Lee Jones crafts an understated mix of new and old on this week's RA podcast.
As the sole man behind Hefner and one half of My My, Lee Jones has had quite a career in electronic music already. But as he gets set for the release of his debut album under his own name, he seems to be feeling a bit pensive. How else do you explain away the slow and brooding start—and end—to his RA podcast? The end title to Cool Hand Luke? Consider these heart strings pulled.
Despite the moody bookends, Jones crafts a mix here that glides through modern minimalism with aplomb. Like his work with My My, this mix is understated, but the more you listen to it, the more you grow to hear the skill that guides it along its path. The same goes for that debut album, Electric Frank, which has been seeing tons of play at RA towers. You never seem to need to hear it, but everytime you put it on, it's mighty hard to think of any other album that you'd want to be listening to instead.
What have you been working on recently?
A bit of everything. New ideas for the next My My album, promotion for my album, preparations for my solo live tour, some music for a German television series and a few remixes including "Silver Screen" by Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin, in collaboration with M.A.N.D.Y.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
At home on my Macbook using Ableton Live.
Can you tell us a little about the mix?
I loosely tried to give the podcast a cinematic theme. It starts off with a mix of film soundtrack music with some edits or beats or very minimal tracks mixed in. Then it turns into a mix of new and old tracks which somehow have a cinematic feel, or are just plain funky.
How do you differentiate the work of Lee Jones and My My?
I don't really. My My tracks are done together with Nick Höppner, and stuff I do on my own comes out as Lee Jones. I guess I'm a bit more "experimental" on my own because there's no one else in the studio to approve or disapprove of what I'm doing. But there's no deliberate change of approach to producing. That approach changes with every new track I make, mostly because I'm still learning how to do it.
Will there ever be more Hefner material?
I feel stupid saying "yes, I am working on the second Hefner album, and hopefully it will be out next year" because I've been saying that for seven years. But, in fact, yes, I am working on the second Hefner album, and hopefully it will be out next year.
Tell us about the cover art to your album.
It was done by a dear friend of mine from University, Richard Wilkinson, who does illustrations for The Telegraph Magazine and tons of other stuff. His drawings are just remarkable. I gave him a carte blanche to do whatever he wanted after sending him a few tracks. I've no idea why he drew a zebra with red stripes, but it looks awesome.
What are you up to next?
Apart from a short break in November for recording new Hefner material, I'll be working with Nick on the new My My album and touring until the end of the year, a mixture of DJing, live gigs on my own, live My My gigs with Nick and DJing with Nick.
Kitty Bronx - Sacramento - Junior Margaret Dygas - Sail Away Jean-Michel Bernard - Golden the Pony Boy - Astralwerks Acid Pauli (feat. Master Saphi Band) - Euphonium - Bar 25 Jon Brion - Phone Call - Hollywood Records Oni Ayhun - OAR 1 - Oni Ayhun Records Jay Haze - The Warmth CSM - The Way - Reel Discs Warbgasm - Influenza (Plasmik Deep Chord Remix) - Hypercolour Untold - Kingdom - Hessle Audio And.Id - Sand On The Floor - Mobilee Plez - How Can You Stop - BBE Nicone - Una Rossa (H.O.S.H. Remix) - Stil Vor Talent Butch & Julie Marghilano - Last Tango (Daso & Pawas Remix) - Envy My Music Sideshow - 'If Alone' Feat Paul St.Hilaire (Château Flight Dub Mix) - Aus M.A.N.D.Y. - Superman (Reboot's 20 Cubans) - Get Physical Music Toasty - Like Sun - Hotflush Burak Sar - La Garua - Cécille Records Minilogue - Snake Charmer - Wagon Repair Patrice Bäumel - Roar - Get Physical Music Lee Jones - Weisses Kanninchen - Aus Gwen Maze - More Than Love (Anthony Collins Remix) - Supernature Lalo Schifrin - End Title (Cool Hand Luke Soundtrack) - Dot Records
Whether it be DJing, producing or mental nursing, Danny Howells puts the utmost care into whatever he does. Better, not bigger, is his mantra. RA's Todd L. Burns talks to the man to find out more.
