Interview: James Blake

Interview: James Blake EB: You once told me that the sound architecture of the infamous Berlin techno and house club Berghain inspired the making of some of your music. Do you remember your first time there?
James Blake: I went to Berghain for the first time when Joy Orbison played on one of the Substance nights. The next time I was there, on February 5th in 2010, Moodymann DJed. It was a night presented by the London-based label Honest Jon’s: Joy Orbison played, again, and also Actress and Will Bankhead who designed the sleeve for my Klavierwerke EP. That night had a big influence on me. The staff at Berghain, especially the bouncers, are fantastic people.

One of the most memorable concert experiences we’ve had in the past years was seeing you play live at Berghain so we’d like to focus our quick conversation on that specific night. It was the 16th of April 2011…
Oh, yeah. It was great to play there!

You presented a truly amazing version of your cover version of Feist’s ‘Limit to Your Love’ that just never seemed to end. It still raises the hairs on my arms thinking back of it.
To play anything at Berghain was pretty special anyway. We ended up doing a 20-minute version of the song you just mentioned.

What made you play such a long version?
It just felt like the right thing to do. People who go to that club normally go there to dance so I thought it was nice to offer them something to get into over a long period of time. Because most of the music played at Berghain requires an attention span, that’s also why some DJs play 8 to 12-hour sets there.

It was like you running the club, being in charge of the dramaturgy of a club night.
Exactly! We were curating it. A lot of the things we’re doing right now, in our current live sets, started from that gig, slight changes we made to the songs we play. It was Berghain… so we thought we’d better do something interesting, hence feeling the need to pull out a more club-friendly version of the song. We then went straight to the festivals and other gigs and realized how influential that gig for us had become.