KIERAN HEBDEN & STEVE REID opening for the CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West) as part of Beats, Breaks & Culture, Friday (July 6), 8 pm. Free. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Although Kieran Hebden is best known for the electronic experiments of his ongoing Four Tet project, his improvisational sparring with master drummer Steve Reid has resulted in the Exchanges EPs, and the new Tongues album has some of his most exciting work in ages.
But as always, the workaholic Hebden likes to keep busy producing, editing, remixing, making tea, whatever. Here's what he has to say about a few of his more recent collabos.
We'd been in the band together since we were all 15, so after releasing Happiness in 2001 we decided to take a break from Fridge and work on other things. We remained good friends, we've always really enjoyed making music together, and after a couple of years apart it began to feel weird that we weren't playing any more. So we got together last year and did an album called The Sun that just came out on Domino.
I remember this time Badly Drawn Boy hired us to back him at this huge outdoor concert in France. Damon (Gough) is a big Bruce Springsteen fan, and he wanted to cover one of his songs for the encore; our drummer agreed on the condition it was Born In The USA.
So for the final song, Damon climbed up the speaker stack and as we started into the song he pulled out a Stars and Stripes bandana from his back pocket as 8,000 French kids rushed the stage and began pumping their fists.
Being there with this sweaty guy from Manchester pretending to be from America, leading a chorus of French kids mouthing the words to Born In The USA was a surreal experience I won't soon forget.
After working on a new single for Thom Yorke, I did a remix for a Caribou track called Melody Day that should be coming out in August. Dan Snaith has been a friend of mine for a while. In fact, people think I'm from Dundas, too! Every time I see an article about Caribou, I'm always mentioned as being part of the Dundas scene, which is hilarious.
Anyway, my sister Leila manages Toronto's Born Ruffians, so when they play shows in the UK, the guys always stay at my place in London. They happened to be there when I needed a vocal bit done for the Caribou track, so I got Luke LaLonde from the Ruffians to sing on it.
Sometimes things just work nicely like that.
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN
A few years ago, I invited Sunburned Hand of the Man to open some shows for me on a U.S. tour, and we wound up becoming good friends and stayed in touch. When the band was on tour in the UK last year, I said, "When you get to London, let's spend a day in the studio."
What irratates me about a lot of current experimental music is that most of it isn't properly recorded. So I booked time in a high-end studio where they set up and I recorded them playing improvisationally, then went off to edit and organize what was on the multi-tracks.
I'd say it's got a very different feel from their previous recordings - it's got really heavy drumming, like Liquid Liquid almost. I think people will be surprised by it.
They're calling it Fire Escape and Norway's Small Town Supersound label will release it in September with sleeve art by Eye from the Boredoms!
They're a new punk group from the UK who've just released their debut single. Their sound reminds me of what Battles are doing, but Foals' songs are all three minutes or less. They asked me to do a remix for them, and it was such a different thing for me, I suggested we go into the studio and work on extended versions of their songs.
When we did a show in Los Angeles recently, Percee P got up onstage with Steve Reid and me to freestyle a bit, which was fun. Because Steve tends to play at such fast tempos, it's very difficult for most rappers to keep up with us, so we generally don't have much audience participation. But someone like Maestro Fresh Wes, from what I know of his past work, might be just the man for the job.
If he were to turn up at our Toronto show, I'd definitely be tempted to invite him up onstage. So if you're reading this, Maestro, you should consider coming down to Harbourfront.