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Are You Avant A Laugh?
He's one of Ireland's leading experimentalists, the outsider artist who tried to wean the Virgin Prunes off punk and went on to create ground-breaking art projects. We met Daniel Figgis before his recent Galway Arts Festival appearance..
Colm O Hare, 23 Aug 2012
Composer, producer, curator, “intermedia” artist, former member of groundbreaking outfits such as The Virgin Prunes and Princess Tinymeat – it’s hard to know where to begin in describing Daniel Figgis. He started at just six years of age as a child actor appearing in movies and TV films including George Schaefer’s Emmy Award-winning A War Of Children for CBS TV (1972), BBC TV’s adventure serial Sleepers On The Hill (1974) and Joseph Strick’s A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man.
“That just happened,” he explains. “I did ten years of it and I got every job going. I was on a non-stop rollercoaster. I was a cute kid – I even had my own driver at the time. I don’t know what that does to your head. But it was problematic working with bands over the years. You assume it’s all about you.”
When he grew out of acting, he drifted towards the then burgeoning post-punk environment in Dublin. “I joined Virgin Prunes as an invited interloper,” he says. “I was completely outside of that circuit. I’m from Ranelagh and I’ve no connections to the Northside or to Lypton Village. They wanted someone to direct them towards a record deal and that’s what I did.
“I was the drummer and musical director and did a bit of keyboards and had started tape work. It was very loose. I tightened it up a bit and then we signed to Rough Trade. And then we had a falling out. I wanted to push it further than being a punk band. By the time we parted company they were no longer a punk band.”
He still continues to work with former Prune Dik Evans, brother of U2’s Dave (Edge) Evans.
“He’s on the new solo record that I’m working on at the moment. I include Dik in everything I do. He’s a neural network scientist and doesn’t really work in music much unless I ask him to. He’s a great guitarist, a great lost talent.”
Figgis then initiated the Princess Tinymeat project which was a primarily instrumental collective with three core members: Daniel Figgis (as ‘Binttii’), Tom Rice and Sissy Box (né Ian Rivlin).