"We'll mime along to pre-recorded ringtone versions of all our songs..."
- LCD Soundsystem »
Hello Mr Murphy; we here at DiS really like your new record.
Thank you very much.
Bearing in mind that the second CD collects all your previous singles, it seems like you've actually made two records - why has it taken so long for this to come out?
Well, I have 3 other jobs: I co-run DFA Records, which is a very time-consuming job, I produce with Tim as DFA, and I DJ and organize events in New York and other places, so it's been very hard with touring and everything to find the time to make a record. I have a lot of responsibilities to the artists on DFA, and it is asking a lot of them to let me release an LCD album as it basically makes it impossible for me to work with them or with Tim for a while... It's very awkward.
How different is it to make your own record from working on so many other peoples'?
It's pretty different; I get to make the music that's in my head rather than trying to find out what music is in other people's heads. I don't have to deal very much with other egos or anything; no explaining and going incircles - I just get to play instruments and get on with it. It's also much harder, because I have to sing, which is kind of painful and humiliating for me.
Did you give away any parts of your own songs or ideas when producing, mixing and remixing the likes of The Rapture, Radio 4 and Le Tigre? Or do you keep different parts of your brain locked away?
No no no. I always give 100% to remixes and production work. I don't believe in holding things back; I despise that. I know a lot of people do it - I hear them say it, "oh I don't want to use that on this! I'm saving it for my own track," which I think is disgusting, but normal. I think you should empty yourself everytime you bother to make music, you know? Just make less music if you're afraid you don't have enough ideas.
That last song on the record 'Great Release' is pretty mad; it doesn't sound like an LCD song... or is that a little disingenuous?
Huh? Before this record there was a grand total of 6 LCD songs out in the world. It HAS to sound like an LCD song, because it IS an LCD song. It's part of the definition of what an LCD song is, because, well, there it is, right there on the record. It's something I wanted to make. A last song to kind of erase the record and I am in charge of what the LCD is. I say it's an LCD song, and so there it is. If it's not what people think of when they think of my band, or it doesn't line up with an idea they have about what it is I do, then they maybe ignored the song on the second side of 'Give it Up', which is far more strange in relation to the rest of the songs I think. "Tired" is a big mess, and nobody mentions it because it's a "b-side" I think. Or maybe they just hate it...
What was your working and recording routine for putting this record together?
I went to a studio in the county last year. It was great. You live there and they cook for you. It's a farm where they have horses you can feed apples to and a fireplace. It was amazing. I went there for 3 weeks and made the record one song at a time. I have the songs in my head and I try to get them to come out better than I imagine them; I try to make what imagine and then listen to it for the first time with my ears instead of with my head and see what needs to happen to them as if they weren't mine, and then I work on them until I can't stand it any more. I try to write all the lyrics on the same day as I record them so that they're not false and saccarine, and so I stay up all night in this little room with a microphone and headphones and a pen and pad working out the idiotic things I want to say in a way that doesn't humiliate me - or that doesn't shame me, but humiliates me in the good way instead, humiliates me by removing anything cool to hide behind. What a bad idea.
Were you ever tempted to ask your previous 'clients' to return the favour and work on your record?
Never ever. I hate producer records with guests, they make me sick. They're like these very sad 90s holdover things that smack of disgusting opportunism like, "hey! I got a contract because I'm famous, but I can't do anything for myself! You're famous as shit! You should come sing on my record! We'll get wasted and this guy whose name I can't remember does all the engineering!"
How do you keep the DFA and LCD Soundsystem things separate?
By avoiding Tim when I do the LCD stuff. That's the only real difference. But even then, Tim played the fucking insane synth on 'Yeah', so there goes that out the window.
Does LCD now take priority over DFA?
LCD is a band on DFA, so it's kind of all tied together. There are moments when I'm busy with LCD stuff and DFA stuff has to go on without me, and there are times when I have to refuse to do LCD stuff to take care of my DFA responsibilities. It's a balance that we as a collective are working tirelessly to make hold together for a better tomorrow.
How does this big record label thing tie in with what you're doing? Opportunities?
