I remember the shape and texture of a particular year by where I was living and what album I was making. So it makes sense for me to expand Streetview by visiting the flats I've lived, written and recorded in and adding the sleeves of the records I made in those apartments, and perhaps the music itself. Because I've lived in so many different decades and different countries, it makes for a ton of "locativity" and a ton of "media". What's more, Google has just put the UK's Streetview online. So come walk with me!
Date range: 1981-3.
Address: 7 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh (Map).
Album: The Man on Your Street: Songs from the career of the Dictator Hall (The Happy Family, released by 4AD Records, 1982)
Notes: Post-divorce, my dad bought a flat next door to where we used to live in the 60s. He gave me a tiny mezzanine below it to live in. It was Kafkaesque; the ceiling was so low I couldn't stand up straight. Google Streetview doesn't approach the building, so you can only see it here from afar. Members of Josef K would come here to fetch me round to the language college on Great Stuart Street, where we'd rehearse in the sub-basement.
Date range: Nine months in 1984-5.
Address: 37 Wavertree Road, Streatham, London (Map)
Album: Circus Maximus
Notes: I moved to London in 1984 and took over a friend's lease on an overheated room in the unattractive suburb of Streatham. Here I wrote the weird songs about the Bible and ancient Rome which became my first album -- partly based on frequent trips up to the British Museum and the National Gallery.
Date range: From 1985 to 1990.
Address: 38 Draycott Place, Chelsea, London SW3 (Map)
Albums: The Poison Boyfriend, Tender Pervert, Don't Stop The Night
Notes: I took over from my french girlfriend a tiny ground room facing Bray Place, and stayed there for five years. The top end of the King's Road was just a stone's throw away. I was poor, but this part of London was rich. I wasn't very successful, but this is where I'd have been living if I'd hit the bigtime. It was weird. I spent most afternoons up at South Ken pretending to be french.
Date range: 1990 to 1993.
Address: 127 Cleveland Street, London W1 (Map)
Albums: Hippopotamomus, The Ultraconformist, Voyager, Timelord
Notes: I had a ground floor flat in the building on the right. I shared with a New Zealand girl who looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn and was dating Lawrence from Felt. From this point on I was recording my albums at home. I loved being right under the Telecom Tower (Streetview makes it look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa here) and being able to walk down to Soho.
Date range: 1994 to 1997.
Address: 108 Rue Caulaincourt, Montmartre, Paris, France (Map)
Albums: The Philosophy of Momus, Slender Sherbet, 20 Vodka Jellies
Notes: I ran away to Paris with my new bride Shazna and rented a chambre de bonne in Montmartre, in the shadow of Sacre Coeur. Started writing and producing successfully for Japanese singers. Eventually moved up to the Butte, to the highest square in Paris, the Place du Tertre (in the big building in this picture).
Date range: 1997 to 2000.
Address: 13 Long Lane, London WC1 (Map)
Albums: Ping Pong, The Little Red Songbook, Stars Forever
Notes: I moved back to London (leaving my bride in the care of a frenchman) and took a penthouse flat atop an office block in Clerkenwell -- it's the metallic windowed cap on the brick building to the right. The flat overlooked the Barbican and the Circle Line, two very inspiring prospects. You can probably hear train noise if you listen to the albums on headphones.
Date range: 2000 to 2002.
Address: 38 Orchard Street, New York, NY (Map)
Notes: I moved to New York and took a flat at the Chinatown end of the Lower East Side. The apartment was tiny and expensive, but I really loved living there. Me and Shizu rode everywhere on Razor scooters, wearing ridiculous secondhand clothes from Domseys. Folktronic is my American album, and also my dot com crash album, and also my diasporic Scottish puritan album. The period ended with 9/11; somehow, after that, it didn't feel like you could be playful in New York any more.
Date range: 2001 to 2002.
Address: 402 Coop T&M, 2-5-9 Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0063, Japan (Map)
Album: Oskar Tennis Champion
Notes: Shizu rented us an apartment in Meguro, West Tokyo -- it's the top flat in the boxy building on the left. There were tennis courts and an open-air swimming pool nearby, and behind them the Meguro River, with trendy Nakameguro a pleasant ten-minute ride away on a folding bike. Here (sitting, naturally, on the floor) I recorded a strange, arty album influenced by musique concrete and Cantonese opera. In terms of personal cultural eras, I think of this as "the beginning of now". This particular dynasty still holds sway.
Date range: 2003 to 2004.
Address: Karl-Marx-Allee 117, Berlin (Map)
Albums: Summerisle, Otto Spooky
Notes: Time ran out on my visas and my relationship with Shizu. I had to come back to Europe, and, after a couple of months in Paris, picked Berlin because it was cheaper and cooler. Through friends I got a lease on a communist-era showcase flat on the Karl Marx Allee, and was soon joined there by a fashion student called Ayako. The first album I made in Friedrichshain was Summerisle, my computer folk collaboration with Anne Laplantine. The second was Otto Spooky, a Berlin take on World Music influenced by David Bowie's Lodger. I had to cheat and use my own photos; Google hasn't yet gone live with their German Streetview pictures, though they've taken them.
Date range: 2005.
Album: Ocky Milk
Notes: This record was made half on Wuhlischstrasse in Friedrichshain, Berlin and half in Osaka, at Hisae's parents' house in Tennoji. Since there's no Streetview for Berlin, I'm giving you the Osaka site -- or as close to it as the Google car got (it's down that little alley then right).
Date range: 2006 to present.
Address: Somewhere in "Kreuzkoln" or, if you prefer, "Neubeka", Berlin (approximate map).
Notes: Again a non-Streetview view. I really love this peaceful, leafy, non-conformist triangle below the Kreuzberg Landwehrkanal. Since the Joemus album recorded here was a collaboration with Joe Howe I could have shown his Glasgow gaff in Bellgrove-by-the-Necropolis, but the sun wouldn't have been shining there, for sure.
Nah, just as I thought, it's dreich:
Joe, sensibly, moved to Berlin. He plays on Saturday night (as Ben Butler and Mousepad, on a bill with Gangpol & Mit) at Tape Club.