This is a TwitterInterview I did on Friday evening with @mooseallain. He comes from Exmouth in Devon which is practically abroad so I am delighted that he could make it. But make it he did, complete with a pint of cider, and a warm, charming, happy-go-lucky attitude. His twitter bio states:
“Artist & Illustrator. Dogsbody, but human head. Peripheral visionary. Pest.”
This is exactly how the interview did go.
SG: Hello Moose! Firstly thank you for agreeing to be my second TwitterInterview, you are also the first moose that I have interviewed.
MA: Hello. I’m not a real moose, you know. I just want to be honest about this. I don’t want people thinking “He’s good – for a moose”.
SG: So how did the name come about? Was it something you simply plucked from the air? Did it precede Twitter?
MA: I’ve been Moose since I was about 18. That’s, er… 30 years ago now. It’s a family nickname that’s stuck. Few people know my ‘real’ name…. Although I consider it my real name because that’s what most people call me. (I think that pre-dates twitter, although I’m struggling to remember.)
SG: I struggle to remember my own name in real life. I think we do become attached to people and their twitter names stick. What brought you to Twitter? Was it recommended by somebody for work, or just for the relaxed making-cyber-friends aspect?
MA: No, like a lot of people I didn’t really understand what it was. I’d heard stories about S Fry trapped in a lift, and the usual lazy dismissal that it’s just people tweeting about what they’re eating. My wife Karen who I work with and I discussed it and I thought It would be interesting to try it. I didn’t really see myself as a social networking type, didn’t do Facebook really. I saw it as an experiment, just to start tweeting and see what happened. I was determined from the start to strive to be original. But for about the first year I didn’t get it. I didn’t follow many people, I tweeted and wondered why nobody was taking much notice of me. Then I thought, actually, maybe other people might have something interesting to say.
I started following a few comedians and writers I like, like @AlexHorne and @quantick. We went to see Alex Horne playing a village hall somewhere in the wilds of Somerset. Afterwards I tweeted to him and – he replied! This was a complete revelation. People actually responded to you, people you didn’t actually know. That was a turning point I suppose. Actually David Quantick was instrumental in getting the ball rolling for me, and funnily enough it was a tweet about David Bowie that did it. Back to you!
(http://t.co/wvSUA5O is “The Bowie Tweet”)
SG: Yes, he is like a mountain of musical knowledge! I think we are all fans of someone, and when folk do reply it can restore a bit of faith. What is your overall opinion of ‘celebrities’ (Someone invent a new description please) grasp of twitter? Are they doing it right/
MA: Well, can I say first of all I think you shape your own twitter – you follow the people you like and chat with people you get on with. So – I like the celebrities I follow, and I get the impression that for a lot of them it’s an opportunity to converse with people that they just wouldn’t get the chance to speak with in the normal course of their lives. So in my experience, yes, a lot of them are doing it right. Of course most of them are complete wankers. (Only joking of course).
(We do a mutual chuckle at this point, then gather ourselves to continue)
By the way when I first joined Twitter people like you, Gareth Aveyard, Greg Stekelmen WERE celebrities. I didn’t know who you were though!
SG: Hahaha. It doesn’t take a moment to skirt through a timeline to show which ones get it and which are just using it for self promoting. And I don’t mine that at all as long as they still interact with people. A lot of folk find twitter too much and leave. Do you think there is a solution to stop that happening? Should we have to tolerate abuse? (CLosely related to someone we both follow, the GREAT @Andy_Dutton deleted his account today.)
MA: No, of course we shouldn’t. But the alternative is a twitter that’s policed in some way. Impossible. I’ve never had bad problems myself, but it’s truly sad when someone like Andy feels compelled to leave. He’s just such a gentle man and a gentleman. I don’t know what happened so it would be easy for me to say, oh, block them, ignore them etc. I’ve no idea what it’s like when it becomes intolerable. I think Twitter is like a playground in a lot of ways – good and bad, and that makes it a tough environment. I love words and twitter is an amazing place to play. But games are deadly serious too. Sometimes it’s all a bit too much for me. I keep off it then. Not that anyone would notice!
(he isn’t fooling me)
(I only mean that I appear to tweet almost constantly, not that my absence wouldn’t be noticed. But I do have quiet spells.)
SG: Oh I think we would! That is also my strategy. Anything a bit edgy I go and bother real life. You just mentioned how much you like words and that leads me on to my next question. I particularly like your “Long stories”. You use the same formula I am using for these interviews, where you write a story on twitter, then lift it all into a blog ‘warts and all’. My favorite is “I had no idea I was Jesus.” What did inspire this thing Moose?
