There's more voices than I can count in Powell's FADER Mix. The Londoner is known for his sprawling patchwork style—bridging the gap between post-punk and techno with a dancefloor sting and tongue firmly in cheek—and on this epic 70-minute marathon, he wears a variety of masks. There are voices that tell you not to be afraid; those that yell at you for being a fat-ass; those that calm you into a lull, and those that set out to provoke. Such conflict, all set against a backdrop of woozy psychedelia, sharp-edged techno, and gravelly noise, is typical of the thrill-seeking DJ and producer who is always anything but predictable.
Oscar Powell inaugurated his label Diagonal Records in 2011 with his The Ongoing Significance of Steel and Flesh EP, soon followed up with the enthralling five-track Body Music, which did exactly what it set out to in the title; last year came the even more straight-talking Club Music. After his grotesque banger "Sylvester Stallone" on XL Recordings, Powell is readying another single—and to celebrate, he's spliced together this joyfully unwieldy FADER Mix. Dive in below, and keep scrolling for his thoughts on his newfound popularity in Shanghai, and how he was affected by watching Jaws too young.
Where are you right now? Please describe your surroundings.
POWELL: I’m at my desk in my studio. Well, I say studio, but it’s really just my bedroom. There’s a bottle of red wine half-drunk, some unpacked bags from Berlin Atonal, clothes everywhere. There’s also a beautiful French girl lying on my bed in her underwear and a suitcase full of cash by my feet. You can believe what you want from that. It’s pissing with rain outside.
Tell us a bit about this mix—what do you imagine people doing while listening to it?
I don’t really imagine them doing anything. Oddly enough, I don’t particularly enjoy preparing mixes for wider consumption, so really this is just a mix I made for myself that someone, somewhere, may also enjoy. I’m quite an impatient person, and I think that’s reflected in the way I mix, and also the kind of music I play. I’m addicted to urgency in music, so maybe this will suit people who are speeding on the motorway, or getting high at home.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
My dad hoisting me on my shoulders and listening to Dire Straits. I got almost nothing valuable out of my parents’ listening habits, at least in terms of what I’m doing now. They’re wonderful in other ways, though: Dad can put his knee on the ground on a motorbike, for instance, and my mum is an extraordinary painter. Speaking of Dire Straits, I was picked up in Berlin by a driver who had just got back from driving Mark Knopfler and his band around for their new album tour. They played golf together. Cool story, eh?
Apparently you’re popping off in Shanghai. How did that happen?
Not sure how it happened, but I find it extremely inspiring to be on the other side of the world and have a couple of people in the audience who are actually there to see you. I’m very grateful for it. You return home determined to make these people happy by making new stuff.
The club out there was one of the best I’ve played too. It’s called The Shelter, and is an old concrete bomb shelter—actually. It’s hot, it’s close, it’s loud: all the things you want from a club.
What’s your favorite venue to play in London right now?
None, really. Corsica Studios is great, and I enjoyed the Bloc warehouse earlier this year, but I don’t feel any kind of spiritual connection with any place, which is strange considering I’ve lived here most of my life. I have stronger connections with places I’ve played abroad. London’s lack of good venues has been talked about at length, so there’s not much point in going into it too much here. But yeah, Boris [Johnson, mayor of London], if you’re reading this—and you might be ‘cos I’ve been sending you Diagonal shit for years—sort it out.
What’s the last book you read that had a big impact on you and why?
I have loads of books about sharks as I have a peculiar interest in them. There’s one by my bed that’s the definitive take on the great white shark. When I can’t sleep, I read bits of it—and I go to sleep. So I guess it’s had an important impact on my current health. There are also only a few websites I check daily, and one of those is, oddly, underwatertimes.com, which is an awful-looking feed of all underwater-predator-related stories from around the world. I think I have this in me because I watched Jaws when I was way too young. It’s the movie’s 40th anniversary this year. It changed my life.
1.Gunter Saxenhammer — Gunter Meets Doric On The Night Bus [DISKONO RECORDS]
2. Godley + Crème — Sale of the Century [POLYDOR]
3. Powell — Skype [N/A]
4. Shit and Shine — Flirtations at a Cocktail Party [ROCK IS HELL RECORDS]
5. Smegma — Can’t Look Straight [MUTE RECORDS]
6. Alan Vega — Saturn Drive [ELEKTRA]
7. Berserk in a Hayfield — Pulse [COLOR TAPES]
8. Hell — This Is For You [Terence Fixmer Mix] [DISKO B]
9. Tuning Circuits — I Am a Non-Believer [TOTALLY FREAKED OUT POWER
10. Blind Vision — Get Out [Of Me] [NEW ZONE]
11. SA42 — Please and Crime [Remix 88] [LD RECORDS]
12. Duce — Krieg Oder Frieden [BOY RECORDS]
13. Koto — Jabdah [Long Version[ [MEMORY RECORDS]
14. Time Modem — Alien Elements [BOY RECORDS]
15. EVOL — Proper Headshrinker [EDITIONS MEGO]
16. Moebius + Plank — Tollkühn [SKY RECORDS]
17. The Overlords — Sundown [ANTLER SUBWAY]
18. Lou Reed — Interview [YOUTUBE]
19. Klangwerk — Die Kybernauten [ZYX RECORDS]
20. Not Waving — 24 [DIAGONAL]
21. Hecker Leckey — Sound Voice Chimera [PAN]
22. Unknown Artist — Relax [N/A]
23. Not Waving — I Know I Know I Know [DIAGONAL]
24. Wiseblood — Motorslug [WAX TRAX! RECORDS]
25. Soft Cell — Mr. Self Destruct [VERTIGO]
26. Powell — Unknown
27. DNA — N/A [NO MORE RECORDS]
28. Russell Haswell — Heavy Handed Sunset [Autechre ‘Conformity Version’]