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Keith Fullerton Whitman does a phone interview with Squarepusher circa 2001:
NME has published an interview with the surviving members of Joy Division on the 40th anniversary of their masterwork, Unknown Pleasures:
Vinyl Factory has also an article on the surviving band members request for modern directors to create music videos for the songs from Unknown Pleasures - the first one created and available is for "I Remember Nothing" (embeds are not allowed for this video, so you'll have to click through):
Use link in browser (make sure location settings are enabled). 'Go to a location on the map. Unlock the content.' Map populates with Aphex logos. Lots showing all over the world when zooming out. There are about 7 near me but not within quick reach... might see if I can check 'em out later.
found a really old doc with some articles in french that are already out there, but this one I haven't read before. its from a french magazine. thought of sharing because its a really nice read, google translated so, enjoy.
Twintwin at the Syldaves
The Inrockuptibles n ° 311 - October 30, 2001
Interview by JD Beauvallet
After announcing his retirement the last, Aphex Twin returns with a furious and exciting double album: Drukqs. Very rare but generous in interview, this fundamental character of the electronic music is finally explained on his characters, his methods, his origins and his designs: a young man as sweet as his music seems indomitable, as close as his records seem Martian.
For ten years, Richard D. James and his various incarnations, of which Aphex Twin remains the most famous, have largely contributed to the revolution of electro. Thanks to this former student of defrocked electronics (at the express course: he abandoned his studies after a few weeks), this often austere or simplistic language has discovered a grammar with unprecedented complexity, but also a virgin fluidity and wealth .
Just as Brian Eno, his most prominent ancestor, had revolutionized the use of synthesizers in the 1970s (by refusing the bidding in virtuosity to favor a much more sensitive and refined approach), Richard D. James peeled the acid- house and cut up techno in the early 90s.
Reduced to their only vital centers, techno and acid-house would thus become the unthinkable playground of this self-taught man who did not mention Satie at the Stockhausen, but felt that with a heart and a sampler, there was better to only what he heard around him. Like Eno, another child isolated from the English countryside, another proletarian son terrorized by the world of work, Richard D. James then folds into an imaginary universe, between lead soldiers and feather keyboards. It will be discovered by the fundamental Selected Ambient Works 8S-92, the first album in the logically enoeque title: a phenomenon of tension and dynamics, behind which a large part of electronic music still runs in vain today. Some unfortunate people will then attach to his music humiliating and haughty labels, like "intelligent techno". The claim, however, has never been convened in the dense and intractable discography of Aphex Twin who, on the other hand, will often flirt with wild humor, cowardly provocations or sadistic nihilism.
At Aphex Twin, nicely slacker, the brain may control the discs, it is politely discarded speech: a word never theoretical, surprisingly ground to. earth compared to his disks, tight and bumped. It's enough to have once seen his videos (as scary as hilarious, made with his sinister accomplice Chris Cunningham) of Come to Daddy or Windowlicker to be convinced that Richard D. James is anything but a dark juice distiller from brain to water of pudding.
It is besides after these two singles and their miraculous triumphs that Richard D. James announced last year his definitive retirement. A promise made obsolete this summer by the loss of a hard drive in a Japanese plane: literally panicked at the idea of seeing his unreleased tracks run on the Internet, Richard D. James then embarked on the emergency double and dazzling Drukqs, a plausible testament to music that owes as much to the acid house jubilation as to Satie's melancholy, to drum'n'bass sonic research and to the fondness of toy music boxes. children. "A child in an adult body: it's all me, that I hope that the adult will never smother it", confirms Richard D. James in this rare and precious interview: the only one he has given a French newspaper this year.
Our meeting looks like an obstacle course. to have the honor of arguing with the most discreet legend of English electronics, you first have to hang around in an ultra-gloomy mall in south London. A mall that was probably fashionable in 1967, but is today abandoned to shady shops syldaves, stalls of unidentified products between which men and murky (also women, identical) move their chair - and their conversation.
