Artist Charles Uzzell-Edwards let us rummage through his record collection
Street artist and gallery owner Pure Evil (actually a very polite Charles Uzzell-Edwards) gives us a guided tour of his record collection
“My godmother worked as a record reviewer for The Sunday Times and she was always giving me records she’d reviewed and thought I might like. I ended up with a lot of quite strange seven-inches from the 70s and 80s and that kind of started my record collection. I was also listening to John Peel, and recorded things off his radio show. When you listened back, the first five or 10 seconds were missing because you’d go, ‘Oh, this is a good one!’ without time to record the first part. He’d play such a mixture – punk, electronic, reggae – that I began to get a taste for bands like Can and Neu!.
As a kid I was the only New Romantic in the village. I was in the mountains of Swansea Valley, surrounded by Iron Maiden fans. I wanted to be glamorous, wear eyeliner and hang out with Steve Strange at the Wag Club in London. The thing that defined you was your musical taste – and dressing strange, standing out. I did a talk about this recently in London and a man said to me, ‘I understand how you feel, I’ve come all the way from Alabama’ – he was a black guy with long dreadlocks. When you’re making an identity, music is a strong part. When you’re walking around town, what album are you going to carry under your arm? Mine would have been The Smiths, who I was very into at that time.
In 1990, after university in London, I got a job and moved to San Francisco and started hitting the record shops. You’d find your way by the cover – if you see a bottle of wine with a decent-looking label you probably think it’s worth drinking because it’s got a nice castle on it and a bit of gold. Sleeves were the same. Obscure electronica like Terry Riley helped me get more into electronic music. A rave/dance scene was exploding there and a lot of people had left the UK to go to California for it. There was a weird social mix: heads from the mountains who were concocting strange chemicals, a Silicon Valley contingent who were into virtual reality, then sound systems and people throwing parties who were making their own music too.