The story of Darkstar is fairly well known by now, a few months after the release of the north England trio’s sophomore album, News From Nowhere: following the bizarrely heartfelt electronics of their debut track, “Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer,” Darkstar enlisted a full-time singer and turned into something far more nuanced and robust: a proper band. This fall, they’re releasing two remix EPs, 01484 (out now) and HD7 (coming soon). To celebrate, the trio’s James Y has made us a fucked-up, grime-heavy mix overflowing with shitty rips, which he describes this way:
”This mix is basically a precursor to the record as far as influences and listening habits went. I thought it’d be interesting to collate various moments that stayed with me from listening to radio and try shaping 30 minutes of interference and moody YouTube rips that played a part in our journey leading into North and then News from Nowhere. It’s interesting moving back to London after being away for a year and realising how much time I spend scanning for local pirates while I’m here.”
Download: Darkstar’s FADER Mix
You guys have been in some odd spots in recent music videos—doing trust falls, going underwater, face smushed up against glass. What weird stuff have you done for the sake of the group? I suppose moving to Slaithwaite in West Yorkshire was pretty weird in hindsight. We went up there for over a year to record an album and completely removed ourselves from London, having spent 10 years there. No social aspect or any real interests took us there aside from it being fairly cheap and somewhere we could concentrate. Obviously that was an idyllic and in a way naive way of looking at it, but it’s something that we won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
In an old interview, Kode9 asked you guys “How does being from the ‘North’ affect you musically?” Has your answer to that question changed over the years? I think the answer to that varies constantly and depends on how patriotic to the north you’re feeling at any given time. For instance this mix is focused on a genre that was born and raised in London, and didn’t particularly grow in other cities, especially the period I focus on in the mix (although there seems to be a fair bit of activity in the midlands now). But this is just one facet of what I listen to, and I think I can speak for James B and Aiden too. We are now products of our environment and on any given day I could decide to immerse myself into something obscure and hand that in as a mix. Go on Spotify and make a playlist of great songs made by Northern artists, it’s easy.
What has it been like to remix your own tracks on the new 12-inches? Sick of the songs yet? Well, we had a bit of a break before we remixed them, but it did test us reworking them. I’m glad we did it though. It was nice to revisit that process and realise how much you change as a person over such a short period of time. That way of working is very much a static and clinical exercise; the way we work now is much more free and flowing. It’d be difficult to be writing like that again constantly, but as I said, it was interesting to have that dynamic in the studio again temporarily.
What food do you like to cook and how do you make it? It varies, but seeing as we’ve just come out of summer a common dish we used to make during the remixes was peppered mackerel, mixed bean salad and fried plantain, with chili or balsamic dressing. It takes five minutes and isn’t too heavy.
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