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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Sparky Deathcap – Interview

Quirky singer-songwriter Sparky Deathcap, a man as comfortable spinning folky yarns and knocking up a caricature

Written by Eleanor Whalley

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
There’s a big buzz around Erdem, link especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t but help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, order clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, information pills my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem.

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

There’s a big buzz around Erdem, order especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, visit this clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem. Lovely angle eh?

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I then passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

There’s a big buzz around Erdem, web especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, physician clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, seek my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem. Lovely angle eh?

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I then passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Sparky Deathcap is a twenty-something musician and artist from Cheshire, sale whose wry tales of love and loss are in turns hilarious and heartwrenching. You may have caught him recently supporting the likes of Los Campesinos! and Hot Club de Paris.

On songs like “Berlin Syndrome”, ampoule guitars and handclaps loop and whirl around lyrics like, page “Since then you just make cameos when I’m asleep/you’re the William Shatner of this elite genre of women that I have loved and lost,” creating a lo-fi landscape one that is simultaneously bleak and full of warmth. At times the songs are reminiscent of early Smog, when Bill Callahan wrote songs like he had a sense of humour and sometimes felt a bit awkward. As well as the recent Tear Jerky EP (available here) he maintains a brilliant cartoon blog at his website.

It’s a busy year for Sparky, off on a European tour as we speak, but I managed to send a few emails back and forth about comic books, rock operas and the Wonder Years.

So, you’re on tour with Los Campesinos! right now, how’s that going?

It has been really fun, it’s an absolute privilege to tour with my friends Los Campesinos! and the supports, Islet and Swanton Bombs, are two outrageously good bands. It was my birthday the other day coinciding with our Aberdeen date and the crowd sang happy birthday to me which was a really touching moment.

Sparky Deathcap presumably isn’t your real name – is it a sort of onstage personal that allows you to unleash your inner diva, like Beyonce Knowles’ Sasha Fierce?

I originally chose it something like 5 years ago when I started doing the one man and a guitar thing live because I felt like it would be easier to play if I could invent a persona. Now, however, there isn’t really a great separation between Sparky Deathcap and me, except for when I remember some of the crap, depressing gigs I used to do and I think about younger Sparky as this sort of beleaguered little brother or something and how excited he’d be by the exciting things I’m getting to do at the moment. Crikey, my mind is like Fellini directing The Wonder Years. Edited by Lassie.

When you play live you have drawings projected behind you, do you think you might ever make a whole comic book, is that something you’d be interested in?

Oh I have grand, grand plans for comic books. I’m working on a little comics booklet for my album and an illustrated valentines rock opera for next year. I’m also trying to resurrect my weekly comic strip for my new blog. The trouble is that comics are incredibly labour intensive. Chris Ware pointed out once that unlike writing a novel, comics don’t allow any sort of natural flow to occur as every page has to be planned out as a whole and so the panels within in it are predestined. I’d love to create a big Clowesian comic book one day, but for now I have to concentrate upon producing small, gimmicky things to “build my profile”… urggggghhhh, the modern world… adulthood…

You mentioned your rock opera there, what does that involve?

That was something I wrote for a ukulele festival in Manchester last year on Valentine’s Day. I was wrongly under the impression that we had to perform the whole thing on ukulele and didn’t really have any ukulele songs so I set about writing a sort of musical/rock opera about an organ transplant van driver finding love whilst snowbound in a rural town. I drew some illustrations for my old overhead projector as well. I hope to turn it into a special edition record and book for next year’s Valentine’s Day.

Musically, who would you call your biggest influences? You get compared to Jeffrey Lewis a lot, right? But that seems like a pretty easy comparison for anyone who sings and draws…

I have an awful lot of respect, naturally, for Jeffrey Lewis, and he has obviously influenced some aspects of my live show, even if it is in trying to steer away from his territory as much as I possibly can. I suppose the bands I have revered the most over the years are The Beach Boys, Pavement, Smog, Silver Jews, Magnetic Fields and Why?, but increasingly I’m becoming very interested in Steve Reich and Bill Evans. In terms of my artwork I’m very heavily influenced by Archer Prewitt, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine and Marcel Dzama. Archer Prewitt is another artist/musician; he plays in the The Sea And Cake and under his own name whilst also drawing the incomparable Sof’ Boy comics.

So, after this tour, what’s next for Sparky Deathcap?

Next up: more touring with Los Camp. I’m trying to perfect my world-weary, “oh, touring is such a drag,” but in truth it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. We have European and US tours to come which will be really amazing. In between I’m working hard on writing and recording my album, which is really very exciting.

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