Saturday, December 06, 2003

Glad it made some kind of sense to you Jeremy. Didn't even balk at the Don Henley/Chris Rea comparison.

Also long overdue respect to Jess. You're on it.

Word up.
I was reading Dave Stelfox’s comments on appreciating music in its racial and social context. You really can’t afford to detach it from that – though, sure music can be escapist, but the best is when you’re getting at least a grain of someone’s soul or experience. Of course, even a joyous, celebratory track can be scarred by pain and suffering. So I was thinking how I feel about dancehall – notice there are no dancehall tracks in either of my end-of-year lists, a really shocking omission, but honest, as I haven’t really involved myself in reggae/dancehall this year, even with the best intentions, to go shopping for 7”s and the like. I whimped out. The white guilt complex is indeed pathetic. I suppose, as an excuse, I feel how can I really hope to engage with contemporary Jamaican music at this stage – I love the inventiveness of the productions, watching its influence bleed into hip-hop and pop. It wouldn’t feel right to drop in some token selections. I’d just read Lester Bangs’ Innocents in Babylon feature from 1976 in the recently published Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste. As a white, Western person’s perception of Jamaica, its music and its politics, so intrinsically linked now as in the ‘70s, it resonates with inert melancholy, a feeling of being alienated from a culture that’s been enslaved, deceived, cheated, brutalised, patronised, demonised and in turn that loathes and demonises the only culture you know. Sure, the allure of Jamaica and its music is great but if you’re there and you’re not from there, you’re from ‘Babylon’, how can you hope to even get a feeble handle on the passions and tragedy and anger that feed that music? As Bangs continually states, he really just wanted to get out of that place. He begins to feel something of it, one of the few to even understand it, but just gets drunk, feels the exploiter and retreats. And with Sean Paul being the most successful reggae artist this year, a privileged, middle-class Jamaican leading the way for lightweight followers like Wayne Marshall and Kevin Lyttle (fine pop tunes though they may be) propagating a diluted, glamorised, sexualised and materialised version of Jamaica, it’s not hard to see how the old prejudices and insecurities of the musical establishment and buying public are still present. Skykicking’s evocative descriptions of dancehall as alien, space-age, exotic and tantalising by-pass any of these questions – imagining yourself on a beach with palm trees and this sci-fi detritus floating past you is a lovely image but completely disengaged. I can get with that, because that music sounds like it comes out of nowhere – so you can fantasise on it in a musical air-lock – but in truth it doesn’t, like everything it has roots. Most of the music I write about here I approach in the same way; visualising sounds, trying to make textures tangible but rarely connecting. And yeah, I know I could have dug deeper and you could suggest a welter of vinyl, ‘conscious’ or otherwise I could have sought out – but I haven’t. That’s my problem. And then Westway To The World was, to my surprise, just on TV. I’d watched it at least five times before but what struck me, with this in my mind, was Joe Strummer’s account of visiting Jamaica – the diminishing of his illusions and punk ideals, the failure to engage, the feeling of being eyed with suspicion and hatred, no matter how powerfully it fed into The Clash’s music; ultimately viewing it remotely from his safe European home.

‘Safe European Home’

Well, I just got back an’ I wish I never leave now
(Where'd you go?)
Who dat Martian arrival at the airport?
How many local dollars for a local anaesthetic?
The Johnny on the corner was a very sympathetic

I went to the place where every white face
Is an invitation to robbery
An’ sitting here in my safe European home
I don’t wanna go back there again

Wasn’t I lucky n’ wouldn’t it be loverly
Send us all cards, an’ have a laying in on a Sunday
I was there for two weeks, so how come I never tell
That natty dread drinks at the Sheraton Hotel?

Now they got the sun, an’ they got the palm trees
They got the weed, an’ they got the taxis
Whoa, The Harder They Come, n’ the home of Ol’ Bluebeat
Yes I’d stay an’ be a tourist but I can’t take the gunplay

