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Rock n' Blog
 
marc goldstein writes while he shoots
Antimatter
An exclusive interview with James Murphy, aka LCD Soundsystem
 
James Murphy is a DJ, a producer, a singer in a band, a socialite, a an art connoisseur, a fashionista with a massive T-Shirt collection, and the last person to see himself in the role of a Rock Icon. But 7 years of hype assimilated around his Disco Punk cynical rants as the frontman of LCD Soundsystem have decided otherwise. Often the centerpiece of the infamous and secretive (never a flyer) DFA (his label) East Coast parties where 200 peeps are e-mailed and 2000 show up, James Murphy finds himself the incidental figurehead of the new Indie scene. But he’s also a man who’d rather sit at home reading the paper with his supermodel wife or walk the dog around the block than talking to reporters… which is exactly what he was doing when we caught up with him to tell us about LCD’s new album “Sound of Silver”.

THE BOOK LA: So James, what’s going on in your life at this moment ?

James Murphy:: I’m at home and I got my dog and my wife is here.  It’s pretty good.

BKLA: Let’s talk a little bit about your new album “Sounds of Silver”. It feels more polished than your debut. How did you approach making this album vs. the first one ?

JM : Well, I wanted to make it sorta similar, but I wanted to improve on the first record, which I thought was a little beige and I don’t think I did as much post production as I could have.  So I went to the studio on a farm where I made the first one, spent 5 weeks recording it, then came back to DFA for 5 more weeks to mix it, add more layers, which made me happy.

BKLA: LCD is both music and lyrics.  What comes first in making a song ?

JM : Well, they usually kinda come together I guess.  Like a hook of sorts, that has the idea and it comes in at the same time as the music.  But, I don’t really finish the lyrics till the day I record them usually. There’s usually something that comes together with the music that has to make some sense with it. No chicken, no egg.

Read the entire interview...




   
Reviews


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Faithless “To All New Arrivals” [IMPORT] (Sony/Bmg). 10 years in their history, Faithless has moved well beyond the perception that their big club sound is designed for hedonistic weekend activities and mass distraction. That their lyrics often  don’t shy away from condemning the world’s ills is well established also. “To All New Arrivals” is a soulful and poignant dedication to parenthood with a clear message: If it’s a really fucked up world to bring a child into, it’s also a fresh start and hope for a better future. There’s no preaching going on, rather a lot of raw and candid first hand emotions superbly delivered By Sister Bliss, now a parent herself, Maxi Jazz who’s smooth rhyming has become more commanding, Dido doing her obligatory cameo, as well as Harry Collier, Cat Powers and the Cure’s own Robert Smith. The voices soar above Rollo’s production, whose audio collage should only be experience on 5.1 surround sound. And if the music alone doesn’t move you, the video for “Bombs” will leave you speechless. The reason there isn’t a band like Faithless in the US ? See what happened to the Dixie Chicks. Being able to speak their mind freely on this album is important by itself.

 


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Laura Veirs “Saltbreakers” (Nonesuch). The Pacific Northwest has its muse and her name is Laura Veirs. Reaffirming her talent for weaving melodies shifting between the haunting and the ethereal, Saltbreakers continues her musical journey where 2003’s "Carbon Glacier"  and 2005's "Year of Meteors" left off. In the crowded universe of female singer songwriters, Veirs distinguishes herself with a unique phrasing stretching syllables on her breathy exhaling and dropping octaves unexpectedly. Her band (with the participation of Bill Frasel and an eight-piece Baptist choir) creates arrangements so complex you’d think Brian Eno had a hand in it. Spellbinding and enchanting, Saltbreakers flows one inch above the ground without ever touching it.

 


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Arcade Fire “Neon Bible” (Merge Records). The Montreal based 8 piece band returns with a really BIG sound on the sophomore Neon Bible. The arrangements -including a full orchestra, choir and a vast array of instrument you’re unlikely to hear on any other Rock record- are massive in a Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger sorta way. You’d have to go river rafting or ski ahead of an avalanche to get that kind of a rush. The rousing anthems give frontman Win Butler a quasi messianic persona, or the bold charisma of a revolutionary leader making a last stand for our humanity in a world where dissent has become a faint whisper. But these voices and this music you’ll hear loud and clear, like a marching band on mainstreet.

 


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!!! “Myth Takes” (Warp Records). The closest thing you could compare !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) to is Talking Heads circa Fear of Music. Myth Takes displays the same irreverence for format, the same dose of Punk, Funk and a “way too smart, progressive and conceptual for their own good” approach to their music that will engage Art Rock pundits and leave many other scratching their heads. Then there’s the cheer number of members shifting somewhere between 8 and 10. And before discarding the  unpronounceable name for some artistic pretension, here’s one for the trivia from Wikipedia: “inspired by the subtitles of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the mouth-clicking sounds of the Bushmen were represented as "!". In the International Phonetic Alphabet the postalveolar click consonants are represented by ? which is not an exclamation mark but a pipe with a subscript dot.” Now you can impress your guests at dinner parties, and even more so if you have a brilliant record to play for them. Hey who knows, they may even dance.

 

FEEDBACK

For questions or submissions email mgoldstein@thebookla.com

Interview with james murphy (continued)

BKLA: Most of your songs present a point of view, a diatribe. Manifesto or acute self-awareness ?

JM: I like doing things from a very specific point of view, I find that interesting, that’s what I’m stuck on. When people ask me what songs are about, I usually can’t answer, but I can say where they’re coming from, if that makes any sense.

BKLA: You’re not the kind to concern yourself about what other people think ?

