Category Archives: interview

Aman Ellis interview

Originally from Alabama and now based in Brooklyn, ModyWorks signing Aman Ellis makes electronic music that varies from extra-terrestrial-minded techno (All The Things) to down-south trip-hop (The Cacti). I spoke to him about his recent releases, his ongoing efforts in crossing musical boundaries, and how he’s inspired by BBQ.

First of all, what was the starting point for your recent Cacti EP?

Well, I’ve always been interested in the beat culture, specially the West Coast stuff. So I’ve always wanted to do a record that way. It’s a totally different style of production. One day I stumbled upon this hidden record store in Brooklyn with all the pristine records for $1. There were all these great old school records; jazz, classical, Hawaiian. Stuff like Exotic Strings, ya know! Now it’s my secret spot where I can go and I’m guaranteed to find something crazy.

I bought a bunch of vinyls in the hopes of doing the kind of record I’d always admired. I wanted a very melodic record with a melancholic, almost antique vibe to it. I wanted the dirt from the records. The scratches and pops play a big part in the way this EP sounds. For me, it’s the scratchy sounds and off-beat rhythms juxtaposed against the very pleasant melodies that makes it cool.
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best interview ever?

solid bump take things into the next century on this awesome interview with ghosts of venice. so much love for these guys.

halloween is coming

i’m actually going to be in edinburgh this weekend but if i were in dublin i would definitely be going to transmission to see the subs. check out this interview i did with them for the tm blog.

keeping in the spirit of things, the latest ra podcast is crazy good, as is this retro-italo-themed release i blogged about for truants.

a couple of years ago i discovered a track called fulci’s rotting children (possibly on the hllrbrd), and now i want the rest of this compilation. techno frights.

on sunday night when i get home i plan on ordering pizza and watching hammer films.

Almamy interview

Almamy is the singer/songwriter behing the ModyWorks label, home to a couple of artists I’ve featured previously (Paco De Moor, F.r.a.c.t.a.l). As well as that, he’s also a dancer, poet and film-maker. I was recently lucky enough to get an interview with this enigmatic character.

Tell me a bit about yourself, your life in Senegal and how you ended up in New York?

Growing up in Dakar was great and all but I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to stay there my whole life. I wanted to see the world. I was into theatre and dance but my dad wasn’t ecstatic about it, even though he did some acting himself in his youth, so I ran away from home in my teens to go to Paris to dance professionally. I stayed there for a couple of years then I moved to New York cause that’s the place to be when you’re a dancer.

How did your clubbing experiences in New York influence what would become your musical style?

When I first moved to New York I felt isolated, because my days were spent in a dance studio. I would write poetry, or entries in my diary, on how miserable and lonely I was. (Laughs) Then at night I would hit the clubs, Shelter, Filter 14, Cielo etc… I was a regular at the Subliminal Sessions parties. I was also hanging out at Brian ‘Footwork’ Green’s House Dance Conference. I would dance by myself or just sit in the DJ booth and sing my poems over the banging house and juke beats. It was a lot of fun. One thing led to another, next thing you know I’m a singer and making music inspired by what I was hearing in the clubs.

What brought about your singing style? There aren’t many singers like yourself out there right now.

I didn’t really have a reference in terms of singing when I first started out. Like some singers I wanted to emulate or something. House and club music were what inspired me to get into it, I just wanted to sing my words over those sick beats. It’s afterwards that I realized that my singing style was kinda different, cause everybody had something to say about it.

You’re also behind ModyWorks, how do you split your time between singing/performing, writing/recording and label business?

I wake up early and I don’t have a social life. (Laughs)

Some of the acts on the label are from quite far-flung locations. How do you find acts, and what does someone need to feature on your label?

Well obviously I have to be a fan of their music. I wouldn’t sign an act that I’m not a 100% passionate about. I find acts through my friends, bloggers who refer them to me, DJs I know, demos we receive, etc… As long as I love what they do and I know they’re serious about it, I don’t care where they’re from. They could be from Jupiter!

You’ve spoken before about being influenced by experimental cinema – can you give me some examples of some films that have inspired you?

The Short Films of David Lynch, Android 207 by Paul Whittington, Dimensions of Dialogue, Alice, The Flat and Lunacy by Jan Svankmajer, Electroma by Daft Punk, The Cremaster Cycle and Drawing Restraint 9 by Matthew Barney. I love experimental films that you see in exhibitions and museums. So inspiring. I’m also a big fan of film noir and old sci-fi flicks like Forbidden Planet, Alphaville, Metropolis etc…

Would film-making ever be a route you might consider?

I’m currently working a film to go with my next release. It’s short film directed by my good friend Jeffrey Moore. We intend to make a lot of films together in the future and I may direct or co-direct one of them. So to answer your question, yes film-making is definitely something I plan on doing. It’s an art form that I like.

What are your live shows like?

My live show is combination of contemporary dance, theatre and art combined with my music. It’s like an installation. But sometimes I just don’t wanna bother and I just get up there and sing my songs. I guess it depends on my mood and on what I wanna say.

