Ipso Facto

Questionnaire & Photography: Steve Bateman
UK Tour, June 2008

"Ipso facto |'ipso 'fakto|: adverb by that very fact or act, e.g. the enemy of one's enemy may be ipso facto a friend.”

To see Rosalie Cunningham (voice / guitar), Cherish Kaya (keys / backing vocals), Victoria Smith (drums) and Samantha Valentine (bass / backing vocals), could be likened to viewing a silverscreen vision of monochrome gothic beauty - but this is one London-based collective that's much more than the sum of its parts. As Ipso Facto are an alluring quartet whose Mary Quant looks and demure demeanour, perfectly compliments their mesmerising musical mosaic of '60s psychedelia and vintage garage rock, which frequently oscillates between bewitching and mournful, and is garnished with a potent mix of emphatic, spectral and sultry vocals.

After releasing just one limited edition 7" - the excellent Harmonise / Balderdash (DiscError Recordings) - the band's CV already includes an impressive NME Radar acknowledgement, as well as a Disorder Magazine cover feature! Although their dark and divine songs have long since taken root in music fans' minds in their own right, thanks to the group's MySpace page and a clutch of absorbing live shows, which even saw them supporting the legendary Siouxsie on her 2008 UK Tour! After e-mailing the girls to tell them of my love and admiration for their music, they cordially and collectively filled in an Exclusive R*E*P*E*A*T Q&A, in which a host of topics have been carefully mulled over and addressed.

Not everything in life may be Black & White, but Ipso Facto's "creeping noir pop" is about to change that…


Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1. For people who have an affinity with music and who really understand it, not only can it be a sanctuary for them, but also a way of life! Have you yourselves, always felt so passionately about music?
Samantha: "We've all been passionate about music since as long as we can remember, and we've all been brought up with very different musical backgrounds. Since I was a little girl, I remember singing along to Chuck Berry and Lonnie Donegan. My father brought me up on Rhythm & Blues and I obviously developed my own taste and passion for music as I grew older - going through some dodgy phases - but never the less, music has always been very apparent and very prominent in my life."

2. As a new band, if you could write the perfect headline for an Ipso Facto article, what would it be?

3. Is there anything that you would like your fans to know, which they may not know about you yet?

"We aren't actually as moody as we appear on stage! We're a hoot. Shock horror."

4. To give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes, if you were asked to guest host your own radio show as DJs, which records would you play, and who would you most like to invite into the studio for a live session + interview?
"Sam and Cherish already DJ together - they play Magazine, Can, Kate Bush, Devo, The Stranglers, Mo-dettes, Au Pairs, Ratatat, Acoustic Ladyland, LiLiPUT, early Human League, Cornelius, James Chance, The Fire Engines etc. The list is endless! I'm going through a Beach Boys phase right now, so I'd ask them in to do some cool harmonies with us… no one will ever do harmonies like them! I'd like to interview a lot of people, but most of them you'd have to bring back from the dead."

5. What drives you to make music, and as a group, do you feel any kind of music telepathy between you all?
"I think we all click very well - there's just a very strong bond and it works and gels very nicely, which is important if you want to last. We're constantly finishing each other's sentences and have a lot of in-jokes, ha ha. Some bands form for the wrong reasons and there isn't trust and loyalty there - they're doing it for the 15 minutes of fame and the free stuff. These bands don't last and are completely see-through."

6. Ideally, what is it that you would like people to 'get' from your songs, either when they listen to them on record or when played live?

"The beauty of songs is the way someone interprets them. Ambiguity is a big part of our sound - it's what you make of it! One audience member can get a totally different experience and understanding of our sound and that's fine."

7. Would you say that you could have existed in any musical decade?
"I guess we couldn't, as there are technical things we do and instruments we use to record that weren't around a while ago. A sound is dictated by a lot of things, it's not just WHAT you play, it's how you got to that point and the contributing factors used to get to that point are endless. For example, it's available technology, politics, thoughts and views, fashion, current affairs etc. The music we are making does have a retro sound, but with a modern twist and a modern mind."

