How would you describe your creative process?
I don’t know what I am doing. The day you know what you are doing, it’s time to stop, because then you are simply repeating a formula and the creativity is lost. I never sit down and try to do something. To me it is a search, a bit like gathering ingredients, not to use the well worn food analogy and I am actually a terrible cook. I gather elements from here and there, which could be thought of as different materials; textiles, paper or whatever. I weave some of them into shape, chop things down and end up with a collage. What I come out with is usually some sort of bastardized version of what I started off with.
Do you have a similar approach to sound and visuals?
Yes, I draw a little thumbnail sketch and then I make that stuff. When I am not literally sampling, I am cutting and pasting things together, moving towards the initial sketch. You have to make those sounds, or you have to draw that vision, based on rubbish doodles of loose and basic ideas that I can refer back to.
And what happens when your music is released into the world?
It is always nice to get feedback from people, because you never really know how this stuff is received. One guy told me that listening to”The Crow’ shooting through the sunset on a train in India was the best moment of his life. When you get feedback like that it is like sticking a little flag on the moon.
That is what creativity is about, isn’t it? About creating these experiences.
Absolutely. I think that is what differentiates creative people from the rest, although the fashion industry might be a bit more driven by money. You can’t quite imagine anyone saying ‘Oh my god, I put on that blouse and it was just the most memorable moment in my life!’ or ‘It was such an outer worldly experience to put those shoes on!’
Haha, that is what missing in the world of fashion!
That is what is missing.
During this time when we didn’t have any albums coming, were you DJing constantly?
I have a job where I can do exactly what I like, so if I want to make a mix, I make a mix. In the early 90s I went to New York to go through Sesame Street’s entire archive and I made a mix album which never came out for legal reasons. It was a really exciting thing to do pre-YouTube. Another good time in New York is when I stayed with Steinski in downtown Manhattan. We did a track, went record shopping and then DK came over for a couple of days so we interviewed ‘Double Dee & Steinski’ in their studio and made a massive two hour Solid Steel radio show on.
After the ‘Kaleidoscope’ record there was an EP and a Solid Steel mix CD which I did with PC and DK and we toured with that for about a year all around the world. I was doing mixes for Solid Steel every other week and constantly creating artwork for Ninja Tune artists like Amon Tobin, Herbalizer, Coldcut, etc.
Both the number of members of DJ Food as well as the sound has varied over the years. At this moment in time it is you alone who DJ and create music as DJ Food, did you ever consider another artist name for your albums?
I am very well aware that DJ Food is associated with mid to late 90s trip-hop and jazz breaks records, which I’m not that connected with, but we have a 20 year legacy there, which I have built on both musically and graphically. I did think about changing the name several times, just to wash away all the preconceptions and make my life easier, but after all it is our history.
When did you get serious about record design?
At Art College I wanted to be an illustrator and the graphic side of things didn’t click until the very end of my degree. During the years I was DJing, putting on my own parties, designing flyers and backdrops for clubs, making mock-up record sleeves for labels that never existed and bought records based on the cover design, but not until we had to do a seminar in front of the entire year, stating who we were and what we were creating, did I realize that record design was my big passion.
Were you creative as a child?
I’ve been drawing all my life. The earliest art related memory I have is winning a painting competition at school when I was five. I had painted a gigantic multi-colored butterfly and the prize was a set of paints, which probably set me down the path. We were quite poor and I used to paint and draw a lot, because I didn’t really have many toys. I read as much as I could about anything and when I was about six or seven I was getting comics every week.
What type of comics where they?
British humor comics. Not really ‘The Beano’ and ‘The Dandy‘, which are like British institutions, but I used to get other sort of humor comics and in 1977 when I was 7 years old ‘Star Wars’ came out, so I was getting the Star Wars comic every week. The American comics came to England as re-prints and they were much slicker and a little bit more adult, more action packed. To my little mind it was amazing to go from funny silly stories to space war. I am definitely of that Star Wars generation. The British comic 2000ad came out around the same time and up to this day I read it every week.