Friday, December 05, 2003

List Me Baby One More Time

60 Tufluv Trax 4 Da 03 (In No Apparent Order, Well Sort Of...)

1. LFO: Freak
2. Dizzee Rascal: Fix Up, Look Sharp
3. Luke Vibert: I Love Acid
4. Radioactive Man: Fed-Ex to Munchen
5. !!!: Me and Giuliani Down by The Schoolyard (A True Story)
6. Kelis: Milkshake
7. Outkast: Hey Ya/Ghetto Musick
8. Junior Boys: Birthday/Last Exit
9. Busta Rhymes: Light Yo Ass on Fire
10. Beyonce: Crazy In Love
11. Basement Jaxx: Lucky Star
12. Pharaohe Monch: Agent Orange
13. Cappo: Learn to be Strong
14. Sascha Funke: Forms & Shapes
15. Tigerstyle Productions feat. Brikram Singh: Nachna
16. Lumidee: Never Leave (Uh Oh)
17. Donae’o: My Philosophy (Bounce)
18. Roll Deep: Regular
19. Medasyn feat. MC Shystie, Lady Sovereign, Zuz Rock & Frost P: The Battle
20. MC Shystie: Step Bac
21. Wiley: Ground Zero
22. White Stripes: Seven Nation Army
23. Colder: Crazy Love
24. Mogwai: Hunted By A Freak
25. Oxia: Hasard
26. Radiohead: 2 + 2 = 5
27. Four Tet: As Serious As Your Life
28. Simon Sez: Golly Gosh
29. Mice Parade: Focus On a Roller Coaster
30. Danny Weed: Salt Beef
31. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Maps
32. Missy Elliott: Pass That Dutch
33. Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell: Beautiful
34. Pharrell feat. Jay-Zee: Frontin’
35. Tiga: Burning Down/Hot In Herre
36. Jehst: Run Hard
37. Agoria: La Onzieme Marche
38. Psychonauts: Hips For Scotland
39. Fallacy: Big & Bashy/Square Beamer
40. D.Kay & Epsilon: Barcelona
41. DK7: The Difference
42. The Aztec Mystic: Aguila
43. Dave Clarke: Way Of Life
44. DKD: Future Rage
45. Chemical Brothers: Nude Night
46. Mark One: Raindance
47. Futureheads: First Day
48. Lotek Hi-Fi: Percolator
49. Radio 4: Start A Fire
50. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists: Confessions of a Sin Eater
51. Seelenluft: Manilla (Remixes)
52. Mylo: Destroy Rock & Roll/Wolves of Miami
53. Debasser: Dark Smile
54. Clyde feat.Capitol A: Serve It Up (Brooks Hip House Mix)
55. Carl Craig: Tres Demented
56. The Roots: The Seed
57. Grafiti: What Is The Problem? (The Bug Remix)
58. Justin Timberlake: Rock Your Body
59. Dynamite MC & Origin Unknown: Hotness
60. Hiroshi Watanabe: Matrix EP


ZE Records, possibly the most important label of the post-punk, No Wave, disco-rock crossover in the late-'70s/early-'80s re-release two classic albums from French No Wave nymphette Lizzy Mercier Descloux in the next few months, followed by a haul of forgotten booty from suit-sporting sax fiend James Chance. Here's the full interview I did with label co-founder Michel Esteban around the release of the classy/quirky/highly deranged 'Mutant Disco' compilation a couple of months back. After that I promise I'll take a break from bombarding you and do something constructive. ///

Tufluv: Where did the No Wave tag come from? Did you embrace it yourselves or try to ignore it? Were you conscious of being an alternative to the prevailing New Wave movement?

Michel Esteban: “I guess it comes from ‘NO NY’, the album recorded by Brian Eno and released by Island in 1978. Chris Blackwell (Island Records founder), who was interested by what we were trying to develop with ZE, gave a demo budget to Eno, (the guy always at the right place at the right time) to record ‘la creme de la crème’ of these NY new bands with the intention of signing one or two of them. Apparently Island did not like any, but Eno released the album under that name ‘NO NY’, including four songs each by four bands. Two ended up recording albums for ZE: James White & The Contortions and Lydia Lunch. The others, Mars and Arto Lindsay (DNA) did a single for us. Then Island signed a worldwide licensing deal with ZE in 1980.

“I am not interested in terms like ‘New Wave’, ‘No Wave’, ‘Punk’, ‘Post-Punk’ etc. For me, these are just tags invented by journalists or the marketing departments of majors records companies. We were producing the music we used to like at that particular moment and place. It is only music to me! I don’t see any difference between genres. In my youth I used to arrogantly say that, ‘There is good music or bad music,’ but now I just say, ‘There is music that I like or don’t."

For you, did the music of that period (late 70s NYC) revolve around a certain place or club? If so, do you have any stand-out memories of a night or performance?

“I can say that between ‘78 and ’81, the most interesting stuff in music was coming from NY, that was ‘ZE’ place. Few clubs and ballrooms like Mudd Club, Hurra’s, Peppermint Lounge, CBGB’s were always packed and, on the other hand, you had places like Paradise Garage, Studio 54 and Xenon where they use to play great disco music, when disco was still underground. We used to party a lot between these places and I guess that what makes ZE the perfect crossroads for these two streams of music, post-punk and disco-funk.”

Who was the most exciting talent you worked with and why?

“Definitely John Cale, ‘cause I was a big fan of the Velvet Underground and he was one of my heroes when I was a teenager. I love also all his first solo albums. He is a great musician, composer and arranger. We worked together for nine months on the label he wanted to develop SPY records. He has also a great sense of humor, when you have the chance to know him. Then I left SPY to start ZE with Michael Zilkha, who was introduced to me by John. John and I produced a few records together and he also recorded three albums for ZE, but it was just after I left in 1982. Total respect.”

When did you first feel that something new was happening in New York at that time? Was there a moment when things started happening and you thought 'Hold on, this is a bit different'?

