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Photographs courtesy of Louis Gordon

Quiet City interview - Louis Gordon

Anybody attending a John Foxx concert in recent years, willl have noticed a rather enthusiastic and bouncy young chap on keyboard duties – that’s Louis Gordon.

Louis’ contribution to Foxx’s work doesn’t go un-noticed – he single-handedly persuaded Foxx to start playing live again and since meeting in the mid-90s, the duo have recorded seven albums together, including 1995’s Shifting City, and the critically acclaimed Crash and Burn. In a Quiet City exclusive, Louis talks to Alex Storer about working with John Foxx, and gives an insight to life in the shadow of the quiet man.

Alex Storer : Back to the mid-nineties – John's account of your first meeting, was that you emerged from a cloud of dry ice, following a marathon solo gig for several hours non-stop. That sounds pretty impressive. Did you agree to work together that same day? What are your memories of working on the Shifting City album?

Louis Gordon : John's account of our first meeting is pretty spot on. Lots of smoke and lights. I was introduced to John by a mutual friend called Chris Wroe (a great guy whose claim to fame is that he worked on Tiswas and invented the Phantom Flan-Flinger). Anyhow, I was blown away at meeting John but just got on with the gig. He just stood and watched the whole show in the dark at the back of the room. After the gig, he came over and thanked me for a great night and I told him it was a pleasure to meet him, and that was it. However, John got my phone number off Chris and rang me three days after.

I was gobsmacked. He said he thought the gig was amazing and would I like to make a record. Well of course I had to check my diary (only joking) we met up in Manchester and recorded ‘Through My Sleeping’. So we never agreed to work straight off.

Alex Storer : Did John take much persuading to start playing live again?

Louis Gordon : Touring was a natural thing to do really, although we didn't now how it was going to be. I suppose it was a combination of things what made it possible. Rob Harris deserves a mention here, because he had kept the fan club going while John was in the wilderness, and he knew there were still fans out there. I told John that I believed we could do the shows without using a band which would make everything a lot easier. He liked the idea of just two of us. So in reality I think he secretly liked the idea of doing gigs, and he didn't take to much persuading.

Alex Storer : Your latest collaboration, From Trash, almost sounds like the culmination of your work together over the past few years. Are you pleased with the end result? John has referred to times during recording where the two of you barely had to speak, relying on a mutual understanding and creativity – how did you find this unusual way of working?

Louis Gordon : From Trash – certainly we've came out with a mix of all the previous work we'd done. As John says, we just dived in to our endless piles of trash. I'm very pleased with the results as is John.

Alex Storer : Do you have a specific or preferred role when you're in the studio with John (ie. Do you write any of the lyrics, or do you just stick to synths / programming etc)?

Louis Gordon : I kind of turn my hand to everything, but I never write lyrics when I work with John. He has a very specific way of writing words, any interfering would contaminate the essence of what John does. I would never want that to happen. However I have had the odd title, and we do have this understanding in the studio. Sometimes we don't speak we just do things by instinct – it's a good way of working. I know what John likes sonically, and he trusts my judgement.

Alex Storer : You've said that you started out as a drummer - what other instruments do you play? Is there a particular direction or style you would like to follow on a future collaboration?

Louis Gordon : My father was a big influence on me and he was a drummer. I played drums as a young lad but my brother swapped my drum kit for a motorbike (A Yamahe F1SE I think) anyhow that was my drumming over for a while. I play guitar and bass, but I've never, repeat never, played the penny whistle. I wanted to do glam-rock electronica for years, but Goldfrapp beat me to it. Now I have new plans up my sleeve.

Alex Storer : Of the music you have produced with John Foxx to date, which albums or tracks stand out the most for you?

Louis Gordon : I love Shifting City because it was an amazing time in my life (I've just remastered it and it sounds ace) my fave track at the minute is ‘Never Let Me Go’ – cold and beautiful...

Alex Storer : Your recent solo CD, Closed, Gone Fishing, followed a more acoustic direction - did you feel the need to get away from synthesisers?

Louis Gordon : I've always made all kinds of music. It just happens that a lot of people know me because of my work with John and I just wanted to make a record that reflected other sides of who I am. I was aware that it might alienate some of the Foxx fans, but sometimes you just have to do what you feel. I had a great time making that album in a cottage in Hereford by a river. I was literally closed gone fishing...

Alex Storer : What artists or albums have been an influence to you?

Louis Gordon : The first time I heard Kraftwerk was a revelation. I had a slightly jazzy upbringing from my Dad so as with always you can't wait to escape it when you're a teenager. Of course David Bowie, Iggy, John Martyn, early Jarre, Pink Floyd, Devo, Talking Heads, Louis Armstrong, early Numan, T.Rex, and countless others.

Alex Storer : As a self-confessed fan of John's first solo album, Metamatic, it must feel very rewarding to have since produced seven albums together. Is there anybody else you would like to work with?

Louis Gordon : Metamatic was a major part of my life what a great British electro album. Working with John is amazing, a genuine one-off English artist, and a very very nice chap. I would like to do something with Bowie – I reckon his recent forms been a bit off. I could sort him out. Also would have loved to do an electro album with Karen Carpenter.

Alex Storer : What song(s) do enjoy performing live the most?

Louis Gordon : ‘Burning Car’ is a great song to do live, and always ‘Shifting City’.

Alex Storer : Finally, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?

Louis Gordon : Lots on the go this year. I should have a new album finished in the summer although it's on hold on the minute as because I'm working on the other projects with John. Also been doing some remix work. I did some production work for Toffeetronic - they're great, you should check them out. I've also got a Mini-EP out on download only through a small indie called Northern Star Records.

Louis' new mini-EP, Goodbye Walnut Road,  is available online at Northern Star Records
From Trash, Sideways and other Foxx/Gordon albums are available to purchase online at Townsend Records.

Louis Gordon on MySpace:
Thanks to Louis Gordon and Rob Harris, April 2007