I was delighted to interview Steve Peer recently. Steve started life in a host of bands, ending up playing at CGBG’s with The Talking Heads alongside TV Toy, The Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop and so on.
He was asked to join Bill Nelson’s Red Noise and has a set of fascinating stories about how to work in the music business with transferable lessons for anyone trying to achieve success. Great insights for everyone.
Here’s a rare clip of the beginning of the 2nd Red Noise that not ever happened – Steve played drums on “Ideal Homes” and “Instantly Yours”.
And this is the wonderful John Peel introducing Steve’s band TV Toy.
Find TV Toy at https://www.facebook.com/tvtoy.newrockmusic
The Crown Vics at https://www.facebook.com/thecrownvicsband
Sir Ken Robinson died just recently aged 70. Author of “All Our Futures”, a book that asked the Government to change its approach to education and perhaps most famous for his TED talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?“.
I was invited to lunch with Ken at Warwick University just around the turn of the century, long before he did his famous TED lecture. He invited me there after spotting that I’d released my first book “Best Practice Creativity“. In truth I did not know much about him at that time, so of course I did my research. Ken had a working class upbringing, suffered from Polio at the age of four and consequently had a very hard time at school which he reflected upon in later life. But he never seemed to let his condition hold him back from learning and enquiring with a curiosity that endured through his distinguished career.
“A rare mixture of uncommon intelligence, wisdom and foresight with the common touch of someone who did not forget where he came from”
We had a wonderful dialogue, not least because of our shared interest in creativity but also because of our backgrounds, Ken in theatre and drama and mine in music as well as science. We found much in common, in terms of our shared experience that command and control teaching and management produces low levels of achievement and attainment, he from his experience in theatre and mine from my experience in teaching for the Open University MBA programme in Creativity, Innovation and Change. We also shared a lot on what might be called whole brain teaching and learning, finding ways to engage every student through cross-curricular teaching approaches.
Some time later, I heard that Ken was somewhat disappointed that his report on creativity in education commissioned by the Government had largely been ignored by the Government of the day. I suspect that this was simply because he was too far ahead of his time. He left the UK shortly after this. I remember Ken saying many years later when we net in London, that the Americans listened to him better when he moved to the Getty Institute, perhaps because he was an eccentric Englishman. I thought more about our conversation to this day when I included some reflections on our dialogue in the book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise”:
I hope that Ken’s messages will reach politicians now that we are having to re-think education for the information age. The simple upload – download model of knowledge via examinations has been outmoded for many years and has come into sharp relief under the COVID crisis. The simple storage and regurgitation of knowledge is now less relevant than the ability to apply knowledge to solve problems and seek opportunities. We need more people like Ken in the world to help us find better solutions to complex problems.
One of the great joys of our lunchtime conversation was our shared love of music. We both grew up on The Beatles, Ken of course because he hailed from Liverpool. It therefore seems fitting to end with Ken’s favourite song from his Desert Island Discs programme which informed the title of this post.
It’s a sad day for Britain. Dame Vera Lynn passed away after an incredible life of 103 years. It is a poignant moment to reflect that I wrote the song ‘Alo Vera in tribute to all the good things Lynn stood for, just one month ago. Although she was adopted as an icon of war, her main focus has been about peace, understanding and compassion. Her last song marked the end of the Falklands War and not the war per se. In her private life, Vera devoted much time and energy to charity work connected with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer. This is the mark of a true leader. Her love of music and humanity is summed up:
Join me this evening online when I’ll be performing the song in her honour on the streets of Britain. Check our song out at ‘Alo Vera. Lynn was born in the East End and the song is evocative of the age.
Dame Vera Lynn – R.I.P.