“I first came in NY in December ‘74. I met Patti Smith, saw her first concerts, also The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, then Richard Hell. I came back (to Paris) in 1975 and started this French rock mag called Rock News, which ran only eight numbers from December ‘75 to September ‘76. During these few months I covered with my friend and accomplice Lizzy Mercier Descloux what was happening with all these bands in NY during the winter of ‘75, then Malcom McLaren, whom I had met the year before when he was managing the last version of The New York Dolls, called us from London saying that it was starting also in London. During Spring ‘76 we covered all the first Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks gigs in the UK. Then everybody was signed to majors records companies and it got a little bit boring – business as usual. In ‘77, I decided to produce a French band called Marie et les Garçons’. I called John Cale and I moved to NY where we recorded the single. I was spending half the time in Paris/half in NY. As all these New Wave bands, like you called them, were signed to majors and playing big venues, some new bands in NY started to make some noise… I mean real noise! They learned from the English that they could start a band without being a pro musician, and they did! Like I said before, there was that disco music all around, so I said to myself, ‘This is the right time!’”

Is the renewed hype around NY music justified? Who of the current crop of bands and artists do you admire?

“It is always natural and legitimate for young and angry people to make noise saying they are the best! This hype stuff is again a journalist thing but don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against that. Is this justified or not is no important. I don’t admire bands except the very few who changed the face of music, but I like some of them like Radio 4, The Rapture or the work of James Murphy – also The Kills, The White Stripes, even if they are not from NY. But you, know, I am an old alligator – I have listened to so much music in more than 40 years (I am 52) that you have to be fucking amazing and creative to impress me!”

How well did the punk and disco scenes in NY combine? Was there friction between the two?

“The answer to that question is ZE records. There was no friction at all.”

How much was the music scene in relation to the art scene? Did they reflect and influence one another? Which artists at the time really inspired you?

“Especially at that time music, art, cinema and literature – even fashion – were very mixed. All the people from that NY scene – and that was not much more than 100, 200 persons – could be from one or the other departments or both. JM Basquiat was painting & playing music, Lizzy Mercier Descloux was playing in film with Lydia Lunch and so on. There was no fences between arts. Personally, I was a fan of Andy Warhol – even if I believe the original concept was Marcel Duchamps – but Warhol sold it to the masses.”

How would you compare New York now to the period of the late 70s/early 80s?

“I don’t! Last time I went to NY, last year, I hated it. Giuliani transformed Times Square into Disneyland and Alphabet City into a yuppy neighbourhood. My idea of NY is Scorcese’s Taxi Driver or Mean Streets. That was after 9/11 and all these American flags everywhere. I guess on the music side there is the same kind of cycle reaction.”

Were you influenced by things that were happening elsewhere, such as in London and Paris? If so, which artists/bands/characters were influential?

“It is a whole, you are influenced by your personal culture. When I was a teenager, my heroes were Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, then the Velvet Underground came and that changed my life. I am a very privileged person to grow up during the ‘60s. The Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, Yardbirds and James Brown, Otis Reading, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, etc. I cannot quote all of them, but they did their best albums during that period. Every year you had all these major albums being released. And the French Nouvelle Vague was a big influence on me, ‘cause I was and still am a movie freak. I also love, of course, American cinema: Casavetese, Scorcese. I studied art at the Art Graphic School of Paris and at the School of Visual Art of NY, so that gave you a certain vision of the world. Then books came later. So the mixture of all this developed your taste in a certain way which make your modest contribution different than the work of a guy who was raised in Japan. I was also 17 in 68, and even though politics does not interest me at all, the Situationist movement was something very important to me, even if I used the theoretical idea only as an influence in the business field.”

What affect have Giuliani's anti-cabaret laws really had on the city's club/music scene?

“I have no idea. I have lived since 1985 between Paris, Salvador de Bahia and the south of France but I don’t like what this guy did to the city like I don’t like either what Bush Junior is doing to America now.”

What's your most vivid memory of your time running ZE?

“I am not a nostalgic person. It could seems strange and paradoxical according to what I am doing now with all these reissues, but I don’t look back to the past. Just try not to make the same mistakes twice, which is quite difficult. Basically, it is like the rest of your memories. You forget the bad moments and keep only the best. And I had a lots of good ones.”

Why is the time now right for you to re-release your back catalogue?

“Sometime like 18 months ago I started to hear some bands who were to my point of view very ‘inspired’ by the music Michael [Zilkha] and I produced 25 years ago, and I realised that most of our albums were never released in CD or properly distributed since. I thought it was the right time to make that type of music available to a younger generation and maybe by showing what a small independent label had done, prove that the music should not be only in the hands of 4 worldwide majors.” ///

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Tufluv's Albums of the Year 2003*

1. Dizzee Rascal: Boy In Da Corner
2. Outkast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
3. Mogwai: Happy Songs for Happy People
4. Prefuse 73: One Word Extinguisher
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever To Tell
6. Blur: Think Tank
7. Fallacy: Blackmarket Boy
8. The Postal Service: Give Up
9. Four Tet: Rounds
10. Jehst: Falling Down
11. Luke Vibert : YosepH
12. Two Lone Swordsmen: Peppered With Spastic Magic
13. Basement Jaxx: Kish Kash
14. The Rapture: Echoes
15. Dave Clarke: Devil’s Advocate
16. Colder: Again
17. Manitoba: Up In Flames
18. The Bug: Pressure
19. Zongamin: Zongamin
20. LFO: Sheath
21. British Sea Power: The Decline of British Sea Power
22. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Streetcore
23. Villalobos: Alcachofa
24. Agoria: Blossom
25. Cappo: Spazz The World
26. Sascha Funke: Bravo
27. Minotaur Shock: Rinse
28. Cinematic Orchestra: Man With a Movie Camera
29. Audio Bullys: Ego War
30. Remarc: Sound Murderer
31. Colleen: Everyone Alive Wants Answers
32. Jaylib: Champion Sound
33. Peaches: Fatherfucker
34. Broadway Project: The Vessel
35. Radiohead: Hail to the Thief
36. Chris Clark: Empty The Bones of You
37. Napoleon Solo: The Big O
38. Radioactive Man: Booby Trap
39. Soundmurder & SK1: Rewind Records
40. Fat Truckers: The First Fat Truckers Album Is For Sale

