Shimura Curves

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Liddy Pool

Blimey, what a weekend! City of Culture indeed!

The train up was so packed that we had to nick someone else's reservations - fortunately they never turned up to claim their seats, so we were OK. It wasn't until we got to Liverpool that I realised we'd nabbed seats 21 and 22. Fate!

Took an insanely cheap taxi to the Cavern, with a typically chatty cabbie who told us all about abseilling off the big radio tower in the centre of town, then arrived hours early at The Cavern, shaking with nerves and pacing backstage. Fortunately some of Anna's and Eoin's mates turned up for support. Hurrah!

My god, it was scary. I suppose we learned the lesson that we *can* actually pull off a set with half the band, though neither of us ever want to do it again. I thought the sound was better at the earlier show, which made me more comfortable, though Anna said she enjoyed the second show a great deal more. (Could have had something to do with the great deal more booze she had down her throat by that point.)

The second show was actually hillarious, if I hadn't been too freaked out about all my equipment concurrently failing - including the brand new connector cable shorting out. Though it did mean that the lovely blond soundman was very attentive. (What is it with cute soundmen?) Loads of ILX0rs turned out for FAP action, and The Kissing Time came down and made faces at us so we felt at home.

Anna turned into Morrissey, dancing about with a blood red lilly that she stole from Pizza Express. Random Dancing Dude did hippie dancing to OPC. And the crowd actually shouted for The Lost Rivers of Clerkenwell!

The rest of Liverpool is a bit of a blur. Amazing bitter at the White Star, and getting offered an impromptu gig in their back room. A birthday party with the most amazing cheese board ever at La Casa, this very cool socialist collective venue/cafe/pub. Veggie fry-ups for breakfast (A huge thank you to Greg and Cath!). The frankly astonishing Summer Of Love exhibit at the Tate Liverpool. (We spent hours floating around LaMonte Young's totemistic humming and glowing black box.) Killer sets from Koala and The Kissing Time and the lovely, lovely Luxembourg. (Including the very best stage strop ever from David - just hope Anna doesn't get ideas!)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Artistic Differences

Ok, this post should not have upset me. But it did.

Because it states patent untruths about me and my motivations that I cannot comment in reply because I don't "do" MySpace.

I really hoped that all the Kissing Time stuff was in the past, and that there were no hard feelings, and that the parting had been a friendly one. I mean, we still talk (I thought), and go to each others' gigs and stuff.

For the record, Darren was *not* the primary reason that I left. There was a very obvious personality conflict, but it wasn't with Darren - and that wasn't even the main reason that I left.

The primary reason was, actually, that I felt like a fifth wheel. Quite literally. First off, being in a band with two couples, it's hard not to feel a bit left out. Second, all the things that I do - they already had one. What do I do in bands? I play guitar. They already had two guitarists. I play bass. They already had a bassist. I play a bit of keyboards. They already had a keyboardist. I sing. There were already three singers. What else was left for me to do? Play drums? the one instrument I don't know how to play? I really felt like there was nowhere left for me to really do anything - or to make my musical influence felt.

And that brought me to the secondary reason. Plain old fashioned artistic differences. Even reading the list of influences on their website, it's just like... I feel very little connection. There are a few overlaps, but not in the music they REALLY love and the music *I* REALLY love.

I love two things - dronerock/spacerock and sugary girlpop. My idea bands (that I would want to sound like) are Stereolab and Lush. I don't *mind*, in fact I quite *like* jangly indiepop, but it's just not what I want to do. When Darren started slagging off The Smiths, it wasn't even so much that I'm a huge Smiths fanatic (I do love them, but I'm not fanatical about them) - but, to me, they epitomise what I think jangly-pop should be about. Smart, clever, knowing, gorgeous and wistful but also ferociously catchy. If one is going to make jangly-pop, I feel like *that* is what one should aspire to.

It wasn't just the comment, it was just realising that we were *never* going to see eye to eye.

Plus... so I dissed one of Darren's songs. Tara McCrack. I said it was boring smack-rock. You know what? Several members of TKT said that one of my songs sounded "like Bon Jovi". If I can handle disses like that, then Darren can just grow up and handle some criticism.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shimura Blurs

From left: Kate, Frances, Anna, Miss AMP

(Thanks to Rob Bolton for the photo!)

So apparently we sound like "Sugababes meets Magnetic Fields" according to The Lex.

Brainlove said this, which is absolutely lovely:

Shimura Curves first gig comes sandwiched between forgettable boy-rock bands on a Sunday afternoon at the Windmill in Brixton, which makes them stand out even more than they would have anyway. They are four ladies who definitely know better, throwing caution to the four winds with a cheap programmed backing track and some brave 4-piece harmonies and attempted synchronised dancing. There are nervous sidewards glances from shiny eyes, in-joke lipglossed half-smiles, pretty outfits & semi-planned shimmies, genuine stiff-limbed nerves, 80's pop sensibility (think the cheap synth and squiffy harmonies of Bananarama), lyrics sheets rustling, and a singing-into-the-hairbrush approach to girl-band-ness. At the end of a song about Elephants, they all squeal in mock-fear, then laugh at the noise they just made. Who knows if there'll be more gigs like this? These ladies have nothing to prove really. Maybe that's why it comes off so well.

