Darkstar interview: “What space can do for your subconscious.”

10.08.12 Words by: Ruth Saxelby

It’s just a short cab ride from Leeds train station to the lovingly ramshackle studio full of 20-odd years’ worth of accumulated gear that Darkstar are currently holed up in but it’s a world away from the Clapton flat they recorded their debut album ‘North’. It was last summer, following their signing to Warp, that they left London to move into a house in the Yorkshire countryside to record their second album. Weirdly, it also coincided with the London riots. “We’d returned from Field Day and we were watching it kick off five minutes from where we lived in Clapton but we were up north,” says Darkstar’s Aiden Whalley. “That were nuts watching it because we’d been in London ten years and we were away from it and that had just happened.”

I’ve made that same trip up north, away from the noise and pressure of the capital, to speak to the three bandmates – for they are three now, James Buttery having joined Aiden and James Young as a fully-fledged member rather than a jobbing vocalist – as they enter the final stages of recording ‘North’s follow-up. It doesn’t yet have a name and while there are ten or so pieces of paper on the wall representing a tentative tracklist of some sort, the album is still very much in progress. Richard Formby, the Wild Beasts/Egyptian Hip Hop producer they made – at surface glance – a surprising decision to work with on this new album, is pottering around in the background in his silk cravat, loading up parts and making tea. James Y, James B, Aiden and I head downstairs to a tiny room beneath the studio with a pool table and a chair to one side. The windowsill is littered with ashtrays and candles. There is a sense that many games have been played out here, over many evenings and many, many cups of tea.

“The winner stays on, yeah?”
“The winner stays on.”

As he sets up the game, James B tells us he was recently beaten at pool by his girlfriend. “To be fair I did have a back brace on,” he laughs, referring to the recent accident that left him holed up in hospital for a couple of months – a very literal break that turned out to be the making of the album it turns out. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he continues, as it gave them the extra time and, crucially, headspace. “It was like an act of God. The album wasn’t ready and something had to give.”

“It was weird because of the last conversation we had,” says James Y. “I said to Richard, I think we might need a bit longer because I’m not happy with some of it. And lo and behold James did us all a favour and broke his back.” Everyone laughs but it was a testing time.

Backtracking a little to the the initial move up north, I mention that on paper it seems like quite a 70s rock band thing to do – to all go and live in a house together and fully immerse in the beast of writing and recording. “That’s an appropriate word,” laughs Aiden. Was it very different to how ‘North’ came about?

“We set out to make something that was optimistic.” James Young, Darkstar

“I think we were immersed in ‘North’ equally,” says James Y. “If not more but it was different. I was talking to Mikael upstairs about what space can do for your subconscious, moving out of London to the type of space we’re in now in the country. It’s made a massive, massive difference to the sound. Yeah, we have been completely immersed in it, because we don’t really have weekends, we only speak to each other, we haven’t got a social life. It’s really like that.”

“It’s like a religious thing, seriously,” says James B. “It’s like going to a monastery for a year and taking a vow of celibacy. Well, maybe not that extreme.”

“It really is different. Also, in mood as well. ‘North’ is kind of sombre and this isn’t like that. We set out to make something that was optimistic,” says James Y.

“We did start off originally completely the other way, didn’t we?” says James B. “I think we were finding the sound as a trio to write together,” picks up James Y. “After ‘North’ I was listening to a lot of Portishead and I was thinking that maybe we could get a little heavier but it didn’t make sense because it would have been conflicting with what the house we were in was providing us, the headspace. I think it would’ve been difficult to get up everyday and write that industrial type of thing.”

Aiden picks up the thread: “It kind of happened naturally with this space and the countryside and all that.”

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I remember reading something you said about how melancholy was the emotion you felt you could get most immersed in when making ‘North’. I was wondering where that had gone?

James Y: “Our 12”s before ‘North’ are that way inclined as well, so I thought that we should do what we’re doing now because we need to test ourselves, and try to write to a different type of mood and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

“As soon as we came up with ideas that reminded us of ‘North’ we had to move away from it.” Aiden Whalley, Darkstar

Aiden: “Yeah, it’s a little bit more difficult to get something that you’re into when it’s a bit more of a lighter mood. It’s walking a line on the verge of it being too far on the cheesy side and trying to rein it in and make it quite instant but interesting.”

James Y: “It’s got to have depth. We’ve stuck to the same rules that we’ve always stuck to. There’s a threshold of quality that we always stick to and lots and lots of things got culled. We must have gone through, what, ideas wise..?”

