5 Questions with…Joseph Ridgwell

It’s Friday night. You’re walking down a busy street. People bump into you. No apology. The bars are all awful cocktails and terrible music. A hand reaches out and grabs you. You’re led down an alley you’ve never seen before. Then another. Then another. Then another. The streets are getting darker, the floor more and more uneven. You come to a stop. You look up and see a pub, as old as it is grand. You read the sign. THE LITERARY UNDERGROUND. The door opens. A shadowy figure emerges from a cloud of smoke…his name is Joseph Ridgwell.


I’ve had to pick up my Ridgwell publications as and when I’ve been able to track them down. Do you think there’s a perfect order to read them in? Is there an overall Ridgwell legend being told across the work?

Its funny you should mention this as not many people have picked up on it. Or if they have they havent let on. US poet Hosho McCreesh was the first to realise that many of my books are interlinked. Hosh identified – Burrito Deluxe – as the start of the Ridgwell Legend, which was correct at the time, but is no longer so as I recently completed the prequel. Actually what I set out many years ago to do was fictionalise my entire life, inspired by Keroucs Legend of Duluoz and John Fantes Bandini Quartet. Im a great fan of autobiographical writing, such as Bukowski, Burroughs, Henry Miller, Knut Hamsun, Cookie Muller, Jack London etc. I dont limit myself to just this kind of writing, but if I think most of the events portrayed in the books actually happened in real life then it adds another dimension. If I start reading a book and immediately sense that the author is making it all up then the book is dead for me. And this is not my failure as a reader it is the writers failure as an author. The truly great writers make the reader believe in their work, that its actually happening even if the reader knows this is impossible. Once a reader invests a certain amount of emotion into the work of a writer then the writer has them for life. This is my theory behind – Cosmic Realism – the literally genre that I invented on a desolate Mexican beach in the last years of the 20th Century. CR is the ability to tell a story that is so far-fetched and obviously not based in any sort of reality, but which the reader accepts as the TRUTH.

Anyway, there is no perfect order to read my books, but there is a chronological order – especially with the novels, which are examples of True Story novels. The events in the narratives actually happened in real life. The fictional parts are less then 10% of the MS, but it is those parts that make the novels interesting and readable, or so I’ve been told.

  1. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Working Man – Unpublished.
  2. Burrito Deluxe – published by Leamington books in 2015
  3. Indonesia – Kilmog Books 2010
  4. The Cross – Paper & Ink 2016
  5. Last Days of the Cross – Grievous Jones Press 2009
  6. The Buddha Bar – Blackheath Books 2011
  7. Civil Service – Unpublished.

Civil Service takes things right up until 2014. All six of my poetry collections mirror events in the novels, but there’s not enough space here to state what order they should be read in. Any intrepid reader will be able to make up their own minds. There is a trilogy of short stories published by Pig Ear Press – Cuba – Jamaica & Mexico, which fit in just after Burrito Deluxe.

Also there are a couple of published short stories flying around that really should be chapters of the Buddha Bar. The Famous Ice-Cream Run and Tsunami.

The only examples of 100% fiction in my work are to be found in my two short story collections. Ridgwell Stories (Bottle of Smoke Press 2015) and Oswald’s Apartment. (Blackheath Books 2010)

At this point you’ve got a huge number of publications behind you. How disciplined are you as a writer? Do you go through spells with it or is it something you’re always doing?

I was completely undisciplined as writer and would often do anything other than write like stare at a table leg or something. And I started late – not taking the craft seriously until I was 30 or so. This poss explains why I was or am a relatively late developer. A crucial factor to my development was landing a cushy office job where I was more or less paid to write each and every day for years and years. It was like being in prison. I was trapped inside the buildings for eight to nine hours a day with nothing to do. So instead of pissing my life away surfing the web or staring at one sentence emails or a paperclip, I started writing. Ironically the job forced me to be disciplined and the bulk of my work was done during this period. Then, like a miracle, I quit that life. I’d worked my entire life so this was like a revelation. With all the free time I made several breakthroughs as a writer, most centring on the craft of writing. I don’t think I would’ve achieved these breakthroughs whilst continuing to work full time. Not that I’m recommending aspiring writers quit their day jobs or anything. Allayed to the time needed to refine your craft you also need talent. Without talent the writer can have all the free time in the world and come up with nothing.