(*Roughly according to how much I've played them)

Waking dreams and garbled words while listening to Mice Parade's 'Obrigado Saudade' (Fat Cat) ///
‘Two, Three, Fall’>> Whispered child(like) vocal sings to itself whilst playing in sand. Breaking-down acoustic guitar, weeping, becomes complex and multi-layered; harp-like. Jewel-spangled, mangled flamenco. ‘Mystery Brethren’>> Thai boogie, country twang, milk bottles, ice chill glissando, cymbal shuffle; simmer; slide. Acoustic plane; shivers. Trickle. Salmon navigates white-water foam and rocks; writhes for life. Deconstructed hi-life spasm; bass deviation; flute plumes; pine needles; nature chaos; joy; collapse exhausted, smiling. ‘Focus on a Roller Coaster’>> Panic-glee, wide-eyed; trauma rush, beauty immense, strummed like washboard, strings tight over metal; wire; vocal lost in rushing sad cascade; overcome; in introspect; ice droplets; tumble dry spin cycle; bandsaw hum, timber; saw dust, wear mask and safety goggles; discordance collide with silence; triangle plink, synth swerve, rickety; bamboo. Melodic slalom. Guitar fuzz out; breathe flavoured smoke. ‘And Still it Sits in Front of You’>> Andalucian lament; gypsy tangle; mountain air; words for war; cool gloom; taut spy shimmer. ‘Wave Greeting’>> Spaghetti drums, tangled and twirled, spins in field, in playground, heads spins round dizzy, falls over, laughs, vomits, laughs; fuzz rumble, jangle-clatter. Lovely head-spin. Cirrus swirls and whirlpool whorls. ‘Here Today’>> Crash off snare skin, tight over drum. Harmonies roll out like carpet; mixing like colours in water. Xylophone glockenspiel; harp flutter, palpitate. ‘Milton Road’>> Hilltop meander, crash through, fly over, dive into; sudden intensity, tweaks the sensation then ebbs away; streams collide, tides pull separate ways. ‘Spain’>> Strummed-out, threadbare. Vocal caress; simpering waif. ‘Out of the Freedom World’>> Decaying film reel; earpiece crackles, spot and blemish. Resonating through wood; keys, strings, tension and slackness, gamelan swathe; silk sashay, sweep. Ascension, upward spiral; sudden wonder; worn and faded. ‘Guitars for Plants’>> Grace and flutter; harmony times infinity, halcyon hypnotic, glen and dale; river and sea; leaf and branch. Beauty in chaos. Molecular orchestra. Light feeds. Photosynthesise. ‘Refrain Tomorrow’>> Burn and tear. Dampened emotion. Reminiscing old hope. Crystal reflections, warped and distorted. Cuboid. Patter. ///
24 HEURES (GoodLife/PIAS)

The Hacker’s buddy leading the French resistance to boring techno

There’s been a tectonic shift in techno of late. Electroclash saw the joyless stranglehold of unrelentingly looped beats crack and a wave of energised, cosmopolitan players chip away the granite-hard grimace of the old guard. Nowhere has this been quite so rampant as in France, where Grenoble’s GoodLife label has hewn a thrilling vein of stealthy, synth-heavy techno that’s helped enervate a stagnating genre. Olivier Raymond – co-owner of the label alongside Michel Amato (alias The Hacker) – has been a purveyor of such adrenaline-powered dancefloor torpedoes since 1995 yet, unlike his label partner, has remained a peripheral figure, steadily building up to this, his debut long-player. Versatility is the word; switching from frenetic to tranquil with minimum disruption. The galloping Reese bassline-led ‘Reflexion’ is of the same school as Funk D’Void’s ‘Diabla’; ‘TNN’ is glimmering tech-house somnambulism; ‘Le Temps’ and ‘Never Forget’ are sinuous, funked-up electro, whilst the dazzling melodic grandeur of ‘Hasard’ is as rapturously ecstatic as anything Underground Resistance have ever done. This is the sound of techno remembering how it feels to feel – and it feels like one almighty power-surge. ///
Scroll down for Junior Boys stuff>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FACT:03 The glorious third issue of FACT magazine is out from next week, free from independent record shops all over the UK and select outlets worldwide. Inside you will find: Steve D'Acquisto on Arthur Russell, 2004 New Talent, 2Sick Bastards, Pure Evil, Cover Story: Brand USSR, I Love Hardcore, The Rebirth of Psychedelia, Tony Marcus on Nina Simone, David Katz' 20 Best Reggae 7"s Ever Made, Fact Finding: Guide to Glasgow, Charts from Daft Punk, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Bug, Rob da Bank, Two Lone Swordsmen, Hot Hot Heat, Anthony Teasdale's Top 10 Over-rated Cities ('Barcelona: An industrial city by the sea! Like Hull!'), Artrocker's Greetings From New York, I Hate Re-issues, Plus our gorgeous colour-coded reviews of the essential 7", 12" and LP releases for the coming quarter. Did I say it was free? IT'S FREE! ///



