2014 marks Groove Magazine’s 25th year in publication. It’s been a year-long journalistic bacchanal for the Germans, replete with articles and puns on the number 25.
This week they explore the art of the interview with legendary DJ and voluntary recluse Richard James (Aphex Twin). 2014’s Syro was the first Aphex Twin album in 13 years, but it doesn’t mean James wants to talk about it. He’s a busy man and doesn’t give a lot of interviews. Instead he does things like hire programmers to make a unique “mutation” music software.
But Groove tried something new, gathering 25 artists to ask James one question each. The roster includes Nicolas Jaar, Caribou, Hot Chip, Skrillex. Some choice responses are below. You can read the full interview on Groove.
Nicolas Jaar: Have you ever had a ghost, a spirit or an accident speak directly to you through making music or while making music?
Yeah, I always felt a presence or something, I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s just a human conditon, but it always feels like the gods are looking on us and are like: ‘Ah, let’s make him do this’. And it’s really weird, because the other day I got stoned and went to bed, and I had the biggest intense feeling of someone watching over me.
Joe Goddard (Hot Chip): Is the story about you hiring Captain Birdseye (aka Captain Iglo) for a boat party and giving out acid true?
“No, but I want to do this! It’s one of many undone ideas.”
DJ Koze: Do you feel curious about how people will react on your new album Syro, as it has been such a long time since your last release? Are you nervous because of this?
In a way, yeah, but I think I know my stuff so well. I’m really objective now, so no one could really say anything I wouldn’t have really thought about. If you make anything creative, you have to be your worst critic if you want to be good or in order to succeed. You have to tell yourself you’re rubbish in order to getting better! The only thing that can hurt me is, if someone criticizes me, and it’s true and I haven’t thought about it before. I selected the tracks of the album and made it pretty accessible. It’s one of my pop albums, so I kind of know what kind of reaction it will get.
Skrillex: Do you still own your tank and if so, can I come visit to you, try it out and drive it?
He can come, yeah! It’s still at my sister’s house in Wales. It still works! Amazing old technology, when things were designed and they lasted forever. So, it’s 50 to 60 years old and it sounds fucking amazing.
Richie Hawtin: Do you think growing up with these landscapes being on the somewhat most isolated tip of the British isles [Cornwall, ed.] paved the way for your musical style and passion to remain somehow isolated and anonymous?
It’s more trippy in nature. When I moved back to Cornwall after I had lived in London, I had this kind of fantasy about wild, beautiful nature. And it is, when the weather is nice, but it’s probably a fuckin scaring nature with the wind, the lightening and stuff. and it is also trippy. I also think that this feeling of being isolated has formed my outsider perspective.
Caribou: Are you ambitious? If so, towards what ends?
I’m trying to do the best thing imaginable – that’s my ambition. And I try this by making music. When you make music and you listen to it, it changes you and then it gives you an idea of something new to do. It’s a constantly evolving process. Everytime you make music, if you’re on form, you should be imaging what you want to hear, which is basically how you want it to be.