James B: “We probably wrote a good 25, 30 tracks. Probably more ideas than things that became something you could call a track.”

It feels like with all the tracks you’ve made, starting with the 12”s, there’s always a seed of something that you pick up and carry to the next thing. There’s a little vocal harmony in Dead To Me that really reminds me of Two Chords

James Y: “Good spot.”

But then also there’s also something in Squeeze My Lime that connects with Dead To Me, and I was wondering…

Aiden: “This album’s more different though because we’ve kind of exhausted that idea, and those melodies that were on ‘North’ and the ones before, as soon as we came up with ideas that reminded us of that we had to move away from it and come up with something that was a new challenge. Get away from the old melodies and the melancholy sentiment.”

Again, this is something you’ve spoken of before – anytime you find the easy thing you go for the painful, difficult thing.

Aiden: “I think it’s just progression, striving to be into it, and be happy with what you’re working with. Plus you’ve got to work on the track for a long time and it’s got to be exciting. Even now we’ve touched on a few tracks and it’s planted the seed for the next stuff. We’ve found something that we’re going to move into.”

James B: “We’re already thinking about the next one.”

James Y: “Thinking maybe next time we could do this approach…”

Aiden: “But working with a producer is something we wanted to do outside of it because with ‘North’ we wrote it and mixed and really had it like it were a baby. We didn’t want to let go of it or let anyone interfere, so I think it’s injected a bit of life and perspective into it getting a producer in.”

James B: “It’s a totally different dynamic with me being here as well. It’s all a collaboration, there’s all these new threads. It’s changed the way these guys have worked from what I’ve seen them do before.”

Yes, ‘North’ was written by James and Aiden, with you involved as a singer. That’s a massive change to fully integrate and be a three-piece. How has the creative process changed?

“Nothing’s no, any sound is game. If it’s good, we can use it, which makes it really hard.” James Young, Darkstar

Aiden: “It’s brought in new ideas to what we were already doing as well. So like, if James [B] wrote an idea and passed it on to us, it’s already got a start, it’s already got a life, so you’ve got momentum on it and you’re excited about something that’s already started. Sometimes ideas come really quickly but sometimes it takes a while to get something going but if there’s another injection of ideas as well, you’ve got more in the pot. It goes back and forth.”

As he says this one of the three takes a shot and the pool balls scatter like molecules.

James B: “It’s kind of like being in a band but instead of just sitting a room and jamming on guitars, it’s just a bit of a slower jam because you might make a beat first or you might have this little idea for a verse. It’s like a little plant that grows or sculpting or something. It’s very bitty.”

James Y: “Nothing’s no, any sound is game. If it’s good, we can use it, which makes it really hard.”

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How do you know when something’s right? There’s something about Darkstar music that is super instant, that gets into the guts straight away. It feels so easy in that way, there’s no working its way to you, it’s just there. How do you know when you’ve got that?

James B: “That’s called being an artist I think. I don’t mean to sound pompous [laughs]. I never really got that before. When you’re doing an album it’s got to have integrity, it goes without saying really but it took 28 years for me to understand that, 10 years of doing music properly to get my head round that. For me, it’s been the biggest learning experience ever.”

James Y: “I don’t know – if the song sits right with you, then… I’m less precious with this album.”

James B: “Do you reckon?”

James Y: “Yeah, way less than ‘North’ and the singles. I’m way less precious.”

Is that something that you learnt during ‘North’?

“When we joined Warp we were like, we want a producer next time because we want to learn.” James Young, Darkstar

James Y: “Not really. It’s something I’ve learned since I joined Warp. When we joined we were like, we want a producer next time because we want to learn. We got a producer – and I’ve never made a record like this. I’ve never passed stuff onto someone and he’s going to pass it on to someone else to mix. ‘North’ wasn’t like that. ‘North’ was just conceived, made, produced, written, mixed in a flat.”

My idea of what an artist is involves sacrifice, and that seems something that Darkstar has plainly understood from even back with ‘North’ and the discarding of so much material.

James Y: “I think it’s one of the most important things you can have. It’s definitely important to me to do that, to make sure it goes right through the remit before we’re comfortable with it.”

Aiden: “I think we learn each time because I don’t think we’ve maximized the full time we’ve had while we’ve been up north.”

