interview was a tough one. thousands of emails, facebook
phone calls late at night. attending a gig to get a phone number. to
make some calls. to send some emails. to finally sneak backstage at the
hi-fi bar. to sit in the changing room backstage with filastine. listen
so we just wanted some backround as to how you got to be sitting here on this couch? how about – “i heard you got married because of al-qaeda, what’s this all about?”
yeah. alright, so do you know the year… i don’t remember what year, maybe 2004, 2005 there were general elections in spain. at the time there was a right wing party running for reelection. they had been in power for a number of years. the party president, aznar, he was popular and conservative, however unpopular for bringing spain into the coalition of the willing. so he dragged spain into this war, but people liked him for all his other conservative policies.
here we are, spain is about to re-election there right wing government, aznar was way ahead at the poles, the socialists are going to lose - then someone blows up the madrid metro, and kills lots of people.
the government which toes a really hard line against eta spreads a false rumour that it might have been them who were responsible for the attack. sending a message to the people that they needed a right wing government to fight them [the eta]. however there was contradictory information that the attack was linked to al-qaeda. the media got wind of this. the government wouldn’t admit it had that information. this is all with in 40 hours of the election. this is history. everybody took to the streets, occupying the streets with protests in all major cities.
the general population, who never wanted to be a part of the occupation of iraq, elected the socialists. and the first thing they did when they came to power was to pull out of iraq. and then, probably fifteenth thing they did was legalise gay marriage. one of the most progressive gay marriage bills in europe and probably the world.
and this is how I got married thanks to bin laden.
i hope you sent him an invite to the wedding, yeah? laughter.
so what about your music? music has always had a social context to it.
traditionally music was for weddings, work, war, it was interwoven into peoples lives. now we have professionals and you pay them and they perform at a club or whathaveyou. one of my aims has always been recontextualise music and give it back a social utility. so infernal noise brigade was very much about that. it was a massive global movement that kinda blew up in seattle in 1999. there was a movement and it needed a beat, and it needed art because it was a very political movement.
to me, its about looking at the crowd as fire and we were holding the gasoline. we were the accelerant.
now the fire is dispersed, its in every little city. but and people aren’t demonstrating in there thousands like there was in prague and elsewhere. the utility for having a twenty five piece marching band has disappeared. just as people are doing discrete activism everywhere we have all gone on to do our own dispersed projects, i’m travelling around the world using simular kinds of beats as a vehicle for those same ideas.
so there is a synergy, the infernal noise brigade and into filastine, same rhythmic emphasis, politics, discretional energy…transnationalism
why the name [filastine]? it’s someone artless, without culture, low tastes. but i misspelled it, like a filastine would. so it’s usually spelt with a ‘ph’, but you know how everything, like ‘phat’ in hip-hop, is spelt with a ‘ph’, so i just reversed it.
it's obvious from your blog that you’re well-travelled, you were last in kalimantan, borneo. you’re originally born in the us – what brings you to a specific place? what brings me to any place is something really specific. the reason why i am constantly in morocco is totally different to the reason why i was just in borneo. each one has a particular reason. there’s music i’m really interested in in morocco and people that i’m collaborating with, and in the case with Indonesia, i had worked with someone who sung in bahasa Indonesian on a couple of my songs a while ago, that music somehow managed to percolate there, people heard it and were interested. and also because there’s a strong anarco-punk political activist underground in Indonesia, people had also heard of me through those channels and those two things intersected to create, like, a matrix of people who were interested in what i was doing – and so i could play some concerts. which, i couldn’t go to vietnam and play. you know? i could, but i could only play in cheesy commercial clubs and they’d get angry if i didn’t play top-40. i’m not a dj, but i can pretend if i want to, and i don’t. it was a really unique set of circumstances that led me to be able to play and tour in Indonesia. i’ve never met another artist in my scene who could [tour in Indonesia], making electronic music or whatever it is that you want to call the music i make.
a lot of your music works with local music samples and styles. why is the global / local mix so important to you? ok, its not like having a global sound is important to me, i’m just going to say that the music i make is a reflection of the things that i hear. if i were to grow up listening to rock music, and continued to listen to rock music, and listened to rock music on the radio, and live in a rock music community where people listen to that music that’s probably the music i’d end up making. because of the places where i spend my time, the people i know, the music i buy, the music i listen to, the instruments i’ve studied, this is the kind of music that comes out. i’m not seeking out a global sound, i’m just making the music that is a reflection of the sound that comes into my ears.
when you take a sample from a particular place, from a particular part of the world and share it with the listeners out of context – what do you think it does to the original sample? we shouldn’t forget that sound is vibrating air. and the vibration of air can be caused by a passing truck, can be caused by, like, an oud, by a trumpet, or caused by an lfo on a synthesiser. i don’t really give a fuck where it’s coming from. if i like the sound, i’ll try to find out what it’s context is and i want to use it, naturally. it’s not disrespectful to the culture, in fact its respect for the fact that everything and everybody in every culture makes sound and i’m interested in hybridising things. to me there’s no such thing as exotic. i don’t consider that there is an ‘exotic’ and a ‘western’, it’s blurry anyway. one of the most popular instrument in india is the violin and vice-versa – all kinds of tuning and systems of music came from India to western europe. and western europe had a lot more interesting polyrhythms and microtones before a middle-eastern religion called christianity arrived and said that microtones and rhythmic music was satanic and removed the paganism from the music and made it the kind of fluffy high art with no rythmic emphasis that we consider european [music] to be “oh there’s no beat.” you know?
i didn’t know christianity had an opinion on polyrhythms. they did. they had an official position. that’s all.
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