Nada Baba: Why I Love My Mind Music


I first met the group of people who would later become the Music Your Mind Will Love You Collective around 1987. We all went to university together and shared houses. I was 18 years old and it was in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, which in the late 1980s was a frightening mix of right-wing Christian fundamentalism, inbred hillbillies and freak fringe dwellers. In Toowoomba then there was an old pub (The Gladstone), where we all spent a lot of time and many bands played. There was also an occasional club that was run by some older friends that played ‘alternative music’ (The Stems, The Smiths, The Cure, The Cult, The The –so many 80s bands start with ‘The’) called The Rocktapus. A collective of still older hippies called The Dancing Bear had been agitating in the town since the 1970s, and put on events in old worker’s halls that we often met up at. These provided a stage to perform upon and a social life around it.

I studied journalism and Asian studies at university. The others did psychology, visual arts, and journalism. I was one of the few who did not drop out, but I had a really hard time finishing courses by the end of second year. Our group would rent cheap old timber houses with jungle yards and listen to music and jam. We experimented with drugs and marveled at the psychedelic landscapes. The books I remember being popular in our circle included ‘The Journey to the East’ by Herman Hesse,  ‘Man and His Symbols’ by Carl Jung,  ‘The Blind Owl’ by Sadegh Hedayat, ‘The Hunger’ by Knut Hamsum, ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pinchon, ‘Nadja’ by Andre Breton. As well the comics of Peter Bagge, Robert Crumb and Chester Brown were passed around. Some of us painted and wrote poetry as well. A magazine was put together with art and poems from the circle in around 1991 and printed professionally. I had a radio show for a large part of my university time, called ‘Out of the Unknown’ and my friends and a new record shop that had opened in town were feeding me the music that I would play on it.

In 1987 a guy called Barry Brown (real name Ralph Prentice) opened a record store in Toowoomba called Rock 'N Rhythm Records. Barry had a beard and long hair that he had cut in a neat oversize bowl. He was a vegetarian and was totally obsessed by music. Between 1987 and 1993 we all spent time in Barry’s shop, and a couple of our circle worked there. Barry had a system where you could keep a bag with your name on it behind the counter, and if you saw a record you liked you could put it in the bag and pay it off gradually. With his wisdom and wit, Barry Brown introduced us to the spectrum of music, in all its glory. Music that we were into that was around at Rock 'N Rhythm Records included Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, The Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney, Chrome, The Birthday Party, Big Black, Boredoms, Spaceman 3, Love, Beasts of Bourbon, Syd Barrett, Royal Trux, Nick Drake, Pussy Galore, Bongwater, Magical Power Mako, the Nuggets series, the Tokyo Flashback compilations, and the range of Sub Pop. We ate, breathed and shat music.

By 1990 we were spending days and nights inside, playing music, jamming and making tapes. The Tascam Porta-One 4-track recorder was the weapon we took up against the horror we saw around us. Hundreds of the tapes we made still exist. We would play all night on some occasions. Until sunrise and with no intention of doing anything with the music other than listening back to it with each other in the comfort of our own highness. Smoke our eyelids with the red dawn of morning, the gutturals of wild Australian birds seeping through the heavy dark curtains of our lounge room studio shelters. Those of the group that were in bands played in public, restricting songs to the verse-chorus-verse and an allotted three to five minute format. I remember Pink Floyd’s ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ was performed by some of the group in public and it often bled into a long warped out jam of noise and discord.  A performance of one incarnation from the collective involved a myself dancing in black monk’s cowl with white face make-up, a tambourine in one hand and a long-haired Balinese spirit mask in the other around a half-meter wide metal bowl filled with burning aftershave lotion. The high brilliant blue flame and heady aroma filled the center of the stage as in darkness the musicians let long drones and slow rhythms snake through the air. The owners of the pub panicked and forced us to turn the lights on; we had to put out the fire and leave. At the same gig we had handed out spontaneous poems we had written the night before while huddled about the kitchen table smoking. It was a call to revolt. We knew there was more to life than Birth-School-Work-Death and we were trying to find out what it was. Endless soundscapes of pure rhythm and noise were leading us into our true selves, with the loss of Self and the opening up of infinity.

The talk by about 1992 was a move to the big city. In March 1991 The Butthole Surfers had toured the southern states of Australia and some of us had borrowed a car (that was reported stolen by the owner during our journey) and gone and seen them play in Sydney. It was like going to church but in reverse. We stayed with a group of punk anarchist hedonists in Newtown for a week and it had made an impression. The collective relocated to Sydney in 1993 for two years of chaos and disintegration. The big city was not an ideal environment for young bush hippies with a curiosity for chemistry. We burnt our butterflies at both ends, staying up long nights for weeks, testing the limits of endurance and making strange objects of art and sound during our derangements. Around this stage I left the circle and moved began wandering on a global scale. From 1996-2000 I spent my time in India, Morocco, Amsterdam, Spain, Germany, England, and Sweden. Since 2000 I have lived permanently in the far north of Sweden.

In 2005 after twelve years of lone actions and living large I returned to the Mind Circle. In an intense 4-days session back in a cluttered Toowoomba lounge room we recorded what would become the releases ‘In Mara’s Glove’ and ‘The Human Hand’ by 6majik9 on the newly founded Music Your Mind Will Love You label. It was like we had only jammed the week before.