James Y: “We’ve been lazy as well; it’s not like we’re these guys that fucking sit at computers every hour god sends. We’re lazy; we drink and smoke. When we can get out we do.”

It’s part of the process.

James Y: “I suppose it is. It is what it is.”

James B: “You’re not one to get up and spend ten hours everyday just working on tracks.”

James Y: “No, my level is kind of focus for four hours and then trim various bits and bobs.”

Lots of refinement.

James B: “There’s not many tracks that have taken a year to write whereas with ‘North’ there were some things that evolved over a long time.”

Are there any seeds from ‘North’ that remain?

James Y: “I don’t know really. I think actually the more we get into beefing them up it sounds like a Darkstar record.”

James B: “To me it sounds more like Aidy’s Girl.”

James Y: “Yeah, it’s definitely the album that could’ve followed that single, rather than the left-turn that ‘North’ was.”

There’s something brilliantly contrary about not releasing that album when people wanted it.

James Y: “It’s not quite…it’s got connections to Aidy’s Girl, but it’s not at what we had planned.”

James B: “It’s colourful, and Aidy’s Girl was colourful. Whereas quite a lot of ‘North’ was grey, if you had to put a colour on it. Bleak. I think this is more vibrant, full of life.”

James Y: “Also I think our listening habits completely changed over the past year, after touring and coming up here. So then you start to forget what it is you were part of and more about just, I like that.”

When you say, what it is you were part of – do you mean the London scene?

James Y: “I suppose so. I remember doing 12”s to compete, y’know. I remember thinking this 12” has gotta be better than anyone so we’ve got to do this and it would take a long time. That’s gone now; all that’s gone. It’s just about doing a good album. It’s very natural.”

I was just wondering, having not heard the new material, about that thing of always pointing to the next thing in your work – you called your first album ‘North’ and now you’ve come up here.

[Everyone laughs.]

James Y: “It’s weird as well because lyrically this is about being up here. ‘North’ was about London but I think it looked good.”

Aiden: “The house we’ve moved into is called North View.”

Really?

James B: “Seriously. It’s kind of like being in a Bronte story.”

Does your back door lead into hillsides?

James Y: “The front door.”

Aiden: “There’s a river in the back yard and lake and shit.”

Oh wow.

James Y: “He’s joking.”

[Everyone bursts out laughing.]

James B: “There is a river at the bottom of the hill. You can go swimming in it.”

Aiden: “Yeah, it’s sick. Honestly, you can walk for five minutes and you’re in the hills, rivers and streams. There’s a lot more water; lots of water. It’s on the good side of valley, on the moors, on the Yorkshire side, because it gets really rainy on the other side, so it’s just kind of nice. But then all the clouds come in over the valley and it looks like what the album ‘North’ sounds like and because of that we’ve written something really bright and optimistic.”

It is an unusual process for an electronic album – you guys are producers so what was the idea behind getting another producer?

James Y: “That’s just a good thing, innit. If he’s got a good mind, and got some good gear and is creative, then it just helps. It’s a no-brainer for me.”

James B: “The Pet Shop Boys came to a gig in Berghain and we had a bit of a chat afterwards and I really remember them saying if there’s one thing I can recommend it’s get yourself a producer on the next record, it’ll open your mind. And it’s turned out to be amazing with Richard; I think he’s really, really talented.”

Aiden: “It’s from a technical point though, with his tape machines and different effects units.”

Was it hard to let go of things?

“Richard was excited to be working with us because anything does sort of go when you’re producing an electronic record, the way we approach it.” Aiden Whalley, Darkstar

Aiden: “I don’t think so, no, because we’d took the parts that we’d written and the sounds we’d already chosen and Richard just kind of made them more interesting and affected them in a way that the part was doing already. So what he was doing with the tape and everything added to it. Once we’d figured out what he’d do to some things, we were able to think of a part and write a new thing knowing what he’d do to it, and add that to the track. So there was quite a bit of that happening once we got into the swing of it. And also, Richard was excited to be working with us because anything does sort of go when you’re producing an electronic record, the way we approach it. So he could do a lot of things that a lot of other bands would shy away from and we’d be like, yeah let’s put it in the track, so he got really creative. If it sounds good, then there’s no point not having it, if it’s better for the track.”

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Working with Richard, they would record stuff onto old tape, play it backwards then forwards again, often recording over the sessions of previous recordings, layering stories upon stories. In fact, there’s a snippet of reverse echo on one of the tracks, they tell me, that was from one of those old recordings. A ghost in the machine.