The comics inspired you to draw your own, what were your earliest comics about?
In the early 80s we had the ska craze and everyone suddenly dressed like a skinhead. I used to like drawing those characters for my friends, with no particular narrative.
When and how did music enter your life?
I have always been into music and art pretty much in tandem, and I vividly remember getting deep into music when I was about ten years old. At the time I was too young to read the weekly music magazines like ‘NME’ and ‘Melody Maker’, so I’d get the pop magazine called ‘Smash Hits‘ every two weeks and completely devour it, reading it from cover to cover, memorizing every little thing. We didn’t have a record player at home, because my dad was into tapes not records.
Is that the way it was back then; you were either into tapes or records, sort of like some are were pro mp3 in the late 90s while the rest were against it?
I think my dad had this idea that tape was easier because it took up less space and you couldn’t scratch it etc. Instead of buying lots of tapes he made his own seamless tape compilation every week by recording his favourites from the radio show ‘Top 40’. Dad listened to the radio all week, took notes of his favourites and every Sunday he inserted an empty tape. Instead of just whipping the pause off when the radio DJ announced the song, he used the volume to fade the songs in and out. When I was ten he gave me my own tape, saying: ‘This is your tape to record on, son. You are not allowed to use my tapes, but you can record whatever you like on this.’ After that day, we jumped tapes across every single Sunday.
Adam & The Ants scrapbook covers drawn by Kev aged 11-12, 1981-82. A3, biro and felt tip – “Presumed lost but recently rediscovered after over 25 years in the loft of a friend.”
So your father got you into mixing?
Yes, in a weird way. I was naturally into music, but he introduced me to recording and making compilations. I made covers and track lists with Letraset and pictures cut out of magazines – this is the early graphic design coming up.
You made the choice to study art, rather than music, and went to Camberwell College of Art.
My first school was quite poor in those days, the worst in the burough (although it is now the best), and they couldn’t afford instruments. Art became my favourite lesson since we didn’t have a music room and I developed a serious interest in music simultaneously through swapping tapes with my friends. I was only 14 when the hip hop craze came and everyone started break dancing, but a couple of years later, around ’85, I suddenly understood what it was all about and I wanted to know more.
You also started writing graffiti at that point?
The graffiti came slightly before, during the summer of ’84, when the graff bible ‘Subway Art‘ came out. I saw a preview of Subway Art in a magazine when I was on holiday and it depicted a double train with a couple of pieces and a Donald Duck on either end made by ‘Seen‘, one of the kings of graffiti. I looked at it and it was like a shotgun to my brain; it just completely resonated with me. I could read the letters, understand the characters on the train and I thought ‘People have done this’. It was obviously illegal and it was clear to me that people had gone through a lot to complete those magnificent pieces of art. I immediately sought the book out and started writing my name ‘Kev’ really basic with an arrow at the end of a leg of the K in sketchbooks. Being an early graffiti writer you didn’t really have any frames of reference and you had to see more and more of it to work out how letter forms work. Eventually I realized that it was just a form of calligraphy or typography.
Did you go deep into graffiti culture?
I wrote graffiti from when I was about 15 to 19. I never used to do trains and I never tagged that much, we were more focused on painting warehouses, shops and bedrooms for people with aerosol cans. Theft was never in the picture for me either and saving up the money was very difficult. When I came to London I was a fish out of water and I didn’t feel inclined to start painting in a city I was completely alien to. Also, at Camberwell it was kind of frowned upon. The funny thing is though, that one of the best practitioners of graffiti art in the UK, a guy called ‘Pride‘, actually went to Camberwell. The poster for his graduation show, which I still have at home (since I stole it), was designed with one of his graffiti pieces. It was quite a nice little confirmation for me.
