Perfect Sound Forever

Essential Logic

A punk goddess as mummy

Interview by Jason Gross
(July 2003)

After the Pistols and Clash exploded onto the English music scene, the punk scene soon boasted its share of women at its forefront. X-Ray Spex had no less than two dominant forces with singer Poly Strene and saxist Lora Logic (both in their early teens). After being edged out, Logic continued to make her mark with her own group, Essential Logic, leaving an album and a set of singles in its glorious wake. After joining the Hare Krishnas in the early '80's and mostly leaving the music business, Logic re-emerged in the last few years with an online release of new material and another new record just coming out now. Though she herself knows little of the riot grrls scene, she undoubtedly inspired their ranks with her boldness, adventurousness and sense of fun.

An edited version of this article appeared in Venus Magazine. Also, now through the good people at Kill Rock Stars, Fanfare in the Garden: An Essential Logic Collection is now available and yes, I admit that yours truly played a part in making that happen in conjunction with this article. Is that so bad?

Q: What got you started with music?

I took a few saxophone lessons then practiced a lot on my own and busked a bit. I joined a folk band for a few weeks but didn't really like that. I was really rebellious and I wanted to do something different with my life and get into another world. Around autumn '76, I saw an ad in Melody Maker looking for 'punk' musicians. I didn't even know what punk was but I just showed up. The manager for X-Ray Spex liked the idea of having another woman in the band with Poly so I made it. We got on so well, really hit it off and rehearsed a lot. It was like a dream.

Q: Was the scene supportive of women?

Definitely. It was an asexual movement. It transcended labels and boundaries: that was really part of the punk spirit.

Q: Did the scene affect you yourself a lot?

I grew up really fast. I was extremely na´ve at first and was exploited by the management and didn't see any of the fruits of my work. It was a nice time that a lot of different people could get heard though.

Q: How did you leave the band?

Poly saw that I was getting a little too much of the spotlight and I was just replaced without any notice after a year. They even used all the sax parts I worked out for the album (Germ Free Adolescents) with a new player.

Q: That must have been crushing.

I became cynical about the music business and went to art school to study photography for a while but nobody was really serious about what they were doing.

Q: How did Essential Logic come about then?

A chap who met me at school (Jeff Mann) knew about Spex, had a studio and pestered me about it. I finally decided to do something and started working on a band for about a year before we actually gigged.

Q: Why did it take so long?

We just needed to find the right people before we were sure about everything. We were going to put out a single ("Aerosol Burns") on our own label and then Geoff Travis (Rough Trade) heard it and loved it so we started working with him.

Q: What did you think of Rough Trade?

Fantastic group of people. They'd put out whatever I gave them, warts and all. The other bands there was really supportive too- someone would ask if you'd help with their session and you'd be there for them, like the Raincoats, Scritti Politti, Red Crayola, Swell Maps.

Q: Why did Essential Logic end?

We were together for three years but I just got too involved in the process and was dallying with drugs a little too much, living the rock lifestyle out and it took its toll.

Q: You joined the Hare Krishnas after that?

Liz Gordon, a good friend, had joined and I visited the temples around 1980. I was just ready for it and I embraced it and cleaned myself up. I traveled to India quite a bit (I may move there) and all over Europe to different temples to pray.

Q: Any music?

Well, Poly joined the Krishnas and we met up for the first time in years. She had been going through a lot herself and I understood. We formed a reggae-ish band with other Krishnas called Juggernaut and played a few gigs at the Glastonbury Festival (1983) but that didn't last long.

I living in a manor that George Harrison had given to the English Krishna people where I set up a studio that I shared with Poly and others- I'd always been writing and rehearsing (I always saw that as my service to Krishna and share that) but nothing really came out. I did the odd session work like singing for Boy George ("Bow Down Mister," 1991) and appearing on Top of the Pops for that.

Q: I understand that you're a mom now too.

I wouldn't have thought it would happen myself but I had an arranged marriage from the temple around '84 and we've been together ever since then. I'm raising two children now so I need to spend time doing that.

Q: Was there a 90's version of X-Ray Spex?

Yeah but that was a mistake. They put that together with another singer and I played with them for a tour but you can't really have it without Poly. I actually worked with her for an album she did (Conscious Consumer, 1995) and it was fun at first and then egos got in the way and I haven't been in touch since.

Q: How did you get back to working on new material?

I got offered some free studio time at an engineering school and I was working with Gary Valentine (ex-Blondie). Since we did it for an Internet label, I had more freedom to work at my pace- I just had my kids so I couldn't gig. Martin Muskat owned a studio that he let me use to put this (self-titled) EP together of material I had for years. And just a few months ago, I put together another record that has kind of dance, trip-hop sound to it that I like where I had been writing lyrics with my husband.

Q: So what's different about you and your work now?

I didn't know who I was back then though I was perfectly happy. Now, I feel like I'm more centered and comfortable with who I am. There's some of the original style there but I've evolved to a different being.

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