The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


INTERVIEW: Antony Hegarty On Desertshore
Luke Turner , November 22nd, 2012 11:00

Antony Hegarty talks to us about Coil and singing Nico's 'Janitor Of Lunacy' for Desertshore

It was during the live playback of Desertshore tracks at the Newcastle AV Festival in March this year (review here) that the full, emotional power of this record was revealed - and largely from hearing Antony Hegarty's glorious rendition of 'Janitor Of Lunacy'. Soaring over the backing track, Hegarty's voice glowed with a sense of tribute to the departed Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson. Now on the physical release of the album, it sets the tone for what is to follow (full review on the Quietus tomorrow). We spoke to Antony Hegarty about his relationship with Sleazy, and the story behind his Desertshore performance.

How did you encounter Sleazy?

Antony Hegarty: I met Sleazy through David Tibet at first, and then with Coil when I opened for them in Italy we became friends. I think we also met for dinner once with Little Annie in New York. Coil were a big inspiration to me; their world was magic and beautiful. I had long been a fan since the days of Some Bizarre, when Balance posed on the cover of David Ball's first solo album In Strict Tempo.

What does the music of Nico mean to you? When did you first encounter her music, and what about it speaks to you?

AH: I have loved her music since a teen. In the early to mid 80s, for a California death rocker Nico fit between Diamanda, Klaus Nomi and Christian Death. She was considered the gramdmother of dark black music. Cale's production has been a big inspiration to me, especially on Desertshore. The oceanic textures and clusters of strings, and Nico's organ playing with its Caligari-esque rhythms.

How did you come to be involved in Desertshore?

AH: Chris and Cosey asked me to contribute and i jumped at the chance as i have long been a fan of theirs too.

How did the process of recording your vocal work, and why did you decide to sing 'Janitor Of Lunacy'?

AH: Nico's songs are difficult for me to get a handle on. 'Janitor Of Lunacy' seemed to make the most sense with my voice. Chris and Cosey sent me some rough demos that i think Sleazy had made and I improvised over those, which Chris and Cosey then reprocessed.

I've found your performance to perhaps be the most intense on Desertshore. Was it difficult to do, emotionally as well as trying to physically sing Nico?

AH: I didn't attempt to sing Nico's voice, my approach was more swallowed and veiled and embellished than Nico's; her rendition is so heart wrenching and terrorized. Honestly nothing beats her version.

Desertshore / The Final Report is released next Monday, November 26th on Industrial Records. Chris and Cosey will be doing a Q&A about the album the next day (27th) at Rough Trade East, London.