An interview must rarely go by without mention of ‘Erotic Discourse’. Is the Special Request series a way of starting afresh without the baggage associated with having created such an important record, giving you free reign to do whatever you want without the preconceptions people have in the wake of that track?
I’m not reacting to anything else in my catalogue by doing the Special Request project. It’s purely about exploring different sounds and doing so in a direct way, although I understand why you would come to that conclusion. It’s worth remembering that ‘Erotic Discourse’ came out in 2005 originally on a white label, so eight years later there are many people fresh into this music who don’t know that record. The people that play it today like Boddika, Joy Orbison and the Night Slugs crew are introducing it to a fresh audience. I still love it and I will play it when the moment’s right. It’s a case of the context.
Would you ever consider bringing back Bobby Peru?
There’s another mission on the horizon…
You did some storming collaborations with Psycatron. How did those come about?
I’d known Paul Hamill for a few years from his work with the BBC in Belfast – we met at Shine over there and instantly clicked and started to talk more. Eventually he sent me an incredible record which R&S released and that was the real bond. Talk of a collaboration began a few months later. We had a night in a studio with Dave Lievense and knocked out the first Cocoon record, ‘Thunder’. The chemistry with them is really good, so it made sense to continue and the following year the Hotflush release ‘Stolen’ came together during a three day session. We’ll definitely work on more as time allows, although I’ve been surrounded by the Special Request project which has been the primary focus for some time. I have a lot of respect for Paul and Dave.
How do you find the process of collaboration? Easier or more difficult than working solo?
It can be as easy as you want it to be, the key is in being fluid and open to results without having too much of a tight definition of the outcome. Being aware of your collaborator’s emotions and body language is important and total honesty with diplomacy oils the wheels.
You’ve never been one to follow trends or stick to a certain sound, which has seen you release on labels as disparate as Planet E and Throne of Blood. How do you approach making music? Do you think “I’ll write something that fits this label” or is it a case of making something and finding the right home for it afterwards?
I try not to think about the end location of the release whilst I’m writing but it’s tricky not to sometimes. The excitement can steer you off on a different course so I like to just create and then decide later. If you listen to the Ford Inc ‘Satire’ track and then the Planet E material it does sound drastically different. But the common factor is Detroit techno, in terms of its basis, so they are close companions in their roots. Different sides of the same coin.
There’s a not-so-subtle Lana Del Rey sample on the last Special Request EP – are you a big fan of sampling in general?
‘Ride’ was an official remix that her management commissioned – I even had Rick Rubin’s engineer Andrew Scheps sending over additional vocal stems on request. They granted me the licence to press it independently and I was paid a reasonable fee for the work so the project worked out well. Of course I’m a fan of sampling – I find it odd that there are people into dance music that seem to be quite stuck up about it. In fact, I’d say I’m suspicious of people with such views because this whole thing is built on sampling culture, so it’s odd to try and come off as a purist about it.
Dance music is built on sampling culture, so it's odd to try and come off as a purist about it.
You’ve said previously that you’re not interested in doing the same thing twice – what can we expect from Special Request in the future?
I did say that but I’m getting a lot of sensory pleasure from getting locked into an aesthetic and then doing a barrage of tracks from the components. Personally, it’s as much an emotional release as it is the creation of work and you have to find the point where the pleasure outweighs the effort. Once this happens you’re just tuned in and working by default – the doors are open to the best results. For Special Request there’s a four track EP coming next on Fabric’s new Houndstooth label to be followed by the full album in September.