Previously unreleased David Sylvian interview from ‘Piazza Piazza’ magazine, mid 80’s. Author unintelligible.


In which Piazza Piazza escort Benny Rimbaud talks to the reclusive white shadow of post punk pre – raphaelite no wave new wave esoteria-glam shade about nothing and nearly everything.

Making sure white stains :  Garf Artfunkel.



‘Why wonder, when all but art wanders for us’?
(Franck Oppenheim ‘The vagaries of not quite living’ ) – 1923

‘Oh it would be alright/if everything were white/White like the issue/I leave in my Tissue’ (Howard Devoto : ‘Love Like Kleenex)’.

Sylvian enters the room and I immediately think ‘So this is how Arthur Miller felt on his honeymoon’

‘Does it bother you’ I ask, ‘You know, the beauty’?

Sylvian doesn’t smile. Rather he adjusts the mouth, the lips, the teeth (Such TEETH) but a fraction, merely a millimetre and there’s a kind of white heaven here suddenly. Not a Blue heaven, no, white. Colgate white. Waitrose white. Really, really white.

‘I never really considered it’ he sighs and you fall deeper.

Sylvian is no longer Sylvian because he’s so Sylvian he’s simply….Sylvian.

‘It was useful as a young man but now I…I don’t remember’.

We laugh.  We weep. A cigarette. White Disques Bleu. That Smile again. The White net curtain of the hotel room ruffles. Somewhere a swan is dying somewhere and odds are, it’s White. Somewhere.  Suddenly idle, I wonder if Rupert Brooke dipped his toast into tea? Even idols need their Tiffin.  Don’t they?
Meanwhile, two young men, one once an idol too, wander.

‘What’s it all for’ I ask, ‘You know. ….’This’ :

The journalist, also white, gesticulates forlornly.

‘One can never be sure’ he says, now reclining. White sheets. White shoes. White smile. If this were all but black pudding even the black bits would be white. ‘I suppose it’ll end some day, but you know, I’m never quite sure of what it is I’m going through. Well, sometimes, but not often. Glimpses. Now and then one gets a sense of……Something. Nothing? Maybe it’s everything…’ he trails off.

We are between silences. The quiet bit in a silence, before it gets really quiet. But then Sylvian’s silence were always just that : really, really quiet.

‘Oh! What a lovely present’ Exclaimed aunt Olga. And then suddenly, she died ‘.
Winifred Bingo ; ‘The Pawn shop heart’, 1911

‘Was it always thus’? I ask. ‘I mean….’

‘Yes…if that is what you mean…’ says Sylvian, suddenly resembling his younger self, his older self, his…Sylvian self. ‘It depends. If you mean the work, then yes. It’s always the work. The work is…its…hard work. And then it’s…not’.


Sylvian Smiles. Or is it a frown? If one were to tilt one’s head…Just so..Upside down? …then…ahh. I see. I see. THE sea. Outside.
Inside. Inside out. In. In! Out. Shake it. Shake it. All.

‘Drum goes bum. Bum-dah ba dum. Dum bum. Bum drum, ba bum dum’.
Lesego Akimbo : ‘Fruit of the Bum-Bum Tree’. (1979).

Sunlight. Bright. Dare I say it White. This room suddenly womb like. Either the wallpaper goes or I do. But not Sylvian. He’s already gone. Always was. Gone. Just as he arrived. At the exact moment he walked in, he left.

Ah! But The work. The work remains.

The work. it’s… allwhite.

The maid arrives, bearing coffee like Christ once bore his wounds.’Who was that masked man?’ she asks. I smile. …or is it a frown? I take my coffee like heat.No! Like a 1970’s night- light …Black.

‘Oh Mother, what time is tea tonight?’ But the Rabbit wasn’t listening. The rabbit knew otherwise’. Urasian Koondera – ‘The untenable slyness of Bee – Keeping’.

The genesis of my Genesis Phobia.

