This article originally appeared May 16th, 2012 at the Lottery Party.Musician and Heirophant Ali Pow3rs [link] is a whirlwind of a true multi-media, and multi-genre, artiste. We at the LP are pleased as a Judy-less Punch to have him be our first interviewee. More humble than any pie and more candid than any camera, read on…Ali, what was the very first dream you ever remember having? Was it in any way a product of your environment at the time? Do you feel that dreams are products of our surroundings, or messages from fifth dimensional angels?
I used to have night terrors for a lot of my childhood. Some of them were just images of normal things, but with a malevolent feeling pervading them. A feeling of disconnect. The main night terrors I remember involved seeing a solitary pink flower being dragged down in the mud, past a window, as if the entire house was being pulled underground and I was inside. The other was being in a large room. The room is red, and red light is hitting everything. At the center of the room is a concave table. Around this table are eight or nine people, they and the table appear in a silhouette. During this I am totally in fear, imagine no hope, no goodness, nothing. Complete terror. And they're deciding the end of the world. I had these dreams from about the age of 3 up. So 1983-4, maybe earlier. Often I'd wake paralyzed knowing there were people in my room I couldn't see. My mum told me a rhyme to help, she must've been pretty fraught by this point, as when the terror took hold I'd appear awake babbling and talking about things that weren't there. She'd say "magic spell magic spell mummy come and make things well". The terror often started with my feet cramping, so even now I curl the duvet under my feet to keep them warm. I used to believe a specific room in my house was haunted, none of the children went into it. I once saw a figure of brilliant white light at the top of the stairs, and have memories of flying down the stairs.
My childhood is littered with nightmares and odd events, daytime hallucinations and things I can't explain. In my late teens I saw a 7ft tall blonde angel in my bedroom, I hadn't ever expected an angel to be as it appeared to me. As I've grown up, I've come to an odd realization due to what I call shared space-time. Where I am the witness in the dream, then the voyeur of 'the witness' in real life. This has happened a lot recently, with songs and artworks created from the dream, then when it happens in real life, I'm like "shit no!" and play them the song or show them the art. But it's all a little hard to explain, I say it's like watching a movie someone else filmed and acted in, only in reverse? So angels maybe? When I was originally thinking of the Wormcast in 1999 I imagined if reality is governed by memory, and memory can be passed by writing it down, and paper can be folded 7 times, and the 7th wave breaks bigger than the other 6. Then reality itself must be governed at least in our heritage by similar innate principles, like days of the week or Buddha achieving enlightenment in 6 days…whether he rested on the 7th is one for the historians. So I like the idea of higher beings, only if it's our instincts working beyond and faster than our conscious mind. But no matter what I believe I will always sleep covering my feet up just in case.I understand your father wrote a very profound book mixing physics with philosophy, when you were quite young (maybe even before your time?). Other than the night terrors and hallucinations, would you say your family life growing up was normal enough, or has your family tree always been the sort to burn down windmills altogether? Did the Powers define Derby, or did Derby define the Powers? And how soon did that eschaton-immanentizing goddess Art enter your world?
I didn't always want to do art, I originally wanted to act then do movie special FX, I think partly as a way to deconstruct my fear. Art, at least creativity with a purpose, came when I joined my first band at 11, I'd design albums we were going to make. With track listings to songs that didn't exist. Having a band of brothers meant we had a pact with each other. Hush hush, drugs alcohol and sex were part of the playing field of being in a band, so very early on we were experimenting, and our fans came along too. I don't think in any radical "we're breaking the rules" way, but more in a "we trust each other more than the rules". They were really happy times, puberty hit and life was a whole new thing, we were aloud out on our own. It was a small enough town, we didn't fear much. We'd get attacked every now and again by people in gangs. It's very different to be a band. Just the best of times. Really genuine people.