Time to believe himself victim of a nice hoax and Richard D. James tumbles smiles to the lips, from his neighbor bunker: the former local bank in which he now lives, autonomous and entrenched. This visit to the mall is obviously the event of his day.
The decor looks more and more like a chilling adventure of Hergé, as we engage in conversation under thirty inquisitive eyes, hidden behind black glasses - and gabardines. Men from the Zepo, the Syldave secret police. Aphex Twin or the art of making the most banal things perilous and strange.
Last year, you announced your retirement, after your two biggest successes to date, Windowlicker and Come to Daddy. What motivated this rejection?
Richard D. James - I have the impression of having retired for a long time already, since I was 20 years old. Since the day I decided not to work, I'm sort of pre-retired. And suddenly, last year, the music started to look like a job, you had to give interviews, attend meetings. That's why I seriously considered saying goodbye to the record industry. But I would have continued to make music, I needed her too much. My life would be useless and empty if I did not have music.
However, in your reports to the industry and the media, you seem to have fun, blurring the tracks.
It's a way of forcing me not to take this circus seriously. For this new album, I accepted only four interviews. Because before, during the interviews, I heard myself speak and everything sounded wrong. Sometimes I was sent abroad, where, for a whole day, I remained in a hotel, answering twenty interviews in a single file. I was so bored that I constantly lied, I invented characters, I decided that I was going to be aggressive with the next journalist, vain with another, shy with the one after ... As I did not never read the music press of my life, I did not know what to say. I quickly understood that I was not cut for this "trade", which has more to do with trade than with music. I seem very naive, but most of the musicians disgust me, they are only representatives of commerce. When I visit them in the studio, I am shocked to see that there can be a phone or a fax in the very place where the music is created. Me, I banished the phone from my studio, I do not want me to find it, I want it to remain a magical place, unrelated to the outside life. How can one create serenely when one has at the end of the line of the merchants who say to you "the music for the pub, I need it in an hour"? I am ashamed for them, they betrayed their gift, they became stooges.
It is said that you come from a very wealthy background and that you would not need the music - and therefore the business - to live.
This is probably a stupidity that I told a day when I was bored in interview. In truth, in my little village of Cornwall, my mother is a nurse and my father is a minor. When I started music, I was an electronics student, a fellow. Overnight, a Belgian label, R & S, sent me 10,000 F to release a first record. I could not believe it, I immediately dropped out of college. For the world of work, for me, was the scarecrow: I saw my parents fight all their lives to lead a decent life and I did not want that. They are now 60 years old and belong to this generation who feel guilty as soon as she stops working, who is ashamed to take five minutes to watch TV. In the evening, I saw them go home exhausted and very early, I dreamed of another life. Music was my way out. For example, when I engage with my girlfriend, I go to compose music. Anyone else would come home, let anger and frustration settle, and then try to pick up the pieces. I'm running away, totally. And sometimes, after two days, my girlfriend calls me: "You could still call me, I do not know where we are." And I, I erased everything, I left so far away from these everyday worries. Music is the best therapy I know. She is my blanket, my cozy refuge. Which is sometimes dangerous: because if I use the music to heal me and I only make shit, then here I am at the bottom of the hole. Yet, contrary to what my girlfriend says, I feel to be rather balanced, in a constant mood.
Your music is however often melancholy.
I'm really nostalgic, I'm upset remembering places I've been to, people I've met. It's sickly: I can not, physically, go past the house where I grew up. Otherwise, I'll go in and empty the people who live there now. "It's MY house, you have nothing to do there!"
With music, you seem to have created a bubble around you, a bulwark. What held this role before the music?
