Wyrd Question Daze: Stephen Buckley

I’m Stephen James Buckley. I write and perform with a modular synthesizer, under the name Polypores. You can buy or listen to my music at polypores.bandcamp.com

Where did you come from and where are you going?

I come from the interiors of collapsing stars, via 4 billions years of biological evolution. I’m going into the ground, where I will eventually be reincarnated as fungus.

What preoccupies your mind these days?

I’ve recently cleared out my back yard, built some planters, and planted some plants. I’ve also put out some bird feeders, and as a result, am getting visits from some birds. Currently I’ve got a magpie and a few bluetits who visit several times daily. I find them fascinating to watch. I have a bit of rapport with the magpie. I feel like we have a connection. An understanding.

I’m hoping for more visitors once the plants attract more insects, and word gets around the bird networks that this is a good place to eat. It’s almost become like a game, where I’m trying different foods, building different structures in order to attract more species. But then I also have to make sure I maintain those I already have. One of my neighbours gets regular visits from starlings, which I’m very jealous of.

Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.

Taste – Fried Halloumi
Touch – Moss
Sound – Dawn Chorus
Sight – Fractals
Smell – New books

Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares

There’s a particular place I often visit in dreams. There’s a park with a huge slide and swings. It’s very near a motorway. Here’s what bothers me though: When a person goes to the same place in multiple dreams, is that actually the case? Or does the sense of familiarity/deja-vu come WITHIN the dream? So the dream gives you that feeling, and you wake up convinced that you’ve dreamed about the same place again, whereas it was actually somewhere totally different, the dream just generated the feeling of a familiar environment. I suppose there’s no way of knowing.

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

No, but not for want of trying. I guess the UFOs just aren’t that interested in me.

How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?

I think I’m most creative when I’m relaxed and in a familiar environment. A couple of years ago I spend a few days in a cabin in the countryside, with the idea of going to this really remote and beautiful place to make some music. I lugged all my equipment there, and basically came up with nothing, because I wasn’t properly relaxed. I’m a very anxious person, and I need home comforts and familiarity to get creative.

What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?

Aside from my budding friendship with the magpie, I’ve also been inspired by the idea of meme theory, the scientific reasoning behind the seemingly trivial images that propagate and mutate on The Internet. I’ve found that juxtaposition between supposed “low” culture and “high” culture quite an interesting and inspiring dynamic.

I was recently moved by the experience of receiving my Covid vaccination. It was so well organized. I received both injections within one month. I felt immense gratitude for the people involved in making this happen, and felt a rare sense of kinship with those around me, despite them being masked strangers.

Tell us a good joke, story or anecdote.

Call it a hunch, but I think I’ve got chronic curvature of the upper spine.

Wyrd Daze recommends:

Front & Follow and The Gated Canal Community present:
F&F065 – DL
Released: 25th June 2021

Front & Follow and the Gated Canal Community present YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE – alternative soundtracks to a luxury apartments advert, featuring 31 artists including Field Lines Cartographer, Elizabeth Joan Kelly, Her Majesty’s Coroner for Wirral, The Leaf Library, Polypores, Hattie Cooke and many more. Why? We aren’t sure, but it all started with this video and went from there –

This project is not affiliated with Deansgate Square in any way – the video was our inspiration for this project, and for each artist’s soundtrack.

All sales from this release will go to Coffee4Craig, which provides vital support for Manchester’s homeless and people in crisis. Find out more here – coffee4craig.com

“Sharply dressed sales assistants and eagle-headed PPI enthusiasts march over freshly risen piazzas. Oxbow lakes of cement dissolve into dreamy quadrants. A Yo Sushi was there. Now it isn’t. This is where the gold is. The real gold, tucked under the receding gum-lines of once cobbled streets, stuffed into the rain-tinted domes hidden in plain view. Ignore the fringe of green that laps forever onto the city’s shores. Forget the municipal spaces, their fleshy tales creeping from beneath roller shutters and seeping from the cracks in boarded windows. And as you stride about with vertical chin, you feel a prickle inside of something sharp but unfamiliar. Like a snagged cricket jumper you begin to unravel, spooling out behind yourself as you walk ever onwards.

Find them in the Imitation Rothko Gymnasium.
Smashing it in the Imitation Rothko Gymnasium.”

