It seems 2004 was a special year for the Gong family. The Acidmotherhood and Guru & Zero albums were a delightful and pleasant surprise. Right up there with the best of your works ever
Thank you. I respectfully agree.
So can you tell us what was it about Acid Mother's Temple that made you collaborate with them?
At first I didn't like it. It hurt my ears. Then I surrendered to the noiz and passed through the veil into the beautiful landscape I had known & loved before.
Being true to your initial decision of Gong being a multicultural band AcidmotherGong is a real melting pot of cultures and generations. How was the initial interaction between people who come with so different cultural backgrounds?
How was the experience of playing with Tatsuya Yoshida (one of my all time favorite drummers)
He looks as though he is just driving to work in his car. But his beats are so individual & technically dazzling he is a delight to play with. He has a quirky humor & open mind & he has my full resp
Was the London gig with the AcidmotherGong recorded or filmed?
It was recorded on multitrack by graham the gnome of frome who has locked it in his vaults. It was videoed by 3 different cameramen who as yet have not combined their efforts. One day perhaps.
Tell us about the making of the Acid Motherhood cd was it difficult?
How is the experience of having your son playing with you in Gong?
Does the current AcidmothersGong expand the original Gong philosophies of breaking down conditioning and challenging preconceptions?
Now that you mentioned ProtoGong (the very first formation of Gong formed in Paris early 1968). On which you wrote "no one we knew had ever heard music quite like this" I am curious to know Is there any recording documenting this band?
I believe there is a really bad recording of it out somewhere. No one had heard music like that because nobody had done it before with gliss guitar and spacewhisper by both Gilli & Ziska Baum & flute by Loren Stanlee all being heavily processed by the famous early model Semprini tape loop echo device operated by Taner Celensu.
Can you tell us a little about Tanner the original sound mixer of Gong?
He was a young Turkish gentleman spunk with a positive attitude & a sensitive ear extremely cool & intelligent with groovy sports car & a psychic connection with each of us.
Although I searched and searched I never found anything written about the Semprini echo chamber - how did it sound?
An Italian design, the Semprini no longer exists. its second model was a flop though the first model was pure magic. very similar (possibly superior to) the Binson space echo which I suspect was based on its design. It was capable of producing multiple waves of melted repeats via a series of spaced playback heads on a very long tape loop that disappeared into and re-emerged from a sort of cassette in to which it disappeared & at length returned.
How much did he contribute to the 2 main aspects of Gong's sound - the glissando guitar and the space whisper?
He took the radical risks & made the first experimental leaps into creative mixing & remixing.
I read somewhere that the first gig was attended by Yoko Ono & Ornette Coleman and that a TV crew filmed the show. Is there any footage of that?
I would love to find it. its worth remembering that Yoko & Ornette were doing performance art upstairs on the main stage & we were down in the newly christened & very avant garde psychedelic cellar. We didn't play together. Gilli was subsequently offered a role in the sound track as orgasmic special fx but the film was pretty standard & boring.
Now that we mentioned Gilli's space whisper style of singing can you tell us a little about how she developed it?
You Gilli didn't come from any outside influence that I know of. She just immediately began to sing like that. In fact I didn't want her to sing like that in the first place I was trying to get her to sing choruses like 'Yes We are - We're gonna change the world' and there was no way that I could get her to sing it in the traditional European harmonic scale. She had her own voice and her own way of singing from the word go. There was another woman who sang with us in that band called Ziska Baum she was a model from NY and she had the same way of singing like Gilli and the two of them were magical together. The two of them just created that style together out of thin air.
Have you ever been re united or met with your magic brother and mystic sister Loren & Ziska from ProtoGong?
Yes we hang out joyfully in Woodstock together in 2002. Loren has subsequently provided us with a dvd lightshow & is the author of Gilli's Gong Matrices new cd cover.
Going back even a little earlier - Can you tell us a little about your encounter with Terry Riley and about the Machine Poets. How did this effected your music later?
Tell us about your work with William Burroughs on 'The Ticket that Exploded'
This was a dramatization of certain parts of the book & was performed at a club in Montparnasse run by Buttercup Powell (wife of pianist Bud Powell). I was asked to play free jazz with my trio (bass drums & guitar) at certain moments during the performance.
Was the cut-up technique pioneered by Burroughs and Gysin an influence on your music specifically on your tape works?
No I think that it continues to influence the way I think compositionally in all performance formats & particularly with the use of my Boomerang & loop-station guitar loop pedals in improvisation.
How did you get involved in working at the Center for Electronic Music Research of Paris in 1968 and collaborate with Francois Bayle?
Francois Bayle invited me following my work with BBC radiophonics workshop which produced the 30 min program: the switch doctor.
The sound manipulation on Goldilox from those sessions (which appeared on the now sadly deleted 'Je Ne Fumme Pas De Bananes' cd is one of my favorites of your more 'experimental stuff'. Do you remember what exactly did you do with the drum track on it?
I simply played. Bayle manipulated the sounds.
The French TV used a Gong bass riff for the evening news - was it the opening of Fohat?
