Stonehenge Summer Solstice June 2011


I visited Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice in June 2011.

The experience brought out many feelings and writing this was difficult. I wrote the following and then had to walk away from it for a while because I got worked up! I am an air person, I think, talk, sing, write – its an intellectual way of connecting to life and its how I mainly experience the things I see and do. Because I am built this way I tend to analyse – which helps explain the world to me, but in no way reflects how others may experience the very same thing.

Thus a wild night at Stonehenge is a challenge when feelings are involved and moral judgements try to surface. I am not a judge, but feel I have a responsibility to ‘do right’ – its my ethics and the world gives me feedback that my ethics are not bad. I came to my own beliefs about the world, then found that they matched quite well with the Pagan and Buddhist world view. As I give my opinion of ‘Stonehenge folk’ I am speaking mainly from these view points.

The Day we went to Stonehenge 20th June 2011 Summer Solstice

On the day we left, we collected our mate Hughie from Luton. Being a photographer, and all round good egg, we knew that he was going to enjoy the trip. We reached Stonehenge around 8.30pm when it was still quite light – the police looked over the car and stewards directed us into a field, causing us to park in neat rows, two cars deep with plenty of ‘roadway’ to manoeuvre when we wanted to leave. I decided to take a walk around and meet the Stonehenge posse of 2011. Straight away I discerned that this was not the gathering of hippies I was expecting. The Buddhists teach that its wrong to have expectations – but you try it – expectations are difficult to ignore.

We downed some beer – it was nice to get somewhere for the night and relax. Once suitably oiled I decided it was time to try out my new folk song on Hughie, who is a good natured guinea pig. I jumped out the car, pulled out my lyrics and sung him a song about Wassailing the Night with Mead. It was a practice run to see if the song stood up and I roared it away with no shame! This larking about brought me to the attention of a lady called Laura and her Essex family. After a chat and a Johnny Cash song sung by her son (much to Spon’s pleasure) we continued our party.

Around 1.30am we set off to walk up to Stonehenge stone circle. We were parked two fields away, so walked through the official gate (hand bag searched) where some police stood, and into the next field where we ambled along through the dark towards a gate at the end. Joyous Hari Krishna s came dancing out of the night with Hindu gods on a carriage – I recognized Jagannath – a lesser known god from East of India that I had discovered on my last trip to Orissa and beyond. This encounter made us all smile as the dancers chanted and clashed their cymbals back up the field….. The gate at the other end of the field had a large police presence. My handbag got searched again – which was irritating and there was a confused sniffer dog – probably having his nostrils bombarded and therefore being a pretty useless piece of kit. I could understand that the security was searching for bottles, but why twice? The searching business was very thorough – it was like going through an airport to another country. I felt there was an element of intimidation about the searching, so while the young man was prodding around in my bag I said to him, ‘You should get out of this business and come up and look at the stones, that’s what all this is about….’ In reply he said, ‘I was at them last year, this year I’m doing this for the money…’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘ You must be a struggling student!’ to which her replied, ‘ No, I’m not a student…’ and his voice trailed off. Laughing I said to him, ‘just struggling then?’ It was a lighter way to deal with the intrusion. I always try to see the human behind the uniform, even if the uniform cant see the human in me – but sometimes, if one shows generosity and recognition of a person, the atmosphere is healthier!

This encounter was quickly forgotten as I met up with my friends and walked into the Stonehenge site. First thing to see, lit up in the dark was a Chinese food van, with coffee vans next to it. A good place to meet if we lost each other, we noted. But as we strode past I became aware of a pull, quite a strong feeling of needing to be closer to the stones, and as they became apparent in the dark, I realized that I was not going to stop. Picking our way through the tousled crowd, some sitting, some standing in groups, I knew that we had to go into the centre of the circle. Many others must have felt the same – we were squeezing through people and upright ancient stones… we were being swept along in a tide of humanity, damp from the earlier rain, but lively and awake….we were a little stunned at the enormity of the scene – people everywhere and a most awe-inspiring backdrop to the party. These were not some fake scenes of ancient stones – these were the real thing, this was Stonehenge, close up, proud and looming majestically in the dark. Every now and then they were lit up by a camera flash or a torch light, every now and then, the murmur of the crowd got louder. And then we were there, right in the middle of the stones, surrounded by people and the atmosphere was electric. I turned to my friends and said something like – ‘ I didn’t know I was going to feel like this!’.

There were ripples of energy around us, going through us – and that was just the elation of being there, all these people were feeling it. We were closer than ever before, we could touch the stones, but we didn’t do a lot of touching, you are not supposed to, but the ‘pull’ was so strong. Just a gentle touch was all I needed, a caress to an ancient monument that had endured so long. I was awestruck to my bones, and laughing with the sheer joy of being in this crowd, this happy joyous crowd…..well actually it was a weird feeling, as the crowd was not turning out how I expected it to be. Up on the centre stones people were raving. By that I mean dancing in the rave style – grooving to what? No electric music was allowed, just drumming. So they were blatantly raving to the drumming and whooping and well, probably tripping….But this wasn’t the hippy vibe I would associate with Stonehenge – this looked like guys straight out of the nightclub, and girls from a rave….