As for all the publications – I mean why would anyone be interested? One of my publishers was once asked why he continued to publish my stuff as they didn’t think much of it. The publisher – a very wise man –  replied that it was because there was nothing else like it out there. There are all these writers who can’t get published bemoaning the state of the publishing industry or their lack of a success as a writer. And yet they are writing the same shit that the mainstream produces. The fact they can’t get published is down to bad luck or bad timing or both.

London or Edinburgh?

If I were in my twenties then it would be London all day long. As I’m in my forties, Edinburgh has a nice laid back vibe that I appreciate. Less people, less traffic, less ambitious fruits with too much energy and ambition, but no real talent to speak of, running around. And If I get to missing Old Smokey, then I can always jump on a big bird and be there in under an hour.

What can you tell me about Cosmic Gigantic Flywheel? The showbiz murmurings have it potentially appearing some time this year?

CGF is my sixth and latest collection of poetry. In terms of Chronology, it mirrors the events in Civil Service and as such should be seen as a companion piece, a little like Bukowski’s Women and Love is a Dog from Hell. CGF is my most ambitious book of posey and it’s big with nearly a 100 pomes. People who know me from this recent period might just recognise themselves, which I hope is a good thing. Either that or they will curse my name. Both books are complete and ready to hit the streets. I just need to find a publisher or publishers crazy and brave enough to publish them.

Finally, what was the last thing (book, place, record etc) that you totally fell in love with?

My son.

More Joseph Ridgwell




5 Questions with…James Silvester



When I first signed with Urbane the presence of James Silvester loomed large. Who was this handsome chap, a cornerstone of the Urbane empire, with ten million gushing Amazon reviews?

I watched him cautiously from afar, trying to get to the root of who he was. As it turned out, James Silvester was just a really nice guy and a super talented author.

As he comes to the end of getting his next book, The Prague Ultimatum, together, I finally plucked up the courage to ask him some questions.


In terms of the initial idea for Escape to Perdition, was there something you were first drawn to write about? The locations? The time period? The political context? 

Hi Jared, enormous thanks for having me on!

Good question. The intention I’d originally had going back some years was to try my hand at writing a Cold War thriller. Books like, in particular The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Day of the Jackal and the early Fleming James Bonds were always so much more fascinating to me than some of the more modern takes on the espionage genre and I wanted to see if I could write in a similar vein.

As for Prague, there’s a reference in the story where Peter (the main character) remembers learning about the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution at school, and that’s actually channelling my own memories of those lessons. I was fascinated by that period of modern history and then, years later I ended up marrying a Slovakian whom I’d met in Prague and spending a lot of time in that part of the world. Being around that culture and learning of some of the resentment that had grown around the break-up of Czechoslovakia, reignited my love of the history. The story began to grow from there.

A lot of reviewers have praised the pacing of Escape to Perdition. What’s your process in terms of making sure the plot unravels in just the right way to keep the reader interested?

I’m not sure I can properly define it to be honest! I write in a very piecemeal way; I might start with a conversation in what turns out to be the middle of the story and I jump from place to place, before I then go back and connect it all together. The stuff I write generally takes place over a few days or on the cusp of some major event so that (hopefully) there is a sense of anticipation there, and then it makes sense to keep things moving steadily from there. Hopefully people enjoy that approach…

You recently visited Prague – a key location for Escape to Perdition. How was that?

Brilliant! I love Prague, it’s one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve been going there for years. This time was special as I was doing a reading at The Globe bookstore, an English language bookstore. It means a lot to me that the book is available in the city that inspired it and we’re planning to head back there next year to launch the second book.

I know you’ve been hard at work on book 2. What can you tell us about it at this point?

Well, it’s called ‘The Prague Ultimatum’ and is set I think for a May 2017 release. It’s not a direct sequel to Escape to Perdition but serves as a stand-alone story with a few familiar threads, some returning characters and a number of new ones. It’s set a couple of years in the future and looks at some of the problems facing Europe as a whole these days. A lot of my own frustration about the aftermath of the Brexit vote, particularly the increase in racist violence, has gone into the book, amongst other things. I think it maybe has a different feel to Escape to Perdition, but that’s ultimately for readers to decide. I’m very excited about it.

Finally, what was the last thing (book, place, film etc) that you totally fell in love with?

Prague, all over again. Sorry if that sounds like a flippant answer but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to get over thee and this last trip was like finding a favourite jumper you’d misplaced, putting it on and curling up with a brew and a book on the sofa. There’s always something new to experience and I’ve come back with my muse well and truly refreshed (if a little intoxicated).