8. What's the story behind your name Ipso Facto?

"Samantha was watching Coronation Street and one of her favourite characters said it and the penny dropped, ha ha! Her sexy lecturer always used to say it in lectures too."

9. Q Magazine recently celebrated 'Women In Music', as they feel "The musical landscape is now being shaped to a large degree by female artists." Would you agree with this?
"Women have been making music for such a long time and it amazes us that people are still surprised by this. We haven't had any problems being all girls. A few female musicians say to us they find it harder because they're girls, whereas we think the opposite, we have found it has made things slightly easier."

10. Do you each have a secret talent?

"Yes, but if we told you they wouldn't be secret!"

11. Most people are aware that financially, it can be a struggle for many musicians, but in Canada - to help encourage the country's artists / bands - the Government set up The Canada Music Fund (CMF) in 2001. Would you like to see a similar scheme run in the UK?
"I'm not sure what this is? I assume it means giving musicians lots of money? YES, THAT WOULD BE AMAZING! But then again, EVERYONE in London is in a band. If we had that scheme in the UK, we'd probably suffer elsewhere, there'd probably be no NHS."

12. A recent report on musical genres, discussed how different parts of the UK like them in different measures - but where have you found audiences to be the most receptive to your music?
"We are generally most liked in our home turf of London. Although we recently played an amazing gig in Amsterdam… they were probably all just really high though!"

13. How did your support slots with Siouxsie come about and was this an enjoyable experience?

"They were some of the best gigs we've played. It's good to play to different audiences and her crowd responded really well to us, so that was a big compliment."

14. Like Siouxsie, you also have an amazing image! What's the most expensive item of clothing that you've ever bought, and if you could collaborate with any fashion label or designer, who would they be?
Samantha: "I work in an expensive underwear shop, so probably something from there, but our actual clothes are all about 50p per item - we find them in junk shops! We are poor. Very poor. I would LOVE to collaborate with Chanel, I think it fits our image quite well, or Karl Lagerfeld would probably go down a treat?"

15. Is there anybody that you would love to have a drink with?

"Do they have to be still alive? If not, I would love to meet Stalin or Hitler and just see what on earth they were thinking. They are two of the most intelligent people to have ever lived, they just used their talent in the wrong way."

16. Do you have any favourite Websites that you would recommend to us, and to date, what's the best YouTube clip that you've seen?
"Allmusic.com is a very good website - it has back catalogues of every band. I saw the FUNNIEST thing about kittens on a treadmill, it makes me cry with laughter, and there's also a very funny clip about fainting goats. And, the entire collection of Family Guy is now on there. Top notch!"

17. If you were to text an 'Ask Us Anything' number, what question would you ask… is there anything that you've always wanted to know?
"Why people say, "I'm as white as a milk bottle" - when a milk bottle is see-through!"

18. One of the first things that drew me to Ipso Facto, was your striking signature sound. But what attracts you to this type of music, and is there anyone who has an instantly recognisable sound that you find inspiring?

"We have quite a unique sound, but there isn't just one thing that influences us and our musical influences like Can, don't actually sound like us. We can be influenced by so many things. For example, experiences, dreams, music, books etc. and obviously the world is a big place so they're constantly changing."

19. Have you ever bought, or been tempted to buy an album based purely on the artwork, not knowing what the actual music was going to be like?
"I'm sure we were guilty of it at one point."

20. Your lyrics are very poetic and otherworldly, but what are your biggest inspirations, and are there any lyricists or poets that you admire?
"Our lyrics, like we mentioned, are very ambiguous - they come from dreams and experiences. This is quite a hard question to answer as it's very personal. There are poets, authors, playwrights and lyricists we admire, but I wouldn't say they are a main influence for writing our lyrics. For example, Dante, Ginsberg, Trollope, Ted Hughes, Pinter, Marlowe etc."

21. Do you have a special memory attached to a specific song - one of your own and one by another artist / band - which will always remind you of a certain period of your life each time you hear it?

"Definitely. Each song has a completely different meaning."

