Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mark Pritchard Interview

Just realised this has been sitting in my drafts for a year!!!

Mark has a new EP out this week under his own name and its some of best work yet

https://bleep.com/release/44340-mark-pritchard-ghosts


Did this catch up with Mark when he and Tom Middleton were about to do their first DJ sets together again for a while.

The name Mark Pritchard has been attached to many recording guises, all synonymous with quality. Be it his collaborations with Tom Middleton as Global Communication, Jedi Knights or Reload, or his own Troubleman, Harmonic 33 or 313 phases or simply his birth name, consistency is what Pritchard has brought to the table since the early nineties.

In early 2008, the first definitive Harmonic 313 (a reference to Detroit’s postal code) product in EP1 arrived on Warp, after an all too brief taste on the Azymuth remix album and it showcased that low slung, bass heavy instrumental hip hop that is gaining some popularity thanks to a close knit scene of beat makers like Flying Lotus, Jay Scarlett and the extended Benji B (BBC Radio 1Xtra) or Andrew Meza (BTS Radio) family.

Currently in the UK touring the EP, Pritchard took some time out to talk about juggling projects, the Harmonic 313 album and the upcoming Smirnoff Experience Secret Party he is playing with fellow Jedi Knight Tom Middleton.

‘I have been really happy with it (the reaction to EP 1),’ he says. ‘I haven’t had anything out for a while and the industry has changed since my last record. All of the people I have met have said that it sold well… Not what you do five years ago but still a reasonable amount. The record shops are saying they’re doing quite well,’ he says, genuinely relieved that it’s not all doom and gloom in the market place.

The aforementioned musical family (as profiled recently in Shook Magazine) seems to have planted its roots firmly in the ground and are not going away anytime soon. How does Pritchard the seasoned vet see the scene developing?

‘It’s getting a nice reaction and people are liking Flying Lotus, SamIAm and Hudson Mohawk, but it still needs to be broke to a lot of new people,’ he explains. ‘People still need to be exposed to it – Dubstep people are checking it out – and people seem to be checking out new styles (in the club). I am noticing people want to hear a bit of hip hop, a bit of Dubstep, new and old stuff, and some classic techno, so tastes are definitely switching up.’

The album is due out in November and Mark is all too happy to share the plans for the 313 project with me (and with the rest of the world on BBC 1Xtra later that week).

‘I am back (in Sydney) in June and have a month and half to finish it. It’s all written, it’s just mixing and arranging. The plan is, it’s got a few tracks with MCs on it, Steve Spacek on a track, the rest will be instrumental and quite varied with some electronica, some hip hop and some four-four acid tunes, but slowed so it doesn’t seem like a house tune.’

To separate the album and straight up club fare, 12”s of tunes you may have heard on Benji B’s radio show will appear. For example the illusive Drunken Isht may appear with vocals by MED and the impregnable Battlestar may have more than just a reference to Detroit on it, if Elzhi and Phat Kat’s vocals come through. Couple that with material as Africa High-Tech (with Steve Spacek) and Reload (with Tom Middleton) plus his up to date bio mentioning a new Troubleman album and you have one very busy boy.

‘(I am) juggling them – not very well! When I finish this – I am working on a lot of them together – When that’s done then it’s the Reload and the Africa High Tech stuff and then some Dubstep too – but the Reload stuff will take the next priority,’ he says, seemingly making a list in his head.

‘Me and Steve have three tracks done to start the ball rolling,’ he says. The name itself conjures all kinds of different genres, which is exactly what we can expect.

‘It’s all a bit faster, like140bpm, with some grime and techno and some dubsteppy things, some dancehall things… there’s one that’s more of a broken beat tune – we want it to be a futuristic dancehall style. I’m really happy with the sound we have been getting with it,’ says Pritchard, explaining the work ethic as experimental but fluid and natural at the same time.

Finally, his reuniting with Tom Middleton as Jedi Knights for the upcoming Smirnoff Experience events across Australia will be a similarly varied affair.

‘I’m looking forward to it,’ he says. ‘We will pick a classic era and do a set in that style, like classic electro or maybe an old school techno and acid house set and do that together and then we’re both playing separately, too, so I can play a varied set in a different room, I might play dubstep one night, another gig I might play boogie and disco, which will be fun.’

What may seem a risk for a big brand looking for mass exposure is definitely not when putting their audience in the hands of such formidable talent.

‘We do a set like this for Fabric once a year with classics and maybe a bit of new stuff,’ he explains. ‘It works quite well cos Tom and I are quite different. I play more classic stuff and although he plays less commercial stuff (in the club sense), he’s a really good club entertainer and can entertain big big crowds of two or three thousand people. We play in different ways so it works.’

