Excerpt from: The Grand Domestic Revolution Goes On, Casco 2010
Excerpt from: The Practice of Everyday Life, Making Do: Uses & Tactics, Michel de Certeau, 1984
Interview with Fele Borbone by Manuel Eiris, 2010
Interview between Manuel Eiris and Fele Borbone:
M. As a short of an introduction I have to say you, I consider your work an example of ways of making and building, got from this mercantile society off. In contrast to other proposals in the same line, let´s say “Eskorbuto” or “Alvarez Rabo”: you don´t try to make politics with it, or to adopt a position against something or somebody, but to just make, create things. And because of this action, as left-overs perhaps, it show these mercantile-society craks up. What can you say me about this?
F. Thanks for your insights, I consider very successful, although not usually think much about them. I began to transform and build things when I was a child, when was not necessary a specific reason to do the things. if not to lack a specific reason to do things. Apparently I have not grown up so much in that aspect. Perhaps, If I had studied and had a job related to them I would have to give them a different approach.
M. “Yeah, an approach directed toward others requirements. The same thing happened you with the Rock and Roll. I would mean: Have you learn music the same way? Testing and playing from the here and now, with no time wastings, with what is available in both material as well as the skills that one has. I say this because in the documentary you said that in the beginning Borbones “you tried to do rock and roll although not always you got it”.
F. I never learn music seriously, except the flute lections at primary school. To play and to compose I always did it by ear, as the main part of rock musicians. What does not fit with the “authentic rock and roll” is the sound, it could look industrial or experimental, but the lives were with any doubt very rock and rollers.
M. For what I know about Ulan Bator Trio cover designs: the 7 inches Caga´Traga and the Lp Vinilísimo, besides the Cagarruta Sónica. You work also visual stuff. I guess so, but do you have made more visual stuff?
F. I like drawing, comics above all, but I do not have time to work so much on it. I like taking photos as well, and to mount video-clips of my own music, wildly and at full speed, of course. But, besides that, I also have made some posters and tattoos.
M. What is your visual art background?
F. In the eighties I learned art and crafts, three years, I guess. I spent a lot of money in spray cans, comic weaves, transfers, rottrings, papers and all that kind of stuff used in the past in graphic design. Then, the computers came in, and at that moment a Macintosh was so expensive than a car. Besides that, at that moment, to design with a computer sounded really weird, something as if you have to learn mathematics. I quit the studies and I left my home.
M. And specifically with edition? Apart from the three magazines (because they are three, isn´t it?) Rock and Roll por el puto morro. Have you made more things?
F. They are three in spanish and one in english. At the time I started with Ulan Bator Trio, was very usual to see people coming to me to ask me things about guitars working. Because they were surprised that the guitars worked without taps, and making sparks. I was finding myself in the situation of making drawings and explaining the system, thing that when you are drunk is not easy at all. Because of that, I started coming to the concerts with the drawings already done it, with its respectively written explanations at the bottom. That´s “Rock and Roll por el puto morro” beginnings.
M. And with lyrics? You wrote all lyrics from Ulan Bator Trio till today (with the exception of the cover California Uber Alles). Isn´t it?
F. Well, with Ulan Bator Trio everybody made everything, the lyrics came up from everybody ideas. At the end I had to make them rhyme (or not), because I was the one who sang them. Now I am alone so that is hardest now.
M. You have edited at Alehop! the 7 “La alegría de cantar”. Does the title has to be with Matisse, with the “enjoy the life”? By the ¨way, is it the 7 ¨over now, or is still possible to buy it now?
F. I composed La alegría de cantar for the Eurovision fest, I thought that that song fit well for that intention. At last only 300 copies were made, and they all disappeared in two months.
M. Do you recorded more stuff besides that 7¨?
F. People requested me to recorded more, but I programed to stop playing with the Mierdofón, to do other things. But at last, I got myself playing it again for one reason or another: it is like the cigarettes. I don´t think to record more things (well, let´s see).
M. Could you tell us things about the recording process? You don´t make yourself the recording instruments, isn´t it? If that is true, Fela Borbone could be something more related to lives concerts, am I right?
F. I have the honour to record in Circo Perrotti (Gijón, Spain), one of the best studios in Europe with vintage equipment. With Jorge Explosión and Mike Mariconda as producers. We were knew each us from before, and was very funny… we ate, drank, and laughed a lot. They did a good work.
There is much difference in hearing a record and to seeing a live concert, and in my case there is a lot. To see a concert is much more stimulating, but a record can always be play when you want. They are different things, each one with its advantages and its problems.
