In Conversation with... Pink Eye Club
Words by Angelika May
Photography by Anya Rose
Potentially the Marcel Duchamp of the London music scene (if Marcel Duchamp had an extravagant collection of Hawaiian shirts), Pink Eye Club (the one man disco machine), is the epitome of Art for Art’s sake. Comparatively, it has same feeling of attending a modern art exhibition, staring at a piece of whimsical strokes in a child-like fashion and thinking, “yeah, but I could have done that,” but you didn’t? Did you? The difference between Pollock and Pink Eye Club, is that despite the simplicity of the set up, the brash lyricism presented in the form of spoken word (practically your own inner dialogue) and banging house backing tracks, it resonates instantly. It’s hilarious in it’s own deadpan-like fashion, yet with important statements on society's ills. Without having to search for nuanced meanings within metaphorical lyrics, you are provided with a set so entertaining you won’t care you can’t dick-swing to your friends about a new experimental artist who they “just wouldn’t get”. It does exactly what it says on the tin. I caught up with Haydn Davies, more commonly known as Pink Eye Club on his birthday, at The George Tavern, to discuss his longevity of being a cult persona of the London music scene.
When you began the Pink Eye Club project, did you ever envisage this “cult” following that’s quite prolific at your gigs?
Pink Eye Club - Not really to be honest, I think everybody comes in to a new project with a plan or certain venues they want to play. I started this project, because I wanted to play at The Windmill. I never expected people to be singing along to songs, it isn’t something I take for granted. It’s important to be aware that people have paid money to see you and the least that you can do is to put on a good show for them, also to just be nice and approachable. This year has been crazy in terms of gigs, people are starting to really get into it and I never expected to play such busy shows.
Where is the name “Pink Eye Club” derived from?
PIC - There isn’t any meaning. I originally called myself “Healthy Boy,” not realising that it was a brand of Thai sauce. I set up a Facebook page for the project and had people who were fans of the sauce, not my music, liking my page. It’s quite good free publicity but it ended up driving me crazy. I thought of the name “Pink Eye Club” whilst I was in the shower, thinking well, no one is going to be stupid enough to copy that.
Are you saying your best ideas come to you in the shower?
PIC - Pretty much. Or annoyingly at 3am when I’m trying to get to sleep. Too many times I’ve thought of hits whilst falling asleep, then the next day it’s just gone, forgotten about.
Your lyricism, whilst fun and often ironic, is also weighted by heavy subject matters such as suicide and mental health, do you find writing to be a cathartic process?
PIC - Definitely. I’m not very good with metaphors, never have been really. I prefer to express myself honestly. If people want to use metaphors that's fine, but that’s not how I do it. Even though I’m not going through what I’ve written about now, such as “Same Job For Three Years,” because fortunately I don't work there anymore, still feels amazing to perform.
Being a patron member of notorious venues such as The Windmill and having experienced the evolution of the current London music scene, what are some of your likes and dislikes about this particular era of music?
The people at The Windmill (Tim) and The George Tavern (Fran), have really good bullshit detectors and that’s why I love those venues. Having that screening, makes you more comfortable to be in that environment, you know whatever band is going to be on is going to be good. It’s been a home for me over the past four years, so it’s been great to watch bands evolve over time. The community is in a really good place right now, even on odd days such as a Tuesday you can guarantee to go to The Windmill and see a band that has the potential to become the next Black Midi, those are my favourite types of gigs.
When you have events such as Sunday Roast at The Windmill, what’s your process of selecting your support artists?
PIC - If they make good music and if they’re nice people.
Did they scout you for Independent Venue Week or was tonight’s gig already in the pipeline?
PIC - It’s also my birthday and because we did a gig last year on my birthday, I have decided to keep it as a tradition.
Even for your 100th birthday?
PIC - Yes.
Do you ever go to raves to find pieces to sample?
PIC - Raves are just a fun way for me to wind down. I started going to raves in 2015, but this year has been the first time I started to go on my own. The first solo rave I went to, was Gerd Janson, a German DJ who runs the label “Running Back”, I was really nervous and sort of awkwardly stood at the bar. As soon as I got into the dance space, I maneuver my way to the front and made some friends, it turned out to be one of the best evenings I’ve had. No one cares at raves, everyone is there for the music. It’s also nice meeting a variety of people, I was picked up by this American couple who saw me dancing alone and we ended up spending what was their last night of their holiday together. Either way whether you go to a rave on your own and you make friends, or you don’t, you come for the music and always leave having had a good time.
Are you usually the last to go home?
PIC - No. I always get a taxi half an hour early, because it’s always bedlam.
You bring such an ecstatic energy to your performances, how do you fuel yourself on days where this energy isn’t as present in your off stage life?
PIC - I always think, the audience don’t know that I’m feeling like shit, so it would be unfair for me to put my bad mood on them. Like I said, they’ve paid for a ticket and essentially given me their money, which is always in the back of my mind. Even if I’m in one of my worst moods and I wake up and don’t feel like performing, I always hold onto the fact that once I get up there I will enjoy it. The audience helps a lot, I thrive off of playing to crowds of people who are absolutely going for it.
listen to Pink Eye Club's latest single 'Same Job For Years'
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