My toys have long held this role, my little cars and my soldiers. Then, around the age of 10, I started having fun with my tape recorder, recording noises around me, without telling anyone. This is always how I envision my music. a game, meant for me alone. I force myself to believe that my money comes from elsewhere, to keep the composition a secret hobby. The first real melodies, I composed them around 12 years, by chance, by dint of sticking, slowing down or speeding up bits of tapes. All of these were loopholes, a way of escaping my daily life. It was a stifling little town, where everyone knew each other. I felt like I was stuck away from everything, forgotten. I dreamed of coming to London, a city that would guarantee me excitement - but also anonymity. A city where you can be alone or in a group, but at least where you have the choice. I remember with horror the day my best friend refused to play the little soldiers and cars with me, telling me we were too old for that. I was shattered. I needed a substitute product immediately: I started by drawing, then the music was imposed. I drew mostly my hands, it was my only model. Or images of war, gigantic paintings of battle scenes. From time to time, I think I must think of the day when I am deaf.
This is a serious concern.
We do not do fifteen years of techno DJ without screwing up his ears. And then, I spend my life scratching my ears. It's a real obsession. Recently, I bought myself a perfect gadget in Japan: a kind of illuminated periscope to look inside the ears. We can thus go to observe the tympanum and the cochlea: a snail-shaped tube ... Since I'm a kid, I'm having fun with my ears because it's the only way to get closer to my brain . And that's an obsession: play with my brain, touch it, tap on this or that part.
How did your entourage experience this seclusion that you imposed yourself, very young?
I think my parents were delighted to see that at least I was not bored. I made my mother mad with rage listening to my techno maxis far too strong. I did not have that kind of problem with my father: years spent in the mines made him deaf. Most of the time, I was alone with the music. I did not read, because my brain is always on the alert, unable to follow the reading. It was my problem at school, where I did not understand anything, where the conversations seemed to be in a foreign language. I envy people when I see them reading: they seem to escape from everyday life.
How has music become such an obsession?
Kid, I did not listen to music at all, I did not like anything. I could hear through the floor the indie rock records of my sister and I found it atrocious. However, I forced myself: like her, I locked myself in my room, lying on the bed, to do nothing but listen to these guitars. But it did not cause anything in me, except boredom. I found this need to be expressed by very strange words. Until recently, I was very embarrassed at the very idea of talking about my emotions, it seemed to me something old rocker. I wanted to play music that was rid of it, that's why I loved so much techno, based on repetition and not on feelings. The melodies, It was for me something with rose water. But after ten years listening only to repetitive music, to deaf, I changed my mind. And then I'm a little open, I have less difficulty and shame to evoke what I feel. For two years I have been frightened myself: I hear myself talking to others about what I think, what I feel. But I derive a great pleasure, a relief. For more than twenty years, I have been too shy for that. And unfortunately, that-was for arrogance. My girlfriend, when she met me for the first time, found me undrinkable. Before realizing that I'm pretty cute (laughs) ...
Have the raves been your first contacts with people whose passion you shared?
My only collective experiences, before the raves, were the fights with pebbles, in my village. I did a lot of sport, but always individually: climbing, cycling (I always do a lot) or swimming. And there, suddenly, in the raves, I discovered myself friends. The first, I organized with a friend, in a sheepfold - because nothing was happening in Cornwall, we could only rely on us. We managed to bring in one hundred and fifty people: that says a lot about the idleness of young people there. Especially since I was a DJ more than a beginner. A boyfriend kept talking to me and three times in a row he blew up the record I was playing. Especially since it was the first of the evening. I almost gave up my DJ career before I even started it (laughs) ... All the dancers looked at me with contempt. And yet, a few months later, I was invited to parties where I was paid 400 F to spend records for two hours only. That's what my school buddies earned in a month by filling the shelves of supermarkets all weekend. I was so happy to listen to this kind of music so loud, without my mother to shout at me, that I danced like crazy behind my turntables.
Ironically, your house is located right next to the English temple of commercial dance music, the Ministry Of Sound.
