Samantha Coerbell
, a writer and spoken word performer, is a native New Yorker with Trinidadian roots. She has been active on the NY poetry scene since 1991 and has performed with numerous musicians and writers. She holds a BFA in English Literature & Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.
' Samantha Coerbell
In addition to providing guest vocals on various musical compilations, Sam also teaches creativity and performance workshops and has been a featured performer with Real Live Poetry in the U.S. and Apples & Snakes in the UK.

Q. How did you come to meet Alan Wilder?

A. While I was living in London, just as I was getting ready to return home, I got a call on my NY voice mail from Roland at Mute telling me that Alan wanted to meet me. I was totally stoked. When Alan called, I was so excited that I didn't even tell him that he was interrupting my bath, so we had a half hour conversation with me in the tub.
Q. What did you think of the tracks he asked you to put lyrics to?

He first sent me a DAT of 'Supreme'. It was cool but kind of eerie. I really loved the track temporarily entitled 'Harry Dean' because it had much of the emotional tenet of 'Swirl', the prose piece that I intended to set to it. The gospel background and the passage of Harry's voice offset my tones in a really beautiful way. Unfortunately, even though we recorded it, it didn't make the LP.
Q. How did you actually work together on the Recoil project?

We spent a couple of months trading music and text to get a feel for what we were each bringing to the project. I arrived in the UK directly after a week of performing on the road and after breakfast and a nap we went into the studio. I stayed there until it was time to go home. I'd record a section and we'd listen and pick sections to re-record so Alan had more options for piecing together the final track.
Q. What was he like to work with?

A very pleasant task master. I had suggested that I wanted to sing but had been kidding. When I thought I was done, he had PK stuff me back in the booth and made me keep to my word. I only sing to keep the demons of boredom away, I don't even sing in the shower but after I asked him to tell me not to waste his time, I got into it.
Q. Do you have a favourite Recoil track?

I really like 'Luscious Apparatus' which he did with Maggie Estep, 'cause I love Maggie and have been following her on the scene here for years. I also like 'Electro Blues For Bukka White' and 'The Defector' because after watching him first-hand pick through sounds and manipulate all the buttons and knobs, I can just imagine him pulling it all together.
Q. Who else have you worked with?

I've performed with David Murray and Butch Morris, Vernon Reid and opened for Me'Shell NdegeOcello & The Screaming Headless Torsos; recorded with Jack Walrath and have shared the bill with so many talented musicians and poets over the years it's been too much. For my upcoming CD, I'll be working with Julie Dexter of J-Life, Rob & Matt pka Scratch, Gavin Lombos of Chocolate Starship, Mark Wilson (co-producer of Reggie Gaines' releases) and I'm still recruiting a few producers.
Q. What music do you listen to?

In keeping with my Caribbean roots, I listen to soca which I came to love while living in London. I grew up listening to the oldies stations, 50/60/70's rock, while the 80s had me following the UK imports like Duran Duran, Culture Club and Depeche Mode - which caused me no end of grief in high school as the other kids were into this relatively new hip-hop music. My CD collection can only be described as schizophrenic.
Q. What will be your overriding memory of working with Alan?

A. Learning to build a proper fire in the guest room. Alan teasing me about everything I wanted to eat. Helping PK find a lost love. Mixing margarita's with Hep. Beginning to learn to use the means of production. It was a great experience.
Q. Can you tell us an interesting anecdote or story about Alan, professional or not?

A. It was fun to work with them and spend time in such a gorgeous home. Hep was very sweet and Paris is adorable. Without seeming like too much of a suck up, it was really great and I didn't even mind the chair and whip.

Anything else you'd like to add?

A. I hope everyone likes my contribution to the collaborations. It was a brilliant opportunity to move my writing and performance to another level and exposure.

This interview was conducted and last updated in 1999. For a full report of Samantha's recording session, go to Report - editorial / autumn.
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