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Armani XXXChange Interview

 

Armani XXXchange interview by Huwston

 

Armani XXXchange is Alex Epton, the Baltimore based producer that presented the best LP of the genre whose name derives from his home town in Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo, as part of Spank Rock. He’s finally making it to Australia on the lineup of the upcoming Park Life shows after two Spank Rock tours sans the integral element of Epton (one which was even minus the front man), but with remixes for Beck and Thom Yorke plus production for The Kills and Kid Sister on the way, he’s had more than enough to keep himself busy.

Speaking from his home, the softly spoken and sometimes giggly producer first lays out why he hasn’t appeared on our shores earlier.

‘Well I guess just personal reasons, I had some family shit the last couple of years and was planning on going both trips so I ended up not having to go.’

With both parties keen not to push that subject we discuss what we can expect from the show, with Alex cementing that he is really keen to be out here.

‘It depends on the time of day, if it’s during the night I have some video show but if it’s during the day it’s just Djing,’ he says, putting to rest any notion of guest MCs or singers although, after all, it is his first tour, so an entourage could be due in the visits to come.

The Spank Rock live show currently consists of MCs Spank Rock, Amanda Blank and Pase Rock plus Djs Ronnie Darko and Chris Devlin and although XXXchange enjoys being a part of the spectacle, he’s got a pretty hectic schedule.

‘I am happy to stay at home – although I have been djing with them a lot lately,’ he says, admitting ‘I am kind of the studio rat.’

‘I do enjoy going to the shows, I just don’t want to tour extensively… it can be really exhausting.’

With his bio insisting he has a heavy art upbringing from groovy parents, just how much of this guy’s life is devoted to art and music?

‘The inspiration for a concept,’ (for a song) he says, ‘I take more from modern art… it’s more like doing a collage kind of thing, you can do that with music and make it be a horrible mess, so you have to make sure stuff works.’

Referencing, of course the Baltimore and mash up mentality, he succinctly describes the thin line between genius and disaster on a dance floor. Big Dada (the label that released Spank Rock’s first album) label boss Will Ashon suggested that Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo is the only good long player to come out the genre and time has proved that he is right.

‘It seems like that  (the ‘Baltimore’ sound) sort of came together for a bit and now the scene is drifting apart, at least over here. That was a big inspiration for making the record (all of the genres and crew mixing) but things are a bit more disparate now.’

He references ‘all of this French music’ confusing people a bit as to what the next thing is which, in a way, is a beautiful irony for a genre that draws from such a wild palette. Continuing the art metaphor, XXXchange sums things up nicely.

‘Once you start making music that doesn’t have anything to do with your physical ability to play an instrument, it has to do with sound and sound design, and what your ideas are.’

He says a lot of the more interesting art theory hasn’t really been done with modern music, it’s all been done with video art, but he doesn’t dabble in the visual side of things, just his concepts that he fleshes out on a computer rather than a canvas.

 

Jamie Lidell Interview

Jamie Lidell 3D World Interview

Jamie Lidell astonished everyone with his second solo album Multiply, the most soulful record to ever come out of the Warp stable. Three years later he’s back with Jim, a record that captures the current popular rhythm n’ blues explosion and personalises it for the charming Briton-in-Berlin.

Jamie Lidell’s debut Muddlin Gear was a complex mix of growls and distortion and virtually unlistenable when compared to Multiply or Jim. In stark contrast, his newest offering opens with Another Day, a sort of Let The Sunshine In for a new feel good generation. Recorded in the US with Justin Stanley, Jim strips back almost all of the electronics and heralds a potential worldwide hit.

‘Justin is a great fella – he’s a real music enthusiast and a great payer and owns such a nice self contained potent studio set up, so I can associate with him on so many levels. It was a real pleasure. And he has a bunch of music families around him – he called all of these amazing people to come by. He’s just a fuckin’ sweet generous guy,’ he says matter of factly.

The good weather and geography of Los Angeles injected a huge amount of soul in to the sessions for Jamie, who loved being there for the recording.

‘Waking up in the morning to the perfect blue sky – and me coming form Berlin – the contrast is amazing. I knew that was going to spark off some really cool positive music.’ Referring to the album’s opener he says ‘That was the idea, we condensed the vitamins in to the mix.’

After such a good time, could that be the next spot for Jamie?

