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———– Writer / Music re-views / inter-views / and my points of view ———– The GROUND Magazine / HungerTV

Month: August, 2013

MOBY / Interview / HungerTV

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Read it on HungerTV

Following a two year hiatus Moby’s new album “Innocents” drops at the end of September and Hunger TV had an exclusive pre-listen before exchanging a few words with one of the most innovative musicians in electronic and popular music.

Working for the first time with an outside producer, friend Mark “Spike” Stent, (Massive Attack, Bjork, Muse and Madonna) the album features many collaborators including alt-rock legend Mark Lanegan, Cold Speck’s and Inyang Bassey’s soulful voices, Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips, and indie-folk singer Damien Jurado. Moby named them “the innocents” and the result is an exquisitely lo-fi, idiosyncratic, emotional, melodic album that reflects his musical ingenuity and ability to retrofit antiquated styles and archaic sounds to the electronic age. He may be a raver at heart but this time around his music embraces human vulnerability and celebrate imperfections. Instead of taking off the mask, here Moby tells us why he never really needed to wear one.

 

YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUM, “DESTROYED” WAS RELEASED IN 2011, HOW WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LEADING UP TO “INNOCENTS”?

I tend to work pretty constantly which is not to say that I have a particularly good work ethic. I’ve been recently asked how I became successful and to me it comes down to two things: I love what I do and I don’t really know how to do anything else. When I hear about musicians who take about five years in between albums I am honestly a bit jealous because it makes me think that they have really interesting lives and can take five years off to not work on music. I love to do many things, meeting up with friends, play with the dogs but my favourite thing to do is just being alone in my studio working on music. I never think too hard, whether it is going to turn into an album and after my long tour for Destroyed, I was finally able to come home and start working on music. I mean it is so strange making albums in 2013 because very few people buy albums and the ones who do, don’t even listen to them all the way through. I still love making albums though.

THE NEW ALBUM HAS BEEN RECORDED IN YOUR APARTMENT, JUST LIKE 2009′S “WAIT FOR ME”. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO BE ALONE WHEN MAKING MUSIC?

I guess this is because I am an only child and a solo musician so it feels very natural to be by myself in the studio. I like working with other people but somehow it feels unnatural and then when everyone leaves and I get to be by myself, it feels natural again. One thing that changed is that I moved to Los Angeles and this album is the first one I made in my studio in LA.

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YOU REALLY SEEM TO ENJOY LIVING IN LA, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO OFTEN LABEL IT AS A “FAKE” CITY?

One of the problems with LA is that it’s so big and in many ways LA is the anti-city. When you talk about NYC, London, Paris, or Milan they all have a very clear centre that usually is the most beautiful part of the city and the farther you go from it the more run-down the city is. LA is the exact opposite; the middle of the city is the least attractive part and what happens is that people who visit it, like West Hollywood, see some really ugly aspects of the city and assume that everything in LA must look like that. All of the interesting and beautiful things about LA are on the outskirt where everyone lives so, unless you go there and have lots of friend who can show you around you’ll never see the nice bits.

THE VIDEO FOR “THE LONELY NIGHT” FLITS BETWEEN THE CALIFORNIAN DESERT AND THE ELECTRIC CITY EXPANSE OF LA. HOW DID THE CITY INSPIRE YOUR NEW ALBUM?

LA affected the album because so much weird music came out of here in the past forty years. Everything from Dr. Dre, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, to John Williams; LA is such a strange incubator for music. One of the very weird things about LA is that it has no cohesion. When you are in London you always know that you are in London, when in LA sometimes you feel like you are in Mexico, or in the middle of the desert, or in a urban environment. This lack of cohesion is part of what I love about it. It’s very odd and it would make so much more sense if people would think of it as a 150 different towns instead of a single city. LA County is the size of Belgium and this sense of vastness inspired the record. If I drive for ten miles behind my house I am in the middle of the desert, it stretches to Texas, whereas in European cities many other towns are close to each others. There is this sense of strange isolation, you have the Pacific Ocean on one hand, the huge desert on the other and LA is perched in this tiny little strip of land between the vastness of the ocean and the desert. A lot of the architecture and music definitely reflects this.