A lot of people like to talk about nice guys in the electronic music business, but Danny Howells may just be the nicest. Howells was a nurse to the mentally ill—a career he gave up to pursuing DJing full-time after the success of his Global Underground Nubreed mix—and his essential goodness seems to endlessly radiate outward. Always mugging, always smiling, always having a great time, Howells would be the definition of a showman—if it didn't seem like he was already enthusiastic 24/7.
One of the reasons Howells seems relaxed is that he's recently taken a break from the DJ grind, focusing much of his energy on the production arena. It's the DJ's first extended foray into production and will see the light of day on his shiny new label, Dig Deeper. (You can hear some of those tracks on Howells' recent Renaissance - The Mix Collection double disc set.)
So will we see Howells giving up spinning entirely? Not quite. As RA's Todd L. Burns found out in a chat after his recent US tour, after 17 years behind the decks he's just gotten a bit pickier and his mind has started to wander to things like that career in mental nursing, Coldplay and REO Speedwagon.
You were recently in New York and played Love for the first time. How did you like it?
It was amazing. Every aspect from the opening DJ to the sound to the crowd. It was on a Thursday night, so there were a lot of people that I recognized. Sound-wise it was flawless. It was quite intimidating to DJ there, to be honest, as the slightest mistake is amplified. You hear every detail. It's interesting—you'll play your own productions on a system like that and you'll think, "Oh fuck, that sounds crap!" Or you play a piece of vinyl and an mp3 compressed at 320 kbps and you hear the difference immediately.
Traveling a lot, I tend to think that maybe my ears aren't working as well as they used to—because things don't sound good in clubs—but when you go to venues like that you realize that it's not your ears. It's that a lot of soundsystems really aren't up to scratch.
Speaking of your own productions, you spent a lot of time in the studio earlier this year. Are you happy with the results?
Absolutely. I just got off the phone a moment ago, as we had a remix done by Faze Action of one of the tracks and my computer isn't charged, so I was listening to the track over the phone and jumping around the room.
It's really exciting for me, because I've only released things very sporadically for years, but I really have been focusing on it for the last 16 months or so. I'm really pleased. There are about 15 tracks done, and out of those 15 there are about nine that I think I will release. Having this new label and being involved in all aspects of it from the design from choosing the release schedule to the remixes is really exciting. We've got Faze Action, a drum & bass guy and Future Beats Alliance all lined up for remixes.
It seems like you're covering a lot of bases with those remix choices.
Well, the label is called Dig Deeper—after my night of the same name—and I really want to reflect that. In a perfect world, a Dig Deeper night encompasses many styles of electronic music.
Starting a record label in 2008 seems like it flies in the face of everything that you should be doing from a business perspective.
[laughs] I've based my entire career on flying in the face of what I should be doing I think. But I'm not too worried about that. All I'm worried about is making sure that the quality of the releases is good. Obviously I'm not embarking on this completely solo. We have experienced label guys who are taking care of all the business things—which I don't know anything about—which leaves me completely free to make the music, make sure the artwork is good. The creative side.
It might be a bit of a weird time to launch a label, but the guys that I'm doing it with are very experienced and I think they got involved knowing that it was going to be a complete loss. I don't think anyone is going into it thinking that we're going to make money. It's just a way for me to have an outlet for the music—and to encourage me to make more.
I definitely don't think that I'm going to be traveling for five years or even three years from now the way I once did. I'll still be DJing, but I won't be running around the world like an 18 year-old because, well, I'm not 18 anymore. I'm 37 years old. And I really do see that right now that I want to be settled in at home and doing more production—no matter what kind of music it is. I think that the music will find its own path, and I'm sure I'll strike on something one day that I'm good at and that will open up for me. I'm very curious to see where it goes.