JM: Oh, of course I am.  But I’d worry about that whether I wrote songs or not.

BKLA: Just like everyone else.

JM: Yeah, I mean…you worry about everything. Consciously and unconsciously it’s in the back of your head. Like, do I look stupid, am I wearing the wrong thing, do I look like I know what I’m doing.  You know... It’s just normal. I try to explore it for as much interesting stuff as I can figure out.

BKLA: Making people think while they dance…are the two compatible ?

JM: Well hopefully not at the same time too much.  You know, maybe think later.  The first half of the record I don’t think is particularly Dance oriented. I think it’s like a Rock Out for the most part. A couple songs that are kinda dancey, but I try to make people dance only when I DJ or make dance tracks.

BKLA: So it’s something you want them to really get between the ears then ?

JM: No, it’s still body music, but of a different kind of body music. It shouldn’t be necessary for you to think too much to enjoy it.  That’s like when you make bad art and you tell people that it means something.

BKLA: So you’re basically throwing it out there and to see what happens ?

JM: Yeah, that’s what’s fun.  It’s always a little experimental.  It’s like saying something strange at a party and see what reaction you get.

BKLA: Speaking of parties, DJ-ing at the DFA throwdowns, producing, remixing and fronting a rock band, are these different aspects of the same experience to you ?

JM: Yeah they really are. I mean people have asked me: “which do you like the most?”. And in reality I definitely see it all as 1 thing.  It’s all a part of some form of creative public life, It’s what I find really interesting; it’s like Gore vidal writes books, but he also does essays, and gives lectures and interviews. To think of his work while excluding one aspect would be kind of silly. I’m not comparing myself with anybody, I’m just thinking about people whose work is a good example.  Same with Warhol. Imagine thinking of Warhol without the interviews?  You know what I mean?  They are just as much a piece of the work as everything else.  I just think doing DJ parties, making flyers, doing interviews, or making records- it’s all part of the same thing.

BKLA: Do you pay attention to the hype surrounding what you do ?

JM: I don’t pay a lot of attention to it because I’m just not very technically savvy to a certain degree.  I’m not really an Internet guy too much. So I don’t really know how people find out things or what they say so much.

BKLA: Are you saying you’re not a savvy tech guy ?

JM: Well I’m a tech person in terms of making music… like I’m an engineer and stuff.  But when it comes to, like, the way kids use the internet…like I don’t use Myspace or anything like that.  That world is a little bit alien to me.  Not wildly so, just sort of.

BKLA: What of these few thousand Myspace friend ?

JM: Well I don’t touch that thing. Uh, somebody else made the profile when I was on tour last year.  And by the time I came home they were like, Hey look!  I don’t want to touch that.  I don’t want to know about thousands of people that are adding themselves and putting flyers up and stuff. It seems really boring.

BKLA: Is LCD poised for the big time? Is that something you’ve wanted for yourself, are you concerned how this might affect you as an artist ?

JM: I don’t think we are, I think we’re just kinda poised for where we’re going, I think we’re just kinda…we’re a fine size, I think.  I don’t think we’re going to get very much bigger.

BKLA: I’ve seen a bench ad say “As Heard on KROQ”. That’s a big deal in LA ?

JM: Well, I mean, cities are one thing, you know.  It’s different.  And that’ll be for a couple months. Right now in New York people are more likely to say: “oh hey you’re James Murphy”. whereas in 6 months, it won’t be the case. Doesn’t make much of a difference really. I think it would be unpleasant to get too big, and I’m just not excited enough to do the work. I’d rather just get back to making another record.

BKLA: Speaking about making other records, what influenced you ?

JM: The history of good music, I think. I like disco and a lot of rock. I really liked “Yes” when I was really little. And David Bowie, um … those are my 2 first records. And then probably Punk Rock and new wave stuff like the B-52’s.

BKLA: Do you think it’s harder or easier for an artist to be heard today due to the shear volume of music out there ?

JM: I think it’s harder to matter. Probably easier to be heard. You just create a MYSPACE profile and get a little savvy.  But it’s hard to be heard over the noise, I guess.  It’s harder to matter.

BKLA: Do you think LCD matters ?

JM: I don’t know, I don’t know.  I couldn’t even… I don’t know what it means to matter anymore to a certain degree.

BKLA: Does it matter to you ?

JM: Sure, cause it’s mine. Painting my house matters to me.  You know, I mean it matters to me and I’m proud of it and I’m doing a good job and I like the band. I can’t tell what matters in the outside world, though. It doesn’t matter too much, I mean it matters to me in New York- I’m happy with how we live here.

BKLA: Does your environment have an influence on you?  Do you see yourself more as an observer, a protagonist, both ?

JM: An antagonist. No I like New York. I’m a always a little bit above… I think I’ve become more of an observer lately.

BKLA: As opposed to…

JM: A protagonist like I would have been before I was married and had a job. That makes me want to stay home. Be with my wife and my dog.

BKLA: So can we expect the next album to be more domestic ?

JM: Totally chill record me on acoustic guitar and wind chimes. No, um, I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  I hope not.  Seems like a bad idea.


Words and photos: Marc Goldstein (www.myspace.com/mar©). Location: Quixote Studio, Los Angeles. Special thanks: James Murphy, Jason Roth / Capitol Records, Darren Ressel / BigShot, Lawrence Petty. Additional thanks: Nicole Snell.

LCD Soundsystem o nline:
www.lcdsoundsystem.com
www.myspace.com/lcdsoundsystem

Want to discuss any of this content ? Join The Book LA group on MySpace:
groups.myspace.com/thebookla

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