses- and it’s seducing to wonder if day-to-day life in Can wasn’t a contributory factor. Schmidt tells no: he guesses Mooney’s precarious mental state was down to the fact that the report was dodging the Vietnam draft and thought he would be caught, while Suzuki was ” not fragile at all … He guessed:’ That was Can and now that’s enough .’ Maybe he also felt that it would become a routine, which we actually felt that later on it was .”

Can in 1972 in their Inner Space studio where they created their groundbreaking albums. Photo: Courtesy of Faber and Faber

They never found another full-time vocalist, though in a fascinating instance of what-if, Can super-fan John Lydon contacted the band’s office in the wake of the Sex Pistols’ split, offering his services.” Maybe it would have been wonderful ,” says Schmidt, “but it was too late”: Can had run its course. They had always argued ferociously about their music, but the divisions in the band were becoming too broad, and their albums were audibly less focused than they once had been; the spontaneity that had fuelled them had sagged.

The second part of All Gates Open, a selection of interviews and periodical entries edited by journalists Max Dax and Robert Defcon, is testament to Can’s nonpareil ability to turn the most curmudgeonly musicians into gushing fans: the late Mark E Smith , nobody’s definition of a suck-up, seems genuinely overawed to satisfy Schmidt (” He kept nuzzling me ,” he smiles ); Portishead’s Geoff Barrow describes himself as” a stalker” and pumps Schmidt for information about how Can did it. The thing is, Schmidt says, he doesn’t really know. Something inexplicable happens between the four of them, that all his musical educate can’t get to the bottom of.” Like in physics ,” he says.” Different components, when they come together, it creates something new. And that’s what Can is. It’s not the sum of us four – it’s something new .”

All Gates Open: The Story of Can , by Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt, is published by Faber& Faber( PS25 rrp ). To order a transcript for PS21. 25 with free UK p& p, go to guardianbookshop.com

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Rita Ora apologises after LGBT criticism of her song Girls

After the way is criticised for its tone-deaf portraying of same-sex relationships, Ora says sorry for the style she expressed herself

Rita Ora has apologised after her new song Girls, featuring all-star guests Cardi B, Charli XCX and Bebe Rexha, was criticised for a “tone-deaf” approach to same-sex relationships.

The song’s lyrics reference Ora’s bisexuality, saying,” I’m 50 -5 0 and I’m never going to hide it ,” before going to get a chorus that rebuffs a man’s advances, read:” Red wine, I simply want to kiss daughters .” A line from Cardi B reads:” I could be your lipstick just for one night .”

Pop star Hayley Kiyoko wrote on Twitter that Girls did” more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community. A anthem like this just gas the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving females … I don’t need to drink wine to kiss daughters; I’ve loved women my entire life .” She added that the sung” belittles and negates the very pure impressions of an entire community “.

R& B singer Kehlani, who recently defined herself as queer on Twitter, wrote that” there were many awkward slurs, quotes … I never presumed it was for men lol just think certain quotes weren’t progressive .” DJ Kittens wrote:” This song is literally about was intended to hehe kiss daughters when you’re drinking and smoking weed … It’s harmful when LGBT women are fetishised and no relationships are ever taken seriously .”

Ora has now responded to the criticism, saying she was ” sorry[ if] how I carried myself in the song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LBGTQ+ people or anyone .” She said the song” was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life. I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey .”

She had previously said the song was inspired in part by Katy Perry’s similarly-minded I Kissed a Girl, though Perry herself lately admitted that some lyrics in the ballad were outdated, telling:” It has a couple of stereotypes in it .”

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How Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte fought racism arm in arm

Petula Clark was an uncool 60 s pop star on the rise when, 50 years ago today, she held on to Harry Belafontes arm on US television, and sparked a race relations furore

Had you asked anyone in 1968 to pick the British female singer most likely to become embroiled in a race-related TV scandal , no one would have said Petula Clark. Not “Pet”. Not pop’s prim Miss Jean Brodie to the St Trinian’s brass of Sandie, Cilla and Lulu. Not the “Singing Sweetheart” of the wireless era.

Clark’s elocutionary voice was first immortalised on shellac in 1949 and filed under “easy listening” ever since, whether it was her first UK No 1, Sailor, in 1961, or her signature anthem Downtown. The latter swim with the tide of the Beatles-led British Invasion to top the US charts in early 1965, helping her become the first British female vocalist to win a Grammy. That it was also written by the man afterward responsible for the topic to Neighbours, Tony Hatch, tells much about Clark’s immunity to the Vidal Sassoon cool of her younger, earthier pop peers: she was an anomalous supper club chanteuse for whom the 60 s often glisten but never swung.

