AmbiEntrance: What factors shaped you into the artist you are today? What kept you from being an "ordinary" person?
Ayers: Persistance, persistance, sheer hard work and most of all, stick-to-it-ability.
AmbiEntrance: Persistence in... what, specifically?
Ayers: I presume you mean doing the things an "artist" does prevents a person from
being an "ordinary person". I'd argue, however, that what I do is firmly
rooted in the "ordinary" and that I was an "ordinary" person.
The fact that
some of the products I have made, as a result of all that hard work, and
help of other people can be labelled as "extraordinary" doesn't mean that I
am not an ordinary person.
In fact if you saw me in the street and I wasn't
wearing my silver trousers, top hat and feather boa, you'd probably never
AmbiEntrance: How did you come to choose the moniker of "Nocturnal Emissions"?
Ayers: I don't know. It's just something I woke up with one night.
AmbiEntrance: Of your many Nocturnal Emissions releases, which is the most
"definitive" would you say, and why?
Ayers: Electropunk Karaoke.
It says it all.
AmbiEntrance: I've not heard Electropunk Karaoke, but it says you "rap and rant your
way through a selection of cranked up block rocking classics". What's all
Ayers: Well it's time you did hear it then.
It's just what it says on the box.
AmbiEntrance: What were your original musical goals, and what are your present goals?
Ayers: My original goal was to change the face of music as we know it. In that I
have been very successful. My current goal is to turn the world upside down
and then back the right way up again.
AmbiEntrance: 1998/99 were times of 3-way collaborations for you; i.e. "Oedipus Brain
Foil" (w/ Randy Greif and Robin Storey) and "Mesmeric Enabling Device" (w/
John Everall and Mick Harris). What do you feel are the pros (and the cons)
of these types of group projects?
Ayers: They work rather like the Surrealist parlour game of "Exquiste Corpses"
where someone draws a head on a piece of paper, then folds it over for the
next person to draw the body, and the next person to draw the legs. Music
making for me is always collaborative and a surrender of individual ego, a
process of integration.
The pros on these kinds of group projects is they're
very easy to do, and its something to do with those tapes that you just
CAN'T finish. The cons include the terrible danger of other people getting
the credit for the good bits that I did, plus other people messing with my
work and doing it all wrong. But as "I" don't have an individual ego, this
doesn't bother "me".
AmbiEntrance: "Mesmeric Enabling Device" was a bit darker than your "normal" output;
what's the story behind those pieces?
Ayers: You'll have to ask Mick and John about that. I don't know what they get up
AmbiEntrance: Robin Storey said (in our OBF interview) that his material was
"mercilessly chopped and changed"; were you as thorough when remixing
Everall/Harris's source sounds?
Ayers: "I" was in an altered state of consciousness at the time and have no
recollection of the process involved, only that I woke up three weeks
later with a terrible headache and a strange blue glow emanating from my
AmbiEntrance: What do you mean when you say "altered state of consciousness"?
Ayers: It's a very bad turn of phrase, sorry. That would imply that humans are
usually in a particular "frame of mind", which they aren't. And it would
also imply that "consciousness" was a thing to be in, rather than a
Right now, I don't actually remember the detail of working on that
AmbiEntrance: How would you compare/contrast working with each duo (Grief/Storey vs.
Ayers: Working with Grief and Storey was like jumping out of an airplane without a
when you're not not sure whether its taken off or not - whereas working
with Everall and Harris was like settling into a comfy settee waiting for
your favourite TV programme to come on...when suddenly you realise that what
you're watching isn't a TV programme,
it's real life and you're really sitting in a traffic island watching the
AmbiEntrance: Soleilmoon recently re-released 1987's "The World is my Womb", about which you said " I think the record is still strong, sometimes for reasons
that weren't my intentions at the time." Can you elaborate on this?
Ayers: In other words, I think the record is still strong and this is mostly
intentional. It was built to last.
AmbiEntrance: Also you mentioned, "... a theme I've retuned to in my writing recently
(is) negotiating the territory of one place using a map of another." Is
this particular project "THE POWER OF THE MAP" in your Network News site?
