Thursday, September 11, 2014

zoviet*france in san francisco

Interview with Robbie Martin

For the first time in over 13 years, :zoviet*france: will perform in the United States, returning to the same city they played in over a decade ago but in a very different atmosphere. The show will take place in the Brava Theater Center during the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. After an already storied career and a brilliant 2000 release 'The Decriminalization of Country Music', :zoviet*france: wouldn't release another official full length until 2011.  The beautifully packaged 7.10.12 marked a new era. 2012’s full length 'The Tables Are Turning' and continuous leaks of unreleased material on their podcast 'A Duck in a Tree' signaled to myself and other fans that the hiatus has truly ended. Let out of a cry of excitement for what the future of :zoviet*france: holds. Without further ado, here is our interchange:


White Fungus: When is the last time you performed in the United States?

:zoviet*france: Coincidentally, it was in San Francisco, at Neurosis’ ‘Beyond the Pale’ event at the Great American Music Hall, 19 August 2001.


White Fungus: After such a long absence of performing in North America, what made you decide to perform at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival?

:zoviet*france: They invited us. In fact they invited us to play at last year’s festival but it conflicted with other commitments that we already had in place. So we asked them if they would consider us for this year, which, very generously, they did.


White Fungus: You have just scored a feature length film titled 'Savage Land' which recently premiered at the San Diego Comic Con. How did that come about?  

:zoviet*france: One of the three filmmakers behind the production, Simon Herbert, is an old friend of ours from Newcastle and he was very keen to have us involved. We liked the originality of the take that they had on a very crowded genre and their DIY approach. It’s taken three years to get to a point where it can be screened and for much of the that time we had very little visual material to work with. So we were often whistling in the dark in creating the soundtrack but we like dark whistling.


White Fungus: Congratulations on the 100th episode of your regular curated music podcast 'A Duck in a Tree' -- a primarily minimalist/ambient podcast that oftentimes will feature extremely long uninterrupted pieces or unreleased tracks of your own music.

Will this unique podcast continue for the foreseeable future?

:zoviet*france: Yes, it will. The enthusiastic response that we’ve had to it has surprised us and, as long as we continue to find recordings to include, which doesn’t seem to be difficult, then there’s no reason to stop doing it.


White Fungus: Would you ever consider playing a live set on a broadcast of A Duck in a Tree?

:zoviet*france: We have played semi-live for ‘Reuse Aloud’, a special month long event that organised in March last year but it wasn’t part of A Duck in a Tree. Apart from that, though, we have no plans to do an edition of the show as a live broadcast; it wouldn’t feel right, somehow.




White Fungus: You released an album many years ago with a title based on Ronald Reagan's description of state sponsors of 'terror':  "Misfits, Loony Tunes And Squalid Criminals". With the vicious Gaza assault and Ukrainian conflict/infowar in the background has the state of the world and politics become even more bizarre or disturbing to you than it was back then?

:zoviet*france: It’s a difficult thing to judge, partly because the subjective impact of watching some part of the world slip into the hands of psychopaths at any one time is always variable, and partly because, thanks to the internet, we can be better informed than even ten years ago. We’re of the generation that grew up in the middle of the cold war with the threat of global nuclear holocaust being a constant shadow and Apocalypse Now! being played out as a real world event every night on television news. And on top of that, the war between the British government and the IRA, the Falklands war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan… the list goes on.

In the Chicago Tribune’s original news story on Reagan’s comment, they wrote, “In a speech to the American Bar Association, Reagan said […] “And we are especially not going to tolerate these attacks from outlaw states run by the strangest collection of misfits, ‘Looney Tunes’ and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich.” […] However, he did not include Syria, whose president, Hafez Assad, was instrumental in the returning of the TWA hostages and who the administration wants help from in the release of seven kidnaped Americans still being held in Lebanon.”

Plus ça change...


White Fungus: What is it like to witness the US and Russia drifting back into a very similar position geopolitically and domestically to the cold war of the Eighties (an era that seems to have had an influence on the early days of :zoviet*france:)?

:zoviet*france: Arguably, the similarity is superficial: the shadow of nuclear war is a lot paler than it was in the Eighties, for example, and, though, from a western perspective, it might not seem quite such a clear cut case at the moment, Russia is not the Soviet Union. The ‘enemy’ is no longer wrapped in opposing ideologies. The hammer and sickle as an icon of evil has been replaced by the star and crescent and the battle for hearts and minds is now a (more open) battle for hydrocarbons and pipelines.




White Fungus: Is there a follow up in the works to the excellent album The Tables are Turning?

:zoviet*france: There’s a new album scheduled for release by alt.vinyl in October, which is a collaboration between Fossil Aerosol Mining Project and ourselves. We’re not saying too much about it at the moment other than, initially, it’ll be a vinyl release and it’s called ‘Patina Pooling’.

:zoviet*france will be performing at the Brava Theater Center on Saturday, September 13th at 8pm for the 15th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. Buy tickets here

Interview conducted by Robbie Martin @FluorescentGrey

Robbie Martin is a long-time :zoviet*france: fan-boy, contributor for, appears on Breaking the Set on RT TV, and founded RecordLabelRecords.


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