And yet it was Clark who, in the decade’s” year of insurrection“, determined herself at the centre of a media disagreement involving race, censorship and endemic bigotry in a newly desegregated yet depressingly divided US. All because she had dared to place her white, English thumbs upon the black Caribbean-American arm of her friend and fellow singer, Harry Belafonte.

” It sounds stupid now ,” says Steve Binder, the TV director responsible for encouraging their contentious intimacy.” But back then it became an international story in Newsweek and Time magazine. It wouldn’t even have been an incident if the show’s sponsor hadn’t said anything. Petula touched Harry’s arm and the next thing they went bonkers .”

Binder was a 35 -year-old pop TV veteran when he was hired by NBC to direct Clark’s first one-hour US TV special. The sponsor was Plymouth motors, a division of Chrysler, and the catalyst for all the ensuing hullabaloo was its head of ad: a 49 -year-old decorated US Air Force pilot and former second world war PoW named Doyle Lott.

Lott’s military record almost certainly had something to do with his evident opposition to Clark’s choice of guest star. Once the ” King of Calypso “, by 1968 Belafonte was using his celebrity to become a prominent civil rights activist. That February, he’d stood in for Johnny Carson as host of the Tonight Show, discussing Vietnam, poverty and racial inequality with political friend Bobby Kennedy, and his close friend, Dr Martin Luther King Jr . Belafonte’s liberal, anti-Vietnam stance wouldn’t have sat well with Lott’s Silver Star medal for valour in combat , nor his waiting plot in Arlington cemetery. Whatever his motives- political or racial- from the moment Binder first brought Belafonte’s name into discussion, Lott attempted to veto him.

” As soon as Belafonte said yes to the demonstrate, I rang up the ad bureau to tell them the good news ,” tells Binder.” They told:’ You’ve got Belafonte! Wow !’ Because at that time Harry had more or less stopped doing range Tv. So this was a real coup, to have Belafonte back singing on screen. But then two minutes later, I get another call from a different guy at relevant agencies who tells me:’ We have to get rid of Belafonte .’ I was confounded. And the guy told:’ Off the record, the reason is Lott’s a bigot. He doesn’t want a black person on the reveal .’ I was speechless .”

Harry Belafonte, centre, with Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. Photograph: Ivan Massar/ AP

The head of Chrysler overruled Lott and allowed the network to keep Belafonte on the show. Lott, however, wasn’t to be outdone. For the show’s filming, he took mansion in a green room near the soundstage, following along on a monitor.

The Belafonte sequence was a 10 -minute solo spot with minimal staging, climaxing with Clark’s reappearance on screen for a duet of her own song On the Path of Glory, a sober lament on the horrors of war.” NBC were nervous ,” notes Binder.” We had to convince them that it wasn’t about Vietnam but about war in general .”

The script said nothing about Clark and Belafonte touching.” It was improvised ,” Binder says.” The first few takes, Petula walked up and stopped a few steps behind Harry, but I felt it wasn’t working. So I said to Petula:’ Just go right up alongside him and stand shoulder to shoulder .’ So we do this take and all of a sudden it starts happening. Her eyes are tearing up, Harry’s eyes are tearing up and Petula becomes so emotional that she reaches over and physically holds Harry’s forearm. And I’m tearing up too, guessing:’ This is great! This is the take !’ And then it all blew up .”

No sooner had Binder screamed “cut” than Lott stormed crimson-faced out of the green room and on to the define. “Screaming,” says Binder.” Because a white woman had touched a black human on screen. Severely! It voices comical but he was screaming’ This will never get on TV !’ and’ We’ll all lose our undertakings !’ and demanding that I reshoot it, which I point blank rejects to do. He was literally hollering’ You’ll never work in this town again’ and threatening to fire me .”

‘ Forget my best interests’ … Petula Clark. Photo: Photoshot/ Getty Images

In his 2011 autobiography, My Song, Belafonte admits he was prepared to acquiesce to Lott’s demands, if merely for the sake of damage limitation to Clark’s stateside reputation.” Perhaps, I told her, we should pick another fight, another day- at least while her best interests were at stake.’ Forget my best interests ,’ she said.’ What would you do ?’ I grinned.’ I’d nail the bastard .” So we will ,’ she responded .”

