A memorable 48 hour slice of October 1991.


High times, Moscow 1991: ? Me, Matt King, Elena ?,?,?,?.
Eyes wide with panic, Elena yammers that Afghani bandits have boarded the train.
They will gas us through the vents and steal our gold fillings!
She locks the door, blocks the airways with a towel and opens the window to the freezing air of who knows where.

Six of us are now confined to a four bunk fridge: five British art students on a month long Russian exchange, along with Elena, our native student guide. We are in the midst of a 26 hour return journey from Lviv in the Ukraine to Moscow. The objective of the Lviv mission remains unclear. Three October days marooned in a snowbound barracks, served the same meal twice a day - a reheated mince puck on a parched crust of rice. Occasionally, we were let out to drink fart flavored well water, and rough beer at a penny a pop. A Stalin era mass grave had just been found nearby. Now, the endless jog of our cell back to Moscow. One inmate moans that we’d like to visit somewhere more interesting, “like St Petersburg” “Yeah”.
“Nyet” Eleana dismisses- visas, tickets, the whole Soviet State thing… more bandits.
There’s a knock at the door, I open my mouth wide to show I’m filling free.
False alarm, it’s Sacha checking in. He’s one of the two handlers that accompany us on trips- the non KGB spook.
Sasha’s has the impish look of a beatnik ghoul. In stabler times, he was an English professor, now, a translator for cash, and to avoid his tiny apartment and the mother-in -law therein.
We ask him about visiting St Petersburg- he’s well versed in dodging the Soviet system for his slither of freedom.
“Yes, yes, you could go. You won’t be missed in the next 2 days.

I’d have to buy the tickets, and you’d go straight away from Moscow"
“What about visas?” says I,
“You’d pretend to be Russian”.
“But we don’t spea-”
“Mute Russians... maybe deaf mute Russians- I’ll write you a sign”.
so, you buy 5 return tickets and we keep our mouths shut for 20 hours?”

“One way tickets only.” He shrugs. The Russian shrug is shorthand for “Yeah, no logic, just the way it is today, maybe different tomorrow?”
“We can work it out at the station.” He half reassures.
“What if we get caught?” I wonder.
“Don’t” he grins.
Elena is flapping again.
Three of our crew, rightly sensing more red flags than a communist flag factory, bow out.
This leaves just Claudia and I, living proof that the mind doesn’t fully develop its sense of consequence until age 25.
At Moscow central, Sacha darts off to fix the tickets.
He returns saying that he’s found a guy who has agreed to be under the statue of Lenin in St Petersburg station at 8pm tomorrow with the necessary.
Codename: Dmitri. He’ll be carrying ski poles.
This, amazingly, seems reasonable enough.
We follow Sacha as he scopes out the carriages, settling on one occupied by a 16 year old girl named Ania.
She speaks some English and is up for helping. We’ll pretend to be asleep whilst she hands over our tickets to the inspector.
Ania’s visiting her brother in St Petersburg, traveling light with just a violin and handbag. Her pretty face is betrayed by a mouthful of rot when she smiles.
Sacha asks for my sketchbook, and in Cyrillic script writes:
We are deaf mutes, help us buy tickets to Moscow this evening, we have nowhere to sleep.
Then it’s good luck and goodbye.


Claudia and I make unconvincing Russian deaf-mutes. I sat next to her on the plane from London: she read The Tatler and pointed out the people she knows, I read The Face to bone up on Kylie Minogue. Although we both go to Kingston, I rarely see Claudia in the college bar. She has a well-heeled London life in Fulham. Turns out, she’s engaged to “Fast” Eddie Davenport, notorious founder of the Gatecrasher’s Ball. The Sunday tabloids expose his events as “TEEN TOFF ORGIES” with accompanying photos of Claudia and co. for the tut-tut-titillation of an envious, poorer, nation. Trading up as “Lord Davenport” he’ll later swindle a £30 million Mayfair mansion off the Sierra Leone high commission for £70k and a used Mercedes. To add insult to injury, he hosts sex parties there. Eventually, a bogus loan scam will see him jailed in 2011.