1.    Bone Music – Reality Will No Longer Burden You
2.    Field Lines Cartographer – Consume and Prosper
3.    Hattie Cooke – Groundhog Day
4.    Von Heuser – Pass Through The Tear (Deansgatetohell Video Mix)
5.    F-Lithium – Never Leave
6.    Kepier Widow – Nothing To Regret
7.    Giants of Discovery – Terror In The South Tower
8.    Elizabeth Joan Kelly – The Insufferable Shame Of The Pine Nut Bulk Bin
9.    Guerrilla Biscuits – Manchester, So Much To Answer For
10.  Phexioenesystems – White Plasterboard Weltschmerz
11.  WELTALTER – Die Hure Babylon     
12.  The Metamorph – The Assimilation
13.  Polypores – Calm, But There’s Insects
14.  TVO – The Intense Humming Of Evil
15.  Rupert Lally – Stepford Home Dreams
16.  Acid Wilhelm – Changing
17.  Her Majesty’s Coroner For Wirral – Contemporary City Living
18.  K – Visibility Report
19.  The Leaf Library – Representational Space/Signal From The Tower
20.  The Burning Trestle – The Agenda Set
21.  Friends, Business Colleagues or Family – Find Your Epic (A New Level Of Hell)
22.  Everson Poe – Societatis De Electi
23.  Moray Newlands – We Live In The Sky Now
24.  Nicholas Langley – The New Day, The Gated Canal
25.  Apta – You Have To Be Louder
26.  Megaheadphoneboy – Sponge Dean Square Gate
27.  Salford Electronics – Deansgate Square (Robert Laing Mix)
28.  Mark S Williamson (Spaceship) – The Sauna Must Be Booked At Least 24 Hours In Advance
29.  Sun Curves – I Live in Your House
30.  The Snaps Jar – Timed Soundtrack
31.  Cahn Ingold Prelog – Demonsgate

Mastered by Anthony Morrow at Herhalen – herhalen.bandcamp.com

Words by Spenser Tomson.
Front & Follow explored the outer reaches of modern music with the sole, perhaps overly ambitious, aim of offering you something a little different. Front & Follow was a project of the Watson Marriage Experiment, but is currently in hibernation. Don’t tell anyone.
Gated Canal Community was dreamt up in the pub by Spenser, Justin and Becca. The name came first, and then we built stuff around it. It is how all good things are created. We play records on the radio, we write about them, and we write about other things.

Visit gatedcanal.com
Press enquiries – justin@frontandfollow.com / twitter.com/frontandfollow

Wyrd Question Daze: Gareth Hanrahan

I’m Gareth Hanrahan, a writer and game designer. My latest major bit of writing is the third novel in my Black Iron Legacy fantasy series, The Broken God. With my roleplaying game designer hat on, I do a lot of work for Pelgrane Press; my next major release for them will probably be The Borellus Connection, a 1970s spies-vs-mythos-vs-the drug trade. Track what I’m doing at garhanrahan.com, or follow me on twitter for interesting retweets and the occasional amusing typo.

Where did you come from and where are you going?

Right now, I feel like I’m trying to get back to where I came from – we’re rebuilding the family house that I inherited from my mother, and the construction got shut down due to covid, so I’ve spent most of the last year just waiting to find a foothold again. Everything’s loops these days. It’s hard to feel like I’m going anywhere.

What preoccupies your mind these days?

A two-year-old chaos muppet means most of my days are spent thinking “why is that wall sticky? Where are there books all over the floor? What’s she climbing on now?” It’s hard to think deep meaningful thoughts when you’re on the floor saying “which one is the green block? Which one is the red block?” And then any other available thoughtspace is taken up with work stuff – there are bits of half a dozen projects running around my head.

Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.

Taste. Chai latte. Horribly indulgent.

Touch. Tapping the end of my newish umbrella off a stone, or using it to steady myself in the mud when walking in the woods. I got a big umbrella a few months ago – nothing special, but it’s the sort of thing a grown-up would carry. I’m aware that I’m 43 and have three kids and a mortgage and am much too old to be saying things like ‘grown-up’, but I don’t feel at all comfortable with being an adult, or at faking adulthood. I suspect it’s because my career is profoundly unserious, coupled with being a rather serious and (literally) sober teenager/twenty-something. I don’t feel like I’ve changed especially in the last twenty-five years; I’m sure I must have, but it’s not inwardly apparent. Anyway, having an umbrella that I can poke into the mud feels, on some level, like a thing that a forty-something person would possess, and that’s satisfying and solid to touch. It’d like I’m grounding myself in middle age in the hopes my mind catches up.

Sound. The gap between the “I’ve been here” and “silent all these years” in Tori Amos’ Silent All These Years. There’s a little intake of breath there, a little moment of silence, that still gets me.

Sight. During lockdown, I’ve been walking around the local area a lot. We’re right on the edge of Cork harbour here, and there are lots of little islands and peninsulas. It’d oddly satisfying to line up landmarks, or to be able to look across the water and see the spot where you were yesterday. It’s like doing a giant crossword puzzle. So, I like looking from the south edge of Haulbowline park, and seeing all at once the national marine school, the Martello tower on the hilltop, the green hump of Currabinny, the edge of Crosshaven, the old Fort at the harbour mouth, and the opening to the Atlantic beyond.

Smell. The smell of the stairwell in the science building at University College Cork. It’s hooked directly to a memory of the summer before I went to college there – the feeling of stepping into an undiscovered future and growing up, of possibility and discovery.

Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares

I rarely remember my dreams, and they’re never especially vivid.

