FAQ: Why 'Body in the Thames' ?

The first thing most people do when faced with the name of an artist they haven't heard of before is google

What comes up when you google 'Body in the Thames' ? Well, aside from my music pages, twitter & a detective novel (published after I came up with the name) you are faced with a row of rather macabre images of ...you guessed it. Hardly great promo.

So people ask me, why 'Body in the Thames' ?

When I decided to produce under this name I imagined I would be making political statements with my music. I envisioned big stomping beats with sloganeering lyrical emblems and that's what I started out doing. This was 10 years ago, when Tony Blair & George W Bush were in power on their respective sides of the Atlantic. I wanted to do something dangerous and abrasive and challenging as some kind of masked protester at the head of a charge against the establishment. I had seen first hand mass protests in London & Paris. It was at such a protest in Bastille that I learned of the Paris massacre of 1961 to which the French Government had then only recently admitted that French Police slaughtered & threw dozens of bodies into the Seine

I was aware then, as I am aware now, of the futility of existence & the nonsense of the human ego & the pointlessness of throwing another voice on top of the already cacophonous noise of modern life in the information age (and I'm aware of doing that right now). I am also acutely aware of power, who has it, who doesn't, what powerful institutions can do to ordinary citizens without fear of repercussion and what madness can drive people in the pursuit of power....but all of this; human life & thought & emotion & ideas - so primal to us - are but a blip in the long and meandering cosmic journey of matter

Early in 2001 I took part in a site-specific group art show at Trinity Bouy Wharf on the Thames in London across the river from the then entitled 'Millenium Dome' in a space where Michael Faraday once carried out important experiments into electricity & generating electric light.  The piece that I and my then partner created for the show was a film in split screen entitled 'Liquid History' - a grey and stormy time-lapse shot in Super8 from the bow of a tourist boat making the journey up the Thames from the Palace of Westminster to the Thames Barrier. The screen was split so that one side showed the journey from Westminster to the Barrier while the other side showed the journey in reverse, ie back home again. The point in the film where both sides of the screen showed the same image - where the outbound & home journeys briefly pass one another - was right outside in the stretch of water between Trinity Bouy Wharf & The Millenium Dome. The soundtrack of the film was a recording of the pilot of the boat giving a very drole commentary pointing out various landmarks, history & cultural comment (including a deadpan indictment of Tracey Emin's unmade bed which was at that time in the Tate Modern). The title 'Liquid History' came from an English Liberal parliamentarian & Trade Unionist John Burns who retired from Parliament in 1914 in protest of the decision to go to war (WWI). As a historian he later coined the phrase 'The Thames is Liquid History'.

Time, tides, war, Westminster, Paris, protest, river, history, floods, mortality.

The name 'Thames' comes from the Celtic Tamesas meaning dark. The Thames, from the earliest times was darkness. There have been people living in, on or near the Thames since at least 4000 years ago. Even before that, 10,000 years ago when the landbridge still existed between the semi-glacial British Isles and what's now mainland Europe, the Thames flowed as a tributary into the Rhine. There can be little doubt that there have been bodies in the Thames for millennia

So what may seem a macabre spectacle or personal tragedy in today's news is actually so common as to be a banal reminder of human mortality & insignificance in the face of nature's greater powers.

'Body in the Thames' may as well be prefaced with 'just another...'

Mysterious?... yes. Tragic?...perhaps. Rare?...not in the slightest, these things just keep on floating by, so it goes.


but actually, it wasn't me who came up with the name. It was a serendipitous mistake. Tom from the group Labyrinth Ear is to blame. On a popular music forum he accidentally posted a thread with the title "Body in the Thames" on the music board instead of the social board. When I saw the title I thought he'd discovered a new artist with a fantastic name when in fact he was watching from his office window as police and divers pulled a body from the waters underneath.

I decided immediately, for all the reasons above, that Body in the Thames would be my artist name. Not insignificantly, Tom was, at that time, working as a researcher for a Member of Parliament