Binder and Clark’s husband, Claude Wolff, grabbed the tapes while Lott was on the phone, and had a technician erase all the earlier edits.” The only one NBC had, the only one they could broadcast, was the last one where they touched. When Lott went off the phone and found out, “hes been gone” even more nuts .”

The irony to Lott’s pitiful fury was that its ultimate victim was himself. A whole month before Petula was scheduled to be broadcast, it was Belafonte who took the tale to the papers and generated a media cyclone, publicly humiliation Lott for what he described as” the most outrageous instance of racism I have ever seen in this business “. A mortified Lott pleaded he’d merely been “tired” and had” overreacted to the staging , not to any feeling of discrimination “. He also telephoned Belafonte, offering an apology. It wasn’t accepted.

” Apologies in these situations entail nothing ,” Belafonte later explained.” They change neither that man’s heart nor my scalp. Inside, he feels the same way because of how I look on the outside. He can apologise for the balance of his life but it won’t alter the posture he has today. And a human with such an attitude has to be uncovered .”

An embarrassed Chrysler further distanced itself from Lott, insisting the issues” resulted solely from the reaction of a single individual and by no means represents the Plymouth division’s stance or policy on such matters “. When Petula was eventually broadcast on Tuesday 2 April 1968,” the touch” intact, Lott had been relieved of his post and moved in the company.

Clark’s acceptance into the US entertainment mainstream continued with a Golden Globe nomination for her first Hollywood musical, Finian’s Rainbow, and the following year’s summer season at Caesar’s Palace. Binder similarly prospered, earning himself a place in rock’n’roll history as the director of NBC’s next big Tv special, rescuing Elvis Presley from the verge of obsolescence.

Most spectators who ensure Clark’s hand caress Belafonte’s arm that evening in April 1968 likely wondered what all the fuss had been about. Yet within 48 hours, America’s racial tensions were violently cast into far sharper relief by a single gunshot in Memphis: King’s assassination. One week to the day that Belafonte appeared on prime-time Tv screens with Clark hanging on his arm, he was stood at an Atlanta graveside with another female hand clinging to his elbow: that of Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta.

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Bataclan survivor Jesse Hughes calls March for Our Lives ‘pathetic’

The Eagles of Death Metal frontman also compared handing in guns to avoid handgun violence to men dismembering themselves to end rape, and accused protestor Emma Gonzlez of treason

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal, the band whose concert at Paris’s Bataclan venue was targeted by terrorists in November 2015, has criticised this weekend’s March for Our Lives protest against gun violence, which took place across the US. Across five posts on Instagram( three of which he has since deleted ), the 45 -year-old directly assaulted the survivors of the Parkland school shooting in Florida and shared rightwing memes.

In one of the remaining posts, Hughes shared an illustration of a woman telling a man,” I turned in my gun to do my part in stop violence ,” to which he responds,” I chopped off my own dick to stop rape .” In a caption beneath the post, Hughes questions the efficacy of passing new legislation as a route of “[ combating] chronic abusers and disregarders of the law( like the law against Murder )” and accuses the Parkland survivors of” exploiting the death of 16 of our fellow students for a few Facebook likes and some media attention “.

The Guardian has approached Hughes’s representatives for comment.

Obviously….The best thing to do to combat chronic abusers and disregarders of the law( like the law against Murder) is to……..pass another Law !….. Genius !!!…… but before we pass this law we’re going to belittle the memory and curse ourselves by exploiting the death of 16 of our fellow students for a few Facebook likes and some media attention….and seem how well civil rights abuses as it concerns handguns helped to protect me and my friends in Paris !!!!! This almost sounds like the plan of like a kid maybe like a high school student ….!. Oh wait that’s right …. The Whitney Houston song about letting the children lead the way wasn’t actually had operating paradigm for life…..And when the truth don’t line up with your bullshit narrative simply hold your breath and stamp your feet and rejects to except it …. then take multiple days off of school playing hooky at the expense of 16 of your classmates blood ….!…. it was possible to funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and disgusting……As the survivor of a mass shooting I can tell you from first-hand experience that all of you protesting and taking days off from school insult the memory of those who were killed and abuse and insult me and every other devotee of autonomy by your every action…..Long Live Rock’n’Roll ….. and may everyone of these disgusting vile abusers of the dead live as long as possible so that they are able to have the maximum sum of time to endure their shame….and be Cursed ….

