Dollars to Pounds: Darkstar

September 29, 2009


Listening to Hyperdub's new retrospective 5 Years Of Hyperdub you'd be forgiven for thinking they're in the clairvoyance business. A kind of record label Allison DuBois, they have spent the past half decade releasing music that sounds like the future (and probably solve convoluted ghost crimes in their sleep). Their latest act of sonic soothsaying involves Darkstar. The London-based duo is the label’s first band, a move that sees them striking deeper into the unknown. Is Hyperdub the new XL Recordings? Could be. But while Darkstar is a band, it's still a Hyperdub band. Listen to the haunted mechanics of new single "Aidy's Girl’s A Computer" here and admire the silent running of these 21st century man machines. I spoke to James and Aiden about sci-fi, Radiohead and Pitchfork’s 480th best single of the ‘00s.









Download: Darkstar, "Aidy's Girls A Computer"


You both have pretty different backgrounds, how did you meet?
James: My background is fairly typical of being in Manchester in my late teens, record shops, playing at house parties and for friends, going to various nights and just being about that scene. I started messing with sequencers and writing songs and it went from there. I moved to London in 2002 and met Aiden at university. We lived in a shared house in Harlesden and starting swapping ideas, from then it just progressed and we started releasing some tracks. I think there is always an underlying electronic feel to the sound and that probably comes from my side.

Aiden: I started playing guitar from about the age of 10, and then later on went to Leeds College of music... I met James while at University in London. The dynamic is quite isolated; we work on ideas separately then bring them together. I listen to anything on the net, I’m not a record collector. I don't dwell on one specific artist or genre but Joy Division and Iggy Pop had massive impact on me. I like simple effective songs.

How does it feel knowing that according to Pitchfork you made the 480th best single (“Need You”) of the decade?
James: In 2008 Martin Clarke praised it quite heavily so it was probably from that. It's hard to have an opinion because its 500 tracks and we are 480 but then again it’s the decade so its bizarre. The "Need You" single was just done at home and then sent out, it started getting noticed and I started getting emails from Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester saying Radiohead had played the track right before they went on stage, I got calls and texts from Victoria Park saying the same thing, No one from Radiohead ever got in touch but we didn’t expect them to. They put it on Dead Air Space soon afterwards.

Aiden: There are so many classic tunes in that list, it's great to be included.

You represent something different for Hyperdub, you're a band rather than a "dubstep guy."
James: We write song based stuff, it’s what comes easier to us and we enjoy it more when we write like that. Our sound is dusty and old. It moves nicely onwards. I like our sound. I think it’s different to the majority of the other Hyperdub stuff because it’s not built for a club, then again some of it is... I’m not sure why it’s different... The live thing is going to be stripped back with Aiden and myself using synths and performing with a singer. We have had some stunning visuals developed for the show so it’s just a case of us putting the finishing touches to the LP and getting on with it.

Aiden: It's not really something I think about that much but we are different from everyone else on the label. We are writing songs, "Aidy's Girl" is pretty dancefloor, but the majority of the album tracks are full vocal songs. This is what keeps our interest when we are writing.

Is "Aidy’s Girl" really a computer?
James: The title just came from him always being on the computer recording and so on, it reminds of that track.

Aiden: We were playing around with Apple Talk on the Mac and getting the girl to sing. I was at the computer for long periods of time so the name came about after a while.

You named your label after the sequel to 2001, you're named after an awesome John Carpenter film... you must really like science fiction movies. What's your favourite?
James: I watch so many movies it’s hard to even begin... sci- fi—obviously the Carpenter film, Alien, The Thing, Dune, Krull, Brazil... All those warped '80s flicks on the future have a real clunky feel and I think you hear that in our sound, of course we are influenced by that stuff it has so much imagination it's hard not to remove yourself from where you are.

Aiden: I like sci-fi films a lot is because they're associative to our sound and our use of synthesizers but I am more interested in how the music in those films changes moods, create tensions and evoke emotions. I like Angelo Badlementi and obviously Vangelis. My favourite sci-fi film would have to be Dune.

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Dollars to Pounds: Darkstar