I moved to Derby in 2003 and it took a long time to repair my head. I'd been living in NYC and before that Liverpool, and I'd let my demons get hold. I'd almost been lead around by my subconscious for 4-5 years. Not at all a healthy state of mind. Interesting but definitely not healthy. Derby was a grounding. A way of me honestly looking at what was important after I'd lost so much. Of myself and time. Growing up in a small town in the south of England, called Ware, I'd had a lot of freedom, I knew how to get away with stuff, and test and push the boundaries. I think 1999-2003 I'd lost sight of the way other people worked, I'd spent so much time on myself, believing in a shamanistic approach I'd isolated myself from other people on a very basic level. I created this facade of the outgoing guy I used to be while inside I was falling apart and lost everyone and everything dear to me, apart from my family. So I had no option but to move back and get stable. Derby was really good for me, at points it was like reminiscing without a history, I made mistakes here, they helped me realize I needed to be resolute and not just slide. But it's easygoing and I don't feel desperate here. Living in NYC by yourself is hard. Tortures you at night, the city drowns the silence to a hum raging in the distance, when you're fucked up and alone. You only have yourself to pull you out, but in the noise I lost my focus and was pulled in and out of my conscious mind. A stranger in a strange land. The wind used to terrify me as a boy. Maybe in the hum was a hurricane building?
My Dad being a scientist was always hard, he had so many books but very few stories, that didn't come with a prefix or disclaimer of 'myth'. My Mum is a Historian so but a dreamer in that, and beyond the very hungry caterpillar, it was only when they saw where I was heading I felt 'got'. I'm the youngest of four kids, so I was told off, and talked down to more than I'd like. But I learned off them too. I think that's why the band was so important for me. When my brother joined in 1995 it felt like it wasn't mine anymore. Our family was very musical, my Dad always plays the same pieces on piano over and over, it's very reassuring to hear them. His brother was in a folk band called Drowsy Maggie. My sisters play flute and harp and brother bass, all with a bit of piano mixed in. But the thing that formed me most, was me knowing I wasn't them, I know myself best when family is around, like cogs. But I'm a very different, possibly precocious, and definitely amorous towards women for as long as I can remember. There's 36 years between my Dad and his Dad and 36 years between him and me. His Dad was born during a lightning storm, cause his mother was struck while she was pregnant, my grandad was born prematurely and was not expected to survive the night, twisted up like a pretzel. He was so small as a child he climbed into the grandfather clock at his aunt's house, the clock now belongs to my father. Think that's why I was scared of the storm. In case I was struck.
All these stories made me who I am. I couldn't separate them from me, but like I said, I also know they're not me. It's a weird mix of place, action, requirement, basic function, invention, adaptation, breaking the rules, love and desire. I wish I could live more for desire, like when I was young and passionate. Either way I'll always be a dreamer even when I never wake up.As an adult you have explored many very different mediums and genres of Art, from the Thomas the Chav Engine bit to acting in and scoring for films to painting and drawing, and even writing comics. But music you always come back to. Myself having worn through some eleven of your albums of the past decade, what catches my ear and the ear of any listener is the range of genres you can express through your music, like a constant experimentation. You can do the folksy singer-songwriter stuff or the bourbon-drenched punk or the silly bubblegum pop or the heavily mixed and sampled artsy mood music that belongs in big budget sci-fi flicks. Your lyric skills are especially noticeable, sometimes being laugh out loud inducing and catchy and painfully insightful all at once. Are your songs biographical, are they dreams themselves, are they stepping stones in your clutchings for sanity?
Definitely. I think often songs are like what stand up comics do. You have an altercation then on the way home think of the retort that would've cut the most, and write it down, it's the kind of lie people can rehearse themselves with. My songs are about the hopes I had for a better life. The Dreams that formed that, and having the ability to write a song often stopped me from acting out in real life. Which was healthier than a letter or a phone call or an email. Lyrics have always been important to me. I like mood music but often feel cheated if on analyzing it it falls short of some truth. I think too much and am more like a Victorian pinning down butterflies than the free spirited dreamer I once longed to be. I have a storm in my head sometimes and writing is the only way to ride through it. I have a sense of humor about it now, I know I'm crazy. But it's a gift. It's isolating sometimes, but it's brought a lot of joy to other people. And I'm grateful.So where does Wormcast come in? There was the comic book story from the good Liam Sharp's Event Horizon books, and you did some vid shorts and a crazy blog series back when to expand on the idea. Although it is more than merely a fictional fantastical setup, right? Is it something like a digital scrying stone for discerning into the future?
And you've known Liam for quite a long time, right? I understand his new venture will involve digital releases of comix, but would you happen to know if this might apply to the Mamtor books as well- which were all quite good?
