Interview with Susi Lavender & Gerald Patient of Cling

Interview with Susi Lavender & Gerald Patient of Cling

(Spring 2006)

It seems like almost daily we get request from bands asking us to visit their website and check them out. A majority of these bands are horrible, a few are decent, and every once in a long while one will be so talented and brilliant that it just blows me away.

It only took me a few seconds of listing to Cling’s music to know that I had to interview this band and learn more about them. What I first found out was that the band consists of only two members. Gerald Patient is the composer/programmer and producer while Susi Lavender writes the lyrics and provides the vocals. The most amazing thing I also discovered is that the music that I have heard was from their yet to be self-released debut CD, “Sonic Spells.” (See Review).

Right then I decided that I needed to know more about this phenomenal band that just appeared out of nowhere and whose music made me an instant fan. So, how better to learn about someone than go right to the source. So here it is for you to enjoy, my interview with Gerald Patient and Susi Lavender of Cling.

CF – Where did the name “Cling” come from?

Susi – Cling came about because we have always been inseparable since the day we got together. We first met many years ago when Gerald had a small studio and I needed a vocal coach to help record some songs. We met up again purely by coincidence, through a mutual acquaintance and things progressed from there.

CF – When did you first realize that you wanted to be musicians?

Susi – Winning a talent contest at 17 was a turning point, I started to realize that I could turn a dream into reality. I started off as a dancer, growing up in Africa meant there weren’t many opportunities for aspiring singers. I was only about 20 when I left home and came to the UK. It was only when I moved to the UK and met up with Gerald that I started to hone my singing talent, it was Gerald who taught me everything I know about singing. Dancing helped me understand the way that music works, with counting and timing, I also like to feel the movement in what I’m singing, so the two are closely integrated.

My family always encouraged my creativity and talent. My father banned TV from our house and we were forced to make our own entertainment, he loved music and we were always surrounded by it. My mother recognized it in me when I was very small. I was always quite psychic and she would ask me questions about the future.

Gerald – It wasn’t so much a conscious realization more like something that just happened, naturally. From about age 16 I started writing songs and from there on I have always been involved in music.

I started writing songs through a desire to express myself in a way that was not possible in normal reality. I started singing and playing the guitar but after a while I found I could only express so much through singing, and the guitar used to bore me because it always sounded like a guitar and neither the voice or guitar were getting me anywhere near close to producing what was inside my head.

It wasn’t until I discovered the Atari computer and Cubase about 15 years ago and then started to use a sampler and electronic keyboards that I was able to get a bit closer to what I wanted to put across.

Many years later when I heard Susi`s voice and lyrics I felt it was the missing link as I wanted to try and create a style where when you heard a track you knew who the artist was a few seconds into it, just like when you heard Hendrix and all of the other distinctive artists over the years you knew who it was after just a few notes, I wanted it to be distinctive and original.

CF – How has your exposure to the cultures of Africa and the UK influenced your songwriting?

Susi – I have always been inspired by the nature and beauty of Africa and it still influences my songwriting, although I also draw on my experience of multicultural everyday life in London.

CF – How has your collaboration influenced the way you approach music?

Gerald – My music before I met Susi was always described as atmospheric and the kind of music that took you on a journey, but it was primarily instrumental with some sampled vocals.

Most of our songs start out as an idea or a chord progression on acoustic guitar or acoustic piano and then Susi will write/sing over that idea, we then record it and I remove the original piano or guitar that she has sung over and then create an atmosphere and rhythm to support what Susi is singing about and to create the vibe of the track.

I am trying to express an otherworldly futuristic sound, but also an organic sound which is something very important that Susi`s vocal brings to a track. Creativity takes me somewhere else and I am trying to express what I find while I am there.

CF – Your music seems to be very visual, how aware are you to the other senses when you create your music?

Susi – I consciously write lyrics to fire the imagination.

Gerald – I am very aware of the other senses when I am creating music, that was why we wanted to call our debut CD Sonic Spells, because its like you know when you have got it right, the right ingredients that affect all the senses of the listener and keep them stimulated, then you have a sonic spell.

CF – Tell me a bit about the video you shot for the single “Slipping Away (OTD Remix)?”

Gerald – The look and feel of the video was based again on one of our strange experiences this time with magic in Africa so we wanted to put the energy of that experience into the video; we wanted a video that was part of what the song was saying rather than a video that just went with the tune. We have had a good reaction to the clip that we have on MySpace 90% of people liked it and about 50% of people actually got the point, so it will be interesting to see what the reaction is like when people get a chance to see the whole video.

CF – Is the video going to be added to your debut release as a bonus?

Gerald – We had some problems with the flash presentation and getting the video onto the CD was starting to cause problems. What we are now intending to do so as not to disappoint anyone is to give everyone who buys the CD a free download of the video.

CF – Africa seems like a special place to you.

Gerald – Africa is an amazing place we have walked in places where the ground is covered in crystals, seen animals in their natural habitat and met some wonderful people. The last time we were there in December last year we saw a darker side, to cut a long story short we upset someone who then had us cursed and it was not until a couple of months later we managed to get it lifted, it was a very scary experience that was channeled into as Slipping Away (Of the Darkness remix). and also the video that will be available as a free download.

CF – What are your plans once the CD is released?

Gerald – After the CD promo Website promo and free Video promo (we do like a promo lol), we will resume work on the live set that we are going to put together.

We already have the basics of the opening tune for the set, its a new one called “Haunt You” and as both “The Other Side” and “Slipping Away (OTD Remix)” showed a little more of what was to come, this song shows what’s coming live. We get a lot of people complementing on how our music relaxes them, and we think “Haunt You” (although not a banging dance track) will definitely not be music to fall asleep to!

We will put together the set and then we will use a bass player and drummer and maybe some other musicians to make the tracks slightly different to what is on the CD with more of a live edge, there is nothing worse than someone just literally doing the same as what is on the record live, as we would like to take the opportunity to get people Physically as well as mentally, we will keep you posted.

CF – When can we expect to see Cling live?

Gerald – We have been quite surprised in the amount of work involved in releasing a CD and although we have distribution it still takes a lot of work on our part. We will send out notification to over 12,000 people that the CD is now available, about 1500 of these will be personal rather than a standard email as we feel that contact with people that like our music is very important. For us to take that to the next level and play live is going to involve a lot of work, which will resume after we have finished the initial promotion of “Sonic Spells.”

The first part of the job will be for us to put together the set as we want it for a live performance and then bring in the musicians that we are going to work with and see how it gels. It would be great to just go out and do some gigs now and we have been offered quite a few, but we want to put on more of a show and make it different. We do not really just want to play live with me at the computer and keyboard and Susi out front singing, so an estimation would be a couple of months. We will start off with a few select dates and take it from there.

Our live material will be very different to our studio material. It will still be very atmospheric and also very visual. We want to bring into reality some of what people imagine when they hear our music.

CF – Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing what you have in store for the future.

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