The crowd became more and more packed in – there were some people over 35, but not as many as I imagined there would be. The energy in the inner circle WAS amazing, and I didn’t need to take anything to feel it – did I get that energy off people tripping or did it come out of the energy field created by the stones? No one will know if it was the acid or the place….did it matter? I angled my camera to get yet another picture of the Stones, and this guy in front of me exclaimed – ‘hey! I got a shot of you taking the picture – what do you think?’ George was an Ozzy visiting the country – he had been given the nod about Stonehenge at the Isle of Wight motor bike races….’Welcome to my country’ I said, and would repeat this to more people as I met the tourists who came that night. We continued to mill in the crowd, which was getting tighter as the hour was passing. ‘can you give us some space?’ a foreign accent said to me, ‘we want to make a circle to meditate’. Looking at these ‘alternative’ people I laughed, ‘what now?’ I said, ‘you’ll be lucky’, – these guys were not laughing, they seemed to be on a very serious mission, and they wanted to control a crowd – how inappropriate – and impossible…laughing I went on my way as the crush got even tighter! This sort of gathering can teach you a lot about yourself, but you have to let it unfold on you. Great revelations will come later when you are meditating….this is how you will evolve!

The chatting and laughing, whooping and dancing continued, along with the drumming which sounded quite drowned out in the background! Smiling at people was a great way to go and the buzz was fantastic. I think it opened up my senses, as usually I am feeling sleepy at 3am in the morning – not here – the more I looked the more I saw, the more I listened the more I heard….the crowd was certainly unfolding its character with different dynamics as more people came and went… Around that time I felt an overwhelming need to touch a stone – I went for the nearest one with a young girl sitting next to it…’if you feel you have to, then do it,’ she said, ‘I’ve been next to it for hours, hoping it will give me some healing..’ I looked down at her and said, ‘why not, we try everything else!’. I felt compassion for her, we all need healing sometimes, and we don’t always get it when we need it…I turned to take a picture of Spon infront of the impressive uprights, but the flash didn’t catch the stones, ‘Damn’ I said, ‘I thought Id got the stones in that picture – all I got was your face…..not that I’m dissing your face, you’ve got a nice face….’ the girl was laughing at that, and I know laughter is a great healer, I hope it helped!

We had moved a bit further round when the light started to come up, the stones were coming more into view, and so was the crowd. I noticed how young the majority were – they had made this space their own, they had claimed it and raved it and periodically they whooped their voices high to the sky where the stones bounced back the sound and they were in (on) ecstasy….. Determined people were now pushing through where space had run out, and I became squashed under a long limbed boy, who ignored the fact that I was there and was literally standing on me. I could feel his legs quivering, as the drugs were running round his body and he was having a useless conversation with his friends. Spon then lurched on me from the other side – ‘its getting too much’ he said, I had heard him say this a few minutes before, and although I had stood my ground because I wanted to be there for the sunrise, I decided it was no longer safe. We wheeled out of the inner sanctum – the youth had victoriously claimed the space and they were welcome to it. This was not so bad, the Solstice was about half an hour away and many people had gathered beside the stones facing east. Here it was busy, but not heaving! We found a space, but not for long. There were idiots behind us, with Russian sounding accents. Why hadn’t the police going through the crowd noticed them? – well maybe now the light was coming it was easier to see trouble. We moved further down the slope and found a place to sit. The light was up, but the sunrise was shrouded in cloud. The solstice came and went, but no sun showed itself. The night had been damp, but not wet, now the dew was rising. We sat together, three friends who know each other better than anyone else in the world, so it feels. All of us different, but all of us linked in a spiritual way…

I gave Spon the camera and he went off to take more pictures in the grey morning light. The crowd was still milling, although many were now leaving. The litter was disturbing. We spotted the police in the distance with a victim that seemed to have been bound hand and foot – four police were carrying him at shoulder height like coffin bearers…is this a new thing? The TV cameras came to film the crowd; later on I realized that the Druids had held their Solstice ceremony, but we couldn’t get near for the size of the crowd. Meeting up again we walked back to the stones, still unable to negotiate the crowds in the centre we walked around, as the pious do at Mecca. Many people were taking pictures of the stones, or of friends in front of stones. I had forgotten this place was so famous. We dodged the litter and amazed and stunned, we took in the size of these ancient artefacts. Drunk people stumbled, or lovers stopped and kissed, yet others looked sadly upon the scene – like the day after the party and you realize someone has trampled the garden. I don’t mind anarchy, but the litter was too much for me. I had to make myself look past it, otherwise it would have spoiled my experience. When we had taken in everything our eyes would allow and snapped hundreds of pictures, and wished umpteen people a ‘Happy Solstice’ we turned from this incredible scene and walked back down the field. The coffee wagon turned out to be the same company that had been at Strawberry Fair, remembered for their ridiculous sugar sachets (far too small, fiddly and wasteful) I call them Corporate Vegetarians!

We left pretty quick as it was pretty clear that many idiots had been on the fringes – for some people the car park was the place to party without understanding the reason for celebration. So we drove off towards Woodhenge and found a burger van on a lay by. At 9am we reached a place to camp and settled down to sleep. The fatigue of the night caught up and we slept until late afternoon, when we celebrated Spon’s birthday with a posh dinner he will never be allowed to forget! (ginger and gooseberry cheesecake!)

Later, when we had the chance to talk about Stonehenge we realized that we were all feeling puzzled at the mix of people. We didn’t expect to see the ravy, party kids, that seemed well represented amongst the ‘hippy/ alternatives’. But I remember the travellers kids were turning out like that, so my guess is that some may have parents who were alternative types – and now the kids were growing up they wanted a piece of it. The youth knew about Stonehenge, but where had they heard about it? Hugh mentioned it had been featured on Dr Who and other mainstream TV. Was that so bad?

This ancient site is not in its original positioning. Stones have fallen and been set up to some architects design, we don’t know where they originally stood or how they were arranged. But I don’t think that matters because so much energy has been imbued into them. (its the same at Nine Ladies). At Stonehenge the stones are the originals….