Is the DJing going to be like this year going forward, then? A little bit slower than in the past?
I think so. That's kind of how I've approached America, for instance, in the past few years. I'm not one of those competitive guys that set out to be big or a huge success. My focus is a bit different: I want to be better. I want to create quality music and quality sets and create something that I'm proud of, you know?
I just want to be happy. I don't feel the need to conquer those unheard of places in Middle America that mean nothing to me at all. I'm quite picky. I like doing the gigs that I know are going to work, as well as throwing in a handful of new places obviously. Being able to generate this much money or sell that many units isn't something that drives me. It's not rewarding for me to be dealing with numbers and things like that. Do you think that's why it's taken so long for you to do another mix? It's been three years since your last one.
Yeah, I think so. I honestly never really enjoyed making them all that much anyway. Obviously I get really involved with it and really excited about it, but they're quite daunting, committing yourself to record.
The other thing is that the whole market for mixes changed in that particular time period. So the pressure was much less. I didn't have a manager or label telling me that I had to do one. It's quite nice having that breathing space actually.
Was that the case before? You had people telling you that you had to get something out mix-wise?
Yeah. The mix album market was very different and there were a lot of opportunities to be doing so—if you were willing to go along with that. At the time, I was much more keen to spend the time on a mix album than going into the studio. In the last couple of years my whole life has changed a lot. I moved in with my fiancée and moved away from Hastings, which had been a big part of my life. And it's taken time to reestablish myself in the studio, which is something that I'm at the first step on the ladder with.
Whereas, a few years ago, I would put out a mix album and then go around the world to promote it. The studio was the thing that you did when you had a bit of spare time between tours. Mix albums are kind of like…obviously you don't have complete control over what you do. You don't work for people who tell you what to do clearly, but at the same time you're a bit limited in that there is so much legal tape involved.
Certain labels are very, very fussy when it comes to licensing things—even today. To get your track on a compilation is a very good thing, in terms of promoting your label and producers, but you have a lot of labels out there that have sold a handful of copies of these releases that are stuck-up about letting people use their work. You almost have a better chance of licensing a Coldplay track than some underground house labels.
Changing gears, I was reading recently that you wanted to be a pilot when you grew up.
I did, yeah. It was like anything when you're young, when you have no idea what you want to do. That was the thing that I plumped for. And then I somehow fell into mental nursing.
Flying could be your second career after the DJing has died down.
I'd like to go back to my nursing career actually. I think about it a lot. And I think with a lot of people that do this type of work, there's always this fear of rejection or failure. There's so much focus on what people haven't got, as opposed to what they have got. So there's that fear of what happens when it's all over.
But realistically, I love the idea of my old job. Even though it's so different from what I do now, it's very rewarding in a different way. You are actually helping people and families to get their lives back together again in situations that are often uncontrollable. Even though I'm very successful in what I'm doing now, there's still a part of me that misses helping people in that sense.
How long did you do that for?
About nine years.
Were you DJing all during that time?
Yeah. I think I started nursing in 1990 and I got my first decks around 1991. It was quite crazy trying to combine those two jobs at the same time. At what moment did you decide that you couldn't do both anymore?
It was funny, because the people at the nursing job were so compliant. They knew what I did, and they were very lenient with me. Over in the UK, you're dealing with a big organization because it's owned by the government, so it's not very flexible, but I was very fortunate. I went to my boss and said, "Look, I've landed a remix of Robbie Williams that I need to do in four days." And he said, "OK, phone in sick and we'll sort it out—but you'll need to do some overtime next week to make up for it."
It's funny that your boss didn't mention the remix…just that you had to come in to do overtime to make up for it.
