For those of you who missed our review of her second album, Christ of St. John of the Cross, earlier this year, it'd be wise to let you know before you read on that Rick Ross not the big baller Ricky Rosé, but Kay Logan, Glaswegian musician. Why does she call herself Rick Ross? Well, she answers that and many other questions about her band Herbert Powell, her walks round art galleries and her dad's shit electric guitar. Enjoy this. We did.


Okay, let's get the boring stuff out of the way first. Where does the Rick Ross name come from?

I just thought it was funny - it's hard to find on Google and my albums appear on his Last.fm page. I don't really see the name I release music under as an important thing. I started recording drone and noise when I lived in the middle of nowhere when I was thirteen or something, it just eventually became this and I needed a name to release it.

Do any of those old recordings still exist?

'Till All Are At Least Ten' off of the first record, Barack Odama, is one of those. I found it and felt that it fit in with the rest of the songs. I didn't start working on the rest of the album until January 2013. There was a really old song I made that I liked called 'Bell Tower' but it's gone forever, unfortunately.

What got you into noise music?

I only really liked hip hop and Britney Spears when I was younger so I got made to take classical guitar lessons when I was younger from a man who went to high school with my parents. My dad was really into metal and he bought a cheap electric guitar for us to play, but it sounded like shit so he started just making feedback with it. I was way more into that than anything I had been exposed to up until that point. He probably regrets doing that.

I suppose with that I mind I should swiftly move on from where you've come from to where you are now. How pleased are you with Christ of St. John of the Cross? I mean, you know I was.

I don't think it turned out exactly the way I envisioned it, but people take things away from it that differ from my intentions so that's pretty cool. I was living in a flat with these horrible upper-middle class Glasgow University students so a lot of it just came from trying to annoy them. I used to go walk around the Kelvingrove Art Gallery a lot because I was living near it and not going to university much. Four of the songs on the record use a lot of field recordings from the room in which the Dali painting the record is named after is located in - it's all processed and edited, it's probably most audible on the song 'Is This A Spare Bedroom'.

You say you made some of Christ of St. John to annoy your flatmates. Do you like your music to be a challenge for people?

Not particularly, I actually think that what I'm doing a lot of the time is trying to convey sounds that I find interesting in a way that just feels correct to me. I'm definitely not coming at it from the perspective of noise as a confrontational or forceful thing. It would maybe be more like that if I were to perform live, it would depend on how I was feeling.

I saw Christ of St. John as something that could change completely if your attention span dropped for a second. It had an arresting quality - the way you built tracks so delicately was completely unique to anything I've heard before. Did you sit down and decide to build a track like that, or was it something that just happened?

I think you've got it. I was using feedback loops in order to force sounds into these rhythmic structures in which they could then be attenuated, added to, or removed. It felt more natural at the time to have these songs sort of decay, fall apart and change as part of their structure.

I'm glad I was (sort of) right with that one because it kept my attention entirely fixated throughout. Where do you plan to take Rick Ross now that your album is out there and available?

I get more out of performing than recording, so I'll probably only do another record if I can figure it out through playing live. It's probably going to resemble something more akin to a noise set, because I want to try out new things and not just play back stems via Ableton and a Launchpad. I'm writing a lot of my own software because nothing available for live performance with a computer really feels right to me at the moment.

I've noticed quite a lot of your Twitter and Vine activity has been focusing on developing your own electronic sounds and instruments. It looks interesting as fuck, to be honest. The one with the rotating blocks making a noise every time they passed a certain point on the circle was my favourite by far.

I did audio programming, and like, interactive media and art installations, sound for video games and things like that at university. I made my own synthesiser, I was surprised with how good it sounded - I had a pretty miserable time at University but it opened me up to the possibilities of working with audio on a computer if you're writing the software. I still plan on using some hardware that I couldn't live without, but I'm playing around with integrating my own software into my setup.

