PURPLE BURT Interviews
IN THE SILVER MOONSHINE: April 2005 - Mitch Friedman Interview by Toby Thomas (courtesy of silvermoonmusic.com)
Native New Yorker Mitch Friedman has released two previous CDs, The Importance Of Sauce and Fred, as well as contributed two songs to Medicine Park projects . In April of 2005 Friedman released a delightful surprise titled Purple Burt, a full realization of the character first developed in one of his earlier songs. These tunes expand upon the original lyrics contained in that one song and feature guest appearances by quite a few notables.
So, first off, where can I get one of those magical Hope Ropes?
The Mars Wal-Mart.
Rumor has it that Do Re MiMi actually moved to La La Land (aka Los Angeles). Any truth to this?
Our lips are sealed.
Quite a cast of characters lend their considerable talents to the project like Andy Partridge, Dave Gregory and R Stevie Moore. Let's start with Dave Gregory, who performed the music for the obvious single, Color Feel. I assume he heard your demo and took it from there?
Sort of. What I did is record a rough version of the song with my singing over a very repetitive drum loop. It also had a few short instances of instrumental punctuation and a keyboard playing the melody along with my vocals. I sent that to Dave with suggestions for a small palette of instruments that I thought would work well for each section of the song. He followed my suggestions for the most part but certainly added tons of stuff I would never have imagined nor been able to play. I think he did an absolutely incredible job.
Andy Partridge wrote the music for Pluto. How did this collaboration come about? Did you give him the lyrics first or did you write them to fit the music?
At some point in the recording process he asked me if I had any lyrics without specific music in mind. The truth is that I had thought all the songs I was going to need had been written, but when Andy Partridge offers to collaborate, you quickly reconsider. ;-) Since most of the songs on the album are based on a lyrical moment in the original song Purple Burt, I remembered that I had never come up with something for the line "Purple Burt dreams of skiing Pluto as he naps in a prism tree." So within about 24 hours I had written some lyrics for such a song and faxed them to Andy right before I left for work one morning. By the time I arrived at work 45 minutes later and checked my answering machine, Andy had already left me a message on which he played his electric guitar unplugged, sang his ideas and revealed the chords to me. You can hear the phone message on the HEAR MORE page of my web site.
Right now my favorite song is the wonderfully bizarre What A Gas !. I guess I should have known that R Stevie was involved.
Yes, once again the talents of my musical genius friends know no bounds. The truth of the matter about What A Gas ! is that I had attempted a version all by myself and was quite disappointed in the results. So disappointed that I thought it should be left off the album. But a little time went by and I decided that I would make a completely different attempt at it. Somewhere in the middle of this attempt, Stevie asked if he could collaborate on something for the album (other than Wonder Where), and I had just the thing for him. All I provided were the vocals and the drum track. He did everything else.
I gotta ask... where did you get those button eyes for the jewel cases? Quite a clever packaging concept.
Where did I get the eyes or where did I get the idea for the eyes? The idea was provided by my brilliantly talented girlfriend Anne D. Bernstein. The eyes themselves were purchased from an arts and crafts company somewhere out there on the internet after a lengthy search that led me to Hong Kong and back (using my mouse).
Purple Burt appeals to both children and adults. Any special marketing plans to reach the youth of America and beyond?
So far my marketing strategy has been to simply get a copy to all the people I know who have kids and hope that they enjoy it and perhaps tell other families about it. I've also recently sent copies to about 30 radio shows that play kid's music as well as several kid's music reviewers. I'm hoping that these forays might lead to a wider audience. Another plan is to go around to all the children's clothing/toy/whatever stores in my very kid inhabited neighborhood in Brooklyn and see if any of them might be open to stocking it. Ultimately I'd love to have a real record company be interested enough to release it and/or a publicist to help me get the word out.
Just about every trial and tribulation of the childhood experience is addressed in your CD, particularly being different, feeling alone and juvenile indigestion. I think it's wonderful that you have given kids a fun way to boost their outlook.
What have you been listening to lately? Reading? Watching?
Listening: Martha Wainwright, The Lovin' Spoonful, Wreckless Eric, Jim Smart - Mist. Reading: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Kick Me by Paul Feig, Kiss Me Like A Stranger by Gene Wilder. Watching: Monk, Bottom, Unscripted, Project Greenlight, Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge.