Under lockdown, I have had a little bit of time to compose some music in honour of Prince. The track “Paisley Blues” is now available on Bandcamp together with my interpretation of a classic and another song I wrote for Prince in 2012 “What U C is What U Get. Take a listen to Paisley Blues:
The track was the product of a late night recording session and came together almost instantly as a result if a happy interaction between a piano line and guitar. To read my eulogy to Prince from four years ago, go to The Prince of Innovation.
Get in touch for our versions of Purple Rain and Sign ‘O The Times via email. Here’s a memory of one of the last times I saw the man. Do check our interviews out with band members at Interviews with Music Giants.
The early death of Florian Schneider at 73 years of age made me reflect on the genius of Kraftwerk, the band he formed in 1970 with Ralf Hütter. The band started producing avant-garde music using traditional instruments but quickly gravitated to electronica under the influence of Schneider and Hütter.
Originally a flute player, Schneider became interested in transforming the instrument using whatever effects units were available at the time, tape echo, ring modulator and crude synthesis techniques. This plays to one of the definitions of creativity:
“Seeing something different in the ordinary”
An insight into his transition from flute to full synthesis of man and machine may be seen in this film:
I spent my teenage years trying to transform the sound of my violin and guitar using whatever rudimentary processors that were available. I also used two reel to reel tape recorders, were set up on the landing of our house to produce very large loops, delays and backwards recording effects, much to my mum’s annoyance. Later on, I took to the habit of writing books late at night to Kraftwerk songs, which provide the perfect focus and rhythm to engage with creative tasks. Karl Bartos pointed out that the early Kraftwerk songs were produced with fairly limited options to production. I resonate completely with this point in so far as constraints produce ingenuity. We have so many choices in electronic music these days and sometimes less is more in so many fields. See also Constraints and Creativity.
The other interesting thing about Kraftwerk was their innovation in terms of building Kling Klang studios as a spiritual home for their music. Environment is a key ingredient in producing the climate needed for most creative endeavours. This principle affects our personal lives as much as it matters in all creative endeavours. A sense of place is really important in providing the setting for creativity. David Bowie’s time in Berlin where he produced the trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger spawned one of his ground-breaking pieces, which he named after Schneider. Bowie was a big admirer of Kraftwerk.
I was also minded to quote Kraftwerk in my latest book, where I discuss the fusion of machines, intelligence and technology with man and woman. In the next 10 years I foresee that we may finally get to a point where we begin to harness the benefits of this 50 year old love / hate affair with the 4th industrial age.
Rest in peace and thank you for the inspiration.
If you ever wanted to understand the “anatomy” of Prince’s musical brain, a key component would have been Little Richard R.I.P. 1932-2020 His performance, projection, sexuality, androgyny and his challenges to convention. His influence spread wide, with musicians as diverse as Bowie, AC / DC, Lemmy, James Brown, Lou Reed, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Patti Smith having cited him as a major influence.
Born in Macon, Georgia, Richard grew up in a large family and began singing at church, like so many from the deep south of the US. This interview with David Letterman gives a good insight into the man.
Little Richard’s contribution to breaking down boundaries between races is evident in this video, foreshadowing people such as Sly and the Family Stone who had multi-ethnic lineups. Along with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, Richard used to invite both black and white people to his shows, even in an age of segregation and even in the deep South of the USA where the KKK were rife.
Rishi Sunak’s “unprecedented” bailout of businesses, announced on Friday 20 March has thrown five million self-employed people under one of Boris’ fictional buses, in spite of his promise to do “Whatever it takes” to secure the livelihoods of the British people and help them do the right thing in the wake of the Corona pandemic. In the 4th industrial age, self-employed people, gig economy workers, digital nomads, zero hours workers et al. do not fit into tidy employment categories. These people make up some 15% of the UK working population at 5 million people and contribute £305 billion to the UK economy. They are left outside alone from Johnson’s catchy headlines. They are the nation’s self-starters and entrepreneurs who contribute to our net wealth and who Johnson claims are the future of Britain under Brexit, so why would he treat them in this way? Are they too part of the generation of people who must take it on the chin?
