Interview with Andy Turner of Plaid by Charles Brownstein
CB: So you guys have been working together for 20 years now, I guess you’re aware of that, right?
AT: Yeah we try and blank that out occasionally but yeah we’re fairly familiar with each other now yeah.
CB: I’ve got to congratulate you on that, that’s a great ride. What keeps you guys motivated in your working relationship to keep on going together?
AT: Well I hope that we still enjoy each others work and ideas. We’re good mates but we tend not to socialize a lot together and that may or may not be helpful I don’t know.So we see each other a lot but in a kind of work context and it’s not like a regular job as such and so it’s quite relaxed and we are friends but we tend not to then in addition to that kind of go out in the evening together as it were and you know, have beers down the pub. we tend to do a bit of work and then go our separate ways and do our separate things.
CB: You guys also I was just looking at your future tour plans and your last tour plans and you guys have been to some pretty amazing places like I mean a lot of bands and artists don’t like Russia and Chile and Japan. Do you feel fortunate to be able to play and visit all these places and to get paid for it?
AT: Oh yeah I mean just to be doing this job in inverted commas in the first place is we’re incredibly fortunate. I mean you know we do work hard at what we do and I think we do, we make music pretty well but there’s so many talented musicians out there that don’t get the same breaks that we’ve had so do feel incredibly blessed and you know it’s very much, a degree being in the right place at the right time you know and when we first started writing music in the late ‘80s early ‘90s there was a sort of movement for this kind of electronica and we were lucky enough to be there at that moment and be and you know have a label like Warp be interested in what we were putting out. So yeah absolutely we feel very lucky.
CB: Next we discussed their involvement with making and scoring music for films, including their involvement with Bob Jaroc and Michael Arias.
AT: Um yeah we’ve done 2 films with Mike now and the first one was an anime feature and that was a fairly long writing process over about a year where we were sent very early on very basic animatics of how the scenes were going to play out and over the course of the year those were filled in with the finished work so basically we had the timing of the scene and initially we sit down with the director and we go through the scripts and he explains what he wants to get out of each scene, what he’s you know what he wants the music to do basically erm and sometimes he will also have a temp track which and luckily he quite likes our music so that’s a temp track of something we’ve written in the past and he’ll say I think this music kind of works quite well for this scene. We’re very lucky in that he does give us quite a lot of freedom to basically ignore his direction to a degree if we feel we can offer something else. So it’s a creative process, not as much as writing an album ourselves, we’re doing it in collaboration but it’s still a very interesting and enjoyable process.
CB: You’ve both also worked with Bob Jaroc, you do a lot of work with him for your I guess the live stuff but also the Greedy Baby film, now was that on iMac as well and how does the experience because you were much more involved in that
AT: Yeah that was, we developed with Bob and that came out of live work with we worked with him for the live performances for about 8 years all in all and erm so we started off that was a quite conceptual album so we had quite strong ideas of what we wanted to achieve with the tracks even before we started writing in that case and erm that helped us to sort of work together with the 2 with the sound and the you know, keeping the sound and the video together and then as both were developing we were able to send ideas back and forth and we were in the same space. To try and get it fitting together in a coherent way.
CB: We chatted a little bit about the guy’s early influences including Tonto’s Expanding Head Band among others and what it was like recording their new record after being away for a few years.
AT: When we started out as kids um it was more the kind of early electro well early hip-hop scene effectively and electro music that was where our love was and you know during our career we’ve obviously come across a lot of other electronic music that was actually influencing the creation of that music so it’s like we even played with Super Apples one time years ago which was pretty cool they have very very big knobs on their synthesizers which was very impressive. And um yeah listening back to that it’s probably something like Tom Toe I suppose I don’t know if you remember them they were like Stevie Wonder’s kind of synths and when you look at the modular set up they had back in the ‘70s yeah I mean it’s incredibly expensive and prohibited for us to even think about having a rig like that these days. But yeah that’s a whole lot of stuff was been innovated then and I don’t and probably not recognized as much as it should have been but I think certainly in the case of Tom Toe I think Stevie Wonder took a lot of the credit in the sound of a lot of those albums and you know we’re huge fans of his obviously too but a lot of the synth that went into the creation of those albums didn’t really get noticed much I think. I think we were actually quite surprised to realize it had been so long because you know we have been you know not focusing perhaps as much on our own thing but we the 2 films took quite a bit of time, the Greedy Baby dvd was written over a couple of years. Um I’ve had a daughter also in the interim period and I’ve wanted to spend as much time as possible with her especially in the first few years
AT: Thank you very much and when we sort of sat back and we were writing the press release for the album and realized it was 8 years since we had had a bit of vinyl with our name on it. We were quite surprised I suppose you know we considered Greedy Baby an album even though it wasn’t but it didn’t ever have that vinyl format but er it is very nice to have done another one and it was slightly daunting in as much that we you make a piece of work, you want to improve and develop your sound and so in some ways there’s more and more pressure with each release to keep yourself happy.
CB: Next we talked about the guys working with Bjork and Goldfrapp among others as well as reproducing their sound to a live setting.
AT: Alison is a friend and you know so that situation came about fairly naturally and Bjork also we kind of got to know on a sort of social environment first, we ended up touring with her for a year and sort of formed part of her band as well as supporting her and so the remixing work came out of that so there wasn’t so much a you know we’d been given a massive fee by a huge major label you know for a big selling artist and you know we didn’t have the pressure that way, we didn’t have any fees for a start and so you know it was in a much more kind of natural friendly so we didn’t feel a huge amount of pressure probably more with the film work you know there’s a lot more in the balance basically and people are really depending on you to kind of to do your job well in those kind of environments so much money is invested in the creation of those projects that you know everything has to be right. Probably the area of our work that we felt more pressure in is the creation of the film soundtracks really. We have often worked with very good house engineers, you can deal with a lot of issues brought up by playing in different spaces every evening. These days we tend not to we just need to get a good sound check in the space we kind of adjust our we’re becoming better as engineers and we can kind of adjust our sound to a degree so the space you’re always gonna be at the mercy of the quality of the PA and these kind of things so you know but yeah we can pretty much make a good noise in most environments.