We talked about the vibe – it was mostly good, but there were idiots wanting to be violent and looking for an excuse for negativity and badness. They were deliberately falling on people and laughing at them… or saying stupid things. They were offensive, but needed handling with diplomacy. It was not a good idea to agree with them, but also not good to needle them…when someone said they wanted to do someone an injury, my response was that someone was already injured, (meaning the perpetrator). For all the security measures the outside system could still not identify who did not belong at Stonehenge…unless the outside system planted agent provocateurs, (and wham, your into conspiracy theories) – although judging by the high police presence its very possible that plain clothes were in there trying to stir people up – that’s part of their ‘job’ – they have to be seen to be working…..So we walked into the middle of a highly charged energy field which was reflecting euphoria at one extreme and incitement to fight at the other…with a lot of stuff going on in between…

So this was the Solstice party. To a lot of youngsters it was THE place to take a trip. It was for exhibitionists to feel absolutely free, and observers like myself are left to reflect on the people Stonehenge had attracted. Judging by the way society has become so homogeneous, it was good to see that everyone was different. Stonehenge pulled in eighteen thousand people, and everyone had a theory. But I felt uneasy. Personally I see Stonehenge as a place of worship, like a church, so where was the respect? Many think those young uns are ignorant, but the youth, in their ignorance, don’t think they are. I know this because when I was young and ignorant, I thought I was a spot on swell person. The reason I am picking on the youth is because they dropped litter. They don’t know what makes the universe or humanity, but they do know someone will come along and pick up their litter. They think the answers to the mysteries are somehow connected to Stonehenge – so they flock to this ancient place and instead of waiting for the place to reveal itself to them, they have a rave…. We were watching people go through an experience, and I cannot judge whether they were right or wrong to celebrate that energy as if they were at a nightclub. Looking back, the 70’s hippy energy was disturbing to the establishment of those times and today the establishment distrusts the rap playing chavs on sink estates BUT don’t underestimate a human being’s capacity for spirituality. The youth have the strength that young energy gives – even if they don’t know how to direct it.

Yes, they piss me off for dropping all the litter, but they made damn sure that Stonehenge belonged to the people that night. It was ours and anyone who could get through ‘airport security’ could claim a spot in that circle and feel that energy buzz whilst also keeping an eye on the shifty ones and watching out for the fragile ones. We were holding our ground – is that what Stonehenge has come to symbolize? The crowd raved and roared with pleasure at the sheer size of the crowd itself and the pride of the place, the air, the life, the strength of the youth…yes the youth definitely took over the centre, but they didn’t really threaten anyone….we know what they were on, we know the youth are fearless…

Who are we to judge? who is society to judge? When you think the stones have stood (or lay) there for thousands of years, of the changes in society they have witnessed. They were ignored for a long time and then kept sterile and empty of people – to see them populated and adored in a very 21st century way by people of so many streaks within society – well that’s the paganism revealed, it doesn’t restrict itself to class or fashion. Hoodies next to hippies, next to well dressed ladies and gents, beardy students and weather- beaten faced school of hard knocks, all exercising their right to be in the place, the place of spirit and worship as designed and designated by our ancient ancestors. We have to accept the rights of the 21st century youth to have a place to express themselves with the dancing they like and the highs they like, to have the opportunity to find themselves and seek a spiritual angle to themselves after they have rightly rejected the dogma forced upon them by our rigid, suffocating society.

I should not have been surprised that car loads of kids turned up!!!! What is their alternative – to pay loads of money to drink shit drinks and dance to shit music in a shitty nightclub, where the pavement outside is covered in people too drunk to get their shit together…. As a Pagan I feel that my beliefs are suppressed by society, just as it suppresses the freedom of expression for the youth. At Stonehenge, Pagans and the youth literally joined forces to celebrate accessibility to a heritage monument that we ALL own…Most pagans I know have worked themselves out. They understand their place in nature and society (or should I say community) – they learn what they need to be good in their life and to make life a fulfilling experience. The youth have not worked themselves out. They are seekers and they reject mainstream bullshit. They can sense the bullshit, but don’t have the answers. Those young people want and need direction. They want to see a framework about life that they can relate to. They are sick of being force- fed ideologies that they can see for themselves are not working.

But I have been very angry about the youth mentality towards Stonehenge, and I will explain why.

If I was a druid I would have been glad that my ‘holy’ or spiritual place was recognized and that celebration for an important event in my calendar was being kept and my religion had a place in modern day society. As a pagan I felt that many people drinking and raving didn’t really get what the druid religion was about…perhaps I am wrong, perhaps pagans do party and make a mess, but myself and my pagan friends don’t leave litter, however messy we get. Its a real issue to me because as a Pagan I believe the earth itself is a spiritual place and anywhere I put my feet deserves respect in a physical as well as spiritual dimension….its bad enough having to compromise my respect for the earth just in order to function in today’s world, but dropping litter is one thing I can have complete control over. This is what I have to say to the litter droppers at Stonehenge June 2011 (all the f words have been edited out) – You came to party at a Pagan site, recognized for centuries by our Pagan ancestors as a special place and you should not throw () litter…Its disrespectful to the Druids who worship there, to the Stones themselves, to our ancestors and to your()selves. Ladies and Gentlemen the MacDonald’s generation has arrived at Stonehenge and that’s fine as long as they don’t drop litter.

