Interview with Pretentious, Moi?

Photo of Tim Chandel. Author: Taya Uddin

Tim Chandler. Photo by Taya Uddin
(Exposed Photography)

This is the second interview we do in Dark Valencia (first in English), and on this occasion I wanted to interview a group whose music I enjoy. The choice was clear: Pretentious, Moi? (URL: http://pretentiousmoi.com), the English group of great songs and full of vitality as Malina or Witchhouse. In order to do this, we contacted Tim Chandler, alma mater of the band.

Hi Tim, glad to interview you. First, how did the project emerge?

My pleasure, the project came to be a very long time ago, I think about 1992. Autumn of North had just gone our separate ways, and I’d joined Sins of the Flesh. Judas* was writing some really excellent material – but at the time it was in a more industrial style, and I still wanted to explore writing more gothic music, so I started doing my own thing as a sideline, not with publication in mind, I think it fortunately coincided with me getting my first four-track recorder, like I said – it was a while ago.

*(Note: Judas is founding member of Sins of The Flesh).

The name of the group is certainly original, and seems to have a sarcastic sense with a funny twist. Why did you adopt that name?

To be honest I’m not too fond of the name, but I’m stuck with it. It made sense when it was just me doing demos but If I had expected it to become well known, I’d have chosen something a bit more serious, something that ends in “…tion” or something with the word “of” in it .“Ashes of rustication” perhaps…

Honestly though, I do wish we had a more sensible name.

Cover fromPretentious, Moi? homonymous album

What do you want to express through the music and lyrics?

Above all I want to tap into the sense of mysterious, majestic “could be really deep or could be nonsense” that so appealed to me when I first heard goth music. It seemed to work on a slightly different plane to the music I had listened to before then. I think that a characteristic of goth is the aggrandisement of the ordinary, whilst making the magical seem commonplace. The songs themselves are about lots of different things as far as I’m concerned, but I try to use similes a lot and leave different meanings open to interpretation – I think lyrics should demand some input from the listener, so I keep things ambiguous, though they are quite explicit to me.

Both the album and live, the band has a festive and dance spirit. Do you feel comfortable with a label like “Goth Dance” applied to Pretentious Moi? How would you describe the band’s sound?

There is a dancefloor friendly aspect to some of the songs, though I wouldn’t categorize ourselves as “goth dance” – inevitably the more accessible songs tend to get more exposure, but a lot of our material is much darker, and the live show a little more aggressive and angsty than people expect, in spite of that we really do enjoy playing live, and that sense of fun tends to come through in spite of the content.

Personally, when I heard Pretentious, Moi? I first came to mind Rosetta Stone, a great flag bearer of 90’s Gothic Rock; while it is true that Pretentious, Moi? has a more updated sound, maybe more danceable. Do you agree with this influence? What bands have influenced your project?

I think i took my influences largely from the same older generation of bands which Rosetta Stone did. – I was trying to be more like Cassandra Complex than anything else. That said, I have deliberately kept PM in line with the sort of goth that was current when I first joined a gothic band, so it’s a quite 90s and quite UK specific sound, of which Rosetta Stone were an excellent example – a slightly more electronic, danceable style of goth – with high levels of production, and an emphasis on guitar hooks carrying the song.

 Pretentious, Moi? Photo by Taya Uddin (Exposed Photography)

Pretentious, Moi? Photo by Taya Uddin
(Exposed Photography)

Recently you’ve brought your voice to an All Hallows Eve‘s song, the Tom O’Connell’s project (Garden Of Delight, Traumtaenzer). What do you think of these bands formed by guest musicians? What can bring to the scene? Do you want to dominate the world and force people to listen to good music, or just have fun making it?

I’m not sure that gothic supergroups are a cynical marketing ploy to take over the world. I reckon it’s got more to do with the fact that a lot of goth musicians have effectively grown up together, so I think these bands are mainly a good excuse to work with people you like or admire. It’s also quite nice to be able to break free of your own writing style for a bit. I’ve known Tom for years, so it was nice to finally get to work together, and in the case of PM?, all of who’s members are well respected musicians in their own right, I just went with “who would you most like to go on holiday with”.

I think I heard a couple of new songs in SOS Fest and SGM Fest, and I read in your Facebook profile that you already have enough material for an album. Are there any plans to publish it? Have you thought about the title?

There is probably enough material for an album now, it wouldn’t be a very good one though. Perhaps half of the written songs are worth putting on an album, and I think I know now which the other ones should be when they are finished. We’re actually starting to record in earnest in the next few weeks, so we’ll see how things turn out. There will be a second album, but I’m not quite sure how long it will take.

Speaking of SOS Fest, which do you think will be the long term impact of the Alt-Fest cancellation? [Note: SOS (Save Our Scene) Festival was organized by Flag Promotions following the cancellation of Alt-Fest)].

I dont think that the cancellation of Alt-Fest will have any significant impact on the scene outside of the UK. At the time of the cancellation it did have a negative effect on a number of other festivals, with a few others also being cancelled or scaled back as a result of the consequent insecurity. I imagine as of next year the UK scene will be back to business as usual. I think that the organisers of Alt Fest were among the few people that might have been able to make such an event work in the UK, it’s a real pity they didn’t get the support they needed, and it will be a very long time until anyone tries it again, but then, no-one has before – so we’re back to normal. The one possible exception next year is the 21st birthday of Whitby Goth Weekend, which will be a 4-day event, and promises to be quite an impressive one.

With an album released in 2010, plus an official video clip and several appearances on compilations, Pretentious, Moi? is still very present at the public’s mind despite the elapsed time. What is the reason, what do you think this project gives?

I think it’s because we don’t play very often – it’s easy to be thought of fondly when you don’t often prove them wrong!

More seriously, I reckon in part it is because we don’t have a record label behind us which pushed the band’s presence from the start – the album has done quite well, but there are still people discovering us slowly by word of mouth and through DJs rather than expensive ad’s in magazines, and I think for that reason we’re still out there.

Thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview, Tim. I hope Pretentious, Moi? have a long life ahead, and we can enjoy more concerts in Spain. Some words for the readers of Dark Valencia and the Spanish fans?

Thank you for a most insightful interview. We hope to make it out to Spain again in the not-too-distant future, we certainly had a fantastic time at SGM Fest this year and the audience were fantastic, so we’ll look forward to getting the chance to come over again! All the best.

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