You recently had the exhibition at Pure Evil Gallery, so you are still somehow linked to that scene.
Absolutely, I keep my eye on it all the time. I may not write graffiti any more, but I am always interested in that as art. In a lot of ways, I prefer it (not a big fan of the YBAs) and I follow things through with artists like ‘Delta‘ from Amsterdam. We collaborated when he was still writing graffiti, before he broke into his architectural 3D forms, and Henry Flint who did my recent album cover is a comic artist not a fine artist or a street artist – it doesn’t matter. My criteria for doing things is that I like it.
How did the Pure Evil Gallery exhibition happen?
We were sitting in a meeting at Ninja Tune after I delivered the album last summer and I said ‘Ok, this is the deal: I want to do a launch party, the Planetarium show and why don’t we do an exhibition to go with the launch?’ As luck would have it I just started a venture with a guy called George Stewart-Lockhart who knows Charlie from Pure Evil Gallery. We went over to Charlie for a quick meeting and he was really into the show, being a fan of both my music and Henry’s art. Charlie is also a musician himself and after the exhibition we realized lots of weird connections to the same people. What I like about Charlie is that anything is possible for him. You suggest something and he just goes ‘Yes, it will be fun. Let’s do it.’ He is very positive and inspiring and I really appreciate that quality in people. I have been cynical in the past, but I try to see the good in things, which can be a challenge in this day and age. He is going to be on TV in May, on ‘The Apprentice‘. Watch it.
Some things used to make ‘The Search Engine’
“I began to see sounds, to feel sounds, like waves against my skin […] Have you ever touch a sound? Ever seen thunder?” From In Orbit Every Monday on The Search Engine
Have you ever touched a sound? Do you “feel sound like waves against your skin”?
I have had experiences where I have found an almost physical sensation listening to music, a physical reaction. It is difficult to describe that state; you are so emerged in the music that it literally grabs you.
Do you envision sound?
I experience sound horizontally moving from left to right, much like a sequencer. It has always been like that, even before I even knew what a sequencer was, which is weird because when I DJ I have little vertical lanes that show the left and right turntables. Would you rather be deaf or blind?
I’d rather be deaf, because otherwise I’d never be able to see my children and my wife again. There is a joy there; just by looking at my children I can love them more than anything in the whole world. They are so amazingly incredible and they are my creation. They mean more to me than anything, they are the best thing I have ever done and always will be. There won’t be anything better; every second of watching them playing is worth a million dollars.
It must be a lot of work as well.
Yes, but the reward is great. When they read something to you or they learn to swim or ride a bike, it is just amazing and indefinable, one of those ‘touching sound’-experiences.
From Kev’s DJ Food blog: “I designed this last week for a club night in the US called See You Next Thursday (SYNTH), here you can see a rough progression through to the final forms.”
If you had to choose between Sound or Visuals?
With me it’s a balance, a sort of sliding scale. It would be like choosing what son I would like to kill.
What is your favorite audio software?
I have been using Logic for the last five years and before that I used Cubase, which I never really liked. It is clunky and every time you try to pitch or stretch something it just sounds really bad.
The massive ‘Raiding the 20th Century – A History of the Cut Up’ mix featuring Paul Morley from 2004 is a mind blowing summary of the history of mash up! How do you create a mix?
The research, material gathering and mixing was in itself literally as much work as an album. It was a DJ Food release (Internet only) and it came out during the height of the mash up bootleg craze. It crashed quite a lot of servers at the time, including Ninja’s entire site, so they had to take it down.
Mixing is a filtering process. I start with selecting a group of tracks, sort them according to BPM and put them all on a time-line. The next question is if they go in feel and if they are in tune. The trick is to find a couple of sweet bits that go together really really perfectly and build outwards from that. You end up with little clumps, weave them together and gradually the blocks get bigger and bigger and eventually the mix is ready.
When I make a track, the samples are like colours in a visual design; I find the dominant colour or sound and build around it.
