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John Foxx: If You Don't Trust Your Instincts, You'll Never Do Anything Valuable

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Wednesday, 16 July 2003
Ever since he launched his seminal synthesizer band Ultravox in 1975, Manchester raised electronic artist John Foxx has been recognised as a key pioneer of electronic music, though his singular decision to pursue art over commerce, has seen him usually revered by the cognoscenti rather than the wider listening public.

Seriously intelligent and wonderfully humble, he's both a role model and font of true wisdom from spending 30 years of pursuing his musical dream, with minimal compromise or faith sapping defeat.

"The only thing you've got, ultimately, is your instinct," he told Jonty Skrufff this week.

"You've got your instincts and intellect and intellect only happens after you've done something and analysed it. I don't believe you can ever have any valuable thought that isn't based on doing or feeling something. You've got to trust your instincts; you can inhibit yourself completely by interfering with that process."

Grey haired and fine boned, he looks as distinguished as he sounds, ageing gracefully from the David Sylvian style looks he possessed in the 80s. Chatting about his new, fairly electroclash style album Crash And Burn (co-produced with Louis Gordon) he's both friendly and open, his soft spoken manner belying a passion that clearly informs his present as much as it did his past.

"The odd thing is, the more you trust your instincts and the more chance taking it seems, the more people will recognise what you're doing and value it," says John.

"I believe that's true, because with all the stuff I love, there's always been someone, somewhere going 'Sod it, I'm going to do this anyway, I don't care what happens."

Skrufff: Your new album Crash and Burn sounds very contemporary, almost like electroclash, does it feel like your time has come again-

John Foxx: "I haven't heard many of those (electroclash) records, but I know they exist and I've been told that people like Adult and Felix Da Housecat like my album Metamatic (his 1980 debut solo album) and I know that they're playing that kind of music when they DJ. I'm aware that there's a scene that's connected to it that's very contemporary and rising at the moment. It's always been there though, oddly enough, and like every scene it fades away from time to time but never completely. It seems to be a period again now where a scene seems to have become properly established again which has some genuine power and strength."

Skrufff: Are you actively following new music or reading music magazines-

John Foxx: "No, my perception is based on what people say to me, in conversations, it comes up that someone's been to a club and heard this or that DJ playing my record, or had conversations about records I've done. Some of these comments filter back to me, which is nice, because I'm always interested in where things travel; there's always a strange sort of cultural trail, which is almost like magic.

I've always been interested in that mind space where you're ready to receive something such as a certain kind of music, or a book or a film, then suddenly, there it will be. It's almost as though a strange kind of telepathy happens and I believe that such a force exists. People connect with a strange sort of synchronicity, we're collective animals in some way. We're communal and collective, even though we think we're individuals. There's a strong culture of individuality as it should be but underneath it all, we've forgotten how synchronised we are as well."

Skrufff: How do you see your 1980 Metamatic produced album fitting into the greater scheme of things, now that it's so contemporary-

John Foxx: "Sometimes when something is unusual and out of its time, which I think Metamatic was when it came out, people recognise its relevance only slowly. But, almost inexorably, certain things move around to that position, over time and it becomes a focus. And there are thousands of these things which are focuses. The same thing happened wit
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