Holly Henderson is an extremely talented singer songwriter who has just done the right thing for her country, by cancelling her US and UK tours, because of her views on our “co-dependency”. Taking this moral decision deprives her of an income as a young person. Nonetheless, she took the hit. She was also viciously attacked for calling out the irresponsible behaviour of English Corona Deniers, who insisted that it was their right to put others’ lives at risk by going to pubs on Friday night for a “final pint of Corona”.
“We share this planet and we are therefore all in it together. We must however be supported for doing the right thing. Government have a unique opportunity to show the way here.”
At the personal end of the spectrum, I had £30 000 of work cancelled due to international travel restrictions by my clients. Whilst I fundamentally agree with the principled decisions taken by his clients, as a Limited Company, I stand to maybe get £94 on universal credit with a family to feed and a business to run from being thrown under a bus by Johnson’s “Whatever It Takes” strategy.
“In my business life I teach people to align their behaviour with principles and values for a more sustainable world. It’s a lesson that Boris Johnson must learn if we are to save lives and reach out for a better Britain in a connected world. People currently feel threatened at the most basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – food, shelter and so on. Some people do not rationalise and make logical decisions at this level. Rishi and Johnson need to employ a bit of “tough love” – encouraging people to act in ways more consistent with saving lives, by looking after their basic needs at this unprecedented time, and also to discourage bad behaviour by making a few more helpful rules to live by.”
Anabelle is a tantric sex practitioner, one of thousands of sex workers. She is a separated mum of three, living with her partner who has responsibility for other kids, so she is the breadwinner. Many sex workers are mothers, and all are self-employed.
“I had a really successful business comfortably banking £4 K a month. Obviously, I couldn’t continue to work in this way and be socially responsible. I cancelled a month’s worth of bookings and have no guaranteed source of income. How many thousands of men will STILL visit sex workers and take this virus home to their families because the women are self-employed and in a stigmatised industry. Of course, sex work isn’t the only hands on “intimate” work women do. We are also beauty therapists, nail technicians, massage therapists etc. All these professions and more, largely done by women, often from their own homes are closing. Each of these women have children to feed and clothe. Boris Johnson only ever talks about “great British companies” i.e. those run by men in suits.”
From Sex, through to Business and Rock’n’Roll, self-employment is an area of life that needs to be properly supported in these unprecedented times. Self-employed people in the UK range from hairdressers, therapists, TEFL teachers, event organisers, peripatetic music teachers, gym instructors, chauffeurs, taxi drivers and so on.
If people’s behaviour during COVID-19 is to be correct, this is a time for our political leaders to step up to the plate and help ensure that people are not forced into continuing to work when they must act differently.
Rishi, Boris, Priti, are you listening?
For the last 3 and a half years I have divided my time between my professional life as a business consultant, author and speaker and anti-Brexit activism. It has meant doing things I never thought I’d ever do in my life. This article is a round up of some of the weirder and wonderful things that happened in the Brexit rollercoaster. Ultimately we have not yet succeeded at turning back the tsunami of lies, digital interference and xenophobia sweeping the populist world, but the struggle to rejoin the EU continues. I am considering how best to do that, having seen a torrent of tactics over the years and have written separately about this in a paper for Hendrik Klaassens, founder of the largest pro-EU and anti far right movement. For now, here is my unexpected bucket list.
I was attacked three times by angry Brexiteers, gaining two black eyes. I’ve also had a few death threats and damage to my bicycle several times over the years. I must reflect that, given that the Brexiteers “won” the referendum, they really are the most unhappy winners I’ve ever met … what exactly are they unhappy about? They are “getting their country back”, a 50 pence coin and some cockles.
So, the question is “was it worth it?”. In terms of the benefits of all this, I can count a great number of real new friends with whom I have exceptional bonds of rapport created from Brexit adversity. That is the most important thing of all and outweighs the various cuts and bruises, cyber attacks and so on.