More James Silvester

Escape to Perdition on Amazon


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5 Questions with…Gwil James Thomas

A few times over the last couple of years I’ve seen a poem by Gwil James Thomas in some illustrious publication or other. HeyI’ve thought to myself, I like this. I need to find out more about this guy.

I then proceed to search his name on Twitter, where no account turns up. This, as we all know, means he might aswell not exist at all. I then get distracted by something or other and carry on living my life, until I read another of his poems, and the whole sad process begins again.

Fortunately, for you and for me, Martin at Paper Ink Zine is about to put out a collection of Gwil James Thomas poems called Gwil VS Machine. I believe you’ll be able to place an order through the Paper and Ink site next week. I recommend that you do so.

I’ve seen your work around a few zines over the years, and every time I’ve gone to find out more about you, I’ve not been able to find much of an online presence outside of the places your work is included. Is being removed from social media etc something you feel particularly strongly about?

I wouldn’t say that social media is something that I feel strongly about necessarily. I’ve never had a Facebook, or a Twitter account – so i don’t really know them first hand. I can see that they have their uses, but part of me’s glad that I don’t have to deal with the shitty concerns that can come with them. I’ve been shown things on Facebook that are informative, but I’ve also seen it swamped with a lot of shameless self promotion. That said, I’m sure that at some point they’ll make it too inconvenient to not have one, then I’ll probably sigh and sign up. In the meantime I’d want to get a website out there – I think that’d work far better for me. Besides, it’s probably time that I caught up with 2009.

The word howl appears not only in the title of the opening poem, but also in W*R*I*T*E (“write like the drunken howls/from the evening streets”). I assumed this wasn’t thrown in just as a Ginsberg nod. Do you think your poetry tends to come from a painful place?

I’d be lying if I said that some of the poems didn’t come from a painful place. Though I don’t think I intentionally made them that way. I find that when writing poetry (and more so than any other form) that the poems end up going in a way they want to work. It’s not always in a way I imagined them to be, but sometimes I take a step back and say, fuck it maybe it works better that way. There’s also been a lot of change in my life over the course of time the poems in this collection were written too, which can all be used for material to work with. Life is tragic, beautiful, fleeting and strange – I think all the poems draw from that.

In the Mule’s Early Retirement, you talk about the impact of a string of shitty jobs on your life. Were you always writing during those times?

For most of it. I probably make the jobs sound worse than they actually were – but I remember working fifteen hour days six days a week as a chef in Brighton, it was hard to write after that and there were several other jobs over the years like that too. There was a hell of a lot of characters from all over the world in those jobs  and subsequently a lot of varied material to be  inspired from. There were certain occasions where I was too tired to write and I learnt that there are times to incubate ideas too – time away from writing is also beneficial. Even if you finish your job at one am and you wake up hungover – it’s makes the next day a little easier knowing you wrote something the night before.

Gwil vs. Machine ends on a tribute to Dan Fante. It’s funny, he had such an impact on a particular cross-section of people, that right from the off I knew it was Dan Fante you were writing about. What sort of impact did he have on you and your writing?

I discovered Dan Fante through his father John Fante. I read John Fante’s work at nineteen and was blown away by it. He was the first writer I discovered that made me want to write. I couldn’t believe how largely unheard of he was – even with Bukowski’s praise for the man. I found something haunting about his work and after reading his biography I spontaneously got a John Fante tattoo. So when I found out that his son was a writer, I knew that I had to read everything he had.

What I like about Dan, was that like his father, he treated his typewriter like a confession booth. They both drew a lot from their own lives. But Dan Fante really took this further. He gave an account that was unflinching, not always flattering, but very real. As a writer I find this can be therapeutic and if done well, can be powerful as a reader.

Overall though, I’ll never forget his desire to help another writer. I discovered his email address years ago and drunkenly emailed him, not expecting a response and was surprised when I did. I corresponded with him a bit over the years. In the last email I got from him, he told me of several projects he was working on, one of which was a sequel to Point Doom. I can’t help but wonder about them. But I’m grateful that he stayed sober enough to write what he did. The world’s lost a good writer and a good soul.

Finally, what was the last thing (book, album, place etc) that you totally fell in love with?

Probably, the album Huff my Sack by Lumpy and The Dumpers. I haven’t really been as involved with punk as I have been before, but this record was a good investment. Basically, this album is so shit, that it’s good. Exactly what a punk band should be.

5 Questions with…James Giddings

9781911132127_1024x1024James Giddings is the only poet I know who wore his stinky trainers so long his foot got infected. He’s also the only poet I know.

