“It feels weird now. To actually be releasing music! For years I’ve been making stuff and putting it away. After a while you start thinking it’s normal. When people started talking about releasing it I was like ‘woah woah woah, hold on, let’s think about this!’ Then it all starts and I get stressed and worried!”
Breakage has nothing to worry or stress about…
While the epic, five-year wait for it has become a bit of an in-joke among peers and fans, his third album Breakage – When The Night Comes is his best body of work to date. Broader in imagery, more consistent in style, there’s an overall sci-fi, almost star-gazing polish to each cut.
Whether he’s tearing it up with jungle hat-tips (Dedication, I On U) or strutting hard with deep tech soul (To Be Around You), When The Night Comes is the sound of a man who’s hibernated in his studio and turned his brain inside out to ensure every single element has a purpose and a reason… And that every track makes sense of the last.
Heavily influenced by films – notably A Clockwork Orange – and not side-tracked or influenced by any type of loudness war, it’s a timeless, inter-connected document that builds on an already impressive repertoire. For Breakage, though, it’s another stepping stone in the pursuit of perfection…
“I’m still learning what an album should be,” he says. “Every time, whether the general public love or hate them, I’m getting better at making the perfect album in terms of how an album sounds like to me. Hopefully one day I’ll be right and not come across as pretentious prick!”
Read on to find out more about Breakage – When The Night Comes. Guaranteed pretention-free…
Rip it up and start again…
“The amount of times I’ve gone ‘no! Let’s start again.’ I’ve made a lot of the tracks seven, eight, nine times. Some of them even 20 times. I just needed to clean the slate and take a different approach to the sounds and the arrangements. I’d keep maybe one or two sounds from a tune and then I’d write the whole thing again. We’d have to re-record the vocals and piss off a load of vocalists to travel back and sing again. Only to find the first recording was actually the best one…”
If an album isn’t a challenge, it’s not worth writing…
“It’s a long process. But, for me, it has to be. An album isn’t a collection of songs you’ve made in a few days. It’s got to be something you’re passionate about perfecting. It sounds selfish but that’s how it should be for me. You need to beat yourself up about it to make sure you’re really pushing yourself. The structures, the sounds, the approach… If I’m not trying to better myself or move or continue to show activity and development then it’s pointless. If I’m repeating myself then I’d call it a day. It’s about pushing outside your safety area. I enjoy really pushing myself. Making myself better and better. It’s tedious but necessary!”
It’s about albums that work as a cohesive entirety…
“A really good example of an album that has that whole feeling has to be anything by Daft Punk. Every track is different but everything has an overall theme and feel to it. Justice have nailed it, too. There’s a branding to the sound. You can’t put it down to one thing – it’s the way they do something, you can follow the dots, no matter how far apart they are. You can hear it and you know it’s them.
“It’s something I’ve really tried to focus on with every album. I know the sounds I like and I’m very fussy about them… But I can’t tell you what they are, or how I’ve applied them… I’m too close to the project to see the bigger picture.”
I didn’t want the whole reason for the album to be as loud as possible. That was important for me. It doesn’t have to be this giant big massive loud drop. There are too many decisions made around tracks being loud. It’s not the be-all or end-all.
It takes him years to detach himself from his albums…
“I need time away from anything I’ve made before I can listen to it. I’m in the album bubble and I will be for a long time… You never let go completely. It took about three or four years to listen to Foundation in a listener’s sense.
“I actually listened to my first album recently. My girlfriend had never heard it. It had been a long time since I heard it. It was mad. I was like ‘bloody hell these tunes are too long!’ They’re all seven minutes long. I started thinking ‘maybe I should remake this whole album?’ I ran with the idea for a week then came to the conclusion that I was being like George Lucas with the Star Wars re-edits. He’s making it perfect in his eyes but for everyone else it needs to be kept in its original form and in that moment of time.”
He’s not taking part in the loudness war…
“One thing I’ve made sure is that I didn’t want to compete on the loudness war. I wanted it to be clean and work in clubs but I didn’t want the whole reason for the album to be as loud as possible. That was important for me. It doesn’t have to be this giant big massive loud drop. There are too many decisions made around tracks being loud. It’s not the be-all or end-all.”
…Or the genre one
“Good electronic music is good electronic music. We don’t need to be stuck in the tempo or genre thing. If you like hip-hop, you’re not going to dislike slower hip-hop are you? Producers sound like producers, not genres. Tempos shouldn’t define what you listen to. It’s all dance music. I’m not a fan of pigeonholes dictated by tempos or drum patterns. There are two genres; good music and shit music.
“Sadly the genre debate is still huge. It doesn’t matter how hard anyone pushes, we’re still stuck in that. But people are getting used to DJs making and playing different styles. I remember when D&B DJs were like ‘errrrr…. Dubstep!’ Then they got used it, realised there’s a lot of quality out there and loads of them started playing it. It’s the same with the current house resurgence.”
Own Worst Enemy features Calyx on vocals
“Larry smashed it with the vocals. He’s such a perfectionist. I didn’t set out to take him out of his comfort zone. The original track was nothing like the one on the album. I was playing it in a club and Shy walked in. He was like ‘what’s this?’ I said it was the Calyx track but I had quickly remixed it for a laugh. He pretty much told me to shut up and send it over first thing. I sent it to Calyx and he loved it. After that, the was gone and I couldn’t be happier with the finished product.”
Every collaboration is a happy accident
“A lot of the vocals and collaborations came about very naturally. I’m not a fan of getting someone in just for the sake of the name. There’s this weird expectation there, too. Like with Vial, the track I did with Burial. People kind of expected some type of crazy Power Rangers shit where we’d form to make the most amazing music ever. But the reality was something that just sounded a bit like Burial and a bit like me. It doesn’t quite sound like one, it doesn’t quite sound like the other.”
The album was going to be called Ultraviolence
“Then Lana Del Rey stole my title! I was gutted! I watch a lot of films – especially when I’m making music. About two a day. A Clockwork Orange is my all-time favourite film and I really wanted that dark, nocturnal feeling to the album and the title. I’m obsessed with visuals. I love the idea of having visuals for music. I remember an old friend Rico at SRD where I used to work. He said if you can’t visualise a scene to your music, it’s not good enough. At the time I thought he was nuts. But over time I’ve realised that it’s definitely the benchmark of a good track. It might not be a nice scene but as long as you’re creating something visually then you’re doing it right. Films have definitely had an influence on how I make music. The right soundtrack can be the most amazing piece of music you’ll ever hear.”
And it opens with a 17th century funeral march…
“I couldn’t call it Ultraviolence, but I’ve kept the Clockwork Orange reference… The opening track Vellocet is named after the substance they add to the milk to get the lead character in the mood for Ultraviolence. The main piece of music from the film, which I’ve referenced in the track, was written in the late 1600s by Henry Purcell. It’s actually the music for the funeral of Queen Mary. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard…”