The Utopia Strong


Name, where are you from?
Steve Davis - Romford, Essex.
Kavus Torabi - Tehran, currently residing in Hackney.
Michael J York - Bromborough, Wirral, currently residing in the Vale of Avalon.

Describe your style in three words?
SD: Medical Grade Music.
KT: Not for everyone.
MJY: Third Eye Bath.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
SD: Magma - Chalk Farm Roundhouse 1974. A moment of true musical enlightenment that took me down a path that I am eternally thankful for.
KT: Sonic Youth at The Forum in London on the Washing Machine tour in 1995. It was the final gig of a three-day residency, the sound was terrific and the set was as if the band had consulted with me previously, everything I wanted to hear was in there. The entire performance was utterly transcendental, but a particularly ecstatic rendition of their psychedelic masterpiece, The Diamond Sea, has stayed with me ever since.
MJY: Magma - Cafe OTO 2016. My first Magma show and they played their masterwork MDK as though it had only been composed yesterday and yet at the same time had existed since the before the dawn of time.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
SD: 1 - Support band for a This Heat gig, a band so far ahead of their time they are still being discovered by music heads, who are subsequently scratching their skulls and wondering where the band had been all their lives. 2 - Support band for an Alice Coltrane gig. A bona fide psychedelic master.
KT: I could imagine our group, The Utopia Strong, playing at the UFO club between Soft Machine and The Pink Floyd in 1967.
MJY: Yeah or alongside Cluster or Harmonia in the mid-'70s.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
SD: I was caught up in the Canterbury Jazz-Rock scene as a teenager which introduced me to so much amazing music from Egg to Hatfield and the North to Robert Wyatt to Soft Machine.
KT: When I was a teenager in the '80s I was a bit of a goth, which has never completely left me but even then I never really got why those who identified with any given culture only listened to music that fell inside that particular circle. Music is the most beautiful, profound thing we have, certainly more important than any scene, why on earth anyone would want to limit what they listen to because of what shoes they wear seems ridiculous.
MJY: I have a lot of time for any subcultures that have a preoccupation with peace, love, magic and manipulating perceived reality via music.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
KT: It would be interesting to hang about with Jesus, you know, see what all the fuss is about.
SD: In that case, I’d like to hang out with the committee who wrote the bible and watch them working through a few ideas.
MJY: Steve Reich to see if I can persuade him that Piano Phase on bagpipes really is a good idea.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
SD: I’ve only just popped my cherry as a band member but as a DJ there is nothing quite like turning up at Glastonbury and walking out to a packed audience... and actually being a part of everyone have a party!
KT: Depending on the audience, sometimes the most utilitarian, out of the way shithole can be transformed into a shimmering temple of light with the right music. My favourite venue is whichever one we’re playing at the time.
MJY: Saal 1 Funkhaus Berlin, built in the '50s as part of a former GDR radio studio, it's just got everything… brilliant acoustic, it's a huge space yet manages to be incredibly intimate, the exquisite design which is consistent throughout the entire building has to be seen to be believed… it's like being on the most stylish film set ever.

Your greatest hero or heroine in music?
SD: Christian Vander. A composer that has influenced me more than any other and has always left me emotionally drained by the end of a performance.
KT: I don’t really have heroes and I’ve been lucky enough to play with most of my favourite musicians but the one who casts the longest shadow is the beautiful Tim Smith from Cardiacs. The man is a genius and his music and friendship have been central to my life since I was sixteen.
MJY: Saint John Coltrane... “I think music is an instrument. It can create the initial thought patterns that can change the thinking of the people".

The Utopia Strong is the synth project comprising snooker legend and, more recently, acclaimed DJ, Steve Davis with Kavus Torabi (Gong, Cardiacs, Knifeworld, Guapo) and Michael J. York (Coil, Teleplasmiste, Guapo). A champion of avant-garde music since the '70s, Steve Davis was renowned as an aficionado of soul, jazz-funk and progressive rock, and single-handedly promoted three nights at the Bloomsbury Theatre for experimental French band Magma.

The Utopia Strong's self-titled debut album will be released on 13th September. The band have already shared two tracks from the album, 'Brainsurgeons 3' and 'Konta Chorus'.

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