INTERVIEW \\ Saxophonist Binker Golding on sex, rumours and his new band.
Binker Golding doesn’t know what day it is. He’s reaching the end of three back to back European tours with Zara McFarlane, Moses Boyd Exodus and his own MOBO award-winning duo, Binker & Moses. As any musician will know, International touring can be disorientating to say the least. “I’m currently in Italy, but I only figured that out because of the taste of the coffee and the Rai TV in the hotel”, he tells us.
Binker & Moses have two critically acclaimed albums to their name, including the recent Journey to the Mountain of Forever; a spiritual step to the left from their debut Dem Ones. Whilst his bandmate Moses is making serious moves with his Exodus project, Binker has been quietly working on his own project, which makes its live debut in London this December.
Amongst the UK Jazz showcase at SXSW and Jazz re:freshed New York Edition, Binker has spent little time at home this year in Tottenham, North London. Although time away from touring has been well spent; he recently performed the music of John Coltrane at a screening of documentary Chasing Trane.
Ahead of the show at Jazz Cafe on 6 December, we got a head’s up on his solo venture; a quartet which features popular London instrumentalists; Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Dan Casimir on bass, and Sam Jones on drums. Binker also dispels a rumour for us.
\\ Sonically, what separates this quartet’s music from that which you make with Moses and in other collaborative projects?
It was really important to separate the Binker & Moses group from this group musically. I didn’t feel there was any point in doing something that was overtly similar to Binker & Moses. Working in that band is hard enough, I don’t need to do it twice over. The fact that this band has a chordal instrument & a bass instrument makes it very different sonically. Then comes the difficulty of how to use those instruments. How to create new material and make the content different from what you’ve done before. It’s a difficult task but that’s the job. This is the point where words must end and music begins because it would be impossible for me to explain the music verbally.
\\ Tell us about how your influences have made an impact on the new music?
As far as writing the new material is concerned I’ve really tried to look to my own ideas in greater detail to create it. That’s not to say it sounds completely unique, but I certainly haven’t written with any of my influences at the front of my mind in that way. I try never to do that, despite it being impossible to completely escape. I don’t think it works to look at a song or the sound of a band and say “I’m going to try and do something like that”. It will always come out as an inferior imitation rather than a perfect version of itself, which is what you’re looking for. There will always be elements of the work that are either exaggerated or stifled that shouldn’t have been in order for it to fit a certain mould that you’re imitating. Sort of like a mutant.
“If consenting adults have sex to my music in private I’m happy. If they do it during a live show, I’m not completely against that either”
If you create something with the utmost honesty, in the end you yourself may not see it as a classic but it’s more likely that it will be the classic someone else was searching for; the perfect version of itself.
Speaking of influences, reviewers always mention two particular saxophonists when referring to my work. I understand this and I sympathise to an extent with reviewers as its easier for a reader to understand music in the context of music previously heard, but I’m trying to get away from that. I’d like to create work that is its own main influence.
\\ We heard a rumour that your melodies are always inspired by sex; tell us more, is that true and is that the case with your new music?
I’m slightly surprised to hear that rumour and it really is just that; a rumour. Sex and death are two of my biggest non-musical interests and they do crop up a lot in my work but I wouldn’t say they dominate. I’m certainly not a cross between Prince and Slayer. For example; Fete by the River and Intoxication from Jahvmonishi Leaves have nothing to do with sex and I think the innocence of those pieces are their strength. But yes, I’ve written about the topic many times before. I wrote a 45 minute big band suite years ago called The Maenads which was mostly about sex, violence and death in the context of Greek myth—I almost lost my job over it. I’ve also written music about one-night stands and having sex with someone you’ve broken up with but have sex with again even when you shouldn’t have done. I’ve written at least one piece about a non-specific so called “sex move”. There are a few others when I think about it, but I must stress it doesn’t dominate my work, merely makes up one area lets say.
I find it an interesting topic to write music about and to talk about. I don’t believe people should shy away from it in discussion, nor associate it with words like “filth” or “dirty”. Most of the swear words in our language (most languages probably) are based on genitalia or sex itself—associating them with negative things must be unhealthy on some level. I think people are still basically confused about sex and the nature of it. Internet porn and dating apps haven’t helped—to make a gross understatement. We also put too much pressure on it which again shows at least to me that we have the wrong relationship with it.
Saying all that I’m by no means sex obsessed or a nymphomaniac. All that stuff about people thinking about sex every 7 seconds or so, I consider that to be bullshit. I work and function for very long spells without thinking about it. If consenting adults have sex to my music in private I’m happy. If they do it during a live show, I’m not completely against that either.
\\ Any plans to record with your band?
Yes always, but I’m often hesitant to. The reason being that recordings are your only guaranteed afterlife and I’d like that body of work to be as strong as possible when mine is decaying underground. I often think “Is this really the best you could do?” and that thought process delays everything, but I believe a quartet recording sometime soon will be inevitable.
EZH | Tina Edwards