We haven't discussed whether Event Horizon 1&2 will form part of his new Madefire enterprise. I hadn't actually thought to bring it up. Madefire's this wonderful new way to enjoy graphic art, the books are more like pop ups, where the narrative content appears as you go through it. As a dyslexic I always found comics hard to read, the linear story being visible all at once meant I'd be reading panels out of sequence as my eye was drawn to it. So I find it really beneficial to my enjoyment of the medium.
Me and Liam met through music, at an annual Tuesday night at an open mic. I liked his songs and he liked mine. He'd recently moved back from Brighton to his home turf as I'd done the same. Although I was raised in the south I'd been visiting Derby since the early 90s due to my Dads work. We just got on really well, if you've seen 'I love you man' we tend to see it in those terms. We were very good for each other. And I'm incredibly grateful to have him as a friend. He's been with me through a lot and I consider him my long lost brother. He's just one of the best people.
The concept of the Wormcast was bred very much from my want of fate. The idea of a dual toroid universe, and an infinite world that digests itself in continuous repetition, allowing us to live an infinite amount of times but only ever the once, came to me before the millennium in San Francisco. I put this down to it being so tectonic, that while in a trance, I saw the earth repeating the same movement, program if you will, always ending at the point it began, that infinity itself was a concept born out of free will. From that point all my previous stories and future stories bore that hallmark, that somehow to create a universe where all things were possible, could be the key to understanding my life, aside from writing a story I hoped would draw the fates to me. Oddly the word Zenopod was ingrained in the recitation of the story. I can only believe my father must have told me as a child of the philosopher Zenos and the Zeno paradox. As when I was writing I only thought, that's the word! Most of my work is written in one continuous flow. Words often appear in my head as if by magic, they seem to be appropriate, my subconscious is constantly churning over things.
When I started blogging the stories after publication it was partly a way to expand the universe, experiment and to illustrate the principle of an accessible future. The blogs had past and future dates, linked but set, unlike an adventure game book, this was a mystery, the cat could remain in the box, but that wouldn't stop it being there.
Interesting that you mentioned scrying since some of the ideas were fashioned this way, oddly again without me knowing the practice. Seems somehow I innately knew it already.
I've been intending to compile all the threads and complete the Wormcast as a novel but I've been waiting for the right time. Strangely it feels like an autobiography, much of what inspired me to write it, was from my weird life. So I wonder if the truest telling would be a mix of the two. And myself being a character in it.
Maybe I'm holding off on meeting the Venus by remaining in limbo? Creative work only exists if you make things. If Picasso had never painted one picture, people would never have called him an artist, even if he saw the work in his mind, he may also never have been such a womanizer? And the modern lovers would be poorer for it! The needle needs the record. Just as the record is a vessel of creation. I've been holding off grooves and writing beat poetry possibly for too long?You mentioned being in bands before, and we will talk about your current endeavor Hot Japanese Girl momentarily, but I was wondering about the collaborative aspects of filmmaking and your relation to it. Making cinema is very much a collaborative thing, and whether its acting, or working on the music or effects, would you say that your experiences with moving pictures must afford you some degrees of fusion to get lost inside of? You had also mentioned prior to this interview about wanting to pursue animation more- and that can certainly be even more of a faceless art than being one in a crowd of even a no-budget movie production set or a band on stage. Is there something about the loss of identity to those that holds some appeal for you?
I just sort of want to be able to make dreams. Aside from having animation/format ideas I really just want to form the ability to translate an image into a more tangible reality. I love cartoons but that's only part of the why. My experiences in film are varied, I've kinda seen it from every angle. I've art directed, acted, done the score, even been an extra. I've directed and produced my own shorts, and it's all been beneficial to my understanding. My favorite thing generally with the dramatic arts is it gives you a context. There is no polemic overriding the drama, that's the work of propaganda, you are a character in a piece, and the only truth to convey is the truth of 'it'. Saying that I love physical comedy, and just appearing to be an idiot. Or clumsy. I like to be able to laugh at myself, as honestly, otherwise, I tend to torment myself.