James is so good at poetry that at my book launch, where he read some of his poems, multiple people came up to him afterwards to ask if they could buy a copy of his book.

This was remarkable for a couple of reasons:

1) James hadn’t even said he had copies of the book for sale

2) These were people I know for a fact have never read poetry in their lives

James is so good at poetry that I read his new book, Everything Is Scripted, twice in an evening. And I’m a busy guy! I’ve got a lot to do! I’ve still not even watched The Sopranos. That’s how good James Giddings is at poems. Better than The Sopranos (maybe – like I said, I’ve still not seen it).

James Giddings is so good at poetry he could probably write a poem about me writing a post about how good he is at poetry. He would probably call it ‘The Things My Handsome and Cool Friend Jared Said About Me.’

Do you remember the time I was in the toilet and the handle broke off so I was locked in, and rather than getting help, you just stood outside laughing? Do you feel the public will still buy your book if they find out what a monster you are?

I’m expecting that’s the only reason they’ll buy it.

There’s a run of what I suppose could be categorised as ‘dad’ poems in everything is scripted. Were those poems written close together or is that a theme you’ve found yourself going back to at different times?

A bit of both really. I think the theme was something that I noticed as I looked back on the work I’d written. Initially they weren’t something that I set out consciously to write, but once I noticed there were a couple of these ‘dad’ poems it became more of a conscious process. Mainly because it was a good way to generate poems from an authentic place of feeling. It’s certainly something I’m still looking at, but I think now the book is out it’s given me the chance to think about how I can add to those poems by approaching the subject in different ways.

Between the dad poems, the work poems, some of the more cynical relationship lines, you seem to often write about the way things can seem quite hollow if you look at them from different angles. Do you think you tend to write more when you’re feeling dis-satisfied with something?

I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not. I think if I wrote all the time I was feeling dissatisfied I’d be a lot more prolific than I am, but there’s probably some truth in that. I think it’s easier to write about the things that make you unhappy. That’s not to say I’m an unhappy person, but moments of happiness have a bubble effect – they’re experienced very quickly and when you’re in that moment it’s the only thing you care about or want to be a part of. There’s rarely a part of me that thinks, that was nice, I should really immortalise that feeling right now by leaving that bubble and writing about it. Those feelings of dissatisfaction linger around a lot longer than happiness, and writing is a way to use some of that negative energy that weighs upon you in a positive way.

On the release of your first pamphlet, do you have any goals for yourself as a poet? Is there anything else specific you know you would like to achieve, or be involved with, or work on?

I think short term I’ll just be happy if I keep writing. I’ve thought about retiring a few times, but realised perhaps I’m too young for that. In the meantime any good poem produced will be a victory for me.

But on the flip-side, being a very shallow person who draws motivation from suckling at the teat of other people’s love and affirmation, I’d love to clean up any and all accolades out there until I have enough of them to melt down into a big fat chain that hangs a medallion reading Best Poet Alive, just in case anyone who saw me didn’t know. And I’d want that medallion to made out of one of the rims of the Range Rover I’m going to own because my poems have brought me as much money as they have love and understanding to the general public.

Or I don’t know, sell a few copies of the book or something.

Finally, what was the last thing (poem, book, song, place etc) that you totally fell in love with?

Do your eyes count? I think the last thing I truly fell in love with was my girlfriend, but Waves by Jared A Carnie is a close second (reader, don’t trust him one bit, he has me hostage! send help!) I’ve never read such a likeable protagonist in my life as Alex. I’m also listening to a lot of Anderson .Paak at the minute. The guy is groovy.

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Everything Is Scripted at Templar

5 Questions With…Christina Philippou

lost-in-staticChristina Philippou and I are publication buddies. What do you mean? Of course that’s a thing. Everyone knows that. Publication buddies! You know! Publication buddies! No?

Well, on September 15th, we both had our debut novels enter the world, which makes us publication buddies.

Prior to September 15th, Christina and I bonded over our shared feelings on how strange the weeks preceding a book release are. Christina was generous enough to interview me for her site here. She was also kind enough to answer questions for my site in return.

Lost In Static was released on, you guessed it, September 15th and the great reviews have been rolling in on Amazon and Goodreads. The book is available everywhere now – find links at the bottom of the interview.

Do you remember when you first had the idea for what became Lost in Static?