Have I finally found the difference between travellers and crusties? When travellers leave a place they leave no sign that they were ever there, its the code of practice if you like of a pagan theology. The earth is not yours to trash, it is home to others and an entity in itself. Crusties don’t seem get this, they have not developed a natural awareness…thus they pay a lot of money to go to a festival and chuck their shit all over the place cos ‘someone gets paid to clean up’.. Please take that element out of the equation, go to the thought process of ‘lets do without the money getting paid for shit’ side of things and a party like Stonehenge which is FREE means YOU PICK UP YOUR OWN SHIT…

Now I feel so strongly about this (and I am an open minded sort of person) that I wrote the following: ‘If I was English Heritage I wouldn’t let the () on – or I would staple a () bag to their bollocks and give them a () lecture first’…so I wouldn’t be popular, but there wouldn’t be any litter…

Now that’s off my chest I would also like to make the comment that nobody had a song to sing – just whooping and wailing – which is great – its spontaneous and primal, but shows that we are totally disconnected from what our ancestors would have sung about… the drumming is really as close as we can get… I am sad that people, young and old do not write or sing songs at social gatherings, they utterly depend on being spoon-fed whatever the media gives them. I hope this will change and one day Stonehenge party will be filled with people singing their own songs and playing their own acoustic music….These Pagan parties are a chance for you to shine in your creativity – make and wear some spectacular clothes, paint your face and sing and play your own songs…we are here to evolve and showing off your creativity will connect you to the Pagan society that built Stonehenge in the first place…

As I wind these reflections up I have to say that my lesson was to chill out….I got caught up asking where all the energy went that night…and had to laugh because intellectualizing the experience wont work. If something is powerful it is unsettling. Here I was, trying hard to understand… how comfortable was I watching all these young people clamber over ancient stones and down their beer and come up on their trip and look afraid and lost….and who really felt at home there?

Well its an easy answer – the ravers did. They raved on the stones like it was a trance party. Dancing on waves of energy from us and from the spirit of the place which found an expression through their dancing. Perhaps we were fools for not joining in more, for being cautious. But we are cautious with good cause, because when you’ve seen enough you know that there is danger in these places sometimes, and sure enough the crush was enough for me…But I had to be there and see it and feel it… and wonder at it, like the child inside of me was coming home with the warmth and love that I feel which enables me to feel warm and love to others, and I taught myself that from scratch so I am proud of that. For me that trip to Stonehenge was a personal journey to show me how to love my friends and myself… and I met others who were there to be healed, who readily told me so. I knew that I needed to connect with the ancients and meet my brethren Pagans…and the ‘youth element party thing’ was a surprise, but a lesson not to expect or assume anything – and an education about how the youth will have its day because that’s how nature works. I hope they find peace and understanding from their encounter with this stone circle on this night at this time…

Now I think about it I have seen where the ‘hippy’ bid for freedom is being expressed in 2011. If we cant give peace a chance then lets give the youth a chance. In twenty years from now these same youth will be in our sphere of life, talking about the spiritual experience they had when long ago they went to Stonehenge. The youth are the future, and they are taking Stonehenge with them. We should be glad.

Steve Spon Solo projects

Spon’s input on the Diamond Seeds Label

DOOMSDAY DOT COM....NEW ALBUM BY NOSTRAMUS, coming to a planet near you soon!DOOMSDAY DOT COM….NOSTRAMUS
Is this the end of drum and bass as we know it?

A sound concept tapestry with a strong musical current, including samples which expose media hysteria amongst both dark and light themes. Nostramus comments on the phenomena that shape our early 21st century; times where fear is founded for some, and a plaything for others. More info.

Tracks – 12
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2011
CD Album Price – £9.99 inc shipping* BUY NOW
Digital Download – I Tunes | CD Baby
Sample clips on Soundcloud


Earthlights 2010 Remastered. Click to buy CDEARTHLIGHTS REMASTERED…..NOSTRAMUS

Described as ’21st century pagan drum and bass’, the ‘Earthlights’ album by Spon’s alter ego Nosramus was released in 1997 by Recordings of Substance in the UK and Shadow Records in the US to critical acclaim. Now remastered in 2010. More info.

Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2010
Price – £9.99 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – I Tunes, E Music, Amazon
Sample sound clips here


DARK AMBIENCE PROJECT…..THE HIDDEN CORE

A feast of sound-scarped nightmare visions and eclectic journeys. Culled from the darker psychotropic-fueled imagination of The Big Eye, Bud Brothers and Nostramus’s  Steve Spon. More info..

Tracks – 13
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2011
Price – £10.00 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – Available soon
Sample sound clips – Available soon


STEVE SPON PRODUCTIONS : ELLA JO’S ALBUMS


LIMITS OF MILKWEED…..ELLA JO

Ella Jo provides melodic nutrition for a runway to the stars.
This album’s sound-scape provides a rich feast good enough for a Space Shuttle journey. In the Universal Soup of Life, it makes a seriously good sound track. More info..

Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2008
Price – £9.99 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – I Tunes, Amazon, CD Baby
Sample sound clips here


ALTER EGO…..ELLA JO

Following the Soul’s whisper, Ella Jo gives clues in this album as she reflects on a hard world, but refuses to be beaten. Here there are tuneful explorations of serious issues, interwoven with the joyous stuff of dreams. More info..

Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2008
Price – £9.99 inc shipping* >Buy CD
Digital Download – I Tunes, Amazon, CD Baby,
Sample sound clips here


ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING…..ELLA JO

This album is like a porthole where beauty is borne of trouble, and passing through it is a cleansing, uplifting experience. Work well crafted will always channel human experience into sweet depths, for those brave enough to share it. More info..

Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2010
Price – £9.99 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – Available soon
Sample sound clips – Available soon


* January 2011, Subject to slight fluctuations owing to currency conversion rates. CD’s available from Kunaki USA priced at $9.80 plus $4.20 shipping, total price $14.00 (UK = £10.00, Euro 10.80) Delivery to UK and Europe around 8 to 14 days. Payment via PayPal and most major cards.