YOUR UPCOMING SINGLE “THE PERFECT LIFE” SOUNDS UPLIFTING AND JOYOUS COMPARED TO THE EPIC AND MELODIC NATURE OF THE ALBUM. ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY THAT A PERFECT LIFE MUST CONTAIN IMPERFECTIONS?

The song, in a weird way, was inspired by living in New York and having lots of friends who were drug addicts or alcoholics. By the way I feel sorry that we are talking about this because I feel like such a Southern California cliché. Anyway,  the theme of “Innocents” is trying to look at and understand how humans make sense of the human condition. It is the one thing that we all have in common, we are all humans and we are all confused; yes there are some people who are not, but I am. The very act of being human is baffling, we are alive for 80 or 90 years in a universe that is 15 billion years old and we contemplate what significance our lives have and the whole idea that every single thing we know, every single person we know,  at some point will go away. We try to have a good life without really knowing what it means to have one. That’s one of the reasons why I have always been interested in addicts; I mean I am an alcoholic myself. They are really almost distilling this question, “how do you have a good life?” and their answers are quite simple, it is one thing. For someone it might be heroin for example, they don’t need people, food, or sleep; they just need that one thing to have a perfect life. There is something very sort of simple, strange and reductionist about that but also… and I am not in favour of people being addicts, but there is a weird sad beauty to that. Like giving up on everything else in the world and just focusing on that one thing.

THE ALBUM IS AN INTENSE JOURNEY AND ON THE CLOSING TRACK “THE DOGS” YOU SING “THIS IS WHERE WE DIE / LIKE THE DOGS LEFT OUTSIDE”. IS IT A PESSIMISTIC NOTE ON THE HUMAN CONDITION?

I am trying to figure it out. We are seven billion people on this planet and we are all so busy; we try to fill our lives, control things, making them better for ourselves but underneath it all there is this sort of desperation and fear. It’s true for me as well and I really think, not to sound like some weird new age guy from California, the best response to this human condition is dealing with ourselves and other people with a great sense of compassion and understanding that just being human is really difficult for everyone.

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“INNOCENTS” IS YOUR MOST COLLABORATIVE ALBUM TO DATE. WHAT IS THE UNDERLYING ELEMENT WHEN YOU CHOOSE THE VOICES TO SING IN YOUR MUSIC?

First and foremost my own very personal subjective reaction is very important. The moment I hear some voices I immediately have a strong emotional reaction and that is mainly what I am looking for; that subjective response and I guess a combination of looking for a voice that is beautiful and interesting but sort of strong and vulnerable at the same time. Living in LA you come across many good singers, a lot of them are very professional, they sing on commercials or at the Superbowl. It is hard to find people who have a really beautiful voice but also with a lot of character.

PHOTOGRAPHY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE SINCE YOU WERE TEN, AND YOU RECENTLY DIRECTED THE VIDEO FOR LEADING SINGLE “A CASE FOR SHAME”. HOW DOES BEING A VISUAL PERSON AFFECT YOUR MUSIC?

I really like the question; I wish I had a really good answer. The truth is, and I almost feel this is going to be a very disappointing answer, when I am working on music I am only thinking about making music and when I work on the visual I only think about the visual but I guess I only have one brain so the part of making music affects me emotionally and intellectually in the same way working on the visual would affect me. They are different mediums but they’re part of my brain. There is certainly a long tradition of musicians being very either artists or very concerned with the visual side of their work. I think of David Bowie or Madonna, and I guess the one thing that makes me different is that I’m never really using myself as a visual subject. The genius of David Bowie is that his art was always himself. I am perfectly happy being a bald middle aged guy behind the camera, I don’t think of myself as being the canvas or the subject, I’d rather just be the person who makes the music and take pictures.

