Interview: Blue Daisy @ Outlook 2012

The next in our series of interviews from Outlook 2012. This time our Low End Lowlife chats to Blue Daisy

Posted on Sep 19th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Interview: Blue Daisy @ Outlook 2012 Since the release of his 'Space Ex' 10" in 2009 on Black Acre records Blue Daisy has been carving himself a rather unique niche in the realms of electronic music with a consistently evolving style over a string of EPs and 'The Sunday Gift', his LP of last year.

Bearded: Right let's start with the obvious, the new EP in collaboration with Unknown Shapes (The Bedtime Stories EP). I was listening to Joe Muggs' Artdesk show and he said you'd been listening to a good deal of prog-rock, like Yes & King Crimson

Blue Daisy: Yeah the prog stuff, I got into a bit late. I didn't know about it. When I did my first live set I remember someone came up to me at the end and asked if I listened to prog-rock and I didn't know what the fuck it was. I was just like "what the fuck is prog-rock about man?" So I decided to go home and do some research and found some of the bands and kind of understood where they were coming from. I never listened to it then, but in terms of my early stuff the atmospherics at the beginning, the long build ups there with the undercover beats coming in, if you listen to prog there's that same kind of sense there. But I wouldn't say I'm a massive listener of it. I've heard bits and bobs. I do listen to a lot of Tangerine Dream, yeah I like them a lot.

B: Is it more like a homework thing then? More for ideas or sampling? Actually do you sample at all?

BD: No I don't sample at all. I've got a new project that I'm working on now which is more of a hip-hop project and with that I'm using more sampling, but the sounds off the stuff that's come out... Nah I don't really sample. I like to build from scratch. Early stuff, to try and get into the swing of production, you think "I've got to start sampling". I started making music because of The College Dropout (Kanye West's debut album) and that whole album was just sample based and for me it was just "wow, I want to make stuff like this".

B: Is most of your background in hip-hop mainly then?

BD: At the moment, I've kind of got back into hip-hop. But I listen to a lot of stuff, everything from Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath right down to B.I.G, Jay-Z or Fever Ray.

B: See I've fallen out with hip-hop in the past few years. It's just all this shit about money. It's like someone telling me how expensive their car is when I've just bought their record.

BD: That was the same for me really, but recently you've got people like Kendrick Lamar, hearing his kind of stuff is like "wow".

B: Yeah I think the same with Danny Brown.

BD: Yeah, Danny Brown as well.

B: Release wise are you signed to Black Acre or is it quite a loose arrangement?

BD: Oh it's loose, but for me... That's my home. I feel like no matter where I go Black Acre will always be where my home is, so in some ways I'd say yeah. I signed my heart to Black Acre. I love how they work, and what they've done for me as well. The freedom that they gave me to just explore the sounds that I'm making.

B: Are you pretty much left to do what you want then?

BD: Yeah and for me it's just amazing to have that freedom, no one pressuring you saying make your next album or make this kind of tune. My debut album was pretty left field and I know if I had any other label they probably wouldn't put that out. Black Acre understand the sound and they understand my vision, and they are always willing to just push it further out.

B: They've been pretty on it this year, I think I've bought everything they released as far as I know. Sunday Gift was the first album wasn't it? I had the EPs before Raindrops EP & Strings Detached, they are all so different in sound, do you approach them aiming for a certain style of record?

BD: Every time I'm making music I'll get into a zone or mood or atmosphere, so I don't just sort of go into making a beat or making a few tracks just for the sake of making something. I have to be inspired. It has to move me emotionally or spiritually or whatever you want to call it, then I'll just go in and start writing tracks. I feel with all my EPs the only one that wasn't really made as a concept EP was Strings Detached. That wasn't really a concept EP. It's funny because I think the B-side on that had like three hip-hop type of tracks. There was ‘Wolf’, ‘Shallow Vicinity’ and erm... ‘Hunters’ and those three, in a mad way they sat together but then the A-side ‘Strings Detached’ is nothing similar. With that all the beats were made separately and Black Acre said they'd put it out as an EP. Usually I like to make it more conceptual, so the listen is an experience.

B: I thought the same with Sunday Gift like that, it flows from start to finish.

BD: Yeah, Sunday Gift as well, it's probably one of the hardest things I've done because I make music pretty quick if I want to, I figured I'd have the album done in a month. When I got told I could do an album I was like "yeah I'll have that done in a month man"... Took me nearly a year to finish that haha. But it was great y'know, all the people who featured in it as well and working with cellists, all of that was a new experience for me and helped me advance and hop that hurdle of the "first album" and get on to the next one.

B: With regards to production do you have aspirations to do, say, a full on "pop" track in the mainstream style?

BD: Well I've been put into a box with beatmakers and UK Bass music but me? I see myself as a producer. If I do a mainstream track I don't expect people to turn round to me and say "you're selling out" because that's not the case you know? For me I'm a music producer and I'm here to make music, if a mainstream artist wants me to produce a track and it ends up going mainstream then yeah I'll do it. I don't box myself at all.

B: It's strange, there's such a big divide with people who sneer at it purely for the sake of it. It's just like "Why?" If it's what you want to make and you can make a shit-ton of money off it you might as well do it.

BD: I'm really someone who has to feel the music you know? I can't just work with anyone. I can't just work with any artist, and if I don't feel what they're doing then forget it really. I listen to pop, I keep my ears open to see what's going on in that side of the industry. I'll go pop if I want to go pop, but I won't do it for the sake of it.

B: Who does the artwork for your vinyl? Black Acre is always on point with that too, how does that get selected?