Yes it's The Continental Circus track 'What do you Want' which later evolved to 'Fohat Digs Holes in Space'
Any recordings of the collaboration with the Peter Peret contemporary orchestra?
I don't remember this at all
Was your first album 'Magic Brother' really recorded on a 3 track movie camera as you wrote on the sleeve of the lp?
13 Track actually. No but it was such a lo fi studio it might easily have been mistaken for that.
Was 'You' ever mixed in quad and anything interesting to tell about those mixes?
Yep but I wasn't there. Mike Howlett knows all.
Tell us about the time Gong spent at Chateau Du Thiel in 1970 (recording the Haunted Chateau session from the Camembert Eclectique CD) and the encounters you had with the local ghost.
In the rehearsal room there was a bust of Emile, a former owner of the house. It surveyed us with great suspicion as we rehearsed and was clearly unimpressed with our efforts until drummer Rachid Houri took an acid trip & became possessed presumably by Emile, grabbed a ladder & ran across the lawn & into a business luncheon party held by our hosts. Rachid pointed wildly up the ladder & into the clouds, presumably where Emile wished to go. After this the phantom landowner despite still being housebound, was more sympathetic to us & as reported, would often replay our rehearsals after we had stopped for his phantom friends.
Can you tell us the ideas that were behind the Gong Comet Kohoutek concert X-Mas 1973.
40 years later is the world any different in this matter?
Ah yes. Guy Debord is dead & now I would be shot.
As one of those who pioneered special recording and tape manipulations in the 60's & 70's. What do you think about the current technological computerized revolution.
It is the vision of absolute purity of sound. It is the apollonian search for acoustic perfection. The perfect male and female body of sound. It is more powerful than we know.
Are you using any of this current technology?
32 bit Orlando is there for that. I have gone back to a cheap 4 track cassette machine to record. Then I take into the outboard heaven of a high tech studio to mix.
How do you keep using meditation in your life daily for so many years and keep it fresh and alive?
Which Sun Ra album did you 'discover' back in Australia did it have any influence on your vision on music?
Sorry. Don't now remember which.
Can you share with us the background and reasons for your 7 year retreat in the 80's
I was quite simply burned out by the American experience & in general by the decay of the alternative culture. I returned to my spiritual practice & studied with two different teachers who reawakened my latent abilities and preside over my own self initiation to the next level of active awareness.
And did this period provide you with a new perspective and new abilities and inspiration when the decided to return to the music?
I really enjoy to read your Free Mother Romania diaries there is something very human and warm about the way you share these experiences with the reader. What was it that made you get up and travel to Romania
I was actually intending to travel to Bulgaria in search of a particular teacher there but instead my path took me right around Romania instead. I also was acting as a contact on the ground to find specific orphanages to be targeted for toys & clothes to be transported from Glastonbury in the UK by truck.
My Word speller keeps correcting daevid to David - since when do you write your name this way?
When I was at art school in Melbourne in 1958/9 I added the e because I enjoyed the idea of imitating the ae in aesthetics. Later certain critics of my style said it meant e for ego.
Your book Gong Dreaming part one was published back in 1994. Will part 2 be published?
Yes. It is finished but I have not yet found the designer who can & will design it with me.
What are your plans for 2005? Are you working on anything new currently?
Any plans being made for a special Gong family gathering?
I await the offers of agent/promoters. My days of self promotion are over. I am not trying very hard. I have been flogging myself solidly for the last sixteen years. I have not seen the four seasons pass by me in one place since 1988. So if no offers come I will happily stay home
So Tell us a little about the Bananamoon Obscura series and what is planned for the future.
Bananamoon Obscura: it is a series of 20 collectors items cds limited to 1000 copies which represent the entire spectrum of my creative audio interests. There is no attempt to exclude items of low audio quality provided that the performances have that certain magic to them. Nos 19 & 20 will be a compilation of 'best of' tracks from the no. 1-18. Gilli Smyth & daevid allen 'Short tales & Tall', a collection of fairy tales both traditional & original read by Gilli, daevid, daevid's youngest son Ynys (11) and his granddaughter Jazzy (9) and Dubliner friend Willy Mcelroy. These are flavored by a wide selection of excerpts from Gong & related cds & include's a Childs story of Zero.
As for the early stuff that is on Camembert Eclectique and 'Je Ne Fume Pas Des Bananes' what was the conditions of those tapes and how and were did they survive for so long?
They survived on quarter inch tape & audio cassettes in the UK & Australia until 1993 when they were transferred to dat.
Gong have appeared in numerous TV programs and films such as the Amougies festival film the Glastonbury Fayre film 'The Nightmare of Mr. Respectable', 'Le Tarot' etc. Any chance of these ever to be compiled or released in the future?
Wow! With Tatsuya Yoshida right?
Yeah, its got your favorite drummer on it - He actually has mixed it off the multitrack tapes. And this album will be coming out in about 2 months its will be like the partner to Acidmotherhood.
Ok, daevid - great news! I wish to thank you for a life long inspiration and love you gave us with your art and poetry.