In the Music, In the Cinema, In the Arts
The least original thing one can say about In The Nursery’s music is that it fills your head with images, one after the other, as if they are frames in a film. While listening to ITN, all you need is a bit of talent and a load of patience in order to compose a script... But, I know that you know that already.
What we didn’t know is how Klive and Nigel Humberstone listen, see and envisage music and moving images of any kind. Just before their live show in Athens (Wave Festival – 11 Oct.), we unfolded the red carpet in front of Klive and asked him to escort us at ITN’s best award nomination of all times.
Please, take your seats. The ceremony is about to begin.
Actor in a leading role
(Name/Describe a male figure who has been a great influence in your work)
Klive: "and the award goes to....." Jean Cocteau. You could describe Jean Cocteau as an actor, but then again he was also a director, poet, artist, screenwriter and photographer. The all encompassing world of Jean Cocteau has enriched so many parts of my life. Influenced me in ways Ι have yet to discover. I can keep going back to his films, his writings, his poetry and find new themes, new sources of inspiration. Cocteau once said that "art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious".
Actor in a supporting role
(Name/Describe a male figure whom you met incidentally (perhaps for a short while) but what he said or what he did, inspired you somehow)
Klive: I met Adam Ant once (gave him one of my guitar plectrums at a concert). I wrote to him afterwards and asked which path I should take in life ... music or graphic design. I got a nice letter back from him - but he couldn't solve the dilemma for me. Moral to that story is - don't look up to others to guide you - follow your own heart.
Actress in a leading role
(Name/Describe a female figure who has been a great influence in your work)
Klive: "and the award goes to......" Rennee Falconetti, who played the lead role in 'The Passion of Joan of Arc'. We have watched her face a thousand times as we tried to conjure up the emotions she portrayed. This was her one and only acting role, her portrayal of Joan of Arc in La Passion is widely considered one of the most astonishing performances ever committed to film, and it would remain her final cinematic role. Dreyer's method of directing his actors, pushed Falconetti to emotional collapse. For us it was inspiring to compose the soundtrack - trying to mirror her feelings in our music.
Actress in a supporting role
(Name/Describe a female figure whom you met incidentally (perhaps for a short while) but what she said or what she did, inspired you somehow)
Klive: I've thought long and hard about this - and I am going to have to cheat. I first saw Siouxsie Sioux in 1978, playing with the Banshees at High Wycombe Town Hall. It was the Morris/McKay line-up (arguably the best) just before they ran off. Brilliant concert - inspired myself and my brother, Nigel, to make music together. I saw Siouxsie Sioux again last year in Manchester. She was hitting 50, yet still giving a wonderful performance and doing all the moves and high kicks.
Animated feature film
(Is there any animated film that you wish you had composed the music for? If not, what kind of animated films interest you the most? (Pixar Productions? Manga?))
Klive: Animation is a wonderful medium, which allows the viewer to travel and experience another world. I'm a fan of the 'old school' cartoons. Hand drawn, painted on cell, 24 pictures per second - wonderful backgrounds. Our father was an animator and helped create such classics as 'Animal Farm', 'The BFG', 'Watership Down' - but my favourite that he worked on has to be 'Yellow Submarine'. The combination of distinctive colourful animation with the music of the Beatles marks the film in a league of its own.
(Is there any artistic movement that you feel closer to? (Romanticism? Postmodernism? ...))
Klive: Post-Punk .... does that count? We were inspired and motivated by the Punk spirit - but it was the bands that came out of Punk (termed Post-Punk) that really formulated our ideas about how music should sound. The genre was more introverted, complex and experimental than Punk and in many ways created the groundwork for alternative music.
(Describe your music career with 100 words)
Klive: IN THE NURSERY is the Sheffield-based musical project centred around the nucleus of twin brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone. ITN's musical history spans more than two decades and has constantly expressed their desire for progress and experimentation. Their sublime, cinematic music blends electronica, classical arrangements, orchestral percussion and soundscapes evoking a timeless quality.
Documentary (short subject)
(Describe your music career with one sentence)
Klive: We have been creating music as a passionate hobby for the past 30 years.
Foreign language film
(Name/Describe a piece of art that has been an influence to you, coming from a faraway land. (Not an English-speaking one))
Klive: Dhziga Vertov's 'Man with a Movie Camera' remains one of the least seen but most influential films ever made. Produced in Moscow in 1929, it represents a kind of swan-song for two epochs: the Soviet avant-garde experiment in the arts, and silent cinema itself. As a film, Man with a Movie Camera was both of its time and years ahead of it. A document of a summer's day in Moscow, it uses self-consciously theoretical montage to juxtapose separate settings, characters and moods, but it does so with such vigour and vim, and by employing so many tricks and special effects, that in many ways it's the foundation of all 'creative' documentaries that came after it (including pop videos).
(What do you wear when working at your studio and how much effort/time/thinking does it take to decide what to put on before going on stage?)
Klive: For the studio and everyday living, the colour code is Black. G-Star jeans, t-shirt, Blundstone boots and G-Star Military top. When performing on stage it's a toss-up between my faithful leather trousers or a Black Kilt.
(Do you believe that when on stage the artist should transform him/herself into an extraordinary being? Do you think that the use of any effects (lights - video - costumes) is highly helpful? What about your case?)
Klive: I guess it depends how you want to express yourself. In our early days of performing live, we used a wide range of visuals - including slide-projectors, flags, videos and lights. Many of our contemporary Sheffield bands also favoured onstage visuals, including the likes of Human League, Chakk & Hula. Perhaps it was our Art College background, but we were trying to create a 'complete experience' - music & image, perhaps we were shy and hid behind both. Over the years we have discarded the slides, visuals and imagery - much of the focus is concentrated on 'the performance' which is enhanced with the use of stage lighting. I think it's sad when people go and see bands just for the 'great light show' and 'stunning pyrotechnics'.
