MEET THE CREW: SEL BALAMIR OF AMPLIFIER!
Founding Amplifier frontman Sel Balamir is no slouch when it comes to his love of all things final frontier. We hung out at the Science Museum in London, where he told Space Rocks where his adoration for the great beyond came about…
When did you first fall in love with science and space exploration?
“Luckily for me, I was born in the 70s – there was still the echo of space exploration euphoria in culture. One day I went to the cinema with my childminder to watch Evel Knievel – The Movie starring George Hamilton, but it was sold out so we went to see another film called Star Wars instead. That was the beginning.
We would go to the science museum in our white VW Beetle, (its registration was WMT 72G I would love to find that car). The other exhibits were quite interesting, but the rocket hall was the only place I wanted to go. The life-size model of the lunar lander and the Apollo 10 capsule left quite a mark.”
So Star Wars was the catalyst?
“TV and movies were pivotal to my fascination. Like millions of other kids, I was overwhelmed by Star Wars. My own reality seemed so grey and uninteresting by comparison. Little did I realise that I lived on the most exotic world in the universe. Shortly afterwards, I became aware of Star Trek via repeats on BBC. My parents let me stay up as a treat to watch it. Spock was my first hero. He came from somewhere else – like me. The philosophy of human curiosity in Star Trek still makes it the greatest TV show of all time.
Music didn’t really feed into my connection with the cosmos as a child – my mind wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand that music and the cosmos are metaphors of each other. I liked listening to the Star Wars soundtrack. The orchestra was a kind of overwhelming. We had Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds too. I couldn’t listen to that as the sound of the aliens’ ULA! and the thought of the red weed would terrify me at the age of seven. Little did I realise that when I was a grown-up I would name one of my kids Ula.”
Why do you think outer space is so interesting to people?
“Let’s face it – we’d all like to leave this planet and leave all the jerks behind. But my solution would be to shoot all the jerks out into space – like they did with General Zod in Superman III. Or with Kahn and his super-followers in the Star Trek episode Space Seed. Both of those examples pretty much all worked out fine!”
Why do you think space exploration is important?
“Have you ever been on a really long journey? If you don’t take your phone, tablet, laptop or even a book, I guarantee that by the end of that journey you will have learnt a huge deal about yourself. Space exploration is like that. We do it to learn stuff, but most of all we do it to learn stuff about ourselves. We need to do that now more than ever, because we’re not really turning out to be quite as awesome as people in the 19th century thought.”
Is there a special relationship between music and the cosmos?
“Imagine that our physical reality is wrapped up (literally) in the concept we call space/time and then imagine another esoteric dimension that is weaved through that as well like a golden thread. We experience this dimension in a more subjective (but no less real) manner in things like emotions, significance, luck, meaning etc. Human beings are highly sensitive detectors of the universe’s vibrational entropy that manifests itself as the physical changes we see with our eyes, but our other inner sensations can also detect this golden thread dimension. Music is just one of the many metaphors that we have used for discussing this golden entropy. Laughter is another. Music and the cosmos are both the same thing. Plato knew this. He even mathematically proved it. That’s the kind of thing that he was into. Jimi Hendrix knew this too – he also proved it – but just with different tools: a guitar and electricity. He was into different stuff.
Who are you looking forward to meeting at Space Rocks?
“I have Tim Peake’s photo book. I could get him to sign it. I don’t have any other autographs, but an astronaut’s autograph is a worthwhile start to a collection!”
What can we expect from your set?
“On that basis and owing to the nature of Space Rocks, it seems that Amplifier should play a set that transports you. So the set will be paced like a heartbeat and about making a vibe.
An interesting development is that Steve Durose (guitarist) is away on a family holiday on the day of the show, so we’re doing it as a three-piece, like the early days. So I’ll be back to my full four-amp rig and deploy out the loopers and stacked delay pedals. It will work nicely and we’re really looking forward to coming and spending a fascinating day feeding not only the head but the soul as well. See you in space!”
See Amplifier at Space Rocks London on September 21st. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!