The End: Sam Genders of Tunng

“Health permitting, and assuming civilization continues in a reasonable fashion, I could quite happily enjoy living for a few hundred years.”

Aug 24, 2018
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To end out the week, we ask Sam Genders of Tunng some questions about endings and death. Genders and Mike Lindsay formed the British folktronica band back in 2003, releasing their debut album, Mother's Daughter and Other Songs in 2005. Today they have returned with Songs You Make At Night, their first album in five years and the first album since 2007's Good Arrows to feature the full original lineup (including Ashley Bates, Phil Winter, Becky Jacobs, and Martin Smith), after Genders took a decade long break from the band. "We really wanted to do a Tunng record going back to the original line up," Lindsay says in a press release. "There was a real magic in the early records that we all wanted to capture again in this one."

Genders says in the press release that he purposefully looked back to Tunng's earlier albums when prepping for Songs You Make At Night. "I got very much into the idea of a dark underwater world suffused with pockets of light and beauty and some of the songs grew out of that. That interplay of darkness and light is certainly a theme of the early records. I actually spent quite a bit of time listening to the first three albums in the car, to get back into that headspace before writing."

Winter was also instrumental in crafting the album's sonic palette, using his sampling skills to work in samples from South Korean pop records, Planet of the Apes clips, and a speech from the 1970s British pornographic actress Mary Millington. It all blends with Bates' nylon string guitar parts, Jacobs' vocals, and Smith's percussion for a complex yet somehow effortless sounding release that might be Tunng's most electronic album to date.

Read on as Genders discusses how he'd like to die, what song he'd like played at his deathbed, his concepts of heaven and hell, his favorite endings to movies and books, and his love of bubble wrap.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

In my idealized fantasy I succumb to some kind of short but painless illness because I'd like to have the time be able to say the things that remained to be said. I love you, thank you, I'm sorry. If I was to die now there would be more apologizing going on than I'm comfortable with so I'm hoping I've got a few years left in which to become more of the kind of person I'd like to be. Wiser, stronger, less reactive, happier. Health permitting, and assuming civilization continues in a reasonable fashion, I could quite happily enjoy living for a few hundred years. It's probably a bit too soon in history for that but who knows what might happen with the current pace of technology. Maybe I'll be seeing in the year 3000 as a chemically sustained brain in a jar or as a conscious presence in the substrate of a vast quantum computer. My granny died instantly of an aortic aneurysm whilst making a ham sandwich. That's a nice way to go. "Mmm, what a nice looking sandwich, I'm going to enjoy eating this..."

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

I'd like to hear Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" one last time.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

From a personal perspective I don't especially care but it would be nice if someone I love could sing something that would make everyone feel uplifted.

What's your favorite ending to a movie?

I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I love Apollo 13 and even though I've watched it about 10 times I still well up at the thought of all those people pulling together to achieve something amazing. The ending of It's a Wonderful Life will reduce me to tears every time. 

What's your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

The Beatles: Abbey Road

What's your favorite last line in a book?

I like this from Helen Mort's wonderful book of poetry, Division Street. This is from the poem "Lowedges."

"If you're to leave this world, you'll leave it here: this salvaged Friday, shop lights dimmed. Look up-how easily the rain bisects the sky."

What's your concept of the afterlife?

Whilst I don't believe there's any evidence for it, I can't quite shake the feeling that there's more to existence then we can understand. I've no idea what that might really mean but we're already part of something mind blowing-ly complex and wondrous so it doesn't seem to be such a wild idea. As humans we can perceive and understand so much in relation to simpler organisms such as amoebas or insects. We're the pinnacle of awareness in the animal kingdom. Who's to say there aren't many more layers of awareness and reality beyond our current viewpoint. Perhaps what we might think of as an afterlife might fall within that as yet undiscovered realm. Or perhaps over billions of years humans will evolve to the point that the creatures they become will have the ability to mould time and space and intentionally create the afterlife that we only know as myth. There's a (most probably apocryphal) story about Lord Kelvin, one of the most esteemed Victorian scientists, in which he's alleged to have declared physics nigh on complete in the year 1900, only for the scientific establishment to be rocked to it's core by the emergence of quantum physics in the following months and years. It may not be a true story but I like it as an allegory of not only the power of the scientific method to reveal news truths, but also the human inclination towards feeling, often incorrectly, that we're on the verge of understanding everything.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Being able to totally accept whatever is happening exactly as it is with a feeling of peaceful equanimity. And some bubble wrap to pop.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

An eternity spent in a room full of that new kind of un-pop-able bubble wrap. 

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

Myself, but with all the knowledge and experience I'd accrued up to the point of death. A second crack at the whip.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?

Kindness.

What would you like your last words to be?

I love you. 

www.tunng.co.uk

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