Some nights, the line to get in comes to my house. To kill time, I sometimes duck their customers with balloons filled with water. From home, I hear only bass, but it intrigues me: I measure the tempo, I monitor the sequences. Today, it has really become a tourist place, with a large majority of onlookers from around the world. My dream is to take turntables on a busy evening. to empty the track in a few minutes. I played it twice, but only in private parties. I could not resist the urge to play on what they describe as "the most powerful sound system in the world". But when I found myself on the turntables, the sound was shabby, I suspect they have changed the sound of the sound to punish me, because I drag a strange reputation: that of a DJ who screw up the sonos. In festivals, I'm told "We watch you, do not you dare to make the guy with our gear, seen?"
Do you still enjoy playing DJ?
It's a lot less exciting than when I started at age 16. I dreamed then all week. Today, I enjoy playing in less conventional places, in people for example. Next week, I'm going to animate a wedding and that, it explodes me. I also promised a student of art, whose visual work I liked, to come and play very hard records at her thesis presentation. And next to that, I also play in museums like Albert & Victoria, which is pretty perverse. It makes me feel good to play records without necessarily having to dance. Soon, I will play at the Barbican Art Center, for a tribute to Stockhausen. I learned yesterday that I will not be entitled to a big sound system, not to disturb the library and the galleries, but that each visitor would wear a wireless headset, connected to my turntables: instead of exploding the sound system, I'm going to explode the brains. I am going to take advantage of it to send out subliminal messages - and, above all, to finally meet one of my rare idols, Stockhausen. I will be very shy, but I would love to bring him to my house, smoke a joint and play it with my little instruments, with my acid-box, my 808 drum machine ... I'm sure he despises the dance -music, but I think I could penetrate his brain, make contact.
Your records are nowadays more often diffused in art galleries than in this kind of shopping center where you give your appointments. Do you consider this a failure, as an inability to address the general public?
The real failure, for me, would be to be broadcast only in shopping centers. I touched that at a time, when I found myself in the charts, and I did not like it. I think that basically I am made to belong to a minority. The more people like my music, as was the case at the time of Windowlicker and Come to Daddy, the more I freak out. Since childhood, I have never been used to being popular, to be appreciated: it would destabilize me to change sides. And yet, with this new album, I wanted to meet a wider audience, for the first and last time in my life, before moving away on more experimental adventures. Because I do not want to change my lifestyle. If I had the courage, I would do things in a big way, I would leave my London bunker and my habits. I dream of living in a lighthouse, in the open sea.
Are you able to disconnect, take a vacation?
I should because I end up losing myself, immerse myself until I do not know where I am. To make music becomes for me an activity more and more intense, exhausting. Wherever I go, I take my sampler and my computer. For example, I recently went on vacation to Mont-Saint-Michel and even there, I had to go up sampler the bells of the abbey church.
The label that releases your records, Warp, is based entirely on your career. Is it a weight?
This album is the last one I'll be recording for Warp, I'm tired of being the spearhead, the one that finances rarely interesting albums - except those of Squarepusher. All the bad advice they gave me, all the ideas they refused me, I put in a little notebook. I should never have listened to them ... Once I leave Warp and its ramifications all over the world, I'll be able to release small-scale, artisanal records again. There are already far too many records: what good is it to put others on the market if we are not sure to bring something else?
Recognition of your influence by names more famous than you (such as Radiohead, Madonna or Björk) is it reassuring or annoying?
I always found it weird. It could make me very pretentious, pushing me to say "It's normal: their records are null and it's still the least they find my best!" I am very fond of my music, she is the only one I listen to. But strangely, I do not understand how anyone can touch anyone else. It's so hard to make music in your corner, without compromise. People have the impression that my songs are obvious, that I do not know the doubt ... They have no idea of the work and the reflection that they require. In this sense, these compliments have done a lot for my trust - even if, on arrival, what they expect from me is very disappointing. Especially from Björk. She finds it insulting that I refused to work with her, but I'm sorry, I'm not at the orders of anyone, they do not praise me for a remix or a song. You have to come to my house, drink glasses, smoke joints, see if we can get along before we consider collaboration. She calls me on the phone as if she were a business leader and, although I love her voice, I can not work by fax, by proxy. Even Philip Glass, who had made a version of my piece Icct Hedral, finally had to collaborate with me. He was furious that I asked him to review his copy under my supervision.
