From this months (January 1999) 'Q Review'
AR Kane were a duo from the East End of London whose sonic feedback, sampling and psychedelic pop dominated the indie charts in the late-'80s. After one-off singles with One Little Indian and 4AD (including a very lucrative collaboration with Colourbox for the M|A|R|R|S Number 1 hit "Pump Up The Volume") they joined Rough Trade in 1988 for two groundbreaking albums, '69' and 'i'. They released two more, 'Americana' in 1992 and 'New Clear Child' on 3rd Stone in '94, before fizzling out. Where are they now, asks Jack Hennessy of Manchester?
Rudi Tambala (programming, keyboards): "When you're young pride is a deadly thing. We had such serious attitude. Our music was like Hendrix and the Pistols. Jesus, we were nasty, we didn't give a shit, we were totally self-indulgent."
Tambala loved the raw spontaneity and manic sampling of the duo's early albums, but by 'New Clear Child' felt that the band had peaked. "We went off at various tangents, but never found our footing again. In '95 Alex and I got together for a couple of months when David Byrne set us up in a small studio in California. We put together a couple of tracks neither of us were happy with, and didn't pursue it."
After shunting back and forth between the US and UK, Tambala settled in a country cottage in Hertfordshire, complete with a studio to "tinker" in. He makes a living as a media/Internet consultant ("a natural progression for my kind of musician"), and has released ambient records, "like AR Kane without the feedback", under the name of Sufi. Last year his cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" was eclipsed by Public Enemy's version. "It was an incredible flop. I don't make my living from music anymore, but when I do it now, it's essential, it's pure."
Alex Ayuli (programming, keyboards): "Straight after the last AR Kane album my wife and I built a little house three hours away from San Francisco in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It's so beautiful here, right in the middle of nature. I moved to America in 1990. I wanted to get away from the London scene, that world was eating me up, it's all-consuming. In a sense I wasn't living my life, someone was living it for me."
Since 1994 Ayuli has been traveling, working on a film script, learning about Chinese furniture and "having fun. I've learned to be very patient in the last few years. I'm more accepting of things. My family don't recognize me!" He is very proud of what AR Kane achieved. "We were a force of ideas. We helped to get rid of stereotypes. In the '80s black men were doing soul, reggae or rap, not psychedelic dream rock. We opened doors for bands to be more experimental."
Ayuli currently works on Web site projects and has just completed a mini-album, 'Soul Surging', due out on 3rd Stone early next year (1999). "I've been in a cocoon, and like the caterpillar turning into a butterfly, I want to be out there again."
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