A couple of boys described it as "like being left alone in a girl's room and getting a mysterious feeling as you're looking through their makeup box" (I think. Not an exact quote but similar in sensibility).

The Fine Art Of Missing The Point

So this finally is starting to feel like *my* life again. No job, no boyfriend - but a kickass band worth pouring my entire heart and soul into. Great friends gathered around me, all having a fantastic time.

And what am I doing at the end of the night? I'm fretting over possibly having said the wrong thing to and mistakenly chucked a drink over my Semi-Unrequited Crushboy. I have missed the point completely, again.

I spent so much of The Lollies doing this. How many gigs did I waste obsessing over the C6 boys instead of concentrating on my own accomplishments? The entire Ladyfest Tour was ruined by me letting a boy come between me and my band. Even the greatest night of my life - supporting the Bangles at Shepherds Bush - I was upset over a boy and not paying attention to what I had just achieved myself.

This is missing the point! The point was, it was a great gig. I love my band. I love my friends. A great time was had by all - including Crushboy, who wasn't upset, in fact, was even proud. He said the loveliest thing to me when I was stressing out before the gig - offered to be the angel sitting on my shoulder, shrink himself down and sit in my pocket, and tell me that I'm great, and that everything is going to be fantastic whenever I start to get stressed or get a bit down.

This *is* my life. This *is* me. This is what I do. I feel happy, and proud of our accomplishments. And looking forward to more!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Night Bus

I can't believe it. After an amazing rehearsal and an amazing night dancing with the boy that one of our best songs is about... I left my gig bag on the night bus.

My pedals, my beautiful pedals. I've had some of them for over 10 years. I'm gutted.

I filled out a lost property claim but I don't have much hope of ever seeing it again.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Satorial Curves

I have now planned my outfit for the gig on Sunday, mwah hah hah. In a charity shop on Streatham Hill, I found an amazing blouse with swhirlies that look like spiral galaxies. And a sort of frock-coat thing with silver chinoiserie in two lines down the front. I think I shall wear this with a miniskirt and fishnets, but I have to confer with the resident Style Gurus of my band to see if fishnets are "in" or "out" cause I've not got a clue about this sort of thing.

Anna says she is wearing Hott Pants (!!!)

Thursday, May 19, 2005


We had a "proper rehearsal" last night - i.e. downstairs in the living room (even though we're really an "in your bedroom singing into a hairbrush" sort of a band) standing up and dancing around. I, however, was still trapped sitting down to play guitar, but that meant that I had the enviable position of getting to watch my own band. It's amazing how quickly we have turned into a *BAND* - spontaneous dance routines and naturally stacking 4-part harmonies. It's a wierd and magical thing, when that chemistry actually happens and you turn from four disparate people to an entity.

Even though we all have very different taste in music, we seem to have similar reference points - sometimes with hilarious consequences when all three of my bandmates spontaneously burst into Bananarama routines. But then again, that's *why* I'm in a band with these ladies. I kind of chose the coolest people I knew (who could actually sing) - assembling the band like an 18th Century Salon of interesting and creative people who looked like they *belonged* onstage.

We started joking about archetypes and roles, but the problem is one instinctively goes for established groups. We don't conform to any "Spice Girls" roles. We can't quite fit into the Sex And The City or Desperate Housewives gangs. So I'm going to have a go at throwing around some roles and seeing who can match the archetype to the girl:

The Rebel Dandy - "You don't follow fashion, that'd be a joke, you set them set them, so everyone can take notes."

The Voluptuary - sensual and sensuous, wants to experience - feel, taste, smell, see, hear - everything.

The Mystic - part magician, part court composer, holds the gang together like magic and ritual.

The Scientist - the world is her laboratory, cutting and pasting and splicing and experimenting.

(I am so dead if my bandmates read this. But hey, we can market Shimura Curves tarot cards or something.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I was watching the Max Carlish/Pete Doherty documentary last night. What a creepy but simultaneously powerful story about the complex relationship between fan and idol and about how so many artists today, whether film makers or rock stars, are really just playing dress up, trying to be their own idols.

The most cringe-worthy moment for me, however, was when Carlish finally got his big moment for his "seduction-rape-sex-mindmeld-interview" and the only question he gets out is "Where did you get your name?" and you could see the flicker of disgust and boredom even through the drugs.

So, under the remote possibility that we might ever have to be interviewed ever again, I am posting these here, so that I might refer potential journalists here, and cause the asking of these questions to be a cause for immediate interview termination.

1) Where did you get your name?

2) How did you meet?

3) What are your influences?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pink Whine

Yay! First full band rehearsal last night. We drank pink wine and ate Yaarrrrrggggg (Cornish Cheese made from NETTLES!!!) and stacked our lovely harmonies all together like a layercake.

(Oh yes, we also bitched about boys, our jobs, magazines, freelancing, Ladyfeminists, printed fabric and interweb message boards but that's not the important stuff.)

