An AmbiEntrance Exclusive Interview
Muslimgauze: Bryn Jones Interview
(AmbiEntrance - 1998)
Bryn Jones of Manchester, England is Muslimgauze.
Over the past 15 years, he's created many releases of politically-motivated, ethnically-flavored music based on the ongoing Palestine/Israel conflicts and other happenings in the Middle East. Enigmatic and opinionated, Bryn agreed to field questions from the AmbiEntrance. For this, we thank him.
I think most of our readers will know who you are, but...) could you briefly summarize who you are and what you do.
The major part of each country has yet to discover Muslimgauze. Sales of compact discs have never been very important to Soleilmoon and Staalplaat, more would help, but to Muslimgauze, no, because the style of music and the political feel, make it impossible to the closed minds out there.
Muslimgauze are pro-Arab/Palestinian and detest the vile stench of Israel, it's occupation and abuse of human rights, it's helpers and arse kissers, who help continue this vile regime which oppresses the people of Palestine.
If you don't like this, then don't buy a Muslimgauze CD and keep your closed mind to yourself. The contents of a Muslimgauze CD are, I hope, unique, unlike any other, a sound and style totally separate and at odds with all the crap out there.
You've been doing this for more than 15 years now, since 1983's "Kabul". How would you say your sound has developed and changed over this time span? What evolution do you foresee in the future?
Muslimgauze have improved each year, with each release I hope. As from day one, doing what I like, never having touched a computer or sampler, using old equipment, working in a free form, never placing myself in one camp of music, always being criticized for one thing or another, more the better. Evolution, yes always, as for seeing it, no it will just come natural, as always.
Do you use drum machines? Where do you get the voices and sounds you weave into some of your tracks?
For Muslimgauze, I use anything I can get my hands on. Drum machines, old equipment, new equipment, found objects and of course, authentic percussion, be it Arab or Indian. I have quite a collection of old recordings of people/events on cassettes/tape which I use when I feel the need.
When did you realize "This is what I'm going to do"? Did anything in your childhood point you in the direction you've taken?
Just through listening and seeing bands, trying things out, and falling upon synth/noise and moving from and onto drums, then percussion, then a joint music/political idea.
Would you say your diligent involvement is more of a "calling" or an "obsession", or what?
Some may call it madness, an obsession. I don't know. I just believe in what I do, interested and love what I do. I find the Palestine situation to be the most important area of the world, an area the whole world will be sucked into, on one side or the other.
Where do you predict it (the Palestine situation) will go in the future? (It certainly seems you'll never "run out" of source material...)
The Palestine situation will only be resolved when the Palestine people are given the power to run their own country, unoccupied, free to vote and have a say in the future. Until this happens direct action will be justified in any form. Muslimgauze source material is varied and draws from many areas, the main backbone being Palestine, but it includes many other items.
Aside from creating musical commentary to occurrences in the Middle East, what do you do with your time? Describe an average day in the life of Bryn Jones.
Muslimgauze is total, being inspired, thinking about new ideas, listening to new tracks, old tracks, un-released tracks, un-worked ideas, putting CDs together, titles, it's never ending...
Sometimes I do quite a few tracks, next day maybe none, next even more, its always different. Interest in Muslimgauze is not vast, so there aren't that many interviews. Since I started to do the odd live thing, that's been good, not always a great success, but that's not the point.
You recently appeared in Japan, with Seven Degrees (Andrew Hulme, Paul Schütze, Simon Hopkins)... What can you tell us about the gig?
I put 100% into the 2 Japan gigs, as I always do in any live performance. I thought the whole trip was worthwhile. The 2 gigs had great sound, both recorded and a CD will escape soon. The sound people did a good job. The audience were as usual small. Muslimgauze do not draw vast crowds. The culture of Japan has never been top of my interests, but I liked the people a lot, and the culture I found very interesting. Buddha seemed a nice chap.
Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at how a "typical" Muslimgauze track comes together, from concept to recording?
Any Muslimgauze track starts with a political fact. From then it can take a few turns. Some are raw and some more polished, it depends on my mood or what final mood I want.
Some tracks are taken into the Abraham Mosque in Manchester and worked on with engineer John Delf. Some are left as raw basic ideas which convey the sound I required.
Where do you get the information that becomes a Muslimgauze song?
Information is usually facts/events or just an image/feeling. I draw from many sources, books/radio/images.
Have you ever endeavored to do some pointless, happy-crappy ambient/dance and rake in the big bucks like everyone else is doing?
Muslimgauze do whatever Muslimgauze do. A track has a life of its own once it gets underway. Who knows, always in search of an open mind.
How do you respond to those who say you produce too much music, or that it is all too similar?
Just listen to "Narcotic" then "Farouk Engineer". Listen to "Azzazin" then "Maroon". Listen to "Zul'm" then "Jaal Ab Dullah"... If you said they all sound the same, well go back to the crap you deserve. As for too much, I say not enough.
My most recent Muslimgauze CD is Beyond the Blue Mosque. On its cover art, the mosque is definitely colored Pink... is this to say "all is not what it seems"? Or am I misreading a statement?
The sleeve is the sole work of Staalplaat, God bless 'em, and Soleilmoon. Very hard work trying to sell a Muslimgauze CD.
Are you currently working on a Muslimgauze project, and what is the story behind it?
Muslimgauze are always working on a project. Soleilmoon and Staalplaat can scream on this subject. Jan. 1st to Jan. 20th saw 6 new titles arrive at their door. All are improvements on past releases I hope. They are "Mullah Said", "Gold Sutra", "Jaldar Bukara", "Ingaza", "Mazar-I-Sharif", "Souk Bou Saada". I hope they are released soon, possibly as doubles. We will see.
There's talk of the U.S. becoming involved against Sadaam Hussein. What are your thoughts on this?
America and England should stay out of the area totally. I believe Kuwait to be part of Iraq and only became detached when England re-drew the map/desert area in the past.
When Russia invaded Afghanistan, China invaded Tibet, Israel invaded Lebanon. Countries that surround Saddam Hussein have a duty to their own people to sort things out. I would like to see Iran expand and all oil producing countries increase the oil price and make the west pay, until they stop supporting Israel.
What if (someday, somehow) peace was achieved... how would this affect your music?
Peace is a distant dream. I should think for the people of Palestine, the outside world supports the occupation force. Fellow Arab countries do nothing to change their lives. I can't imagine a youth of Palestine looking forward with much hope to the peace talks. The youth, like their parents and grandparents, have seen years of, well people in the west, like me, can't put themselves in this position, but all direct action must be seen in this light, to live in this situation day in day out, Israel deserves all it has coming to it.
Thanks very much for sharing with us. Do you have any closing comments/afterthoughts?
If you have shown interest in Muslimgauze, thanks. If you haven't, sod off.
My special thanks to Terry Bennett for facilitating this interview and providing the handbill graphic at top.
Interview: Link O'Rama
(a.k.a. David J. Opdyke)
This interview originally appeared on AmbiEntrance (March 7, 1998)