I had a ‘disagreement’ with my husband over how we had actually got together, followed by a recount of the previous night’s party with a friend of mine, and I realised that their take on both events differed quite substantially to mine. Which got me thinking that I wanted to read a book of the same events from different perspectives and, when I struggled to find a multiple point-of-view novel without a pass-the-baton approach to events, I decided to write one…

What sort of reader do you think will enjoy Lost in Static the most?

Good question! Readers that like to question events, those that like ‘unreliable’ narrators, and those that enjoy pacy writing.

Are you currently working on a follow up to Lost in Static?

I’m currently finishing writing my second novel, which is darker in nature than Lost in Static, but still plays with perspective (more subtly, seeing changes over time instead of from different individuals).

How do you first get involved with the idea of Britfic?

I was enjoying a newsletter from a group of crime writers and I realised that while there were groups of authors for crime and for romance and other genres, there didn’t seem to be a group of contemporary fiction authors out there. And so Britfic was born.

Finally, what was the last thing (book, place, song etc) that you totally fell in love with?

Ooooo – good question. I recently went camping in the Chantries, in the Surrey Hills, and I fell in love with the place – a combination of the stars at night and majestic views in the morning.

More Christina Philippou

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Lost in Static on Amazon

5 Questions with Adam Ficek

ficekThe other day I was listening to Courtney Barnett being interviewed on a podcast. Courtney Barnett put out one of my favourite albums in a long time, the irritatingly long-named Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit, and is someone I have a lot of respect for. The podcast must have been recorded around the time Prince died – and the interviewer was asking her if she was much of a Prince fan.

Barnett said that she was always vaguely familiar with the hits, but it wasn’t until she heard Foo Fighters covering a Prince song that she decided to dive further into his catalogue. It seemed strange to me – getting into Prince via Foo Fighters? The difference in calibre between those two acts is so huge that it seems crazy to me that someone could get into Prince after the Foo Fighters. Of course, in reality, it actually makes total sense, and if I track the way I got into a lot of artists I love it’s often through unconventional, uncredible routes. Sometimes it’s something I feel makes me a fraud – as if somehow I should’ve been born with an ingrained knowledge of the intricacies of Bob Dylan’s work and not first heard Rage Against The Machine doing Maggie’s Farm. As if hearing Elliott Smith in a movie is somehow the wrong way to first hear Elliott Smith.

Hearing someone as talented as Courtney Barnett explain her route into Prince made me realise that’s just the way things work for everyone. Things overlap and interlink in varied and often unexpected ways, and to pretend that you don’t stumble across great things in peculiar ways is to do that inter-connectivity a dis-service. But that’s not the only problem with explaining how you found something – it’s not that your route might be uncool, who really cares about that? It’s that it might not get across what the thing is actually about. If I had to tell someone that Tom Waits is a guy who played with Keith Richards sometimes, or who turned up in Seven Pscyhopaths, I’d feel like I was totally undermining everything he was about.

I guess what I’m saying is, at first I was worried about calling Adam Ficek the ‘former Babyshambles drummer’ – not because I didn’t love Babyshambles, but because it feels a little reductive. I have a different relationship with Adam’s music than I ever had with Babyshambles’ music. Although I think, given all that personal growth I’ve experienced in the last three paragraphs, I’ve now realised it’s perfectly natural to say I first heard of Adam Ficek/Roses Kings Castles through Babyshambles, because at one point, to Courtney Barnett, even Prince was just that guy who wrote that song Foo Fighters were playing. So this is an interview with former Babyshambles drummer Adam Ficek. His previous records have been as Roses Kings Castles – but he’s now taking the plunge under his own name.

I remember once staying up all night with the first RKC album on a loop writing my first attempt at a full novel. It was terrible. The novel I mean. But I really like remember that time in my life oddly fondly. Adam used to occasionally write these blog posts that I really enjoyed following. It was cool to feel personally connected to his musical journey. I remember how exciting it felt to receive a free signed copy of the first RKC single in the post. That’s why it was such a shame for me to read that Adam had considered quitting music. Hopefully, given the positive response to his new EP – on PledgeMusic here – he will continue to make music for a long time to come.

Having put out a few records as Roses Kings Castles, what prompted the move for the new record to be under your own name?

I feel more confident in being ‘me’ these days. It also helped with the exposure as there is a stronger link to a bigger band.

Do you feel like the tag of ‘former Babyshambles drummer’, while perhaps serving as a handy tagline, often undermines people’s expectations of your ability as a songwriter away from the drums?

Possibly but the ‘RKC’ project got to the point where I couldn’t get the exposure it deserved. People feel confident with what they know so the association from my bigger branded corporate days is welcome. I don’t feel undermined.