A post shared by Jesse Hughes (@ fatherbadass) on


The musician continued:” The Whitney Houston song about letting the children lead the way wasn’t actually had[ sic] operating paradigm for life…..And when the truth don’t line up with your bullshit narrative simply hold your breath and stamp your feet and refused[ sic] to except[ sic] it …. then take multiple days off of school playing hooky at the expense of 16[ sic] of your classmates blood ….!…. it was possible to funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and disgusting ……”

Hughes depicted on his own experiences at the Bataclan:” As the survivor of a mass shooting I can tell you from first-hand experience that all of you protesting and taking days off from school insult the memory of those who were killed and abuse and insult me and every other devotee of liberty by your every action…..Long Live Rock’n’Roll ….. and may everyone[ sic] of these disgusting vile abusers of the dead live as long as possible so that they are able to have the maximum sum of time to endure their shame….and be Cursed ….”

In a deleted post, he shared a Photoshopped image of student protester Emma Gonzalez supposedly rending a transcript of the US Constitution in half. The original photo, from a Teen Vogue photoshoot, pictures Gonzalez tearing a gun scope target in two. Hughes described Gonzalez as:” the Awful Face Of Treason…..survivor of Nothing….Lover of Treason…..enjoy your little moment…..it’s about to End …… #stupidity #hatersofliberty #loversofsatan #borntolose #2ndamendment “.

Ethan Embry (@ EmbryEthan)

Hey, @jesseEODM I believe going out of your style to assault a fellow victim of gun violence, let alone small children, is a fairly pussy ass move. Might wanna check yourself cause your ignorance is showing.
Amendments are meant to be amended. pic.twitter.com/ qjlOrM4mnD

March 26, 2018

A third, deleted post, contained multiple images: an illustration of a bottle of pills labelled” Hard to Swallow”, followed by an image of a hand holding three pills, each bearing a caption:” Our guns aren’t going anywhere “;” “Theres only” 2 genders “; and” Donald Trump will be your chairman for 7 more years “. In Hughes’s caption, he promised” moronic dingdong headed losers” that he would report any threats made against him to the FBI.

Consequence of Sound (@ consequence)

EODM’s Jesse Hughes posted these two images along with a doctored photo of #EmmaGonzalez rending up the Constitution https :// t.co/ cVLnG2 6qga pic.twitter.com/ xBx1szdP 2R

March 26, 2018

In a fourth, deleted, post, Hughes shared a photograph of a pro-second amendment patch, with the caption:” I can tell you right now that the actions of these misguided youth and evil socialists is inducing “i m feeling” frightened … with every broadcast of a willing and complicit press I feel the wall of security that the Constitution provides being taken down bit by bit …..”

A fifth post, apparently made after deleting the previous three, contained an image of a ceramic eagle. In the caption, Hughes wrote,” I’ve always believed in the motto I may not agree with what you’re saying but I’ll die for your right to say it. Saddens me to ensure so many not have this motto for the same …..” He said he would start a second Instagram account for his political notion, and preserve the fatherbadass account for “Rock’n’Roll”.


After 89 people were killed by terrorists while attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris in November 2015, Hughes suggested that France’s strict gun control statutes did nothing to mitigate the bloodshed of the night.” Did your French gun control stop a single person from succumbing at the Bataclan? If anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it, because I don’t think so ,” he said.

In March 2016, he suggested that the two attacks may have been an inside job, commentaries for which he subsequently apologised. When the venue reopened in November 2016, Hughes was allegedly refused entry. The Californian hard-rock band were on stage at the Bataclan when three terrorists entered the venue and began shooting with assault rifles and throwing hand grenades. It are members of a series of attacks in Paris that night that left 130 people dead. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the murders.

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Chrysta Bell: David Lynch is my mentor in art, music and life

The singer and actor, on the eve of a UK tour, discusses the Twin Peaks reboot and her long history of collaborations with the director

On 10 June 1991, in the chilling finale of the second season of Twin Peaks , Laura Palmer- or someone who looked like her- tells special agent Dale Cooper:” I’ll see you again in 25 years .” As promised, a quarter of a century afterwards, the demonstrate written by David Lynch and Mark Frost returned with a boundary-pushing third season. It launched a thousand thinkpieces and fan hypothesis; controversially, it was ranked second in Sight& Sound ‘ s best cinemas of 2017 listing .~ ATAGEND At the heart of the show was new character Tammy Preston, an impossibly glamorous FBI agent played by relative unknown Chrysta Bell.

