Tara Burke of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania employs voice,
guitar, organ, dulcimer, accordion, Casio and more to create her home-recorded
acid folk as Fursaxa. Prior to her Fursaxa work she was an active ingredient
in Clock Strikes Thirteen, Ted Casterline and his Perfectly Perfect Pieces
of Fruit, UN, Her debut album Mandrake was produced, engineered, and released
in Japan by none other than Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple. She also
self released the cd-r's Trobairitz Are Here From Venus, and The Cult From
Moon Mountain. She has also contributed to these songs to the following compilations:
Free My Mind (V/A Nice Pooper #23, zine 2001), Artemisia (V/A Sound Collector
#7, zine 2001),
Kniphofia (V/A Surrounded By Sun, Fonal 2002), Porpoise Wings (V/A Hand/Eye,
Hand/Eye 2002), Chartreuse My Green (V/A The Invisible Pyramid, Last Visible
Dog 2003), and of course her piece for this issue’s cd as well. Her
LP Madrigals in Duos on Time-Lag Records is due any time now, and presents
Fursaxa at her finest musically with the gorgeous packaging we have come to
expect from Time-Lag. She is also going to be part of the Jewelled Antler
Library of 3" cd-r's, which makes perfect sense. Her sound combines folk,
lo-fi, hashish smoke mixed with incense drifting out of a cathedral doorway,
dreams that skirt the edges of nightmares, hallucinatory droning organic primitive
G.P.: How did you meet Acid Mothers
T.B.: My friend Steve Krakow set up a show for me with Kawabata
and other members in Chicago about 4 or 5 years ago. I gave Kawabata a tape
of Fursaxa songs and he wrote me a letter saying he liked them and wanted
to know if I wanted to release a cd on the AMT label.
G.P.: Where did the name Fursaxa come
T.B.: It's what my phone number spelled out in a house I
used to live in.
G.P.: How did you begin making music?
T.B.: For years I just played with friends--drunken/stoned
jams mostly. Then I was introduced to the wonderful world of four tracks and
just started recording songs. I really enjoy the composing aspect of a four
track--layering instruments to make a song. And I don't like to leave my house
very often, so being able to record at home is essential for me.
G.P.: Tell me a bit more about Un,
Ted Casterline and his Perfectly Perfect Pieces of Fruit, and Clock Strikes
T.B.: I only played farfisa with Clock Strikes Thirteen for
about a week, during which time we had a show with Alastair Galbraith. The
UNs were at the show and Marcia Bassett asked if a wanted to bring my farfisa
over to their warehouse and play with them sometime. That just evolved into
me being a member of UN for about 1 1/2 years until the band was no longer.
PPF was an improve thing that I played farfisa in for a year or so, we had
a handful of shows.
G.P.: Is Fursaxa psychedelic?
T.B.: I sure hope so.....
G.P.: I saw you in the audience and
onstage at Terrastock 5, what did that event mean to you?
T.B.: Well it was actually the first Terrastock that I had
attended and I quite enjoyed myself. It was a chance to play music with friends
(the Iditarod and Six Organs) as well as listen to alot of good bands.
G.P.: You seem to enjoy the collaborative
process; could you name a few folks you’ve worked with and tell me what’s
the best aspect of collaboration?
T.B.: I've played with the members of the Iditarod, Bardo
Pond, Scorces, Espers, Plastic Crimewave, UN, and Six Organs of Admittance
and Helena Espavall-Santoleri. I suppose it's just interesting to see what
can happen when you play with musicians whose music you admire.
G.P.: Could you send a discography
of musical work you’ve been involved in?
T.B.: Well nothing has really been officially released. There
is an Espers track that I sing on that will be out on Locust records soon,
and I believe there is a split LP in the works in which one side of the LP
will be a live performance with Scorces, Fursaxa, and Helena Espavall-Santoleri
all playing together. Then there are Fursaxa cdrs that have Ben Chasny, Grant
Acker, John Gibbons, and Michael Gibbons playing on various songs.
G.P.: What’s the next Fursaxa
release gonna be?
T.B.: Madrigals in Duos--an LP for Time Lag records.
G.P.: Would you list a few of your
favorite recordings from the past and present?
T.B.: No particular order......
Joni Mitchell, Brigitte Fontaine, Linda Ronstadt/Stone Ponys era mostly, Nico,
Yoko Ono, Reiko Kudo, Linda Perhacs, Pentangle, Tim Buckley, Bardo Pond, Trad
Gras Och Stener/Parsons Sound/Harvester, Yahowah 13, Deep Purple, Brian Eno,
Kemialliset Ystavat, Charlambides/Scorces, Espers, Iditarod, MV/EE, Thuja,
Acid Mothers Temple, Six Organs of Admittance, Sun City Girls, Dead C....I
know you said a few but it's really hard to just name a few.....