The early buzz around !!!, the punctuation-funk maniacs, has held out till winter, a healthy-sized throng in the Mean Fiddler, consisting of a good mix of obvious guestlist peeps and curious paying punters all up for dancing, disco-chanting and knocking into one another. Missed Electrelane but caught M83: haven't heard the album but a disappointment all-round - as a companion pointed out a shit, laborious version of Mogwai. One track borrowed heavily from MBV and temporarily had my heart pumping a bit faster but all in all their songs dragged on and they out-stayed their welcome. I've battled with !!!'s name, it seems to be their main stumbling block, somewhat pretentious but at the same time not so - it's like a percussive ident or a statement of intentions to funk one's person and feel the rawness of sensation and for one I'm more than happy to beat their drum. I was rapt in 'Me and Giuliani...' when I first heard it; it implored me to play it loud - from its batucada-style momentum to its dance-euphoria-with guitars mid-secton its like an enormous crashing tsunami, peaking briefly and blissfully then plummeting down and planing out with its oikish chant and churning bassline. There are eight of them up there - late 20s, not pretty or athletic (Nic Offer's pub-lover's paunch is something to behold, accentuated by an ill-fitting T-shirt - girls actually reach up to rub it), dressed in drab everyday wear with fuzzy unkempt hair - between them manning drums, sax and trumpet, bass, two guitars, sequencer, synth, bongos, cowbell and vocals. The get straight into their loose funk canter; what the tracks lack in tunes or hooks they make up for in sheer corporeality, fist-clenched groove; basically a succession of jams led by a constant disco throb and Offer's grunts, chants, whoops and semi-formed lyrics, at times mimicking Mick Jagger, at others Shaun Ryder, on occasions Jame Brown - his dancing a mad, unembarassed combination of your-dad-drunk-at-a-wedding and being off yer nuts at the Hacienda. They sound more like the Happy Mondays than Talking Heads - ruff, loved up, possessed by a groove, wilfully untidy, slightly deranged. 'Me and Giuliani...' does the business; skate kids and boisterous, rotund rockers are dancing witha semblence of rhythm, baldfing blokes are knocking into sexy student girls, people are getting drinks dumped on their asymetric hairstyles. A good portion even sing along the chant to B-side 'Intensifieder', and call for tracks from their obscure, import-only debut. The drummer gives a shout out to his mum and dad, seen bemused but clearly proud as punch; then at the close it's an on-stage free-for-all; mummy's boy drummer rolls on the floor, beats a mic on his head and chest to provide a kick drum the crowd clap to, engaging in a beatbox duel as instruments are exchanged, electronic house beats enter the fray and the reverb is turned up dizzyingly high. This is dance music - it's fucking good fun. ///

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Singles (Prelude to the Future)

Last year’s ‘International Affairs’ album proved Vikter Duplaix capable of merging house, broken beat, techno and world music with his well-oiled neo-soul grooves yet failed to live up to the Philadelphia singer/producer’s early promise, suffering from the absence of his most memorable tracks. This collection of previous singles and collaborations – intended as a stop-gap before Duplaix’s sophomore album proper – is in many ways a better all-round package than that debut, not least for the inclusion of his breakthrough 12”, ‘Messages’; a track that dissolves genre barriers with an effortless, syncopated step. At times, such on the achingly lascivious ‘Manhood’, Duplaix is liable to play the slathering Casanova, practically leching out of the record. But on tracks such as Jazzanova collaboration ‘Soon’ and the near-transcendental ‘Galaxy’ his voice takes on a meditative timbre, almost like he’s zoning out on erotically-charged hallucinogenic vapours. No doubt blessed with a voice like liquid satin and a production sensibility geared toward the future, when he’s not trying to knock the late great Walrus of Love off his mantle, Duplaix’s talents border on the sublime. ///
Let's talk about the German skirt scene. Bananas? These sneezing realms? Come on Pothead, let's fight.

What a great way to spend the day. Shit, I need a job.
someone's been copying me

um, I'm telling...

here's the translation, courtesy of Babel Fish:

Since many years and many albums Pothead have a firm place in of Germany skirt scene reliably, now come ninth with the unusual name?Tuf luff?. Unfortunately the album title does not only exhibit unusualness, compared with which past albums, which pleased me actually very much to a certain, I do not know here, what actually thing should be. Where on?Grassroots? fascinating music accumulated, reminds the new album of old gentleman skirt. The Trio from Berlin writes, was possible these sneezing realms, because them no nervige disk company sits in the neck. Now there a disk company (Janitor is the bind-own label) would sit, surely not this result would have come out. After a good beginning with?Rock Child? the album continues to itself proceed ever and lets each line miss. There gibts then times amusing Gothic/Death stuff on?Troop? and times 311 Crossover?Bananas?. Perhaps one should not have wasted its forces thereby, in the texts Michael of moorlands nachzueifern, and instead the Songs times a reasonable sound misses. Valuation 4/10.

