You have a band with Marvin Ayres called MASK?
The new MASK cd is called Technopia. It will be released later
in the year on Mandalic Records after Marvin has spent time
promoting his latest recording Eccentric Deliquescence which is
also a Mandalic Records release. (
As part of the promotion for MASK I am also playing some
concerts with Curved Air in the summer, to celebrate that band’s
legend and legacy and bring the focus of old and new Curved Air
audiences to my current creative and exciting project.
The plan in the build up to the release is to release individual
MASK tracks as singles throughout the year and perform small
concerts around the Curved Air tour in the summer and then
perform nationally when we release Technopia in
Any concept behind the album - any message you are trying to
Collectively the songs and instrumentals are darkly fatalistic
reflections on romance and existentialism.
How did you meet Marvin - how was the first Mask album
received by fans and music press.
Marvin and I met once briefly when as a young teenager he came
with a friend to Advision Studios where Curved Air were
recording Aircut. He reminded me of this event when we met again
I did not
know his name but his friend Hazel was a fan of the band over
many years. She wore her hair like Ziggy Stardust and I think
they were both about fourteen then.
later I was intrigued by an installation at the ICA with
gorgeous warm vibrational music by Marvin Ayres. He had already
achieved recognition for his unique compositional style and
released a CD Cellosphere on the prestigious Mille Plateaux
discovered he is an excellent cellist, violinist and keyboard
player and composes music by recording these instruments and
then adding subtle harmonic frequencies and spatial manipulation
(psycho acoustics) to create ethereal and emotive melodies and
I asked Marvin if he would create an interesting sonic backdrop
for some jazz tracks I was recording. He was enthused by the
project and we co-produced Cri de Coeur as an ambient Jazz
album. I was inspired by Marvin and his abundant creativity and
we both enjoyed our contact and collaboration.
Marvin wanted us to continue recording together so we commenced
devising the pieces that became the first Mask album 'Heavy
Petal, the Tenebrous Odyssey of Jack and Virginia '.
This album was very well received, as were our concerts. We
played Festivals and ambient/electronica clubs through summer
and autumn 2005.
We were excited to get very positive reviews:
Any plans to tour the album once released?
Yes we are setting up ambitious performance multimedia events as
well as talking to curators of galleries to set up installations
with our music and the work of filmmakers and artists.
When Curved Air was first formed the band received
considerable backing from WB , which resulted in a very
elaborate LP (graphics printed on the vinyl). How did the band
get such a large budget for a debut release? How was the band
and LP received by the press.
When I joined Curved Air in January 1970 they had a strong set
of unfinished songs, which they asked me to contribute lyrics
for. We rehearsed intensively in the bass player Rob Martin’s
family home in Gloucestershire before nine months of intensive
touring through the UK, Germany and Holland in a 22 seater coach
in which we travelled with our equipment and slept on the floor
or in local communes.
The music was dramatic and the band were young virtuoso players
and showmen. Darryl was a fiery exciting violinist pushing the
parameters of what sounds could be achieved from an electric
violin, and Francis Monkman was a brilliant keyboard player and
guitarist who also created extraordinary sounds from the new
synthesisers . Florian Pilkington Miksa had a very individual
approach to rock drumming and I was the only female rock singer
fronting a progressive art-rock band.
Audiences were very enthusiastic and gave us standing ovations.
The press perceived that we were creating waves and followed our
progress and before long we were on the front pages of the music
Our publishing company formed a production company with our
manager and put us in the enormous Island studio in Basing
street where we recorded Air Conditioning.
Several major Record Companies were keen to sign us and the
bidding began. After a sellout concert at the Legendary
Roundhouse in Chalk Farm London we were signed for £99000 for a
five-album deal with Warner Brothers. This was a huge amount of
money at the time.
have a favorite Curved Air album and why?
My Favourites are Air Conditioning and Aircut. These were both
first albums by the players involved and there was a freshness
and excitement about them as can only happen when a project is
very new and innovative.
The band had a revolving door of musicians throughout its life -
tell us a bit about Darryl Way, Eddie Jobson and Stewart
Darryl is a brilliant violinist, composer and arranger. Since
Curved Air he has written, recorded and performed Operas, Rock
Albums and Classical Albums and orchestrated for other Artists.
We have worked together several times over the decades.
1974-1976 we toured as Curved Air and recorded two further
albums Midnight Wire and Airborne.
In 1984 we recorded a few tracks together, some released as
Curved Air 84 and others, including a great version of Carl
Orff's Carmina Burana released on a single with a version of the
classic song Walk on By produced by William Orbit.
