as one half of curve and a former eurythmic, dean garcia has probably had every headache that the music industry has to offer. but as headcase, he's been exploring the possibilities of true technological independence. with the internet acting as publicist and distributor, dean is enjoying himself like never before÷
How does the writing process differ between Curve, wherein you are part of a creative partnership, and Headcase?"The process is more or less the same. Get into a recording situation and see what happens. For me it's the only way to do it. It's scary when you get a run of utter bollocks day after day, but that's to do with trying too hard thinking too much and listening to people asking you to write a hit record. On a good day in the studio with Curve one thing triggers another and you have a happening track. When you work completely on your own this can be a problem. But it's healthy to be working on more than one thing. One thing feeds the other. Working with Curve is always exciting and unpredictable. Headcase and the Mushi-Mushi label is something new for me."
With Curve you've always seemed to make records either on your own terms or not at all, which is a notoriously difficult thing to do when you're dealing with record companies and the like. Obviously, this isn't an issue with Headcase.
"No. Perfect. I like this not an issue stuff a great deal. Music available now, not a year after you have recorded it bullshit."
Do you think the Internet can be utilised to give a true platform to this kind of independence? Because you already have a fanbase through Curve, isn't it possible that for unknown artists the web doesn't really hold any real advantages?
"All I know is that it's better there than not. The Internet has massive possibilities. Any outlet for uncensored communication is a good thing. It opens up doors and allows like minded people to connect, which is what I'm interested in. It's interesting to link up anyone... got a mad piece of art..."
When did you realise that you had to be a musician? Was there a moment, or a specific record that made it clear to you?
"Setting up a stall on the market at 5.30am on a cold winter's day in Southall. The record stall down the way played "Come Together" by you know who. Coolest bass, yes please. James Brown's voice. Nice beats. Captain Beefheart. Knowing that anything is possible.
Setting the drums up after school at my mate's house who had a very cool mum. Smashing the shit out of them then taking acid for the first (and last) time. Going bonkers and recording it on quarter inch tape."
How valuable was the experience of being a session musician? Did you learn things that maybe inform your songwriting now? Hypothetically, do you think Headcase and Curve could still have happened, in a creative sense, without those experiences?
"I have only worked with people I like. Once I did this thing with a friend at Trident Studios and it was for this dreadful French artist, and I couldn't do it. I said I was sorry and left the place. I am not the most diplomatic person in the world. I have a problem with saying what I think. Working with Dave and Annie will always be special to me. They worked in the same way I wanted to. Off the wall, and DIY-very important factor. They made me feel good enough, and without that at that time I don't know what would have happened. As far as it informing what I write now, not really. It has more to do with performing in front of people and travelling. The studio session stuff has played an important part in what I do now, and I feel good if somebody I respect asks me to play on a track. I like the studio, but touring has given me an irrational fear of flying."
Some of your music has a very cinematic quality. How important are visuals to the overall effect of the songs?
"Really important...this is the boss isn't it? Although I have not done as much as I would like to. With promo videos you have a million restrictions and they are in most cases a complete waste of time. But having an arty piece of visual and putting sound to it is much more appealing. I love this area, it's something to be explored. This is something for me. The idea of working with great visuals of enormous art-wank status, and me being allowed to put anything to it would be perfect. I want to do this. As for James Cameron mega-budget films÷ oh, go on then, I'll do the death scene. Short mega-art-bollocks films are more than welcome in my in-tray."
Curve wasn't the first time you had worked with Toni, but it seemed like a radical departure for both of you. Did you visualise the "Curve sound" from the outset, or did you happen upon it one day? How did you feel when you knew you had found it?
"We had a very strong idea of how it should sound. It was a good time for music. Mondays, Roses, Valentines, Primals. We both knew what to do and there you have it. It felt instinctive and right, as do all the recordings we have made since."
What does Toni think of "Mushi Mushi"?
"I believe she thinks it totally cool."
How do you know whether an idea is right for Curve or for Headcase?