Claudia and Eddie.
After some sleep, real and feigned, we arrive in St. Petersburg with no plans beyond visiting The Hermitage museum. Ania comes with us, and we coo and point at the spoils the Russians took from the plundering Nazis.
Culturally stuffed, we look for food. A cafe advertises goulash but delivers another ghost of a meal.
Onwards to check the slim souvenir opportunities at a department store. Picking up a painting in a cheap garish frame, I stare too long at its ghastliness and the brittle glass breaks. Bugger, now I have to own it. Ania relays that I must replace the glass before buying. More Russian shrugs.
After an epic queue, I pony up for the glass - double the price of the picture, and back on the shelf it goes.
Ania is in no hurry to leave us. I suggest she call her brother to tell him of her safe arrival. Something’s off. In a phone box, looking anxious and speaking hesitantly, Ania repeats her name several times. Finally she scribbles down some directions and hangs up.
She confesses that she’s runaway from home because her grandmother won’t let her play the violin. The “brother” is a stranger she met at a festival in the summer who said she should look him up in St. Petersburg sometime.
We decide it’s best that we go with her and make sure all is ok. There’s still a few hours until our ticket rendezvous.
5 long underground stops later, we are well out of our depth. What exactly will we do if all is not ok? To add to anxieties, the metro system operates like a horizontal lift. At each station, the train doors part, and beyond them, steel screens open in the tunnel walls to a fleetingly glimpsed platform. It feels like we are blindfolded. Sacha's comment that we won't be missed for a couple of days is looping loudly in my brain.
…stops 8, 9, 10… I’ve been raised on pop, watched from a series of soft suburban sofas…
…12,13…My newfound knowledge of Kylie isn’t going to help us, and neither is Claudia’s society gossip. We are twits on tour…
…15, 16… we must be nearly back in Moscow. It’s been well over an hour.
Finally we arrive at the end of the line. The worry sweat at my hairline freezes in the night air as we make our way to a rundown housing project. In a stairwell, some kids are stoking a fire.
16 floors up, under the glare of a buzzing strip light, a grimy door is opened by a crazed Charles Manson lookalike. He leads us down a dim corridor to a small kitchen. I ask for the toilet and lock the door. Fark! I tuck my dollars into my sock. Fark!
Back in the kitchen, my new Russian watch says it’s time to go, but Manson tells me to come with him next door. This is it- the stuff of nightmares. He’s talking about the majesty of St Petersburg, I’m talking with God making promises.
He pulls a book off the shelf, a souvenir of Leningrad. It’s a gift of friendship!
The relief courses through me.
“I have question.” Says my new friend.
“Sure, anything.” -I’m giddy to be alive.
“In Beatles, what is egg-man googoocachoob?”
“Erm, ah…it’s just…nonsense.” I reply disappointingly.
He looks crestfallen.
More questionIs Freddie Mercury the bloomer?
“The bloomer?”
“Yes, bloomer.” -he pantomimes camp.
“Ah yes, yes! he’s definitely the bloomer! No doubt.”
He’s aghast.
I hastily thank him for the book, get Claudia and skidaddle.
Ania comes with us to the station to say goodbye. I pull out my sock dollars and offer them to her. She refuses. It’s farcical. I’m foisting what minutes ago I was guarding with my life. That money could float her for months. Russia continually wrong foots me, leaving me feeling callow and selfish.
The relief is short lived. My watch, is telling the same time as in the kitchen! Bloody Soviet military watches! Hopeless.
If we miss our connection we are screwed.
The train crawls on.
1991’s most glorious site is Dmitri with ski poles as advertised.
He buys our tickets, procures a bottle of moonshine from the back of a taxi and bribes a babushka to open a shuttered cafe for our use.
Dmitri pours a generous first round and I toast the heck out of him. ‘To love!”
We bolt the shots and sniff the bread the babushka has provided, as is custom.
‘“I have question.” He intones earnestly.
“Sure, anything.”
“I build bicycle, bicycle to Poland. I get train to Italy…I find work?”
“Yes definitely -no doubt.”
His face softens to a broad grin and he pours another large round.
“To peace.”
Claudia and I are soon well pissed.
I can barely help her stagger to our train compartment. I call it a couchette which spurs Claudia into a spirited version of “Voulez vous coucher avec moi.” It’s a miraculous performance from a deaf mute. “Shhhhh!” I hiss quietly to no avail.
She’s still singing seductively as we lie in our bunks. I pray the two Russian soldiers we’re sharing with don’t speak French. The booze knocks me out and the next thing I know, the fates have delivered us safely back to Moscow. They’ve been with us all the way.
July 11, 2023 by Michael Gillette
Mo' Aphex