The musician and sometime performer has often been referred to as David Lynch’s muse: one of her ballads appeared in his 2006 movie Inland Empire , and since then they have recorded an album and an EP together. She has been making music in various guises for 20 years, and in 2017 released her first solo album , We Dissolve , produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish. She goes by her full first name, Chrysta Bell, a southern-inspired spelling of Christabel, the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem she was named after( fittingly, it deals with mysterious women and the supernatural ).

When we fulfill at a hotel in Paris, she has just released a self-titled EP– a wistful, languid affair full of water imagery and symbolism- and is about to perform at the Philharmonie de Paris with French singer Christophe( guess a more bedraggled Johnny Hallyday ). She has flown in from the Country the night before but explodes into the room full of energy, immaculately turned out in a 40 s-style dress. While on screen she emanates a cool gothic beauty-” I thought she was like an alien, the most beautiful alien ever ,” Lynch said of first seeing her perform- in person she has the air of a southern belle: unfailingly polite, warm and upbeat, with the sort of posture that makes you instantly sit upright.

Chrysta Bell first fulfilled David Lynch in 1999, introduced by an agent who thought they’d get on. They hit it off right away, talked for hours, and wrote a sung together that day.” Before you meet David, he’s this icon, it’s kind of impossible to believe he actually exists. Then you insure him, and he’s real ,” she recalls.” We figured out that day we’re complementary as artists and as friends. Everyone was really happy .” They started making music together- he’d write the lyrics and she the melodies- resulting in their haunting, dreamy 2011 album This Train .” It became a regular thing: I’d come to the studio and we’d build music we both loved and we’d have coffee- a lot of coffee .” She laughs.” Man can drink coffee .”

On one level, it may seem obvious why the director was initially drawn to her- with her waist-length dark hair and femme fatale red lips, she looks like she’s been beamed in from the David Lynch cinematic cosmo- but it’s more than that: they have a compatible artistic sensibility and a shared interest in mysticism and spirituality. In the studio, she tells,” we’d have these great conversations- we have similar intrigues: esoteric subjects, the great unknown “. She’s partial to digressions about the imagination and destiny, but it’s hard to be cynical about it: there’s exuberance and openness in everything she says, and a beguiling lack of irony or malice. When she utilizes phrases such as” cosmic beyondness”, she apologises with a little smile.

The day before the interview, I send an email to Lynch via his assistant, asking for a couple of quotes explaining what he admires about Chrysta Bell’s work. This is the reply:” David loves Chrysta Bell. Here’s what he has to say about her:’ Chrysta Bell is round and fully packed, and what comes out of her reminds me of a light blue songbird with extended wings, and a shining beak .'” I read this out to her;” Wow, that’s really sweet ,” she replies, and wells up.

Chrysta Bell and David Lynch in Los Angeles. Photograph: Kevin Winter/ Getty Images

Chrysta Bell Zucht was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1978. It was ” as good a place as any to grow up: there were a lot of trees, beautiful architecture. It was clean, safe ,” she muses,” but not, you know, highly charged with artistry .” After school she moved to the more culturally vibrant Austin, and became the lead singer of swaying revival band 81/2 Souvenirs( named after the Fellini film and a Django Reinhardt anthem ), with whom she recorded two albums. She now lives in Oakland, California, but has developed a newfound expressed appreciation for Texas, its Latin culture, and- especially compared to Bristol, where she recorded her last album- its plains of” massive, infinite” sky.

As she gets older, she says, she has started to realise what an unusual upbringing she had: she was raised by” a group of odd and eccentric parental beings who were very special and encouraging “. Her mom was a singer, her” highly clairvoyant” stepfather a composer, producer and technologist; together they ran a recording studio. Her father was, variously: a hot air balloon pilot, a dentist, a real estate entrepreneur, president of the local Bachelors’ Club, a collector of old automobiles, manager of a bed and breakfast, and chairman of the board of the Texas Transportation Museum. When he died, he left her, as a business, a natural burial cemetery.

” When it happened, he told:’ Darling, this is going to be our legacy as a family ,’ and I was like,’ What are you talking about ?'” But, in time, she started to recognise the significance of the burial ground, which is now a big part of their own lives. She is a proponent of the’ death-positivity movement ‘, which attempts to change the way demise is perceived in western societies.” It’s about relieving some of the anxiety people have around death by bringing it to the conversation with a more relaxed tone. Nature has it figured out: our culture has put up a big wall around this thing that’s going to happen to everybody, and I think that has created much more resistance to it than is necessary .” She is attempting to find a way to combine this with her music:” Maybe I can bring the two together somehow. We’ll find .”

