Bearcraft and 10 Questions with TotalNtertainment. Bearcraft released their new album ‘Fabrefactions’ 4th September. Fabrefactions moves upriver along the Thames, from Margate, through Leigh-on-Sea and into the capital of England. That journey is mapped out in gorgeous organic electronics, in overheard ghost stories and half-remembered urban myths. So we took the opportunity to chat with Dicky Moore from Bearcraft about all things Supernatural.
1. Thanks for your time, could you tell our readers briefly how Bearcraft came into existence?
After I got back from the Scritti Politti tours in 2006 I started transitioning my more from being just a singer-songwriter to being a music producer too. I put out an E.P. of the first few tracks, called It’s About Time, and then decided to focus on trying to make compositions which tied all my influences together, merging complex patterns with dance and disco beats, with folk elements.
I literally chucked one of the first tracks in this style up on Facebook to see what my friends thought of it, and it got shared around quite a bit. Then Tony Pontius from Hottwerk Records got in touch and said, “I want to sign this”. That was The Werewolf. We spoke about the track and about my general idea and he said he wanted to put an album out of this stuff.
One of his questions was “Will this be as Dicky Moore, or as a band?” and although it had been a solo project up until that point, I didn’t want to be constrained to that, and I didn’t want to get lonely or work under the illusion I could do everything all by myself, so I decided to release it as a band, or rather, as a loose collective, even though it was just me at that point. It was after that first album when I got more people involved.
2. Looking at some of the inspiration on the album, do you remember the first ghost story you heard as a child ?
Yes, well, I guess it was a ghost story with me as the protagonist. I was very young, probably around the age of 10, and after a sleepover, some friends and I started messing around with an Ouija board. Nothing much happened, but it scared me enough to tell the whole story to another friend later that day. He convinced me to try it again, with him. This time, stuff happened.
Stuff which to this day I can’t really explain through a rational lens, short of saying that we induced a kind of psychosis in each-other. It still freaks me out when I think about it. I was present at another time when friends messed about with an Ouija board, and witnessed the terrifying fallout from that too. It rarely ends well. Don’t do Ouija boards, kids.
As for a Ghost Story, told to me, I remember Paul Machin, who co-produced the first album, told me about “Whistle, and I’ll Come to You” by M. R. James, a story of a man who uncovered a whistle carved from bone, with the inscription “whistle and I’ll come to you”. I loved the idea of this on-demand haunting service provided through the ages. Later, my sister, Syd Moore, who now writes Ghost stories for a living, read it to me around the fireplace one chilly Christmas eve.
3. What was the one thing as a child that really scared you and what about now, as an adult ?
The Ouija board incident really scared me and made me fear that ghosts exist. Now, as an adult, my fear is that they don’t.
4. Every town / village has an urban myth, what is your favourite urban myth ?
At school, we had the “say bloody Mary in the mirror three times” myth, which was fun, but I’m reminded of a little burn-mark on the ground that used to scare me a lot. My friends and I used to hang out on this bit of wasteland in Southend which we used to call “the tip”, and there was a bit of ground burnt in a perfect rectangle. We were told it was where some kids had burned an Ouija board when they couldn’t get rid of the ghost who haunted it, and that if you step on that bit of ground your parents would die. Thinking back, I reckon it was probably caused by a portable barbeque.
5. If you could have grown up in any period of time what era would you have picked ?
I’m too hooked on modern medicine and liberal attitudes to go back too far, so I probably would have to stick to this era, but I always regret not being old enough to see the bands that I was into when I was growing up, those 90s indie bands like the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets. I saw all those bands eventually, but not in their heyday. Just the other day Anthony Chapman, who mastered Fabrefactions, shared a poster on Facebook of the Reading Festival line-up in 1994, which featured his band, Collapsed Lung. There are so many amazing bands and artists playing there. I would love to have been able to go.
6. The album is described as “an escapism album”, when you are creating your work, where do you escape to ?
I escape to the landscapes that my imagination conjures when creating the music. I can remember them all vividly. They look cinematic, and it’s strange how when I’m lost in “the flow” of making the music, when I’m in really deep, not only do I see the landscapes, but I can overhear the voices of the people who reside there.
7. Imagination starts during childhood, where did your imagination take you as a child ?
I think it took me to the same places it does today. At school my drama teacher refused to believe I wrote the play I submitted, about a boy who travels back in time after carrying out an accidental ritual at Canewdon Church. He returns to the present after receiving the help of a generous sorcerer, just before she succumbs to the cruel fate inflicted by the witchfinders. I’m still gutted the teacher didn’t believe it was my work.
8. Aside from now, if could take your music back in time what setting and time period do you think it would be best received ?
People tell me the music would fit well in the 80s, which is a great compliment as I think that’s the defining decade of pop music. But I’m not sure my tunes would be able to find the space there, among such strong competition.
9. Just for fun: if you could spend lockdown as a ghost who’s house would you haunt and what would you do to spook them ?
Haha what a fun question. I’d be likely to say Kate Bush, as I imagine she wouldn’t be too freaked out by it. And I could do my Cathy-at-the-window routine for her. But to cause maximum havoc, I might have to choose the Prime Minister, or perhaps his chief advisor.
10. Thanks for your time, just to finish could you tell us what we can expect from Bearcraft over the coming twelve months ?
A few cover versions, and then in the next year, a new album. I want to keep the momentum up but that’s quite ambitious seeing as it took me 10 years to make Fabrefactions. But the songs are already written. One of the troubles I’m having is getting musicians together during a pandemic, so it might be more of s solo album again.
The other issue I’m having is with the amount of admin that comes with doing a self-release album. I’m much happier with the self-release because it gives you so much more control, but I wasn’t expecting so much of my time to be taken up by the organisation of it all. But I’m sure I’ll find the balance that will allow me to work on the new music.
Also, Hottwerk and I are planning to release a 10-year anniversary edition of Yestreen, featuring new remixes and tracks recorded at the time which didn’t feature on the original album. I’m also planning a fortnightly podcast. There’s a lot to do, but I’m feeling excited and optimistic about the future of Bearcraft.
You find out more about the album at www.bearcraftmusic.com