The world of Tara Burke is a place I'd like to visit. Throughout her career, she has made original, psychedelic tinged music. Using a farfisa organ as her trademark, her music flows from her fingers like honey from a beehive. It is an integral part of her, and it seems so natural. Burke, like many other artists in the genre, finds inspiration everywhere. Nature is life, and life is inspiring. Fursaxa has put out LPs on Ecstatic Peace, Time-Lag, and Eclipse in addition to a 3" CD-R release as part of the Jewelled Antler Library. Add in two brilliant self-released CD-Rs and Burke's discography is extremely impressive. Having toured and worked with the likes of Six Organs of Admittance and Acid Mothers Temple, Burke is hitting the road this autumn with Black Forest/Black Sea and Christina Carter. Their European trek will take them all over the continent and should produce some of the best shows of the year. Tara Burke is most certainly the queen of Philadelphia. This interview was conducted by Brad Rose via email in July and August.
TB: I started making music with friends. We would drink and smoke and play music in the basement. As for biggest influences, I would say Joni Mitchell, the Dead C, Pentangle, Velvet Underground, Eno....it's so hard to pick....
TB: I don't know if it really has changed that much. I have always approached music as an emotional outlet. For me, it's more about feeling than skill. I suppose that goes for music that I play, as well as music that I listen to.
TB: Well I have always had a love/hate relationship with the city. I love my friends here and the culture and the drama, but sometimes the crowdedness and the noise and the lack of space to garden like I really want to gets to me. I suppose this is also reflected in my music. To me, it can sometimes have a dark or sad element, but I suppose I am trying to create a certain beauty also. I guess the city is the darker element, and my affinity for nature is the beauty element.
TB: Yes--I enjoy creating art and crafts--drawings, papermaking, marbleizing, knitting, mosaics, making collages, etc. I suppose I can see a relationship between the two, but I don't know if I can explain it in words. Sorry to be so vague....
TB: Well, tension has several meanings for me, so I looked the word up and the definition I could relate to most in regards to my music was "a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements." This is kind of what I was talking about before. I do feel like I am trying to create a balance between darkness/sadness and beauty. If you have too much of one element in your life it becomes boring, so I like to delve into dual aspects of life. I suppose I also have somewhat of a dual personality. There is always tension swirling around in my head. And there is also the aspect of the yin and the yang, the balance of opposites.
TB: Well, I find plants and nature to be very inspiring, and I name a lot of my songs after plants. I guess there is also that healing connection. To me, music, plants, and nature are all very healing. Good therapy, I guess you could say.
TB: Glenn Donaldson asked me to do it. We have been trading CDs of each other’s music for awhile now.
TB: Well, what really concerns me is the fact that CD-rs are allowing a lot more music to get out there. And my CD-Rs have really helped me from a financial standpoint also, and I think it's the same for a lot of other musicians. By selling them on my website and while touring, it really has helped me to be able to work less, and that in turn allows me to spend more time doing music. And it's fun doing the artwork for them.
TB: The Spires That in the Sunset Rise, nature, my garden, films, friends, olives.
TB: I started by playing with friends (mostly guitar and bass)---stoned, drunken basement jams. Then I started acquiring various other instruments--chord organ, Farfisa, etc. and around the same time I learned how to use a four track. I really got into 'composing' music on the four track--layering sounds and textures.
TB: Well, I was originally supposed to do a tour with Bardo Pond and Jackie-o Motherfucker in Europe, but it fell through. And I had already started setting up shows with Pedro Gomes in Portugal that were separate from the other tour. So when the tour fell through, I decided to go anyway. I couldn't say no to hanging out in Portugal and playing shows with Ben Chasny. It was a great experience, except for the fact that I had a shitty show in Lisbon due to technical difficulties (of my own fault).
In many ways I feel more appreciated in Europe than I do in the States. The shows were definitely better attended than ones that I have played here, and the Europeans make sure that you are taken care of---food, shelter, etc. This, at least, was my experience.
TB: I am doing a release for the ATP label that will hopefully be out this fall. Also I am doing a European tour--this time Finland, Belgium, UK. It's still in the works.
TB: I was playing outdoors in a park in Philadelphia and in the middle of the first song the power completely went out. I like to think that I caused that.
TB: I would have to say that Finland is the place that I am most looking forward to. I am a big fan of Kemialliset Ystävät and Avarus especially, so I look forward to meeting them all. I am going there with Black Forrest/Black Sea and Christina Carter so I am hoping that there will be some communal music playing with the Finnish whilst we are there.
I think New Zealand or Japan would be great places to play someday.
TB: Bush sucks, but I am sure you already know that.
-- Brad Rose (18 June, 2005)