22. To date, what's the strangest rumour or untruth that you've heard about Ipso Facto?

"That we are The Horrors turned tranny, ha ha. This is funny."

23. If you could be magically transported back to any historical event or time, what would it be and why?
Samantha: "Definitely Victorian England. I've just been reading a study called The London Underworld by Henry Mayhew. There's something appealing about the lifestyle they led - it's a very exciting time period."

24. What are your biggest hopes for Ipso Facto long-term?

"We hope to make an album within the year, but I suppose that's not long-term? We just hope to keep going for as long as we can and become successful, and as long as we're happy, we will continue to do just that :) Fingers crossed for Platinum yeah? Ha ha."

25. Lastly, chips or cream buns?


A very special thanks to Rosalie, Cherish, Victoria and Samantha, and to Ipso Facto's manager Chris, for all of their time and help.


"Harmonise In White & Black"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looking forward to it. (Laughs). It's difficult to say because the last few months have felt strange, it's felt like going down a plughole. I've got a real sense of vertigo at the moment. So I can't tell you that I'm looking forward to it. I will get through it and find where I land after that. That's what will happen.

Lucy: 'Taxidermy' and 'Drink Me' are quite drastically different in their musical styles, so what kind of sound can we expect from the 3rd album?
KJG: We don't know yet. We're playing a lot of new material tonight so you'll be able to judge that for yourself. When I'm this close up to it, it's really difficult to tell. I'm on a bit of a negative slant today, but usually with our music I can only hear the bits that have gone wrong rather
than anything that went right. When you reflect back on something it's very difficult to give an objective opinion, and I don't believe in objectivity anyway, I think everything's subjective. I just throw a deck of cards and
wherever they land, that's where she finds herself. I'm not really the one to explain my part in it, you must do that as the observer really, and of course that will reflect your part in the grand scheme of things.

Lucy: Do you enjoy playing live more than the creative process in the studio?
KJG: (Laughs) I don't enjoy any of it. It comes and it goes, ok? There's nothing like when you're writing and you manage to catch something by its
tail; when you're looking for those things underground that are skittering out of sight just when you're about to catch them. And when you catch them it is worth it, but it's a momentary pleasure. I've got so much noise upstairs, and I can hear things in my head that to me are absolutely devastatingly beautiful. I'm always trying to download them and get them
here, but they never get here in the right state, they're always very disabled and they don't even begin to imitate what I can hear in my head.
It's a frustrating process in the main.

Lucy: Your lyrics are simultaneously emotionally expressive and cryptic. Are you looking to be understood by your audience?
KJG: I'm always trying to understand myself, but it's like there's a point in the centre of the room, and there's a hundred windows to look at the same point from. All I can do is give you different angles on the same thing. God, you know, if I could find one conclusive thing in anything I would probably have something to put an anchor down on. But I cant, and I haven't met anyone that can. You can pick out anything you like in my lyrics, I don't seek to be cryptic. I love words for the sake of words, for me they're kind of free standing, and they don't really need to be explained. I think every word has its own character and colour and picture and the result you get with lyrics just depends how you put them together. You could just do it in a William Burroughs esque way, or throw the deck of cards, and you'd probably still find something that our tiny little minds would latch on to in order to gain some kind of emotional understanding. I don't think there's a constant, the only constant that there is for me is that there is no constant. I use myself as my canvas, I gut myself and fillet myself the whole fucking time, I'm always hooking myself out of the water, I'm always cutting my own head off and disembowelling myself, and as you can probably tell I'm quite angry about it at the moment. I'm very tired of it all, of my
process and how I find life, because it always seems to be about living and dying all in one breath. I'm getting pretty fucking tired of that.

Lucy: Do you think drugs stimulate or hinder creativity?
KJG: Well that depends on the drug, because I think most things arrive in the form of a drug really. I know in myself that if anything I am, much to my greater expense, an adrenalin junkie. My synapses don't work well enough to put pills in my mouth, I can't do that, despite popular opinion. I don't need any help breaking down, put it that way. There's not much holding it
together. If there was a drug that could put aline between two polar opposites and make them in to one thing I'm sure I would have it
intravenous, but I haven't found it. I think drugscan be a bit of a lazy way for creativity anyway, you're better off in the cold light of day in the mirror.