THE VIDEO YOU DIRECTED FEATURES MASKED CHARACTERS. IT GOT ME THINKING OF LUIGI PIRANDELLO, AN ITALIAN DRAMATIST WHO DEVELOPED THE CONCEPT OF MASK VERSUS IDENTITY A LOT IN HIS WORK. ARE YOU TRYING TO REVEAL OR TO HIDE SOMETHING?

Obviously the mask represents a sense of hiding. One of the most heartbreaking things about human beings is the amount of time and effort everyone spends concealing themselves. The best thing about humans is when they are honest, open, vulnerable and true to who they are. Unfortunately people, myself included, have quite a lot of shame around who they really are or assume they can only present themselves in some sort of idealised light. Everyone wants to be seen as very smart, sexy, ironic, cynical, and the truth is that who people are underneath these masks and facades is just always more interesting. Think about it, if you go on a date with someone and the person you are on a date with would spend the whole time lying about themselves. It would be very depressing. When people are honest and open there is a good chance you might fall in love with them. The mask is the idea behind the reason why we are all spending so much time covering ourselves up and how unnecessary it is. We are only here for a short period of time and I just feel like the best things that ever happened on this planet are when people are being honest about who they really are.

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WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?

It is a really good question, and if I’m going to give an honest answer unfortunately I’m going to sound like a complete Southern California cliché again. I am hungry for beauty, joy, nature, friendship, fresh squeezed orange juice, dogs, and amazing music. Those are the things at the top of my list. I wish I had a more esoteric answer but we have been having this conversation about humans being more honest and I figured I had to be.

“Innocents” is released on the 30th of September through Little Idiot / Mute

Moby will be playing only three shows for “The Innocents Tour” at Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of October

Each show will happen in two parts, with the first part consisting of songs from the new album, ‘Innocents’, and the second part being a ‘greatest hits’ set, including songs from Moby’s past records including “Play’ and ’18′.

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Goldfrapp / Live in London / Somerset House

Read it on The GROUND Magazine

 

 

Goldfrapp’s caravan came into town, right into London’s Somerset House, the famous Neoclassical building and hub for art, fashion, and music. I can use the word caravan because when the caravan girl, aka Alison Goldfrapp, and her band come on stage, you immediately feel they’re vibrating with that raw energy and passion that only gypsies and true artists have when traveling the world and performing from town to town.

They were coming straight from the Manchester International Festival, a fine and avant-garde biennial arts festival where they gave us the worldwide live presentation of the whole new upcoming album “Tales Of Us”. It was a unique performance accompanied by The RNCM’s string orchestra but as for us Londoners, we only knew about Alison’s new look. From modern-erotica Marlene Dietrich, to glam, circus performer and 80′s disco, her new incarnation in Manchester showed a simple black floating look that she manages to pull off ambiguously and sensually. On the other hand, the music was a surprise just like opening a new book, and even though we were granted a preview of only four songs from their new work, Alison showed us how to combine intimate and down tempo performances with glam-electronic-disco, creating an everlasting and emotional atmosphere.

Her tales start with a spoken intro “Once upon a time there was a girl…” and on stage the lights behind the band, that lacked Alison’s partner-in-crimes Will Gregory, looked like trees. This is Goldfrapp’s twisted and enchanting forest, where nature, and human nature, inspires her reflections on the dynamics of our feelings from a privileged and unfiltered vista. She once said that music is a visual experience and as she opens with “Paper Bag”, from their masterpiece debut album “Felt Mountain”, Alison has a white light coming from behind to enhance the stillness of this ambient song that melts later on along the line “when you laugh, I’m inside your mouth”. Her whispered voice continues with the opening track of 2008 “Seventh Tree”, a song about clowns and balloons to symbolize the obsession with fake tits. “Clowns” display her storytelling skills, captivates the audience with its metaphorical words, and makes you want to let those balloons fly, renouncing our plastic reality. The mood is set on the opened courtyard of the Somerset House and Alison has everyone’s attention for the first new song that make up a sumptuous opening triptych. “Stranger”, just like an intruder in the middle of the cloudy London evening, opens with an acoustic guitar to become more and more cinematic. It’s the only track from “Tales Of Us” that is not named after a person, it sounds sinister, dangerous like a James Bond’s mission but ultimately intoxicating, “stranger when you look at me / you’ll be killing me gently”, she recites like a Serge Gainsbourg ‘s chanson.