It's incredibly simple - we worked with The Rapture. They were our very close friends - family. They got very big. It was exciting, but they got too big for DFA to handle well - or at least too big for DFA to risk our friends' potential careers on our totally untested infrastructure, so we met with a lot of labels. A lot of labels took them out to dinner, a lot of labels said, "we can give you a lot of money," we found EMI to be the best home. Keith Wozencroft had done this amazing thing at Parlophone with Radiohead and Kylie at the same time, he had patience and very little annoying ego. He didn't say, "we can give you a lot of money," but, "this is why we'd be a really good home," The Rapture had a stronger relationship somewhere else and went there. I didn't like that place so much, so we didn't want anything to do with a DFA deal there. After that the band when on tour endlessly and their new label, who had said things like, "we can't wait to work with you on Rapture things", stopped calling us and stopped doing things like asking for our permission to do stuff that they were supposed to ask us about. The band was gone and we were all really sad, it took about a year of us being really crushed for it to start getting better. I mean look at our output then; we made almost nothing for a year, but then we vowed to never have to lose another band because we couldn't take care of them. We felt that we had let our friends down and that we wouldn't let it happen again. I made my record and we went to EMI, to Keith, and put my record out on DFA through EMI. We decided to start the relationship with the label through their distribution as well. The thinking is: if it works for LCD, we now have a good home and good relationships for any band on DFA that grows to be bigger than DFA can properly handle alone and if it goes poorly, well then it's my record only and I can live with that. It's not our friends' or someone that's trusted Jon, Tim and I to protect them and then winds up very unhappy doing something that was always supposed to be a dream come true. I'm like our Apollo Explorer spacecraft, I'm out gathering rocks and spacedust to bring back because maybe we can all move to venus. Especially Juan - and if not? Well, I'm a very busy person with my 3 other jobs anyway.
11. We saw you at the Reading Festival last summer; pretty natty stuff. Is that what we can expect again when you come over to the UK again?
What was natty? Our band? Reading? What the hell is natty, anyway? What is it
with you English and your endless stream of ridiculous slang terms? If you
thought the band was "natty" and "natty" means something negative, then fuck
you. You can expect it to get way worse. We will shit horrible
songs all over the stage, we'll fall asleep mid-set, we'll forget to plugin our
instruments, we'll mime along to pre-recorded ringtone versions of all our
songs. If "natty" somehow means something positive, then god (sic) has a special
plan for you. You can expect it to get way better, we will spread
hateful rainbows all over the stage, we will implode with energy mid-set, we'll
forget to breathe, we will rewrite everything based on the thought in your head
while you watch us in realtime.
But really, I hated fucking Reading. I thought we sucked. or was that Leeds? All I remember is that after one of those mud-pit, cattle herd shows, I went out, punched a production trailer and wouldn't look at anyone in the band, which is about as mature as holding my breath if we don't get champagne in our dressing room. Which I do regularly. It was the first of the two; whichever that was. We played both.
Over in the Britain we're immodestly trumpeting the wealth of talent popping up everywhere. Have you heard much? Anything that we should know about from your side of town?
You do that there don't you? I mean, you had that classy "cool britannia" thing in the 90s, didn't you? It was something like Oasis went to Africa to speak on the AIDS crisis with one of the prices or something. In general, everything is shit because everyone is small-minded and unambitious, everyone is full of ego and poses and no one came to play. Everyone's too busy whispering in each others' ears about who they do and do not want sitting with them at lunch to have time to get up and use it. New york is boring right now. it will get interesting in 2007-2008. It's so easy to predict that I feel self-conscious saying it... I feel like a fucking charlatan (uk). That said, I like Adam Green for some reason.
Tell us a secret.
I'm a woman.
DiS is (theoretically) dying; tell us about a record that we need to hear before it all goes dark...
"Mesh and Lace" by Modern English. You might think I'm kidding, listen to that album and you'll see that I absolutely am NOT.
What keeps you warm at night?
Amaretto, xanax, wife, duvet, smug and false indifference.
Is it all about love? Or luck?
It's all about work. Love is too easy to lie about and luck is too idiotic.
- Help us compile The Ultimate Electronic Music playlist and you could win a bag of records
- "No regrets. None."- DiS meets LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy
- Win! Tickets to LCD Soundsystem Shut Up And Play the Hits London Premiere!
- Weekend Listening: LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, Tom Waits, New Look, Cat Power + more!
- Drowned in Film at Sundance London
- 101 Minutes of Bliss #1: A DiS YouTube Playlist
- Reviewed: Shut Up And Play the Hits a documentary about the last days of LCD Soundsystem
- Friday Fun: Time for some James Murphy coffee?