Steve Spon’s solo projects…a brief biog

Since the demise of UK Decay and then IN Excelsis back in 1985,  Spon has continued producing music for himself and others.

As the resident engineer/producer at ’33’ Recording Studios he worked for a decade on a wide variety of different genre’s. He helped produce many post-punk bands in the eighties and nineties, including Click Click, Karma Sutra, Passchendale, Party Girls, IrritantCrowe Jayne amongst others. He also produced numerous commercial recordings for the ’33 Jazz’ label, as well as co-producing many underground dance tracks for the emerging DJ culture.

Bass lines and drops that Spon helped produce rocked many a dance-floor at that time.The surge in technology in the art of music production during the late eighties saw Spon honing his music production skills. In 1990 he teamed up with ex Click Clicker’s Derek ‘E’ Smith and Graham Stronach to form a new band called ‘The Big Eye”. Described by the band at the time as “Techno–with-guitars”, TBE played a handful of live shows, produced a couple of EP’s and an Album, (both on vinyl and CD) over three years for the London based Hydrogen Dukebox label. Most of these are now out of print, and like a lot of Spon’s past material, are very rare to track down.

Spon latched early onto Jungle – the emerging Drum and Bass genre of music. During the early nineties he crafted a collection of tracks of his own. His material aimed to create a more thoughtful and ‘intelligent’ spin to counter the frantic naivety of the early hardcore rave sound. During this period the classic ‘vocal-lyrical’ approach had taken a back-seat to the repetitive and minimalist sound scape. This suited Spon’s eclectic and original use of samples to create mood shifts that mold deep, optimistic and relaxing sonic journeys. This was Spon’s first major ‘solo’ project with guest vocalist Prince Malachi, MC13, Caroline Nische and Natasha D, the proposed album was to be called ‘Earthlights’ under Spon’s new artist name; ‘Nostramus’.

This was released in July 1997 by London label, ‘Recordings of Substance’ and licensed to the US ‘Shadow Records’ label. ‘Earthlights’ went onto sell a respectable 6000 copies world-wide and tracks from the album were seen on many a ‘chilled–d & b/electronica’ type compilation album. In 2010 Spon re-engineered and re-mastered ‘Earthlights’ for the Diamond Seeds label (there is a link to further information and sound clips of the album above)

Spon continued producing and re-mixing for others up to the end of the nineties but aside from a limited edition Exodus Festival album, ‘Bomb Babylon‘ (a DIY darker, pertinent and bombastic affair – that, in Spon’s own words was, “unfinished”), there was no further Nostramus release until the 2003 ‘Hero of Bamboostick’ EP on Jolt Records.

In September 2011, Nostramus released  ‘Doomsday Dot Com’ and unlike in the case of the the ‘Earthights’ album, Spon has introduced his guitar sound on some of the tracks. Another project has involved re-mastering some of Spon’s more esoteric and subliminal work from the nineties. He has produced an album called ‘Dark Ambience’ by ‘The Hidden Core’ (or THC for short!), containing largely ambient and beat-less material, but with brooding, sometimes menacing sound collages. You wont find much guitar in this mix, but UK Decay and IN Excelsis listeners may be familiar with some of the darker sonic dream sequences, a style used in the UK Decay’s ‘Werewolf‘ and ‘Unexpected Guest’ introductions for example. This is all available on the Diamond Seeds Label.

Spon’s production work with Ella Jo

Early in 2004, a singer songwriter Ella Jo knocked on Spon’s door. She had been looking for him since the ’33’ studio shut down in 1998. EJ promptly readied her old battered guitar and promptly sang him a handful of songs that she had wanted to record for a good number of years. She also explained that she had spent several years backpacking to far slung places across the world on her own.

This obviously impressed Spon enough embark on a musical relationship that would last until the present day. The end result was a collection of three classic albums incorporating many differing styles ranging from Pop, Neo Folk, Acupela, Avant Garde, Gothic, Drum and Bass and Electronica. Arguably the Ella Jo sound is perhaps not what one would expect from the guitarist of UK Decay at first listen but it shows off Spon’s deftly touch on music production.

Ella Jo’s music is eclectic and shows an inner wisdom that only someone with her wide travelling and life experience can reflect. It journeys through genre’s and styles with utter contempt for the narrow marketing niche, instead celebrating the oratorical rhythms and cadences of modern everyday life from a female perspective.

Although largely musically driven by Ella Jo, Spon has contributed to all three of Ella Jo’s albums with keyboards, bass, drums and other orchestrations as well as producing the overall sound. On the third album ‘Attitude is Everything’ he plays guitar on a couple of tracks with UK Decay bass-man Ed Branch also contributing.

We could sum up Ella Jo’s music as pure, captivating, elevating and an enigma to the preconception and cliché’s of a male dominated business and listener ship. She avoids overplaying that card here, transcending the open minded listener, male or female, to a greater purpose; a true artist.

More details on Ella Jo’s three albums here.

LINKS

Discog: | Steve Spon at discog | The Big Eye at discog | Nostramus at discog |
Steve Spon – Nostramus Interview: | “Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon” |
Nostramus at WordPress: | Nostramus World |
Nostramus at Myspace: | Nostramus at Myspace |
Nostramus at Diamond Seeds: | Nostramus at Diamond Seeds |
Nostramus old site: | Nostramus old site |
Nostramus at Facebook: | Nostramus Facebook page |
Ella Jo Interview: | Diamond Seeds talks with Ella Jo about her groundbreaking trilogy of Album’s |
Ella Jo at Diamond Seeds: | Ella Jo’s home page at DS |
Diamond Seeds Productions: | Diamond Seeds home |

Making a Sound Track For Life

Diamond Seeds began to take shape as we discussed a website to host a radio show, but as the idea grew, new components were added.

