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Martin Creed: Love To You

We speak to the Turner Prize-winning artist about his debut EP out on cult label Moshi Moshi

Known in the main for his Turner Prize winning work, Work No.227 “The lights going on and off”, Martin Creed has for some time been intertwining music and art in his life. Deeming them 'inseparable', he has performed live at art and music festivals alike and has just released LOVE TO YOU, 'a collection of 18 love and hate songs' and the double AA 'Fuck Off/Die'. His Work No. 1197 'All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes' will usher in the London Olympics on July 27th.

Dazed Digital: How are you feeling about the Olympics landing on us imminently?
Martin Creed:
Like a lot of people. There's a feeling its a bit like being at school; if the country's like a big school this is like a big school sports day and there's the feeling that we're all supposed to like it - and it's a bit cheesy because all the teachers and parents are going to be there. On the other hand I am really into sport and it is really exciting to be part of it because, well, it's like a massive stage.

DD: So 'Love to You' and 'Fuck Off', two tracks on the album with quite strong opposing emotions...
Martin Creed: I think that a lot of the songs on the album come from strong feelings of love and hate, or frustration or liking things. The song 'Fuck Off' feels really important to me because I have a lot of feelings of hate...

DD: Is it cathartic to perform?
Martin Creed: Aye, and when we play live that seems to often go down well with people...

DD: Everyone can relate to 'Fuck Off' and 'Die'!
Martin Creed: Exactly. The songs on the album (a lot of them) I've been working on for a long time, so I think of it very much as different bits of pieces which were recorded at different times in different places with different feelings. Love often is accompanied by hate, because if you love someone or something they have power over you so you kind of hate them for that even though you love them.

DD: You're known for these really quite minimal artworks.  I have to say listening to that album I wouldn't immediately attribute it to you or your work, they feel separate but must come from a united place...
Martin Creed: I think that works like 'The Lights Going On and Off', they're like the tip of an iceberg – so that very minimal work was honed down from a load of material that's underneath the sea which you can't see.  In recent years i've been trying to show more of the stuff that goes into the work because I've got a feeling with some of those pieces I worked and worked and worked on them until there was almost nothing left apart form a tiny little perfectly polished thing, which is the minimalistic thing you're probably talking about. What went into those works from my point of view was the same as goes into these songs, but maybe in the songs you're seeing or hearing more of the turmoil or stuff that went into that...

DD: You must be very please to have this dual career in your two loves?
Martin Creed: One thing or the other isn't enough,  I feel like how can you do just one thing when the world is so big?  How can you be so sure of that?  

DD: Where do the lyrics come from?  That's a process specific to music – that channelling of words and language in that vocal sense...
Martin Creed: Some of them come from specifically trying to write about the way i'm feeling in a stupid way.  Trying not to think about it, just trying to be true and write something about the way I feel.  A lot of the lyrics are things that come to me - like if i'm walking along the road - that I repeat... so it's kind of like a mantra... if these little phrases keep coming back to me then they obviously mean something.  Some of them are more like little exercises... 'Feeling brown', I was feeling very depressed, I get depressed a lot of the time so I was writing 'I'm feeling low, I'm feeling down, I'm feeling blue', then I decided to write 'I'm feeling brown' and it became a stupid song going through all the colours...

DD: They're quite associative then?
Martin Creed: Yeah I'd say they're like weird mantras.  It's like being obsessed with something and saying it again and again to try and get a hold of it.

DD: It's a much more immediate connection than visual art then?  These seem more impulsive...
Martin Creed: It's funny you say that because since doing the music in this way i've been trying to make my visual work more like that so not planning exhibitions then doing the paintings all the week before exactly to try and do it in that way that's more direct.

DD: It's interesting that your practice is changing as a result of your music.
Martin Creed: If you think about doing a recording, I usually work with a producer and with people playing instruments and stuff, and I've started doing that with my paintings.   So it's like a recording session. I get a load of people to come to my studio [where] I've got a load of ideas and instructions and in a day we do loads of different paintings, so it's very much like a recording session.

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