The following interview was conducted over the phone in January 1992. Some of the questions sound a little basic in retrospect, but at the time information and press coverage about Bryn's work was pretty much non-existent. The only other appearance of Muslimgauze in print I had seen was a short interview by Nigel Ayers in Network News a year or so before.
Mark Crumby, January 2000.
For around ten years, Muslimgauze have been creating their own musical mix of Western and Eastern cultures. Influenced by the Middle East and the PLO, their releases are interesting musically as well as thought provoking politically. How did Muslimgauze actually start? Was it the first musical project you were involved in?
No, the first project was E.g Oblique Graph, which evolved into Muslimgauze during Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Before that time we were just interested in music but at that point we turned our attention to politics.
How many were involved in the band at that time?
No-one, it's always been just me.
Did you want a career in music, or was it something you just fell into?
I started in graphics, and then... obviously I've always gone to see groups and the interest in music just followed from that.
Why do you think you get lumped in with the 'industrial' or experimental scenes?
Because there's no other pigeonhole I think, that's all it is. People are safe with that, a label, unfortunately.
How do you actually go about creating the music?
We usually start off with a political fact, or a photograph or something that's happened, and then work off that into a musical idea..
And that's all done in the studio...
Yes, nothing's pre-written. It's all instinct.
What was the first Muslimgauze release?
The first was an LP called "Kabul". That was influenced by Russia's invasion of Afghanistan.
When was that released?
I've seen a copy of "Kabul" for #30, is that the going rate do you think?
Well, I've been told that the records fetched large amounts of money. I've none left so?
Just your own copy?
In some cases no. Not on some of them. Some of them weren't even sent to me, ones that other people released.
Which ones were they?
"Buddhist On Fire", by Recloose. I've not even been paid for that yet.
Did you fall out with Stanza?
No, the other one, Crabtree.
Don't you have any contact with them any more? Do you still speak to Stanza?
No, I've not spoken to him, the last time was in Holland, when we played together.
I bought a copy of "Buddhist On Fire" for ten pounds, but I've seen it sold for £40
I've never seen a finished copy. I was sent the cover, and that was it. You just don't realise what these people are. I've not been told how many were pressed, no royalties, nothing.
When did that come out?
It must have been '86.
When did "Hunting Out With An Aerial Eye" come out? There was a seven inch out at around that time as well?
That was the next one after "Kabul", in '84, and the 7" followed that.
Have they been re-released recently because I still see copies around today?
No, I've still got those. They don't sell.
Do you think the early LPs will ever been released on CD?
It's being put together now, by Extreme, who we're signed with now. There will be a CD of old material before the end of the year.
How many CD's do you sell now?
On the last one, about 3000, that's America and Japan mostly, and bits of Europe.
Where do you think you get most interest?
It seems to be America now, maybe Germany or Holland. It's zero in this country!
Why do you think that is? Do you think people are scared off by the politics?
Possibly, yes, but that's their look out, because it's the most important thing. I don't think we're given press coverage in this country, or radio. We don't get reviewed or played or anything like that at all.
Is Muslimgauze now only a studio only band? Will you ever play live again?
I don't think so. Because I'd like to put on too much of a show.. Web just wouldn't be able to afford my ideas.
What were the Muslimgauze shows like before?
Chaotic and dreadful. It's as simple as that. That's why we stopped, it was just shocking, bad sound, dreadful!
Who was on stage?
It was me, tapes and Bourbonese Qualk, and that was it - shocking. It's just a really bad medium. It's terrifying as well.
How do you think your music and inspirations have changed over the years?
They've not really changed. We're still influenced by the PLO, Arafat, Gaddafi, things like that.
Do you think the music's developed in any way?
Oh yes, I think so. Much better. I think that we're using sounds much better.
Have you ever had any threats because of your beliefs? It's fairly simple to get hold of your address.
Yes, we've had a few, definitely. Just a few letters, all unsigned, things like that.
Do you listen to music at home?
Just traditional music. Traditional Japanese, Middle Eastern, Indian. Mostly Indian.
Are you interested in contemporary music at all?
No, nothing really. Only Can, TG, things like that from the past. Wire. Obviously Faust, Can, the German stuff.
How long can you see Muslimgauze going on for?
Good question. As long as my interest lasts. I don't know. I can't see further than about 3 or 4 months ahead at the moment.
Do you have any interest in branching out in films, that sort of thing?
I'd like to, but it's a case of money. There was a video done, for a track off the last CD. It was just passed around Australia I think. It wasn't very good. I wasn't involved with it. It was the Australian end.
Do you run Muslimgauze full time?
Yes, it's working on ideas. The majority of ideas get scrapped along the way, and hopefully you're left with the best ones. It's not always the case though.
When are the next CD's coming out?
There's been some delays and disputes on it, but "Bhutto" should be out now, and "Zul'm" has been put back until April 1st.
What's the new CD like?
Well, it's the best one so far, there's much more variety involved.
Does it contain long or short tracks?
It's always long tracks... you just can't stop. There's better mixing going on now. We have an engineer working alongside, so it's like another input, which is working very well at the moment. We do all our recording in London so he knows the studio.
How do you actually record in the studio? You use drum machines as well as hand instruments, cymbals etc.
We don't really use drum machines now. Everything's done by hand. We tend to do things like that, you just get a better feel I think.
Do you actually fund the PLO in any way?
No, not at all. It's just my influence through the music.
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Just to make it clear that we are influenced by the Middle East, PLO, things like that. It's very important. The music wouldn't exist without it. It's the backbone. The reason the music's there, is these political facts, what Israel's doing, things like that.
You've never been over there?
No, I wouldn't go. I don't think you can visit an occupied land.. It's the principle. Not until it's free again.
How did you get the interest in this subject in the first place?
The initial spark was Israel's invasion of Lebanon. That's what started it. It's sounds quite familiar, like Iraq invading Kuwait. It's exactly the same.
And it just changed your way of thinking?
It did, yes. You can start looking into things, reading about things that have happened, it's just endless.....
Interview: Mark Crumby
This interview originally appeared in Impulse Magazine Issue 2 (March 1992).
"The principle influence behind Muslimgauze is the political facts of the Middle East, though support of the PLO is the main backbone. There are no musical influences, only political facts and figureheads e.g. Arafat, Gaddafi, Bhutto, Khaled etc. Such things are the starting point from which Muslimgauze music is taken. We have just (Gulf-War, so called) had a small skirmish in the Middle East, this area of the world is the most important. Quite soon, every country is going to have to choose which side it is on, to help free the people of Palestine, or to help Israel oppress them even further. Any so-called peace talks will fail, unless occupied territories are relinquished to start a process of total Israel retreat and defeat. This country is guilty of every breach of human rights there is. To date, it has been able to subjugate the people of Palestine with American money and military help. 1992 will, I hope, bring a new outlook from America, seeing the damage it has caused in the Middle East, I hope it can use it's economic muscle over Israel, like it used its military muscle over Iraq.
There is a lot more to Muslimgauze than just a few pieces of music on a record or CD. There are no bands about who I go out of my way to hear/see, the main music I listen to is authentic and unable to be pigeonholed. People seem to buy what they are told to, also they hear what other people have decided is good. Go out and discover..."
Bryn Jones - February 29, 1992 - Manchester.