Gemma Dunleavy on her “everyday chat dressed as sonics” and the community injustice that spurs her on
Dummy were crazy excited to hear that, after an eight year absence, a certain Warp-signed artist would be returning with a brand new album.
Nope, not Boards of Canada – Parisian electro whizz Jackson & His Computerband finally followed up his 2005 genre-bender ‘Smash’ with the raucous and rambunctious electro-rock record ‘Glow’. ‘Glow’ is pop done as cleverly as possible, and if you’re the sort who can get past how brash and ADD the whole thing is – and we can understand that such eccentricity may be a problem for a lot of people – you’ll find an awful lot to enjoy about it.
Shortly before the album came out, we had a chat with Jackson Fourgeaud to find out what the deal with the new record was, and to see just what it was that took him so damn long.
"The hardest thing for me was to organise everyday life. But I have something that I think is worth coming out. I didn’t wanna make a record just to make a record."
The first thing I wanted to ask you – and I want to get it out the way now, because you’re probably gonna be asked this a lot – what took so long?
Fourgeaud: “It was basically to get back to a normal life after doing ‘Smash’. Also, preparing everything that was necessary to do the live show was quite a process. And also, like, exploration – that’s what I like in music, to discover, learn, and research what I’m gonna do. The hardest thing for me was to organise everyday life. But I have something that I think is worth coming out. I didn’t wanna make a record just to make a record.”
Have you been working on it for years now?
Fourgeaud: “Of course, I do it all day long! I always start ideas and make very rough, short versions, or record hours of improv, and then get back to it a year later. Everything is chaotically organised, and I go back to it and decide what I want to reuse or keep.”
How long does it take you to get a track together from start to finish?
Fourgeaud: “It’s a constant process. It’s a bit hard to measure. But the moment I decided to get my head into finishing the project – I guess it took two years.”
Do you feel that this album has been a simpler process to do than ‘Smash’?
Fourgeaud: “I don’t know. It’s just a bit different. You’re the not same person, so what’s simple when you’re a certain age, is…I dunno, it’s not the same, sometimes you just find you don’t get the same thing. Making music is not such a hard process, but sometimes it’s difficult to find the right balance between personal life and professional. The emotional state, all this kind of stuff.”
What would you say is the main difference between ‘Glow’ and ‘Smash’?
Fourgeaud: “The main difference is that I left some space to do ‘Glow’ on stage, where ‘Smash’ was highly post-produced. ‘Glow’ isn’t post-produced. ‘Glow’ is kind of like the 2000s going into the 70s and the 60s, it’s digital plugged into something retro, and ‘Smash’ was more about this digital explosion.”
And you were always busy doing remixes in between the two albums. Do you feel they helped you develop your ideas?
Fourgeaud: “Not really.”
Right. Did you use them as a chance to experiment? Because a lot of them are really unconventional.
Fourgeaud: “I tried to explore new ideas with remixes. But it’s a tough exercise for me. I never really listen to them after I’ve done them. I usually do them for friends – I try to please them, more than anything else.”
You used to go to a lot of raves when you were younger. Do you still feel connected to that at all?
Fourgeaud: “Yeah, absolutely. I’ll go out as much as I do.”
The last track on the album, Billy, has that big acid breakbeat running through it, and I didn’t know if that was a way of reconnecting with that or not.
Fourgeaud: “That’s kind of a little like, you know, uh – time travel. I find it funny. But it’s also out of context – it’s not like a proper style exercise.”
Can you tell me a little about the ideas you had for the visual direction surrounding the album? There’s that teaser video…
Fourgeaud: “I directed [the teaser], and for me it was very important to put this machine, the Computerband, in this rural resistance context. I didn’t want that general sci-fi, hi-tech fascination – it kind of bores me. I wanted to create this universe, this atmosphere, this world, with this kind of half-made, and has this magical aura. The community, The Glow, is the godless, living, breathing offline worshippers.”
"For me it was very important to put this machine, the Computerband, in this rural context. I didn’t want that general sci-fi, hi-tech fascination – it kind of bores me."
Can you tell me a little about the live show?
Fourgeaud: “The setup is like this big, real time electronic machine. The monitor is a bit bigger so you can either create a reflection of the stage and bounce it back to the audience, or do some projections for what I’m doing or what the music is doing.”
On ‘Smash’, you worked with a lot of your family. Can you tell me who you worked with on this?
Fourgeaud: "There’s Planningtorock on the track Dead Living Things, and the band Natas Loves You on Glow. Then there’s Mara Carlyle on Orgysteria. And there is Cosmo Brown on G.I. Jane. And also Anna Jean from the band Domingo on Vista and Memory. They’re just good friends – people I like to share time with, and who are okay to just join in when I needed them to."
Was it always your intention to bring in quite a lot of other people?
Fourgeaud: "It’s always been my intention to share things with other artists, so yeah, for sure. For me it’s just about getting the record where you want it to be, and share with other people and get their input."
And the lyrical themes?
Fourgeaud: "They’re always a collaboration with the other people. For example with Planningtorock, I came up with this "the good, the gold and the ugly" kind of thing as the core of the song. G.I. Jane became a little bit critical, sort of taking the piss out of things, but it’s also like an homage to Demi Moore, and that movie – which I really like. And Memory is more of a personal kind of thing – I tend to forget everything I do. It was written with my girlfriend."
Warp released 'Glow' on September 2nd.