Mo' Aphex

An Interview with Mark Cartwright of the wonderful Lanner Chronicle

Hello Michael to start with could you please tell me a little about yourself and your career as an artist/illustrator?

I grew up in Swansea, and went to art school in Taunton and Kingston. I’ve always been inspired primarily by music. During the time remembered below I was making art for Elastica, Saint Etienne, Select magazine, Nude records etc. I moved to San Francisco in 2001, and have been in California ever since. My retrospective “Drawn in Stereo” was published in 2016. I first wrote about my time living with Richard as part of the book, I thought it was about time.

Were you aware of Richard before you met him, did you attend any of his early gigs?

No, I was a ‘60s obsessed indie kid, techno wasn’t really on my radar. The first time I saw Richard live was in the year we all started living together, either at the Polytechnic of North London, or Knowledge at the SW1 club. Richard began the North London gig with an endless, slow, beat-free flange, which Paul (Nicholson) danced to full tilt…

How did you first meet each other, what were your first impressions of Richard?

He was sitting with Paul across from Surbiton station. There was some in-joke going on between them, it was par for the course with Paul. We were both about to graduate from Kingston, and lived in the same house in different flats. Paul lived with Stu Harrison, also a Kingston illustrator, and we were all planning to move to Islington. A few weeks later we met with Richard and Sam Robinson, his delightful girlfriend, and they were up for moving too. Stu was the motivator and the glue between us. That visit we talked a bit. Richard would definitely test people. We got on ok. I think he was about to go to America, but I can’t find any evidence of that on the web.

What did you think of his first releases such as ‘Analogue Bubblebath’ or ‘Didgeridoo’?

I didn’t hear them until after we were living together. I think I heard Didgeridoo for the first time at Knowledge. I remember someone playing the didgeridoo live with him- that techno crusty Spiral Tribe scene. Anyone with an ear could hear his magic. In the summer of 1992, I worked for Saint Etienne, and I mentioned that I’d just moved into a house with Rich. They were totally in awe. They said they’d ghosted treated samples of his music under some of their tunes to establish the moods.

You first shared a flat with Richard at Southgate Road, the spare room was Richard’s studio, can you recall what equipment was being used at this time or what tracks might have been created during this time period? i.e. do you remember him using his Atari ST to sequence tracks?

I don’t know much about his kit. 184 Southgate Road, was where we ended up. Sam and Richard lived in a separate flat upstairs, Paul, Stu and I lived on the ground floor. Another Kingston designer, Jon Clayton, also had a room, but he was rarely home, he’d sleep at his studio across town rolled up in a futon like a hot dog in a bun. I don’t remember details of Richard’s studio, but it was right above my room, so I first heard his music, through the floorboards. Constant evolving wonder. I’m no expert on his music, I just enjoyed it. For one person to have the keys to so much new territory was incredible.

Did Richard ever explain the functionality of his custom circuits/equipment?

No, it would have been beyond me.

Presumably the flat was also the base of operations for the newly minted Rephlex Records, do you have any memories of activities relating to the running of Rephlex?

Grant was a regular visitor, a sweet guy, Maff too. I just knew they were setting things up. Eventually they put out records by some of the house’s extended cast, P.P Roy and Global Goon were Stu’s mates, and The Gentle People, were friends of Jon.

Do you have any other anecdotes or memories from your time at Southgate Road?

