THIS is the beginning . . . Because somewhere between not knowing . . . and knowing . . . there lies imagination . . . THIS, THAT and THE OTHER . . . Book 1 . . . OUT NOW . . . THIS is the beginning . . . Because somewhere between not knowing . . . and knowing . . . there lies imagination . . . THIS, THAT and THE OTHER . . . Book 1 . . . CLICK HERE . . .
CURRENT : 'THIS' - new epic fantasy novel : Part One and Part Two : OUT NOW

FUTURE : RESIDENCY : Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog : September 2017
'THIS' Part Three : end of Summer 2017
DYSPHASIA : Solo exhibition at Oriel Maenofferen, Blaenau Ffestiniog : 10 November 2017 - 12 January 2018


Friday, 21 July 2017

Getting To The Point - an interview with Trent Reznor

FROM THE REMY DEAN ARCHIVE : 1991

With Trent Reznor making a guest appearance in the new Twin Peaks series, and a new Nine Inch Nails album recently announced, I am reminded about meeting him for an interview, early in both our careers… So here it is, dug out from my clippings archive - a snapshot of music history from 26 years ago! The music scene back then seemed very vital and there were always interesting and surprising stories behind the bands… this interview is no exception. [NOT edited for language.]




NOT THE HAPPIEST GUY IN THE WORLD... 

Nine Inch Nails are surprising, deceptive and dangerous. The image evoked by the name comes pretty close to summing up their sound: hard, metallic and with a point. They have already caused quite a stir with the alternative charts, heavy metal audiences, MTv, the FBI, and whilst on their debut tour over here, the British police. Why?

Musically, main man Trent Reznor has used his Nine Inch Nails to knock together industrial dancecore, traditional pop and metal in such a vital manner that the barrier between the usual cult status afforded such bands and the mainstream has been punctured. The debut LP, Pretty Hate Machine, broke the ground and achieved major crossover success, but rather than planting easy-grow pop seeds and waiting for commercial chart success to blossom, the follow-up album, Fixed, is a much harder, uglier and intense crop of songs, exploring the darker corners of sound and self. When asked of his major influences, he has an off-pat reply: "Ministry for aggression, XTC for song writing, Severed Heads for production... and I like Prince a lot."

Pretty Hate Machine sold something like 500,000 copies and spawned three top-five alternative-chart singles in the USA. Their live debut in the UK was before an audience of 85,000 at Wembley, and the first single, Head Like A Hole, got quite a grip on the mainstream charts here.

The Nine Inch Nails live phenomena is intimate, aggressive and often truly dangerous. More than once, the shows have ended with injury to the band, the audience, and most certainly the hardware. As I am shown up to Mr Reznor's hotel suite, I hear that another journalist has cancelled as he is considering pressing assault charges against Trent for injuries sustained at the gig the night before ... What have I got myself into?


Today, however, Trent Reznor is in apathy mode, stretched out on the sofa, yawning...

So, what's all this about assaulting my fellow journalists?

"He was very upset, and considering pressing charges, because he got hit in the head with a bottle of water and got a black eye… which is bullshit because we don't throw bottles of water on stage.

"Our live show has gotten a lot more aggressive than the records. My whole idea of a performance is to take it beyond just being a band on stage... We try to be more interactive. I've noticed in our shows, when they get more chaotic, people like it. And the more element of danger to the audience - not that we're gonna attack them or kill them - then there's real interest being inspired and their attention is focussed. The music excites them and the energy released is not as safe as being in your seat 500 yards away. It’s interaction. That's why we like playing clubs."

So, what was it like opening for Guns'n'Roses to a stadium audience?

"It was what I'd expected, and worse. Axl's a friend of mine, we met in LA when he came to the show and asked if we wanted to open for them on some dates in America... we couldn't do it, but as we were planning on coming over here, we thought what better and stranger way to do it than supporting the biggest rock band in the world?"

Was there any worry about the somewhat dubious, even juvenile, image of Guns'n'Roses rubbing off - onto NIN?

"They are that and more. They're a big fucking dangerous live rock band! That's what they do and they do it well, with all the trappings right down to the drum solo. For what it is, they do it better than anyone else.

