Cosey Fanni Tutti on the musical awakening that catapulted her into another world
I guess it was the summer of 1969. The six months that followed were a time of awakening for me. Some of the people who were part of the alternative scene in Hull came into a pub that I used to go into a lot – the Black Boy in the old town – and I got talking to them.
I hadn’t felt all that comfortable before that point. I’d started dressing quite differently to the local disco scene people. I wore darker colours and had been making my own clothes instead of going to Chelsea Girl and shops like that. That’s probably why they approached me, I kind of fitted in – she’s one of us.
They invited me to gigs. I was still into music that was mainstream – I hadn’t even discovered the Hull bands yet. But then I got into Frank Zappa, Nico, the Velvets, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez. That’s what changed me really, because these were all people that had messages of difference, but it was a positive thing. Suddenly, there was this wonderful world of music people I could relate to, and this sense of nonconformity is what inspired me. The scene was a real mix of people. There were students from university and art college, and then those, like me, who weren’t involved with all that. There were people who were poets, serious academic writers, musicians and artists.
We also went to festivals. There was a local one in the biggest park in Hull. It was put on by the band I knocked around with, called Nothineverappens, with Steve ‘Snips’ Parsons and Johnny Bentley, who later joined Squeeze. I’m just seeing all those people and being alongside them was like manna from heaven for me. I thought, “Right, this side of society is where I belong.” When I went to the Plumpton Festival, I didn’t come home for about ten days. My dad wasn’t too pleased, but seeing the bands and dropping acid, as people did then, of course, was wonderful. It turned out that Chris [Carter] was at the same festival, but we didn’t meet then. This was years before COUM.
Because I’d started doing these unconventional things, I ended up getting thrown out of my house. But that was a good thing, because it catapulted me into another world. It was that alternative scene, back in Hull, that taught me that life is art, and art is life.
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