Do you program any of your beats?
I do. I don’t play, although I can play on a midi controller. I am most happy chopping things up on a timeline. I treat a sample of a drumbeat like a collage, snip it into 20 pieces and reprogram it by cutting and pasting.
It is almost like quilting.
Yeah, I did a track with my friend Bundy on ‘Kaleidoscope’ called ‘Full Bleed’ and the starting point for that track was a killer drum break that I had found. There was only one person that had used it before and they just looped it. We both had a go at the sample and he did some pretty great stuff with it. I chopped out all the little tiny hi-hats and made a little hi-hat track which actually wasn’t in the original. Bundy laughed and just said I was f-king crazy.
To create this sort of music you need to be a nerd with obsessive behaviour; otherwise you won’t have the patience like Squarepusher to sit there and program all those amazing little rolls. It also requires an attentive music ear and the more you do it the more you develop. I listen to old stuff and I just cringe.
What is the experience that you want to give to your listeners? Do you have a general idea of where you want to send us off to?
I definitely want to send people somewhere and I am always looking for that magical combination of sounds and rhythms that produces something indescribable. That moment, that rush, that magical something in a song where there is a brief pause and then everything goes BAM, or there is a build or a drop or a chord change that just really excites you. I was very into hip hop for many years, but it eventually got very dull because it was constantly about reality, about ‘Keeping it real’, and ‘It’s all about the game, we’re trying to survive’. It was just too much of it. I know that reality is grim, but let’s not bang on about it. Let’s keep it unreal like Mr. Scruff; that is what this is all about, pure fantasy and pure escapism! The Search Engine exists to take you somewhere outside of your every day and when you put that album on you can escape, even if only for an hour. I love doing quite long tracks sometimes, because they really string out the experience and allow you to immerse yourself in them. It is amazing with groups like Future Sound of London and the Orb who make long proggy sort of albums which allow the listeners to just drift off and dream.
Your DJ sessions at Solid Steel are definitely an experience. Do you remember buying your first turntables?
That’s my grandmother’s legacy. She died just as I moved to London and I bought my first set of Technique turntables with the money she left me. I think she would be proud of that, although she probably wouldn’t understand what the hell I was doing with them.
Your love for art and music naturally progressed into the occupation of your dreams as the collective Openmind, known for the Telepathic Fish parties, connected you to Coldcut, DJ Food and Ninja Tune. Openmind became the name of your graphic design label. Can you give us a detailed description of how the Telepathic Fish parties started?
In my 20ies I did a lot of clubbing and a lot of chilling out as well. Back then I lived with a group of people and during the weekends we went out to raves with another group of college guys next door. Afterwards we chilled out at each other’s houses and we loved the chilling out bit so much that at the end of it, we were actually chilling out much more than we were partying. We would come back on the Sunday morning, chill out all day and not even bother going to bed because we had such a great time. This evolved into our big ambient parties that we called ‘Telepathic Fish’.
Where we got the name from is a funny story, which is recounted in a couple of books, David Toop’s ‘Ocean of Sound’ and Simon Reynolds’ ‘Energy Flash’. I was 22 years old, had just ended a long and very serious relationship and I felt completely fresh, new and free, ready to experience everything. I went along with whatever happened and this was one of those weird situations that take you down roads.
