Polishing off our sesame chicken wings, RUDI ZYGADLO and I decide two things: firstly, food tastes better when eaten with fingers; secondly, we are going to rearrange this interview in favour of stepping out to DMZ’s 5th Birthday at Mass in Brixton (read a DMZ feature from our vaults here). We’ve crossed paths a few time before and Rudi welcomes the idea of indulging in some nightlife on his one night in London. Hailing from Glasgow, his experimental/wonk/choral/Dubstep music has already caught Mary Anne Hobbs’ ear, with comparisons being drawn to Nosaj Thing and Aphex Twin (not a poor man’s imitation, more like the second generation). Having spent the last week under the spell of his forthcoming album on Planet Mu, ‘Great Western Laymen’, (listen to Resealable Friendship above) in which he delicately weaves ephemeral choir-like melodies through confident reverberating basslines, it seems only too appropriate to spend the night dancing in a converted church to some soul-quaking Dubstep.
The following day after a few hours of crumpled sleep, Rudi is ready for questioning and full of good humour: “Here we go… the enigma shattered.” Reflecting on the previous night, he says he “enjoyed the club experience, but nine hours of continuous bass heavy Dubstep is just too relentless.” Does that make him want to review the genre he’s been labelled under? “No, but after a night like this I am weary of it. Yes, I share some of the same sounds, but if I was billed at a night as Dubstep people could be disappointed.” They may share an emphasis on bass, but where he takes his sound is unpredictable and totally idiosyncratic. It sounds like his music was dreamt up somewhere between the golden hours of Saturday night’s dancefloor and Sunday morning’s church service.
When asking about influences he is a bit tentative. “This question gets me a bit stuck. Strange because it’s not that I don’t know what I like, but if I single things out it misrepresents my listening habits. Fuck it. Yeah I like Classical music. Eastern European composers of the late 19th/early 20th century like Janacek, Bartók and Martinu. I listened to Zappa religiously for years. The new Joanna Newsom album makes me quiver. Jazz, Disco, Electronica. When me and my mate discovered Warp at high school it was like a bible.” These are all audible in his album. Zappa can be heard in the psychedelic Stop/Reject, the composers and the jazz are present in Missa Per Brevis, the disco in the vocoder of The Man In The Duck, but just as we get to the nitty gritty his lift arrives and he’s off.
Two days later and back in Glasgow, we catch up on the phone. His home city has been a hotbed of activity for what’s been termed an experimental/wonk/wobble/hip hop movement, think Dam Mantle (read his gig diary here) or LuckyMe members Hudson Mohawke (interviewed here), Rustie and The Blessing. Does he feel a conscience part of that movement? “No, it’s absolutely coincidental, any association is largely based on postcode.” Does he want to align himself with any music community? “I think being part of a collective has it’s obvious advantages but it can chip away at your autonomy. I made an album in my bedroom, no exclusive scene in mind, and hopefully that’s why it sounds like….well…. me.”
Sitting at his desk where the forthcoming album Great Western Laymen was conceived, written and produced, I get some background: “I live on Great Western Road and from my window I can see two churches; the album has a very ecclesiastical theme. Initially I wanted to set the Latin Mass to electronic music. Composers have set the liturgy to music for hundreds of years..” I ask him if the album serves as a modern day spiritual guide? “Oh no… lots of stuff happens on the album. There’s perversion, blasphemy, synth solos and inane lyrics that I am a little embarrassed about.” So the lyrics are not heartfelt from the soul? He laughs and declares them “embarrassingly whimsical… they were always the last thing I did on the track, a final, rushed sprinkle of icing. I actually awoke about 4am one night drenched in sweat and sent an urgent email to Mike Paradinas of Planet Mu saying ‘DON’T PRINT THE LYRICS!’ I don’t consider my lyrics to be poetry. The voice is just another instrument.”
After plenty of DJ sets, he is eager to translate his bedroom production into a one-man live show: “It’s gratifying to see people dancing in a club to music one has concocted at home. It’s a moment of fruition. I’m still playing to an audience almost totally unfamiliar to my music though. I don’t mind. When someone plays a popular tune in a club environment there is a sense of familiarity en mass which, without sounding too sensational, unifies the crowd. With my tunes I am not yet armed with that particular weapon.” Well, not yet maybe, but it won’t be long.
If you like this, you should check out Dummy Mix 16 // Slugabed here.