Like so much of late, the new Gorillaz album Humanz turned out to be an utter disappointment. It wasn’t that much of a surprise as the last one was pretty dire too. In fact, the only interesting thing about it was the cover artwork that featured Jamie Hewlett’s iconic characters depicted in a hyper realistic manner. It’s something that I’ve toyed with myself and thus spurred me on to have a go too. Well, it’s either that or fill in my tax return, go figure! The thing I liked about the Gorillaz was the way they distanced themselves from all the usual sad realities about the music industry. When we are daft teenagers, we are more likely put pop musicians on a pedestal, deifying them in some way but as we and the bands we idolised aged, all that is left are shambling oafs dragging out the same old tat to pay for their kids private school fees or the latest divorce settlement. It’s all a bit sad really and watching Damon Albarn and co lurch about for the cameras on the Graham Norton show as the booze, drugs and rock n roll lifestyles have quite clearly taken their collective tolls I couldn’t help but feel that a bit less reality was needed, not more.
So, as I started to take an idea of a, bulk standard, blonde haired, blue eyed, female Dweebling and flesh it out, so to speak, I couldn’t help but wonder exactly what it is that makes us human. I suppose it mainly boils down to self awareness, that knowledge of who we as an individual. We each define ourselves in different ways, what we like, what we don’t like, faith (or lack of it), some people define themselves by what they believe or do, others by family, a mother, a father, a daughter, a son. The confusion comes when people represent themselves differently to different people, “to prepare a face to face the faces that we meet” as T S Elliot put it, we all do it to a certain extent, but sometimes one can be left wondering if someone was ever there at all or were they just showing you what they thought you wanted to see. People are confusing… and I guess that is part of the wonder of them. There is much more to us though, our approach to music for example. The reality of anyone past the age of twenty five trying to be part of a music scene is always a bit iffy, as performers it’s a job but as punters….. Well, there aren’t many who can pull it off. Let’s put it that way, but I guess one’s cringe factor is a part of one’s personality too, people facility for doing naff things of pointless things, their need to please / amuse other people… Peoples need to be and individual or part of a gang or indeed to be an individual as part of a gang and hold onto to those mutually exclusive concepts without seeing the irony. For good or bad, it all makes us who we are.
I’ve been trying hard not to define myself by my health problems but, being trapped inside this sinking ship of a mortal frame, it just keeps happening. I’ve finally let myself off the hook as being crazy because, well, look around you, everyone is, some to the point where I am both terrified and fascinated by the fact they actually have jobs that put them near other people. Now I have all the physical stuff as well all that concerns me are the important things and all the shit slides away and, wow! Isn’t there a lot of shit? When I’m not defining myself by the stuff that makes me go “ow” I guess I am a sum total of my experiences, my knowledge, my skills (or lack thereof) and the ideas that come from them and how I choose to get them out into the world. Even doing that is an expression of me, let’s face it, I don’t do it for the fabulous riches or the adulation, I do it from compulsion and sometimes it costs me dearly. I suppose the one thing that really defines me is honesty and a sense of justice, both of which seem to be in sort supply right now. Being honest gets you into all sorts of trouble though, particularly when it starts to make other people look bad. I must admit, (see honest!) that I had started to see it as a major failing lately as I am naïvely only just coming to terms with the amount of insincerity that I butt my head against on an almost daily basis. I am still gobsmacked by just how shit so many things are and people’s ability to proudly produce the shoddiest of things, the shittest performance or the poorest service with a smile on their face and a song in their heart. I couldn’t live with that personally, and I guess that’s what gets me into all sorts of bother…. but then that makes me me I guess.
It’s strange trying to humanise something deeply alien, like the characters I create. They bear as much semblance to the human world as, well, let’s face it, I do, which isn’t very much. I’ve done all the old under painting techniques, of layers below the skin, to give it proper translucent flesh tones. I’ve decided that they have the inner eyelids of cats and lizards, which exempts me from all that lids and eyelash business and I still can face (excuse the pun) noses. The lack of black lines is what I’m finding most unnerving, it changes the whole tone and a lot of my methodology. The stare is even creeping me out now. The whole point of the big staring eyes was always to represent just how much I see, how much I notice that passes others by and how exhausting that can be, you are waiting for a blink that never comes, there isn’t an off button.
I don’t like the picture, it unnerves me. I guess that means I’ll be doing a few more like it, I’m a glutton for punishment.