interview by Tim Colman - September
Most electronic dance producers across the globe
regularly cite German pioneers Kraftwerk as their initial influence. If you lived in the United Kingdom, though, you'd probably
credit the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the eerie theme song to Doctor Who.
This explains why Jonathan More and Matt Black from London
group Coldcut were willing to remix the theme as part of the 40th anniversary of the experimental Workshop.
"That whole Radiophonic Workshop was amazing," says More. "You'd never get something
like that in this day and age of box tickers and government ideas that everything has to be profitable. There's no way you
could pay a bunch of people to fuck about in a studio and make funny noises for a living. Without them I don't think a lot
of British electronic music would exist."
According to More this rich history of electronic sound experimentation was
nearly lost. Amazingly BBC red-tape and bureaucracy actually saved the influential recordings.
"They nearly lost a
lot of the original footage and sound recordings because it was going to be thrown away," he says. "But because the BBC had
this system where one person had to do one thing and somebody else another the tapes never made it to the garbage skip. They
ended up in a storage room and forgotten about. Fortunately they were found."
Veterans of the British dance scene Coldcut's
sound extends beyond Doctor Who. Both DJs they paired up in 1996 embracing early sampling and cut up production techniques.
Initially flirting with commercial dance they worked with vocalists Lisa Stansfield and Yazz, scoring a UK number one in 1988
with The Only Way Is Up.
Unhappy working for major labels they followed the independent path forming the now
iconic Ninja Tune label in 1991.
Since then their musical output has incorporated hip hop, breaks, electronica, jazz,
dub, afro-beat, house and ambient.
Their latest album, Sound Mirrors, extended their
Rocker Jon Spencer lent his vocals as well as more closely
related artists like hip hopper Roots Manuva and house icon Robert Owens. They even recorded the strings for the album's title
track in the studio made famous by the Beatles, Abbey Road.
"We got commissioned by BMW Speakers to make a demonstration
for a new 6.1 surround sound system they were developing," says More. "They paid for us to go for three days in the main Abbey
Road studio with a 36 piece orchestra, Michael Price - the string arranger who's done strings for major films like Harry Potter
- and mess about with one of our tracks to see what we could come up with."
The sessions showed the pair that the latest
high tech equipment and even cleaning the floor weren't necessary for producing quality recordings.
"All of the microphones
used to record the strings were older than me," says More. "[Price] demonstrated how by just balancing the mic different ways
you make it sound like Barry White, a classical orchestra or psychedelic. It was just amazing. They donšt even polish floor
because they don't want to change the sound. A layer of wax could completely ruin it."
With their penchant for borrowing
and merging sounds from anywhere it's no surprise the album title was inspired by primitive, supposedly haunted, radar equipment.
are] these listening devices down on the British coast which were pre-radar," says More. "Basically they were just giant concrete
ears built to listen for the sounds of planes coming over. They never really worked but there's this mythology about hearing
strange sounds from them. We just liked the idea, because Sound Mirrors - it does reflect ( ha ha
) what we do."
|More (left), and Matt Black
COLDCUT on "SOUND MIRRORS" - JAN. 2006 interview
MATT BLACK interview, de-VICE #1 2004