‘We needed a platform to promote and sell our music. Ella Jo covers  the Neo Folk/intelligent Pop genres and Spon is a master of a unique style of highly listen able Drum and Bass and moody ambient styles. Our material is totally original, using modern technology, but rooted in traditional songwriting. The albums are journeys through light and shade, a full reflection of life expressed through music.’

These sound-scapes could be the soundtrack to a movie. Ella Jo laughs again, ‘Yes, people sometimes say that they have moments when they feel like they are living in film – our aim is to capture and weave those dramatic and ambient moments into our music, making a soundtrack for life.’

The challenge has been to sculpture moods into lyrics and melodies – like a poet or painter the musicians must connect closely to emotions and spiritual feelings. ‘I think Spon and I share the same way of listening,’ says Ella Jo, ‘I hear melodies in the sea and other natural sounds like the wind through the trees. Spon collects sounds and creates new sounds from samples.’ Both musicians like to build new worlds – taking a framework of words or molding instrumental lines.

Discovering their music, people find that they have hit a rich seam of creative energy which has been captured and honed into sounds that feed the imagination and tell the human story in so many different ways.

‘For me, songwriting is about reaching inward to the true expression of what a song is trying to say.’ Says Ella Jo.

The material from Spon and Ella Jo’s projects certainly prods the senses and demands an airing – near the top of your ‘must play list’!

An Exclusive Interview with the Reclusive Ella Jo

Diamond Seeds talks with Ella Jo about her groundbreaking trilogy of Album’s

January 31st 2010

It’s not easy putting an album together when you are on your own and  female in a male dominated business. Ella Jo has put together not just one classic album, but three!
We caught up with the reclusive genius Ella Jo and talked about her three albums…

Ella Jo in serious mode

Ella Jo in serious mode as she discusses her music


DS# You’ve just finished your third album, are they related and if so did you intend that to be so?

All of the albums contain my original material. Earlier songs were co written, but every piece is my own interpretation. The first two albums were recorded at the same time in 2008. ‘Limits of Milkweed.’ and ‘Alter Ego’ are from a catalogue of songs written over the previous two decades.

We recorded three tracks at a time. I selected songs from around forty tracks, having the luxury of recording whatever matched my mood at the time. The third album, ‘Attitude Is Everything’ was written in 2009 and comes from the same core material, spanning from 1985 to present day. It was recorded with more confidence, probably gained from the five years of previous recording experience.

So essentially the albums are all related, four tracks on each album were co- written with Terry Bartlett before 1994, and there is one track on each album by Spon using samples of my vocals. Also each album has an a cappella track.

DS# Music scene (mis)conceptions of female singers is myopic in that they are usually younger, hence more exploitable – where do you see your market?

We have a massive youth culture which demands commercial music. I have no problem with this. However, I think the standard of the songwriting tends to be poor. Being a tad cynical, I would say there will always be a thread of insincerity in a music scene which is obsessed with sales figures. I enjoyed the experience of busking. Street entertainment has a place in social history but seems undervalued in modern society.

I think the commercial market is flexible enough to take on board my material. The songs were crafted to satisfy my own taste; I chose the textures, rhythms and moods and I enjoy the poetry of it. I like to celebrate the world, but there are so many other layers, I have no choice but to present the songs as organic outpourings.

But I think because the songs smack of the human experience they appeal to a huge market, and I don’t see age as a barrier. Songs written in my twenties easily appeal to others of that age. The material exists on its own now, it lifts the atmosphere all over the place… especially good for radio. I think I could call myself an Urban Folk Singer! You cannot classify the listening public into neat little boxes. People’s tastes do span the genres. In today’s world, music lovers access music from the distant and recent past, and from other cultures.

DS# All three albums covers have a definite feel. What importance do you place on the artwork, did you design it yourself?

Yes I designed the covers myself. With new technology I had the tools to manifest my visions. The ideas behind the music have always been strong and passionate, and the art work is integral to each album’s identity. Each front cover carries an icon. So the cover of ‘Limits of Milk Weed’ depicts a stone griffin which stood in ancient Delphi. ‘Alter Ego’ shows a little clay Venus figure, sitting in a shell. ‘Attitude Is Everything’ shows a metallic Babylonian cow goddess. Objects from antiquity give an insight into ancient people’s view of the aesthetic. People were inspired to make these objects and they survive today. Music has the same capacity, to survive and inspire through time.

Ella Jo "I think I could call myself an Urban Folk Singer!"

Ella Jo "I think I could call myself an Urban Folk Singer!"

DS# Where would you like to see your music go, once its out in the market place?

Many songs have a sound track quality; they would work well in films. The albums are played at parties and whilst on the move. I remember the thrill of listening to one of my demo’s whilst cruising on the Aegean, it gave me the confidence to continue. The production is appropriate for the ‘I’ player, and mobile phones. My music appeals to an international audience, it is capable of pleasing listeners everywhere.

DS# The differing styles across all three albums – did you plan it that way – what was the process?

For me there are absolutely no rules for songwriting. In 1985 I teamed up with Terry Bartlett, a songwriter who was in a very creative phase at the time, and we tried out a wide variety of musical styles.

By the time I came to record the songs, the material had been thoroughly developed. I learned guitar and busked the songs; they had been stripped down to bare voice and guitar chords. From this foundation Spon was able to envisage a ‘flavour’ to suit a song, and, after experimentation, the style developed. The songs actually went through three stages – the original form – from their first inception (some performed with a band), then secondly into my busking format, and lastly into the recording production phase.

