Saturday, August 08, 2009
idjut boys interview version 1
2009 has been a fairly resplendent and wondrous year. Somewhere in my Top 100 greatest moments of the year thus far is the fact that I was able to conduct two interviews with the rather reclusive Idjut Boys. Dan Tyler and Conrad McDonnell have been ignoring the lines between disco, psychedelia, house, jazz fusion, balearic, Italo, dub, techno and whatever else you got for well over a decade now. This year might be something of a watershed for the Boys: they dropped their inspired collaboration with Norwegian producer Rune Lindbaek as Meanderthals, remixed the Dimitri From Paris early-80's edit set Nightdubbin' and to top it off, just dropped a bonkers new twelve, "Jammy Dodger." So here is my first interview with Dan and Conrad, conducted over email and answered in this sort of groupspeak for this feature.
First thing is some boring bio stuff: how you two met, what drew you to the other.
Idjut Boys: We met in Cambridge, mutual friends, going the same parties in peoples' houses, tonka events wherever they happened...moved to London, ended up at a later stage living together in a flat with our good buddy dickie P...weekends involved the going out ritual, filling the flat with people and listening to music whilst blitzkreiged...used to go to alot of the clubs and one off things ocurring at that time...enjoyed the ambience of the acid house as a relaxing pastime...heard and enjoyed Harvey play alot, got to understand the notion of everything having a place. Listened and dug out some of the music mixed by the likes of François and the other guys mixing in that era and realized that ...well bent is better than straight up, on most occasions..at that time there was great house music from everywhere, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Italy, here...disco, whatever being played. Not really any specific LP/12, just going out dancing to a varied soundtrack in various states.
What always strikes me with all the edits, remixes, and by Desire Lines most recently, is the massive sense of 3-D space inside everything, so I’m curious about creating such a sensation in all the tunes.
IB: Old habits..like using effects... random ocurrences, mixing live with a board,using outboard processing, rather than everything
automated...things happen live, for better or worse that we won't get programming.
Were you into rock music before turning onto disco and dance stuff? Was it a natural progression for you? Was liking disco a contrarian thing, in that punks weren’t supposed to like disco?
IB: It was a hard, strict growing up regime in both cases...once church going abated and balls dropped it was a natural progression to the mosh pit followed by the flowing mullet.
Judging by titles of the album with Quakerman and the like, it seemed like you were trying to make the UK house scene loosen up a bit at the time. Was it proscriptive and uptight in that way?
As the Frank Zappa question goes, does humor belong in music?
IB: Yes Sir Mr Zappa... We just like to precede being laughed at by laughing at ourselves first, seriousness comes too close to head arse fusion..the only plan ever in force is to get to do another record and avoid the job centre...obviously we want to be really hip and make piles of money and indulge in a mirage of warped fantasies whilst having rightfully claimed to have invented hip hop but that doesn't fit with the no-strategy walk.
Did you get to see older NY legends like Larry Levan and François K. when they would come over? Who remain your favorite edit makers?
IB: Harvey's always been great, Maurice Fulton, Thomas, Markey Mark, Chris Rhythm Doc, Gerry Rooney...heard Francois a few times, mindblowing in the right environment with a proper set up to manipulate..heard Larry at Moist only but it was great....you can't beat Francois for production, he's been involved in too many serious records and he's still standing with what seems like the same enthusiasm...Maurice is a great producer too, nobody sounds like him.
Rune talked about how records like “Jazz Fook” were big in Norway at the time and how crucial it was to that country’s subsequent “space-disco” sound. When you would DJ up there, were you at all surprised by how the scene had been influenced by your tracks?
IB: Wasn't aware of anything like that...being involved you're not really aware of that, it's nice of anyone says that was the case because there's been some great records from the people there..went over there alot and there were some great parties and some painful next days...they were already into stuff, Pal Strangefruit, Rune, Erot, Bjorn Torske, Ole Abstract..later we went over and played with Thomas, who played great music and met Terje..We obviously taught them nothing except the drink till you barf fitness regime..they are viking so it's a sport they took to with ease.
What was it about Rune’s productions made you decide to work on tracks with him, from “Laisn” to Meanderthals?
IB:We were friends for years, and he always had good music to be heard He was over and in our studio so we asked him to speak in Norske on "Laisn," to lend it that real soul, slow jam, drop your pants moment....Meanderthals happened cos we missed a flight and took refuge in his studio for the afternoon and hit the random button and he found a nice man, Joakim ready to sully his labels good name with further adventures in randomness involving a few more kind folk with instruments they were willing to play. We worked with Rune studio neighbours, Lenny and Jo for percussion, bass and guitar a couple of times at theirs and sent things back and forth, and we hung out with Per Martinsen for a day at Bugge Wuselltorf's lovely studio and recorded ourselves as an out of time percussion combo and his mate Anders on the Steinway.
What does he bring to the collaboration? Was it easy playing together? What was the process like?
IB: Rune opened the door to some great musicians in oslo..The process was most definitely random, involved much going back and forth...we went to the players with backing tracks and hung out and tried to remember to press the big red record button when something good was occurring...we then went way edited and demanded more where necessary.. setting out ideas would require some efficiency or organizational powers that were quickly acknowledged to be too challenging for the cast... it has a kinda live feel...we got what came out, we are maybe going to do a dub version of the lp because there is stuff lurking underneath that could be more club playable if undressed suitably and interfered with in the right places.
Rune mentioned Conrad having a bad bike accident right before work started on this. Can you recount that story?
IB: He was knocked off his bike. It hurt alot. He's better now.
So back to “obsessions”: what are some current ones?
Favorite comedian: George Bush III
Favorite Bohannon track: "Maybe You Can Dance"
Food you always like to eat in the studio: coffee and lamachan
YouTube clips that you like at the moment: what's YouTube ?