Interview: Kay Logan
This article was first published by The 405 as part of Glasweek on July 16, 2015. For the original article, please head here: https://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/glasweek-day-4-kay-logan-a-k-a-larks-rick-ross-helena-celle-143
One of the many relentlessly productive and imaginative artists in Glasgow right now is Kay Logan. Or do I mean Rick Ross? Or do I mean Kay Logan, former guitarist of the now sadly dissolved Herbert Powell? Or do I mean Kay Logan, one half of the now deceased electronic duo Larks? Either way, she’s pretty fucking busy seemingly all the time. Over the last 18 months, Kay has played a huge part in the release of a total of five albums (three for Rick Ross, one for Larks), with a sixth album currently in production under the moniker Helena Celle.
The 405 managed to secure Kay’s services during the sliver of time she has to herself in between writing, recording, releasing and playing her music, so we sat down to discuss her feelings on the Glasgow music community.
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How are you?
Staying busy by virtue of rehearsing, working, reading and narcoleptic sleeping. Doing this until I go back to University in September or alternatively, start another band.
Just to make sure people know how busy you are, could you give us the names of the projects you’ve embarked on in the last 18 months?
At the moment, I’m performing with synthesisers and guitar under the name Larks, and making software. I just put out some aleatoric synthesis software called Carousel. I finished making a record a few months ago under the name Helena Celle, which should be coming out on the label CACAO at some point, the record is mastered so it could come out whenever, really. It’s in some ways a continuation of some records I’ve made over the past few years under the name Rick Ross. Previously, I formed a noise rock band called Herbert Powell, in which I wrote songs and played guitar from May 2014 to March 2015.
Why are you making music? Who are your influences?
I find it more natural to convey types of information through audio than through language, the sort of information that I’m unable to even formulate as a thought, because that would necessitate language. Larks is influenced by people like Fred Frith, Philip Glass, Tod Dockstader, Wendy Carlos, Sun Ra, Fripp & Eno, and the music from Look Around You.
Helena Celle is and Rick Ross was influenced by probability, the Silent Hill 2 OST, and contemporary dance music that I heard on the internet.
Herbert Powell were influenced by Voivod, The Ex, Pere Ubu, Albert Ayler, This Heat, Mission of Burma and Oasis.
Do you have influences from outside of music? TV, books, films, food, locations you’ve visited?
I’m interested in applying principles of computer science to audio. I find it difficult to quantify songwriting in any way, relating back to the first answer from the last question. I can’t sit down and work at writing a song — I can labour on a song once the initial theme is there, but that has to come through me first. When that fails,
I can consciously impose rules on sets of information or audio to create music.
It’s mathematics at that point — it produces a different kind of music to a vaguer and less easily quantifiable means of input, but is as every bit as viable and beautiful and interesting. Providing the person involved mediates all these systems well enough to avoid being boring. Sound still has to take precedence over everything else involved.
It could be suggested that Glasgow’s music scene primarily produces guitar bands, would you say that’s true?
All of the following statements are true: Glasgow produces bands in which guitars are utilised, Glasgow produces interesting bands who use guitars, Glasgow produces boring bands who use guitars. Most people who play guitar are quite boring.
From what I can tell, the scene seems to be incredibly DIY too, is that fair to say?
People sure are doing it themselves — but only because there’s no other option. Whether they’re doing it in order to pursue a love for something, or whether they’re going through the motions to advance their career is another question.
Surely the motivation behind DIY culture is to sustainably pursue your passion outside of the spaces you’re excluded from, rather than attempt to compete, engage, or integrate into those spaces?
I’m beginning to lose track of how many projects and side-projects you currently have in production, so does it become increasingly difficult to manage the time you spend on each one? And does it become harder and harder to separate the sounds of each project, or do you purposely use different equipment for individual recording sessions to separate the sound of each one?
Not particularly, I just feel it’s appropriate to compartmentalise things when necessary, depending on intent and context. I don’t really take the tools I use for work into consideration when I’m doing that, but certain things are more appropriate than others depending on what I’m trying to do.
Do you think what’s going on in Glasgow right now is something quite unique, or have your friends in other cities exposed you to similar scenes in the UK, and would you say that the music scene in Glasgow functions like a community, or is it very much a case of individuals groups keeping to themselves?
I got the feeling while Herbert Powell were touring that it’s less pervasive in other cities in the UK, Glasgow is different in that regard. People who are doing what they are doing out of a genuine love for what they do have the capacity to make it feel like a community. Largely, it consists of individuals acting out of their own self-interest, which makes it like more of an economy than a community, and this kind of thing is necessitated by exploitation of labour. I could list all of the promoters, venues and artists who have profited off of my labour and have paid me either nothing, or such a small amount that it’s insulting, meaning that it literally costs me to expend my labour — but I don’t want anybody to kill me in my sleep. They know who they are.
[This interview was conducted April 2015 via email. The header image was taken by Cameron Wilson]