Eddie Jobson was only 17 when he was invited to join the new
line-up of Curved Air that were to record the Aircut Album in
1973. He replaced both Darryl on violin and Francis on
keyboards. After writing the Metamorphosis opus and proving to
be a notable talent he was soon very much in demand, working
with a series of luminaries including Roxy Music (taking over
from Brian Eno) and Frank Zappa.
Drummer Stewart Copeland was fresh from Berkley university in
when his brother Miles brought him over to the UK to play in a
band with Darryl, who Miles was managing.
became Curved Air when I joined after the re-union tour in 1974.
Stewart was tour manger for the Curved Air reunion and we became
inseparable after our eyes met across the rehearsal room when
Curved Air were preparing for their tour.
Copeland brother Ian, lived downstairs from where I was staying
in Hampstead and before long Stewart and I moved into the flat
with him. Stewart and I spent 16 years together. He formed The
Police with Sting and Andy Summers and achieved superstardom. I
then became a Rock Wife and Polo Widow and had two sons before
resuming my career and separating from Stewart
In the '90s you released two solo CDs - can you discuss them.
In 1989 I went out exploring the clubs and musical nightlife in
London. I was writing new songs and looking for places to play
and musicians to work with. I wanted to start with voice and
guitar as I had when I had started playing in the folk clubs as
excited to find a fertile environment in The Troubadour club in
Earl’s Court where I had played when I first came to London.
Here there were interesting singer songwriters and
instrumentalists and I visited and played floorspots and made
curator of this scene was Roddie Harris whose band Miro played
every week there amongst the cream of the acts that arrived to
perform. Roddie invited me to play a concert there and he and
Julia Palmer, the Cellist in Miro were amongst the musicians who
played with me that night.
I also found support and friendship in the psychedelic clubs
that housed stages for quirky and colourful bands. I invited
exciting players to join my acoustic band of gypsies and we
toured the UK for the next five years with great success. We
played folk clubs and small rooms often without any
amplification which was a new experience for many audiences.
bars and festivals we went to the opposite extreme, playing wild
psychedelic electronic rock versions of our songs.
encouraged an improvisatory approach to performance and those
five years encompassed very happy and successful bohemian
adventures, travelling in our customised Renault traffic tour
bus and staying with new friends all around the U.K. We recorded
two albums ‘Songs from the Acid Folk’ and ‘Harmonics of Love’.
of the bands reflected the players involved. The line-up evolved
from the dynamic acoustic nucleus of brothers ‘Ty-lor’ and
friends to ‘Cloud Ten’ with the addition of the keyboards and
over-toning of the cosmic Robert Norton and ex Ozric Tentacles
percussionist Paul Hankin .
throughout was the fiery elemental violin of Paul Sax and
16-year-old cellist Ali McKenzie took over from Julia Palmer to
develop the interweaving cello on ‘Songs from the Acid Folk’.
Any plans on a Curved Air reunion of sorts?
Yes, Curved Air are re-uniting for a limited number of
international concerts. As I write, original members Darryl Way,
Florian Pilkington Miksa and myself are preparing to play our
first dates in June.
We will be joined by excellent guest players Andy Christie on
guitar and Chris Harris on bass. An album has been recorded
‘Reborn – Classic Curved Air revisited’ with new versions of
some of our most popular songs plus two new Darryl Way
compositions all produced with a full dramatic symphonic/rock
sound by Darryl.
Elfin Boy from the Aircut Album and my teenage composition
‘Melinda More or Less’ from Phantasmagoria have been revisited
here with production and arrangement by Marvin Ayres, who also
plays cello, violin and other parts to provide a gorgeous
environment for my vocal and guitar on these two songs.
This album will only be available directly from CurvedAir.com
and will be available from June 7th.
All concert dates will be advertised on CurvedAir.com and links
for our mailing lists for Mask, Curved Air and Sonja Kristina
news are there also.
Curved Air are supported by another online marketing tool “The
download tracks can be purchased from here and anyone can profit
by opening their own Bizmo store and selling Curved Air and
other music from their sites.
Curved Air play UK dates this summer:
Sat Jun 7th 7:30pm
Marlborough Village Hall, Marlborough,
Kingsbridge, DEVON, TQ7 3RL, UK
Wed 11 June 2008
8:30pm Concorde 2, Brighton, UK
Fri 13 June 2008
8.00pm Isle of Wight Festival
Newport, UK -- Sold Out
Sat 23 Aug 2008
8.00pm Rock and Roots Festival
Fri 31st October 2008 Milton Keynes - Stables
Interview © May
2008 Billy James
|Print this page in printer-friendly format
|Tell a friend about this page