The Edinburgh album launch was June 14th, with Mitchell Museum and Conquering Animal Sound no less. Do tell us how it went. Is it common to have a Glasgow album launch and an Edinburgh album launch as well? I’ve seen this before, but being the literalist that I am, wouldn’t the album launch only happen once?
“It was great, thanks – we were going to play a show with the whole band (Kris from Mitchell Museum and Paul from the sadly departed Dananananaykroyd as the mega rhythm section) but Paul couldn’t make it so I ended up playing on my own. Conquering Animal Sound and Mitchell Museum both did killer sets. The venue, Electric Circus, has these bizarre karaoke rooms at the back, painted with snakes, graffiti and the carpet pattern from the Overlook Hotel, so the whole place has quite a strange vibe. Lots of mirrors, brushed chrome and excellent sub-bass. I did a video interview in one of the rooms before the show, heavily sleep-deprived, which was pretty trippy. Fun! I suppose it’s common to only have one launch, but I’m a greedy bastard.”
Fortunately, we had the Jesus and Mary Chain in town the night of the launch as consolation. Assuming that they probably were not; would you care to share any of your musical influences?
“It’s a question that keeps coming up and I keep giving different answers, so here’s a list of some acts that had a particular impact on me: Fleetwood Mac, DJ Shadow, Pete Heller, Squarepusher, Dire Straits, Mice Parade, Deerhoof, Armin Van Helden, Chris Clark, Nathan Fake, Boards of Canada, The Prodigy.”
The blurb for the Electric Circus launch night cites as you as a “Londoner”. Up until now, I’d assumed you were Scottish. The 405 interview pronounces you a “Glaswegian producer”. How did you end up in Scotland? Was it a purposeful musical act?
“I’d got work up here as part of my degree studies, and it was the first time I’d been in the city – I didn’t know what to expect really. Over the year, I got involved with the music scene and really loved it, so decided to move back once I graduated. So yeah, I guess it was a purposeful musical act, in as much as I moved because of music. It’s great up here.”
My own album ‘launch’ will happen when my Chemikal Underground package finishes its Atlantic and continental crossing. I ordered the vinyl with cd insert. I love that they frequently do this. As much as I’ve come to love my new vinyl collection listening to CD is still not without attractions. Does the artist have a say in what formats they release?
“Well, some of a say – Chemikal have their preferred ways of releasing things, which I personally love as well, so I was happy to go with it, but if I’d insisted on no CD they probably would have gone with it. There were some heated discussions over the packaging, for sure. Vinyl with additional digital format (download or CD) is definitely the way forward.”
Needless to say, I’ve developed quite a warm spot for the label. I literally have, in one form or the other, everything they’ve released beginning with Bis. They, wisely I might add, have yet to respond to my request for a blog post. Could you tell us anything about your signing to Chemikal? Who approached who, what’s it been like working with them, who packages up the online orders …. anything you care to share at all would be welcome.
“Good work! They approached me after a show last year. It’s been great working with them, they’ve been really supportive of what I do, and there’s been no pressure to be one thing or the other, which suits me perfectly. They’re packaging the orders, I did stamp and sign all the vinyl though.”
Do you consider this your sophomore release or the first proper one? I just purchased Rainbow Bubbles now from bandcamp. I hadn’t noticed it before. What additional resources were you able to apply to the recording of the new record?
“It’s definitely the sophomore release but a lot of people are treating it as the debut, which I guess I’m fine with, as it’s so different. I started renting a studio space in Glasgow around 2 years ago, and have been building up my gear ever since. So ‘Light of the North’ was done in this dedicated space, where I can make noise at any time, rather than slapped together in a bedroom – a much better way of working.”
My iTunes folder has a surprising amount of your remix work. This, of course, has a lot to do with the excellent artists you’ve done one for: Martin Henry, Jonnie Common , Zoey Van Goey etc. Do you have anything you could term “an approach” when doing a remix?
“The artists I’ve worked with might be horrified to hear this, but I try not to listen to the track I’ve been asked to remix beforehand. This gives me no preconceived idea of how it should sound, so I end up taking parts and using them in completely the wrong place, or out of time, or whatever. I remember with the Zoey Van Goey remix (one of the first I did), the vocals were two whole beats out of time from the original. Must have been confusing on the first listen. So the approach is just taking parts that interest me and making something new out of that.”
Paul Savage obviously shows up a lot on the albums I buy. What was it like working with him? What does he bring to process? Was there something you learned or took away from the experience?
“Paul is a great engineer and producer, and a very relaxed and confident guy to work with. His mixing ability is fantastic, and he really made the record sound great, and in a very short space of time (we mixed the entire thing in six days, it would have taken me months), which is why I pushed to work with him. He had some great production input as well, kept urging me to repeat choruses. Being an engineer myself, it was great to watch him at work, and I definitely learned a huge amount about the mix process – it’s entirely possible to over mix something, and kill it.”
I see that you are also on the June 24thOran Mor mega-bill. Who are going to be playing with in your section of the venue? What are your thoughts on the new Olympic Swimmers record? Have you or are you going to remix something of theirs?
“Yeah the mega bill is going to be mega fun. Don’t know where and with whom I’m playing yet, up for anything with that lineup really. Apparently they’re putting a quadraphonic PA in so I’m going to try and figure out how I can use that. The Olympic Swimmers record sounds great, only heard it once but absolutely love ‘Where it Snows’. I’m friends with Jamie, the guitarist, and we’ve talked about remixing it so hopefully that’ll happen.”
Going back to the March SAMA awards here. Congratulations on the nomination. I had to look up the actual winners. The first thing I found was the Thornhill Ontario Fridge Magnets. Proceeding to the Glasgow ones and listened to ‘The Death of Rock ‘n Roll’, I need to ask you what the ‘alternative’ in SAMA actually is referring to? To this ear, they are about as alternative as the Canadians.
Haha, well I suppose ‘alternative’, like ‘indie’, has lost some if not all of its meaning – for a lot of people, ‘alternative’ is the mainstream now. I don’t know anything about that band, but obviously someone likes them!”
Is there someone you could recommend to us that you’ve recently discovered?
“There’s a band called Super Adventure Club that I saw live recently and completely blew my mind. Hardcore prog punk three piece. Just unbelievably tight, and very silly. In terms of electronic music, Discopolis are on the verge of taking over the world, and Kill The Waves are doing nice things. Also check out the forthcoming Adam Stafford / Rick Redbeard split on Gerry Loves, both great artists.”
I’ve purposefully avoided listening to snippets of the new record. I’m saving that experience for the vinyl when it gets here. How has the reaction to the release been? Has it met or exceeded your expectations?
“It’s been very positive so far, I’m really happy people like it. I was confident in it as a record so I guess I’m satisfied rather than surprised, but it’s always great when people get what you’re doing.”
If you were to reinterpret a Simple Minds song what would it be?
“Well the band and I learned a cover of ‘Theme for Great Cities’ which we played on a session for Vic Galloway a few weeks ago. Great fun to play, bassline of dreams. ‘I Travel’ is also pretty great.”
About a year ago I whimsically purchased an advert/postcard or something from a show offered on bandcamp; a little piece of Glasgow. It either got lost in the mail or you pocketed my 1.50. When I eventually get there, I shall hunt you down.
“Hahaha, oh dear. Sorry about that. I’m coming to San Francisco in August so I’ll bring one over specially. Save you killing me.”
Immediately after listening to the record once, I went online and ordered another as a gift. Doing my part to support C.U. for sure. I then listened to it 2 more times. This isn’t usually something that I do. I enjoyed it that much. Hopefully, the recepient will concur.