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Julius Vasylenko: Seeing Stars

By Published: January 15, 2010

"So I'm into Beethoven and Wagner but what I haven't heard is classical music live. I had no stereo, just this old Radiogram, I don't know if you've ever seen one, its' like furniture, like a coffee table, really bad speakers built in. It's more for furniture than anything...But hearing Verdi's Requiem really stands out. There's this huge bass drum, and then, 'Bam Bam Bam!' That was great. That was rock and roll to me; and then the chorus—it was like this other dimension. And I got this idea, about 13 years old...This is really what music sounds like, feels like, smells like. And then Led Zeppelin

, who I would put up with Wagner and Beethoven. I didn't see them live, but I did see Black Sabbath. These are two extremes, Verdi and Black Sabbath. I was very open-minded, I didn't see any distinction.

"I wasn't really political until I was out of school, and out of work—and then, what do you do? You had to find a way of living. You had to find a new family and a new community. So there was great bonding. There's great irony. People were sort of bonded together, thrown together—the void creates. It's like Nietzsche's 'hammer and anvil': you're either going to be broken or you're going to be the force and do things—and people did. You've got the coalminers striking, you've got your three-day weeks.

"John Peel was the prime minister as far as we were concerned. Tuning into Peelie, that's where we got our information. Not only was he playing people like the Pistols and The Clash and The Banshees, he was playing This Heat! And The Pop Group and The Slits—and dub!

"The other thing we used to do for a benefit, to get some money, is to put together a magazine, a 'fanzine,' DIY, get some money for printing costs and give them away free. My friend put together one about Margaret Thatcher, who became 'Maggot Hatcher,' the adventures of Maggot Hatcher.

"And then there was this overlap between doing electronic music and picking up the saxophone. My friend Mark, at a university the town over, chief engineer, was doing stuff with oscillators and various synthesizers. And we formed this band one night. Of course Mark had this studio. It's always been about access. There were a lot of different things going on at the same time. I was doing theater at Theatre in the Mill at Bradford University. And I was quite seriously getting into [Samuel] Beckett and [Harold] Pinter...It was OK for outsiders to be in the university. I was getting into acting in a serious way, but I couldn't stand the snobbery.

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