For years, Chrysta Bell’s partnerships with Lynch were confined to music. Then, while they were working on their 2016 EP Somewhere in the Nowhere , he floated the idea that there may be a role for her in his next project, although he didn’t say much more than that. When he told her it was Twin Peaks , she was incredulous:” I had no , no idea he’d ask me to be a part of it. I felt like, in the scope of what David has to offer as an individual, I’d received so much, and felt so fulfilled. I wasn’t expecting more .” She hesitated- this would be her first screen role since starring as Jet Li’s love interest in 1997′ s Once Upon a Time in China and America – but soon gave in, assuming it would be a small part.

David Lynch& Chrysta Bell: Bird of Flames .~ ATAGEND

What followed was a long process, shrouded in mystery, during which Lynch dedicated her little teasing clues (” the character is nothing like you, you know, she’s hyper-intelligent and very professional …” she rolls her eyes, “… and then he’d smile “). Then, when she got her script, she found that hers was the eighth biggest role. She offered to get acting lessons, but Lynch said no, he didn’t want to have to un-teach her everything she’d learn. She felt a lot of pressure to get it right for the fans who had waited so long, but was aroused to determine she had so much screen hour with Miguel Ferrer as Albert Rosenfield, Lynch as Gordon Cole, and the enigmatic Diane, who was later revealed to be Laura Dern.

On set, the sense of mystery continued. No cast member was given the full script except Kyle MacLachlan. One long, virtually silent scene in which Gordon Cole has a puff from Diane’s cigarette, with Tammy Preston looking on, was improvised. For someone who hadn’t acted in 20 years it could feel quite intimidating, but fortunately co-star Miguel Ferrer provided support.” He was truly gracious- if I was straying aimlessly he’d say:’ Chrysta Bell, we can violate now, you can go back to your trailer .’ If he had an opportunity to give me an’ Atta girl, you’re doing great !’ he always took it .”

In January last year, Ferrer died aged 61. At the end of filming he’d told Chrysta Bell he had cancer, but she misunderstood, supposing he entailed he’d overcome it.” So I told:’ Oh how wonderful, you seem so great and vibrant and now you can conquer anything .’ He didn’t correct me, because why would you? I only heard what I wanted to hear .” She takes a moment to compose herself. ” I want to talk about him , but I haven’t worked out how to not blubber through it. He would tell these remarkable stories about the early days of Hollywood, of where reference is played drums in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. But he remained totally humble: he was a true gentleman, only an -Aplus human .”

When Twin Peaks: The Return aired last May, Tammy Preston turned out to be a divisive character: while some spectators took her alluring, aloof demeanour as of a piece with the show’s surreal atmosphere , not everyone was impressed with Chrysta Bell’s acting. The backlash hurt, but led to introspection and eventually acceptance:” I’m a lot less sensitive and tender now. I’m cool with it all .” Because of the negativity, she didn’t investigated the myriad online fan theories: a brief clip of her walk-to towards a door led to fervent debates about space and time glitches; there was supposition about why Tammy’s initials are the same as Twin Peaks. One particularly compelling hypothesi suggests that the two final episodes are designed to be watched simultaneously.” Wow! I will have to do that now ,” she tells.” Even if that wasn’t the intention I believe David is so connected, so in tune with other realms, that it are now working, despite him .”

Chrysta Bell& David Lynch: Beat the Beat .~ ATAGEND

She has plenty of the notion of her own, but she’s not likely to discuss any of them with Lynch.” No! No! He’d be the last person. With him it’s like:’ Look, I gave it to you for you to figure out and have your own personal experience with it .’ I think he’d feel his ideas and guess might stifle my own process of discovery. I don’t know that he knows what happened to everybody- maybe he does- but it’s not about answering all the questions. I think that’s such a big, fun part of it: the choose-your-own-adventure part of Twin Peaks . Or select your own cosmic reality .”

After the display finished, she went to visit Lynch at his workshop and procured him making a desk, surrounded by power tools.” It was the perfect thing to do after this huge expansive production: bringing it in, making a functional desk that would hold his pencils, his glass, his coffee cup .” She admires his ability to attain space for work of various kinds: if he’s painting he’s not afraid to tell her he can’t talk, despite how close they are. I ask how she feels about being referred to as his muse.” I mean, I think it’s romantic, but I think it’s more accurate to call us collaborators, and to be considered his protege on some level. He’s certainly a mentor for me , not just about art or music but about life .”

