life without buildings

i love this band. they don't exist anymore and they only made one album. their lead singer kind of talk-sings random bits of text that give this sense of a person living through a period of time and writing down every piece of conversation that struck her as somehow important, things she might have said herself or heard a stanger say or heard on the radio or maybe things she read. it reminds me of something i used to do when i was young which was to eavesdrop and write down things i thought were notable or interesting word for word. at the time i thought i might want to write a script one day and i was thinking about how to write authentic dialogue, or something. or i just liked eaves-dropping maybe.

her name is Sue Tompkins she's a visual and performance artist. here is one of her performances. i think there's some kind of magic that happened when she worked with the band. here's an interview where she talks a bit about their process and how they worked together:

"They would just start playing, and then I’d watch that process for a bit — I find that, still, quite amazing, how the instruments go together. I write a lot, and so I’d take a couple of hundred sheets of paper with things I’d written and typed on them, and listen and listen, and sit on the floor and read through some words, singing along with it in my head. And then I’d just stand up and try it. As far as I could see, they were very accepting. I could have said anything, and they’d have gone “That’s great, Sue!” But they were very quiet, as well. I took them not saying anything as a good sign, although from anybody else I’d take non-communication as the biggest downer ever."

And on what worked about her collaboration with the band:

"I’m sure there are lots of musicians who make what they make through not wanting to make something else. They don’t want to sound like Television, so they make sure that they don’t. But I think my lack of knowing as much as Will and Chris and Robert was quite a good balance, in retrospect."


melissa said...

I'm glad someone else remembers Life Without Buildings. I love them too, still. Thanks for the link to Sue Tompkins. My sister told me once she'd seen she was still active in performance but I'd never taken the time to look her up, so thanks for sharing.

anna said...

her visual art also looks really nice and has the same... looseness somehow. it's interesting to see someone working across different forms like that.