In a way, techno – it’s love of anonymity, it’s worship of the machine over the humane – could never be English. The love of the individual, of the idiosyncratic means that English electronic music seems throw up unique, genre-less figures – the Andrew Weatheralls, the Erol Alkans of the world.
If it’s not too imposing a suggestion, perhaps we should add Daniel Avery to this list. From his days of operating under the STOPMAKINGME moniker to his current status as Fabric resident, the London based DJ has always sought to carve out his own identity, craft his own sound. “Probably one of my very favourite things in life is going to see a DJ, loving every record but not knowing a single record that I’ve heard. I think that’s amazing” he says. “Really, for me, from a personal perspective, DJing is not much more than sharing music with other people. That might sound a little trite, but it’s genuinely what I believe. It’s basically just an extension of me making mixtapes for my friends as a teenager.”
A love of eclecticism, of moving beyond genre lines fuels Avery’s own work as a producer. His star rising for the past 12 months, each successive release seems to sketch out a sound which flits between house and techno, post-punk and shoegaze. “If I listened to nothing but electronic music I would fucking kill myself. I couldn’t do it. Obviously my first love was guitar music, and during the whole process I listened to as much music from outside the nightclub as from within it” he insists. “I definitely like music which sounds like it is informed by other things. It just seemed to naturally happen. I wanted to get those elements in – the hypnotic elements of, say, Krautrock or the beautiful drones of shoegaze.”
With one off cut ‘Drone Logic’ earning enormous acclaim last summer, Daniel Avery felt emboldened enough to focus on a full length album. Using the title cut as an anchor, the producer was able to mark out territory he felt comfortable in, pouring these ideas into the vessel of the traditional album format. “From a very young age I always consumed music in the album format. Going back to when I used to listen to records with my Dad, it would always be putting an album on. I just enjoy it. I like the idea of putting a record – or a CD – on and then sitting down, letting it do its thing” the producer explains. “The other big thing is that, and I’ve said this word a lot recently, but my favourite DJs or albums or films, I consider them to be something of a trip. Something that you put on and get lost within and that’s something that I wanted to create with this record”.
The terminology is more suggestive than he realises. ‘Drone Logic’ is certainly a ‘trip’ with the psychedelic tones and textures emphasising that there’s a lot more to Acid than simply Acid House. “Again, almost all my favourite music from whatever genre has that psychedelic edge to it and that’s something that I really wanted to capture on my record” he continues. “It’s a dreamy, droney quality, something that I really wanted to push. That kind of came about from experimenting in the studio, starting to use things like putting my synthesisers through guitar pedals, space echo units - things that are normally associated with bands. As soon as I did that I found a sound which was in my head. It gave it a life that really inspired the whole album.”
Intriguingly, one of the most potent electronic albums to be released thus far in 2013 could well owe a debt of gratitude to The Horrors. Invited to remix one of their tracks, the band instead handed Daniel Avery the keys to the entire ‘Still Life’ album – enabling him to pursue his rockist tendencies. “It’s always interesting to be presented with a different set of tools to use. So in that respect it’s interesting to have a totally different starting point” Avery muses. “I think it was a big turning point for me, that remix. One, I really love that band and I really wanted to do something good for them. And also, they gave me the parts for the entire album and said ‘pick what you want and you can use whatever you like’. In my remix there’s parts from three tracks on the album – it’s not just the one song. When I was in the studio that was one of the first times I was using guitar pedals, really trying to psych it out, trying to push myself. That was a big inspiration for the whole album, actually, that remix.”
Recorded using only hardware, ‘Drone Logic’ has a warm, human quality, quite divorced from its surroundings. If the dancefloor and the bedroom could meet in a Venn diagram, then Daniel Avery has fired arrow after arrow into the crossover space. As the producer explains, eschewing programming and embracing machines allowed him to preserve the mistakes, the sonic oddities which can’t otherwise be accounted for. “I felt with this record that when I mixed it with Erol (Alkan) a lot of those old machines give out quite a lot of hiss that you could remove quite easily in the mixing process. But when I did it with Erol we decided to keep it all in there, because it gives it an extra life, extra layers” he says. “I wanted the record to be quite layered, as well. It kind of gives it an extra, human quality to it, despite being electronic noises. I definitely didn’t want to make a clinical record, I wanted it to have a human feel to it.”
This isn’t a disdain for the digital realm, however; Daniel Avery is completely at ease with modern developments, it simply suits him to retain the impact of a world divorced from instant access, 24/7 streaming. “I’m happy for my music to be digitally available as well, but it is good just to remind people sometimes that music has an awful lot of thought put into it. Or the best music does” he argues. “It’s not just a throwaway thing that you download for free and then delete off your hard drive. My favourite records are ones that I like them at first but then I fall in love with them more and more on every listen. I get sucked more into that world, and you can hear different reference points, or in the artwork you can hear different reference points. It’s a three dimensional thing. Music is a world with which to get totally lost within, and that’s something that I hope I can push with this record.”
Words: Robin Murray
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'Drone Logic' is out now - check out the Clash review.
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