It started one day at a car boot sale, where I found a keyboard with no power supply or instruction book. I said to the guy ‘Look, I obviously really need that to plug it in and to figure out how it works’. He told me to go to his mate’s house and gave me the number. I really needed the keyboard, so I went to the home of this rasta character with massive dread locks, apparently a dealer, who built his own speakers big as wardrobes. I sat down and took it easy while he was getting along with his routine and then he started talking about how fish was really important in life as a part of Christianity. I was a little white kid who’d only been in London for a couple of years and the situation made me completely confused. He started talking about ‘Taking the fish’, meaning that if everyone ‘Took the fish’ it would provide us with a telepathic link which would enable us to understand each other better. He said ‘Wherever you look, the fish is there. If you look along the lampposts lining the Thames River, there are fish carved into the lampposts. I give the postman a fish.’ When I asked him what he meant, he brought out a bowl of little Goldfish and said ‘Stick your tongue out!’ He literally slapped this fish on my tongue and said ‘Just swallow it, don’t chew it. Just swallow it’
So this was the whole thing; if you eat a live fish you have a special connection to everybody. I completely didn’t know what’s going on, but I thought ‘Ok’ and eventually my flat mates wanted to ‘take the fish’ too, so we went back there. The rasta dealer had some good weed and all the rest – it was a cool thing to do back then, when we were all raving and chilling and chilling and raving and raving and chilling and it was just more chilling than raving. We were looking for a good name for a party and decided to call it Telepathic Fish. It didn’t mean anything and it meant everything as well, although I never formed some telepathic link or went on to preach the ‘fish gospel’.
Above: CT’s interpretation of ‘taking the fish’
Did he come to the Telepathic Fish?
No, he didn’t come. To this day I don’t really know what happened to him. We kind of had our little moment and then moved on. The girl we were living with called Chantal recounted the story to David Toop and when I read the book I suddenly remembered the rasta guy and his bowl of goldfish. That weird story is now immortalized in history by David Toop, who used to come to our parties. It was an interesting crowd including artists like Aphex Twin, who DJed at Telepathic Fish really early when he had just begun. I don’t think his first album was even out actually.
What was generally on the playlist?
Future Sound of London, Brian Eno, David Sylvian’s ambient stuff, Autechre, The Orb – all that very early 90s ambient techno. We would start on a Saturday night and go through the whole of Sunday and into Sunday night.
I guess the word got around and attracted DJs from near and far. Did Coldcut invite you to the Solid Steel radio show?
The massive warehouse we hired in Brixton was pretty grotty and we needed some projections to make it interesting, because after all, all you do is sitting down and you need something to look at. I was searching for a VJ and fortunately DJ Mixmaster Morris gave me Matt Black’s number. I was a big fan of Coldcut’s records and well aware of both DJ Food and Ninja Tune, so it was with great excitement that I rang him up and asked him if he would be up for VJing at our parties. Amazingly he said yes, came down, had a great night and we connected really well. Matt liked what he heard and asked me to come and DJ for Solid Steel, which was on Kiss FM at that time. Matt was more into the visual side, which was his main exploration at the time. He has always been the explorer questing for the new and inventing new programs or machines. God knows all the things Coldcut they went through and that’s the reason why Coldcut don’t make records very often, they are busy exploring new avenues.
Examples of Strictly Kev’s Openmind designs
Above: Examples of Strictly Kev’s Openmind designs
How can we convince people to buy physical albums these days?
By making objects that people will want to owe. To just buy the album doesn’t seem to be enough anymore, people wonder what else they get for their money. I was talking to someone about doing some packaging design for a forthcoming album and they said they’d quite like to do an object which comes with the album and not the other way around. You get a 3D print or an artwork of some kind.
You also collect art?
Yes, I really like collecting original pieces so I’ve got canvases, 3D things, drawings, etc, which I am slowly sticking on my website. It is a tangible thing which gives a closeness to the artist, who has held the object in their hands and they might have spilled some coffee on it or some of the sweat from their hands might be there. I collect loads of original comic book drawings. There is nothing like holding the original drawing of a comic that I read as a child. It’s a magical connection to my childhood – a physical thing. The thrill of nostalgia as you are looking back (especially being 40+) is stronger than any drug. When I reached 35 and had my children, there was a passing over into adult life and I wanted to go back and explore things from when I was a kid. Just recently a friend of mine found some of my old scrapbooks on his loft. There was about six of them stuck together with sello tape and to look through them was simply incredible.