"The new album of old gentleman skirt"? Sounds like a band I might get along with...


This interview, done for Jockey Slut magazine, is a few months old (see mention of NY/Ontario powercut) but still fairly entertaining. Well, all Blogsters love Junior Boys don't they? See below for thoughts on second single 'High Come Down', out in February on KIN. Scroll and be happy............

How long have you been recording as JBs?

Since I guess like 1999.

What was the idea behind starting it?

It was weird. It was like, erm, I mean I started it with a friend of mine named John and we basically we thought we were gonna do like a garage thing but then garage is kinda weird, at the time it was like, I was listening to a lot of dem 2, I though that was like basically gonna be the future, they were so weird, and they were doing what sounded to me like pop tunes, or at least almost like r&b tunes but all fractured. So we thought we would do something like that but at the same time I was listening to a lot of synth-pop, like david sylvian. So, I dunno, it just sort of came together really strangely, like we thought we were gonna be this sorta dem 2 band but then it just turned into whatever it turned into.

How did you get into garage etc.?

You know, I got into it really early. In Canada I couldn’t get it so I had to special order it from Pure Groove. I liked speed garage, tuff jam, 187 lockdown and I was a big todd edwards fan, but I really got into UK garage because I heard dem 2 and it sorta blew my mind, so I ordered everything by them I could and they’d send me anything else as well.

What were you doing before that?

I did basically drum and bass stuff before that but nothing successful or anything. We had a night that I held, but nothing to write home about. I did tracks but nothing that you’d ever wanna hear (giggles).

Why the name junior boys? It kinda sounds instantly familiar.

Yeah. We didn’t think about that at all. What were we doing? We were looking through a yearbook and saw the junior boys volleyball and one of us said, ‘junior boys, that’s a funny name’, because I was singing the track and it was a little unusual. It was a sort of on-going gag that we were just turning into this sorta boy band. So junior boys seemed very fitting. But you know how names are, once you like it for five minutes it just sticks.

There’s a nice contrast between the sparseness and delicacy of the music and the strength of the melodies and vocals. Do you agree?

I think so. I think that’s the sort of wanting to do pop music but like definitely make it as minimal as possible. It’s definitely like you have a real track or a real song even and then you just decide to go all sort of basic channel on it. It’s a kinda weird kinda thing that we’re in the process of doing, sort of making a song as conventional as you can and then kind of try to strip away and weird out.

So, you’re coming from a song-writing/pop angle?

Definitely, yeah. I mean in terms of the way i think about arranging a track I’m thinking verse, chorus, all that kinda stuff, which is different than when I was making more conventional dance music.

But it’s not something that aspires to be pop music on a commercial level?

I mean, no, cos it’s just… everything about the way I do music is I’ll try to do something, whether or not the lyrics or arrangement are cliched to some extent. Not cliched, but are familiar and then try to do something a little weird with it, y’know, make it a little bit sorta fragmented or strange.

How long have you been singing for?

Gee, I dunno, we wanted to put vocals on the tracks. We though, OK let’s get a singer and then hat wasn’t really working. We thought, OK, each one of us could give it a try and I guess I was just more comfortable with it. I had sung before in bands and that kind of thing, but it wasn’t immediate – OK, I’m gonna sing, it just ended up that way.

‘Birthday’: The lyrics are kinda childlike in that it’s about someone missing your birthday.

That song started off as a joke. All the songs, writing lyrics is a sorta pain in the ass, it’s like music is something I like to do, I do it naturally but writing lyrics isn’t something I like doing, y’know. So the way I figured I’d do it is I tried to come up with the most kind of cliched things I can like love songs or songs about loss or that kind of thing and then just, like I do with the music, try and make it a little weird, so like it makes the relationship seem sorta obsessive or neurotic or something like that because that way it keeps it more interesting. Most of the lyrics are like that, they talk about stalking or obsession or neurosis or that kinda thing. It’s sorta like it’s OK, I’m absolutely lonely. That song started as a joke because my sister had missed my birthday and so I started just doing this little song to her just to annoy her, like ‘you missed my birthday, don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more’, and then I thought, ah, that’s kinda funny.

So they’re not based on real experiences?

Absolutely not.

Are you quite a sensitive person?

No, not really. They’re not coming from me crying in my bedroom. They’re just literally this pragmatic thing – I love vocals, I need to have vocals in there. I wanna take the song and I wanna make it interesting, so the way to make it interesting writing it myself is to add some sort of neurotic element to it, so that you don’t feel like you’re singing, ‘baby, I really love your smile’, y’know?

So, you’re no longer working with John?

That’s right. He moved to a different city and we tried it out for a little while but… for him it’s like he’s got a million different musical projects and I’m not like that, it’s sort of just the one thing. He’s in a sorta doom metal band where he plays bass I think. He also does this very highly experimental noise. He’s really into sort of obscure metal, which made it unusual that he was doing stuff with me. But he’s really good with everything he does.

