Androids of Mu

As the people from No Class landed in Shepherds Bush, London W12, the keys to the flat were thrown out of the window to us, ready to let an interview with Bess and Corrina from the Androids of Mu take place, which went like this:

NC: Why was the LP called Blood Robots?
C: By calling it Blood Robots we threw more light on what our name is about. I don’t wanna be too precise about that, because I wanna leave a bit more to the imagination. A lot of our stuff at the same time was about everyday people and situations, but through our minds, from a completely different point of view.
NC: So are your songs protest songs?
B: Yes, most of them.
C: We would like to change things if we could. Generally we are supporting change, of attitudes and for the better. But on the other hand, sometimes what we do is just observation. It’s more like making people think, rather than opinionating and asking for people to accept our opinions.
NC: So you do benefit gigs?
C: Yeah, loads, cos we’re not playing for money. We aren’t making any money and even when we play ordinary commercial gigs we only get our expenses and when we play benefits we get our expenses, so from that point of view it’s not much different. It’s better that we’re actually supporting something that is worthwhile if we play a benefit, so we do.
NC: Did you lose money on the free tours?
C: Yes we did, because it cost us a lot to set it up in the first place, like posters and getting a vehicle in condition, so that we could do it. Our actual expenses on the road had been met but not the expenses that it cost us to prepare the whole thing. Everyone involved lost about £70. If you put all that together, there was three bands, it cost a lot of money.
B:Doing about two tours, free tours, made us realise that we didn’t wanna do it again cos…
C: We can’t do it, we can’t afford to.
B: As well as that, we realise that people want to pay. I really think so. They wanna pay to get in and enjoy themselves.
C: It was all part of an attempt to change existing attitudes, in the sense that if a person comes into a venue and they pay because they realise that by paying they support the whole idea, and at the same time they give opportunity to people who have got nothing to come in, That’s good but it just doesn’t work like that, because people’s attitudes were that if it’s free it’s not worth anything.
B: But another idea why we started doing free tours was because we thought music is something so nice there shouldn’t be a packaged price on it. You get gigs at Rainbow, £3 or whatever, depends on the seats if you’re at the front or the back, but we thought music should be left to people: what they think it’s worth.  Some people at the time thought it was 10p, others 50p. I think that’s great because people paid money what they think; they don’t feel ripped off.
NC: I think it’s a good idea.
B: But it doesn’t work that way. There’s not many people thinking that. Maybe more down in London, they’re more open minded about things, but in North of England… It’s being conditioned, isn’t it? Most young people they work 9 till 5 and they go out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. And if they pay money to get into a gig they enjoy themselves. It’s like a routine.
NC: Didn’t you get people going along to try it out, because it was free?
B: Yeah, half of it was like that, they were really supporting us, but not other half.
C: Another thing was that usually they spent all their money on drinks, so that even if they wanted to give, they didn’t have any money left.
B: No, but we sussed that out didn’t we? We were doing a gig with three bands. By the time the second band came on we would go round with the hat and collect money.
NC: Could you tell us how Girlfriend Records came about?
C: It just sprung out of the fact that I’m a sound engineer and I’ve been working at Street Level studios. All the time I’ve been working in there there’s been about one percent of the people that come to the studio were women. Because of that I knew a lot of female musicians. They used to say we really wanna come into record something but we can’t afford to or we don’t know where to start or …. things like that. I realised that there was a need to do something and I was just in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t that we decided it was gonna be Girlfriend Records, it just came out of the events leading up to it that I started recording all these women bands and it grew into an LP (Making Waves various artists compilation). Everyone thought it was a good idea that it came out on an independent label and we thought ‘Why not start a label?’ but in a way it’s a separate thing from the Androids, although the rest of the Androids had helped out on Girlfriend Records and supported it.
B: It involved all twelve bands, they all helped out in some way. It’s very difficult to be a record company by yourself.
C: I found out through doing that LP that I like producing. It just ended up with myself and another lady called Druscilla, from one of the other bands, taking the responsibility for keeping the thing going, and we decided that we’ll do more records. We’re in the middle of recording a single with The Gymslips, and there’ll be follow up, possibly Androids, and other people as well.
