The world can be an overwhelming place. While many of the artists we talk to use their music as a creative way to tackle the social and political issues that plague our ‘interesting’ times, others see their work as pure catharsis, something that takes us away from such concerns. Into this second category comes Girl Sweat, a one-man riot of energy and noise who is at the centre of Leeds’ burgeoning underground scene. But when we spoke to Sweat recently, we discovered that perhaps the cathartic is the political after all…
Described as an “ever-changing/expanding/decreasing project… with the running theme of making simple music to bring unlimited joy and catharsis”, Girl Sweat is only the first of his musical personae. When combined with a shifting cast of around a dozen others, Girl Sweat becomes part of Girl Sweat Pleasure Temple Ritual Band, “a conduit created in order to fulfil creative ideas I couldn’t achieve without having an additional 24 limbs and one extra mouth.”
Girl Sweat Pleasure Temple Ritual Band, is the body to Girl Sweat’s brains, a way to play intensely cathartic and ridiculously loud music with a group of like-minded people that gets closer to the purity of religious and spiritual music than he can just by himself: “Rituals are very powerful parts of the human psyche which have been mostly forgotten (and crippled by organised corporate religion) so The Pleasure Temple Ritual Band are a fun way to connect with that. The more earnestly cult the band gets, the better the band is.”
Expanding his repertoire even further, Sweat has recently joined forces with fellow Loiners Cattle to release the split LP Live at Assembly House. Cattle bassist Tom runs the studio through which the Pleasure Temple’s debut was recorded – in a Unitarian church, no less, which goes some way to explaining why the live album came out of an art exhibition space rather than a more conventional music venue: “It’s just one big tall square concrete room, so we set the bands up in a circle so the audience could go all around us.”
With unusual venues, there’s always the danger that the quality of the sound is going to be affected but the album sounds suitably “huge”: “The way great walls of noise segue into Cattle’s amazingly singular drum and bass interlocking riffage – the singer Chris never even practised with us! He just shot that all out on the night. The bit at the start where the drones stop and he screams, I get chills every time. He’s an animal!”
Live at Assembly House is a Leeds record through and through – they even got friends to die cut the outer sleeves while local business Discordant Sun printed the inners – and Sweat agrees that their scene is booming: “It’s such a compact and busy town with a large influx of people coming from all over the country to live there, so you get a really diverse range of people. Cattle and I are both part of a practice space called Chunk, which is an amazing spot with about 40 other musicians playing and putting on shows, but there are tonnes of other great DIY venues… It’s probably one of the most fertile scenes in the UK.”
While Sweat says it would be “disingenuous” to claim his music is political, he points out that we are all political in the decisions that we make: “I make these decisions regarding where I play, the people I work with and try to engage with. The most explicit ‘political’ message you could glean from my music is I truly believe that everyone has the ability to make enjoyable music. I run experimental workshops where I encourage people who have no musical experience to join in order to help them understand there isn’t this upper echelon of ‘talented’ people (often aided by their access to money, class, gender, race) who can make ‘good’ music. Minimalist and experimental music is a more democratic form of music that people can take great joy in making.” By working so closely with the local scene, Sweat arguably has a greater social impact than many of the more directly political acts out there.
I’ll leave the last words to the man himself: “Acid Cannibals are the best. Jellyskin are great. Free Love are untouchable. Dead Otter rule. Soft Issues are ridic. Take more cold showers. Make some loud noises and really scream about it. Do it. Be it. Sweat. Again. Vive Evariste.”