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We last heard from Scottish singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Rudi Zygadlo back in 2012, when he wowed us with his second album 'Tragicomedies'. Released through Planet Mu while Zygadlo was living in Berlin, 'Tragicomedies' was an album characterised by instrumental virtuosity, judders of bass, and playful approach to production experimentation. Binding it all together was Zygadlo's voice and, lyrically, a very dry sense of humour.
Earlier this week, Zygadlo returned with Dissident Song, the first of many bits of new music recorded after 'Tragicomedies' that he's releasing online on an ad hoc basis over the coming weeks and months. Some of these songs are collaborations – names like revered producer Tim Goldsworthy have been flung about already, as well as Thomas Gould and Oliver Coats from string group the Aurora Orchestra, and fellow musicians that Zygadlo met while participating in Red Bull Music Academy in New York last year.
To get a bit more scope on the music, his plans for the future, and just what the heck is floating his boat right now, we caught up with Rudi over email.
Hello, Rudi! When we spoke to you in 2012, you were living in Berlin – but I notice that your Twitter says that you're now in London. Why the move?
Rudi Zygadlo: "That's right, yeah. I had lots of reasons for moving to London – none of which are novel, nor particularly interesting. I love Berlin though, and would consider returning."
So, tell us about this new series. How many songs? When were they recorded? Will they all have lovely videos like with Dissident Song? Spill the beans!
Rudi Zygadlo: "No fixed number. The next one is right around the corner. All of the ensuing tracks are either very recent or still under construction. They are all very different too! Videos in the pipeline, yes."
It's all self-released, too. Is it just to get new music out there quickly, or are you rallying against the Album As Grand Artistic Statement?
Rudi Zygadlo: "I love albums. They are best… But I suppose, for the moment, I'd like to get rid of as much obstructive mediation as possible; get music out of my head and into the forum nice and promptly. I'm no tactician. I don't know the best way to go about these things, but it's invigorating to try something that I'm not used to, not to feel constrained by tried and testicled methodologies, middlemen, and conventional campaigning. My tastes and writing sensibilities tend to flit around, so it's good to release the beasts before I have a chance to reconsider their artistic value.
"That said, I do have overflowing sacks of albums lying in wait."
"I'd like to get rid of as much obstructive mediation as possible; get music out of my head and into the forum nice and promptly. It's invigorating to try something that I'm not used to, not to feel constrained by tried and testicled methodologies, middlemen, and conventional campaigning." – Rudi Zygadlo
Who are some of the other artists that you worked with for it? I saw Tim Goldsworthy's name mentioned, as well as the Aurora Orchestra…
Rudi Zygadlo: "It's a veritable who's who – you'll have to wait and see. Tim Goldsworthy and Aurora are involved though, and there will be more artwork from Christopher Schulz, New York artist and editor of Pinups magazine. Lovely stuff."
What was the last thing that really impressed you?
Rudi Zygadlo: "The movie The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino. Fabulous. It's a celebration of Rome and a disparagement of Rome (or Romans) in equal measure. The film follows an ex-novelist-journalist and a group of ageing socialites to parties, exhibitions, museums and general hotspots showcasing both the marvellousness of postcard Rome and the director's own surrealistic interpretation of the city. For the most part, it is a sequence of beautiful sets corrupted by vacuous people. The first performance we see is of a naked woman with a hammer and sickle shaved into her pubic hair, running blind-fold and head first into a huge viaduct. The protagonist looks on indifferently."
"The first performance we see is of a naked woman with a hammer and sickle shaved into her pubic hair, running blind-fold and head first into a huge viaduct. The protagonist looks on indifferently." – Rudi Zygadlo
Last one! What hobbies or weird obsessions have you picked up this year?
Rudi Zygadlo: "Well, I started drawing. You can see some of my efforts on my blog. Biro portraits. I was quite pleased with the ones of Joseph Beuys and Bohumil Hrabal. Weird obsessions? Smoking, that's a weird obsession. I picked that back up."