What’s next for you in 2010?

A project called The Love coming out soon. It’s both a record and a film. My cover of Daft Punk’s Digital Love will be the first single and will launch the whole project. Also a lot of touring and hopefully a second film by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Official site

Shadow Dancer interview (part two)

So last night either my blog or WordPress itself crashed, and I was unable to post the second half of this interview. I’m guessing it was the blog – the first part resulted in an unprecedented wave of interest here, which shows just how much interest there is in the Farriers. I’m hoping that all you Dubs out there reading these pieces will show up at Transmission next week! Anyway, read on.

You’ve been making music on and off for the last X number of years. What has it taken to finally arrive at the sound you’re making now?

Paul: A combination of boredom with the direction of lot of dance music was going in and whatever technology we use. The one factor that has remained the same over the years is that we create music that we’d like to hear but never do… if that makes sense. Back in the 90s, we wrote a lot simply because we couldn’t afford to buy records and we wanted something to listen to. Come 2003, we stopped producing as music had become much more accessible and life in general got in the way. Plus, we were using a studio set-up that consisted of ancient, unstable hardware (Amiga A500, Akai S900, knackered old FX unit, mixing desk with faulty connections, etc) so producing had become virtually impossible. It was quite a miserable time, looking back, as I still had a compulsion to write but just couldn’t.

Three years later, out of boredom, I tried a demo of FL Studio and discovered that not only could I write using only a computer, but that I still loved doing it. Of course, having avoided clubs for a few years, the early Shadow Dancer material (and a lot of Golden Traxe) doesn’t follow some of the conventions of dance music like 16-bar run-ins and outs, for which we’ve had plenty of criticism. The more recent stuff is more club-friendly as a result of the last three years of gigging and absorbing what we’ve seen and heard.

Al: I think in the early days we would try our hand at everything – there is hardly a genre we haven’t had a go at, including ambient, drum’n’bass and pop. I think what happens over the years is that you realise what is really part of your idiom and what is contrived. I don’t think that the Shadow Dancer sound is contrived.

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Shadow Dancer interview (part one)

Well this is something special. Normally when you do an email interview, the questions are adequate enough. Sometimes they take things up the wrong way and you’ve no way of qualifying your question. Sometimes they just respond with the bare minimum. In this case, I’ve got so much material that I’m actually going to split it in two rather than cut anything.

So, here you go. Two brothers, Paul and Al Farrier, better known to the world as Shadow Dancer, the formidable duo on Boysnoize Records. They’re not touring right now, but they’re making a special appearance at Transmission next week, and in advance of that gig, they were kind of to answer a series of ridiculous questions from yours truly. Enjoy.

You were born in Liverpool. You’re now based in Manchester. Fill in the gaps?

Paul: We went from Liverpool to Saudi Arabia to Liverpool to North Wales to Manchester (and then I ended back up in Wales, where I currently live, although a move back to Manchester is on the cards as there’s not much in the way of a music scene around here… the K-Klass days are over).

Al: We grew up in Wales, but I was really attracted to Manchester because I was obsessed with Manchester music – New Order. I always wanted to live in a big city, but London didn’t really occur to me. I wasn’t even particularly aware of London, but went to the Haçienda when I was 17 and I was hooked.

Is the sibling dynamic a hindrance or a help? Apart from touring/performing, how much time does the project mean you need to spend together?

Paul: It’s a definite help when touring and performing as Al provides extra hands and options for the live set, and he’s more outgoing than me… I can come across as the “moody DJ” sometimes, but it’s really down to my being shy and occasionally uncomfortable around large groups of people having far too much fun. We haven’t produced together for a long time now, so I don’t know how that would work now. There’d probably still be a lot of arguing.

Al: It’s never been much of an issue really, because we’ve also been best friends since we were kids and we grew up discovering and learning about making music. We spend a bit of time together when we’re not performing. I take a back seat these days in terms of writing and production. Paul’s always buying new bits of kit, and he generally shows me the ropes.
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Claude VonStroke interview

Ahead of his show at Night Flight in Dublin this Friday, I got the chance to talk to the dirty bird himself, Mr Barclay Crenshaw, aka Claude VonStroke…

Where did the bird thing come from? Dirtybird, Beware of The Bird, Bird Brain
The label had been named Dirtybird by chance based on a drawing i used to do when i was a kid. Then I had an idea to call my album Beware of the Bird. Then as soon as i thought of that title I got the idea to buy this giant bird mascot costume. It was just like a set of dominoes… one bird leads to another right down the line.