Were they made from drawings and cuttings from magazines?
Yeah. I was really into Adam and the Ants and used to cut out every single picture, every article. I don’t know why – I just thought he was great. Eventually the word got around that I was doing this and people started giving me cuttings as well. After a few years I got bored, but since I was about 12 I collected pictures of things that I liked in huge scrap books. It was just a big ‘I like this’.
Some of my favorite shops are junk shops and car boot sales and anything where you don’t know what you’re going to find. ‘The Search Engine’ is about exploration, which has always been a part of the every day for me. An HMV store is too predictable and boring, nothing like a small family business. Where I live in East Dulwich we have lots of privately owned shops. No McDonalds, no Burger King, none of that. It’s really nice. There is a really cool sweet shop with all the old sweets in big glass jars all lined up. They have sweets that you couldn’t get after the war and I take my kids there sometimes and tell them ‘Boys, you don’t understand, but shops like this don’t exist any more.’
Photo: From the Planetarium show, Emma Gutteridge, all rights reserved
For ‘The Search Engine’ you created both the show at the Planetarium and the exhibition at ‘Pure Evil Gallery’. Does today’s audience require an experience?
I think so, because people are flooded with media that they can get for free, but they’re going to pay for an experience. Today we need to create something that can’t be compared to a download. Even the documentation of an event, such as the video footage from the Planetarium show, is just so disappointing. You can’t see the whole thing and even if you could, it’s just not the same. That’s the reason why I collect original art as well.
I have heard that the Planetarium show was an amazing launch of ‘The Search Engine’, what was it like behind the scenes?
It was a really good launch and the people were awesome, but personally I am critical because I have to be and from behind the scene you see all the defects. It wasn’t perfect, partly because of the lack of time and partly because it was my first time and I had to learn as we went along. The equipment was also severely old and wasn’t made to do what I tried to do.
What did you try to do?
I wanted it to do what normal projection and editing systems do, but on a massive scale. The Planetariums work on a sort of coordinate basis with a programmed depth of field. You can say, ‘We are here on Earth,coordinates: XXXX, and we want to fly to Mars, coordinates: YYYY’, and it will take off through the star field which has been programmed into the system. If you want to introduce external fixed video elements, that’s fine, but the animation file sizes are absolutely huge. I did an animation where the whole ceiling lifts up and spirals off into infinity and then drops down and spins around and so on – that was 23 gigs for 2.5 minutes. When I gave them the animation file they almost had a heart attack, because it took about 3 days to encode that into the machine.
Did they manage to run your infinity-animation in the end?
Yes, that was the best bit.
Perhaps we will see Matt Black collaborating with you on DJ Food’s upcoming ’dome shows’?
Yeah, it is possible. Matt recently made a compilation of all his graphic art from the 80s up to his recent work, starting with the blocky graphics and moving on to generative systems. He is always advancing.
Was he into the demoscene?
I don’t know, maybe.
So the ‘Planetarium project’ will be based on ‘The Search Engine’?
Yes, for the time being. Hopefully it will be added to along the way, but it is such an unknown thing at this point.
You were talking so beautifully about the journey you want your listeners to experience and I am wondering whether you picture the experience to be intensified by the massive scale of the Planetarium/Dome shows?
I hope so, that was definitely the intention with the Planetarium show and for me, the Planetarium was the was best possible way to experience ‘The Search Engine’. It is not a club record. I am less and less interested in making music for clubs or playing in clubs, except for a few particular ones. It was also a chance to learn, you know, I like to do different things all the time. I am 42 next year and I made my first book in 2010, so that’s great – I did a new thing!
It is a bit of a mystery how you manage to make everything happen.
When it gets to the end of the year I consider what new things I have accomplished during the year and, yes, I am already quite stocked up for 2012! I have realized an album, done a Planetarium show, an exhibition, released a marble vinyl single, etc. To me it is very important that I don’t slow down, my best will never be behind me and most artists will agree, otherwise there would be no creative momentum. All that being said; the mile stones I have with my children will always top anything I do in my career.
