10 things we learnt from Aphex Twin’s Rolling Stone interview
This month, Aphex Twin will release his first album in ten years, SYRO. Which means that after a decade of dodging the media, Richard D. James has had to resurface for some very rare interviews. First was an excerpt of his talk with Pitchfork – we’re still waiting for the full thing – and now, Rolling Stone’s got a piece of the action.
Overnight, Rolling Stone published their interview with dance music’s famous recluse. Speaking to James at a London hotel, far from his home in a village outside Glasgow (population: 300), Rolling Stone got the low down on the mastermind’s home life, just how little he knows about “EDM” and the new album, which has him feeling “really horny and very smug,” naturally. It’s a fantastic interview and we urge you to read the full thing – but for now, here’s our picks of the most weird and wonderful parts of the most recent Aphex Twin chat.
#1 There’s more music coming
“I’ve got a few more things planned – at least a couple more albums, some EPs, things like that. Some more dance-y things I did about 10 years ago. Experimental things, noise things, weird things. Shitloads of stuff. They’re all pretty much ready to go. I haven’t mastered them yet, but I should get that done pretty quick. It’s just trying to work out where to put it all and what to do with it, and nobody helps me. And all this time I’m spending now, I could be making new music, which is why I usually don’t end up doing it.”
#2 The neighbours think he’s weird
“My next-door neighbor is a businessman. I think the first time I met him, when I moved there, I said, “Oh, that’s a nice flower in the garden, what’s that?” And he looked at me in this grim way, like, “What, can you smoke it or something?” Like, “Yeah, you’re just one of those fucking musicians on your drugs.””
#3 His six year old son is a better producer than you
James has two sons, aged eight and six. “They make music, both of them. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of an artist called Mark Fell – it’s avant-garde techno, not danceable. Someone said [my son’s music] sounds like a cross between that and Holly Herndon, who’s another experimental electronic artist. That’s really accurate, actually. He was five when he did it.”
#4 But having kids can be “really fucking annoying”
“Naturally I would stay up until about five in the morning [making music], but when I’ve got to take my kids to school, I’ve got to go to bed early. It really sucks. At the moment, it’s holidays, so I’m fine. But it’s really fucking annoying. I really can’t stand it. That’s the only bad thing about having kids, I think, is that you’ve got to get up to get them to school. But I think I’m going to pay someone to do it soon.”
#5 He was flattered by that Caustic Window kickstarter
“As much as I like to think I don’t really like fans – I mean, it’s not very healthy. You can’t be thinking about keeping other people happy, going in circles. But that [kickstarter] was really touching, and really sweet. And I’m getting a bit older. It’s like, “Okay. People out there really, really want stuff off me, so I can’t deny it. Let’s put it out.””
#6 Aphex Twin HQ boasts five and a half different studios and one supercomputer
“I’ve got one, two, three, four … five and a half different studios. Different sounds, to get different results…I’ve got some electro-mechanical robots in one room and MIDI pipe organs in another room and a laptop setup in another room. There’s one room that I’ve got stacked full of records. The main one I’ve been using at the moment is a really big, massive room with a high ceiling. It has these towers in it, like a supercomputer from the Seventies. I can go inside my little Cray supercomputer in the day, and people don’t even know I’m in the room.”
#7 Don’t expect him to play any more shows as Aphex Twin
While James thinks performing as Aphex Twin is fun, as he sees it it’s “not really DJing. “It’s better if you do it anonymously,” he explains. “If they know who you are, they give you the benefit of the doubt. They’ll just cheer even if you’re shit. Whereas if people don’t know you, you can’t get away with those little mistakes, and it’s much more enjoyable. I’m not going to do any more gigs as Aphex – not for DJing, anyway…I mean, I might get weak if someone offers me a stupid money gig, maybe.”
#8 He thinks this is a good time for dance music overall
“It’s taken people a long time to work these new tools out, and now it’s just now kind of like an acoustic guitar. We’re half-cyborg already, whether we like it or not. Everything is based on computers – our whole economy, and most of our creative pursuits, as well. We’re not physically connected to them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not part of our brains.”
#9 But he’s not really up with the “EDM” thing
James: I don’t really know what’s going on in America. Are there many big electronic artists over there, now?
Rolling Stone: Yeah, there are tons.
James: The last few times I’ve been there, it was kind of like America was switched off for electronic music until further notice. Obviously raves have been going on in America, but nothing in the mainstream. Apparently that’s changed. Is it on the radio now?
Rolling Stone: Guys like Avicii, Calvin Harris and Zedd are all over the radio.
James: It’s a way in for people, isn’t it? That’s a start, the commercial things. And if you’re really into it, you can look further, investigate and find people like me [laughs].
#10 …and he doesn’t have a phone, either
“I don’t have any phones. They’re just not good for anything. They’re handy for loads of stuff, but I can’t think of anything that’s better because you’ve got them. I think there’s a risk of people becoming zombies with Facebook and social media. It’s really awful, that side of things.”