The house was pretty smart, but we got burgled a couple of times. The police said we were in the midst of juvenile half way homes, and that we should expect more Artful Dodgers. They got in through a tiny bathroom window. We were out once the year was up. The landlords wouldn’t renew the lease.

Here is a bit of trivia about 184 Southgate Road. The downstairs flat I was in got broken into. I had an NTSC VCR player nicked and other people in the flat lost bits and pieces. Given what they took, we reckoned they were just kids .Anyway, because Richard had all his keyboards which he absolutely could not have nicked, he would leave around £500 on the kitchen counter based on the logic that if someone broke into his flat, seeing the cash would grab that, not bother taking anything else and leave. Whether that line of thought would have saved his keyboards in the event of a burglary is open to conjecture.” – Paul Nicholson


After you left Southgate Road (and its questionable neighbours), you moved into Clissold Crescent, was the environment more conducive to creativity?

We could all create under almost any circumstances, working out of our bedrooms, day and night. Stoke Newington was called “Hampstead on the dole” back then, It was kinda villagey, albeit it a village where the police got caught dealing crack.

Who else occupied Clissold Crescent? Was it a hive of constant activity (like the young ones)?

Clissold was Stu, me, Jon (on occasion), Sam and Richard. Paul was out, and another illustrator friend from Kingston, Neale Thomas, joined us. It was a bit Young Ones like, yes. We all had distinct styles: Neale wore 20’s suits, I was in the 60’s, Stu dressed like a cartoon and Sam and Rich- you know their look, they dressed alike. Stuff got smashed a lot. Stu was a fan of BB guns, so stuff got shot a lot too… We lived on the top three floors. The landlord, Mr Hussain, had a vacant flat below (one less neighbour to enrage). It was back to a student level house: wood chip wallpaper, lino and dark, indestructible nylon carpets. No attempt at decor made on our part. It was gloomy. There were always visitors passing through, often staying on the floors, or Jon’s unused bedroom.

Do you remember what Richard’s studio was like? What equipment he might have used during this period? for example, had he switched from his Atari ST to an Apple Macintosh to sequences his music?

His studio was a little room about 10ft by 8ft, crammed with gear, like a plane cockpit in a closet. He was starting to collect rarer, old analog stuff like the Synthi in a suitcase, a gadget for prog rock spies.

Mentioned in an interview from this time period is that Richard created his own artwork with a fax machine. Do you remember this or any other art he might have created? i.e. the cover of ‘…I Care Because You Do.’

I have a vague memory of that. Sometime in ’94 Richard got a beige Apple Mac. Jon Clayton took over from Paul helping Richard with the sleeves. Jon was a versatile designer, a master typographer, the perfect collaborator. He taught Rich (and me) to use Photoshop. It was pretty basic then. Rich started making his portraits for the sleeves. Considering the technology, they were pretty accomplished. He actually made distorted portraits of all in the house and gave us copies. I can’t find mine, I hope it’s tucked in a folder somewhere back in Britain.

Richard mentioned in contemporary interviews that he liked to play computer games quite frequently, do you have any memory of what games these might have been? or what other hobbies he might have indulged in?

He bought a pub tabletop version of Galaxians from Loot. It was up in the bedroom. The room was quite large, double bed, modular ‘70s Habitat sofa, his decks and records, a TV and video. That was the only TV in the house. When he had visitors, Rich would Dj and we’d all hang out. We didn’t have a living room, and the kitchen was dinky. Occasionally he and Sam would come paint balling, laser tagging, go-carting maybe, but his music was always the focus.

Do you remember what tracks were created at Clissold Crescent? Did you witness anything in particular being created?

I remember Expert Knob Twiddlers being made. Mike Paradinas was another Kingston guy. They were drinking vodka which brought a more lairy vibe. One of the samples on that record is from a mix tape a friend had made me: Catch a falling star by Francoise Hardy, they must have pinched it. It’s my unwitting contribution to the canon, oh, and a sample of a kid saying mashed potatoes from a BBC LP on another
track… You are all so very welcome!