"I don't care if people want to think we’re cock rock... and another reason for doing it was the strangeness of a synth act being on that bill."

We know NIN aren't cock rock. What does Trent think they are about?

"When I wrote the record, Pretty Hate Machine, I thought, 'What would be my reason for having a band? What can I say musically or lyrically?' I was looking inward and made some very personal songs that were about how I felt about certain things. The motivation was more dissatisfaction rather than, 'I'm the happiest guy in the world, let's write an album!'

"The theme of the record revealed itself to be things that were really bothering me: not having my religious outlook together, not being able to fit neatly into a little hole in society, trouble dealing with people on a one-to-one basis. Nothing staggeringly new, teenage angst, but trying to do it with some sincerity - a kind of questioning examination.

"I'd like to break down all these stereotypes and ideas that if you're in a band, you put out a record, hopefully once a year, and then you go on tour, and then do an album, make a video and repeat the process until you have nothing else to say and die out."

Videos for Nine Inch Nails have already stirred strong reactions. How far do they represent the NIN vibe?

"I don't like videos, really... what could have been a cool art form turned out to be nothing but corporate commercials for a record, and it's to the point now where a lot of bands, us included, have to justify spending quite a sizable amount of money to make a video. To make it the way you want to make it, you get such strict censorship problems...

"We couldn't show Down In It to begin with because of me laying dead on the ground - that may imply suicide... Head Like A Hole couldn't be shown because it was 'too disturbing' - what the fuck does that mean? So, I spent X amount of money - it cost almost as much to make as my album did - for a video that no-one gets to see because this fucking station won’t play it."



"What I'd like to do is work in a totally different format. So, for the next album, there are no videos - I'll make a film that's 45 minutes or an hour long, and sell that to stores, and that's the visual accompaniment - that's the way you get to see Nine Inch Nails, and it's a little more elite and a little more special."

Like any band that criticises the capitalist commercialism of the record industry, how can Reznor justify his position as a product that has to sell to remain in existence? Surely there must have been many compromises.

"The record business had always been a closed door to me. Now it's open, all the fucking scum has come out and surrounded me, embraced me. I thought, naively, that people put out records because they liked music... but it's not about art, it's not about music, it’s about fucking product, and ripping people off and marketing schemes and formulas. So what I'm trying to do is create an environment where I'm toying with accessibility. I like to hear, ‘Well MTv wants to play it, but you have to edit that second out of the video' - make them squirm a bit. Not that they'd go out of business if they didn't play Nine Inch Nails, but the only way I can change a system I really hate - like MTv's formatting… such as top 40 radio - is not to comply with it.

"They want millions of record sales and I want to put out music that has some integrity to it. Because I tried to do that, I think that's why we got to where we are now, but they don't see it like that. They see it like, 'you sold 480,000 you could sell four million - we’ve gotta smooth things off, and do a video with some girls in, let's get some fucking cars in that video... might as well change the lyrics cos they're a little ugly, let’s take those guitars out of the chorus…' - what’s left? That side has been the most disheartening, seeing the control being taken away."

A knock on the door interrupts us at this point.
Apparently, the police are on their way up and we are advised to hide-out in another suite to complete the interview. I follow the swearing Reznor along the corridor and into his manager's room where he falls back onto another couch...

This is not his first brush with the law. He was once involved in an FBI murder inquiry. Where he was the... victim! …what? So, rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated?

"We were doing a bunch of stuff lowering Super-8 cameras off buildings," he explains, "The theme of the video, very obliquely, was suicide. The track was Down In It - which wasn't about suicide at all, but if you juxtapose that idea onto the song, it makes sense, almost in a crucifixion kinda death scene. That was the idea, but it became so oblique you would never know that, unless I told you.

"There was this scene, where I'm lying on the ground with corn starch on me so I look like I'm dead... and we tied a camera to a weather balloon filled with helium, and attached some strings so you could start the camera, let it go, and then pull it back down. So when the film was reversed, it looked like the camera was dropping down onto my head. But the strings broke and the thing just took off! We were doing some stuff at the top of this building, so we ran up... but by the time we got to the roof, you could just barely see it on the horizon... it was gone! I remember saying, 'Hey, I hope that doesn't fall and hit someone on the head... it could absolutely kill someone…' and never thought any more about it.

