Chris and Cosey ‘October (Love Song)’

Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti look back on ‘October (Love Song)’, a track they made in 1983 to document the dawn of their love affair

Cosey Fanni Tutti: “We’d done quite a lot of more ambient things as a crossover from our Throbbing Gristle days, and felt it’d be nice to write a song. Our son Nick had just been born, and we’d moved to Tottenham and set up a proper studio upstairs. There was one bedroom at the front and a small bedroom backed onto it, which was where we put the studio. Then across the landing was the nursery. So we did a lot of recording in our bedroom.”

Chris Carter: “We had cables going from room to room, and we both had headphones on in different rooms. We had sequences – just on a loop – but it all came from Cosey’s voice, really. The way we usually do it is with a rhythm or a bassline first, and it was the opposite of that.”

Cosey: “I lay on the bed and had a notepad with me. I thought it would be nice to talk to Chris – do a song about us, and where we’d come from and where we were now, which was total bliss from what had been hell. So I lay on the bed… and it was a very gentle, intimate moment of recording a song about our love and how it had happened.

“October 1976 was the month that the ICA show ‘Prostitution’ opened. It was the launch of TG at the ICA and the launch of our love affair. ‘You took my hand on the stair’ – where that line came from is Chris literally took my hand on the escalator going up to the ICA at Charing Cross. He said we could be lovers, and I just had to say. He left the decision up to me, because I was in a relationship already.”

Chris: “I was married then, though I was in the process of getting divorced.”

Cosey: “We both had a relationship going at the same time, but how we felt about each other was so intense. You get that thing when a new relationship is beginning, where neither of you wants to say you love each other, because you don’t know if it’s going to be reciprocated. That moment on the stairs was what sparked our long-term love affair.”

Chris: “The song was done on a Roland MC-8 sequencer. There was an advert in Melody Maker. Landscape were selling their MC-8. I’d come into a bit of money – I think it was a tax rebate – so I went across London in my Mini to pick it up and paid what they were asking, which was about £1,000. It’s the same machine that recorded ‘Einstein A Go-Go’. 

“By the time we’d moved to Tottenham, we had a proper set-up based around the MC-8 with a TR-808 drum machine synced to it, and a 100-M modular synth system being controlled by the MC-8. It really was a beast, and it weighed a ton. It was in two halves – the main computer terminal with a keypad and a very simple display, and a separate section that was the interface, full of jacks that you plugged into your gear. 

“Everything had to be loaded and saved onto cassette, which took ages. If there was a power cut you’d lose everything in a second. The way it worked was putting in numbers for things like the gate time, pitch and velocity. Cosey made these spreadsheets that we used to fill in. So it was quite mathematical.

“We played a demo to Geoff Travis at Rough Trade, just to see if he thought we were going in the right direction. There were quite a few demos. I think it took about a year to get to the finished mix.

“The video was shot at Butler’s Wharf, which was a derelict space by the Thames that we were allowed to use. TG had done a gig there a few years before. We hired a lot of pro video gear and lights, and our friend John Lacey came along to help. There was a video cooperative in Soho called LVA – London Video Arts – where we edited the whole thing very cheaply, in a day. That’s all we could afford!”

Cosey: “I’m wearing a bird mask – it’s just a piece of brown jersey material, and in the centre it had been stitched with all these feathers and what looks like a beak, which is a padded piece of fabric. And I had a gold and black fishnet all-in-one on. It was really prickly and uncomfortable.”

Chris: “People didn’t see ‘October’ coming, and we quite liked that – confounding people’s expectations. A lot of offers came through from it, but it was difficult because we’d just had our son, and didn’t want to go on tour then.”

Cosey: “Suddenly we had all these licensing deals, because it was being played all over the place. It got picked up in Australia. That was quite strange.”

Chris: “It was very big in the nightclubs in Germany, apparently. And it did very well in Japan.”

Cosey: “The concept of our music being played in a club for people to dance to didn’t cross our minds back then.”

Chris: “Andy Weatherall was a big fan and used to play it quite a lot.”

Cosey: “It was a big turning point for us. It started the Chris & Cosey sound, I think.”

Chris: “We didn’t play it live until 2010, when we did the Cosey Complex event at the ICA. Then it went down a storm.”

Cosey: “When we did eventually play it live, emotionally I found it almost too overwhelming. Making eye contact with some people made it more difficult, because they were in bliss, and it was like they were singing to each other. I thought, ‘God, this really does mean something to people!’. I’ve had people say, ‘It was our first dance at our wedding’ and ‘It’s engraved on our wedding rings’.

“I don’t get sick of it. There’s another song – ‘Woven Clouds’ on ‘Feral Vapours Of The Silver Ether’. Those two make us both emotional, so we don’t often play them. One’s very joyous, the other’s a bit melancholy – from things that were happening at the time. But that’s our music – it comes from our life.”

‘Women In Revolt! Underground Rebellion In British Music – 1977-1985’, featuring ‘October (Love Song)’, is out on Music For Nations

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