I am now returning to full time work, but with a wealth of experiences of change management that cannot be learned from textbooks. Brexit has cost me a lot personally due to setting aside my business activity over 3.5 years, but the value outweighs the cost and, given the chance, I’d do it all again, although I still wish I’d never had to act at all. I have still yet to hear a convincing argument as to the benefits of Brexit when compared with the need to rebuild Britain and to reform our politics on a world scale. Brexit remains a weapon of mass distraction, whilst we sleepwalk into oblivion.
But the fight is not over. We begin again now that spring has arrived. I’m pleased to say that the paper I wrote on changing the game on Brexit has reached the central Remain movements and has been adopted as a template by a number of grassroots groups in the UK and beyond. In brief, it begins:
Brexit will unravel of its own contradictions. I believe this will be sooner rather than later. Brexit’s implosion will come from either what I call external socio-economic, political, environmental shocks or “internal combustion”, due to the underlying inherent instability of the Tory party and the self-destructive nature of Brexit, which has already claimed two Prime Ministers and cost £66 000 000 000 in waste.
Read the full paper at “Brexit Futures“.
I am also devote a little bit of my time to bring the various disparate groups in the South East of England, to make them a more effective fighting force. On a daily basis we have a campaign called “We are Everywhere“, which aims to keep our visibility up.
Most recently I initiated a petition to ask Boris Johnson to go on the Jeremy Kyle show so that he could trace all his illegitimate children. In providing this “social service” we would also be cleaning up politics by stopping the continuing trend of lying as an acceptable behaviour in society. Sign the petition at CON Dom.
As I write, Johnson continues to lie. The latest whoppers are that he now says that Old Age Pensioners will be brought out of retirement to become a “Dads’ Army” cadre of Doctors and Nurses to fight the Corona Crisis:
I saw an advert for some jobs in the Government to “Get Brexit Done” by Dominic Cummings and thought I may be suitable. Here is my letter of application.
Saw your blog thing. Didn’t read it tbh … reading is for dummies and I don’t do detail which actually makes me ideally qualified for any of these fucking jobs. In any case, I’m aware of the fact that your blogs are full of pseudo-academic claptrap, so that people think you are a rounded individual, along with the beanie hat and Harry Potter glasses, intended to make you look a bit weird / intellectual. I thought to myself “I could do that” so I’ve randomly put together some shit here and added in a few Greek philosophers, machine learning gurus and the wisdom of Madonna, Motorhead and Meatloaf, or Nutroast as he now prefers.
I am defo the best person for the job. End off, as the great unwashed say! Quoted recently as the “mad cat man” after I stood a dead cat for the General Election (Plato / Stan / Pickles), I am variously a scientist, creativity consultant, an author / academic and musician. Some call me a polymath, others a psychopath. My wife tells me I’m an insanely great combination of intelligence and scum, making me amenable to professors, business leaders, rock stars and the bloke in the pub. This should really be enough for you rather than having to read the rest of this application. However, I must warn you that the sort of creativity I work on is that which turns into successful innovation. I realise this disqualifies me from Government, but I’m prepared to seriously lower my standards. Rather than “People, Ideas and Machines” (Johnson, FGTH), “Peace, Land and Bread” (Lennon, Lenin), I say:
“Brexit, Brexit, Brexit”
“Cat, Cat, Cat”
Re your “person spec”, Stan and I are uniquely qualified for the top jobs in the Brexit Reich:
I’m a solutions architect – yeah I own a Samsung S8 with some apps and other shit on it. I can use the sidebar and I have a Windows 95 PC from Tandy’s in Chatham, which is still open. I have an iRiver and replaced the battery in 7 minutes using a youtube video to the sound of Bach.