"About a year later, John [manager] came and said, 'You will not believe this, but I just got a call from the FBI...' This thing went 200 miles, landed in some farmer's field. He found it and, thinking it was some kind of marijuana surveillance camera - a ridiculous thing to think - took it to the police. The police developed the film and... they saw me laying 'dead'. Also on that reel, there was some stop-frame animation that didn't work very well - it was at night and it turned out really awful-looking, and they thought it was some kind of snuff film with a clue a murder - I was dead and you could see these other people walking away...

"They tracked it down to Chicago. Chicago police went round art schools, then realised it was a video for a rock band... I thought that was funny... It looks like we set up a dumb publicity stunt, but it wasn’t at all. It was just a fuck-up. When I heard what had happened to that camera it was, like Jesus Christ! Couldn't believe it!"



Trent is losing the apathy and getting restless...

There are sounds outside the door. I decide to round off the meeting before a police raid does it for us. So, to what does he attribute the 'surprise' success of that first album?

"I think it's a good album, but didn't realise it had the accessibility it seems to have. That may be attributed to the fact that I am conscious of writing songs in the traditional sense. I am concerned about melody, choruses and hooks, things like that. I think that gives us an edge that the other bands we tend to get lumped-in with don't give as much attention to. Which is not good or bad, just different and maybe gives us more pop appeal. Again, I hope to retain some amount of accessibility, but I wouldn't look for a top 40 single, that's not where we’re heading.

''I'm just concerned with doing the music as well as it can be done. I don't know if we're ever going to go up in mainstream popularity from where we are now, because I know - what my new music sounds like!"

And so, I wish him luck with the law and quickly make my exit.

As it turned out, the charges were dropped and he was able to fly back to his new home in New Orleans, delayed only when the plane he was on made a forced landing because part of the cockpit window blew-in during flight...

Trent Reznor is the kind of guy things happen to ...and Nine Inch Nails are definitely happening.




This interview with Trent Reznor was conducted during the first UK tour for Nine Inch Nails, back in 1991. A snippet first appeared in Outlook Magazine, and Crumblin’ Rock later published the full version you have just read here.

The meeting provided solid grounding for research towards my 1995 book on the origins and influences of Nine Inch Nails (ISBN: 978-1886894259).

Thursday, 25 May 2017

This Must Be The Plas...


Helfa Gelf is now an annual event - an Arts Trail through North Wales during September that involves hundreds of artists, crafters - creatives of all kinds - in an exciting and varied festival of events. Many creatives open the doors of their studios to the public, presenting an opportunity to interact and share their creative practices. The open studios season is during September and is also preceded - and then followed by - a programme of exhibitions, workshops and courses for creative professionals, interested novices, and all those between. Helfa Gelf presents a unique opportunity to meet and chat with artists, makers and doers in their creative spaces, see them at work, perhaps have a go yourself, and see their finished work - which is often available to purchase at special 'trade prices' - ideal if you want to get some unique Yuletide shopping sorted ahead of the rush...

This year, I will be at Plas Tan y Bwlch for the Helfa Gelf festival, picking-up on the Residency that I began there last year...

There will be readings from my books, 'pop-up' exhibitions of photography and other visual responses, and plenty of chat about art and folklore. Work produced during my 2016 Residency will be on show and I will also host free 'drop-in' creative workshops, and 'taster sessions' from the forthcoming Creative Writing Course: A Sense of Space, to be hosted at Plas Tan y Bwlch in March 2018.

For more info, dates and times, see my Helfa Gelf Artist's Profile Page (click images below) and while you are there, have a good look around their website at all the many and varied artists that will be welcoming you into their work spaces throughout September 2017...




Friday, 12 May 2017

diolch yn fawr IAWN


For the past month, I have been coordinating IAWN = Independent Authors of Wales Network.

Helping to set-up IAWN was a learning experience and I have gained much more insight into the mechanics of crowdfunding and also just how varied the literary scene in Wales is! I have had the good fortune to meet and interview a small 'handful' of the more interesting authors with cultural connections to Wales. You can read some of these short(ish) interviews on the IAWN Weblog now:


IAWN awaits - a good idea waiting to happen... perhaps next time?
[click IAWN logo to find out more]

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2016 Looking Back and Looking Forward 2017


ALL the very BEST for the New Year 
...and hoping 2017 is better in every way!