Ayers: No, but that does discuss some alternate uses for maps, such as colouring
them in with felt pens and claiming you've discovered some archaic monuments
of lost civilisations.
AmbiEntrance: Will you tell us about the Network News, your "online
digest of guerilla ontology"?
Ayers: You could say it's an outlet for some fortean research I've been carrying
for quite a few years now.
It delves into such matter as earth mysteries, the nature of identity and
the wanton plagiarism of Nocturnal Emissions music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
and his Boyzone stooges.
AmbiEntrance: Are your written works ever published in book form? If so, where would
one find them?
Ayers: there are bits in "Mind Invaders" published by Serpent's Tail
published by Semiotext(e)...
(Amazon has them Ithink)
and plenty more to come when I find a sympathetic publisher
AmbiEntrance: What other topics do you write about? If you had to choose between
writing or making music, which would you choose, and why?
Ayers: At the moment, while doing this interview, I'm choosing writing. But if you
look at it, I'm just bashing keys on a computer whether it's music or
writing. I've so far been better paid for my music than my writing, but
there again the music that I've done with lyrical content has sold better.
I don't want to have to choose and I won't choose.
All my adult life I have worked in multimedia.
Nowadays I spend a lot of time doing it on a computer.
AmbiEntrance: What about your interest in things "magickal"? How much do these
concepts enter into your music?
Ayers: I'm simply aware of the amazing qualities of all the mundane things that
make up everyday life - and my music is part of that. I used the word
"magickal" because I was advised that it would help me sell more records.
AmbiEntrance: Do you do your own webwork at the Nocturnal Emissions website? How
has the Web helped you in gaining exposure?
Ayers: This may partly answer the last question.
In the old days an alchemist or a shaman might study arcane scripts written
in the language of angels, or become a medium for disembodied spirits.
Instead of casting runes, today's mystics are deeply MIDIevil. Whereas in
the old days, the priestess might speak in tongues, these days she speaks
HTML. Beds of nails are for wimps, today's fakirs learn Java.
The website is very popular, which is handy because I've found it
increasingly difficult getting my products distributed to shops. Not
just because they have intelligent qualities that make them sometimes
unpopular - but mainly because the independent distributors
are so few and far between these days.
AmbiEntrance: Why is your 2000 tour being postponed? Until when?
Ayers: The tour was set up in a fairly eccentric way, by a couple of friends in
Germany who wanted to keep it very very underground, just working in squats
and small clubs and community centres. I did two tours with them this way
before and I enjoyed the intimacy of it, and the edginess was very
stimulating - but it's no way to earn a living! This time they found it too
hard to keep track of the promoters - so rather than get messed around they
decided to cancel it. There are a few small venues I've enjoyed playing in,
I think I'll sort a small tour out later in the year and if there's any
chance of me covering my costs, I'd like to do a few places in the USA too.
comfortable, well-promoted places.
AmbiEntrance: You were pivotal in resurrecting Vittore Baroni's Lieutenant Murnau;
what was your role in this, and why did you choose to do so?
Ayers: It's a case of historification, really. I thought the project was worth
dusting off and acknowledging - the idea of an anti-group, a group that
existed as a rumour, and really destroying the infantile cult of
that pop music has been infested with for so long.
And credit where credits due,- if it wasn't for Lt Murnau, the KLF would
still be supporting Big In
AmbiEntrance: Since my Lieutenant Murnau review ,Vittore has contacted me and set a
few of my misunderstandings straight (which I've appended to the review).
At the time, I thought maybe it was all an elaborate hoax on your part...
why would I think you'd be part of a hoax? Have you ever been?
Ayers: Heaven only knows why you'd think it was a hoax!
I can't say that I've ever been part of any big hoax.
I'm more interested in
I am interested in where fiction blurs with fact and becomes something
prophecy. Hoaxes can be good for getting people to think. But often they
just practical jokes carried out by inadequates trying to be clever.
For example the hoaxters that put around the daft idea that money has any
value that is anything other than symbolic. Or that rich and famous people
should be treated with more respect than peopole who aren't rich and
AmbiEntrance: I've also been listening to "Autonomia"; what were your intentions
Ayers: To make an amusing electronic beat music CD that was funny and had lots of
swearing in it.