During the recording project I had absolute control of the whole process. I made all musical decisions and some of the engineering and production choices. Hence I have three albums which reflect my musical vision almost to the letter. Spon’s creative influence was welcomed and became integral in developing the songs. So the styles of the songs come from strong original ideas, but with the flexibility to incorporate appropriate influences.

Steve Spontaneous: Partner in production!

Steve Spontaneous: Partner in production!

DS# What are your main influences?

When I was a kid the music in our house ranged from Joan Biaz to early Beatles, along with classical stuff like Tchaikovsky. We had the sound track from South Pacific. My fave song when I was three was ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair’.

In the mid seventies I used to record TOTP on a little tape recorder – I would get the middle third of each song – but this is where I discovered Stevie Wonder and Glam Rock. Later, I saw The Beat perform ‘Tears of A Clown’. I had never heard ska before and I realized what fun you could have with music. The Beat have remained an influence, as did stuff from my hippy phase, including Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd. I liked some Punk and discovered the Pixies, The The, and strong female singers such as Natasha Atlas, Rosa Zarogoza and Bic Runga.

DS# It must have been hard producing your three albums yourself? Who else was involved in the making of your three albums, what was their involvement and why?

I met Spon in 2004, and he helped me instigate my recording project. He had no idea that I had so many songs; I just kept coming back and recording more. It became clear pretty early on that we worked well together. He is a very experienced sound engineer and has been making music all of his life. I had permission from Terry to use the material from our association in the eighties and Spon’s input to these and my own songs really brought them alive.

Spon is able to communicate very intuitively and listens very intensely to the work. It was hard work, but six years on I am pleased with the results and I have learned much from our partnership.

Spon asked a couple of friends to contribute some guitar parts and he also played on some tracks. Felicity Nihil contributed to two tracks on the violin, and Eddie Branch, the bass player for UK Decay played on the third album. Veteran Californian groovster, Dexter Theobald Carakas, also laid down some keyboards on the third album.

Ella Jo: "my taste isn’t that different from most people"

DS# Why should anyone want to buy your album?

I learned my craft from a master songwriter and made my albums with a master sound engineer. The serious commitment I made back in 2000, when I decided to go for it, has exceeded all of my expectations. To begin with I just wanted a CD of myself to listen to, but other people have been very ambitious about the material. If they believe in the value of my work I won’t argue, I put everything into it, and I love it – and my taste isn’t that different from most people.

These songs are my contribution to 21st Century music, and, like all good popular songs, they can find a place in the modern, urban experience. For listening quality and variety these albums are a good investment.

DS# What are your future plans?

I have performed solo with guitar a few times, but I would really love to get together with a band to write new stuff and do some live performances.
I also want to get some more of my Tarot material published. This is a massive project that I need to keep chipping away at.
The future will also hold some traveling. Scandinavia appeals to me and I think I would find Norway and Sweden very exciting.

DS# Why have you published lyric books?

All of my life experiences over the last twenty five years have found an expression somewhere in my songs. They contain comments on life and explore things that caught my attention. They hold observations on my inner landscape as well as the world outside.

Years ago it was important to me to read the lyrics on the back of my LPs. Nowadays CDs are just not big enough. I wanted to put the lyrics into a format that would be enjoyable to read. Each book contains pix and the stories behind the songs. I produced these books for poetry lovers as well as to accompany the albums.

Ella Jo: "Iwanted to put the lyrics into a format that would be enjoyable to read"

Ella Jo: "I wanted to put the lyrics into a format that would be enjoyable to read"

DS# You are working on another – different project – could you please give a background to it, what stage are you at and what is the final result?

Yes I have begun writing books on Tarot. I gathered so much material in my private notes that I decided to compile a manual on how to read Tarot Cards. The series is called ‘Tarot Decoded’. I have just finished the first edition of the first card, the Magician, which helps explain the structure of the Tarot.

DS# Does this reflect in your music?

I was studying Tarot back in the early Eighties before I met Terry, so I guess the Tarot always had an influence on my songwriting, although I was not aware of it. I think it can come through sometimes, as it has affected my view of the world, but it is a subtle influence and I can choose whether I want to magnify that or not.

More information on Ella Jo and her music including streams, can be found at her Myspace site: www.myspace.com/ellajotaro

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Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon

Diamond Seeds talks to Steve Spon on matters Nostramus and UK Decay.

We recently caught up with Steve Spon to ask him about his re mastering of ‘Earthlights’ an album that he wrote and produced in 1997 for Nostramus. Steve Spon (aka ‘Spon’) has recently re-joined the re-formed legendary eighties post-punk-goth pioneers, UK Decay.
We were fascinated to gain a glimpse into the thinking behind the re mastering of the classic nineties ‘D ‘n’ B noir’ album.
Which, according to one reviewer is  “probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard

Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon

Diamond Seeds interviews Spon

Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon
We were intrigued…….

D.S.# You have returned to your punk roots playing guitar again with UK Decay, in your musical evolution how does that relate to your D ‘n’ B oriented Nostramus?

“Although it can be argued that the music of Nostramus is completely different from the music of UK Decay, I feel there are threads of similarities between the two. Born out of the alternative punk-post-punk-early goth mela of the early eighties and like many ex punk types, I moved with the musical underground into the heady nineties rave scene. I sacrificed my guitar and took the technological path. It was important for me to continue to create music with an alternative message to counter the commerciality of popular music.”

D.S.# Would Nostramus appeal to the average UK Decay fan given ‘drum and bass’ surely had so much bad press?