Is this a much more analogue set up then?

James Y: “The sound will be much more analogue.”

James B: “It’s richer and deeper. Not laptop-y sound at all.”

Aiden: “Jay will have done parts, sounds, and then we’ll take that into Richard and we’ll develop that and morph it into a thicker texture. Sometimes it will change the part significantly and we’ll go with that. He’s got a Wasp, which is an old school synth for basslines and it features on every track.”

James B: “Another way to think about it, is that it’s creating a mood with the track and Richard is enhancing the mood, pulling it and sculpting it a bit more.”

James Y: “I think it’s generally about the outlook that a group or artist has got and how much they want people to get involved and sometimes improve, and some artists will probably say they wouldn’t want a producer or someone involved because they’ll dilute something but I don’t think that for us that’s the case. Plus it’s a learning curve – this is only our second album.”

[Some sounds start drifting in from upstairs.]

Aiden: “See, he’ll do shit like that.” [laughs]

James Y: “He’s definitely brought something to it that it definitely needed. There’s no point getting a producer unless they’re going to do that.”

James B: “You always listen to stuff differently when there’s someone else in the room. Almost just having that is worth it with having a producer. That soundboard and that perspective.”

So living together the three of you in this house, do you start to pick up each other’s sayings and gestures?

James Y: “I suppose so, yeah. That’s natural. But the house is big enough that we’re not under each other’s toes.”

James B: “You can go all day and not see each other if you do it right.” [Everyone laughs.]

James Y: “It’s funny because I think each one at different times needs cheering up or to gain perspective, and you’ve got to be honest and open. I need it and those two need it as well. It’s been fine, really. We came out of it completely unscathed, I think. Considering we were touring hard and then straight into a house to write an album.”

James B: “We have a lot of arguments. [To Aiden] Like, what do you owe James at the moment?”

Aiden: “About 600 quid in £50 bets. We have £50 bets.”

James B: “What’s an example of the kind of bet you’d have though?”

Aiden: “Something daft.”

James B: “Like, who’s that guy on the TV?”

James Y: “It’s got to that level.”

Aiden: “How many dragons is in Game Of Thrones? I was saying three, I won that one.”

James Y: “Is that the one you’re going to bring up? The one you won?”

[Everyone laughs.]

What were the ones you lost?

James Y: “Silly, silly ones. I had a bet he couldn’t do 50 press-ups. At 4 o’clock in the morning after we’d been writing. He blasted through 40 pretty easy and then he got to 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and just went URGH…”

[More laughter.]

James Y: “So yeah it can get it bit boring. I’ve exhausted everything on TV you can watch, everything on HBO, pretty much every movie.”

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We drift into talking about movies we’ve all seen and touch on Frida, the biopic of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and how she had to reject outside opinion to be able to focus on her own vision.

Was moving away from the London music scene, and that competitiveness, part of that? We’re on our path now and we know what we’re doing?

James B: “Definitely.”

James Y: “Also, it’s about trying to bottle creativity in its purest form. I think with the 12”s and stuff I referred to before, you compete against people and that’s just natural, it never comprised creativity; we always expressed ourselves. Now being up here, it’s different. It’s like you’ve got nothing to reference – you’ve got music obviously but it becomes less about contributing to something that was going on in London. It’s just about us now. Trying to do something that we’re happy with, and that Warp will hopefully appreciate.”

James B: “I can’t speak for these guys but I found it fascinating – the Plastic People thing, I’m kind of jealous I wasn’t involved in that in a way. That was a proper little thing that happened and from that a whole new genre or whatever came out of it. A lot of people say to me, oh are you the dubstep Darkstar? Are you the singer in that? Yeah but it’s not really like…I’ve never seen it as that thing; it’s just guys making music. It just so happened to be that there were other people making music with a similar type of vibe and that became that scene. I see it as just people making music. And now it really is just us three in this building. It’s quite self-indulgent probably but it’s quite nice…”

James Y: “It’s the truest form, isn’t it, I think – to just look at yourself and just do what you’re pleased with.”

James B: “It’s kind of carving out a nice little channel to go forward with and not get dragged back with everybody else, caught up in a…”

James Y: “Well, not dragged back but I know what you mean.”