AmbiEntrance: Obviously the scanned-phone-conversations-as-art concept had already
been well-explored by Robin Rimbaud; how would you say yours are
Ayers: Autonomia is
It's primarily non-serious entertainment.
I get the impression - from your question and from a TV programme I saw
about him - that Robin's intention with Scanner is to make some kind of
I don't really believe in art, myself.
AmbiEntrance: Where were the conversations intercepted from? What are your thoughts
on the individuals involved? Is the listener supposed to pass judgement,
just accept them as everyday normal people? (Frankly these folks frighten
Ayers: Make of it what you will. I was simply set a DAT of the calls in the post.
scanned in Portland Oregon, a place I have never visited.
I'm told that the person doing it just left his DAT machine running all
night connected to a mobile phone scanner, then collected together the
I edited them to give an artificial stereo effect. I thought that giving
the various voices a "direction" might make them more psychologically
I have been led to believe that Scanner just uses scans as they come off
the air, presumably to lend an impression of "authenticity" and
"spontaneity" and "daring" to his performances.
Fair play to him if that is what he's doing, but in my opinion that's a
pretty boring approach.
I see "authenticity" and "spontaneity" as very dubious concepts. The voices
I've used are so edited that they are a contrivance, akin to the similated
"realism" of the
I find them scary, too - but also very comic.
AmbiEntrance: What kind of behind-the-scenes information can you divulge to us about the tracks of "Futurist Antiquarianism"?
Ayers: There isn't any. what you hear is what you get.
AmbiEntrance: What does "Futurist Antiquarianism" mean, anyway?
Ayers: It means that both the past and the future are constantly reconstructed in
My intention was to point out the inherent flaws in the
of those claiming to be
following a tradition, or creating an avant-garde.
AmbiEntrance: "Futurist Antiquarianism" is often quite energetically beaty... How do
you go about laying down your rhythm tracks?
Ayers: I do them in a few different ways.
In Futurist I used a combination of four or five drum machines sequenced
both by an Amiga and an Atari program -and a mixture of analog and digital
I use those "obsolete" computers, because they are very reliable and very
efficient at what they do, and don't take ages to boot up.
Also I've been using them for so long, I don't have to THINK about what I'm
doing, I can work physically and intuitively.
I tend to work on a rhythmic sample loop, adding to it, editing to it,
recycling it - and messing with the individual sounds within the loop until
it becomes something new and fresh with a life of its own. Then I'll mess
with the the sequencing of the loops and the various other elements its
The process can take several years.
AmbiEntrance: The last three tracks (shetani, on come on, guiding beam) seem to
"revisit" each other... what's the reason for this?
Ayers: It was to point out that both the past and the future are constantly
My intention was to point out the inherent flaws in the
arguments of of those claiming to be following a tradition, or creating an
AmbiEntrance: What sorts of projects are you planning for the future? Any more
Ayers: I have two wildly different CDs I've recorded with Robin Storey - one as
"The Invisible Universe", the other as "Hank and Slim", waiting for release.
I recorded a remix for the German guitar band Deep, which should be out
And I have a project as "Transgenic" ready for release.
Yes, I'll continue with collaborations, I like doing them.
AmbiEntrance: Can you tell us what to expect (and when/where) with "The Invisible
Universe" and the "Hank and Slim" projects? (Hank and Slim!?)
Ayers: The Invisible Universe is an instrumental techno album -it sounds perhaps a
bit like Kraftwerk and Kluster meets a Guy Called Gerald. We have two or
three labels interested, and I'm not sure who is going to put it out and
The Hank and Slim CD "The World Turned Gingham" is scheduled for release
through a new label set up by Soleilmoon.
It's to be filed under
"avant-garde country and western".
AmbiEntrance: Anything you'd like to add while you "have the mike" here?
Ayers: Yes. I'm campaigning against the inappropriate use of the word "cool".
Can people who write computer books use some other word, please?
AmbiEntrance: Thanks for talking with us, Nigel, and keep up the good work!
Ayers: You're welcome, David, and the same to you.