Like Autechre and fellow Cornishman Richard D James aka Aphex Twin, UK electronic artist Luke Vibert has a formidable back catalogue characterised by playful yet accomplished mutations of hiphop, drum & bass and ambient. Early works as Wagon Christ such as Phat Lab Nightmare (Rising High, 1994) Throbbing Pouch (Rising High, 1995) are revered as landmark releases in UK electronic music, while Drum ‘n’ Bass For Papa (Blue Planet, 1996) is one of the few successful attempts to twist drum & bass out of its original urban context. Vibert has also released music under the pseudonyms Kerrier District, Amen Andrews and The Ace Of Clubs, and collaborated with pedal steel player BJ Cole, synthesizer pioneer Jean Jacques Perrey and Jeremy Simmonds. His new funk-filled album Bizarster is out via Mike Paradinas‘s Planet Mu on October 16th and we’ve got an exclusive preview of ‘Hey Go’ for your ears (listen below). We caught up with Vibert for a chinwag about Cornwall, IDM, collaboration and more.
Hello Luke. What were you doing just before you started answering these questions?
Making music in my studio.
Can you tell me a bit about growing up in Cornwall? How important was this location and environment to the evolution of your music?
I think because we had to make our own scene, and didn’t really know what was going on in London etc, we got everything slightly wrong, but in an interesting way..! We also didn’t have any clue about genre really,so kind of mixed everything up without knowing any better. I always think if I’d been brought up in London or wherever then I’d’ have known a lot more, and probably slotted into some existing genre happily, so I feel glad to have known fuck all in those days!
Whereas releases from other electronic artists of your generation – Boards Of Canada and Aphex Twin spring to mind but this also applies to Squarepusher to some extent – are surrounded by a great deal of media kerfuffle, artists like yourself and, say, Autechre, seem to quietly go about making and releasing good music on a pretty regular basis. What do you think about the air of mystique that surrounds certain artists?
Not really sure about all that side of it…it doesn’t seem to make much difference to sales whether there’s tons of press or not much [having been in both positions over the years!] Personally I prefer an air of mystique as an artist, hence having zero web prescence, and I loved those pre-internet days when you didn’t know who the fuck made the track you loved – they might’ve been a black Detroit musician, or a white guy from Leeds or whatever..!
You’ve made music in a variety of genres including instrumental hiphop, acid house and drum & bass. Which idiom is most satisfying and fulfilling for you?
Hmm – I think it depends on the mood I’m in…but hippy hoppy tracks are kind of my default setting I spose…
What do you think of the suggestion that there is an IDM revival taking place? What do you think of the term?
Always hated the term [we used to say we made SDM, as we thought stupid music was much more funky than that intelligent bollox!]
What artists and albums are touchstones for you? Which ones set the gold standard?
So, so many… although none from recent times, as I can’t be bothered checkin most stuff out these days. I’d say Prince was my first massive influence as a kid, as well as early hip hop stuff, Art Of Noise, then dear old John Peel, who’d play literally anything. Aphex was a big kick up the arse for me + Jeremy [Simmonds, one half of Vibert/Simmonds, who released the Weirs and Rodulate LPs via Rephlex in 1994 and 2008 respectively] to get our shit together, too!
Do you ever revisit older work? I was wondering how Phat Lab Nightmare and Throbbing Pouch might sound to you in 2015?
Not really – very rarely! I do enjoy them when I listen, but that may well be simply as I’m in a nostaligic mood.
Your early music was released on Rising High Records, a label that was once influential but seldom gets talked about these days. What are you recollections of that association?
Phew – kind of crazy memories! Too many to go into here, but it was an education, in one way or another!
How did the Plug material come to be issued via Trent Reznor’s Nothing label?
Good old Jack Dangers [Meat Beat Manifesto] loved it and possibly forced Trent to put it out! Again – top memories involved!
Do you have a favourite piece of music (or whole album) that you’ve made?
Deoends on the mood, but I veer between Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa, Big Soup and Tally Ho!
What are the pros and cons of collaboration versus solo work?
I really don’t enjoy collaboration unless that person has a completely different skillset from my own..! Otherwise it’s too awkward, treading on each other’s toes etc
Who is the most underrated producer of the Rephlex generation?
Hmm…I’d have to say The Jones Machine or perhaps Tipper off the top of my head…
What’s your most indispensable piece of kit?
Laptop, unfortunately! Although I do love the analogue shit, I rarely actually use it these days…
What is the origin of the name ‘Wagon Christ’?
Came from an American comic called Weirdo that I used to collect. The character was actually called ‘The Sunset Boulevard Wagon Christ’ which I thought just a tad too long, so called my first EP the Sunset Boulevard EP to compensate!
Thanks Luke. What are you going to do now you’ve answered these questions?
Eat something – I’m starving!
Interview: Joseph Stannard
Take an exclusive first listen to ‘Hey Go’ from Bizarster:
Photo: Theo Cottle