I do remember a dream my mother had, shortly after my great-uncle MIchael passed away. She dreamed that Michael called in for a visit, as he often did. In the dream, she knew he was dead, while he did not – he was a ghost or revenant, and she was terrified of what would happen if she told him. At the same time, she didn’t know how to bring it up in conversation.

Something about that combination of existential dread and mild social awkwardness – I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you know you’re dead – sticks with me.

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

No. I wish I had.

How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?

I don’t know. I can talk about how a sense of place affects the way I express a character in fiction, or how my sense of a particular place is connected to some aspect of myself, but I don’t know how to address the question as applied to myself in general.

What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?

A few weeks ago, a parcel got misdelivered to a neighbour, and I went down and collected it. We ended up having a lovely conversation about mythology, and writing, and farming, and families, and coronavirus, and travel, and our backgrounds, and the local area – clearly, both of us had been cooped up with the same few people for months due to lockdown, and welcomed the opportunity to make a new connection. It was a thoroughly nice experience, made all the better because I wasn’t expecting it.

The Broken God – the third book of the Black Iron Legacy Series (a Wyrd Daze favourite) is out now.

Wyrd Question Daze: Kemper Norton

Welcome to a new occasional feature on the Wyrd Daze blog: the WYRD QUESTION DAZE!
First up, and setting the tone brilliantly, is Kemper Norton.

Hello, I’m Kemper Norton and I’ve been making what I once fatuously referred to as “slurtronic“ folk music for a few years now. The general themes tend to the folkloric, the gnostic, hidden or neglected with a particular focus on my childhood home of Cornwall.  I use a mixture of cheap digital synths, harmonium, occasional singing, field recordings and anything else lying around.

Our latest album (Troillia) was inspired by traditional Cornish dancing and Scottish playground chants and is dedicated to my parents (who are Cornish and Scottish respectively). The reception has been positive, but Radio 3 did point out how I had successfully removed all elements of danceability from the source material. Which was the goal.


Where did you come from and where are you going?

Physically: from Scotland, Ghana, Oman, Cornwall and Sussex. Where am I going? Towards old age (hopefully) and watching my daughter eclipse and dominate me in all ways possible. I’d hopefully see out my days basking somewhere hot, but my partner fancies Northumberland. So that needs to be resolved.

Spiritually? I came from nothing/everything and I guess I’ll go back there. Feeding a tree.

What preoccupies your mind these days?

Family parenthood, intimacy, the joys and horrors of “community”, the toxicity of national identity, and the importance of being kind. Also if Celtic will ever get a new manager.

Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.

In that order: Korean chilli sauce, holding my daughter’s hand, my daughter laughing, sunlight on the sea, fresh rosemary on your fingers after you rub a live plant.

Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares

A lot of my dreams feature playing football with Rod Stewart, which is occasionally frustrating but not usually terrifying. I guess the one where I was chased around Cornwall by undead Nazis on motorbikes for what felt like a couple of weeks was a memorable one. Oh yes, and I was the Virgin Mary in that one.

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

Several, but one that has always stuck with me was at the Neolithic fogou (burial chamber) Carn Euny in West Cornwall on the eve of the eclipse in 1999. Myself and a friend stayed on the site overnight and while playing some quiet music inside the chamber felt a hugely powerful presence. It wasn’t necessarily malevolent but very disquieting, and one of the key messages we received was that we shouldn’t really tell people about it. So I’ll leave it there.

Our album Carn obliquely references this memorable evening (as well as a similar experience at Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex, which other have reported and even made subsequent albums about) but doesn’t give too much away. I hope.

How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?

Exploring and communicating with places and locations was the original motivation for any kind of creative expression, The details of my life are quite inconsequential but they obviously bleed into the work but I think there’s already more than enough confessional singer-songwriters around the place talking about themselves. I live a boring life and only want to share a few of its elements in encoded or subliminal form. That way my family or close friends  may spot any personal content but I’m not boring anyone else with it. It feels far more interesting to discuss or explore history, folklore, hidden or neglected places and people, and stories that may not be familiar.

An early motivation was also to describe in sound what certain locations (mainly in Cornwall) sounded like. I was often frustrated with ambient or synthy stuff that purported to do so, and I always felt digital, grainy or mangled windblown textures rather than smooth analogue synths was more like the sound of the Cornwall I know. Mind you, now the county’s becoming a millionaires’ playground and second home paradise, easy listening may be a truer modern soundtrack….

What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?

The direct community action in Glasgow to prevent an enforced immigration…it’s that kind of thing that needs to happen more across Britain if the most vulnerable are to be protected.

In terms of films and music, I’ve been enjoying the works of Alice Lowe (Prevenge, Sightseers) and feel she should be our next film superstar. Fantastic recent music by Armand Hammer and MXLX and less recent but no less wonderful stuff from Terry Riley (particularly the mighty Shri Camel) has been soothing the soul. 

Tell us a good joke, story or anecdote.

I’ll never forget the final words my beloved grandfather spoke to me.

“Stop shaking that ladder you little c**t“