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AN INTERVIEW WITH DICKON EDWARDS
An interview of Dickon by Pete Thonemann...
Angles of questioning, one to ten: (no frills)
How aware is Orlando that it is making its stand against the world (on one level) and projecting its creative impulses (on another) within a medium which is both transitory and, ultimately, artistically worthless? To put it another way: is Orlando a respectable career for an intelligent young man? Does it matter to you?
I don't concede for a minute that pop music is low culture anymore. The Mercury Music Prize is a good example of the growing gentrification of the medium...a Pop Booker Prize in everything but name. The ultimate triumph of the CD format and the attendant hunger to re-issue everything that's gone before over and over again, spurred on by the increasing circulations of magazines like Q and Mojo, has elevated pop from disposable youth whimsy to lifestyle essential. Everyone is a teenager nowadays. As for transitory, tell that to the Beatles. The decorated moptops seem to be as ubiquitous and as untouchably sacred as ever. This week, Orlando have appeared in both The Guardian and Coronation Street. Both are equally viable outlets in our eyes. Orlando are making a stand against the world purely by definition of our love of intelligence, our inherent uniqueness, and our simple compulsion not to chase our own tails. No other band does this at the moment. It's the most important thing we could do with our lives.

Orlando - in interviews, letters and person - seem unusually politically aware and even opinionated, yet your songs are invariably personal and apolitical. Is it appropriate for Pop songs to express desire for social or political change? Are Orlando a force for change? Does it matter to you?
I think the danger of writing songs with a wholly political theme nowadays is seeming banal and token. It should appear obvious that we are left-wing in our beliefs, and to state so in our songs would be preaching to the converted. I personally find it hard to write about anything but my own personal, honest outlook on the world. Orlando support political change, but personal awareness has to be looked into first. Also, I'm a pessimist by nature. I can't wait for the Apocalypse, so great is my exasparation at humanity. Reproduction is still Pollution. Orlando are not a force for political change, but we can change people's personal, emotional lives. For the better. If nothing else, we tell them they are not alone.

Orlando come across as defiantly pro-Pop and even anti-Rock, yet Orlando make music (melodic rather than rhythmic, intricate rather than brutalist) utterly unlike the Popular music of the day. Does this make them an anachronism? Does it actually make them ANTI-POP? Are there "real" sonic distinctions between Pop and Rock which make Orlando Pop and Ocean Colour Scene Rock, or is it all relational? Does it matter to you?
I would vouch for saying that we are wilfully unfashionable rather than anachronistic. We dare not to sound like Oasis, but we work with the most up-to-date Pop producer in the country, Ray Hedges, creator of Take That, Boyzone, Ant and Dec and so on. We are Pure Pop, and definitely against the Rock ethic in all its forms. Ocean Colour Scene write unashamedly traditional rock-pop songs, steeped in their favourite old groups so much that they have nothing else to offer but someone else's music. Orlando are steeped in themselves first and foremost, like all Pop Groups. We are Orlando first, songwriters and performers second. Like the Supremes and Carpenters, our songs will remain timeless simply because it will become impossible not to associate them with ourselves as characters. OCS don't have character. That's the main difference between Pop and Rock: Pop Star-ness.

However much I enjoy your live shows, I always feel that I'm being presented with EXACTLY WHAT I WANT TO SEE - entertainment rather than provocation. Is this necessarily a problem? (Clue: yes!) ARE you trying to do more than just entertain? If so, in what way are you challenging your (growing) audience? Do you have a responsibility to do so, or is Pop as "mere" celebration justifiable? Does it matter to you?
We provoke by existing. Our very appearance and continuing survival as outsiders is provocation de facto. The Quentin Crisp factor. By putting on a passionate, energetic concert we are entertainers at face value as well, and it is with this coin that we buy back the respect lost by our refusal to conform. We are on a very basic level an extremely good band live. You might argue that we are also educating the indiekids into liking pop music and soul music too, especially when we occasionally play carefully-chosen cover versions such as Reach Out For Me, and branch out into phat swingbeat like Fatal...there's more to life than Ash. On the subject of Pop as mere celebration, I would have to disagree: Pop to me is my main comfort in adult life. It keeps me company in my darker moments. It makes my joyous when I most need to be so. And when it gets really good, it can be the only reason for staying alive.