G.P.: Do you feel a kinship with any
other artists or musicians past or present?
T.B.: Well the musicians I named as being some of my favorites
I feel connected to because their music really moves or affects me in some
way. Then there is also Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Benedictine abbess. She
was into lots of things that I enjoy--nature (especially plants), composing
music, and mysticism. I've read excerpts from her journals and feel like it
was something that I would write.
G.P.: How significant a role to dreams
or dreaming play to your work or your art?
T.B.: With my music I suppose I am trying to transport my
listeners to another realm, somewhere different than here. Sometimes when
I dream I go to these places--there are creatures floating, singing and playing
music, gardening --villages by the sea and in the mountains; living without
the media, war, and satanic leaders. Some of my lyrics talk about these things
G.P.: What is psychedelic to you?
T.B.: Something that transports you to the fairyland.
G.P.: Do you think art makes life better?
T.B.: Definitely. In these dark times especially, it is wonderful
to see that beauty can still be created. I can't imagine what life would be
like without art or music. They are treats for the senses.
G.P.: Do you feel a strong affinity
for any animals?
T.B.: Well butterflies, but they are more in the insect category.
G.P.: What did/does Tim Buckley mean
T.B.: I suppose I enjoy his music because it has this air
of sadness to it. I guess it all ties in to the element of escapism that I
was talking about before--having a difficult time dealing with the here and
now, but knowing that there are wonderful things out there somewhere.
G.P.: Is Fursaxa ancient or futuristic?
T.B.: Ancient. I get strong feelings like I've been a part
of other cultures in other life times.
G.P.: Fursaxa is often compared to
Nico, do you feel much kinship with her work?
T.B.: I suppose in a way I do. I think we have some common
elements, but I also think there just as many differences. Once again I suppose
I relate to the sadness or darkness or her music, the emotional pull...I am
also fascinated with her life and have read a couple of bios about her..
G.P.: Tell me a bit about the making
of Madrigals in Duos? (it's great by the way!)
T.B.: Thanks, well some of the songs were recorded as far
back as 2000. So far most of the labels that I have worked with take a really
long time to actually get things out there (I am not putting them down or
anything, I am just stating a fact) hence alot of the songs on Madrigals are
from 2 and 3 years ago. It was all recorded on a four track and them mastered
by Michael Gibbons over at the Bardo Pond studio.
G.P.: What are the instruments used
T.B.: Guitar (electric and acoustic), chord organ, voice,
autoharp, cardboard dulcimer, various shakers and such....
G.P.: Do you ever feel like you are
"channeling" spirits when you sing or play?
T.B.: Well I actually rather not answer that because it's
kind of too personal for me to explain in an interview.
G.P.: Do you have a ghost story?
T.B.: My mom and I were using the ouija board one night (I
think I was in high school at the time) and she asked the spirits if they
had a message for me, and the message was "smile". I actually found
this quite interesting because people on the street are always telling me
to smile. I guess they think I look too serious or something.
G.P.: What is it about butterflies
that attracts you? (I have a strong feeling about them myself, since childhood)
T.B.: Yay! They can fly, they are attracted to and get nourishment
from flowers, they are beautiful creatures---especially their wing patterns,
and they just seem so carefree.
G.P.: Do you think your Catholic School
upbringing colors your work?
T.B.: Yes, I would say so. Although I am no longer Catholic,
I do have fond memories of rich organ playing during masses. I suppose sometimes
when I write songs I imagine them being played in a big old church, when they
used to say mass in Latin. I sometime think about Alejandro Jodorowsky movies
too when I play music. I suppose I am using religion in my music the way he
is in his movies--with a bit of sacrilege.
G.P.: Some favorite films; past or
T.B.: I guess my answer to the last question is sort of a
segue to this one.... Holy Mountain, Paris, Texas, Donnie Darko, anything
by David Lynch, Drowning by Numbers, Herzog's Nosferatu, Valerie and her Week
of Wonders, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.
G.P.: I See You from the Madrigals
album is amazing, would you tell me a bit about where it came from?
T.B.: Thanks, well I guess this was the first song that I
started experimenting with tracks of backwards vocals mixed with tracks of
forward vocals, and it just sort of developed from there.
G.P.: What's it like to open for Sonic
T.B.: Surreal. There's like 50 guitars lined up back stage
with guitar techs running around and such. The sound onstage was really good
(although people in the audience said it wasn't loud enough) It was a really