M. Where and how do you record (Borbones, Ulan Bator….)?
F. The decision of recording with analogic equipment is not trivial. If to do it with computers would mean the sound would be the same, then that would be great, because that would simplify so much the process. We already recorded in good digital studios helped by expert technicians, and the difference is very wide. It seems grotesque to hear that by the one whom his musical instruments sound like a fart. The first Ep was recorded by Tele (drummer from Triana) in a tape recorder, and no other record from Ulan Bator have sounded the same, not by far. Digital sound is hollow, no matter how much you pressure it and add it reverb. We always have recorded in vinyl record, and I with the Mierdofón as well. If someone would like a CD s/he can always downloaded from internet.
M. Is there stuff edited of Borbones? And of Royal Canin? (I guess not…)
F. As Royal Canin there is a song in a gather together record of Fan Comic (Malvarrosa Beach), and as Borbones in “La Cagarruta Sónica” (La China). I don´t remember the year, I´m sorry.
M. And now, you only play alone, or do you meet the old members of Borbones each us to play again?
F. Since we left to play officially, we only gathered again in a very few moments, we will wait to be older to come back again.
M. How many different models of Mierdofon do you made it? Could you introduce us shortly the specifics of each one?
F. There were three models, two of them have survived, because from the first one left-overs I made the second one.
The first one was very heavy, very difficult to fold it and to travel with it. It played the drums with a combination of an engine (loaded by a spring) and an electromagnet (who released it). It was more than anything an experiment.
The second one I precisely worn them in Utrecht (at the Feest ad Werf festival), when I was working together with the theater Dutch group: Odd Enjinears. It was necessary to be able to send by plane, and for that reason to be lighter. The drumsticks were action by electromagnets.
The third one is the lightest, and also the ugliest, it has less little electric lights than the others, but is the most portable, reliable, and easy to fold it up. It uses hard disc heads to play the drums, it is less stronger, but this is not a problem at all, because it has phonocaptor electric-pieces, and they all are auto-amplified.
M. How do you manage to check in at the airport the Mierdofón? Isn´t it very expensive? Ins´t it very fragile?
F. I made the Mierdofón suitcase with aluminium and foam. Very light, but from travelling it so much, now it starts to seem a meet-ball. With the thing in it weights about 22 Kg, and from more than 20 you need to pay the excess in the main pair of the air companies, from what was necessary to bring as hand-luggage the less suspicious pieces (the Amstrad, the screen…).
The suitcase of the third one it is made of plastic and foam. It weights only about 17 Kg, thus I can also put in spare underpants when I have a tour. Both resist well the travels, although the Mierdofon have gave me some frights, I never have to cancelled because of breakdown.
M. Were was the most bizarre place where you have played?
F. I remember with special affection the patron´s saint day festivity of Matadelón de los Oteros, León (Matadelón of the hillocks, sounds like a very little village somewhere else lost in the spanish geography ( translator´s quote)). The people of that village were so nice. There were concerts all night long, but to me they had booked the “parade”. About 6 in the morning, when everybody were really drunk, they held me up on a scaffold with wheels, provided with a sound equipment and a gasoline generator, and they passed me for all the village, the ones from the back pushing to the scaffold up, and the people from the top pulling to it. About an hour and a half that the act lasted, I couldn´t stop to play, despite I only had a 45 min repertoire. Before me, a tractor was pulling a scrapping-car painted like a police car, who all that village lads with sticks and clubs destroyed it, among danzings and euphoria shouts. Everybody enjoyed a lot there, and nobody recorded in video!
M. And now the unavoidable question: What reason moved you to apply to that Eurovision Fest? By the way, I don´t voted you. The time expired when I was realized.
F. Also I don´t voted me myself, the system where the elections took place was aberrant. It was really clear that with no publicity you don´t had a chance. But, anyway, was a good reason to compose a song and to promoting you a few.
M. In which manners and ways do you think your work is related to the idea o ruin?
F. In the economic way it is really related. In other aspects I don´t search for it and also I don´t try to avoid it.
M. Do you think in yourself as an artist or a craftsman? Or any other thing?
F. With any doubts, a craftsman. I was thinking long time, how to define me myself briefly, when I made my presentation cards. Finally I gave me myself the degree of Electronics-craftsman. By the way, I need to remember to go some day to take them it from the printer.
M. In the spanish translation of the savage thinking from Levi-Strauss, Francisco González Aramburu define bricoleur as that who operates with no previous plan, and with manners and tools apart from the normal technological uses. S/he does not work with raw materials, but with already produced ones. With odds and ends, and other works fragments. Do you find yourself closely to that?
F. In a way, yes. Previous plan I use to have it, although at the end the result can change. Some of my working ways are more normal and others more bizarres. The cavemen and the people who live as savages, they have to get themselves out with branches and animal bits to make their objects. They don´t have the fantastic raw materials as we do, thaks to the industrial society left-overs.