Any other upcoming projects or musical collaborations on the horizon?
Nothing musical at the moment or in the near future, but I am editing a documentary film about legendary New Jersey free-form radio station WFMU.
Who would comprise your All-Mitch band?
Mitch Mitchell on drums, Joni Mitchell on acoustic guitars and background vocals. Mitchell Froom on keyboards. Mitch Easter on bass. Mitch Cohen (from A Mighty Wind) on drugs.
And finally, just where DID you get that dirt?
From a very special gardening center.
EARCANDYMAG.COM June 2005 issue
"Conveniently, I haven't grown up yet." Interview with Mitch Friedman (May 2005) By Robert Pally
Intro: Mitch Friedman's "Purple Burt" is story about a boy who is invisible and, well, purple. With help of Andy Partridge (XTC), Dave Gregory (XTC), R. Stevie Moore and others Mitch Friedman created a charming and a bit weird story not only for children. Note: To get in the right mood the interviewer tried to ask mainly questions that a kid could have asked.
E.C.: How do you manage to make music out of the perspective of a child?
Mitch Friedman: Conveniently, I haven't grown up yet.
E.C.: How did you come with the idea to "Purple Burt"? Was Nilsson's "The point" also an influence?
Mitch Friedman: The idea, or more importantly the name "Purple Burt" was made up by my friend Doug Miller about 15 years ago. Then I took the name and wrote a fake Syd Barrett song out of it. In 1999 I finished off the recording of it and put it on my first cd "The Importance of Sauce". In 2002 Martin Newell and Andy Partridge both suggested to me that I should make a children's album, and who can argue with two songwriting geniuses? So I thought I could make something fun out of the psychedelic nonsense lyrics of my song "Purple Burt", and it didn't hurt that many people told me their kids' favorite song on "Sauce" was "Purple Burt".
To answer the second half of your question -- no. ;-)
E.C.: Pretty much everything's rhymes on "Purple Burt". What was the hardest rhyme to come up with?
Mitch Friedman: Probably "orange porridge". And I'm still working on that one!
E.C.: How much of Purple Burt is in yourself?
Mitch Friedman: Well I've never been invisible or colorblind. I used to have a pet turtle but he was much friendlier than Kurt. I don't find dirt very appetizing. I can't ski. But my Dad passed away suddenly during the recording of the cd and that's why I wrote "Miss My Daddy".
E.C.: What would Kurt's name be if Purple Burt would call himself Purple Bill?
Mitch Friedman: Phil or Gil. Actually, definitely Gil. It's got something to do with breathing underwater so it's clearly better than Phil, for a turtle.
E.C.: If Purple Burt is invisible whose eyes are on the cover then?
Mitch Friedman: C'mon now! It's Purple Burt before he became invisible. That's why when you take the booklet out of the cd case, all that is left are the glasses. See, it's like a before and after picture of Purple Burt.
E.C.: What is the moral of Purple Burt?
Mitch Friedman: Be happy that you are unique, even if other people just find you weird.
E.C.: Did Burt find out when the song "Wonder where" will end? If yes, how did he find out? If no, did he at least find his underwear again?
Mitch Friedman: Yes, he found out at the exact same time that he found his underwear by reading the tag on the waistband.
E.C.: What is the maximum speed of the turtle Kurt?
Mitch Friedman: 10 miles per hour too slow.
E.C.: How did the purple dirt turn purple?
Mitch Friedman: Only the 7 surviving dinosaurs can answer that one.
E.C.: When will Purple Burt reappear and why?
Mitch Friedman: I have a feeling he will reappear if and when there is a sequel. ;-)
E.C.: How does Purple Burt see that his feet are dirty if he can not see himself because he is invisible?
Mitch Friedman: Well he knows that he hasn't washed them in a while so it's likely they're not looking too bright and shiny.
E.C.: In the song "Purple Burt" Burt sings "I am purple Burt. You are purple Burt". Who isn't Purple Burt?Mitch Friedman: Anyone who isn't listening.
©2005-2006 Mitch Friedman. About Mitch