“I know Nostramus’s mix of Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dub and Electronica may not appeal to every UK Decay listener but I know it will to some. Most of the guys in UK Decay, actually love Dub and Reggae music and have done so since the 70’s so there is nothing new there. The D ‘n’ B scene has received a lot of bad press in the past. Understandably, for many, the tragic murder of Sophie Lancaster by ‘hoodie’ thugs has put some people off the musical tastes of these low-life monsters. But I believe that mutated minorities in any genre, should not be allowed to hold good music to ransom.”

D.S.# Drum and bass was cool back then?

“From my point of view, the early hedonistic nineties D ‘n’ B scene was an invigorating and exciting proposition for many who wished to carry alternative music forward. The development in recording and playback technologies opened up a new universe of musical exploration and possibilities. Earth shaking bass lines, impossibly tight drum structures, emotive complexity in keyboard sound-scapes and sampling, all led to a new excitement in the then stale music scene. I took the plunge into this maelstrom, as it’s part of my make-up to explore new musical adventures.”

D.S.# Surely being an ex-punk had drawbacks on the emerging drum and bass scene

Spon comming at ya!

Spon on the run

“The movers and shakers of this emerging British scene were young DJ’s who had no hack with the old ‘rules’ of creating music. Like many others, evolving from the former 80’s punk scene I moved into the D ‘n’ B at a early stage in its development.

I liked the anarchic approach to creating the music and found for a time comradeship and a sense of purpose and enjoyment in the underground party scene. Back then I found a refreshing openness and tolerance to the music and the people generally in the scene…anything went!”

D.S.# What gave you the idea, or set you on the journey to creating a drum and bass album?

“Drum and Bass as well as other so-called ‘rave-music’ was developing it’s own set of rules that related to the flux’s and flow of the dance-floor. My tastes were still on the darker, deeper and hopefully more thoughtful side. At that time I was a recording studio engineer/producer and that made me open to a wide input of styles. Steve Harle introduced me to the D ‘n’ B scene back in the very early nineties. He encouraged me to embark on the musical journey that would eventually create my first album under the name Nostramus.

I called the new album ‘Earthlights’ and it summed up four crazy years of my experience of the underground party scene at a time when the music was at its most vibrant, purist form.”

D.S.# What was your aim in creating Earthlights your first album, how did you go about determining what it would be?

“The album was written using Atari computers, but I wanted it to have a live feel. I invited guests to contribute spoken and sung performances. The tunes included obscure iconic samples to create light and dark moods to give a sense of meaning. My aim was to create the most organic quality as possible, to create a journey for the listener. I wanted something that was easy to listen to, yet also had a deeper, substantial level. As a ‘non’ DJ, I even broke the dance mix rules, making it virtually impossible for DJ’s to mix the album with other tracks. I wanted to make ‘Earthlights’ stand out in a crowd.”

D.S.# Sum up Earthlights message?

“‘Earthlights’ takes the listener on a journey through themes, ranging from our pagan past, to future space travel. It questions and studies the doubts and optimisms of the human race.”

D.S.# How many did Earthlights sell back in the nineties, how did it fit in with the drum and bass scene?

Earthlights original 1997 released in the UK by Recordings of Substance

Recordings of Substance version of Earthlights originaly released in 1997

“I released this album first in the UK in 1997, on ‘Recordings of Substance’, and then licensed it to ‘Shadow Records’ for the US market in 1998. In total, there were 6000 sales worldwide. It didn’t make the top ten, but it sold steadily over a period of time and some of the feedback from reviews and emails have been fantastically encouraging. A review a couple of years back summed it up quite nicely “Probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard!”

D.S.# What led you to re-mastering Earthlights?

The new Earthlights 2010 re-mastered

Earthlights 2010 re-mastered CD front

“Although I was reasonably happy with the original mastering of Earthlights, I’ve since become more fluent with audio mastering techniques. In the new edition of Earthlights, I reworked the source master tapes, taking care with every step of the process in order to retain the original concept and flow. I feel I’ve now created a much more considered dynamic to the sound-scape, hopefully bringing the whole thing up to today’s audio standards and listen ability.”

D.S.# Did you just re-master or is there anything else added or taken away?

“Aside from the re-mastering, I have re-edited and re-mixed ‘Babel’ the opening track to the album, mixing in some new warped-up a-men from the un-released Jungle version of Babel. There are also one or two other new samples, subtly crafted into some of the other pieces to spice up the mix. Overall, I am much happier now with the sound and flow of the re-mastered album and I hope the listener will enjoy it even more”

D.S.# What about the rumours of Earthlights II any chance soon?

“I have had most of the material for this sitting on my shelves now for a good few years. Now with the help of Diamond Seeds work is in progress to see this project through. I shall be editing and remixing some of the material and with the addition some new performances and samples, I will collate into the final cut. I am hoping for around March April 2010.

D.S.# UK Decay are famous for being one of the first eighties post-punk bands, to make the crossover from ‘punk’ to ‘goth’
What are your future plans with UK Decay, are you enjoying their revival?

UK Decay on their Italian Tour spring 2009, Spon on the left

Spon back with UK Decay in Milan, May 2009

“I am really enjoying playing live with Decay again. It’s a real buzz playing guitar in a live situation, I had forgotten about that.

Because of commitments however, Decay can only play a few times a year, which is fine by me. UK Decay are currently working on a new album, which is an exciting challenge. Getting wild sounds out of my guitar is refreshing to me after so many years of programming songs together. The guys in UK Decay between them have a wealth of new ideas and experience to draw upon. At the end of the day UK Decay were adventuress in seeking out new sounds, we were ‘dark’ back in the day and that’s partly my fault, so they tell me! I look forward to mashing it up with them.”

D.S.# Any future Nostramus beyond Earthlights II?

“We shall have to wait and see!”

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping. thru Paypal

Nostramus is now signed to Diamond Seeds Productions.

Review of Earthlights