Dylan Nyoukis is chief “talent sniffer” for Colour Out Of Space, Brighton’s annual festival of international experimental sound, which returns this month. He also runs prolific DIY label Chocolate Monk.
How has Colour Out Of Space grown since 2006?
We’d played a few festivals abroad like No Fun Fest in New York and just thought that it would be great to do something like that in Brighton. It’s expanded in the last couple of years, with a bunch of stuff happening in the lead up to the main three-day event (Friday 8th – Sunday 10th), and we’ve added extra little events during the weekend in venues like Jubilee Library, the Phoenix and, this year, Oxfam on Western Road, where Gen Ken Montgomery will perform his 8-Track Magic in the store.
How is the festival funded?
We get some cash from various high-brows with coin. Much appreciated. I think the Cultural Olympiad last year shafted us, we got no cash, hence no fest, but they gave £100 million to stage that yawnfest Stockhausen helicopter quartet – one of his most boring works!
Where do your audiences come from?
My brain is limp on numbers, man, but I know we have many folks who travel from outside the UK, for sure. As far as Brighton goes we just try and throw as many flyers and programmes around the town as possible, jump on some local radio, hope some local rags do a piece. With this being the sixth year I also hope that some word of mouth is starting to prick curious minds.
Which performances have been your favourites?
One that jumps to mind was that of sound poetry legend Henri Chopin. He performed on stage in his wheelchair, doing vocals etc to his prepared reel-to-reel tapes, and at the end he spoke of his family’s experience in France under the Nazis. This was to be his last-ever public performance before passing. He is a huge influence on me so it was an honour to see him perform and the fact that he was warm and friendly just added to the experience. He watched many of the weekend’s sets and would often be found during breaks in the garden, drinking and smoking, always with a smile on his face. Legend.
Another great set was Peter Fengler in 2011. I remember taking my mum and daughter into the hall to watch this goof and my mum asking if it was OK to laugh – a question I’ve been asked of my own performances – and of course IT IS!!! The whole room seemed to be filled with faces like busted melons. JOY!
Have you had to deal with many complaints over the more confrontational performances?
Not at all. I have to say, from my experience of attending experimental music events in various countries, the COOS audiences are some of the most open-minded and attentive I’ve come across, and many of the performers have backed up this opinion. I think there might have been some nervous janitor one year who was keen to sweep and mop up the broken glass and blood from the Justice Yeldham performance.
What were your own early creative efforts like?
Rudimentary, non-musical, and all the better for it. The first ‘band’ was Prick Decay aka Decaer Pinga, a duo of myself and my sister Lisa, which ran from 1992 until 2005. As for working together these days, we put together a Prick Decay Band for a friend’s wedding last year, but apart from that, nada. The threat of physical violence to each other is too high and we both value our lives too much.
How much of your performances and recordings are improvised?
Blood Stereo, my duo with my wife Karen Constance (the “muscles” of COOS), is mostly improvised live. However the recordings are a whole different kettle of parsnips. We take a lot of time to work on and edit down most of the recordings we put out. To tell the truth, that’s where I get the most pleasure. We do on occasion throw in some ‘scored’ parts to the Blood Stereo sets.
What sort experimental scene was there in Brighton when you first came here?
I moved here with Lisa in 1993 and that’s when Chocolate Monk was launched, 20 years old on the weekend of COOS incidentally. We hung out down here for a year then had to head back to Scotland – to sunny Blackburn, West Lothian, home of Susan ‘SuBo’ Boyle. Myself and Karen managed to escape in 1997 and headed to Brighton once again.
The things that spring to my sponge brain about people doing ‘out’ stuff in Brighton back then was the Cinematheque, which always had great weirdo film guff to watch but then also started to have some live events there. That’s where we met (COOS’ “organisational brain”) Michael Sippings, he ran the Cinematheque and asked us to book some shows. Also The Lift (now The Hope) used to be booked by a Yankee man about town called Jeff (Disastronaut). That lovable doughnut was a wondrous mix of enthusiasm, absent minded brain wonk and sleaze warmth. He’d let people put on a lot of wacky shows.
How much of your time does running Chocolate Monk take up?
The good thing about running an unhip label is you can let it take up as much or as little of your time as you like. It’s just me churning out items of freakdom when I feel the urge. Chocolate Monk has released over 270 ‘items’. I’ve done over 20 releases this year, and there’s time yet! I sell mostly via the website and to some distros. I don’t tend to bring stuff along to shows, though, as it’s one less thing for me to remember to drag back after sound-making gear and my ass.
Photo by Karen Constance
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