Lynch is famous for creating complex, captivating female characters, and The Return is no exception: Tammy is a capable, high-ranking FBI agent, Naomi Watts’s Janey-E is spirited and moving, and Dern is exceptional in the role of Diane. Nevertheless, there was some criticism online about the portrait of women in the season, including a shot of Tammy walking away while Albert and Gordon look on approvingly.

” I think it’s clear David appreciates and celebrates girls ,” tells Chrysta Bell.” When I’m around him I feel cared for and considered, like he believes I could do anything. I’m always fascinated when people have issues with appreciating the female sort – it’s the most beautiful thing in the world! People get so worked up .” The reason why his female characters resonate so much, she guesses, is party down to the people he chooses:” Laura Dern is an amazing human, and she brings that to her characters. There are so many of these women throughout his career .”

Not everyone in Hollywood loves and celebrates women the route Lynch does. When I mention the #MeToo motion , Chrysta Bell’s eyes light up.” I have an 11 -year-old stepdaughter and my heart starts beating faster when I think that when she is my age, this could be a remote memory:’ There was a period when women weren’t paid equally? When females had to deal, on a daily basis, with people treating them as inferior to humen? That’s crazy .'” Her Twitter feedshows how politically engaged she is, about gender equality, gun control, the environment, civil right. But, despite everything that’s wrong with the world, she remains hopeful for the future.

Chrysta Bell alongside Miguel Ferrer in Twin Peaks: The Return. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

One way she copes with fury and hopelessness is transcendental meditation , which she practises twice daily for 20 minutes( fellow TM fans include Martin Scorsese, Jerry Seinfeld and Oprah Winfrey ). Chrysta Bell took it up in 2006 after witnessing its effects on Lynch and his crew.” Everyone was so compassionate and thoughtful and I was like:’ What’s going on in here ?’ I don’t know why it does what it does: it’s the simplest thing and yet really profound. It’s like a secret weapon .”( For what it’s worth, she’s an effective diplomat for it: she radiates warmths and positivity .)

One of her priorities, she tells, is making a worthwhile contribution to humanity. One style is with her father’s cemetery in Texas. Another is through art:” I’ve tried so hard to offer someone else the same medication I’ve been given through music. That’s why I do it, even though sometimes I think it’s pretty ridiculous. Music can provide access to feelings we don’t commonly have because we’re in daily routines, always doing something. Then you hear a song that stops you and opens you up .” Twin Peaks falls into this category too:” I truly believe it’s something remarkably special and a gift to humanity .” It may seem like an outlandish statement to make about a Tv show, yet there’s something about the devotio n Twin Peaks has attracted over 30 years that attains it sound utterly reasonable.

Music continues to be her passion, but she’s open to more acting if the right project comes along( something is in the works, though it’s very hush-hush ). She’s fatalistic about the future, but less in an “everything-happens-for-a-reason” way than” let’s see where life takes us “. Whichever cosmic reality we turn out to be in, she’s open to it.” I’m always in discovery mode- if it’s my fate I feel like it will find me. I think there’s magic in that .”

Chrysta Bell plays London on 6 April, Glasgow on 8 April, and Edinburgh on 9 April. Her EP, Chrysta Bell, is out now on Meta Hari

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Goodbye Claudia Fontaine, the unknown famous face of 80s pop

Soul singer Claudia Fontaine, who has died aged 57, was a Zelig-like figure in the 1980 s, backing up performances by Elvis Costello, the Jam and the Specials and was not the only unsung pop hero of the age

I didn’t know Claudia Fontaine’s name until this week, when she died at persons under the age of 57. I knew her face, though, and her voice: she was as much part of my pop adolescence as being poised over the intermission button of the radio cassette recorder while listening to John Peel, or wondering whether I’d get back to Paddington from some London venue for the last develop home to Slough.

Fontaine was part of Afrodiziak, first as a duo with Caron Wheeler( afterwards of Soul II Soul ), and later as a trio with Naomi Thompson, who were the British record industry’s backing singers of option for much of the 1980 s. In those days, even for mimed appearances, solo artists or groups would often bring along to the Top of the Pops studio the people who actually appeared on the records, and so Afrodiziak became regulars at BBCTelevision Centre, as well as on Channel 4′ s The Tube.

That’s Fontaine in the background when Marilyn performed Calling Your Name on Top of the Pops. There she is again as Elvis Costello does Everyday I Write the Book, and with the Special AKA demanding Nelson Mandela’s freedom. She wasn’t there when the Jam did Beat Surrender, but she was on stage when they played it on The Tube; she’s there with Madness, playing Sweetest Girl on Saturday Live and No 73 . She’s back on ToTP with Howard Jones, where reference is sang Things Can Merely Can Better.

