Read part 1 of the Interview here.
You said you sometimes invent fake bands—with real members other than yourself?
Certainly. Just like I invite the dancers onstage, I sometimes invite musicians to perform with me live. But I always take care not to tell them what to do. I try to make sure that there is a basis for everyone involved so that a live show can be built on the concept of improvisation. I encourage them to contribute something unexpected. I want them to do whatever they want. That’s why I picked them. I want to see what happens, not know in advance.
In another interview you’ve mentioned Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier and Werner Herzog as influences. How does that fit into the equation?
Film is probably my favorite medium. If I had more time and money, I probably would work more with film because emotionally it’s so much more effective than music. In a good film music is just a part of the whole. Music is an aspect. I regard film as a total medium that incorporates all other art forms in essential ways. Tarkovsky is probably my favorite filmmaker, because sinister things in his movies are always so subtle. Take Solaris—or even better, Stalker. Stalker to me is just such a cool movie. It’s almost like a horror movie in the traditional sense because it’s so goddamn scary. It’s fascinating to see that Tarkovsky doesn’t need a mon- ster or a bloody zombie to create that atmosphere of horror. It’s a totally intellectual kind of horror, but it affects you emotionally. It’s extremely thought-out. But it’s also astoundingly simple.
What about Solaris?
It’s so scary how Kris Kelvin is confronted with his most traumatic memories at the space station. That’s true horror. I don’t see how it can be taken any further. I discovered Tarkovsky because I studied Russian in college and had this intense desire to watch Russian films. I like his total approach to film as art, especially when it comes to music.
And how does that relate to what you do?
When I compose I consciously try not to overly reference the pop world. You can evoke a spiritual level within your music when you allow yourself to be inspired by other things—Hildegard von Bingen for instance. All the layering of vocals in my music comes from the experience of listening to her liturgical songs. When I pile up twenty vocal layers it’s reminiscent, at least for me, of medieval or Renaissance chorales. I try to incorporate these elements into the concept of pop music to find some kind of new middle ground.
In terms of method it’s a kind of copy-and-paste, no?
I’m not sure I’d call it that. Listening to a choir or devotional music is extremely emotional for me, and I try to figure out why it touches me the way it does. If I can see a pattern in the music, I try to make it work for me too. But I want to get back to Tarkovsky briefly. I know lots of people my age who say that his films are too long, too slow and too intense. They don’t want to be lulled into his contemplative pace, and it’s hard to accept a movie that’s three- and-a-half hours long these days. But I can absolutely imagine taking abstract elements from Tarkovsky and implanting them into my music.
Nobody objects to the time commitment when it comes to The Lord of the Rings.
[laughing] That’s true. I actually watched all three parts again pretty recently.
On the big screen or your iPhone? Alec Empire recently told me how fascinating it’s been for him to watch the trilogy on the tiny iPhone screen with earplugs.
Actually, I don’t have an iPhone. My friend has a big TV. It’s a twelve-hour endeavor. But for me it’s not a contradiction to con- sume both high culture and Harry Potter or some Japanese mangas. Pop art still appeals to me the most. I guess it has to do with the way I grew up in the 2000s. I like to see a film like Kill Bill as much as I do like watching Solaris. Both experiences are potentially inspiring. Or take dancing: lots of people say that dancing is just a waste of time, but to me it marks a key difference between animals and human beings. It takes a high level of intelligence to interpret music, especially as something you can dance to. It’s spiritual. It’s liberating. If someone can make you dance to their music, it’s a pretty amazing skill. Same goes for all the pop art that touches you emotionally in a split second. I can’t see anything negative in that. I sometimes get the impression that people mistrust their feelings. I try not to do that, just like I try and trust simple ideas and things that are stripped down to the bare essentials. I think it’s a sign of having mastered something.
Are you referring to your own music?
Actually, I would say it’s true of the last Katy Perry record. There are so many people who call her songs easy and so cheap, but to use elements of pop that so many people have used before and still make such an amazing record—that’s awesome. I mean, her songwriting is really on parade, as is the production. A million people are trying to make pop songs all the time, and you’ll listen to all sorts of failed attempts on the radio every day. To succeed in a medium that everyone is working in is a huge achievement, if you ask me. It takes a lot of intelligence and talent for sure.
Did you always dance to your own music on stage?
That’s a damn good question. Let me think. I used to dance for another group when they were giving concerts, so dancing onstage was already natural for me when I started doing my own shit. But I think that for the first few gigs I had to focus so much more on my musical performance that I probably didn’t feel laid-back enough to do it. But this changed and nowadays it feels totally natural for me.
You studied ballet for a couple of years. Did that make a difference for you at all?
More off stage than anywhere else. I love to dance socially. A lot of my friends make dance music and whenever they play, I dance. Before I had my ear problem I spent a lot of time in studios where they were recording, I’d be dancing to the monitor sound from around the mixing desk. At the DIY venues and in Montreal in general we used to dance all the time. Dancing with friends should not be underestimated.
You’re staying in Vancouver at the moment, far away from Montreal and its big music scene. How has being away from that affected you?