‘You think about it (moving there) when you have a good experience but the reality of living  there 24/7 might be very different,’ he explains. ‘It may be a little on the plastic side, you can find your escape there but in LA you’ve got to drive a car to get a coffee and that’s fuckin’ rubbish.’

By the very essence of calling an album your own name, or in this case, an abbreviation of Jamie’s name, the album takes on a very personal slant. I was interested to find out the differences and similarities between Jamie Lidell and Jim.

‘Jim Shady!’ He jokes, ‘Sure, I mean it’s more uh… generous and a bit focused in general on a particular part of me and that particular part of me is Jim. I didn’t want to call it Jamie Lidell, because it’s just ne part of Jamie Liddell: a dandified, gentlemanly generous, friendly part of me… and that’s a big part of me. It’s an optimistic part of me to throw more adjectives in the mix. It’s me right now. A lot of people like to call me Jim, they call me ‘Jim’ in a friendly way, they don’t often ask Jim for money,’ he says, which bizarrely puts all in to context.

Songs from Multiply like Game For Fools are starkly contrasted with beauties like Wait For Me which seem to signify a transition for Lidell, suggested by one as the former album representing a breakup and the current one representing new found love.

‘These songs have universal themes, I think people can get a little something from,’ he says after a long pause. ‘It’s kinda like a picture of Jim, he likes to share his life experiences, but I’m Jamie Lidell and I don’t,’ he says abruptly but not rudely.

Before we get all tabloid up on that ass, the conversation quickly comes back to the real world of just how he got to Jim. His immense popularity and 2 man touring party has seen him flown around the world several times over the past years and all of These experiences have brought him to this point.

‘Gonzo (Gonzales) and Mocky and I, we had the good fortune be a trio: piano drums and voice. It’s a lot of fun to work like that and Wait For Me was a new song in the repertoire around the Multiply tour (of Europe).’ He explains ‘You’d get to a point where you’d say ‘this is a good song I want to record it’ – It’s all part of the experiences of making music, it all blurs in to a big happy pie to be eaten at your leisure.’

And will Jim be presented as a Vegas revue type show stopper? Somehow we think not…

‘A big band, possibly not, I am trying to present the Jim experience, with a small number of people but still high octane. I made a brief for myself, obviously touring solo for so many years the idea of doing something massive was daunting so now we have 4 other people playing and a touring party of nine. I have got in to a comfort zone playing on my own so I am looking forward to trying something new. The guys are friends of mine, so we can have a bit of a laugh,’ he says of the band.

‘A couple of them are Berliners, Americans, one from Canada, so they are spread around the world. And one guy from Belgim to represent the EU!’

It seems soul music grows out of some of the least geographically soulful cities in the world. Motown was not called that because there was Mo’ of it, after all and Lidell having such success writing soul music in Berlin is something of a phenomenon.

‘Maybe it comes from a lack (of soul in the city). You have to make your own entertainment. Berlin is a very hedonistic place, you can go out and get wasted everyday of the week.’ For him it as different.

‘Finding myself in the studio, I come from an electronic background so having a studio to put drums in and make noise and play every day in a big space (as opposed to the small expensive spaces available in England)… the city offers space, it’s been about people and space rather than Berlin the city with the history and whatnot for me.’

With that electronic background, the question that has always interested has been when, where or who the pivotal point was with that made Lidell do away with the bugged out electronics and step to mic and sing. The answer is charming, the answer is Jim.

‘It comes from a lot of sources, ultimately it’s down to me. I make all kinds of music but don’t choose to release it all. It didn’t come from one influence or person, it was a crazy culmination of pushes and pulls and what I was comfortable being and what I set up for myself, making a commercial, radio record. I factored it all in to mix. I thought to myself ‘maybe this is my time to get on the airwaves? Am I ready for that?’ and maybe the world might be up for hearing some of me on the radio.’ In signing of he says ‘I’m going to go for that and filter some of my pop sensibilities and make songs I really love and bring it all together, (and) it felt good.’ Which goes to show, a little bit of feel-good goes a long way.

 

Ben Folds Interview

Ben Folds was in the country recently to promote his brand new album Way To Normal. 3D sent Huwston – the other skinny white bloke with glasses – in to bat.

Ben Folds is not your average piano man. A long line of people like Jerry Lee Lewis and Billy Joel have come before him and whilst he has the performance aspect and song writing traits of his predecessors, his goofy, almost cartoon-like voice and sometimes bizarre lyrics set him apart, so much so that you might expect the guy to smash a guitar on stage.