MA: OK. I just get an idea for a story in my head. With that one, it was simply the notion that Jesus would come awake after 40 days in the desert, and his ordeal would be that all the trappings of normal life would gradually disappear. I had the idea of him waking up walking and with all these stories I just start from that idea and see where they lead. It’s as close to performance as I’ll ever get I think. *Keeps prattling on* It’s so exciting doing it – not the audience participation so much as the feeling of improvising, the risk involved, but the confidence to feel that I can pull it off. I know it loses me followers, and I can understand why. I actually don’t read stories tweeted in my timeline! – but that’s not going to stop me doing it. Twitter has definitely become an artistic medium for me. I’ve unfollowed a few people I liked. I have time management issues on twitter!
SG: I love the live tweeted stories as they occur. It shows how creative people can be if they are brave enough to allow it to happen. You like a pun and joke as much as I do. But this joke theft thing pops up time and again. It puts people, especially jobbing comedian’s off using Twitter and can often result in accusing innocent parties. What is your take on this? Should we, whose careers are not on the line really give it as much attention as some people do?
MA: Well, I had an incident this very afternoon. I’ll be honest with you, it doesn’t bother me personally. I seem to get indignant about it out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to the person who drew it to my attention. But so fucking what? It’s another playground element. A good joke gets repeated. Plus I tweet lots of brilliant jokes that NO FUCKER RT’S. Would that someone steal those! That’s brought out the swears in me. I’m not even sure that it’s important to professional comedy writers. If you want to protect it – don’t tweet it. If you’re good, you’ll get plenty of RT’s. People will know it’s you. But it’s one reason for trying to be original in style, which I strive to be.
(At this point my phone decides to crash. Moose runs into twitter to try and locate me. We find each other just as my phone thankfully recovers.)
SG: I agree. It just means your material is good if it is blatantly nicked. What better compliment! To you now Moose. Outside Twitter you are a talented artist and have produced many beautiful pieces. How tough is it to survive in that industry?
MA: I’m relatively new to it, only been doing it full-time for about 4 years or so. It still feels like early days, although I realise now it’s what I always wanted to do. I feel immensely privileged to be able to do this, although we’re only really scraping by. But things seem to gradually be building, otherwise I would have given up by now. I work with my poor, long-suffering wife Karen who handles all the business side,, dispatching orders, selling my work at art fairs etc, and generally allowing me to act as a spoilt child. I love working with her but we have a strong relationship. We’ve survived having children, and I think we’re making a go of this too! But we’re fine, we’ve got a lovely big house and garden so I’m in no position to complain.
(Interlude where I say “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE ROONEY!”)
SG: Sometimes being a bit poor but doing something you really enjoy is quite brilliant. You have a tour coming up soon of your artwork, I hope you get many interested art type people turning up with their wallets. I will definitely come to a London one. Did some of your illustrations be used recently by Twitter’s own Stephen Fry? How did that come about?
MA: Yes, that was very straight forward. A very old friend is the producer for the show. He needed them at fairly short notice and I said I’d do them. I feel immensely chuffed, and even more so at the lovely message he wrote on them. But it was just a matter of who you know.
SG: I think most things in life are like that. With a bit of good luck and bad luck chucked in for measure. So, what are your desires now? Because I listened to your Soundclouds and think you may be able to fall back on a career as a 1990’s rave DJ.
MA: ha ha! No, the music is just a hobby. For literally years I was the only person who heard it. I inflicted it on people at work when I worked in an architect’s office. Hey, maybe that’s why I had to change career? My desires. My desires are myriad, but I would love to establish my work enough to be able to have time to experiment. Funnily enough I really enjoy doing work where I draw on other people’s contributions like these pictures I did with Twitter followers: http://t.co/vcf3g1R , I would love to have the space to really develop a project sourced from Twitter. I just can’t afford to do it yet, I need to keep producing work to sell.
More vaguely, my desires are to share sparkling wit and ideas with people. That’s what I enjoy above all and why I’m drawn to twitter. And to have a fucking good laugh too.
SG: And it is people like you who make it what it is. Spilling the crazy workings of your brains into a small box and watching them develop. You have been a pleasure to interview Moose, and I wish you all the success you deserve. Thank you.
MA: Thankyou Sharon, I enjoyed it, but feel that I’ve been awfully dull after lovely Porridgebrain!
(I reassure Moose that he should not worry, we partake in some idle post interview chitter chatter, and the evening’s interview is nicely drawn to a close)
You can see some of Moose’s artwork here: http://www.worldofmoose.com (which is also where you can read his original stories written on twitter and lifted into blogs) and listen to his music here: http://soundcloud.com/moosechoons. I enjoyed chatting with Moose and finding out a bit more about him, and I hope that if you read this you do to. Until next time, GOODBYE.