Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: Not another cool DJ
When inthemix got on the phone to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, he’d recently sold out his first Australian show – an intimate Sydney club date – in the area of four minutes. It proved to be a particularly triumphant first visit: the venue was packed, the reception was huge and things got so loose (on a Thursday night, no less) that support act Flume was concussed mid-crowd surf during Household Goods by a none-too-impressed bouncer. So with the debut show one for the history books, it’s lucky for the rest of the country that the lone OAF date isn’t the only Australian show Orlando Higginbottom is doing this year. Back for New Year’s with Field Day and Falls Festival, the Oxford-born prodigy is taking his debut album Trouble for a proper spin of the country in a couple of months – not a moment too soon.
Before Trouble was released you said you were taking your time with it because you felt that a lot of dance albums don’t stand the test of time. Now that it’s out, how do you feel about it?
Well that was one of the comments I made about it, but that wasn’t the main reason that I spent a long time working on it. It’s just that one thing I was thinking about, I guess it’s a good angle to look at it from. I don’t know of course how it’s going to go down in a year’s time or whatever but it was just important to me to try and make something that wasn’t all about right now, that wasn’t supposed to sound like it was from summer 2012 in the UK. Because I know if you do that – pinpoint something so closely – six months later it sounds dated or alien. I was just very aware of making a broad sound in the hope that it would give it more life.
What are some of the dance albums that you think have stood up over time?
I think one would be Roni Size’s New Forms, the first album they did together – I think it’s still fantastic and has gone down as a classic. I think Burial’s first album will last for a long time, it’s still so popular and still sounds great. I guess it’s those records that have just stuck their neck out and defined something that wasn’t there before. I’m not saying I’ve done that or I’m going to do that, but you have to aspire to something great otherwise there’s no point in doing it. If you’re not going to try and make it good then don’t bother.
On that same comment, you also said that dance music has always been more about individual tracks than albums. Do you think that’s down to audiences with short attention spans or producers not making albums with a sustained message?
I think that with dance music it’s about the nature of DJing. Most of the time you listen to dance music it’s to dance to and only to dance to in the club – or at least you imagine listening to it in a club. I’ve tried to cross that boundary into a listening side with a more indie aesthetic side as well. But people’s attention span’s is something else – I wish I knew more about that. I imagine someone’s done some good research on that. But you do get the feeling that people listen less now or are prepared to listen less before they get their fix. That’s why I think YouTube and dubstep have gone so well together, you can just jump to the bit you want and get instant satisfaction. But it’s not that bad that people only listen to a few tracks from the record, it’s a challenge to make something people can dig the whole way through.
You sing on your tracks which is pretty rare for dance producers. Have you always done both production and vocals?
No, I really didn’t think I’d ever do any singing. It just kind of happened by accident and it took me years to get confident enough to sing over a whole track. At first it was like I was just taking the piss and recording and I was like, actually, that sounds okay. So I tried to do it seriously and was all chopping it up and putting effects over it. But I’m really glad that I eventually got there and now I’m really happy singing – it just opens up so many options.