Walking then sitting down with Gardyloo SPeW

in Spotlight

I did a contact communication with Gardyloo SPeW because the name kept being prevalent and noticed by me in my social media things that I use although mainly the blue coloured one. It made me aware that she knows people that I know as well and I then also recalled how perhaps periodically we’d actually met in the real life social arena of the experimental music performance scene but I don’t remember speaking much or we might have said hi or something similarly smalltalk or maybe not. My memory gets cloudy easy so I asked to meet and talk to make it not cloudy.

Prior to meeting I did some preparation by finding and listening to some of the music Gardyloo SPeW has been involved with recently which was in a sort of style I have a particular liking for, which I’d describe as post punk angular music. Gardyloo used saxophone within these preparation sounds. The one worded, three capital lettered SPeW and the three worded I Am Meat. As I listened I could feel myself liking it and at the same time my internal monologue asked why I liked it and it was because I had reference points springing up from artists that also used saxophone and some that sounded like they used saxophone but didn’t but still sounded like the sounds I was hearing. Artists that I happily dug back up while listening in my sandpit memory like the Very Things, And The Native Hipsters, Dog Faced Hermans and the Diagram Brothers. I know the Diagram Brothers didn’t use saxophone but I personally found happy comparisons with the lyrical delivery and subject matter. I think they might have used a trumpet a bit but it’s not quite the same.

We met in the Hackney Downs park and did a new thing where we walked around the park and I thought that this was a new type of conversation interaction that I hadn’t considered before. Previously I interreacted for writing by messaging on social medias, or by face to face and sitting down and talking at a mutually acceptable distance, or meeting at a residence or by talking via popular video link. It also became a mixture as the walking stopped and turned into sitting down after a while as I was having trouble writing and walking at the same time but I guess I’ll get better at it with practice and I wasn’t bad at it for a first attempt.

Then throughout the conversation I became aware of more stuff she had done and I developed a great realisation of the scope and variety of her work. I told myself as well that this meant this was a good conversation and I then realised that that is what conversations are for so you can find more stuff out and when they are finished you know more than when you started and I should have more of them.

She said I’ve done these other things too, sort of my solo stuff and I was curious to see how that compared with what I’d heard of the work she participated in with other people. During the lockdown period she had completed a series of sound and video pieces under the name of the Vince Project. She told me the pieces were made in honour of a recently deceased friend who was highly influential in her musical career.  I wrote this down and listened to it later and I’m listening to it again while writing this as I find it really really good. I recognise I have an issue with using descriptive superlatives without resorting to swearing so I’ll stay within my limitations and just say that it’s really really good again. Especially the third track. But listening to all five I liked the contrast between realising and not realising when different sounds appeared and how they appeared, either fading in or starting abruptly and then hearing a sound and not realising when it had started. Instead of a description I can try a comparison or another reference point and say it made me think about Robert Hampson’s post-Loop ambient project, Main.

There was also talk about the increasing use of the livestream as a substitute or alternative for the live concert experience and I was curious about her experiences with using this outlet for performance and how she adapted her performance and sounds to cater for this. I have found that there is a need to adopt a different approach as it’s a different arena to the live gig setup. Gardyloo’s livestream experiments have brought further varied experimentation, using a simple setup of guitar with a looping system and an old-style punched card musical box which if anything, made me think yes I want one of those too.  

Although live streaming has been around for a while it’s still a new media that many of us are exploring only now and it’s trial and error while we figure out how to work it properly and what you should and shouldn’t do. We both agreed it is a useful opportunity to spend more time with your setups and check-checking as you’re at home and reasonably you can do that, not like in a venue where there’s another band playing before you and you have to rush your setup and you find you’ve forgotten something anyway so you have to do a workaround panic. The trial and error responses from your livestream audience also tell you what sounds work and what don’t. Playing through a big PA in a venue is good and everything but with livestreams everyone is listening on their own differing varieties of playback devices and some of your sounds don’t come through on the other side so well. It’s a learning experience and perhaps us learning this livestream and the mechanics of it will be a good thing to reflect on when looking back to this corona time.

Anyway initially I thought I wanted to find out the meaning as to the Gardyloo SPeW name that she used and I had a preconceived idea in my head that a Gardyloo was a flower or something but I don’t know why I thought that because it isn’t and she told me what it is anyway and it’s also really easy to look up and find out. I don’t know why I didn’t look it up myself first but I think I preferred to have a conversation about it because I thought that by asking that question initially then perhaps further conversations could spring forth from that catalyst that weren’t anticipated before and that became true as our talk went all over into thoughts and places I couldn’t have considered prior. As with the wide variety of her musical engagement and output, I was happily tripped up and eye opened by our meeting and subsequent listening to Gardyloo SPeW’s large and varied catalogue.



Andy Rowe is a sound artist who lives and works in London. He has worked with sound in a professional and creative context since 1996 and gained a degree in Sonic Art from Middlesex University in 2009. He has displayed work in Coventry's Herbert gallery, London's Hundred Years, Raven Row, Chalton, Art and Escape, Horse Hospital, ToandFor, and Doomed galleries. His sound, music and performance project is known as the Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers. He has performed live at festivals and events in England, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy both alone and collaboratively

Latest from Spotlight

Go to Top