Derek Champion

Derek Champion

Toy Pianos and Harry Pussy’s throw up

17 months after the birth of his son Curtis, Derek Champion has resolved to start performing more often. Formerly of Satina Saturnina and numerous other bands and performance art projects in his native New Zealand, the A.R.C. member has plans to start a family day care. He may record your children and listen to it a couple of times, but he promises not to publish the sounds. His new album on Dear and Bird features some dude yelling “Hey Leo!” at a live show.

ONLY: What’s going to happen at your show?

Derek Champion: It’s going to be broken things. But not damaged things. It will be broken, misguided signals that go through a bunch of processing and then we’ll see what comes out. I put it down as an improvised piece that I’ll be doing. It’s got some planning in it, but it is on the fly. Just sort of make a bunch of noise and see if it works.

ONLY: Is this some arty thing?

D: Yeah, I think it is.

ONLY: What kind of objects will you actually be using?

D: I’m really getting into children’s toys at the moment. They make great sounds and when you process them and add other things that you wouldn’t normally hear with children’s toys. It works really well. They have a lot of impact. People like them. And they’re really fun to play with. It doesn’t seem so serious when you’re actually playing with toys.

ONLY: Did you get into kids toys because you had a kid?

D: No. Well, yes. But I also liked them before Curtis was living. He’s a really great reason to have them around. They become more relevant. He plays with them in different ways, which I find inspiring. He’s got a different way of thinking about it.

ONLY: Does he like to make noise and play music?

D: Oh yeah, he’s great. He likes drumming and playing guitars and pianos. Oh, I’ve been using this piano. I acquired this old 40s children’s toy piano. One of those old wooden ones. I always think it’s kind of a scary sounding instrument. It also just looks good: a toy piano being played in a serious sort of environment. I’ve been using it a lot. It’s easy to carry around. And you don’t have to plug it in.

ONLY: I heard you have a story about Harry Pussy?

D: Um…(Laughs). Yeah. I did play on a bill with Harry Pussy a few years ago when they were still active. I had to borrow a drum set. We were travelling around for a month in the States and I didn’t take any equipment across the border. It was Blue Humans—or members of Blue Humans—and us and Harry Pussy. The first two bands were insane and I couldn’t believe we were going on after them. The guy from Blue Humans wasn’t too cool with me using his drum set. He had a really special drum set that he had acquired from some legendary jazz guy or something. But the woman from Harry Pussy said, “Fine, sure, whatever…” And they played so crazily. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. She was so wild. She was everywhere, just total energy. I walked up to her after and said “That was absolutely amazing.” And she threw up this sort of bile right onto the drums. I don’t know. It was just sort of this green stuff. I mean she didn’t seem drunk or anything. Maybe she just pushed it a bit hard. I just scraped it up.

ONLY: That’s insane.

D: It was insane. But I found it so inspiring.

ONLY: Do you miss playing at Ms T’s?

D: Oh Yeah. Yeah. It’s been hard to be motivated to play live with out Ms. T’s. It was a nice little between-bar. It was sort of not a real bar. It felt really good to play there. I can’t recall—although I’m sure they were there—I don’t recall seeing advertisements for beer. That I see at any other bar.

ONLY: Yeah, less beer ads, more porcelain clown faces.

Derek Champion plays at Video In Saturday for Signal and Noise

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