What’s Hamilton like?

I’ve lived there my whole life. I’ve just moved actually to Toronto which is about an hour and a bit away from Hamilton. It’s a weird kinda city, it’s a very, like one of these second tier cities that are all over North America. They’re not like major urban centres, they’re like the Buffalos or the Clevelands in America. Hamilton is very much overshadowed by Toronto, it’s very close to it but it’s sort of working class, it’s I think North America’s largest steel producing town with a massive industrial complex which is quite something to see.

Like Sheffield?

Yeah, that kinda thing, or Coventry maybe.

Is there much going on music-wise?

Well, there’s tons of musicians from Hamilton, especially people who are doing really well right now. There’s my friend Koshek (sp?) who’s just got signed to Stone’s Throw, there’s a guy named Huren who does stuff on Sark (?) records in Germany and used to be on Plus 8, there’s Dan Snaith. We all know each other. I mean, I’m good friends with Koshek particularly. I know Dan, Koshek is one of my very good friends and one of Dan’s very good friends.

Were you affected by the powercut last week?

It was pretty intense. It was pretty weird, like the whole, Toronto’s been kinda apocalyptic, like the power went out, SARS, there was like a west nile (?) crisis, beef ban – there was all sorts of weird stuff going on, which is sort of un-Toronto, y’now, it’s usually a really sort of hum-drum kinda place. It was a good time though, the power cut, it was fun. There were bars open with candles – it was like Toronto had converted into a giant cottage country. It was fun for a day or two, then it got a bit annoying.

It seems at the moment every electronic act you read about seems to be taking influences from either street sounds or the 80s and both have been said about you.

It’s funny but I think they’re not as far apart as you think. The idea is that you’re writing songs but you’re being sort of unapologetically synthetic about it, using total electronic sounds. I felt that that’s like what dem 2 were doing, because they were really taking it to that sort of song place, especially that track ‘Baby You’re So Sexy’ and that kind of stuff. And that’s sorta what Timbaland does, it’s like really electronic sounding, it’s really digital, but it’s song-writing, and that’s what a lot of the acts in the early 80s were about, y’know, it was electronic pop music, that’s what it was. And so the guys that I like from the 80s a lot like David Sylvian and John Foxx particularly, it’s just sort of writing pop music but with no guitars and none of those kind of conventional elements. I’ve actually used guitars but you just have a sort of outlook about it, like everything it’s been processed, so you don’t fall into the kind of conventional traps of ho writing songs traditionally is, y’know. I think that’s what might marry al those different things together, s this sort of focus on putting together songs instead of loop-based tracks. That was kind of the idea. There’s something about a song, right?

Are you a fan of the likes of Basic Channel and Pole?

I was definitely really heavy into Maurizio, who I thought was doing some really incredible stuff. And coming from Hamilton, Hamilton is really steeped in this sort of techno tradition because Plus 8, y’know, Richie Hawtin’s from Windsor which is really close and people like Huren. Hamilton had a record label that trted here in the 90s called Steel City records, which was part of Plus 8 and put out some fantastic stuff. So that sorta whole minimal techno thing ha been lurking around the city for a long time. But yeah, definitely Basic Channel, Maurizio, and Pole and that kind of approach to washing out synths. Especially on ‘Un-Birthday’, we really sorta glitched out – that was me and my friend Matt who’s mixed all of the Junior Boys stuff and is also a contributor. If there is another member, he’d be it. (Luomo, Jan Jelenek, Christian Ferrensz) There is this kind of approach of taking very conventional kind of music and really making it kind of angular which I’m really into.

The only problem with me is there’s a part of the whole electroclash 80s revival thing which is kind of gimmicky and kitsch, which I don’t relate to at all. And, you know, I love New Wave music, I think it was a really important time. I’m not into doing retro music that sounds like some moment in history that’s long gone, y’know. I wanted want to be lumped into that.

I think the funny thing about it is that everything is really electronic in the way we produce stuff, everything’s very processed, except for the vocal. Y’know, I do very few takes and I don’t fix them up and run them through that kind of standard pro tools rig, they’re not auto-corrected or anything like that. I remember Nick took it to the guy that mastered it and he was like ‘he didn’t filter his vocals properly’. That was kind of on purpose, y’know, we didn’t do it properly, we didn’t correct any of the mistakes, so they’re very much flawed. And I’m not a great singer so I can’t really pretend to be, and I tend to like vocalists who have flaws in their voice, like that kind of Neil Young aesthetic.

Are you gonna do this stuff live then?

Yeah, we’re working on it right now, me and Matt, we’re working on putting together a live show which will be weird. I think if it’s going to be live it’ll be live singing, instead of me sitting behind some kind of rig or something, which is a little bit unnerving for me, I’m not really into the idea of it. I think that it would probably make a better show than having the pre-recorded vocals. I’ll give it a try, y’know, and if it works out then OK.

Are you working on a look or anything?

No. I’m far too fat to pull that off, you gotta be thin for that kinda thing. There’s no particular look. I couldn’t pull it off.