The odd thing about why I joined Hot Japanese Girl was due to one of my trances. I saw various anachronistic things 1998-2003, I saw an actress who wouldn't be famous for another 5 years through the eyes of her leading men. I had visions of technologies that are now common place, open source email with shared content. I saw a film I'd later do the score for, saw scripts I'd later work on, and I had a choice between being a backing musician for a famous artist or being in this band. We were in a studio recording a song called Dave Lankester. On waking I wrote a song called "no mistake" that's the secret track on the currency LP recorded in 2000, released 2004. Because they were the lyrics I remember being sung in the dream. I've since played the song to the band, and told them the story. And been in the same space time as the dream I had about them, that was when they were recording their song and asked me to do backing vocals on it. So on the question of a loss of identity, part of my rational mind can't quite deal with why I saw all this stuff 10 years ago. Did I make this current reality? That just feels arrogant to the point of madness. Or did I navigate towards it? And why?
More and more I long for solitude, wooly jumpers and an ocean view, so maybe that's next? I'd love to make characters people love, have an almost friendship with, and grow up always remembering. Other than that, like I said I wanna make, and share dreams. I think if I can get to that point I may make some pretty startling discoveries about the nature of my reality? And maybe prove some of what I've experienced in the past.Well I always understood that the idea of time flowing in one distinct direction is just something we made up so as to simplify things. In that vein, I read L. Sprague DeCamp's ruthless biography of H P Lovecraft awhile back and he pointed out how Howard was actually as straight-edged as they come, never even partaking in the occasional snifter of brandy or a bottle of rubbing alcohol. But some of the things Lovecraft wrote about…like William Blake's angels, his descriptions seem right on with things I myself have seen through the assistance of DMT. So, if drugs and altered states are only shortcuts to transcendental meditation and its many side-effects- then I absolutely see validity in yours or anybody's claims in experiencing time in anyway left of the norm. Who is to say that what a severe schizophrenic sees and hears is not really there? What if it's their mind picking up a different frequency, like AM radio waves sharing space with FM radio waves? To some folks, basic Christian religious conviction seems completely mad, but if an ethos is what's needed to get one through the day, then an ethos they are certainly welcome to. And if nobody is getting hurt, then where's the harm?
As you've tried many different paths and have experimented with both assorted solo art projects and creative collaborations with others, I'd like to do something other than the standard stereotypical thing and not ask you who other than those past or present whom you've worked or played with, who has influenced you. Rather, I'd like to hear who or what affects you like fingernails on a chalkboard. What books, what movies, what music, what politics or people are the sort you wish could be shoved into a time machine set for the day after the end of the universe?
This rather lazy diagram illustrates the principle. [link]
What do I loathe? I'm starting to wonder if everything has its place?
There's certain aggressive male mindsets and this applies to females as well I dislike. Misogyny in general. Which I feel is separate from basic sexism because of its use of fear. The player "I got all this shit!" Lazy ass lyric. They back it up with sheer aggression. Smart enough to exploit the resources around them. People who are smart enough to know the formulae and replicate the latest pitch corrected piece of shit, without any other motive than to hoodwink the people for one hit, that I tend to hear in late night pizza parlours. I like good songs, even pop, so I wouldn't say it's all bad. I hate something in all genres. So for the black hole? That fraction of society that exists purely because of the inequity brought about by too much paperwork. Politicians who make laws to trap people in a game they made, rather than take a human approach to law giving. The movies that aren't worth the popcorn. The music that hasn't evolved and just sounds like the next level droid is doing it. The people who can't see a better system because they're too happy exploiting this one. And the bureaucrats who only exist because they get to live off our taxes, yet punish the people who can't get a job and sign on welfare, which gives them their job! If we got rid of their jobs and made welfare automatic everyone might have more. I hate the idea that suffering needs to exist just to act as an example to others. You could quite easily build a system based on nurtured creativity and learning, and if we did away with poverty, we could also do away with crime, greed and war. Want. I'd do away with want. Things governed by want. Shit want movies. Shit want books. Shit want music. Shit want politics. Shit want planet. The shit that stops people living in the now. The honey traps, rather than the genuine joy. People who turn you into ladders for only themselves. And me just so I could be there to watch it all burn! Kidding.ZOUNDS! But I think you left out Meteorologists. Now before we close, I want to run some of the song titles from your inventory of…your website says "over 400″ but I think that's a rather modest calculation. Anyway, I'm going to name names and I'd like for you to give a brief description of where the song came from, beit physically or metaphysically.