Some backing artists become famous in their own. Sometimes it’s because of one specific performance: Merry Clayton on the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter; Clare Torry on Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky. Sometimes it’s because of the enormous number of incredible records they appeared on: the Funk Brothers at Motown; the Wrecking Crew in Los Angeles; the Swampers in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

You wouldn’t build those claims for Fontaine. Afrodiziak’s contribution to Sunset Now by Heaven 17 is not, whichever way you cut it, going to be “was talkin about a” in the way of the Swampers’ performance on Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man( The Way I Love You)- but that’s fine. If you were growing up in the 80 s, Afrodiziak- even if you didn’t know who they were, as I didn’t- felt as curiously central to Top of the Pops as Ooh Gary Davies, awkward teens and the feeling of shame as you demanded stillnes from your family for the three minutes of your favourite band.

Ubiquitous in the 80 s … Pino Palladino. Photograph: Gary Gershoff/ Getty Images

They weren’t the only constant but unknown presences in 80 s pop. I believe the first time I became aware of a musician who wasn’t one of the stars was through the gurgling bass audio on the singles from Paul Young’s album No Parlez. That turned out to be the work of Pino Palladino, who became ubiquitous through the 80 s in the same way as Afrodiziak did. I discovered that the gurgling sound was the result of him playing a fretless bass, and I started to notice it on other records, and realise: that’s Palladino again. And there he would be, too, on Top of the Pops.

The more obsessed you become with music, the more likely you are to look out for the names below the headlines. You start to recognise different types of records they will be associated with, and be able to take an trained guess about whether you’ll like their music. So, as an indie fan in the mid to late 80 s, I could be pretty sure that, even if I had never heard of the group concerned, a single being developed by John A Rivers and are available in Leamington Spa would interest me. Indeed, so associated did Rivers and Woodbine Street studios become with a certain stres of lo-fi, 60 s-inflected jangly pop, that the unknown groups of that epoch have been celebrated in a series of Nuggets-like compilations called The Sound of Leamington Spa, which has just reached its eighth volume.

I still do it, too. My knowledge of dance music is minimal to the point of nonexistence, but if I am sent an album with a note that it’s been produced by the sometime DJ and remixer Ewan Pearson, I put it straight on, because he seems to have worked on so many of my favourite records over the last few years.

The people in the background- low down the credits on the back covering; in the leading edge of frame on the TV appearance; get the hell out of there stage for merely two anthems of the gig- are never going to be pop’s heroes. But the peculiar ecosystem of British pop in the 80 s, with its wealth of televisual possibilities, entails Claudia Fontaine was one of its most recognisable faces. And this week she’s being mourned even by those of us who never knew her name.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Beyonc and Jay-Z announce On the Run II tour

The couple will play together for the first time since their On the Run tour in 2014

Beyonce and Jay-Z have confirmed gossips that they will tour together this summer, detailing dates in the UK, Europe and North America. The married couple previously mounted the On the Run tour together in 2014, to promote their respective albums Beyonce and Magna Carta Holy Grail.

The couple’s latest album releases are 2016′ s Lemonade and 2017′ s 4: 44. They are appearing together on DJ Khaled’s current single, Top Off.

Next month, Beyonce will headline California’s Coachella festival. She was initially due to headline in 2017, but receded on doctors’ orders after was found that she was pregnant with twins. The couple have three children in all- Blue Ivy Carter, six, and the twins Rumi and Sir, born 13 June 2017- and will celebrate their 10 th marriage anniversary on 4 April.

The On the Run II tour starts in the UK at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on 6 June, before moving to Glasgow’s Hampden Park( 9 June ), Manchester’s Etihad Stadium( 13 June) and the London Stadium( 15 June ). They will then head to Europe for 11 dates, before a run of 21 dates across north America, concluding on 2 October at Vancouver’s BC Place. A pre-sale begins on 14 March before tickets go on general sale on 23 March.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Polar prize: Metallica to receive ‘Nobel prize of music’

Heavy metal band will accept prestigious 90,000 award at a ceremony in Stockholm in June

The 10 greatest Super Bowl half-time shows -Ranked!

From Beyonc to Bruce half-time at the NFLs big season finale is the 12 -minute stadium set thats become a pop cultural milestone. But whose present was the MVP?

Toto: how we made Africa

If this is a hit, I said, Ill run naked down Hollywood Boulevard