POLAROID SUITCASE
Polaroid Suitcase
Ballerina I’m Japanese Sex Dummy Prince Charles Is My Toaster Sentient? Geometry Individuals Grey
album Sex Dummy 2003 pictures Polaroid Suitcase James Betts 2003 lyrics Ballerina 2002 song Ballerina 2002 video Ballerina Edinburgh 2003
GENERAL INFO Gary’s first full-length album (though to be fair it clocks in at about 32 minutes, so I always thought it was a bit short). I had a limited run of CDs pressed in July 2003, which then got either given away as promos or sold at shows. Long since sold out. Released a digital download and/or streaming version on December 12, 2012 - not quite the day the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world, but I’m sure Gary would have been impressed. RECORDING VENUES & DATES 74 Chewton Road, 23 Maude Terrace & 27 Maude Terrace, Walthamstow: 6 February 2002 - 13 June 2003 COVER IMAGE Gary holding the top half of a mannequin with a Venetian blind backdrop and a conical objet d’art, photographed by the inestimable James Betts at a location somewhere in London, April 2003. The Venetian blind might have been at my request but the cone, the lighting and and the general colour scheme were all James (I think from studying various Gary Numan album covers). The dummy was provided by Jenny Samuels, who also made me some fantastic artwork for the poster and an amazing backdrop for the live show. Or at least I thought it was, till I looked at the sleeve notes and saw that the “Dummy Mistress” is credited as Georgie Ripper. Someone might be able to enlighten me about that. I never wore this exact costume wore stage - maybe I used the shirt and waistcoat for Gary’s ‘Earl Grey’ persona but not with the hat and trousers. So I think that costume was just for the day. I eventually started wearing the hat on stage in 2009 under the name Blake Famous. You can see more pics from the original photo session here. The design for the original version of the album sleeve is an absolute shameless rip-off of Dare by The Human League. Slavishly copied all the right fonts and everything. But it didn’t look right when I did the digital release so I simplified it. You can download the original packaging here. THE MUSIC Eight positive, upbeat songs about things Gary’s obsessed with. OK, one of them’s about being attacked by a horde of robotic businessmen but it still feels like a pop song. I’d already recorded four of them for the Sex Dummy EP, but these are new mixes with new vocals, and with the four new songs, that means I pretty much made this album in three months. (Although if you count the four backing tracks I already had, it’s more like fifteen months, but who’s counting?) THE RECORDING PROCESS I don’t know when I decided to record an album. Maybe I always wanted to do it. I was doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe and I’d seen other musical comedy acts like Priorite a Gauche and Otis Lee Crenshaw selling albums at their shows, so it just seemed like the obvious thing to do. I was recording the backing tracks anyway - how hard could it be? As it turned out, a lot harder than I thought. My tendency to want to do absolutely everybody’s job completely by myself meant a lot of man-hours slaving away at the computer cobbling this thing together. But I never thought it wasn’t worth the effort. I already had four songs on the EP, but I didn’t think the recordings were good enough. So I decided to re-do them, and add a few more. I wanted to add another six songs to make it a proper, old school 80s album of ten tracks (five on each side), but I just didn’t have the time (or enough songs), so I compromised on eight (also a good, solid early 80s template - I’m thinking Tin Drum, I Assassin, Let’s Dance). The recording method was basically the same as I’d already been using for Sex Dummy - over- complicated and amateurish, with backing tracks made on a PlayStation 2 game, slavishly copied over to the PC, instrument by instrument in real time, adding effects in Sound Forge and mixing a backing track in Adobe Premiere, before exporting it onto a MiniDisc and playing that back to myself over headphones so I could record a vocal in Sound Forge (which didn’t have multitrack capability), then adding effects to the voice and mixing a finished version in Premiere, and finally back into Sound Forge for the master. The result is about as good as you could feasibly expect. But I guess, because the process was so unique to me, it probably doesn’t really sound like anything else. Definitely not anything else made in 2003. THOUGHTS & FEELINGS I used to be puzzled why people generally like this one best but it’s obvious to me now. Listening to it again for the first time in ten years, I’m mainly struck by how ambitious it is, and how well it conveys the sense of this character, Gary Le Strange, a bedroom loner with too many daft ideas. It’s confident and accessible and packed with silly jokes which - mainly because they’re not really tied to a specific time and place (yeah I know - weird for an eighties parody made in 2003) - still work just as well today. As for the music, the things that really date it aren’t the sounds or the genre - that stuff was outmoded when I made it, which was partly the point. No, the things that make it sound old and creaky are the same things that made it sound old and creaky then - a cheap microphone and an amateur mix made by some random guy in his bedroom who didn’t really know what he was doing. But the strength of the idea and the conviction I brought to it somehow makes it work. And because so much of it is about stuff Gary likes (as opposed to stuff he fears or hates), it has a positivity about it that carries you along on this weird journey. There’s no real story to it, but it really does have a pleasing shape, and by the end of it I felt like I knew him. Wish I’d felt like that at the time. So as a piece of comedy, it works. But as music? When I pull my head out of my backside and compare it to other things that were being recorded in London around the same time - groundreaking electronic albums like Arular and Boy in Da Corner - it’s deeply amateurish and really quite rubbish. Definitely room for improvement. BEST TRACK No idea. They all have merit. It works as a whole.