I will be spending the afternoon looking for a house, a cabin in the woods to seclude myself from the civilized world for a little while. I’m going back to recording soon, so it’s time to get away from people again. As I said before, making music is a solitary act for me. Other people just become intruders. That’s why I’m looking for a really remote place to spend the winter. I am really looking forward to staying far away, deep in the woods, snowed in. The more time you spend away from people the less you hear them commenting. It’s as simple as that. When I’m alone I can refocus. I haven’t really been alone in the past year, and I’m just not made to work on new music after a show in my hotel room. I’m fully aware of the fact that you can go crazy when you’re all alone. I like to think of it as crazy in a good way, though. More manic, really.
Is it at all typically Canadian to need to escape to the woods?
Actually, most of my friends think that I’m crazy. My parents are pretty concerned, too. So, no, it’s not very typical I’d say. But it’s interesting here because Canada is just a big white wasteland in winter.
Dan Snaith said that Canada’s icy winters are inspiring.
My grandparents lived in the mountains of British Columbia. I spent a lot of my childhood there, but the last six years I lived in Montreal. Now, being back in Vancouver, I’ve only started to realize what I’ve been missing in Montreal. I totally forgot how big an emotional impact the woods must have made on me. Ancient forests were, like, my natural surroundings until I turned eighteen and left B.C. for the big city. Being back here, everything feels so calming. I’m much more relaxed these days.
The way you talk about the woods reminds me of Twin Peaks.
The northern landscape is just so big and violent. Of course, Twin Peaks took place just south of the border. B.C. is the perfect environment to shoot films like that or the Twilight series because it’s so scary here with the dark forests and thick fog and shadowy mountains . . . so sinister and beautiful at the same time. When you walk in the forest at night it’s an almost spiritual scariness. It feels haunted. I think the woods are haunted.
Yeah, and movies exploit that really well. Space too. It’s just like the tagline from Alien: “In space no one can hear you scream.” When I go to New York and end up in the Bronx at night, it can be scary too. But it’s different if you’re afraid of getting mugged or if you’re afraid of mass murderers. It’s Silence of the Lambs scary. A friend of mine lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, right on the Mexican border. That’s what you’d call a dangerous town because of all the random drug murders. But I find the psychological threat of Twin Peaks so much scarier than the real, physical one. It’s not a coincidence that Vancouver had a massive industrial Goth scene in the eighties—the most prominent band being Skinny Puppy. The intense, emotional music from B.C. derives from a very specific temperament. ~
A slightly edited version of this interview appears in the latest issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.
Photo: Luci Lux
Recently, EB editor Daniel went on a jaunt to Budapest, a-flexin’ his big ol’ mixing muscles as BlackBlackGold for the exquisite pleasure of the beautiful young things of the city who attended NERO Homme‘s launch party. How come? Well, that’s just the kind of lifestyle we (he) lead(s) here at EBHQ. This right here is the download premiere of that night’s set—an excursion into marginally poppier waters than you may expect from the BBG camp, but still with the inky black undertow that you know and love. Missy? Nicki? Destiny’s Child?! C’mon, download already. Cop the tracklist below.
Fashion Hell Intro
Rell The Soundbender – Angels & Demons feat. Clint Mansell
Watapachi & Transcend The Masses – Let’s Get Ratchet
Rihanna – Pour It Up (RL Grime Remix)
RL Grime – Flood
Chippy Nonstop – Money Dance (Ryan Marks Remix)
Crystal Castles – Pale Flesh (BlackBlackGold Black Choppa Mass Extension)
Blvck Ceiling – I Will Save You Blondie (BlackBlackGold GhettoGoth Edit)
Missy Elliot – Lose Control (Stabber VIP)
DJ Scream – Hood Rich Anthem (Huggy Bear Remix)
Azealia Banks – 212 (Wicked Awesome Remix)
Crime Mob – Stilettos (Falcon Remix)
Nicki Minaj – Beez In The Trap (Knuckle Remix)
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Owls & Bodhi Remix)
Divoli S’vere – She CKunt (Total Freedom’s Transformative mix at Starbucks / thank you Easyjet bitch!)
Ghostek – Navigate (Pt. 2)
Nine Inch Nails VS Coil – The Downward Spiral / A Gilded Sickness
Vatican Shadow – Chechnya’s Ghosts Loom Large In Death Of Former Spy
Nancy Sinatra VS The Notorious B.I.G – Bang Bang
Jeremy Scott – Sycamore Trees
This week I can smell the teen spirit, again. There are some hazy post-blah videos to explore, which surprises me a lot since I posted this video last week. Which made me feel like finally smelling the rap spirit, but I was wrong. Explore with me:
#1 BLACKHOodS – LOW MELT, dir?
Instant classic tune from BLACKHOodS, which is a pretty slow and deep burner. Even the video loop is kinda fitting and entertaining. Their new album will be out soon via Baltimore experimental dark/drone label Attention Attention.