WORKS ON SHOW...

2016 was ushered in by my solo exhibition Entropy/Extropy at Oriel Maenofferen Gallery, with other works simultaneously on show as part of the In-Sight 7 Exhibition, at Oriel Mostyn Gallery, and then Oriel Ynys Môn Museum and Gallery. The work was mainly lens-based, with a peppering of drawings and print-work. A couple of works were included in the 'Send Us A Postcard' open exhibition at Storiel Museum and Gallery, Bangor, including a charming cicorc named 'Charter'.

'Charter', the cicorc on exhibition at Storiel Museum and Gallery, Bangor
I enjoyed a Creative Residency at Plas Tan y Bwlch during September, in which I immersed myself in the locale and its myth-rich past, resulting in three, linked articles on the associated legends and folklore:

Welsh Folklore: Significance of the Maentwrog Standing Stone

Black Arts and Talismans: Huw Llwyd, the Real Welsh Wizard

Folk-Ore: The Magical Power of Blacksmiths and Their Enduring Stories

You can scroll down to read my blog posts from the Residency. I also hosted a few writing workshops and performed several preview readings from my new epic fairy-tale fantasy novel THIS (part one). Visual responses inspired by the research undertaken as part of the Residency are to be exhibited in the Stable Block Gallery this spring.

Bones of the Land (i) from the series, A Poetic Exploration of Cwmorthin
As 2016 drew to a close, some more cicorcs were on show at Galeri Betws y Coed as part of the Helfa Gelf Local Artists Selection, and remain on display in the boutique there. To ‘book-end’ the year, the In-Sight 10 Exhibition, at Oriel Mostyn Gallery, included seven of my drawings and prints (continues until the end of January).

oh, yes... and THIS happened:

Four-years-in-the-making and now we are excited to be sharing THIS journey with y'all... an epic fairy-tale fantasy adventure full of magic and intrigue and action and mystery... Well, you can share the first part of the journey, because my (fledgling) publisher, The Red Sparrow Press, have wisely decided to publish THIS as a part-work, leading up to its planned publication, later in 2017, as an illustrated print edition. Those of you savvy enough to jump on the unicorn from the outset, can ride for free! Part One of THIS came out Halloween 2016, at the very reasonable price of zero pounds and zero pence - yep, it was free! Part Two is to follow for Valentine's Day 2017 and will, no doubt be launched priced at nothing for the first few days, too!

You know, THIS is exactly what you need...


[ Please Note: The taster extract below is not the beginning. It is taken from later on in the book, about a quarter of the way through: a story within the story, told to Rietta and Carla, the two young girls whose story we follow, by Rietta’s Nanna, Ivy… and Scrufty is a dog. The extract appears here courtesy of The Red Sparrow Press. Please read and enjoy - it is ideal for a bedtime story... ]


You can start reading THIS by Remy Dean with Zel Cariad from the beginning at amazon with a free sample...

Friday, 16 December 2016

Bill Hicks - A Life of Danger

FROM THE REMY DEAN ARCHIVE : 1992

I recently realised that Bill Hicks and my father had some things in common. They shared much wit and wisdom. Both had keen intellects and deep feelings. They could see, more clearly than most, the wrongs in this world and wanted to do their parts in putting them to rights. From the archive, here is my 1992 interview with Bill Hicks and today seems like an ideal opportunity to share it again... Happy birthday Bill and Barrie.

THE DANGEROUS ZONE

Bill Hicks is, in the words of the New York Times, ''the most brilliant comic of his generation," and his recent tour of major UK theatre venues was a sell-out. Jeremy Dean risks a trip backstage to meet the Man with the Horns.

Integrity is not a word that immediately springs to mind when speaking of stand-up comedy. Bill Hicks is scathingly honest in his viewpoint, and directs his wit like a smoking magnum at many serious subjects and social problems: free will, drug abuse, the homeless, care for the infirm and elderly, world famine, war, bigotry, - hey, wake up! Read on! This may sound like a rather tedious right-on hit list - but these things are funny. Ha-ha and peculiar.