This song is what comes closest to a BO signed Aphex Twin. How come you never really composed for the cinema?
It has always been my ambition. It has been painful and depressing to admit it, but I can not keep a deadline. And in the cinema, it's vital. If I'm told, "You're ten years old to finish the orchestration," I'm sure you can not do it. I am unable to work under duress. So, I have no choice: for me to compose a soundtrack, I will also have to make the film. It will inevitably be a day.
Your new album, Drukqs, has arrived fairly quickly. Who imposed you, this time, a deadline?
My carelessness. I forgot on a plane in Japan, the MP3 player on which I had recorded three hundred of my songs. No master was lost, but I suddenly panicked: if these new songs were found on the Net, I lost my only wins, bread for ten years to come. That's why Drukqs came out in haste. Panic-stricken, I wanted to release everything in the form of a box of ten CDs, but I'm too lazy. And finally, it was not so bad, thing. it forced me to listen to all my tapes, to sort them out. These pieces should never have been together, but I find they work well together, in a haphazard, incoherent way. An old-fashioned album, with an immutable order, it can not exist anymore. everyone to do their own tracklisting, to sort through the thirty pieces of the album. That's why we created the MP3. Drukqs is meant to be turned upside down. Curiously, it is from far away the album that asked me the most time, concentration. The simplest pieces are the ones that asked me the most work: I had to purify, without end, remove the notes one after the other. This meticulousness surprised me myself.
This is the big difference with your previous albums: we feel a real reflection, we can not find the instinct.
Only two titles are based on instinct, the other twenty-eight have been elaborated, refined, sometimes over two years. The risk is that I never finish a piece: it is always at hand, ready to suffer the effects of my last fad in date. I want to push them further, to see how far they can be deformed without tearing. Moreover, it is not excluded that I completely remix Drukqs to bring out in ten years. I like Pierre Boulez's way of constantly coming back to his first songs. Curiously, I never feel claustrophobia when I am locked in my studio. I'm good at it, in my natural environment. I sometimes stay locked up for weeks at home, without the slightest idea of what's going on outside. I do not care, I do not belong to this world anymore, I'm happy in mine. My house is really a bunker, I have enough to survive, all my toys.
And especially your label, Rephlex.
That's right, we can think of it as a toy. A toy that, I knew from the beginning, was not going to choose the ease but annoy people. It was a bit of a whim: get out the records I love, be it hip-hop, techno or more demanding music. My pride is that the label has existed for almost ten years and has remained true to its philosophy. On this label, I can go out under a pseudo remixes of old acid tricks of ten years ago and manage to penetrate the Top 5o, it is miraculous. I'm seriously thinking of releasing the next Aphex Twin on Rephlex, without any constraints.
On the new album, you can feel the clear influence of composers like Debussy or especially Satie. Is this a way that you plan to explore further in the future?
I collect, methodically, all of Satie's piano recordings. I listen to it constantly. I would have loved to hear him compose a drum'n'bass song, he would have been the providential man. For years, I knew I would come to the classic. This music waited for me, patiently, sure that I would get tired of the dance. And the more I have to find exciting maxi (I have to go through a thousand shits in review to find something new), the more I turn to the classic. It's far more rewarding.
Your music has always evoked for me a very strong image: that of a child prisoner of an adult body.
That's exactly why I love Satie so much for this childish, fragile side. I like this way of expressing myself while thinking in a complex way. There is no flamboyance, no demonstration, no show. A child in an adult body, yes, it's all me, that. I hope the adult will never choke him. To grow is to deny oneself, to limit oneself, to play a role. I'm often asked, angry, "But when will you finally grow up?" And me, secretly, I answer that I hope never to grow up.