NC: Who did the artwork for the Making Waves LP?
C: It was done by two people. The front side was done by a lady called Domino, and the other side was done by an art student called Heidi. It was done more or less simultaneously.
NC: And what about Blood Robots?
C: Suzy who was with us at the time, she found this poster…
B: There was a big gallery, posters and poetry done by women. We saw this painting on a wall and she said that could be the cover, and we all went Wow! What a good idea. We did a coloured printing, but the colours didn’t come out right. It was too much contrast, black and brown.
NC: Is it the original that was used, the one in the gallery?
B: Yes, the woman who done that (Monica Sjoo), we wrote to her. We haven’t met her. She said of course you can use it.
NC: Can you tell us about your deal with Crass?
B: Two years ago, when they wanted to do a single with us, they didn’t want our drummer to play on it cos she was playing out of time. They wanted their own drummer, and we all thought it would sound like Crass again, so we refused it straight away.
C: Actually, they left the offer open, so we can do a single with Crass whenever we want to.
NC: Do you still have an involvement with them?
C: Well, the thing is we don’t wanna be produced by Crass, because of the sound.
NC: Won’t they let you produce yourselves?
C: If they did then we’d do it, but even then I don’t think there’s any point in us being on the Crass label because we got our own label.
NC: Being on the Crass label would mean you sell loads of copies, to their fans.
C: Yeah, and it’s not quite right, is it?
NC: You mean that people buy the stuff just for the name?
C: Yeah.
B: We all support Crass, what they are doing, it’s just that we’re not the right sort of band to do a single with Crass. As well as that, we’ve got our own label , so why not do it on our own label, rather than do it with Crass?
NC: What class background is the band from?
C: You can’t really tell because we’re not English, so we come from a totally different thing. Everyone of us is a different nationality. The class structure from societies is totally different.
B: No, no, I think we are working class, because it doesn’t matter what we come from.
C: I don’t know, Bess. I come from communist country. It’s a classless society. We can’t say what class. I was born into communism.
B: That’s really a difficult question to answer. We don’t want to put people into classes.
NC: No class! What are your opinions on fanzines?
C: We love fanzines! I think it’s a really good idea because when you read a normal magazine you just get the editor, the writers and their normal correspondents writing in, you keep getting the same kind of opinions because they come from the same kind of people The other good thing about fanzines is a lot of the stuff you read in them is written by ordinary people, so it’s more of a forum for exchanging ideas. Sometimes you get interesting information as well and sometimes the poetry in fanzines is really good. I really get off on it.
I think that the most important thing about the Androids is that we wanna break down barriers, particularly between nationalities andf this sort of tribalism that really separates young people. We wanna get at more of the things that we all share rather than the differences. We wanna accent the things we all share and the grounds upon which people can relate, rather than reinforce the differences, and the separatism. I feel it’s one of the most political things that this band is putting out. That is our main point.
NC: How did the gigs with Poison Girls go regarding breaking down barriers?
C: Great. It really was good cos in the beginning we used to feel a bit alioen cos walking into the gig there was all the punks with mohican hair and everything. ‘Are they gonna relate to us?’ or ‘How can we possibly talk to them?’ and at the end of the gig we’re talking to all these people and they’re talking to us and we’re feeling much more a part of that scene than we would’ve done when we just walked in. It’s like that every time.
B: It seemed that when they came and talked to us they said they really liked our music and they meant it, cos we were something different. The same applies with heavy metal freaks, the same applies with a lot of people.
NC: Is Subtitles, on Blood Robots, in French?
B: Yes, that is actually stereo. One side is French, other side is English. It’s not very well mixed so you hear the French side more than the English.
C: Suzy wanted the French side louder because it’s such a personal song. The actual lyrics are very personal to her I think cos it’s reflecting a time in her life when she was feeling really, really depressed, and I think she was slightly self conscious about it being in English.
NC: She’s French, I take it.
C: She’s English.
NC: But why did she choose French?
C: Cos she speaks very good French.
B: No, that wasn’t a very good reason.
C: What’s the difference? She’s not here, she can’t say.