James B: “The purism side of dubstep – the purists who say it’s not dubstep because it doesn’t have a wobble bassline. I think the essence of what they were doing was trying to be creative and do something new but it’s that age-old thing – we watched that Punk Britannia. Punk starts out as the anti-culture and then it becomes the culture, and you have to reinvent yourself all over again.”

James Y: “That’s a good point.”

James B: “I’m not comparing dubstep to punk but in that respect, in the way it shakes things up a bit.”

Something sparks, things circle around it and you can get lost in that circle. But then you maybe have to step outside to get some perspective.

James Y: “Having done it ourselves, in hindsight it’s quite important for us personally – it might be not be important for other people – but it is for us. To do what we want and try and be happy with it and enjoy it, and have fun doing it.”

We break to listen to a couple of songs. “They’re no way finished,” James Y keeps telling me, for the first time looking a little wary. They may be unfinished but the magic is there – and it’s a million miles from anything they’ve done before but still, undeniably, Darkstar. There are the heartbreaking melodies, the lightness of touch, and something raw and free that sounds like sunlight dancing across water, bark rubbings and a breeze on the back of your neck. Mikael leads the trio away for portraits (check the rest of the pics here) while Richard makes yet another pot of tea. (There’s a tally on the wall with a dozens of black marks that they apparently abandoned weeks ago.) The three Darkstar members are clearly enamored with Richard. There’s an affectionate, teasing yet reverential way to their relationship. It’s not hard to grasp what drew them to the 50-something producer, quite apart from his sensitive, endlessly curious approach to sound. He has a warm, off-kilter way about him that makes you want to curl up in some corner of a local pub drinking bitter and listening to his stories.

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A couple of weeks later, we all meet again in such a pub in north London, not far from where the album is being mixed. They chose to mix the album with Lexxx, who Richard had worked with before on Wild Beasts, the simple logic being that if they all got on and liked each other’s work then that felt right for Darkstar. It’s one of those warm shower days and we sit outside on the rooftop garden. Richard joins us towards the end, and he’s greeted with grins and affectionate jibes about unreturned voicemails. The sun is beaming down when we start but within a couple of hours it will be bucketing it down.

What’s been happening since I last saw you?

James B: “We finished the album.”

James Y: “And now we’re getting it mixed.”

What happened on the last day?

Aiden: “We never even said anything. We were just like, fancy going for a pint? No-one actually said it was finished, we just decided to go to the pub. Which was quite nice.”

Was there lots of hugging?

James Y: “No.”

James B: “It was quite emotional.”

Aiden: “It was a bit emotional leaving the studio. It was a quite a cool environment that Richard’s got. So I had just had a little play on all the instruments that are on the album and then just left. It was sick.”

Having not heard it, how would you describe it?

James Y: “It’s a pop record, and it’s not like I’m saying that because…”

James B: “For us it’s a pop record.”

James Y: “I think it’s a pop record but in a good way, it’s quite interesting. It’s catchy.”

Aiden: “I think it’s a massive movement forward from ‘North’. It’s very bright, it’s a lot more colourful. It’s melodic, percussive, spokes and clacks and mechanisms and shit like that. If that makes any sense.”

James Y: “It’s more dream-like. We’re working on artwork now trying to articulate all of this.”

James B: “There’s more traditional instrumentation on the album but treated in a way to make it more interesting, in a way that you might not have heard it before.”

James Y: “But quite natural though.”

James B: “Even though it’s electronic, it sounds a lot more earthly somehow.”

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Genre just feels so antiquated now. If dubstep was the first anti-genre genre, it fucked up because it become one.

James Y: “I can’t even say that. Dubstep’s weird, innit. It’s just like, fucking hell. Shit name. I think it should be more instrumental. I think it should be more what’s going on in the track rather than a genre. Like, beats. It should be a huge big fucking world of beats and anything goes. I think that’s about as specific as I’d go with it.”

James B: “Audiences have so much more eclectic taste, access to music is so much wider.”

James Y: “We’d always refer to it as beats in the house. We’d be like, got a new beat, got a new beat. But it wouldn’t, it’d just be chords. But it’d be a beat.” [laughs]

Aiden: “Or be some music that would get a beat at some point but would already be a beat.”

Genres, like borders and identities, are so much more fluid these days. People travel more, listen to more music. Everywhere you go, people and places aren’t all that different, which is something that Darkstar have found through touring.

James Y: “Being up in West Yorkshire…”

Aiden: “‘Uddesfield, as Richard calls it.”