#2 Chrome Canyon – Branches, directed by Chrome Canyon
Chrome Canyon’s new video for ‘Branches’ has some epic footage of clouds and sick beatsss. It’s off their new Elemental Themes album, out on October 9th via Stones Throw.
#3 A$AP Mob – Bath Salt, directed by Shomi Patwary
Ant and Rocky link up with that Flatbush Zombie for the video of their single ‘Bath Salt’ off their Lord$ Never Worry tape.
#4 Otto von Schirach – When Dinosaurs Rule The Earth , directed by Mark Thornton
Otto again, and again: great video and a rad song. Taken from his new Supermeng album, released through Berlin-based imprint Monkeytown Records.
#5 Azure Ray – Scattered Like Leaves, directed by Jonathan Tvrdik
Beautifully light but still so heavy: that’s the new video of Azure Ray for ‘Scattered like Leaves’ from her album As Above So Below.
#6 Holograms – Fever, directed by Pau Suris
Post-punk? Anyway, this video is some flashin trippy goodness!
#7 Samara Lubelski – Jammage Cruiser, directed by Klye Clyd
Our friends over at No Fear Of Pop premiered this Super 8mm music video for a musician I honestly was not familiar with: Samara Lubelski. Thanks for the heads up, Henning.
#8 Metronomy – Hypnose, directed by Daniel Brereton
Here at EB I cannot share my enthusiasm for the crisp UK combo with many of my colleagues. Same story with Justice and Mr. Oizo… anyway, since I very much enjoy listening to their music, here’s a video to promote this album, directed by the one-and-only Daniel Bererton.
#9 Joseph Arthur – Where Is My Van?, directed by Ehud Lazin
Re: teen spirit (and fun): this is the unbeatable Joespeh Arthur, who is searching for his van. Thank God to the Scrubs, the most amazing series with the most amazing soundtrack ever, now there also a music video.
#10 Twin Peaks – Stand in the Sand, directed by Ryan Ohm
Re: re: teen spirit. Pretty wild video for a pretty wild song. Is this what rock’n’roll looks like in 2012?. Into it if so.
MUERAN HUMANOS – Culpable, directed by Txema Novelo
Mueran Humanos (translated: Death To Humanity) are the duo of Carmen Burguess and Tomas Nochteff, two Argentine transplants to Berlin. Check their new video above and get more info on the rising duo through our 10×4.
Travis Egedy, prophet of the Pictureplane Post-Physical reality, has just had his Old Testament reworked into the New. A plethora of friends and artists, in collaboration with DIS Magazine, have taken the dance conceptualizations from his work Thee Physical and mixed them into a new dimension of sound. With disciples ranging from Tearist and Shams to Grimes and Unicorn Kid, the selections here are truly essential pieces of our modern rave philosophy:
Pictureplane’s “Thee Physical” was a conceptual work about how we, as humans, relate to our 3rd dimensional world by experiencing it physically through touch. and our experience of being human inside of physical bodies in a post-physical digital age. this collection of remixes is a continuation of these concepts, each remixer being hand selected by Pictureplane to work with the digital skeletons of each song, to carry out their own visions of what Thee Physical meant to them, and their physical forms. This remix double album, is the 7th Dimensional Rip. which is an ongoing conceptual art work by Travis Egedy (Pictureplane). Each Dimensional Rip is meant to be just that: a rip or tear within space and time. a way of putting something out into the universe that helps to alter perception and the very world that it exists in. past Dimensional Rips have been anything from group art exhibitions, a zine, a mix of slowed down happy hardcore, or a performance artwork inside of an art museum. the 7th Dimensional Rip is no different.
Along with audio, we are also given visual thanks to Extreme Animals. The duo of Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman have shaped a Twin Peaks-inspired video for their remix, featuring narration by the Log Lady and enough nightmarish imagery to send you hurtling straight into the Black Lodge. Adjust your Fear Fantasy receptors properly and stream yourself below.
So the new Björk album Biophilia. There’s an app for that. There’s a regular music release coming out. There are loads of interesting articles on the concept of inter-galactic travelling and its technical execution. There are remixes by fellow collaborator and pig owner Matthew Herbert, ultra pop producer Serban Ghenea and now we have the remix from Syrian global pop producer Omar Souleyman to enjoy.
Together with his ‘Crystalline’ remix you now can also hear another rework by the Damascus based musician (‘Tesla’), as well as the joint effort ‘Mawal’ which sounds very traditional in terms of instrumentation but is combined with a threatening ambience that recalls Angelo Badalamenti’s compositions for ‘Twin Peaks’.
‘Tesla’ is an uptempo, melodic track backed by the dreamy vocals of Björk and the hypnotic chants of Souleyman. ‘Crystalline’ is a guaranteed floor filler that might make clubbers feel as if they were guests during an Arabic wedding.
Listen to all three Souleyman-tracks below, get your copy of the ‘Biophilia’ app for iPad on the app store and watch the new Michel Gondry directed music video for ‘Crystalline’ over here.
Björk – Crystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)
Björk – Tesla (Omar Souleyman Remix)
Björk & Omar Souleyman – Mawal