Note: The track that samples the Francoise Hardy track, ‘To Catch A falling Star’, is ‘Jellyfish’ from Expert Knob Twiddlers. The track that samples the BBC’s Children Talking’ is ‘Children Talking’ from the Hangable Auto Bulb EP

Melodies from Mars was apparently created mostly during this time period? Do you know anything about that project? or any other aborted projects?

I don’t know, it was just coming out of him all the time. I’m not familiar with what ended up where. I do remember music that sounded like Nannou around the time of Portishead’s Dummy in 1995 It was pretty and haunting.

Richard was inundated by offers to create remixes for various artists in this era. Do you remember any artists he rejected or artists perhaps he wanted to work with? Do you remember what the infamous lemonheads song it was that he was meant to remix?

He knew that bands, or likely labels A&R, were using him for the kudos. He liked Seefeel, you can hear on Mixes for Cash the ones he engaged with. I think the Lemonheads song was Big Gay Heart. The more he said no, the more people offered. He didn’t want to tour- too much hassle to break down his studio. Warp offered to duplicate his set up, still no. The King of tech-no.

You mention on your personal website that Madonna was keen to work with Richard? Do you know how he felt about this? Do you know if the incident were she was asked to make animal noises down the phone was true or not?

Richard had complete control over making and releasing his music. He wouldn’t have had that with Madonna. Most of us would have gone for the $’s or justified it as a way to reach a bigger audience. He didn’t care about those things. Richard wasn’t hungry for attention, and that’s a superpower. When he toured the US with Moby, he was sniffy that Mr Moby came out playing an electric guitar. “He wants to be a rock star” He thought that was lame.

Richard used his success to be totally independent. He had great business instincts. Who else writes, plays, records, runs a label and manages themselves to worldwide acclaim? One December afternoon ,he took acid (the only time I recall) went out and bought Sam a watch on Oxford Street and then did his accounts. The animal noises sounds plausible, you may have noticed he likes to play with people’s minds!

I don’t want to dispel any of the Aphex mystery. Scott Walker was like a mythical beast to me in the 90’s and I’m sure that Richard is like that to many people. They have the music and their own imaginations to fill in the blanks. That’s a rare and beautiful thing in an age where you know what everyone’s eaten for dinner

You also mentioned on your website that neighbours complained of noise pollution? was this due to Richard playing music incredibly loud?

We were all loud. Richard really could crank it though, and as we know, much of it was the sound of nightmares.

Do you remember the incident where a neighbour was wielding a machete in a threatening manner?

No, but I can believe it. He was an old lunatic rattling around the whole house next door with his poor dog. That place must have been a real horror show inside. He would hoover his back garden shouting “FUCKING ARABS!” at us, (because of the landlord Mr Hussain). We were a pretty odd looking bunch of Arabs. He was already cracked when we arrived. The other side lived a writer. She was going nuts, she couldn’t work with the noise. Posters started to go up about getting us evicted. Sam got mugged on the doorstep. I decided to move when the neighbours started lobbing rocks at the windows.

Do you have any other anecdotes or memories from your time at Clissold Crescent?

I don’t know whether this story is out there in Aphex lore. Richard said, when he was a teenager, he stayed with relatives on the edge of London during summer holidays and worked at a Wimpy bar. Part of his job was to dress up as the Beefeater mascot for kid’s parties. He’d come around the corner and the kids would attack him with a full force shoeing, like the traditional battering of a piñata. I can see the link to the Donkey Rhubarb teddies. Randomly, my flatmate from Kingston is in one of those bears in the video. He developed a boil the size of a golf ball on his forehead from the sweat and heat.

Do you think Richard enjoyed living in London or ever missed Cornwall?

I think he was happy to be making music wherever. By the time we moved to Clissold, he could have lived anywhere he wanted. We were all young, maybe he didn’t want to settle down. He liked full on people and the house attracted a carnival of them.

Do you consider this a happy time in your life, do you look back on it with fondness?