Do you make music for people to dance to?

I mean I’d like to think that but I doubt that’s true. I mean, nobody wants to say ‘I make music for guys sitting at home in their bedrooms’, y’know (giggles)…

Well, girls too?

Gee, I would love to hear from a girl fan (giggles). I haven’t had that effect yet. Yeah, I’d like to think that you could play it in a dance club but realistically if I was like a DJ, you know how DJs are, they try not to break the rules of what they’ll play. In a way that’s really annoying, isn’t it? I dunno, I’d love to hear it in a club but I wouldn’t hold my breath to see the DJs play it.

What else are you up to?

I’m doing a little bit of stuff right now with Kode9 who releases stuff on Tempa, I just did a track with him, he’s an old friend of mine. It’s probably gonna be a kind of Junior Boys Vs Kode9 release. For me it’s like they’re glitching out garage, it’s like Maurizio garage. I just heard a guy I thought was amazing who calls himself Plasticman, which is pretty hilarious considering. It’s kind of irreverent. I think he’s really fantastic, El-B, Horsepower, Wiley Kat.

How old are you?

I am turning 24 in ten days. We thought that we were gonna release ['Birthday'] on my birthday! ///
sum thorts on


Seems to falter and crack; fragile like painted eggshells under barefoot. Greenspan sounds like a whiteboy trying to be Prince, but he doesn’t quite have the chops for those high notes so sounds adolescent, like Daryll Hall with a sore throat, yet no less assured – the cocky-vulnerable-geek-wannabe-playa, possibly sat in a white satin shirt sipping an icy drink. Beats stammer and stutter and fall and tumble like a child over obstacles, do a little spin, touch the ground, jump in the air and fall over again. Indigestive bass rumbles and belches, synths dribble down its front. Manitoba’s excellent remix of ‘Birthday’ introduces cowbells – not in he punk-funk sense but in the sense of bells that cows wear, or rather those of mountain goats being herded, adding a reinforced 4/4 that snaps hard on the off-beat snare, bass booming on the kick, a synth arpeggio rippling gently on the distance and melodies that warble quaintly to themselves, working brilliantly with Jeremy’s pretend-naïve, self-pitying vocal. The blue-eyed soul re-routes via Talk Talk’s lilting guitars for ‘Under The Sun’, which indeed sounds like a mid-summer LA heat haze, smog hanging still in the stifling breeze-less air, skin burning and cracking, the sea offering cool solace. There are just the slightest ghosts of Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’, Chris Rea’s ‘On The Beach’ and any incidental music from Miami Vice (without sounding particularly like any); the melancholic nostalgia for lost summer days, radiating faint distant heat. ///

Monday, December 01, 2003



Two good compilations that have slipped into my life in the last week, straddling this crooked bleep disco acid house amalgam that's making nightclubs an interesting prospect once again. As yet I don't think anyone's given this 'scene' a name - so enjoy it while you can. 'Heroin house' might be a contender for the Smagghe mix, had it not been used before for some short-lived fad I can't remember (might have been one of Reynolds' actually). Mixing old records with new is always a good thing - the gaunt, beardy one (one half of Paris's Black Strobe, innit) brilliantly re-editing Sweet Exorcist's 'Test Four' (the Sheffield bleep techno archetype), and dropping Paul Rutherford(out of Frankie Goes to Hollywood)'s amazing 'Get Real'. Heard the guy DJ at that Foreign Muck night recently - which really confirmed my belief that acid house is back, back, back (and I mean the fuck-it-all-and-dance attitude as well as 303s and sparse, head-fuck machine beats).

Less convincingly, the House of Fix featuring Circa's 'Way Out' really does sound like the Audio Bullys on valium, though, and it's up to you whether that's a good idea or not (personally I prefer the weed and stella option) - it's really strung-out, dead eyed East London; the sound of the electroclash hangover (all that's smudged man mascara! nasty). And yeah, it may sound tiresome to have have yet another person appropiate the old PiL track once again (there being at least two clubs that trade as 'Death Disco') but if you listen to it it really makes sense. There's a big smack/Goth strain that's bled into the Paris club/house scene for some reason... kind of peculiar but you always expect our cousins acoss the water to come at things from a slightly different angle.

Maybe I can understand downer rock, but downer house? This is perhaps best exemplified here by the Chicken Lips mix of Chicks On Speed's 'We Don't Play Guitars' mixed into Superpitcher's Schaffel Mix of Quarks' 'I Walk', veering from hypnotic and tranced-out strobe-blindness to a kind of numbed frug. You end up yearning for the hands-in-the-air relief that Tiga's mix of Drinking Electricity (great name) kind of provides, but in a very guitar-heavy way. On the whole the Lazarus mix is more optimistic, inventive and electrified, pointing to a multitude of directions that the messy musical watershed that was electroclash has opened up, inluding Le Dust Sucker's 'Mandate My Ass', Silversurfer's 'Welcome To Berlin', Martin Solveig's 'Heartbeat' and Sascha's Funke's 'Bravo'. Both comps witness techno, house, rock, electro, disco all shagging and fighting on the same dancefloor with some dodgy drugs thrown in there. This could get interesting. Or ugly. ///

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