The Etiquette Regret series. Sideways Waltzing. Stalk The Line. Our Reflection. Under The Knife. This Is The Scene. The Key, The Kite, The Lightning trio. Freebird (ha!).
Let's start with the medication of 'This is the scene". I'd recently started a course of anti depressants called Citalipram, and it had a few odd side effects. Apart from the hair, which immediately formed itself around my psyche, a side cut, it also made certain mind frames accessible, that I've rarely had since. The song is a repetitive hook with slightly knowing lyrics: "living like a pill in a pack, your favorite color is black, the warm fuzz of the numb generation!" and it was.
Getting off it was hard.
"Under the knife" [link]
is about lies, pure and simple. And literally becoming one…Free bird? People always shout this at concerts! I really wouldn't want to attempt it. I'd have to have been on the road for 10 solid years to truly do it any justice.
"Our reflection" [link]
is about me in my early years as an actor, waiting backstage in a village hall waiting to go on, a sort of misguided lust for glory. And of course of a girl, if I'd ever be enough for her.
"The key the kite and the lightning" [link]
parts 1,2 & 3 and the whole album in fact was pinned around a photographer I fell in love with. I'd written over an album's worth of songs in a very short time, she lived in another city, it was early days, and I longed to be in the state when the sun is rising, still awake, contained, content, totally consumed in her spirit, walking the streets like we were the only people alive. All those songs register in someway longing for that space. It was at this time I came off the pills, and crashed headlong into paranoia and a catatonic malevolence. I still love her a great deal, but my brain was a pinball without the paddles keeping it up. And it was too much to cope with. Nearly killed myself. Instead I got a tattoo. A heart will a scroll but no name.
"Stalk the line" is an ode to Johnny Cash. It's about killing a woman and keeping her around, as if that's completely normal. It's not biographical. Though I wanted to do a music video to it, where I played all parts even the barfly female. Although it's probably distasteful I rate it as one of my funny songs. I hope it evokes that faux Americana that oozes filth like a lanced boil, physically and mentally incapable of love, existing for and through the archetypes of the mass media without any depth, only learned behavior, to commit crimes yet appear completely normal on the surface like a plaid shirt wearing social parasite but handsome, handsome enough that people don't notice the ticks, or the carpet in the back if his car.
"Sideways waltzing" [link]
I met someone when our lives sorta spanned into each other, so in turn we span out of each other's lives. I'd stopped and she carried on. The intro is sort of the sweet beginnings, then the guitar seems to cut into it.
"Etiquette regret" is a long story, of first love, my virginity, and again ending with the lust for glory being ultimately pointless and unsatisfying.
Part one Etiquette Regret…In a sense an intro to the other pieces, though it was written without the conscious bounds of it being a 'piece'. A somber almost Parisian instrumental, about the aftermath of me losing my virginity to a girl I didn't care for. She was 21 years old and I was 15; it was a quasi-conquest solely on my part. I'd done almost not to care, not to think it was a big deal, but up till that point although sexually 'active' I'd always remained that I would wait till I was ready. So the music is the fall out, from that, and the byproduct, which i understand now, was losing a girl I wanted to end up with. Who I wouldn't get out of my head for another 15 years later.
Part two Elle Plate [link]
Originally written as an instrumental, the words came about a year later. This is the first love. A girl I never told how I felt. We were really close. But, and I have this habit even now, I'm intimidated by women I love. Seems putting women on pedestals is a bad idea, cause you always exist below them ever after. It's the same reason why fighting on horseback is such a good idea. So it's a grieving song really, her moving on, cause I never said I loved her. People are scared to be happy sometimes, especially if they're not used to it.
Part three milestone [link]
Milestone is the realization that things would never be the same. Me and a group of friends met in a field in St. Margrets, Hertfordshire, had a few drinks, summer was ending, some friends weren't there and people were already moving on. The girl in the piece is a mixture of all the women I knew at that point, all the women I loved, I'm still not sure if any of them have heard it. They gave me my heart. And I gave as much as I could. But regret deeply not telling them and showing them the depths of my feelings for them.