It was a really interesting time, with lots of talented, funny individuals, Techno Bohemia. We were all following independent creative lives. There were plenty of Withnail and I moments, but generally it was a gift. The scene would make a great film, and what a soundtrack! I reckon there should be a blue plaque on 36 Clissold Crescent eventually. It was the end of an era, just pre-internet. I’m glad that there was no social media or phones about. I respected everyone in that house and learned a lot from each of them. I was very lucky to be a part of it.


August 30, 2021 by Michael Gillette



Life with the Aphex Twin. Part 2.

It’s knocking noon when I head to the kitchen for breakfast, stepping over a sleeping stranger and a couple of overflowing bin bags on the landing.

The kitchen is a tiny grime museum at the back of the house used by the six of us and abused by a never ending stream of visitors.

Neale is already up, and pressing a clean shirt on the stained ironing board. In spite of circumstances; he has standards to keep. A handsome Liverpudlian ringer for Martin Fry, circa Look of Love, his wardrobe is almost all ancient and made of tweed.
Given a time machine, he'd be straight back to the 1920s. I’d gladly hitch a lift to the perma-press mid-60s, but we’re here on the techno front line, Friday, January the something, 1995.

It's been winter forever. It’s hard to keep track of time here, especially when  dishwater skies dim to pitch black by 4pm. I glance out of the barred window. The mad old man next door is vacuuming his threadbare lawn, shouting one of his cracked catchphrases “Army mate!… Army done it! Army mate!!”


Neale, ironing done, pulls a roach end from an over-flowing saucer, and lights it off the cooker. There’s a knock on the front door, and our eyes widen in momentary paranoia.

“Got it!” shouts Richard thumping down the stairs.

It’s a courier, picking up a track for a Pirelli Advert.

The ad is the first fruit from a deal with a Hollywood agent on Rodeo Drive. Richard’s just trousered more loot than I’ll make off the remaining millennia.

Although signed as Aphex Twin to Sire records US, and Warp UK, Richard’s brokered incredible deals which allow him to release records under any alias he phancies, often on his own Rephlex label. It’s amazing for a 22 year old to have such vision and control.

The Pirelli gig uses a “Caustic Window” tracks named Garden of Linmiri; so says the internet. It also informs that caustic means “destruction by corrosion”, “incisive sarcasm” and the “refraction cast by light through curved glass”.


Aphex Twin Pirelli Advert

Stu’s up. Also a scouser, he’s the house Mayor, with a prime civic duty to motivate wayward behavior, or as he calls it: “jollies”. He can be super practical, kind and generous, but he’s mostly hilarious. He has the look of Brian from E17 (ask your gran, but don’t mention this to Stu). Like most of the folks around, he’s turned up to 11.

It’s time for “work”, so I commute back to my bedroom. Sleeping bag man has gone, probably not to work.

At 8pm, Neale’s shirt and the rest us are going out. We step out a lot, but rarely with Richard. He barely leaves the house unless obligated.

Turns out, sleeping bag man is one of Richard’s school mates from Cornwall who descend en masse periodically. They live in a squat in Brixton, Cornish Crusties. They have a tribal order, headed by a guy who is the dictionary definition of caustic, (not the glass one). They all pepper their talk with “lush”, ‘spicy”, “well spicy”,”mental”. The word “idge” is liberally added to the end of words- tune-idge, spliff-idge…

Half of us are suited, in full pomp, the rest, crusted in full crust awaiting the #73 bus in the freezing damp.

We are headed to Madame JoJo’s drag club in the heart of Soho; a red velvet womb with resident band The Mike Flowers Pops. They will have a huge hit with a cover of Wonderwall at Christmas, inconceivable at this moment. We’ve seen them a bunch and Stu’s persuaded Richard, the immovable force, to check them out. Stu has the power.

MFP are kitsch, but with an art school heart. During a Bowie medley, Mike informs, in pilot tones, “This ain't rock'n'roll, this is genocide ladies and gentleman”. All such nuance will be consumed in an easy listening theme party fad by next year.

Mike and his dozen or so band are busy weaving their magic. Chief Caustic Crusty has twigged Mr Flowers wears a costume wig, and is compelled to shout the obvious:

“Wig!” “Wig!”