M. Is nowadays more difficult to find leftovers? I say that because some years ago, there used to be in the cities electronic repairing stores, where you can go in and asking for pieces that they don´t needed. Nowadays we scarcely repair something and all that repairing ateliers have disappeared. Everything goes to the garbage,. Garbage that is kept, selected and recycled with in rigid rules. Let´s mean: nowadays if you go to the junkyard, asking for TV tubes and valves, or wash machine-engines, probably they don´t you let you in, because they are not allowed to let the people without authorization come in. Or in contrast, nowadays or is more easy because there are more gadgets. Do you use Ebay?
F. In Valencia we can find good junks in the streets it is not necessary to go to the eco-park. Anyway, in some village they have them opened, and you can come on in. Also I go in saying that I go to leave some junk, and once inside, I take what I want. They don´t use to like if I come inside the containers to look, because you can fall down there and you can hurt you. You need to be smart, and doing it when nobody see you. If they see you, you excuse yourself and that´s all. I bought sometime at ebay things that by any other way could be founded. But I prefer thousand times more the Valencia´s old second hand market, and it is one of the reasons for what I live here.
M. From the mid nineties it is being spoken about the interactivity in art and politics as a defused sources. We have chance to express our opinions, we have some access to the messenger, and we can respond him/er. But our responds constantly are a wasting time, as if they were falling in an abyss (internet, as for instance). Or even the messenger learnt how to change our responds
senses and meanings in his/er own benefit, even making it them a new weapon for promoting him/herself. As for instance the Raza Zara (HM, Zara…) sang by the group Bananas. New consumers, alienated with punk and post-situationist slogans in their Zara, HM´s, etc. T´shirts, palestine´s scarfs shold it out in that stores… Where are we going out! How much powerlessness! Perhaps, less humble and pretentious proposals as you and the Mierdofón, Borbones and Ulan Bator Trío, at the end are more damage to the system than all that anti-global movements, and so on. Little actions as: I will not go to buy an electric guitar, because I can make it by my own: so fuck’em Fender up. Do you think in the primitivism as a rebellion act, although your intention is not making politics with it?
F. All that is done it could be understood as an artistic act, and also a politic act. To try to change the system could be great, but I don´t know how to do it, in a responsible manner. I don´t think that Fender gonna break for my reason (also, I wish they will not break). The reason is more that I like to make my musical instruments, like I like to cook my own food, although could be more easy to open a can.
M. What artists, in the most wider sense of the meaning, do you consider have influenced you, and why?
F. The first ones, The Cramps, not only for their music, also for they way of understanding the life. They were the firsts who shocked up me. Although they were not the only ones, they were enough famous to know about them.
M. “Yes, I totally agree that the Cramps were not only music, also I would like to add that they were more than a cheap, kitsch, recent US history amalgam.
I see two connections to your work. One because they, like the primitives worked collecting material: titles as the creature of the black (leather) lagoon (exactly the same title as the famous low budget movie of the fifties, but with the leather in the middle of it; Bikini girl falling down the stairs (the same operation, this time aimed to the well-known painting of Duchamp), songs about a garbage-man, Lux as a modern Frankenstein in stilettos and black vinyl slips…); we can not ever finish to find evidences for what the Cramps worked from the left-overs of a certain reality, to built their own world up.
But they always did, (and that, in my humble opinion, apart them up from many nostalgic projects: certain garage, rockabilly and punk bands that doesn´t want to bring something new up. And put them more closely to projects like yours). In function of priority, urgent, impatient, primary, and primitive motives (there and not in making covers of Jimmie Rodgers we can use with property the term “primitive”): developing a project that for you is vital, urgent and necessary. Is therefore a survival matter, as search for refuge, hunt, fuck, or making tools. If it is not a survival matter, we are talking about a Zara or H&M primitivism, a “made in China” primitivism, a fake: however much you try to cover Hasil Adkins or The Sonics. It is very obvious that Cramps created because they really needed it, and there is were I find the second point of confluence (and rather more essential that the first one) between you and Cramps. I think that your work like Cramps work are both a survival matter. If you think that you work for survive: Could you point us how, and which tactics do you use in that way? If you understand that what I have said is totally wrong and opposite of your really intentions, why and how?
F. Because I need to work in other things to earn some money to live, sometimes I could not work in my things, in that moments I feel myself angry. And when a girl ask me to decide “between my stuffs or her”, I pointed her kindly the way of where door is. Maybe I have a behaviour disorder. If someone show me something better, maybe I could change. What I do is not more or worst that what others do.