Intervista con Genesis P-Orridge


Intervista realizzata al telefono da Peter (see you soon!)

Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV/PTV3 – Genesis P-Orridge Interview

Genesis P-Orridge was, and still is, in a band called Throbbing Gristle (Hull slang for an erection). In 1975, along with Peter Christopherson, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti he started the Multi-Arts Performance Project COUM as well as Throbbing Gristle with the intention of "Wrecking Civilisation". With harsh and grinding electronicly generated machine sounds like an IBM-computer they gave birth to the musical genre of "Industrial" with the Albums 2nd Annual Report, D.O.A., 20 Jazz Funk Greats and Heathen Earth. In 1981 the mission of Throbbing Gristle was called terminated, the four members split in two halves, Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti turned into an electronic ambience duo as Chris & Cosey, while Peter Christopherson and Genesis P Orridge founded the tribal psychedelic outfit Psychic TV/PTV. In 1984 their filmed actions (i.e. with Derek Jarman) caused moral outrage in British where they were accused of being "pornographic" and "obscene" and finally forced to leave the country. Around the same time PTV had their biggest hit "Godstar", a song about Brian Jones, the mislead blonde guitarplayer of the Rolling Stones. Genesis P Orridge, residing in Brooklyn, refered heavily to the sixties myth of counter culture movements, with their recent Album "Hell Is Invisible/Heaven Is Her/e (Sweet Nothing/Cargo) they reveal their debt to such bands as The Incredible String Band, Love, The Doors and Captain Beefheart. Read our following interview with Genesis P Orridge from June 2007.

Gen. How are you?

I’m alright, thanks Peter (laughs).

You’re in England?

I’m in London.

For the concerts of Throbbing Gristle at the ICA?

Yeah. We did one show last Saturday at the Tate Modern Art Gallery. Which was Throbbing Gristle playing a live soundtrack to Derek Jarman movies. And then Friday, Saturday, Sunday this week we do six separate and publicly available recoring sessions at the ICA. And the day after that I have an opening at the Barbican, an Art Gallery. So, it’s a lotta work, seven concerts and one art opening in ten frying days (laughs).

But much work is fine, isn’t it?

Oh, it’s okay (laughs).

People are beginning to recognise what we did 25 years ago was important. So that’s quite nice and consoling.

Yeah. And it’s also nice that you are returning to the ICA because that was the place where TG once started in 1975.

That’s right. That’s a very good point. It’s ironic too (laughs). Because in the first time, they all went crazy saying this is terrible, terrible, what’s happening, this isn’t music, it’s noise, this is decadent, it is terrible, it’s destroying British society. And now, all these years later, what is it, 30 years later, they want us back as important British culture (laughs).

You just have to stay alive long enough.

That’s exactly what Brion Gysin and William Burroughs told me. A long time ago, when I was just 20 years old.

You’ve got to have a long breath. Very long!

Yeah (laughs). If you want to do interesting or important art or work or writing or thought, yes you have to have a very long term view. Because it’s about changing the whole way of perception for a society and that’s gonna be a very long process.

But isn't it exciting to watch?

Well I think so, hmmmm, I m quite happy (laughs).

But this doesn’t mean we finished. For me, this means the whole story has just begun. It gives me a door to walk thru and try to persuade people to think even harder…

Okay. I’ve got your new record here (Psychic TV – Hell Is Invisible, Heaven Is Her/e). I really enjoyed listening to it, especially to the opening track Higher & Higher.

Thank you. I really like the keyboards on it where it sounds a bit like The Doors. It worked really well. It took several years to write that one. It went to many different variations. It began as an instrumental song in 1986 and then changed and changed and disappeared and came back. And then I wrote a poem called “Jigsaw” and I kept 3 lines of that and eventually it all suddenly worked with this band when they played it. It became my first truly anti-war song. It’s written from the view of a soldier, who is just dying in the mud, just in any time, could be any age, it could be the middleages, it could be Korea, it could be Iraq, it could be in the Somme in France, the same story over and over and over with the soldiers lying in the mud amongst their friends and I suddenly realised that this was completely meaningless and destructive, pointless way of trying to resolve anything.

Well okay. But by first hearing that song my thought was this is so deeply autobiographical.

I-I-yes, it’s that too (laughs). Everything I write is deeply autobiographical (laughs). That’s very true. Not many people notice that actually. But you’re right. Ahhm, I can’t help it, that’s how I work. I live in public, you know, and the records are very much that, they’re docuements of my process of thought, my evolution of thought. So this one I think is one of the most meticulous and exact I ll ever been able to do. And it’s the band as well are really great as you said. Alice (Genese) is fantastic on the bass, isn’t she?

And I love the idea that’s a girl playing the bass. That little strong woman: Goes Tack! Tack! Tack! (laughter) No really, I think it gives a strong identity to that song. It’s a nice opening track. It’s nice and a-l-i-v-e.

Don’t you come to play in Germany these times?

Oh yeah, we’re coming this September or October, and we will definitly play in Berlin. And it will be this band and for the first time in 15 years we will have a CD available which will be pretty much based on the set we play live. When we play live we usually end up playing for 3 hrs (laughs).

No really, once you’ve got all this work done and you’ve done a soundcheck you may as well use it. So, if the audience are happy, we’ll keep going.

Would you say the line ‘What The Hell Are We Fighting For’ is editorial?

Yes! Actually when I sang that in the end when we recorded the CD I was actually crying. I started to sob and cry. Because I thought of all the different things that people go through, all the bigotry and hatred and misunderstandings and miscommunication create violence and create the idea that the only thing to do with something we don’t understand is to attack it. And it just devastates me when I think about it, the sadness of that, when really we as such wonderful creatures with all such great ablilities to imagine and to create and yet so many times we forget that and we struggle and loose our temper and become much less than human, really. And that worries me, so it’s about every form of conflict that really we should have grown beyond by now in our history.