Richard joins in, “Wig-idge!”

then the rest of the pack follow, “WIG-IDGE!!”.

The game is unrelenting. Imagine being their teacher.

Richard must have enjoyed the heckling, for he agrees remix the band.
By 1995, he’s turning down such offers constantly, so it’s a scarce badge of approval.
The results are later released on the EP “Mike Flowers Pops meets the Aphex Twin Downtown”. And here we are.

Aphex Twin/ Mike Flowers

Time for last orders. Some suited wit suggests we hail a “cab-idge” home to extend the jollies.
Back at Clissold, Richard Dj's to the neighbourhood from his room at the top; Iron Maiden and Brian Wilson, are seamlessly mixed into a load of old acid house and new jungle. EVER SO LOUD.

It’s my turn to brew the bucket of tea
Over the sink is a recently minted dish washing rota, a vain attempt to keep the chaos at bay. Scrawled in Sharpie over today’s space is RICHARD DISH JAMES. It’s the first and last time it’ll appear. He’s even cleaned the ashtray/ saucer, I load it on to the tea tray and it’s onward to Saturday morning.

Update: A kindly Aphex fan sent this link to an interview with Richard from '97. He talks a bit about the house and neighbours.

© Michael Gillette 2021.

July 01, 2021 by Michael Gillette

Selected ambient Words 1992-1995: Life with the Aphex Twin

I wrote this piece for my book "Drawn in Stereo". I'm reinstating it on the internet here. I keep meaning to write more...

I first met the Aphex Twin on Surbiton High street, early summer '92. I had just
graduated from Kingston, along with the classmate sitting on the pavement next to him,
a graphic designer we called "Nobby".
Nobby's ambition was to be a robot. Stakker Humanoid was his 7am wake up call.
He designed the iconic Aphex logo (hand drawn in marker), which Richard bought the
rights to for £500, by turns honourable and savvy.

By summer’s end I was living below him on Southgate Road, then a no mans land
between Dalston and Islington. Nobby, myself and two college mates took the
downstairs, whilst Richard lived upstairs with his delightful girlfriend Sam, a pretty
Cornish flower child. Across the road was a crack den.

That first year was relatively civilized. Initially, I had no idea of the magnitude of
Richard's talent but, working in my room below his home studio, it was soon
unquestionable. The "Techno Mozart" by 21.
I'd recently worked for Saint Etienne, and when I mentioned him, their jaws dropped.
They asked if I could get him to remix them; I couldn't get him to do anything, but I did
pass on the request and he obliged.
After a year on Southgate Road, we were turfed out by our landlords, deposits
withheld. Filth, Damage.

36 Clissold Crescent (above the kitchen)

We decamped (sans Nobby) to nearby Stoke Newington (36 Clissold Crescent), all thrown together in a
terraced house, with Richard recording in a tiny cockpit at its heart. Here things took on
a grimier cast. He was now famous and the house was abused by a stream of visitors,
like a techno Lord of the Flies. The vibe was 3am Eternal - always in a smoky murk,
none of us had jobs to rise for.
Music poured out of him, hunched over tweaked analogue gear, a beige Mac, and a
DAT machine. One such machine, which had failed, was swiftly splintered and strewn
over the garden path, a taster of the chaos within.
Day and night the sound of a mammoth with it's balls on fire would rip through the
house at blood curdling volume. Soon the neighbours lodged a petition. When that
failed, they lobbed stones at the windows. This brought an air of siege paranoia to the
place. One flat mate installed 2 inch wide iron bars on all the windows. A less fragrant of
our order caught Scabies, something I thought had died out with street urchins and
Rickets. We all itched along to the doctors to find that, miraculously, we'd avoided the