Orlando appear to consider themselves "outsiders", yet both members have girlfriends, comfortable personal wealth, and a wide circle of friends within the London music scene. Does being a little shyer than most people you meet really make you an outsider, or is one part of your persona simply faked? Does it matter to you?
I have never had a girlfriend or indeed a relationship of any kind. Merely a smattering of ill-advised flings, trysts and affairs, all of them under the influence of alcohol and passivity. Comfortable personal wealth? Well, I'm not In Trouble like I used to be, but neither of us can afford to move out of our squalid little rooms just yet...Wide circle of friends? I only have a handful of acquaintances that tolerate my presence. There is nothing faked about Orlando. We are the most honest band in existence. That's the trouble! I CLAIM to be an outsider at least...it's up to you to believe me or not. The whole point is that unlike most of society, I have spectacularly FAILED to repress my persona in order to Get On, so much so that the only place left for me is The Profession Of Being...and pop is the most instant outlet for this particular career.

How important is mainstream acceptance and success? How important is a) a successful live show, b) a successful TOTP appearance, c) a successful Live Aid appearance? What excites you more, massed response or individual response? If the latter, how important IS mainstream acceptance and success? What, specifically, are you trying to ACHIEVE?
They are all important means of reaching out and touching. And the only barometer of success is the letters of devotion Orlando receive daily from young souls all over the world. I listen to no one else. And I am only trying to achieve Worldwide Acceptance for being Dickon Edwards. That's all.

Had you signed either to an indie or to a major for less money, your single would have been released six months ago. Any thoughts?
Yes I agree. Still, we have no indie aspirations whatsoever, and Geoff Travis of the Warners-backed Blanco Y Negro (also of Rough Trade and Trade 2) remains the one label MD I've met who is neither evil nor depraved. That we have to do things the Warners Way is a price to pay for now...but the pay-off will be worth it in the end. And our fans are always welcome to contact Blanco is they are ever annoyed at the label's efforts (Write to them at 66 Golborne Road, London W10 5PS, fax 0181-9686715, e-mail: pulp@trade2.demon.co.uk)...

A Pop group invariably has an intense effect on its fans, to the extent of changing their very attitudes toward their lives, most obviously in the cases of the Smiths and the Manics, two groups to whom you've been compared. Knowing this, do you feel comfortable giving out messages of passivity, dignity in solitude, abstinence, "knowing one's place", and self-loathing? Are you there to comfort people in misery or to elevate them from misery? Does it matter to you?
Oh, everything matters to me all right. We serve many purposes: the basic good pop tune appeal, the soundtrack to loneliness, the catharsis of longing, the importance of Being There as role models for the off-kilter...It's all important. It's all deliberate. It's all The Point.

Are you lonely?
Alone, yes. Lonely, no. I don't have the time to be lonely! It would be nice to one day acquire a dog when I can live somewhere big enough to accomodate one...cats say "Love me - I am wonderful", people say "I'm not letting on what I really think", but dogs say "I love you, and will always do so unconditionally." Dogs are the only true companions.

Are questions like these the right way of going about the interview process? How much of yourself are you prepared to reveal in interview? What sort of questions "sell" a group to the reader best? Did the Melody Maker interviews present you in a light you thought appropriate? Do people care how musicians view their music? What is your favourite food? What is your favourite item of clothing? What do you look for in a girl?
Well I always prefer e-mail and the Net to real life...no body language, no skin complaints, no speech impediments... I have such a lot to say, so to ever turn down an interview, even if it's for a fanzine that will never see the light of day, and is only created as an excuse for the "writer" to meet the band; would be a crime. I will say everything I am required to, although I must always be careful not to say anything that might reflect on others in any way, and to hold back on details that I anticipate the writer would rather not know. For example, I was once asked by a newspaper what was the strangest place I have ever had sex. To have given them a straight forward answer would be tedious and out of character, so I instead opted for "sex at all is strange for me"...they seemed happy enough with this response.