Right now you are creating a series of Kraftwerk cover mixes. I had no idea there were so many Kraftwerk covers in different genres out there!
It is a lot of work and a lot to digest. Kraftwerk are an enigma, which is why they appeal across so many boarders musically. That is also my problem at the moment, because the tracks that are in the same tempo just don’t fit sonically at all. I have got loads and loads and I might have to make a one hour mix with only jazz and piano pieces.
Jazzy Kraftwerk covers, how many can there be?
There is some really amazing stuff! I ordered a German 12 track Kraftwerk cover CD by the Swiss jazz group Menschmaschine and most of the songs are pretty good. The hidden track is an absolutely beautiful jazz cover of ‘Space Lab’, one of my favorite tracks from Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man-Machine’. It starts off very slowly and just climbs and climbs, it is unbelievable, just beautiful, definitely one of the highlights of the mix.
If I had downloaded the CD I wouldn’t have found the hidden track and this is why we should buy physical copies of music. With CDs you get these extra touches. I only download music to discover new artists.
Is there any other reason why musicians should engage in the art world? Does the art world need musicians? Do you go to exhibitions yourself?
I visit exhibitions every now and then. I do think that music is added to with art, but I’m not sure if art needs music – it’s cool without it, although I do enjoy audio installation.
Do you sense that music and art are sort of merging these days?
Sure, it attracts creative people, just like banking and football attracts some sort of person. I’m of the generation where a record has a cover and it is an integral part of the identity of the album. If the band is creative it can definitely add to it – look at the Gorillaz, Bowie and Rolling Stones for example, some bands are genuinely creative and don’t just get the art department in to do what the art department does. The most powerful music styles, reggae and hip-hop, got some of the worst artwork. A reggae classic is to use a painting done by a friend of the band.
It is kind of sweet; ‘I like it, man! Let’s stick it on the cover!’
Exactly, that informs your idea of what reggae is, visually. It’s not glossy photos, is it?
Are you into poetry?
I can’t say I am actually. The lyrics is my last concern. When I listen to a vocalist I am interested in the tone of their voice, the delivery, especially with rap and then thirdly, the content. If it’s done well it is an essential component, but I find more and more than I can live without a rapper or any sort of lyricist on a record, says he who has done a few vocal tracks on his recent album! I used to love hip hop, but I find myself less and less interested, because I don’t think there are many good rappers around anymore.
What about Sage Francis?
He is good, but it’s so depressing to listen to, I need some joy in my life! It goes back to that reality thing again. There are many good rappers around, but I am just not that interested in what they are saying any more. I am fascinated by songs like ‘Blue Room’ by ‘The Orb’ in which the vocalist is doing one sound on and off throughout the song, using her voice like an instrument, and ‘S-Express’ who at the end of the 80s used a lot of vocal sound as if it was percussion.
Are you connected to English artists on other labels in your field, like Autechre for example?
I know Sean from Autechre quite well. He is into stuff like phenomena as well as the latest technological innovations. For each record Autechre go even further, to the point where I don’t think people can understand what they are doing at this point, because the music doesn’t always base itself on rhythm. It is so ahead, completely sonic and technological. Autechre categorically won’t use any preset or patch that has been written and is available directly on the Internet, because they value the pureness of what they do.
Autechre are exploring processes, programming, algorithms and chants; always questing, which is why their music should be used in sci-fi movies depicting clubs in the future.They will be looked back on the same way as we are looking back on Kraftwerk.
Do you have any tips for the young musicians, graphic designers and DJs?
My son asks me ‘How did you learn to do what you do, Daddy?’ and my answer is that I just do it and every time I do it, I learn from my mistakes and improve that way.
Photo by Will Cooper-Mitchell, all rights reserved