The next contributor to Tune!, our evolving playlist to make art to, is Mark Catley. With his strongly pop culture inspired paste-ups (from Star Wars to Masters of The Universe and David Bowie) and his alter-ego as DJ Hairdresser on Fire, it is little surprise that music is such a central influence on Catley’s creative practice. But perhaps even more interesting is his late stage initiation into the magic of music, including a humorous story about the RPM speed of a vinyl. The variety of selections has been a striking feature of this series and Mark’s picks are further evidence of this trend, from The Smiths (Hairdresser on Fire is a Morrissey reference) to ABBA and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, as well a few other surprises. So join us as we find out what tunes make Mark Catley tick…
To a lot of people, music is just background noise. Something to have on quietly while you go about your daily life. For others. Music really matters. I fall into the second category. Without music, I doubt I would be alive today.
Music has been there for every special moment in my life. Connecting all the mundane moments in life to the truly magical events or even just reminding me of the various heartbreaks. Like most artists I tend to work with music surrounding me. I also try and pick a song title to name a lot of my art, where suitable.
I didn’t listen to music growing up. If we had the radio on, it would have been the Christian station, Radio Rhema. Even then I really only listened to the Old Testament bible stories told by robots (I mean who else does an eight year-old kid get to read them stories from 2000 years ago?) So when the other kids at school would talk about music I would more often or not just pretend I knew who or what they were talking about. It got to the point where I once had to make up a poem for some class competition about a local radio station. The teacher obviously could see I had no idea what the subject was and so just glued the entry form, poem side down with the brightly, coloured picture facing outwards. I remember feeling really bummed out about that.
But hey, life got worse…
The Seeds Were Sown: Tears for Fears – Sowing the Seeds of Love
The first musical object I ever owned was a 7” vinyl single I won from the Christchurch Star in the 1980’s. It was the Tears for Fears single Sowing the Seeds of Love. I had no idea what the song or who the band was but I was so ecstatic to own my very own record that it didn’t matter!
It’s a big, bombastic, throw-everything-into-the-pot, 80’s single. It also features an amazing over-the-top music video which won many awards.
The funny thing was, as me and my sister never played music on Dad’s stereo, we had no idea there were different speeds for different size records.
Every day after school I would rush home to play the one item of music that was mine… at the wrong speed of 33rpm instead of 45rpm! It wasn’t until a friend flicked the switch on the turntable that I got to hear it at the correct speed. Funny thing is, to this day I still think the correct speed sounds too fast!
Living the Siamese Dream: The Smashing Pumpkins – Hummer
Once I discovered my own music at high school I was in deep.
I found out you could get CD’s from the local library and borrowed Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins. I would then copy the CD onto a tape and play it on repeat. This album just blew my newly forming teen mind. Those dreamy guitars, those crazy vocals! I was hooked.
The Pumpkins were also the first proper big gig I ever went to. It was May 1996 and I was still at high school, so I sent my dad along to wait in line and get the ticket. None of this fancy online buying tickets. I was always grateful my Dad was able to do that. I also once spent a lonely Christmas day in London pretty much by myself with a cheap bottle of wine and a borrowed copy of Siamese Dream. (Best Xmas ever? Maybe not… but still pretty good).
Litter on the Breeze: Suede – Trash
I’ve always felt more in tune with the English way of life and their style of music and moods. Give me a nice rainy day over a bright, scorching hot sun any time. Trash by Suede sums the band up perfectly and is so 90’s it hurts. But I love that pain. (when I first started making my street art and other work, I worked under the name Trash Design. I was told to change that to something else, so I just went with my boring real name. I’ve since been given another way cool handle to use, Bossk-Cat, but it seems too late to try and change now!)
I haven’t got a stitch to wear: The Smiths – This Charming Man
Sure, lead singer Morrissey has turned into an utter twat over the last seven or so years (I won’t say anymore on that subject), but The Smiths as a band have an almost flawless body of work. I did have fun pasting up various The Smiths singles posters around Christchurch years ago. There can’t be many other cities that can say that. This Charming Man is always guaranteed to get me up dancing.
I’m picking up good vibrations: The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
Like most nerdy music lads, I got into the Beach Boys years ago. I could link in some deep cut, but really, if you listen to Good Vibrations and don’t feel happy, something must be seriously wrong with you. I had the joy of watching my daughter (Alba, who is two-and-a-half) dancing with sprigs of parsley in each hand to this song recently. I must have been at least 17 before I did that.
My late father did like some ABBA and I found a cheap copy of ABBA Gold on cassette tape. I would drive around in my blue VW Beetle playing it in my car tape deck for a laugh in the late 90’s. But I started to genuinely like the tunes. Hell, I even gave a 10-minute talk on how amazing
ABBA was at a Polytech presentation in the late 90s. They really are a perfect ‘pop’ band. It’s interesting to see the band is about to release a new album, their first in 40 years, and it’s not just some cash tie-in. I mean, this band turned down $1 billion dollars to reform in 2000! Anyway…it’s hard to choose a favourite from ABBA. So let’s just go with S.O.S.
Everyone you know someday will die: The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??
Death…it’s going to get us all one day. It’s hard to remain in the now and just enjoy the people in our lives. This track by the Flaming Lips always brings a tear to my eye. Just another of those ‘perfect pop songs’ by a band just doing what they do. I also had the pleasure of dancing with the Lips up on stage back in London circa 2003. I was dressed as a parrot. I have a photo of me and the band taken by Beth Orton somewhere (I still can’t believe that I had the cheek to ask Beth Orton to take a photo of us all!).
Cause you are gonna: William Shatner – You’ll Have Time
William Shatner released an amazing album titled Has Been back in 2004.
It was produced and arranged by Ben Folds with most of the tracks written by Folds and Shatner. It’s an album that shouldn’t work, but it just does.
Shatner’s over the top delivery is just perfect and a lot of the songs are really heartbreaking. One song is about finding his wife drowned in the pool and another is about trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
They get me every time.
But today I want you to hear this track from Bill. People either love it or hate it. I suppose we don’t like being told we are going to die. I would also often clear people from the CD store I managed with this track… Ahh, the looks the locals in Merivale gave me. Priceless.
Bad dreams in the night: Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
With the arrival of my daughter, Alba, I wanted to make sure I play more music made by strong females. I do tend to be male-centric with my listening. Not entirely sure why. I suppose it’s who I relate to with the lyrics and singing style. But Kate Bush is here, for all her uniqueness. She played the music game her way and got away with it.
Her first ever released single was Wuthering Heights which to this day is still her most famous track. She wrote the song after catching the ending of the 1967 BBC adaptation of the 1847 novel. She was only 18 at the time and recorded the vocals in one take. Only toured twice 1979 and 2014 and sporadically puts albums out when she feels they are ready.
I could easily select any of Kate’s work, but will just stick with her first offering.
It’s not always music…
More often than not, I work alone and sometimes you just get sick of tunes and music and need a break from everything. The following are my go-to for a ‘no music playlist’:
Casablanca – Full soundtrack with film bites
Max Richter – 8 Hours Sleep Score
Steve Roach – Structures From Silence
This 29min ambient track is just sublime. It’s like a direct shot straight to the brain of pure “weightlessness”. I often fall asleep to this track.
And finally some audio books:
The two Alan Partridge books read by Alan Partridge, I, Partridge and Nomad are hilarious.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman is not only one of the greatest stories EVER, but now it has also been made into an audio book with a star-studded cast. Listen to it, before the Netflix show begins next year…