[laughs] Yeah. Remixes and DJ gigs were really picking up at that time, but it was hard to leave for me financially just because things were so unstable. It was only after I had done Nubreed for Global Underground that I had to make a decision to do one or the other. And I realized that I could probably go back to nursing in the future, but that this opportunity with music was only once-in-a-lifetime. So I made that leap. Although I do remember going six months later to do some overtime because I had to pay the rent, and had no other way of doing it right then.
Looking forward to Winter Music Conference next year, what's the big track that you have planned for your '80s-themed Pop Tarts party?
[laughs] I was thinking about this just the other day. I can't quite remember what it was. Maybe something by REO Speedwagon? I think the Pop Tarts phenomenon has crept out. They don't normally book DJs at Glastonbury two years in a row, and I had bought tickets to go because I love it, but my agent talked to them and they agreed—if I played for free and played a '80s set. Which I was happy to do. [laughs] If there is no interest from regular clubs anymore, it's nice to know that I have a back-up career in mental nursing and '80s music.
Words / Todd L. Burns Published / Mon, 08 Dec 2008
From YourNight.ie -- Techno luminary Laurent Garnier took a few mins out after wrapping up this year's D.E.A.F in The Village to have a chat with us about Ireland, DEAF and his new projects. Many Thanks to Donal Gorman for interview duties! Also featuring some v.nice footage from the event!
01. The Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy Hey Girl (Soulwax Remix Edit) 02. Zombie Nation - Forza 03. Tame Impala - Half Full Glass Of Wine 04. Tiga - Mind Dimension 2 (Ghent Version) 05. Mr Oizo - Pourriture 7 (Soulwax Edit) 06. Esser - Headlock 07. In Flagranti - Business Acumen 08. Flairs - Truckers Delight 09. MGMT - Kids (Soulwax Remix) 10. Das Pop - Fool For Love 11. Eine Kleine Nacht Musik - Feuerprobe (Rory Phillips Remix) 12. Mickey Moonlight - Interplanetary Melodies 13. Late Of The Pier - Random Firl 14. Ali Renault - Our World Is
I don't know what it is, but some tracks just grab me by the balls and don't let fucking go. The Rory Phillips Remix is doing it to me right now.
What up...it's been awhile since I've last done anything with this blog. Here's a recap: I had a birthday that was bonkers a few weeks back. Went to Los Angeles for a few days and Palm Springs for some R&R during T'giving w/end and got back last night. Listening to Laurent Garnier's Raw Works that I picked up at Amoeba Music right now.
Anywho, the reason for this post is to let y'all know about this:
As we are approaching the holiday season, please consider purchasing or helping to promote the forthcoming CD from Heroes of the Dancefloor, "Torch," released on INgrooves November 24th. Fusing old, new, and swing jazz with soulful vocals and mixing hip hop and dub influences, there is a little something for everyone on this album. In addition, every dime made will be donated to two homeless charities in New York City: ‘Picture the Homeless’ and ‘Coalition for the Homeless’.
"Torch," is the second in a series by Heroes of the Dancefloor to benefit the homeless. The sophomore album follows up the acclaimed, "Momentum" which benefited two homeless charities in San Francisco. The next album will benefit the homeless of New Orleans.
When the founder of Heroes of the Dancefloor witnessed a very pregnant and crying woman on the streets begging for money, he knew he had to do something. With his music connections and shear compassion, he gathered an excellent group of artists willing to donate their time and art for this worthy cause.
According to the annual report by the Coalition on Homelessness "New York has reached a new record for the number of homeless families living in our shelters. In this year alone the number of people living in homeless shelters has increased by 11% and the number of children has increased by 18% to over 14,000.
Please sample the single (and free download for your readers) here
PLEASE CONSIDER HELPING TO PROMOTE THIS CD SO THAT WHEN YOUR READERS ARE THINKING ABOUT HOW THEY CAN HELP IN THE COMING COLD MONTHS, THEY WILL CONSIDER PURCHASING "TORCH." PLUS, IT'S JUST DAMN GOOD MUSIC.