You’ve done a lot to make techno more “fun” – since ice cool minimal seems to be on the way out, what do you think is coming next?
I don’t really care because i don’t ride the trends. I play whatever I think is the best music being made. The next thing coming is probably more crap, more posers, more critics fawning over so-so stuff… and then there will of course be one or two genuine pearls in that bucket of clams somewhere.
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interviews are go

i’m finally getting my interview game back. see here for details of my recent chat with the juan maclean. more to follow later in the year hopefully. watch this space etc.



it’s rare that i find mysef genuinely excited these days. i guess it’s the cynicism of the internet age. but i just read an interview with todd solondz ahead of his new film, life during wartime, and was so excited my eyes nearly popped out. it’s a non-sequel sequel to 1998’s happiness, that bizarre take on middle america that resembled a fucked up version of magnolia. only, in typical solondz fashion, the roles will not be reprised from the “stars” of the original film. like he said at the time of palindromes, we take it for granted when a character is played by a different actor in a soap, so why not experiment with that idea on the big screen? speaking about the filmmaking process itself, he seems to express a stress and pain in filmmaking that goes some way to explaining why his films are so full of silent horror and moral repugnance.

Making movies is a nightmare. It’s all about time management and stamping out brush fires. With this one, I’m just lucky I got it made and wasn’t sued. I guess that means it’s a success.

having waited over four years for his latest piece of work, i’m pretty delighted to hear that he’s just as awkward, weird, and disillusioned as he always has been.

XXXChange Interview


To say I’m excited about XXXChange‘s upcoming show at Transmission would be a massive understatement. Over the last few years, few other DJs and producers have impressed me as much as this man, as he effortlessly switches genres and styles without ever suffering a drop in quality. He first came to my attention as the producer in chief for Spank Rock‘s Yoyoyoyoyo in 2006, and since then his remixes have been a permanent fixture in any of my sets or mixes. Disco remixes of Pase Rock and Thom Yorke (his own personal favourite); funky reworkings of Björk and CSS; full on rave banger remixes of The Virgins, Bloc Party and Panda Bear. Not to mention his collection of re-edits with buddies Devlin and Darko as part of the Fully Fitted crew.

As a DJ he first caught my attention with the riotous Spank Rock contribution to the Fabriclive series, but it was his guest spot on Tim Sweeney‘s Beats In Space show that truly showed his versatility and willingness to eschew any sense of genrefication. While DJs like Diplo and A-Trak explore genres and throw together hip-hop and electro, XXXChange is more likely to look for some 70s disco or 80s punk. See Voila, his mix with Chris Rockswell. Featuring tracks from ESG and Led Zeppelin alongside Destiny’s Child and, of course, Spank Rock, it is a musical journey unlike any other. Alex himself cites this, alongside Couche Tard, another mix done with Chris, has his favourite mix project. “Hopefully we’ll do another one of these soon. The Fabric one was a royal pain in the butt because you have to license all the songs and we usually like to be pretty free and unrestricted about what material we use, and also we really like to put in a ton of records, which the licensing process doesn’t allow for.”

Since Yoyoyoyoyo his work with Spank Rock has calmed down, as Naeem (Spank Rock’s hyperactive frontman) branched out and worked with Benny Blanco on the 2 Live Crew-influenced Bangers and Cash EP: “I don’t travel with them on tour anymore but I’m still helping out in the studio. Naeem wanted to retain a little more creative control over the project for this album so I’m just trying to help him out whenever he gets stuck.” Which I guess means there’s a new Spank Rock album in the mix – something to look forward to. As for his own solo work, it’s also on the way. “I’m working on a solo LP right now except I seem to be constantly in the studio working on other people’s stuff. so I think it might take quite a while to finish it up.” As well as that there’s a 12” due this summer on Turntable Lab, and if it’s anything like his production work to date it’s something worth waiting for.

While his own work hits the blogs on a regular basis, there’s an abundance of material splattered across the internet almost every day. How is it possible to separate the wheat from the chaff when there’s so much to get through? “I think the amount of stuff that’s worth checking out is about the same as it’s always been. Since most of us find out about music from the internet the absolute glut of information can be overwhelming. I find it’s a bit easier to just wait a few months and see what rises to the top, see what people are still talking about. Obviously with DJing you need to be on top of new music so it’s nice to find a few good sources to filter the information for you, there’s a few good music blogs and also you can look at different DJ’s playlists, whose taste you trust, to find out about new stuff too.”

Surely someone like XXXChange will be a little but more discerning than most: “As far as what it takes to impress me it’s just when you hear someone doing something original and taking risks etc. I’m not really interested in scenes.”

When it comes to his own DJ sets, Alex takes each night as it comes. “Usually I just try and play stuff that I’m feeling at the moment! But of course it depends on who’s in the room. In Europe I usually end up playing more electro and house type stuff which you can’t always do in the US.” So I guess that means that come Saturday, we’ll be hearing more rave than slow-burning disco. And you know, who ever said that was a bad thing.

Meanwhile, check out these XXXChange mixes, one put together just this month, and another live in the mix on Authentic Shit, enjoy the laughs from Eli, Pasey Pase and angry man Rocktacon.

XXXChange Live In The Mix on Authentic Shit, East Village Radio 2008-08-01
XXXChange – Quickie Mix 2009-06-05