COSEY FANNI TUTTI’s defiantly subversive and progressive work – as a member of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and beyond – has always been fired by a boundless curiosity. But with a new memoir and album imminent, has the one-time “wrecker of civilisation” finally mellowed? “Whatever was thrown at me, it never destroyed me inside,” she tells Laura Barton in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, July 21 and available to buy from our online store.
Enjoy this excerpt from Laura’s feature…
Across the fields around King’s Lynn, the wheat grows high and green, and the houses thin out and out until they become little more than occasional farms and small parishes, quiet beneath the Norfolk sky. For more than 30 years, Cosey Fanni Tutti and her partner, Chris Carter, have lived out here, in a village where few are interested in the comings and goings of two avant-garde musicians.
This midweek morning, Tutti sits at her kitchen table, dark-ringed eyes beneath a heavy, dark fringe. The scene is a strange combination of domesticity and defiance: the fitted kitchen, the well-kept garden; behind her on the counter, a row of plastic cereal containers. But next door lies the couple’s home studio, a framed fan-painting of the cover of Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats hangs on a wall, and opposite the refrigerator, a glass cabinet displays some of the accumulated paraphernalia of a life spent in sonic and artistic experimentation.
Tutti is 70 now, with a career that has so far encompassed co-founding the music and performance art collective COUM Transmissions in 1969 and industrial music originators Throbbing Gristle in 1975. Later came Chris & Cosey – a duo with Carter – and Carter Tutti Void, the couple’s collaboration with Factory Floor’s Nik Void. There has also been extensive solo work, including her acclaimed 2019 album TUTTI, a memoir called Art Sex Music, her extraordinary soundtrack to Caroline Catz’s documentary film Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And Legendary Tapes, and a new book, Re-Sisters: The Lives And Recordings Of Delia Derbyshire, Margery Kempe And Cosey Fanni Tutti.
Across five decades her work has been subversive and progressive, it has crossed boundaries and melded disciplines, but above all it has been fired by a boundless curiosity – to explore sound as a means of pleasure and pain, to challenge societal norms and conservative thinking, a desire to understand and to question and connect.
In person Tutti is at first a watchful presence, but the reserve softens, and an animation for her subject rises. Her conversation ranges widely, as if constantly seeking connections, so that five minutes in her company might draw together tuning forks, the black, blue and gold Mandarin wallpaper of her teenage bedroom, and the wonder of first seeing Derbyshire’s science exercise books from her school days: “Pages and pages of writing and drawing on wave theory and the shape of the mouth and how it can affect the acoustics,” she says, lit up. “I was just astounded. I thought, ‘Wow, this isn’t about music. No, no. This is sound. That’s the big difference.’”
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