(Do you think that ageing is something we should try to reverse or something that is natural and should continue happening as it does?)
Klive: We can't change time - growing older (and wiser) should be a celebration, not surgery.
Music (original score)
(Name/Describe an album (or film score) that you like a lot)
Klive: Album: Unknown Pleasures
Artist: Joy Division
Date: June 1979
This is the first time I have sat down and written words about the most important and influential record in my life. Unknown Pleasures is easily one of the greatest albums of the Post-Punk era and for two eighteen year old boys at the time, the experience was a revelatory insight into what music could do to the senses. I like to think that it was a 'journey' that both myself and my twin brother Nigel experienced together. We got into Joy Division after buying "An Ideal for Living" 12" EP in september 1978, followed by the Factory sampler in January 1979. It was only a matter of time before their debut album became a 'must have' item as soon as it was released.
All visceral and all imposing, the overall mood in the album is powered by Peter Hook's driving bass lines and Bernard Sumner's jagged guitar. Nigel was learning bass at the time and I had a guitar - so we both latched onto the appropriate sounds coming out of the album. Experiencing Punk music first-hand had given us the 'do it yourself' ethic, but listening to Joy Division gave us the vision in which to express our ideas.
I think back to many songs from that period that impressed me (Buzzcocks, Magazine) and in time I've discovered many of these new wave/punk records were produced or engineered by Martin Hannett. It seemed fitting that this 'mad-hat' producer helped shape the Joy Division sound, creating space between the instruments and leaving room for the spectral baritone of Ian Curtis.
I've never tried too hard to analyse why the voice and lyrics of Ian Curtis impressed me so much - they just did. It's a visceral experience, sparking off images in the mind - creating another world.
The original LP release contained no track information on the labels, nor the traditional "side one" and "side two" designations. The ostensible "side one" was labeled Outside and displayed a reproduction of the image on the album cover, while the other side was labeled Inside and displayed the same image with the colors reversed (black-on-white). Near the inner groove of the Inside is etched in script: "I've been looking for a guide", a reference to the song, "Disorder". The Outside and Inside designations were also used on the inner sleeve.
A change of speed, a change of style.
A change of scene, with no regrets,
A chance to watch, admire the distance,
Still occupied, though you forget.
Different colours, different shades,
Over each mistakes were made.
I took the blame.
On a separate note, we first saw Joy Division play at the Nashville Rooms, Earls Court London on the 13th August 1979 along with A Certain Ratio + OMD. Gary Numan was in front of us in the queue waiting to get in ... but I digress! I remember the low stage and the 'back-room' pub location. Peter Hook was not amused by someone at the front heckling, so, he quite casually swatted the guy's head with the headstock of his low slung bass, hardly missing a beat.
Music (original song)
(Name/Describe a single song that you like a lot)
Klive: I've mentioned this song quite recently in a posting on Facebook. The song is 'Love like Blood' by Killing Joke. Everytime I hear the opening bass line I feel a surge of euphoria. It's probably the only song I will dance to in a club.
A wonderful pumping bass, the splendour of Geordie's guitar playing and drums that sound like bullet fire. It reminds me of the past and yet gives me impetus for everything that is ahead in life.
(Name/Describe a specific sound that you like a lot)
Klive: A solo Cello played outdoors, on the rocks, next to the crashing waves. This is a vision that has stayed with me for nearly 30 years. I was a student studying video and had the chance to film a series of string masterclass sessions on location in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. One of the students took her cello out to practice on the rocky beach shoreline. The sound was like a sirens calling, tender and mournful, teasing and euphoric.
Writing (screenplay based on material previously produced or published)
(Name/Describe a book, a poem, a biography (anything in written form) that has inspired you)
Klive: 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' by Oscar Wilde. I was given a small pocket version of the book many years ago and often take it with me to re-read during moments of reflection. The book traces the feelings of an imprisoned man towards a fellow inmate who is to be hanged. Wilde creates a solemn funereal tone in his rhyme made sad and familiar by certain repeated phrases ("each man kills the thing he loves", "the little tent of blue/ Which prisoners call the sky"). There is great beauty in the sadness.
Writing (screenplay written directly for the screen)
(Name/Describe a sound, an instrument, a set of lyrics (anything in your music) that you consider unique (or that has never been done before))
Klive: I like to think that our signature sound - the use of military snare drum - has a unique appeal. When we began the band in 1980, we chose to use a military snare instead of a standard drum kit. That period precedes 'Neo-Folk' by many years - we were experimenting with combining 'industrial' with 'orchestral' styles. The military snare drum encompassed both. I had also been going to see a lot of classical concerts in Sheffield and noted the use of orchestral tympanis - it was only a matter of time before these too, were incorporated into the 'ITN sound'. Both percussive instruments have been used ever since in our signature sound.
(Name/Describe a person (male or female) whose work you consider a masterpiece. Why?)
Klive: I would have to choose someone who would not use their new found praise as a chalice for evil. The first person who comes to mind is the artist Joseph Beuys, mainly because of his utopian belief in the power of universal human creativity. The idea that everyone is an artist (an idea borrowed from Novalis) - but that everyone contributes something creatively to society. I vehemently believe in that idea. Art is for the people - created by the people. We all have a part in the process.
(Name/Describe a work of art that you consider perfect as a whole
Klive: Fortunately, nothing is perfect. Onward - Upward. The movement of spirit.