"As soon as Toni sings on a piece of music it becomes a Curve track. That's the way it is. You have a way of knowing if it's working. I would like to remix some of the early stuff as Headcase mixes. I think this would be very cool. I'm not sure of the legalities... what a weird concept... not being able to release your own music... "
Can we expect more Headcase material in the nearness of future?
"Yes. More is better. I am developing a label, Mushi Mushi Recordings. For cool mega-art fest dancing bleep music. With some arty game fixtures for the computer gamehead. Interactive arty nonsense... yes please."
How easy did you find the logistics of releasing your own material, compared with Curve whereby you're dealing with a major label? What, if any, are the disadvantages of the DIY ethic?
"To me now there are no disadvantages. I always imagined it to be riddled with complications, but so far it's been the best start to a year since I can remember. There's a lot to be said for putting your own label together and bunging stuff out. So far we have sold enough to make another one. But the first box of Headcase CDs sent out to the States was lost in the post. What the fuck do I care if an album is lost in the post from Universal/BMG? Send them another one. But with the Mushi stuff I do care. I care a lot...and that's what I'm interested in."
Do you regard "Mushi Mushi" as an album on it's own terms, or simply a compilation of your non-Curve stuff?
I don't know what the fuck it is. Its just stuff, innit? I wanted to see what it was like to put out an album on my own with no one telling me what to do. Completely selfish. It was going to be all instrumental, but turned into something else. There are a lot of tapes about, so it was hard to choose, but it all sounds good to me. It also features other people I like working with. Anything that comes out on Mushi Mushi will not repeat itself, it will always be random. So, yes, it is an album in its own right. And soon to be an ashtray in someone's bedroom.
The Headcase material is less guitar driven than Curve, and "Come Clean" was noticeably harder-sounding than "Doppelganger" or "Cuckoo". Are you gradually moving more towards the electronica, or could you just as easily swing the other way with the next album?
I can swing any way I want to, and frequently do as you know.
When you use sequencers do you record them to tape or do you run them from timecode? I always imagined the former, because you seem to get such a blend of sounds, particularly with the bass.Almost everything is squashed onto tape. Sometimes I run kick drums and stuff, but mainly it's all on tape. We like tape. We like vinyl.
Years ago I saw you do a show with Sinead, and you were using a five string bass (I think!). Is that when you got into the ultra-low bass sounds?Not really. I don't know why I was using that bass. I think it was because the person who made it for me died, and I wanted to play it on that tour. As far as the sub goes, I've always been there with that one.
Working live with sequencers can be dead stressful. Does the technical aspect of touring get easier or harder? Do you need to have a "Plan B" in case things don't go according to plan?Plan B, C, D, E and F. But what we really need is Plan Z. Things always go strange with Curve.
No need to name names, but has anyone ever done a Curve remix that you hated? How precious do you get when you really feel you've done a good job yourself?Yes. I don't get precious. I put it into something else, like Mushi Mushi.
In 1994 the British press reported that Curve had "split", and when you came back with "Pink Girl with the Blues" that you had "reformed". Yet in Europe and America it seems to be understood that you had simply "taken time off for reflection". Which is closer to the truth?We were fucked with it. Exhausted. Cuckoo had not done so well. People were getting flaky, including myself. Let's just say we stopped.
Toni has been quoted as saying "things are going to be slow from now on". How soon can we expect the next Curve record?Not sure really. We're in no rush to do it. We have recorded some tracks and will carry on until we have it sorted. Sorry to be vague, but everything's a bit mad at the moment, isn't it?
Do your kids think you're cool?They're into what I do. As far as being cool, umm, ish÷ maybe.
How easy is it to juggle having a family with being a professional musician? Is the industry sympathetic to the fact that their priorities and yours might frequently be quite at odds?Fuck the industry. Children always come first. When I have tour commitments it can be a problem for me, but if it's not to long it's okay. It all depends on what level you tour at. The hard grafting toilet scuzpit level is great to play but very waring to do.
What's a nice, safe way to kill time on the road?Sleep, video games, films, books. Talking to someone that is not on the bus with you. And next time, for me, my email shit.
Finally, what does Mushi Mushi actually mean?
"It just means happy in feeling÷"
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