And then the PANIC hit that ohmigod, we actually had a gig in a week and a half, and there was a flurry of rehearsal-planning. (And outfit-planning.) We don't even all know all the songs yet! And about half of them are in a half-assembled state. But I think that's the most fun part of music - the arranging. Especially vocal harmony arrangements.

OPC sends little shivers down my spine, it sounds so spooky - I think I might even like it better without the sequencer track, just acoustic guitar and the Serotonin Choir making spooky lullaby ghost noises. Insecurities Trader has gone all Euro-house-electro with clipped vocals and robot dancing and a metronomic round.

But my favourite song - the one I think will be an absolute show-stopper - is still Magnus. Frances reckons it sounds like Kevin Bletchdom (?). The four-part weaving harmonies at the end, especially when the music drops out and we sing a capella... that, for me, just captures the dizzy, high, happy rush of having a massive crush.

Now it's just time to actually *aquire* a crush...

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I coined a new phrase, last night, tee hee! I told everyone's favourite dandy, Dickon, that someone who has the same hair as you is your Manesake. If he nicks it, I hope he gives me credit!

Anyway, last night Frances and Amy Prior read at a book launch for DIY: The Rise Of Lo-Fi Culture. It was quite interesting, all about self publishing in the Nu-Media age. I loved her analogies between improvisational music and blog culture, in that they are supposed to be about "freedom" but really come with their own very strict sets of rules and social conventions.

And apparently, this is an Online Journal, and not a blog, according to Frances and Miss AMP. Well, now it's a blog. So there.

The wierdest thing about the evening was paging through the book and discovering that I (or at least my old band) was in it. Had to buy it, even though I generally disapprove of Lo-Fi culture. I believe in DIY passionately, with all my heart and soul. But I believe one should strive to be as technically good as possible with the technology that is available to you. I have no time for deliberate fetishisation of one's own incompetence. (Ha ha, as I said that, I just used spell check for the first time in years.)

It was weird to see people I hadn't seen in years. Horrible memories of Ladyfest. My bandmates think it would be hillarious fun to play. It brings back awkward memories for me - DUG lesbians siding with my wife-beating boyfriend over my band - feminism, yay! But we've all moved on, I hope. Time to lay some ghosts. (The ghosts of horse-shit shovellers, if Kristian is to be believed.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

30 Words Or Less

I hate having to come up with short descriptions. This was my stab for the IPO:

Four-part shape-note harmonies drizzled over laptop pop. Four girls, a guitar, some drones and samples of everything from classical to folktronica. Songs about cheating boyfriends and advanced mathematics.


Yesterday I finished reading Fermat's Last Theorem. I figured if I was going to be in a band called Shimura Curves, I better figure out why the things are so important. It was an entrancing book, part detective novel, like a conspiracy theory but all true if you can read the algebra...

My only complaint was that there wasn't enough *maths* in it. No, really. It kept saying "Oh, this a particularly hard piece of maths, but if you look in the appendix we will explain" and then there would be a bit of ANY FULE KNO maths that a child could understand. I found it patronising and annoying when the author would not explain particular logical links, instead dismissing it with "well, only 4 or 5 mathematicians in the world could understand it!" - well go on, then, at least give it a try, or explain it in metaphor of what it's supposed to do, instead of just saying YOUR PUNY HUMAN BRAIN COULD NOT POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND.

Ah well, modular forms are lovely. I got a book out of the library about symmetry in order to try and understand more about them. This is the problem with maths - to understand one bit, you have to go and learn about another bit. And then that bit refers you on to another theorem you must grasp. And some day... some day... if I have aquired enough useless facts, and insert them into a logical crossword puzzle, then one day the world will shimmer like the dawn light catching the dew on a spider's web and the Grand Unification Theory Of Everything will reveal itself to me in all its glory.

I'm sure donuts will be involved. Somehow.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Serotonin Choir

This morning Frances sent me a text message saying that singing boosts serotonin. I think she might be on to something. There is something glorious (golden glorious?) about losing one's own voice in a blend of harmony. The only place most people seem to sing like this in at religious or quasi-religious events like football matches and church services.

We had to do rehearsals in shifts because of our odd schedules. (Bloody freelancers, the lot of us!) Anna and I sang low harmonies in the afternoon, then Frances, AMP and I sang high harmonies in the evening. I cannot wait to put them together like a superfudge layer cake, milk and honey and all that. I am genuinely excited. It's not just a lovely blend of voices (Anna's alto low and smokey, Frances' soprano sweet, and AMP's dulcet descant) but a lovely blend of creative people, picking up each others' ideas and running with them.

We've been toying with ideas of themes and costumes, some outlandish, some lovely. The *performance* and *presentation* is as important as the music. Kimonos, Tory Wife Pearls, sailor suits (err, maybe not). I'm excited to see what they come up with.

And oh yes, the Manky Badger beer turned out to be golden ambrosia after all. Yum.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Peer Pressure

So, I finally caved to peer pressure and got a blog like everyone else in the known universe. Mainly because I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of actually creating a band website all over again.