Low Culture Podcast: Elizabeth Bernholz on Michael Michael Aspel's Strange But True
This month's guest on the Low Culture podcast is none other than Elizabeth Bernholz, aka Gazelle Twin, who was the first person to have two albums at the top of our records of the year chart. As well as Unflesh (2014) and Pastoral (2018) we were also big fans of her JG Ballard-influenced audio visual performance Kingdom Come (2016) and her more recent work with feminist drone choir NYX, Deep England (2021). This month sees the reissue of her excellent but often overlooked debut The Entire City. We catch up with Bernholz deep in research mode as she plans what may become her next album and when we ask her what she would like to talk about, her choice is something that she has already been thinking about a lot recently. Her Low Culture pick is the mid-1990s prime time documentary show on the unexplained Strange But True?, presented by Michael Aspel. The series ran between 1993 and 1997 and essentially presented paranormal occurrences in a fairly open-minded way, using actors to dramatise certain scenes. Its remit was fairly wide covering vampires to aliens, via near death experiences, angelic encounters and psychic animals. Elizabeth chooses one episode in particular – that which made the deepest impression on her when she was a schoolgirl – called 'Enfield Poltergeist'. In the podcast she describes how the show provided some much needed distraction when she was at a particular low point in her life – "a peak, peak bad time, emotionally, physically... mental health stuff, body dysmorphia couple with bullying". But these stories, especially that of the Enfield Poltergeist, helped fire up her imagination. Growing up in a household that had a very open mind about the paranormal and having potentially seen a spectral visitor herself when she was young, the show opened a door to a new world for her... one that still stands ajar to this day. And this leads on to one of the most fascinating conversations in the series so far. The pair discuss ghost sightings, what this means in psychological terms, and how do the horror stories of each generation help us to take the temperature of society's health at that time. All of this spectral conversation leaves just enough time for John and Alannah to discuss their cultural picks for the month, which are, respectively, Benjamin Myers' The Perfect Golden Circle and PETRONN SPHENE's EXIT THE SPECIES.