James Y: “…the day becomes a bit more simpler than being in London. I think that came right through on the album. Daytime and nighttime. Stuff like that, just being alone.”

I guess it makes you a bit more aware of what you need in life? When you’re in London you have different ideas of what you need but they’re often wants.

James B: “When I was in hospital after I had my accident that was quite a life-changing experience. When it happened all I thought about was my family and my friends, hoped I got to see them again, and it sounds cheesy but it’s true – talking to people, exchanging ideas, looking after each other, that’s important stuff.”

James Y: “And looking after yourself.”

James B: “Yeah, looking after yourself totally.”

I guess the way London is built is that it’s an eternal distraction.

James B: “It’s so transient as well.”

James Y: “It’s good though.”

Yeah, I love it but you have to find a way of surviving within it.

James B: “I think it’s really good to get out and get some perspective when you’re trying to make a record.”

James Y: “Because of the break from London, I came back down last week and really like it. I might come back.”

James B: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

To chat to the three of them about about the process of making the album, it’s as if everything just fell into place – the house, working with Richard in Leeds, mixing with Lexxx. They all seem a little surprised by the naturalness of it, the seeming spontaneity but to return to something James Y said when we first met, it’s about headspace. Having the headspace to be open. Spontaneity requires openness; you have to be in the right headspace to read stuff.

Aiden: “When you work as three people in a band you can’t just go with what you think is right all the time. You’ve got to be open to being wrong…”

James Y: “Have you fuck!” [laughs]

Aiden: “…or take other ideas on board. If you’re stubborn…”

James Y: “What are you trying to say?”

Aiden: “I’m trying to say you’re stubborn.” [laughs]

James Y: “Working as a trio, it took a long time to gel. When we first got up north it was cold – it was hot in London – and it was pissing down. We started making this fucking rowdy techno straight away. Warp came up and we were like, the night before we were like, reckon we play this and we had this nine-minute techno thing.”

Aiden: “And we put the fucking log fire on and it started smoking out. They were coughing listening to this horrible fucking dirty tune. It was sick though.”

James Y: “But to be honest I don’t think it was ever the sound we intended to move forward with, it was more a reaction, a quick impulsive thing. It got kind of sidetracked quick.”

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You have to get these things out sometimes, like purging.

James B: “Yeah, totally.”

“I think it’s quite a mysterious record. I don’t really know where it’s come from.” Richard Formby

Aiden: “I was adding little sprinkles of weirdness to James and James’ ideas. I probably didn’t write a tune for the first two months up there. I was working away and nothing that I liked was coming out. I reckon we clicked close to February this year. It solidified the sound and the ideas came a bit better. Then we changed three or four tracks after James broke his back. That was the most creative point, probably the last four weeks were the best.”

What’s the album about?

James Y: “Nothing. Waking up. Various little bits. I think there’s one love song.”

James B: “There’s a lot of independence references I think.”

James Y: “It’s the space we were in, up in the moors, but in a quite a psychedelic way. We smoked a lot of skunk.”

James B: “It’s quite personal as well, I think. ‘North’ is as well but this is another kind of personal.”

James Y: “Yeah, it’s more individual. Maybe a few things about another person but not much.”

Richard: “I think it’s quite a mysterious record. I don’t really know where it’s come from. When I first met you and you played me what you had, I don’t know how you arrived at that.”

Was it a very different way of working for you, Richard?

Richard: “It’s totally different. When you make a record you have a set amount of time and set things to do, and in that respect this wasn’t any different. But you’ve got so many days, and you’ve got to get drums down and the bass and the guitars and keyboards, and vocals. And you get these little windows of experimentation but with this, apart from the vocals, the whole thing was like that. Which for me was brilliant because that’s the best bit. The rest of it’s just legwork, get it done. They came with most of the ideas in the place and it was a case of how can we make this work?”

James Y: “You’ve put your stamp on it, the Formby sound. The tape thing. There’s lots of stuff that Richard can do that we can’t.”

Richard: “It’s a form of processing that maybe not many people are using these days, it’s another way of getting something that’s not a preset. It’s important I think.”

James B: “Even the sort of noises, fizzy little things.”

Richard: “They’re old tapes, I use old tapes. Sometimes they get a little bit damaged but I quite like that, I like the little fluctuations of tone.”

James Y: “I think there are a few tunes that go off on tangents where you can hear Darkstar going somewhere else, a place we haven’t gone before.”

Warp will release Darkstar’s new album in early 2013