BD: We've got a bunch of artists that do it, we've got guys in Germany, got a guy in Bristol... My album artwork was done by a guy in India. A guy from Delhi (Archan Nair) In terms of art it changes, I think all the EPs have been done by different people.

B: I thought the Bedtime Stories art was a nice departure for your sleeves, just the simple logo on the orange vinyl.

BD: It's strange that one, because when the art was brought to me I was like "errrrrm, I don't know about this one" as Ian just sent me the logo, didn't send me the orange vinyl and I was a bit iffy about it, and then he said check it and sent me the whole orange vinyl with that in the middle and yeah, it looked really nice.

B: Black Acre operate from Bristol don't they? Out of Chemical Records?

BD: Haha yeah, the Star Trek Voyager over there. That place is massive.

B: The Fantastic Mr Fox 12" with the green splattered vinyl was an exclusive through them wasn't it? Again, really simple but it worked perfectly.

BD: Ian, the head of Black Acre, he's got a great eye and a great ear for music, he'll send me new stuff he's found, like we've got the new guy Alby Daniels...

B: He does some vocal bits for the Fantastic Mr Fox EP doesn't he?

BD: Yeah and he's got his own EP (This Dawn) out as well, that one didn't get much exposure...

B: Oh yeah, that was near the start of the year, about six or seven months ago I think? That was a lovely EP actually.

BD: He's a young guy too, so it's really good to have him on the team... And there's the other new guy too, Romare.

B: Yeah he did ‘Memories Of Afrocentrism’. I'd rate that as one of my favourite releases this year.

BD: He is amazing. When he sent me that stuff the first time and I heard it, it was just "Wow, where's this guy been?"

B: I loved all the sampled style on that, when I wrote about it I had a look round and I didn't see it covered anywhere else, it really seemed to slip past.

BD: It did, it really did. I feel with Black Acre a lot of our records come out and somehow go under the radar for a bit, then a few months or so or maybe a year later people start picking up on it. With me I get people coming up saying they've heard this EP and it'll be one of mine that's like three years old.

B: Do you have a plan on where you want to go next with it all, or is it just a case of carry on doing what you're doing?

BD: Really it's more producing with others and producing for others. I've just started working on the new Stateless album, I'm helping produce that, and I've got this new hip-hop project with my guy Hey!Zeus. He was featured on my album and we've got a project coming. I'm doing a UK independent horror film score. So right now I'm kind of breaking away from just doing Blue Daisy stuff.

B: Is there a lot of work in things like sound tracking then? Is that the kind of thing you do to break away from the "day job" as it were?

BD: No, I break away anyway, I just go into my own world. I could sit down and not make music for a month or two, come back to it and then just be in the Batcave or something for about seven months just making a whole bunch of shit... And that's the way I've always worked. Sometimes I think it can be a bad thing because I lose interest in a project I'm working on, and I'm already thinking about something else saying I want to try this and I want to try that, but I can switch off quite easily. I've got a bit of musical ADD. I switch off when I need too and when I want to, just go mess around with some other stuff.

B: Does it ever feel like a job? Do you ever think "I better go do my 9 to 5 today?"

BD: My 9 to 5 is about midnight onwards. I got to bed when everyone is off to work. I do music full time. This is what I want to do and I haven't got a passion for anything else. I studied law for a bit, politics as well...

B: I did A-level law then called time on it. What dull shite.

BD: Haha. Yep.

B: With live performance and DJ'ing, do ever plan a direction or anything or is it more a case of throwing in whatever you feel?

BD: When I DJ I don't plan anything. I just go onstage and start with whatever. Like I was saying about feeding off vibes, I try and see the vibe of the audience and see what I can do with them. I'll probably take the mick and do something mad and experimental for about ten minutes just to see whether these guys are really here to listen to music, same way when I do a full live set the first fifteen, twenty minutes I'll mess around with frickin' choirs and strings and sounds. It's just a matter of vibing and doing that stuff to see how far I can push the audience. See if they are actually there for the right reasons. I'm not a club DJ, I've only recently started doing DJ / Club sets in the past six or seven months on Serato. Before that is was all live, but it just reached the point where I wanted to start saving the live performance for certain things, I didn't want to have to do it every set I played.

B: I've only seen you DJ as far as I can remember, when you do a live set do you play synths and pads and that?

BD: Basically I've got my MPD 26 drum pad and Ableton, and I'll have additional drum sounds in Ableton. I'll have clips separated out too so I've got room to improvise and mesh up with effects and stuff. It's easier because I'm using a Mac now, before I use to play off a desktop and Fruityloops live, just with all my sounds on the desktop. But with Ableton it's a bit more structured. My early sets were a bit more experimental but it's still pretty leftfield. Ableton and the Mac are good man, but it's a bit hit and miss. For me I've never got that full satisfaction like using my tower PC, but it gets a bit long man. I took that thing to frigging Canada on a tour, that seems to be what people remember me for, that guy stood up there with a full tower PC... And I was wearing a gas mask at the time too, so it was just a guy with desktop, gas mask, full monitor screen you know haha.

B: What is it with the gas mask actually?

BD: That was just by chance man. Ian came down to London because we had a Black Acre takeover at Corsica, we were just strolling round Camden and we've got a vintage shop there I always go to, we walked in and I saw the gas mask, and at that time I always wanted to be anonymous, as I'd just started doing live sets and thought "this could work, I should try this right?" and Ian just started laughing. So I just picked it up. Corsica was the first time I wore it and I used that for a bit but it's gone now I don't use it anymore. I'm showing my face!

You can check out Blue Daisy's new 'Bedtime Stories' collaborative EP with Unknown Shapes over at Chemical Records HERE along with all the other marvellous Black Acre curs from this year.