album notes Polaroid Suitcase 2012 cd packaging Polaroid Suitcase 2003 originals
2003
LISTEN/BUY
album Face Academy 2004 video Loose Lips Living TV 2003 song Photocopier 2004 pictures Face Academy Andy Hollingworth  2004
POLAROID SUITCASE
Polaroid Suitcase
Ballerina I’m Japanese Sex Dummy Prince Charles Is My Toaster Sentient? Geometry Individuals Grey
GENERAL INFO Gary’s first full-length album (though to be fair it clocks in at about 32 minutes, so I always thought it was a bit short). I had a limited run of CDs pressed in July 2003, which then got either given away as promos or sold at shows. Long since sold out. Released a digital download and/or streaming version on December 12, 2012 - not quite the day the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world, but I’m sure Gary would have been impressed. RECORDING VENUES & DATES 74 Chewton Road, 27 Maude Terrace & 23 Maude Terrace, Walthamstow: 6 February 2002 - 13 June 2003 COVER IMAGE Gary holding the top half of a mannequin with a Venetian blind backdrop and a conical objet d’art, photographed by the inestimable James Betts at a location somewhere in London, April 2003. The Venetian blind might have been at my request but the cone, the lighting and and the general colour scheme were all James (I think from studying various Gary Numan album covers). The dummy was provided by Jenny Samuels, who also made me some fantastic artwork for the poster and an amazing backdrop for the live show. Or at least I thought it was, till I looked at the sleeve notes and saw that the “Dummy Mistress” is credited as Georgie Ripper. Someone might be able to enlighten me about that. I never wore this exact costume wore stage - maybe I used the shirt and waistcoat for Gary’s ‘Earl Grey’ persona but not with the hat and trousers. So I think that costume was just for the day. I eventually started wearing the hat on stage in 2009 under the name Blake Famous. You can see more pics from the original photo session here. The design for the original version of the album sleeve is an absolute shameless rip-off of Dare by The Human League. Slavishly copied all the right fonts and everything. But it didn’t look right when I did the digital release so I simplified it. You can download the original packaging here. THE MUSIC Eight positive, upbeat songs about things Gary’s obsessed with. OK, one of them’s about being attacked by a horde of robotic businessmen but it still feels like a pop song. I’d already recorded four of them for the Sex Dummy EP, but these are new mixes with new vocals, and with the four new songs, that means I pretty much made this album in three months. (Although if you count the four backing tracks I already had, it’s more like fifteen months, but who’s counting?) THE RECORDING PROCESS I don’t know when I decided to record an album. Maybe I always wanted to do it. I was doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe and I’d seen other musical comedy acts like Priorite a Gauche and Otis Lee Crenshaw selling albums at their shows, so it just seemed like the obvious thing to do. I was recording the backing tracks anyway - how hard could it be? As it turned out, a lot harder than I thought. My tendency to want to do absolutely everybody’s job completely by myself meant a lot of man-hours slaving away at the computer cobbling this thing together. But I never thought it wasn’t worth the effort. I already had four songs on the EP, but I didn’t think the recordings were good enough. So I decided to re-do them, and add a few more. I wanted to add another six songs to make it a proper, old school 80s album of ten tracks (five on each side), but I just didn’t have the time (or enough songs), so I compromised on eight (also a good, solid early 80s template - I’m thinking Tin Drum, I Assassin, Let’s Dance). The recording method was basically the same as I’d already been using for Sex Dummy - over- complicated and amateurish, with backing tracks made on a PlayStation 2 game, slavishly copied over to the PC, instrument by instrument in real time, adding effects in Sound Forge and mixing a backing track in Adobe Premiere, before exporting it onto a MiniDisc and playing that back to myself over headphones so I could record a vocal in Sound Forge (which didn’t have multitrack capability), then adding effects to the voice and mixing a finished version in Premiere, and finally back into Sound Forge for the master. The result is about as good as you could feasibly expect. But I guess, because the process was so unique to me, it probably doesn’t really sound like anything else. Definitely not anything else made in 2003. THOUGHTS & FEELINGS I used to be puzzled why people generally like this one best but it’s obvious to me now. Listening to it again for the first time in ten years, I’m mainly struck by how ambitious it is, and how well it conveys the sense of this character, Gary Le Strange, a bedroom loner with too many daft ideas. It’s confident and accessible and packed with silly jokes which - mainly because they’re not really tied to a specific time and place (yeah I know - weird for an eighties parody made in 2003) - still work just as well today. As for the music, the things that really date it aren’t the sounds or the genre - that stuff was outmoded when I made it, which was partly the point. No, the things that make it sound old and creaky are the same things that made it sound old and creaky then - a cheap microphone and an amateur mix made by some random guy in his bedroom who didn’t really know what he was doing. But the strength of the idea and the conviction I brought to it somehow makes it work. And because so much of it is about stuff Gary likes (as opposed to stuff he fears or hates), it has a positivity about it that carries you along on this weird journey. There’s no real story to it, but it really does have a pleasing shape, and by the end of it I felt like I knew him. Wish I’d felt like that at the time. So as a piece of comedy, it works. But as music? When I pull my head out of my backside and compare it to other things that were being recorded in London around the same time - groundreaking electronic albums like Arular and Boy in Da Corner - it’s deeply amateurish and really quite rubbish. Definitely room for improvement. BEST TRACK No idea. They all have merit. It works as a whole.
song Ballerina video Ballerina pictures Polaroid Suitcase notes Polaroid  Suitcase
lyrics Ballerina video Loose Lips