There was a real shift in sound from Suburban Timebombs to British Plastic. Did you consciously decide to try and create a different sort of RKC album, or was that the direction those songs organically ended up taking you in?

I just get bored with certain domains, I get very obsessed, I ingest then move on. I’m lucky I have a varied musical scope and range. I’m already looking at my next EP, it will be electric and more sonically potent. The problem is the infrastructure, I imagine it must be simple to get up and create art when you have a team around you to fulfil every need form funding, recording, marketing, press…..I have to expend vast amounts of energy to just raise the finances to do it.

You’ve always been pretty open about your process with your fans – often having demos and other tracks available for your fans to hear online. Did you feel that using PledgeMusic for this EP was a natural step for you?

I was on the verge of stopping music altogether due to the struggles on being a DIY artist, I thought I would try it as a potential avenue. We’ll see.

Finally, what was the last thing (song, album, book, place etc) that you totally fell in love with?

Myself. I’ve done lots of ‘growing’ since my commercial music days. I’m far happier with me.

More Adam Ficek

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5 Questions with Trevor Kampmann

Holnd_Sodium_FawnI feel quite fortunate to be the age I am. I mean, ignoring the fact that I’ll never be able to afford a house and will have to work until I’m a hundred and fifty. The good thing about being my age is that I have a vague sense of life without the internet. I was only a kid when I had no internet at all, but I remember the changes: the internet becoming more normal, how exciting it was upgrading to broadband, how big a deal it seemed when everyone started having decent internet access on their phones. Seeing these things come into being means you at least have the ability to assess how they are impacting on your life. They’re not just a given. For example, about six years ago I got off Facebook after recognising it wasn’t having a positive effect on either my mood or my productivity. I could remember getting Facebook, so it was easy for me to make the decision not to have Facebook.

This often means I’m a pretty late adapter because I have to see the merit in things before I get them. I only got my first smartphone last year because throughout my drunk years I figured having an expensive phone was a bit pointless given that I’d inevitably break/lose it. Once I was a bit more together, I felt like I could trust myself with one, plus I wanted to give Spotify a go (and a friend of mine was willing to give me his old iPhone for cheap). For what it’s worth, I enjoy Spotify as a consumer a lot, but haven’t quite made my mind up on it in terms of the big picture. Although for someone who started consuming music as a kid through WinMX, Limewire etc I suppose at least the notion that about 1p is making it’s way to artists I like is a marginal improvement.

So far, this probably sounds a little bit negative. It’s not meant to. The internet has offered me so many incredible things and I don’t take for granted the easy access it has provided me to things I’ve ended up cherishing. A few years ago, I had a job working in payroll for Western Isles Council. I spent the whole day sitting in front of spreadsheets entering people’s work hours, expenses etc. At home, Faye had recently become incredibly ill and so my days were pretty much divided between Excel and caring duties. I had started reading some Henry Rollins travel books. I liked his attitude towards doing things. He went out and he got things done. His energy helped me when I was struggling with some of the newfound responsibility that I wasn’t really equipped for. One day I stumbled across Henry Rollins’ radio show. In fact, I stumbled across an archive of Henry Rollins’ radio show. It was ideal for a job where I had to sit in front of a computer all day. It was full of music I already loved, music I could love, or music so alien and strange that I never would have come across it were it not for that show. It helped give me something nourishing to leave my work days with. If I heard a song I liked, it meant when I got home I could seek out the album and blast it round the house while I got stuff done. Whatever happens over the course of a day, if it involves discovering a new album you enjoy, for me that’s a good day.

I don’t remember which song it was Rollins played first – but I remember being intrigued. It was a little scaled back compared to a lot of the stuff on the show. I remember reading the name of the artist on the playlist that Rollins put up on his site. Holland. I thought how stupid it was to basically have an ungoogleable name. A couple of weeks later it was a different track that stuck out to me. It wasn’t until I checked the playlist that I realised it was the same artist as before. I did some digging and found a bandcamp page (with the slightly more googleable name of holnd) and found a whole host of albums. I’d only recently started using bandcamp, and loved the novelty of being able to find new music and get it directly like that. I grabbed an album, I think it was i steal and do drugs because a) it had a good title and b) it had a track on called softcore war – which I remembered being a lyric in one of the tracks I’d liked. Confusingly, the track called softcore war wasn’t the one I’d heard that had the lyric ‘softcore war’ on it, but fortunately it ended up being a different track on the album so I wasn’t totally out of luck. Next I think got i blow up. It was all new to me. I was listening to music without knowing anything at all about who was making it. I’m pretty prone to falling in love with the idea of a band before I even really listen to them – so this was a new experience. I guess what I’m saying is, if it weren’t for the internet, I never would’ve found these things that kept me entertained at a difficult period in my life. I never would’ve found that great radio show. I never would’ve found a bunch of great artists through that radio show. I never would’ve been able to hunt down those artists and fall in love with their music. I never would’ve found hollAnd. There’s no chance we would’ve crossed paths at all.