It’s about demons too.

Oh, the demons could be our own demons, politicians, they could be indutrialists or bankers or they could be the person next door that just doesn’t like what you wear. Could be anything. They come and go! (laughs).

I try to make everything have open-meanings, not be really didactic, but have an open meaning with different layers.

Do you think it’s possible to get higher & higher everyday?

(laughs) I like to believe so. I really do. I like to think that we can find processes of stripping away our own baggage until we just learn a bit more. It’s that classic problem, as you learn more you realise, this sounds corny, but you always realise how little you know. But that might be when you get higher & higher. As you start to become humble and understand how little can be achieved, and yet how much you can achieve by letting go of arrogance.

But it’s also about transgression?

(laughs) Well in my life it usually is (laughs).

David Stubbs said in his review of the latest TG Record (The Endless Not) that the time for it is right because it fits with the impending Cultural End Times…

I think its very possible. I think that we really reached a very fragile place in our evolutionary history as a species. And we’ve had 2000 yrs at least of patriarchy. And patriarchy is basicly about a binary system where one is out of balance with the other, it’s about separation, and about power and the suppression of difference and the suppression of anything other. So we created this technological environment with our imagination which is miraculous and fabulous but we haven’t done anything of note really for a long time, not since a small part of the sixties to get our consciousness up to the same place. We bothered to evolve our consciousness at a similar rate. So we have a pre-historic behaviour pattern. And a futuristic enviroment. And that’s a recipe for disaster. Sadly, the commonest response to that across the world is violence. And the idea that one belief system is somehow superior to another, that all comes out to this biological imbalance. That’s why we’re so interested in pandrogyny. It’s the idea of union instead of dis-union, this separation. In the Native American language there is no word for death. There is only the word separation. Because the spirit is seperated from the body. And I ve taken that to heart in many ways. I think that separation is a much better word for what happens. And once you separate male/female or you separate anything into a binary system of either/or good/bad, black/white, male/female etc you re creating tension, you are creating polarity and that creates violence. And when we have this technology that we have now that people are so greedy to consume and to feel that they can own, its all about phallic worship, really… the great surge towards wanting to have nuclear weapons is about the sense of impotence, male impotence in certain political and other systems, belief-systems.

It’s all about control, being disciplined and sober and functional.

Do you think?

Well, yes!

It’s also about austerity. It has nothing that’s unnecessary. It’s just the simplest, most functional thing.


Oh yes! We certainly are in a situation of entropy. But I refuse to accept that. That’s why we propose pandrogyny which is about the union of opposites and the creation of balance and ultimately the return to the search for the divine. The divine was originally hermaphroditic in all the ancient belief-systems and myths. Even in early Christianity the divine idea was hermaphroditic. It had to be! For male and female are to come from it. And once we separate ourselves from that concept we re lost and just become confused and out of control and behave in pre-historc ways. We fight and fly, we flee and fight and we attack anything different anything that’s other because we are afraid of what we don’t understand. So, we are in a very volatile and dangerous place globally. And there need to be some very radical proposals made about evolution. And most of all, that the consciousness of the species must now be taken very seriously and brought up to the same level as technology. It’s ludicrous that we are looking into and spending as much money on consciousness research as we are spending on weapons research. It’s ridiculous. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Would you explain what you call the ‘Fictional Self’.

Yes, I could try (laughs). If you imagine when you were first conceived by your parents you are inside the womb of your mother, your family will talk about if you are a boy or a girl, what name you will have, they start to create a fictional person before you are even born. Based on their expectation, desires, their hopes that you ll have a better life that they felt they had. And so from that moment that you are conceived you are being programmed by other people who have their own agenda, their own strategies, their own desires for you. And that might have nothing to do for what you might be when you appear. And then from the moment you are born that continues, pressure is put on by what you get to wear, the color clothes you have and which people you have to play with, what school you go and it goes on and on and on. The fictional character has nothing to do what you might really be if you were left alone to develop yourself. So, what that means is that by the time you reach puberty and you start to create an individual, separate person – yourself, with a S-E-L-F as in big letters, YOURSELF, that you have to start to be the author of your own story, write your own narrative.

And to leave the conditioning?

Yes. You have to break and try to wipe clean the Fictional Self that was given to you by the other people maybe not maliciously but nevertheless without full consideration of your requirements and needs. And you have to take control of your story and write it yourself.

You ve got an exhibition going in NYC regarding your experience with gender features, the process of gender change.

Yes. The idea is to become an hermaphroditic to become both sexes. William Burroughs and Brion Gysin they would collaborate with cut-ups and they would say that the result of that cut-up was not written by either of them but was the result of a third mind. So Lady Jane and I decided to take a look at that and take it further because of our thoughts about the Fictional Self and Identity and Pandrogyny. So the Pandrogyn is a third being, that is a result that Lady Jane and I combining as one. So the Pandrogyn is everything that two of us are. And we wanted to make that statement even more clear by using surgery and other techniques to look more and more alike to reduce the differences, to suggest that that’s what the species must do to evolve, to look for similarities. You’re reducing the idea of something different being innately an enemy or a threat. I m looking for similarities instead of differences you are taking a very different basic step of perception, you are looking for reunion instead of power.

Psychic TV/PTV 3: Hell Is Invisible, Heaven Is Her/e – Sweet Nothing/Cargo.

Throbbing Gristle: The Endless Not – Mute/Labels.

pe 07 Jun 07

foto copertine: THX 1138 (3.5.2007) 

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