Ivo/Hope Blister interview

Written by Nathan Medema on Wed, 7 Jul 1999 13:16:27 -0400.

below, a short interview with ivo i found on the web (perhaps revealing the secret behind the name 4AD?)

top magazine, june '98 (http://www.topmag.co.uk/archive/jun98/blister.htm)



Record company boss loves music shock! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Founder of 4AD Records and eternal romantic Ivo Watts-Russell squats on the floor of 4ADs offices and talks about his love affair with music, a love affair which has led him to sign such eclectic bands as Throwing Muses and the Cocteau Twins, as well as coming up with two highly personal projects. The first was This Mortal Coil who produced three albums between 84 and 90.

Now comes The Hope Blister and the chillingly mournful Smiles OK - eight starkly beautiful tracks that will send tremors through your heart. I always had the idea I wanted the record to be very simple and based around the bass guitar, Ivo explains. When I listened to the finished CD for the first time I realised it was closer to what I had imagined it was going to be. Its the kind of album where a couple of tracks in you know where you are, and if you dont like it then get out. It does flow and it does take you somewhere but Ive no idea where its meant to be taking you.

Recorded in just 13 days, utilising the talents of Louise Rutkowski (who also contributed to This Mortal Coil) on vocals, Lawrence OKeefe (Levitation, Dark Star) on bass, the judicious use of strings and Ivo providing spiritual guidance, Smiles OK contains songs Ivo loved so much he wanted to show his appreciation by reinterpreting them. I like the idea of collaborations and the idea of experimenting, but I pay a lot of respect to the music and I would never consider these as remixes of the songs I love.

He smiles and nods. You know, I spend my whole life questioning everything on the planet and music is the one thing I refuse to analyse because it is so pure and so magic that I cant even begin to explain it to myself; its just this wonderful, emotional experience.

As the album unfolds it becomes increasingly clear what kind of musical emotional experience Ivo likes. Tracks such as Dagger (by Neil Halstead of Mojave 3), Outer Skin (by Chris Knox of Tall Dwarfs) and most especially Let The Happiness In (by David Sylvian) are melancholic and yet contain faint echoes of naive optimism. I chose Let The Happiness In because I remember being at my fathers funeral and this song just kept running through my head obsessively. I like the fact that the song talks of waiting for the agony to stop and letting the happiness in, that opposition of two extremes. Thats why I like the title the Hope Blister.

A non-musician who makes music, a record label owner who hates the machinations of the music industry and freely admits he has no idea why some things sell and others dont, Ivo Watts-Russell called his company 4AD because he thought it would only last for four years. That was 18 years ago and hes still mining his own very singular musical vein. Maybe theres a blister of hope for the industry yet?

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