The landlord, Mr Hussain - who punctuated every sentence with "as it happens", said
nothing of the decline and kept cashing the cheques.
I made a shaky video for Elastica in my bedroom which came 2nd in some NME award.
Richard's video for ON, directed by Jarvis Cocker won. Deservedly so, as it happens.
We all made exceptions for Richard, he never did the dishes. One of the myths about
him, which I believe, is that he could lucid dream music - a total connection to creativity.
The white heat.
He conjured all hues of Heaven and Hell, with an infinite sonic palette. One day, sick
with food poisoning I retched the ghosts of every meal I'd ever eaten. He recorded my
heavings to add to some horrific creation.
In the wake of Dummy by Portishead he made a slew of beautiful, haunting music that
sounded like a celestial ice cream truck.
He wasn't hampered by any need to please others, be famous or wealthy. At one point,
mid 90's, Madonna wanted to work with him. He ignored her people, finally she phoned
him to get the short answer. One of the later remixes he did for cash was a limp
Lemonheads song, he didn't bother listening to the track, just pulled some random tune
from his enormous stockpile. He told the record company that he'd compressed their
entire song in to the sound of a hi hat! Did I mention he was a genius?
By late '95 the neighbours upped their bombardment of the house in protest at a set of
earsores that Richard was spinning. He was gleeful of the havoc.
I left for less challenging territory.
Soon after Richard did the honorable thing and bought an old bank to live in, with a
vault for a studio.

March 29, 2021 by Michael Gillette

Review in Vogue Italia

March 29, 2021 by Michael Gillette
Pack of Dogs book, Celebrity dog drawings.

Pack of Dogs Book.

I'm so exited to release this book!

I started this project 4 years ago around the 2016 election, after I bought some boxes of old greetings cards at a Goodwill. Each contained ten identical pencil drawings of a dog. I started drawing over these in an act of vandalism/ entertainment. Initially, they were transformed into style tribes: Mods, rockers, punks, etc. Soon, they started to look like familiar stars. At this point I drew my own dogs and had my printer, San Francisco Electric Works, make editions, allowing me to continue the game.

It was totally addictive. David Bowie was the first star to appear- the low hanging fruit. I drew one a day for weeks, musicians, deities, style tribes.

Each one is a little magic trick that I'm amazed worked.

Twenty portraits in, a fantastic dog/culture magazine, Four & Sons, contacted me and featured the project. With this encouragement, I made many more portraits. In April 2018, I had a solo exhibition of 50 dog drawings at Luna Rienne Gallery, in San Francisco.

In early 2020, Marta Roca, the publisher of Four & Sons asked if I'd like to do a book of 50 celebrity dogs. I had 24 stars at this point. I figured I'd be done in a month or so.  Over the next 6 months, I finished up 26 more dogs. Along the way, I spoke with Wayne Coyne, of The Flaming Lips about the project for the book. Unbelievably, Ozzy Osbourne agreed to write the foreword, and God love him, he came through in fine style!

Drawing each portrait was a little period of calm joy for me personally. I hope that feeling is passed on to others who view the book.

The final step was for me to write captions for each portrait. I had a good time articulating how the musicians intersected with my life, sometimes literally (I bumped into David Bowie in City Lights Bookstore the first time I visited San Francisco in 1997).

The book has been designed beautifully by Marta, and printed in Barcelona, on great paper stock. I could not be happier with the final results.

Sales within the USA are available from this site. Shipments to the rest of the world can be purchased from Four & Sons.



November 28, 2020 by Michael Gillette

My Bond experiences...

Interview with  Artistic license renewed...HERE

October 01, 2019 by Michael Gillette




So, you've been delightful enough to buy a piece of my artwork. I really appreciate that, thank you. Now, how to display it in the best light?

Most of my prints have hand torn deckle edges, Noah at Electric Works is the maestro who does this. These edges look great float mounted, or mounted directly onto backing:

"Float mounting adds dramatic shadows and depth to any piece of art, By first mounting the item to a piece of foam board then mounting the board to the mat, float mounting raises your art so that it appears to hover within the frame. It's an elegant, timeless style and the easiest way to make you art look truly custom framed." so says the internet.


When you pick your frame, one very important thing is to allow for a decent width of border between the print edge and the frame edge. It allows the artwork to breathe, and looks cooler. Framers suggest 2 inches minimum around the artwork (even though there is a border already because of the hand torn edge).


August 30, 2019 by Michael Gillette