There was a documentary of the band Genesis on TV last night.  A friend I don’t see enough of was a ‘talking head’ on there. (Chris Roberts).  Chris has great taste but…so…why can’t I listen to Genesis?  They played this song :

…And I thought, ‘I love this song’ (Albeit in a slightly medicated state, I’ve got a Viral infection and Colic).  It’s a lovely melancholic song, wide open, understated, full of yearning. I like Phil’s voice too. Smooth and rough..Hemp velvet albeit the B&Q brand.

But even now, as I write this I feel ashamed to be listening to it.  If someone walked in on me now I’d feel like I’d been caught in a classroom watching a Colombian Cream-Pie video. Why?

Maybe it’s context.  When I first became aware of Genesis it was the early to mid 80’s.  At that time I was into Japan, Duran.  Next to them Genesis and Phil in particular looked like Homunculus’.   They (asides from Phil. he looked like a nasty overgrown paperboy) looked like the Blokes who populated the neighbourhood I came from. Only posher. Like Supply teachers slumming it.  Which was a very bad thing.

Yeah..Tony banks with his nursery full of big keyboards set up like Frank Sinatra’s Train set…Rutherford with his ironed Y-Fronts… this brings us to another problem I have.  Class.  I come from acidic working class.  No fucker ever gave me anything, like.  And I can’t shake the resentment at people who seem to be have given everything. Shame on me.  The guitarist in Genesis. Mike Rutherford?  With his Ironed Jeans and new trainers.  He looks – to me – like someone who has never known sorrow.  I dig suffering in my musicians.  I imagine Rutherford at a Genesis rehearsal.  He’s playing the same guitar bit over and over again.On closer inspection by a Roadie he seems to be caught in some loop, bonking uselessly against a pillar.  The roadie opens up his face to reveal a quilt of wires and Biotronics, tightens a screw, puts his face back on and Rutherford is back in the game.

The other guy- Tony Banks- I’m sure it’s just me but he looks like the kind of guy who after a concert can’t wait to get home to his mansion and be extremely Right wing.  I’m sure he has a wing of said mansion devoted to Nazi memorabilia.  He has a Rastafarian gardner that he takes pot shots at with a spud gun. From a balcony with a Huge Nazi flag on it lit by torches.   Now I’m sure he isn’t like this but that’s the impression I get. I…I imagine coming across him hanging by his manicured fingers from a cliff ledge. I help him up. He gets to his feet, dusts himself off and doesn’t say ‘thank you’. Walks to his 4x 4 and drives off. And I needed a lift, an all.

And impressions- whether due to my inverted bigotry or not- are important.

Look at this. Miles Davis :  (0.48) ‘The first thing I look for in a musician is carriage’.

So. Me and Miles.  We’re like that.

Phil is a different kettle of fish.  He’s weird and warped.  I like that.  He stamps on ants round the back at his daughter’s wedding. He’s got everything and hates it all.He screams into mirrors and bashes his own head with a beer tray. I suspect he has a very bad back and two Micro-Penis’. Plus he’s a great drummer. Sly, groovy and sometimes perverse.


I need to listen to ‘Brand X’ don’t I?

I met someone who was working at a London studio in ’81 and he told me he accidently took receipt of a package for Phil who was in the next studio. It was 52 grams of Coke.

Phil is dark, man.  And my mamma used to play this a lot.

It sounds great.  Weird. Pervy. But I could never listen to it.  I could hear it.  But not listen. And I don’t know why.

Maybe the sight of a short man wearing a full length coat caught me at an impressionable age.

Or maybe it’s because I’ll always loathe what I never was (See below) –  and am blessed for that.  (I can’t go into Peter Gabriel era Genesis. I love some of his solo stuff but foxes playing penny whistles, Flower Goblin men, symphonies about lawnmowers. Fuck that. Or ‘Fock da’ Shite‘ as my Grampy would say, ‘Who da fuck would wan’ da’?)