Recently, I did some more hollAnd research and found Trevor Kampmann’s site. I sent a speculative email admitting that I was a fan but knew literally nothing about him. Fortunately, Trevor was kind enough to humour me with some answers. There. That’s what I was trying to get to. I probably could’ve just said that last sentence instead of all that other stuff.

According to your bandcamp, you’ve not put out any music as hollAnd for a few years. Have you stopped creating your own music recently or have you just been working on it in other forms?

I sort of picked up photography by osmosis from two of my very old friends, Pat Graham and Mark Borthwick. So I’ve been working on a book of photography the past two years. It will be out at the end of the year.

Also, a synthesizer I’d used on nearly every recording since the 90s died in 2010 and I cannot find a replacement. If you know anyone with a mint Crumar Trilogy, please LMK. But I haven’t stopped making music. When people contact me asking about a new hollAnd record, I just send them some songs. I hope to put out a proper record in the near future.

There’s a long list on your website of albums you’ve been involved with, be it through mastering, engineering or producing. To what extent does your own personal opinion of the music you’re working on affect the way your carry out these roles?

I mostly do mastering these days and in that capacity things are somewhat less subjective. In mastering I’m trying to bring recordings up to a standard. Part of that means honing the sound so that it will still be listenable 5-10 years from now. When I was engineering a lot of different records on a daily basis, everything about my studio, my ears, my tastes contributed to the recordings. I was recording bands entirely in the box starting in ’96 and that definitely contributed to the sound as well.

Your website focuses on a few different outputs – not just music. Is there anything you consider your current creative priority?

Currently, photography but I still make music as often as possible. I did a project with my friend Winston Yu where we made a video every week for a year. And I made a DVD in 2004. I think every so often the pendulum swings and I need to do something more visual.

The songs you’ve got available online go from 1994 right up through the 2000s. Would you say your approach to making music changed much over those years? Are there any releases you’re particularly proud of?

The approach has been pretty consistent. Since it’s just been me on every recording it’s been easy for things to sound a specific way. I sort of painted myself into a corner on “The Paris Hilton Mujahideen” and I’m glad I finished it, not proud but close. But generally, I’m amazed that (A) people have listened to what I’ve made and (B) that I’ve been able to work on music for this much of my life.

Finally, what was the last thing (album, place, book, film etc) that you totally fell in love with?

I absolutely love the BJ Rubin Show. It’s the only thing I would describe as new or different. Very well edited.

More Trevor Kampmann

Official Site

Holnd Bandcamp

5 Questions with Emma Wright

Pile-of-booksAbout a year ago my girlfriend started her own business. Oh, it’s called BearHugs, thanks for asking. Sure, you can place orders using that link, go ahead. Yeah, it’s these personalised gift boxes. Yeah, she sends the boxes straight to the person you want to receive them. You’re right, that is a good idea. My point is, if you’ll stop interrupting, that over the last year I’ve developed this real admiration for people who manage to get businesses of the ground while still retaining some sort of personal stamp on it.

I think the first thing you’re supposed to do when you talk about art is pretend that you’re only interested in the art itself. You know, act like you fell in love with Sylvia Plath’s writing as a kid and had absolutely no idea about her tragic demise. I’m not clever enough to make those separations. I’m a total sucker for a sort of artistic cult of personality. My bookshelf is half-filled with books that I enjoy, and half-filled with books about books (or writers or records or bands or people) I enjoy. I like to plug into things and feel like I’ve connected with them in some personal way. It’s childish and it’s naive and it helps me a lot. Sure, Faster is a brilliant song. But would I have fallen so in love with it if the guy who wrote those lyrics hadn’t looked like this and then disappeared without a trace? Probably not. The fourteen year old me loved all that stuff, and the twenty five year old me isn’t all that different. Recently I discovered Tarkovsky. In fact, they’ve been having a Tarkovsky season at a cinema here in Sheffield. And you best believe I’m not just leaving it at loving the films. I’m spending every spare minute of the day reading everything around them/him that I can. My point is, I think personal connections to things are important, and I like things that are presented in such a way where I feel like they want people to connect with them on a personal level.