But, 'smoking magnum'? Well, witnessing Hicks' act is rather like playing Russian roulette with your prejudices and complacencies. Bill Hicks surfs the crest of a wave between laughter and discomforting personal revelation, which always (almost always) breaks onto the Bondai Beach of laughter. Just leave those taboos at home.

... and we'll dream, won't we? Of Bill Hicks ...in blue. All in blue.
Since I caught his act during his previous British tour, there has been one question burning in my mind... So, I took this opportunity to confront Bill an hour or so before he went on stage to face a Glasgow audience. There was no tactful way to approach the subject, so with no frills I just blurted, "Bill, what's all this 'Goat Boy' stuff about?"

He laughs, then chuckles like the Horned One himself, "The Goat Boy thing sort of emerged there and then - and it's gonna stay - it's a nod toward our darker desires. You can get people to nod, but they don't like to look too long."

And that's it? When pursued about his darker desires, he evades the subject, probably for the best, I imagine. After all, Bill thinks Playboy is a magazine for gay men! He is taking this meteoric rise to success and critical recognition, with modesty and he admits that he is, "flattered by all the attention."

As for the pressures of touring, he shrugs them off, "It can get a bit out of hand with driving half the day between shows, but no - I'm coping."

So, it's not up to the private jet yet...

"They got me a toy one to play with in the back of the car, to keep me quiet, 'Are we there yet? Shut up, Bill, play with your little plane! Aww gee... '"

But even with critical acclaim and a vast audience, I can't see how he gets the bulk of his material past the Americans, after the trouble that music stirs up among the fanatical right-wing minority, the moral majority and the Washington Wives brigade.

"Well, they haven't put me on prime time yet..." he admits with a demonic laugh. "Religious jokes go down stellar here [in the UK], whereas in America you can feel them draw back a little. The Great American Brow furrows: 'He can't say that, can he?' and political jokes - over here they seem to understand where I'm coming from. Across the board the British audiences give me a better reception."

Political jokes - is there a danger that by laughing at serious matters they become trivialised and that action gets diffused?

“That's a very good question. I don't know if I'm preaching to the already converted, just highlighting the problems. Making a joke about it is my way of grabbing them by the throat and shaking them - the people who legitimise all that kind of thing - the politicians, capitalists. The humour comes from initial anger."

Is Bill just a frustrated politician?

"No. I do a lot of political material. I also do a lot of drug material, and I'm not a frustrated drug user - I found drugs very satisfying… " He muses for a moment, perhaps a pang of nostalgia, “The War on Drugs - the President said, 'We're losing the War on Drugs'. Do you realise what this implies? There are people fighting a war, and they're on drugs, and they're winning! There's no war on drugs, it’s a war on free will.

"I don't do drugs ...any more ...not so far today! I'm talking to you now completely sober and chemical-free. And from this point of view, looking back, I can fully recommend experimenting with drugs!" He laughs insanely and thinks forward to the end of tonight's show: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Bill Hicks has now left his body."

One drug that is indelibly linked with Hicks is the cigarette in his hand for nearly every publicity shot. During his act the man-in-black was swathed with a cloud of tobacco smoke, when asked how many he got through in a day, his reply would be, "Just two." Cigarettes or packs? "No, lighters." But not any more. Hicks has dropped his partner from the act, on stage and off. The smokers in his audiences, who had seen him as some kind of champion messiah, have taken this badly. In Leeds, lighted cigarettes were thrown onto the stage during his act to tempt him.

"My Manager said, 'Bill - you're giving up smoking? What about the act?' Well, I guess I get to do it for seven years longer... And on stage there's the adrenaline. When something comes to you spontaneously on stage, in front of an audience and they share in that - then there's a real rush."

The clock is ticking. Is Bill nervous and psyched up?

"Well, before you disturbed me, I was just taking a nap, so that's how nervous and psyched up I am right now."

So, what does Bill dream of in his pre-show naps?

"I had a vision... Even though this is a world where good men are murdered in their prime and media hacks thrive and proliferate, I've gotta share this with you, because I love you, and you feel that... You know all the money we spend on nuclear weapons and defence every year - trillions of dollars, TRILL-I-ONS – instead… if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded - not ONE - we could, as one race, explore outer space in peace. Forever."

Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Hicks has now left his body…

This interview was first published in the
Winter Term edition of Student Outlook, 1992.

More info at the official Bill Hicks website

For a reminder of how scathingly funny he was, check-out the Bill Hicks YouTube channel 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Read THIS


THIS, the new novel from Remy Dean with Zel Cariad


The Epic Fantasy Adventure Begins...

They say, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” right? Well, of course that’s not really true. They also say, “Knowledge is power.” Well that’s not always true either… because, somewhere between not knowing and knowing, there lies imagination. That’s the key… the key that unlocks secrets.

It did, once upon a time, and it still does today…

This is the first in a new epic fairy-tale trilogy: This, That and the Other, and is published by The Red Sparrow Press.

The first book will be split into four and released as a part-work, with part one (of book one) set for a Halloween launch to coincide with The Book Trust's Children's Book Week (31 October - 4 November), and will be available FREE for those five days, as an exclusive amazon kindle edition (which can easily be read on PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc. Find out how to read Kindle books without a Kindle-reader HERE). Parts two, three and four of This will follow on a quarterly schedule.

GET This - HERE and be there from the beginning...

It began a long time ago, but for Rietta, it really began when she met Carla, another very special and extraordinary person, and realised that they shared the same dreams. Or perhaps it all started when Rietta and Carla found the severely injured dog in the woods, becoming firm friends as they tried to nurse it back to health and happiness. Then there was the thing that they glimpsed watching them from the shadows, and the mystery of the missing standing-stone… but when they find the key to another realm, well, then things really start happening!

This That and the Other is imaginative fantasy, on an epic scale. The story follows the special friendship between two girls who embark on a magical adventure together, across the three realms. It is a modern fable inspired by Welsh fairy tales and folklore, in the tradition of The Neverending Story, The Box of Delights, The Chronicles of Narnia

Here is a recent interview I did for The Scrawl (along side Zel Cariad and Kim Vertue) in which I mention This and talk about some of my all-time favourite books...

...and another interview about This for PJ Roscoe - The Story Lady website.

More info at The Red Sparrow Press website.

add THIS to your Goodreads shelf

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Stars, At Our Feet - The Plas Tan y Bwlch Journals (part 2)

Iron : made in the stars, gifted to the universe upon their deaths. More plentiful than any other metal. It is in our blood. It is in the land. The acid waters from the high, peated moorland carried the iron down to deposit it as pans of bog-iron in the extensive marshlands that once surrounded the village of Maentwrog. This iron was discovered and worked by the ancient smiths of the Bronze Age, ushering in a new Age of : Iron.

Left: bisected lump of 'bog-iron' displayed at Plas Tan y Bwlch (photograph by Remy Dean, 2016)
Right: galaxy Pictor A - when the light we see left this distant galaxy, 500 million years ago,
what is now the slate of the Cwmorthin quarries was still sediment and ashes...
(image courtesy of 
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and NASA, 2016)
Nebulae of rust stain the starscapes of tiny pits and scratches left by the footsteps of quarriers. Slate, once above their head, now at their feet reflecting the infinite night above. Of the land, of the stars.

The Stars, At Our Feet (i) photograph by Remy Dean, 2016
In December 2015, the Snowdonia National Park was officially designated the world's tenth International Dark Sky Reserve. This news, and the poetic image of slate miners returning to their barracks on a rare, clear night, their heavy work-boots splashing in the puddles and mixing the reflection of the stars with their own, were the seeds for an on-going series of images I have titled, The Stars, At Our Feet...

The Stars, At Our Feet (ii) photograph by Remy Dean, 2016
I took the title for this series of photographs from a poem by an anonymous Cwmorthin miner, found written on the back of a shipping slip, dated 1889.
You can read the News Release about Snowdonia becoming a Dark Skies Reserve HERE.

Find more about the Cwmorthin Quarries HERE.

Read about Peter Crew's archaeological excavations at Bryn y Castell hillfort and subsequent findings related to bog iron and the Iron Age significance of the Maentwrog area HERE.

Work produced during this Residency will be on show in the Stable Block,
Plas Tan y Bwlch, over this Yuletide, and through Spring 2017...