Ken Russell on Rachel Fuller

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Mon Aug 4 15:50:16 CDT 2008

Too weird (which could be said about so much of Ken's work):
From The Times:

Rachel Fuller on A Week in Kew and her musical Ash
The singer/songwriter Rachel Fuller set herself a week to make an album of songs inspired by her London village
by Ken Russell

Last month Rachel Fuller, a singer/songwriter and artist, set out to spend a
week writing an album of ten songs, A Week in Kew, drawing her inspiration
from the shops, people and village life in Kew. Having just finished a song
cycle of my own, Boudica Bites Back, about the queen of the Iceni tribe who
gave the Roman invaders a bloody nose back in AD 61, I thought it would be
fun to see how a fellow artist would handle a musical picture of the Kew
tribe of AD 2008.

But who exactly is Rachel Fuller? On her website I found biographical details
and a few revealing quotes. Fuller, 35, is a classically trained British
musician. She is a successful independent pop music artist, a website host
and an occasional collaborator with the rock musician and her partner Pete

Well, that was a turn-up for the books: Pete Townshend is an old friend I
worked with years ago on bringing his superb rock opera Tommy to the silver
screen. Now that was promising as I know that Pete is a man of impeccable
taste. I turned to her website for confirmation. Well Miss Fuller is very
forthcoming about herself, admitting that, “I'm f***ing fabulous.”

So when I rang the doorbell I was somewhat apprehensive. I did not know
whether to expect an arrogant tigress or a hard-nosed intellectual. But the
door was opened by a radiant English rose. I followed her up a narrow flight
of stairs. She was tall and elegant with shapely bare legs in her
knee-length Victorian bloomers. 

I took in the attractive bijou flat whose stark white walls were partially
covered in scribble both in pen and pencil. “I hate writing on paper,” she
confided, “because I always end up with reams and reams of rejected versions
scattered all over the floor and very mixed-up - very wasteful, very
confusing. Whereas if you write on the wall it's permanent so you have to
think very carefully before committing yourself. And when I finish this
project I think I'll whitewash the walls and make a fresh start with my very
next opus. And so on and so on, over the years, layer upon layer, until at
the very end there is a complete record of all my works. By which time,
there may be a method of deciphering them all one layer at a time.”

And have you any idea what might start the very next layer, I asked. “It will
be the final version of my new musical, Ash, to a book by Jack Shepherd,”
she said without hesitation.

When I learnt that it was partly autobiographical I urged her to tell me all
about it.

Apparently in her late teens, she became an organist in a chapel attached to a
crematorium. Ever conscious of the grief of the mourners, she eventually
learnt to take death as a matter of course, especially with the elderly;
although the demise of children caused her to constantly lament a young life
cut so cruelly short.

But having witnessed through a peephole more than once the sight of a cadaver
igniting into a roaring ball of fire, she grew to feel a strange sense of
elation as the soul took leave of the body which she remembers as a truly
majestic moment. With all this deeply personal experience to draw upon, Ash,
which is to have its premiere on August 11 at the Arcola Theatre in East
London, promises to be a moving event.

Later in her career, she went to Hollywood in the hope of writing music for
the movies. “I love composing big orchestral stuff,” she said. “But in the
event I was offered a contract as a singer/songwriter which resulted in an
album called Cigarettes & Housework, two of my growing obsessions. And
so to my current obsession, A Week in Kew.”

Which brings us back to the writing on the wall to be recorded the following
day under the creative eye of Pete Townshend in his studio.The first song
she talks about concerns the local ironmongers: a veritable Aladdin's cave
of priceless junk. As for the old couple behind the counter, they were the
inspiration for a song about lost love and love rekindled, in the style of a
simple old folk song. The fashionable hairdressing salon up the road ended
up as being a saga about Rachel's love affair with her own hair.

Then we came to the Café Saga: 
“I'm going down to Starbucks 
Gonna get myself some drugs 
But the yummy mummys are out in force 
Drinking de café soy of course 
They've taken over all the tables 
With their vomit baby fables 
But by ten they're on their way 
There's such a lot to do today 
And so I'm free to drink alone 
I wish I were more sociable 
I observe from where I hide 
The snow globe goes on inside 
It never settles and nor do I, 
For now my heart beats way too high. 
Are we just in deep denial 
With our cheery cardboard cup 
When all we are really buying 
Is a drug to pick us up?”

And so this musical tour of Kew went on from one delight to another until
after the seventh song she stopped abruptly. “I thought you were writing
ten,” I said. “I was,” she replied, kicking off her sandals and sitting
down, “but it was my birthday on Thursday...” And then she fell silent. “And
you had a big party I guess?” “Far from it,” she said. “Birthday me and
artist me had a big argument that lasted all day...” 
Here I thought it best not to pry and reluctantly bade her farewell.

And as I drove away, I thought that her website had somehow let her down,
though she was definitely right about one thing - she really is “f***ing
 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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