Lucy: As a band, you are distinguished by the extreme physicality of your live performances. Do you consciously make an effort to put on a show or do your performances just naturally come to you, and whatever happens, happens?
KJG: It's a bit of both, because you see, I think taking the stage is one of the most unnatural things anyone can do. In a way, just walking on stage actually creates an altered state - its not right, no one's meant to do that, unless you're a priest or a magician, or something like that. To put somebody who's very incapable in many ways in to that position creates a combustion reaction inside me. I know that, and I take the stage knowing that. Obviously there's all the usual things that affect my performance; if I'm on my 45th day of a tour I'm probably gonna be pretty fucking tired, so I'll be dictated by that. If I'm doing new material like tonight I don't
know what's going to happen, because we haven't built the train tracks yet. The beauty of playing live is when my drummer goes in to 5th gear or in to 10th gear, and for some reason there's something that hits me in the base of the spine and I'm gone, and that's Halleluiah for me. During the last few months a lot of strange things have been happening onstage, I think the process is changing. I don't know what's going to happen tonight, I've been having quite a tough time on stage, I feel like something's pulling me under, as if something's got me.

Lucy: So does the crowd influence your performances on stage?
KJG: Yes they do. I'm unkind enough to be pretty impersonal about how I do it, so I use them for me to kick against in effect, or to surf on, (I don't
mean physically surf). If you're in an empty roomand there's a couple of people at the back, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a bad show -
they might get the show of their lives. And then again when something's really heaving and going off, I get quite a distorted view of it, because I
can feel quite overwhelmed lose my sense of place in the situation. I lose control of myself. I don't know, I probably wasn't meant to do this, I
wasn't built for this. It wasn't a career option, I didn't start there and go there, I didn't pick up the things on the way. I've sort of gone round
and round.

Lucy: As the lead singer of the band, most media interest is focused on you. Do you feel pressurised by your position or do you enjoy being the centre of attention?
KJG: I've been here on this wheel long enough,(and I say this with a little bit of trepidation because I think you have to be really careful with this kind of thing, because the motivation to do it in itself I think is usually pretty corrupt) I'm not doing it for anyone else, I need a cheque through the door like anybody else does, you have to keep eating, you have to keep living. I'm looking for some sense of going home on my own terms, and people's critique of me is not relevant, whether it's positive of negative.
I do need a cheque through the door though, otherwise I'll have to go and be a butcher or something.

Lucy: What is the religious meaning behind the song "For I am the way"?
KJG: If you use the word religion in its truest sense, all it means is communion, it hasn't got any of the attachments to any written word. My
understanding of the word communion is loss of the sense. Another way of looking at it is you've got to get in to get out, and the only thing that I
know to be true is me, is this tiny little dot in the centre of the universe. It's the only thing that I know feels pain; I can see other people's pain and I can feel it in an emotional way, but not in a physical way. I find myself in the unfortunate position of feeling like I am the
centre of the universe and that everything is a projection, made by me - i.e. you two don't exist, you're something that I created. I don't wish that
sense upon anybody because it's not a good one. Through 'For I am the way' I'm saying that you've got to get in, because the only thing one knows to be true is oneself. And on a good day, if you stand on top of a mountain or go to the desert or stand in the ocean, and become completely inconsequential, linear time stops and you become everything and nothing. That for me is
communion, that's how I define religion. I thinkthere's a line in there which goes "Today the only bridge I have I burn" which sums it up really, because it is about cutting all lines of communication in order to really truly commune.

Lucy: Do you think that in the future your creativity will move from the sphere of music in to literature for example?
KJG: It's real hard to say. In a way, that sounds like a much easier life. But for all I know I'm deluding myself. I'm looking for someone to help me frame something at the moment, and someone is actually, someone's being really good to me. I would love to write, but I don't know if I'm good
enough to do it.