In the past, his band Ben Folds Five presented songs that could be as comparable to Joel’s She’s Always A Woman To Me or even Benny And The Jets but always with his unique spin. His newer material saw him drawing from a more luscious set of instruments than just drums, bass and piano. The song You Don’t Know Me with Regina Sepktor was even punched out on an MPC sampler.

‘I am a rapper, I got some rap cred and I play German polkas, too. I am somewhere between the two,’ Ben jokes when asked about his apparent preoccupation with the word ‘bitch’ (see his Dr Dre cover, Song For The Dumped or Way To Normal’s The Bitch Went Nuts).

The bio clears up all of the supposed misogyny, but surely a kooky character like Folds is often misinterpreted.

‘Some people do (think it’s misogynist), but I wouldn’t use that as an opportunity to attack their intellect. I would think you would understand that. I like to stir the pot and put things out there that could be misunderstood, so I can’t get upset about it,’ he says. ‘If anyone does think I am misogynist all I want to do is point out that my manager and booking agent are women.’

And when did this misunderstanding start for Ben?

‘EVER SINCE I HAD THOSE BITCHES WORKING FOR ME!’ He jokes, genuinely off-the-cuff and delivered with quite delightful timing.

‘I have been misunderstood since a song I wrote when I was nine years old which you can either take as you being a failure. So you can take that as though, songs need to be written explicitly for people to understand or that songs are almost performance art and the art isn’t complete until the cycle is complete and they have reacted to it, like Andy Kauffman did in the 70s or Borat – I kinda like something in between.’

‘Sometimes I think it is fun to fuck with perception. Like when I wrote Bitch Went Nuts, I wrote another version and put it up on Myspace and the lyrics were about a republican golfer who is trying to make partner at his law firm and his date has gotten drunk and ruined his chances by talking about all of her liberal views. People started posting ‘I am a vegetarian, I am woman and I am deeply offended.’

Ben is a vegetarian, he is not a woman but he is offended!

With a little help from an outside producer, Ben wrestled through a long divorce and completed Way To Normal. As much as they were Ben’s songs, it was still very much a collaborative effort.

‘The collaboration was that he encouraged me to exaggerate, to not only explain the joke (in the meaning behind the songs) but be economical and efficient and creative about what we wanted to do,’ he says. ‘A few notable times he created the arrangement – in Frown Song I am scared if this sounding like a lame version of a Beatles song, I wanted it to go in another direction. Other times he just said ‘you guys are playing too many notes’.’

Explaining the joint or the poignancy to his words is probably something all song writers wish they were exempt from. Whilst Folds is a great interview subject and charming and all that, he thanks me for ‘not going there with Brick and Brainwascht. Explaining himself, he feels, has already been done.

‘I feel like I do it when I write the songs. We’re all guilty of being fascinated with the personality and the autobiography, like who’s dating who and being interested in public failure. People like to know that someone has faults. I just like to get across the song and then run – throw it like a grenade. With Brick we moved so closely between the writing, recording and releasing, I probably would have taken it out if I had a chance to make it stop.’

It’s that sort of Fold’s magic that the movie studios love although most of Folds’ best work for films has landed on the cutting room floor.

‘The song Lucky Us was for a movie, a nerd kissing scene where I thought they were taking a risk on this scene with this long 360 degree camera angle, I knew it had emotional legs, but the scene was cut from the movie, so when I used it on my album people grasped for context but the movie wasn’t there so people wanted to know what it was about.’

Whilst he has always had interest from the production houses in his work he feels his lyrics get in the way of big scenes.

‘They don’t want on the nose lyrics and some of mine get very specific, like Hiroshima, that would ruin a scene, unless it’s about a guy falling off stage. They want someone saying ‘come on, back that ass,’ he joke again, dryly.

As the piano man of our generation, Folds feels comfortable and does not wishing to be swinging an axe on stage as songs like Rocking The Suburbs might have us believe. And, surprisingly enough, he doesn’t mind the comparisons.

‘I am bound to that part of the stage, I think I had a guitar it’s kinda weird standing there. You can pull a rock step but I feel like I am just there to pay piano. The performance is all manners. I like to push the songs by making them compete with the performance. If the performance is winning then that keeps me on my toes about the song writing. In Ben Folds Five we used to really fuck with the songs and do different versions of them.’

‘There is a public perception of piano man, it is well founded, as rap is becoming, hip hop is an institution, you can’t avoid that – trying to avoid that is probably not cool. I want to draw the line in personality or where I am coming from with my song writing, which should be obvious from the first five lines that it is not Jerry Lee Lewis or Elton John.’

Put simply, Folds says he’s just ‘one of those guys who use ‘izzle’ in everything I say.’