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LISTEN: Gaspar Noé's Desertshore Track
Luke Turner , November 16th, 2012 18:34

We start a series looking at the vocalists for Carter Tutti and Christopherson's Desertshore with a premiere of Gaspar Noé's 'Le Petit Chevalier' and an interview with Chris and Cosey about the various performers. Sleazy portrait by Paul Heartfield

Next week, the Quietus will be running a series of interviews with the vocal collaborators on Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter Christopherson's Desertshore, a reinterpretation of Nico's 1970 album. We'll be speaking to Marc Almond, film director Gaspar Noé, actress Sasha Grey, Blixa Bargeld and Antony Hegarty about their singing on the record, and their relationship to the music of Throbbing Gristle and Sleazy. First up, we're very pleased to be able to present a "live remix" of Gaspar Noé's guttural, murky take on 'Le Petit Chevalier', which you can listen to below. Desertshore can be pre-ordered here. The Quietus' Luke Turner will be doing a Q&A with Chris and Cosey about the album on Tuesday, November 27th, more info here.

We also spoke to Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti about the vocal collaborations, and asked Cosey about the Desertshore tracks she sings on: 'All That Is My Own' and 'My Only Child'.

What was important to you when choosing the vocalists?

Cosey Fanni Tutti: They had to have some kind of link to TG, either in the way they approached their work, which is the case with Gaspar. It's not to do whether they're singers as such, it's to do with who these people are. They all have a voice, and it's about their voice, not their singing. Nico was like that, and when she first did her records people didn't regard her as a singer. People criticising it because it's not singing or whatever have really not grasped the whole concept, because it's not about that. It's in keeping with the way Nico worked and Sleazy worked and the way we work. Everyone who contributed to the album has the same strength and inner power in how they express themselves. They're bringing themselves and their voices to the project, it wasn't to be a karaoke Nico album.

Chris Carter: Everyone said yes straight away. Blixa did a version for every track, except the French one. He was really into it. It was really interesting getting Gaspar into the studio because he'd never done anything like that before.

CFT: TG have always been about putting ourselves and myself and other people out of their comfort zones. You get something quite different, and they discover things as well.

CC: It was quite brave of him to do it.

CFT: Voice is a very intimate thing. It is your personal voice from deep down inside. A lot of people get embarrassed when they get put in front of a microphone. Antony and Marc did harmonies for themselves. It's quite hard to sing Nico, because of the accent. You have to find your own key and sing it how you want. That's what I said to them, you don't have to sound like Nico, make the song your own.

CC: We were going to work with Nico in the 80s, there was going to be a Chris & Cosey and Nico 12" single. But she was in a funny place then, we met up with her a few times and she wasn't very happy. It never came together, it was a shame...

CFT: It's funny that we've come full circle and now we're doing it for Sleaze.

Cosey, how did you decide which tracks you wanted to sing? Had Sleazy told you which he wanted you to do?

CFT: Both these tracks had been my personal favourites of Nico's that I used to sing a lot to myself, so I was naturally drawn to them. Sleazy wasn't rigid in ascribing specific songs to vocalists, just on a practical level he felt that the German and French songs would be best worked by people with that native tongue. We asked vocalists to choose which songs they'd like to do as that seemed only right because then there'd be a tangible underlying affinity with which to work. Blixa did vocals for all the tracks except 'Le Petit Chevalier' so both the songs I covered had the potential for using his voice, which we did consider but once we started working on them they took a direction that didn't offer that option.

Sleazy was leaning towards doing vocals on 'All That Is My Own' himself and he'd asked me to do vocals to duet with him - in some weird Sleazy form no doubt - also another track of my choice which I sent to him a few months before he died. So I guess I'd already been given one track to do by Sleazy and then one of my own choice. 'My Only Child' has obvious parallels for me. The whole sense of sharing with Nico the challenges of being female, a mother with a son as an only child and all that I and she and creative women face in their uncompromising quest to have their voice heard.

One thing I find interesting is that there are two Cosey Fanni Tuttis on Desertshore. 'All That Is My Own' sounds rather menacing and quite sexual, whereas 'My Only Child' is, to my ears and if you'll forgive the term, the 'sweetest' Cosey vocal I've heard. Was that a conscious difference?

CFT: Yes, it's just the way the song grabbed me from the first time I heard it. It was like a heartfelt song from a mother to herself and her child. It's universal in its emotional tone and being torn by two powerful innate instincts of the survival of self and your child. That's my empathetic interpretation of it anyway.

How did you approach doing the vocal? Was it a challenge to sing someone else's words?

CFT: Yes it was very challenging to sing someone else's words especially as they're so personal. But the beauty of Nico's words is that they speak for us all in some way - that life is both tough and very beautiful, often at the same time. It was also difficult because her melodies, pronunciation and intonation are so specific to her delivery of the words and how that in turn impacts on how the song moves along and evokes emotions in the listener. But it's those things and her key that give her work such striking resonance. I didn't want to reduce her presence so much as I wanted bring my 'voice' to her words.