Nigel Ayers Interview 1 2 3 4
Nigel Ayers photograph by Charlotte Richardson
photograph by
Charlotte Richardson


It's twenty years since Nigel Ayers first embarked upon the Nocturnal Emissions project that was to change the face of contemporary music and "reality" as we know it.

Dan Fleming meets up with this influential and thought-provoking craftsman.

Subjects discussed include:
Psychedelia - Guerrilla Ontology - Modern Art - Live Performances
Industrial Music -
Rapoon - MB - Merzbow -
Equipment - Strange Politics - Magick - Reference Material -

Your music's gone quite a way, stylewise- from very rhythmic and pretty noisy things to very calm, beatless soundscapes. What is the common element that binds your work together ?

The most common element is it's been me that's been doing it. Does there need to be another one? There are some threads of consistencies I think - the endevour to create a new form of music, free of compromise is the main one. The futurist-antiquarianism is another.

I find the meaning of the work changes through time, as does the nature of the "me" that's been doing it.

Would you hit me with a stick if I called your music psychedelic ?

No, I wouldn't hit you with a stick. I'm far too nice to do that. I'd be more likely to ask you what you mean. If you were implying that I was off my head when I recorded this stuff, THEN I might beat you with a stick.

If you mean psychedelic in the sense of communicating and promoting drug experience, I could tell you how it relates to my own experience. I took LSD several times when I was a teenager, in the days when it was very strong, under far from ideal circumstances, blah, blah, blah. I had one or two quite pleasant experiences, but mostly very scary ones. I think taking that drug makes you too vulnerable.

My feeling about psychedelic chemicals is they are to do with initiation rites and coming-of-age. I don't think it's necessary to keep repeating the experience, but it is something to learn from. I have a great dislike for Timothy Leary and all the nonsense he wrote.

I think the revival of psychedelia with acid house and MDMA ("ecstasy") in the late eighties was largely beneficial in a social sense - I think raves continue to be important. The drugs seem to help people to appreciate music - I've known people who didn't see the point of acid house beeps before they took MDMA. But the MDMA- acid house boom did result in filling the mental hospitals with casualties. I never touched the stuff myself.

I think my music is better described as psychoactive and directed towards certain ends. It could be said that I am attempting to bring about a similar derangement of senses in my music to that induced by the shamanic experience. I'll qualify that by explaining that I believe that the sort of music I'm doing is a particular form of shamanism. And that shamanism only works in the context of a shamanistic society. To paraphrase what the Earth Mystery writer Jake Kirkwood once wrote - today's shamans are more likely to be studying the intricacies of MIDI code than the old bollocks you get in New Age workshops.

What role do Guerrilla Ontology and Discordianism play in your music and philosophy ?

My music and media work in general is to do with examining the nature of being. This implies a critical look at how "reality" is structured and experienced - and how mass memory is manipulated by the media that records and interprets it. In this sense it can be described as "Guerrilla Ontology". I'm keen on demolishing superstitions, and creating new mythologies that might be more fun. In this sense it can also sometimes be called Fortean.

The way you've put the terms Guerrilla Ontology and Discordianism together implies a familiarity with Robert Anton Wilson's writing. I did enjoy the "Illuminatus" trilogy he wrote with Robert Shea when I read it in the 70s, I also saw the stage play. You could say that the satire on conspiracy theory has been an influence on me. I don't really like his later books - they seem such rich American wank. I wouldn't say my work has anything to do with Discordianism. I am always careful to get my chords right.



Nigel Ayers Interview 1 2 3 4
Site Map Archive Discography Catalogue Links Network News Home