B: She thought it was interesting because the whole album was English so she thought might as well do one in French, and if people don’t understand it they can listen from the other side, cos it’s stereo, one side is French, other side is English.
C: But I wanted the English version up in the mix cos it’s so much better. She talks in this really deep voice.
NC: The track after that, Jean Dreams, what’s that all about?
C: That is about the lady who did our logo. Her name is Jean. It just came out of a fairly silly, girlie conversation.
B: We almost got that song together while we were in the studio, because we didn’t have enough songs for the album. That was done about three years ago, at the very beginning of Androids. It was a good experience but if we ever do anything again, I’d really like the Androids to produce it.
NC: Is there another LP on the way?
C: Well, we’re hoping to, yes.
NC: With yourselves producing it, so it’ll be a lot different to the first one?
C: Definitely. The thing is we’ve got more going for us than most bands because the fact that I’m a sound engineer, you’re half way there, cos even the producers rely on a sound engineers. Very often they work in a team. The actual sounds are got by the engineer, so I think we could really turn out something good. The band could put their ideas in and I could probably engineer quite a lot of it, when they want a particular sound. I think we could turn out a really good LP by ourselves, probably a lot better than somebody coming in from outside trying to interpret what we are. We only need someone from the outside to do the vocals.
NC: Were you against Kif Kif producing the first album?
C: Well, it was at the beginning of the studio and I think it was an experiment for Kif Kif and for us. Kif Kif’s got much better since.
B: But I think at the time Kif Kif was into really bad music, he didn’t like music played tight.
NC: Do you like your gigs to be organised?
C: Yes, because then a lot more people come. If we do a gig and it’s not advertised, no one comes except our personal friends. When there’s posters up anfd it goes in the gig guides then people come. It’s much nicer when there’s quite a few people, you get a much better vibe than if just a few people arrive.
(Talking about heavy metal)
NC: Aren’t Rock Goddess, included on the Making Waves LP, a heavy metal band?
B: Yeah, they came on tour with us.
C: I like some heavy metal music. At the time I liked them: I thought they were good. I like that song (Make My Night), I chose that song from other songs, they were pretty similar but … (laughter). I really enjoyed mixing that cos obviously they weren’t playing too loud and you don’t get the same sort of thing in the studio as you do live. Live they are extremely loud, but in the studio you can control the situation. What I don’t like about heavy metal is the posing.
NC: Would you like to do a gig with fancy lights, dry ice, the works?
C: Fancy lights, not dry ice.
B: Well, it depends on what we’re gonna do. If we had a song that dry ice will fit in it, we wouldn’t mind doing it, but if you’re singing a song about, say a love song… If it suits the song it’s all right.
C: I like lights. Sometimes we do some gigs with lights cos the guy who does our sound, Judge, he’s got a lighting rig.
NC: Are your audiences mixed?
C: Very.
NC: More female than male?
C: No, about thirty per cent female, which I think is more than most bands get, cos they usually get largely male audiences. Usually we get quite a few punks, a bit of everything really.
NC: Have you done any women only gigs?
C: A few. We can’t any more cos we’ve got a male drummer.  
B: I really don’t mind at all because once, we started as an all girl band and a lot of people misunderstood us. They said ‘Do you like working with men?’ We said we do because we made this length so far because of our men friends. They helped us out.
NC: Have you ever played abroad?
C: We did a tour in Holland and we may be doing a tour in Turkey.
NC: You’d probably get a really good reaction there.
B: We’re gonna blow their minds. Turkey is about two hundred years back from where we’re at, at the moment. In Turkey they haven’t accepted what women can do. Women are very old fashioned. Get married, have kids, look after the husband. They don’t accept them as artists and creative people. The woman’s place is in the kitchen. It’s one of the reasons I left Turkey. That’s why I’d love to go to Turkey and do a tour and show what we can do.

Blood Robots LP track list (and songwriting credit):

1. Atomic X (Cozmic)
2. Who Cares (Suzy / Corrina / Androids of Mu)
3. Fast Car (Suzy / Birsen)
4. She Is A Boy (Suzy / Corrina)
5. Pretty Nun (Suzy / Corrina / Androids of Mu)
6. Confusion (Cozmic / Birsen / Corrina)
7. Bored Housewives (Corrina)
8. Lost In Space (Corrina)
9. Subtitles (Suzy / Androids of Mu)
10. Jean Dreams (Suzy / Androids of Mu)

Front Cover picture by Monica Sjoo
Photos by Philip Zelazowski and Judge
Cover artwork by Meen
Recorded at Street Level
Produced by the Androids and Kif Kif, with help from Granto.

Many thanks to Alternative Sounds for the use of the following page:

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