The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


INTERVIEW: Carter Tutti Void
Luke Turner , September 12th, 2014 18:29

Ahead of their London performances next week, we speak to Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Nik Void about the return of the mighty Carter Tutti Void

Carter Tutti Void's 2011 debut performance in the Camden Roundhouse's small brick bunker studio was akin to being given a great, glowing hug by sound. As part of Mute's Short Circuit Festival, Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Nik Void joined forces with guitar and electronics for an unrelenting, forward-marching groove. As The Quietus said at the time, "In this collaboration they are a perfect triangle: Carter at the back manipulates the electronics while on either flank, Void scratches noise with bowed guitar and Tutti plays while singing vocals that she mangles and distorts. The bass is tremendously heavy, and as the people move, they are moved. 2011 really does feel like a new beginning for Carter Tutti: there is no nihilism in this noise, nothing but a deep and wonderful sense of love." The resulting album, Transverse, was described by John Doran as "one of the most exciting live albums to be released in many, many years", and went on to win the coveted Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Album Of The Year 2012. Next week at the Oslo venue in Hackney, the trio will take to the stage again for two performances. We dropped them a line to find out what's in store. You can get tickets for the gigs here, and you might like to note that support for the gigs comes in the form of some bracing DJ sets from tQ's John Doran (Monday) and Luke Turner (Tuesday).

The first Carter Tutti Void performance, and then Transverse album, was a bit of a hit in various quarters. Were you surprised at the warm reception?

Cosey Fanni Tutti: Very surprised. It was one of those times when you just throw yourself into the unknown to have a good time, with no expectations. Just happy to have a free reign to see what happens. Then 'bang!'. What a wonderful shared experience it was that night.

Chris Carter: You’re not kidding… I was completely taken aback by the reception it had, we all were. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved with an album that had such a universally positive response. Which of course puts a certain amount of pressure on us now were doing 'the second album’. Not that we care, we’ll just do what we do regardless.

Was it a difficult decision to revisit the project after it had gone so well the first time?

CFT: Because I still approach CTV in the original spirit of experimenting on the fly, I haven't given thought to any expectation from myself (other than it being really enjoyable), so would hope others will be just as open to what we bring second time around as we are.

CC: Not at all, in fact I wish we could have done it sooner.

What made you decide to do these dates?

CFT: We've had so many CTV gig requests since the Roundhouse but Chris, myself and Nik had such busy schedules with our non CTV work that it was impossible. Then we spoke about trying to make it happen and started to keep carving some CTV live slots in.

Chris and Cosey, you've been clearing out your studio lately, have you found any bits and pieces of gear that you'll be bringing along for this? Is the Coolicon making an appearance?

CC: Yes we found all sorts of long forgotten bits and pieces, mostly old Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey whatnots. For CTV I’ve dusted off our trusty old drum machine and some ageing effects units, which have hardly been used since the last CTV outing. CTV has always been more 'hardware based’ than C&C or Carter Tutti - more like TG in that respect I guess. Our Coolicon was for a very specific Carter Tutti project and at the moment it’s safely tucked away in our archive but it will probably make an appearance on the new Carter Tutti studio album next year.

Nik, your set at Wysing was a lot more dancefloor-orientated than I was perhaps expecting. Will you be bringing more beats to this CTV show? Will there even be guitar?

Nik Void: No no beats, I've stuck with guitar as I enjoy responding to Chris's rhythms, they make me instinctively move in a certain bodily way which bodes well with the extended technique method of using sticks and bows. I love the call and response aspect I have with Cosey - with guitar I feel like I can really push the sound expressively - I can't really do this with samples.

Has your approach in the week together getting ideas together differed, and if so, how?

CC: It’s like muscle memory. We all plugged in, the sounds started to flow and we got into a nice vibe really quick. Which is pretty much how we worked it out three years before.

NV: I came to the studio with a peli case of bits and pieces plus a laptop of sounds, but after the first few minutes it was obvious for this phase I still have lots to explore with the same set up from first time around.

Have you had to make a conscious effort to disrupt the dynamic to avoid repeating yourselves?

CFT: Ha! That's an old trick. As I personally couldn't repeat per se what I play, the 'disrupted dynamic' is built in as far as my part is concerned. There's some familiar sounds and of course the bed rock of Chris's rhythms from which we all take as our starting, return and end point.

CC: Well that’s the thing with not being able to actually ‘play’ and instrument because every time we perform or play something it’s going to be different. I couldn’t play anything the same way twice if you held a gun to my head. But having said that… I’m only doing the rhythms in CTV, which fundamentally means playing back rhythms on my drum machine. The difference is that I process and mangle the fuck out of those rhythms and they are never the same, even Cosey and Nik don’t know what I’m going to do with those beats.

What impact do you think playing over two nights will have?

CFT: We'll find out I suppose. But two nights provides us some extended creative time together in a live environment.

CC: Well we’ll be playing versions of the original Transverse tracks plus a few new tracks so it will be interesting to see how the audience adapts to that.

Are there plans to release the results afterwards?

CFT: Yes, we're recording the studio sessions too. So we'll have quite a lot of material to work with in the coming winter months.