I talked a little bit about when I first came across Emma Wright and The Emma Press here. The fact that it was called The Emma Press alone had me won over. Then Emma talked about how she’d got into publishing poetry, how The Emma Press came together, and showed off some of the very cool looking books The Emma Press had recently put out. Again, I know all that stuff shouldn’t count and it’s all about the art blah blah blah, but like I said, I’m a sucker for that sense of deliberate, personal choice.

Best of all though, Emma actually managed to talk about what she was doing in a way that a) I understood (not easy) and b) seemed accessible (again, not easy). I knew I’d be able to find something to love in The Emma Press catalogue and placed my first order when I got home. How did I find the books once I read them? The fact that I immediately chose to interview Deborah Alma after reading her Emma Press chapbook should tell you all you need to know.

I know you do a lot of the illustrations for the Emma Press publications yourself – and they always look fantastic. Do you create much artwork outside of the stuff you do for the books?

I don’t! I feel quite insecure about my illustrations, because I’m self-taught and I feel the lack of real training whenever I’ m trying to draw a foreshortened body or some kind of complex composition. When I started the Emma Press, right at the very beginning in 2012, I mostly wanted to be an illustrator, which is why the first book (The Flower and the Plough) was illustrated. Then people were kind about my pictures so I carried on doing them, and now the majority of the Emma Press books are illustrated by me. I think I’ve got better with time, and I think my illustrations make the books feel more welcoming, but I’m still not sure if I’m good enough at drawing to do it just for fun. Each time I pick up my pencil it’s got to be an ordeal!

You recently put out DISSOLVE to: L.A – a collection of poems about characters who died in action films. Do you like reading poetry pamphlets that have some sort of thematic link to them?

I think it’s always interesting to see a poet sustain a theme across a series of poems, approaching that theme from different directions. I’m fundamentally very nosy, so if someone is fascinated by something I want to understand why. I haven’t seen any classic action films, but I find DISSOLVE to: L.A. delightful and compelling because James Trevelyan, the author, clearly loves his subject. He treats all these minor characters and bombastic films so seriously that he manages to tread the line between poignancy and hilarity, and I love getting an insight into the mind of someone who sees beauty in action films.

You’ve mentioned your desire to put out more children’s books in the future. Was that an area you always wanted to move into?

Sort of. I’ve always wanted to be a children’s book writer, though of course I’ve never actually written anything, and also Rachel Piercey (my co-editor at the Emma Press) and I first bonded over a shared love of children’s authors like Diana Wynne Jones and Eva Ibbotson. I think we had an unspoken understanding that we would start publishing books for children once we felt ready, and suddenly we did in 2014, after we’d published a few anthologies and pamphlets for adults. We put out a call for submissions and in 2015 we published our first poetry anthology for children, which was Falling Out of the Sky: Poems about Myths and Monsters. Our next one, Watcher of the Skies, is themed around space and aliens and we’re launching it in September, hopefully alongside an announcement of our plans to do even more children’s books.

How far ahead have you planned in terms of what you’ll be putting out and what you’d like to achieve with the Emma Press?

You’ve actually caught me at a bit of a crossroads, as I’m taking stock of how everything is going and trying to plan sensibly. Usually I have the themed poetry anthologies planned about a year and a half in advance. Then, with the pamphlets slotting in around the anthologies, I know roughly how it’s all going to go in the near future. But, at the moment, we’ve got three books definitely publishing in the autumn, and then after that we have the anthologies themed around love and aunts to come out sometime in 2017, and then whichever pamphlets we choose from this round of submissions. So, beyond the autumn, I feel there’s a fair amount of flexibility and I want to take this opportunity to think about how to keep growing the business across the next ten years, for example, without burning out or growing bored. I’ve got so many things I want to do with the Emma Press, starting with the basic but elusive one for small publishers – to be sustainable and not go bust – to bigger goals like having an international audience and starting a poetry magazine for children.

Finally, what was the last thing, book, song, blog, video, place etc that you totally fell in love with?

I was hooked from the first few seconds of ‘Helpless’ from the soundtrack of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit Hamilton. I find it totally hypnotic, with the clicky beat and the ‘I doI do I do I dooooo’ refrain, and the lyrics and story progression are gorgeous too.