Part four evermore…How pathetic my lust for glory felt. Everybody has so much in common, it's amazing how the desire to be more puts us at odds with each other? From a young age, I'd not liked talking, and wish I'd not said things or spoken up. Words got twisted, I got bitter, and by the end it gave me a dogmatic focus but that also meant I still lived in the "let it be but don't let it back in" mentality of once bitten twice will never happen. Now I'm much more passive, I hate confrontation. I used to have the rage of the world inside of me when things got rotten. In a sense it's like what's said about politicians, people who want power should never be allowed to have it. And I never had it. Cause there are points where my mind was so destructive it was only by doing nothing the urge passed. The storm in my head. Next life I'm gonna ride the wave with a sledge hammer and see how they like it! Be strong, believe you're worth a good life. I change gear and lanes just to stay sane. I don't wanna stop or turn around, facing regret isn't easy. I wish I could, but that's life. It's not healthy to rake over things, unless you have a zen garden. Learn the nature of things, rather than deny nurture.
Of course there have been variations and rearrangements, of part one, and an unlisted piece 'Isaac Adam eve and me." that for now at least will remain that way. But that's mostly it, knowing apart from the exact events, ladies names, and the aspect of their infinite beauty. That would be a hard thing ever to capture. I'm just grateful for their love.
Or to put it another way: To love them when I did.So now you are in a band again, Hot Japanese Girl. [link] What are the other guys like? Are their specific roles everyone has settled into, or are things more on the frenetic pirouette side? Has the energy of doing live shows again and sharing a vision been something that carries you? And was there a real Hot Japanese Girl?
Dave 'Face' Lankester, (aside from looking like Face from the A-team) is a very left field thinker, when he thinks outside the box he sort of decorates the box in wrestling, comics, robots and dinosaurs. He has this lust for life that's very rare. On one hand he's a debonair, on the other he's like a child whose stabilizers are off, so he's just popping wheelies every chance he gets. His background is in film which is how I know him. He just has this really odd Devo meets Adventure Time level of ideas. So the new tracks are taking some weird turns.
Jay 'Jaygatron' Evans is a powerhouse drummer. Very much the iconic rock drummer. Long curly hair, and goatee. I met him whilst playing a solo show at his venue. Which is sadly now closed. We'd bonded over that he's from near where my Mum's from in Scotland. He plays left handed, cause his uncle taught him that way round. He's a very kind, funny, liberated and just a brilliant guy. Loves Kung-fu movies. He's constantly destroying his snare drum.
To my knowledge there was never a Hot Japanese Girl. We had intended to invent a back story where me and Dave met in Tokyo after a bar brawl, fighting over the same woman. But then we realized if people believed it, it might slow up travel visas. So we opted for various stories of how. There tends to be a new one every interview. We've had 3 guitarists along the way. Ricky Fiasco, Graham Williams and Matt 'Butch' Reynolds. Ricky and Graham both left for personal reasons, but we're still really good friends, and Matt plays with a band on the same label as us called Baby Godzilla. So his commitments will always be with his baby, as it should be. We're looking to tour over the summer which will be great. I hate coming back off the road. At the end of every away gig I beg the band just to keep going. I always wanted to live on the road, wake up under a new sky. And the summer of 2012 will fulfill a large part of my appetite. And boy I'm hungry for it!So with Hot Japanese Girl ready to storm the gates of Damascus, and with some production art gigs also creeping up, where else would you like to see yourself going in the years to come? And thank you for chatting with us, Ali. We've traded email for some years now, [link] and even a package swap oncet, but I am happy that you are the very first interviewee for the Lottery Party. May your candles continue to burn brightly!
I'm always torn between California and Canada. I long for peace and quite, as much as crave the self destructive beast of LA, and making my mark. So far as what's in the diary, in September I'm studying animation, and taking a step back from music, unless of course something breaks. There's a few long term projects I've been baulking on, so them if I can. I'm hoping to form an alias and go incognito for a while in music, purely instrumental stuff. Sometimes lyrics muddy the exploring, they define things too greatly, and I feel the need to be free, to free myself really, and just find a nice spot and sit.
Honestly, thank you for having me on The Lottery Party. Means a lot to know my work is still appreciated, especially in uncertain times for me.For more Ali, check out his official website: [link]