The one you're talking about was one of my final submissions, I wrote some things that would allow an Arduino based hardware controller, the game engine Unity and the audio programming suite Max/MSP to communicate with each other, allowing me to represent musical variables in a non-musical manner within the game engine. It was inspired by people like Steve Reich and La Monte Young, the lecturers were like 'It's cool but what is it?'. I got a pretty mediocre grade for it, someone made a Wii controller virtual drum kit and got a better one.

I'm using C++ and openFrameworks now to do things, and also playing around with Open GL for visual elements - so I'm just taking my time with it and seeing what I can do. All of this is probably really fucking boring if you're not into it, sorry.

From Christ of St. John, and from the way you tend to talk about things, I get the sense that conventional methods are something you look to work beyond. How much of that do you want to put into your music?

I don't think I'm trying to do it intentionally, I just feel like a lot of things are inaccessible to me despite having done what I've been told to do (got a job, went to uni, you know) - like I'm being punished for having done nothing wrong. I don't know, to be frank, I am a dirt poor transgender woman and I feel like a lot of my life consists of having to attempt to circumvent arbitrary and incredibly unfair rules - maybe it's just inherent in what I do as Rick Ross.

So you feel that Rick Ross is your own space where you can work without boundaries or hurdles? You can take control and you can make the decisions.

I don't have anything to lose so I can do whatever I want with it really. I'm just interested in making things that feel right to me, and if anyone likeminded wants to help me with that, and if I can help them with whatever they've got going on, then that's pretty much all I want to be doing. Gus Stephens at Number4Door, who has released both Rick Ross records on cassette has been very cool - he runs the label entirely on his own and has consistently put out really great records since he started it.

Now your music as Rick Ross is your own thing, so how does that translate to a band setting? As far as I know, you're the guitarist in a band called Herbert Powell.

I've been writing weird guitar pop songs since I was about fifteen or sixteen maybe, we're currently playing one of those songs in the set we play at the moment. The records we've put out digitally so far are sort of throwaway to us, they're entirely improvised and recorded to tape in one take - we don't play them live apart from one that we've reworked into a new song.

Kieran (bass/vocals) lives around the corner from me, the first time we met he came to my house and we jammed on one keyboard together. I've known of Taylor (drums) for a while now, he went to another school in the same town as me - he's in a weird synthpop band called Old Barber and he makes short films, one of them was screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre recently. I met Billy (guitar) at University, but I knew of his bands The Cherry Wave and Sunsmasher who are both really, really good. It just so happened that we all wanted to do something like this, so we formed Herbert Powell.

How is it working as Kay, guitarist in Herbert Powell, compared to working as Rick Ross?

Really great, after we went through that initial improvisational period of getting used to playing with each other, we started writing things and texting them back and forth before getting together to figure things out and practice. It's a lot of fun, Herbert Powell is pretty much my dream band to play in.

Do you prefer working in a band?

I don't necessarily prefer playing in a band to working alone, but this is always really what I've wanted to do. I really like weird post punk bands, that sort of bridge between punk and krautrock and prog - like Cardiacs, Women, This Heat, Deerhoof - the sort of bands that I feel the term post punk should conjure, as opposed to like, Interpol. We're not trying to be intentionally obtuse or anything like a prog band, we're just trying to write pop songs that we actually like.

Anything else to add?

We're planning on recording the first proper Herbert Powell full length record around the autumn with Luigi Pasquini - he's recorded some other really good Glaswegian bands such as The Cosmic Dead, Black Cop and The Cherry Wave. We'll be playing a lot in Glasgow up until then, but we'd love to play in other places if anyone wants to book us - we've played in England once before and borrowed my cousin Barry's van to get there.

I'm working on new Rick Ross things with the intention of performing it live, I also played drums on Passion Pusher's new record which was recorded by Chris McCrory from Casual Sex and Catholic Action. Billy from Herbert Powell and Derek from Antique Pony - who are probably my favourite band in Glasgow right now - also played on it. It's really, really great and will be out whenever Passion Pusher gets back from Eastern Europe, where he is currently gigging and celebrating his 18th birthday.

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