I’m a disruptor – I’ve written 12 books on creativity and one on changing minds about Brexit, using NLP and other associated therapeutic approaches for mindset change. Originally written for the purposes of “Brexorcism”, it can just as easily be turned towards the sublimation of 63% of the population, which seems to be your master’s current intention.
“A screwdriver can be used as a tool or a weapon”
(Pertwee, Daltrey, K9, Baker, Whittaker)
Conservative MP Rehman Chishti recently reported me to Police Commissioner Gordon of Medway, after I appropriated one of his Foamex boards for electioneering purposes. Crucially I have no political experience at all, a massive asset in a political world befuddled by political experts. Who needs experts (Gove, Govia).
“Causation is for dummies” in a post Brexit world. As the fat man says, we need to get Brexit done. We can use war in Iran, bushfires, Prince Andrew, Katona, Government leaks, Corbyn’s leeks and almost anything to support the algorithm bro’.
In academic terms, I started a physics PhD at The Open University as soon as I saw your advert: My thesis is “The extinction of Moore’s Law and the emancipation of twerking in a post Brexit society”. I expect to “Get Physics Done” by January 31st, hence my need to delay my starting date until then to fully meet your spec (Hughes, Y; Moore, P; Moore, A, Moore, Patrick; Moore, Roger).
The intersection between man, woman and machine and the 4th industrial age – yeah I wrote a book called Brain Based Enterprises about this as well, inspired by Kraftwerk, Trump and Aristotle – here’s the big idea. I foresee Brexit as offering the ultimate sublimation of the people and I’m willing to contribute ideas to what I’m calling a retro-futurist (Tetlock / IARPA prediction) tournament which I’ve helpfully named “The People’s Final Solution”.
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed (Brooks, Hinton, Schwab). I need not explain this to you as you know.
On HR and all the other communications crap, I’ve been the branch chair of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and on their board as council rep. I used this time to study at close range the inefficiencies of bureaucracy (Weber, Madonna, Ng). However, structure is the necessary bedfellow of creativity and I realise I would have to drop my liking for plans and planning in the New Model Army (Tesla, Hotpoint, Euripides). On the question of diversity, we genuinely need diversity of thinking rather than “The Village People” model as practised by the civil service (Clinton, Brown, Prince). I have suffered at the hands of public servants and there are massive inefficiencies. Yet the answer does not lie with polarity responders more with boundary crossers (Moss-Kanter, Ghandi, Hovis).
Yeah, I’ve read all those papers on Reservoir Computing and Reservoir Dogs, whatever. There was a good summary of the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation in yesterday’s Sun.
You can find my thesis on the death of physics and applications for webdesigners at “interstellar overdrive” (Barrett, Van Leer, Beefheart).
I was in a rock band with Dr Andrew Sentance of the Bank of England, an unusual economist. The band split due to epistemological differences (McCartney, Lennon, Gates, Jobs, McVey, Javid), having written the epic sub Zeppelin anthem “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street”.
I am experienced in using diverse analytical languages e.g. Monty Python, Sequential Circuits, D Minus, Vesuvius, Krakatoa.
“John Lennon knows my name and I’ve seen his” … (Bolan, Raab, Farage).
I was going to send a CV but I now see this as an inconvenient piece of red tape. In any case, I need to get on with fixing a hole where the rain came in. But I’m the ideal candidate as my personal statement would say if I could be bothered to write one:
I know nothing
I will do nothing
I believe nothing
I don’t want to bother with the formalities of an interview and will be ready to marinate Brexit and bake it in a microwave, gas mark 8 from 31 January 2020. Let’s get it on, bang a gong, in Hong Kong (Patten, Siouxie, Feld).
£150 K per annum plus expenses, luncheon vouchers, unlimited Dreamies, BUPA, 12 weeks holiday and 100 freshly washed towels would be about right.
Tantum nimirum ex publicis malis sentimus, quantum ad privatas res pertinet : nec in iis quicquam acrius quam pecuniae damnum stimulat
“Cats are still Running the World”