Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Psychopedia Interview: Graffiti Island

Interview with the amazing London based band Graffiti Island's singer Pete Donaldson about the internet, aliens, conspiracy theories and how that whole lot influences his band for Psychopedia.com

Graffiti Island Like Aliens

Music in London right now is at possibly its lowest ebb since the turn of the millennium. As ever though, there is hope if you look hard enough between the cracks. Dalston dwellers Graffiti Island seem to have walked straight out of the bar of Twin Peaks’ One Eyed Jack’s into an episode of Kojack The Night Stalker via the set of a Jadorowsky film.

Their simplistic, lo-fi approach has garnered comparisons to early K records acts such as the Beat Happening but between Conan Roberts string work on bass and guitar, drummer Cherise Payne’s propulsive rhythmic counterpoints and lead singer Pete Dee’s deadpan, pop-culture soaked delivery they offer something wholly original to be cherished in these meager times.

In a few short months and without a release to their name the band have already shared stages with acts as diverse and relatively established as Les Savy Fav, Effi Briest, Be your Own Pet and Rings.

We caught up with singer Pete to talk about the internet obsession that colours both the band’s sonic and lyrical palette creating twisted and compelling tales of werewolves, haunted picnics and mountain men gone nuts.

Psychopedia: Hey Pete, could you tell me a bit about your Blog, Voodoo Village?
Pete Dee (vocals): Basically, me and my friend Jiro were in his bedroom relaxing and listening to "Love Theme" by Vangelis when we got the idea to make a blog, We both share pretty similar interests and get annoyed by how much crap is out there so we decided to make a blog full of all our favourite stuff like Italo disco, outsider art, Ancient Egypt, Down’s syndrome, GG Allin, aliens, heavy metal and any kind of freaks. You know the kind of stuff.

Where did the name come from?
We got the name Voodoo Village from a compound in Memphis, Tennessee, which goes by the same name. The people that live there are a mixed race of African Americans and Native Americans. They are led by a 100-year-old man called Chief Wash Harris.

That sounds pretty good. What kind of stuff are you looking for when you sit around browsing the Internet everyday or are you just flailing around in the dark?
This week I’ve been looking for old pictures of sideshow freaks. I found a good one of a pony woman whose leg joints bend the opposite way. I’ve been watching a lot of New Jack Swing videos too. My favourite is "My Heart" by TROOP. The dancing in that video is intense. Go check it out.

I will. How long do you spend in front of the computer screen every day?
I sit until I can't feel my legs.

Are you sure this isn't all an elaborate front for solo cranking sessions?
I do some of that too. Shh.

You are also into the occult and UFO’s. How did this obsession arise?
I like watching interviews with airline pilots and astronauts who've seen UFO’s. I trust those dudes, they seem like good guys. I'm into UFOs of all shapes and sizes but probably the ones I’m most interested in are the black triangles ‘cause I saw one myself when I was 15. My favourite alien theory is the one where people believe that lizards live under LA. Some guy back in the 1930's even mapped out where all the tunnels and stuff are that lead to the underground lizard cities. I wanna go check ‘em out.

That seems to border on a conspiracy theory. Are you into those too?
I'm into the hollow earth theory. That is the belief that the earth is hollow and full of weird lands and ancient creatures. Supposedly you can get inside the earth through a big hole somewhere in the North Pole. Some people think this is where a lot of the Nazis escaped to.

Oh kay. You post a lot of movie clips on the blog. What are your favourite films of all time?
Too many too choose from. Off the top of my head: Phantasm, The Thing, Alien, They Live, Critters, Killer Clowns From Outerspace, Blade Runner, Predator.

Without giving away the secrets to your online gold what websites do you recommend to our readers?

1) http://jahjahsphinx.blogspot.com/
This one is great for images. There’s no text, just hundreds of images of weird stuff.

2) http://www.mufon.com/
The best UFO website out there and you can look at a little UFO weather map that shows you what cities in what countries the UFOs have been visiting over the last few weeks.

3) http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/
A goldmine.

4) http://www.ghanamovieposters.com
Here you can buy some of the most amazing hand painted movie posters by some of the most talented painters now living, for only $100!

5) http://www.howsyournews.com
Home of the How's Your News? team. They have made one of the best documentaries ever.

6) http://mcrorie.net
The best one-man band on earth.

How does all of this online intake and assimilation influence Graffiti Island?
The Internet has an infinite amount of information on weird places and weirdoes. That is the kind of information I need to write the songs I need to write. That’s all.

Do you think without all this stuff knocking around your head you would be the same band?
I don't think so. We'd probably all be wearing straw hats, pointy shoes, low cut V neck T shirts and singing songs that go oh eh oh oh oh eh oh oh eh oh eh oh.


Graffiti Island’s debut 7” is forthcoming on House Anxiety Records.

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