After opposing no resistance to the stranger, more stories from these mysterious characters unfold. “Alvar” has an unsettling edgy guitar and is “inspired by a trip to Iceland” while “Clay” is about “two soldiers in WWII who fell in love…” Just when the new, decadent, and sophisticated material draw us into this new Goldfrapp’s chapter, we are taken off guard as if someone died too soon in a book we are reading. We know every great book has to take our breath away so the synths and strings of “You Never Know” cut the pace like a knife and we are back into 2005 “Supernature”. The forest on stage brightens up and we are in for some loud kicks with every word “I/love/you”. Alison sounds better than ever and when her soft soprano vocals take on electronic songs, her versatility as a recording artist is mesmerizing and honest. She does not just try out new musical genres to reinvent herself; she is a metamorphosis that shifts in image and style but always maintaining her essence untouched.

“Number 1″ is up next and the crowd, her “deers”, starts shaking and clapping along the synthesizer and bass arrangements that became a timeless and moving fan’s favorite anthem. Glorious is the word to describe it, visionary and yet it talks about love in such a physical way: “I’m like a dog to get you / you’re my Saturday”. Indeed it was a Saturday night and also the folkloristic “A&E” had a whole new meaning to its line “It’s a blue, bright blue Saturday”. Alison recently stated that their previous album “Head First” is not among her favorites, but still one track, “Shiny And Warm” was surprisingly performed like an inciting rhapsody that continued with the hits “Ride A White Horse” and “Oh La La”. The lights are blinding and Alison falls in a trance to her own music. Words like “dancing at the disco” sound extremely lustful pronounced with her British accent and the symbolic green lights for “Oh La La” are just enough to perform one of the most libidinous songs in music, “You’re just made for love”. Spellbinding.

The beats are pulsating, Alison’s moves shift from consumed rockstar, tough she is only drinking water on stage, to dramatic cabaret performer and her intimacy with the talented band is palpable. As the set comes to an end you are even more intrigued by her reserved personality because she does not need to say a lot to the audience. She is here to put on a show with her music leaving the rest to the fantastic lighting effects. This is just enough when everything you have to say has already substance in your art. “Caravan Girl” is a joyous pagan chant of pure freedom and liberation, Alison resonates with nature and after another “Cheers” she leaves the stage.

New, hypnotic leading single “Drew” already deserves to open the encore. The beautiful black and white video, directed by Lisa Gunning, gives life to the dreamy and melancholic feeling of the song and when she says, “Feel the cold arrive, in my bones” Alison seems as she’s acting in a François Truffaut’s film. Performed in July, “Little Bird” sounds even better with slow motion psychedelic mantra, “July, lie, lie”. The sound is so minimal yet the effect is dope. Alison reemerges from the blue led lights to perform the romantic and ethereal “Black Cherry”; try to cut a cherry in half with a bite, look at it and you’ll understand what she means with “black cherry / stone”. The line “hearing you say it, I could die” is heartbreaking but the show can’t be over without indulging in the shivering and erotic ecstasy of “Train”. It is a journey in a shallow L.A night and in pure Goldfrapp style it portrays a borderline experience that we cannot resist to experience. How can we when the word “apricot” in the song manages to stimulate our minds?

Alison marches and lets the music in one last time for “Strict Machine”, the intro rises like a fever and the song is the ultimate experiment between a human body and a machine that commands our brain and sexuality. Goldfrapp does not have a statement or a manifesto; they make experiments within the only nature more complex than Mother Earth. Our human nature. Alison is still “wired to the world / I’m super brain / that’s how they made me” and as the caravan leaves behind an endless explosion of white confetti, on those blank pieces of paper lie Goldfrapp’s future. Tales to tell.

Tales of all of us.