Vision of sound
By Rupert McAvoy
What struck me first about Vision of Sound, a fortnightly podcast created by photographer and artist Georgina Cook, was the quality of the production. But the effort isn’t wasted on ‘assaulting your senses’, rather it creates an atmosphere where you really feel in the mood for listening. I have to confess I listened to Episode 3, an interview with music writer and journalist, Emma Warren, while doing some sewing: turning a piece of Moroccan cloth into a cushion. That helped. It was the perfect accompaniment.
I can’t say I’m big on dub music or drum and bass, but I’m always interested in hearing people talk about something different. I was drawn in by the introductory bio that mentions interviews with Björk, Brian Eno and MIA, and the teaser clips even more: “All of us who want to represent must recognise that we have a big responsibility there, and the first responsibility is to get to know.”
Emma Warren has a lovely soft voice, but clear, providing a perfect platform for telling us about her work with passion and commitment – but it’s also similar to Georgina’s which they accept is slightly confusing.
So what’s Soul Boy culture? I had no idea and nor did Emma when growing up, but I wanted to know more of what she’d subsequently discovered.
And then there’s finding out that a younger generation has never even heard of some really famous musician you grew up with. “Akker Bilk!? Akker … BILK? … That’s an unusual name but I’ve never heard of him before,” says Georgina.
The interview is a social history of musical culture at the end of the last century. A fascinating insight into how music developed back then was the importance of underage discos, like The Civic in Orpington where Emma grew up: “No booze, just a trestle table with shrimps and cola bottles.” And, as she points out, much of this musical culture is forgotten.
She started young. “A veteran at 18”. It’s fascinating to hear the way it happened with, among other things, people involved in the music venues bending the rules and allowing underage kids to have somewhere to go. Different times.
It makes sense that Emma’s first interview was with a bouncer. “I’m always interested in, like, those outside characters, the ones that contribute but aren’t necessarily that obvious. And come to think of it, the first person I interviewed was Elton who did the door at Most Excellent.”
Talking about her time working with photographer Elaine Constantine, she explains her process of getting ‘the story’: “[I’d] soak up everything that’s happening with my eyes and my ears and sort of integrate it to prove myself and be like, ‘What does this mean? What is happening? Oh, look at that person’s shoes’ or ‘Look at that thing that’s happening in the corner’ or ‘What was that little snippet I heard on my way to the toilet?’ Perfect.”
But then she goes on to explain that this helped her understand how photographers worked: “I knew how to collect all the information sort of through my visual senses and hold it until I made my notes or wrote my story. I knew how to draw it all back. I didn’t know how people who took pictures did the same thing … but she was reorganising the information to be presented visually.”
It’s such interesting stuff and Georgina seems to know how to draw it all out, whether it’s knowing the person she is interviewing or having similar experiences herself. Of course, behind the scenes there’s been some great editing, so we get to hear Emma talking most of the time and Georgina only asking questions – or adding something herself – when it’s appropriate. And the use of music to augment the experience is so subtle most of the time; then when you hear a bit more and a bit louder, you’re really ready for it.
There’s so much more. Who wouldn’t welcome the idea of ‘musicking’? Listen and find out.
• You can listen to the Vision of Sound podcasts on Spotify or iTunes. Episode 4 will be with Hastings resident, Ali Graham, an illustrator and photographer.
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