Trip-Hop.net : So you're Tony !
Blockhead : Yes
Trip-Hop.Net : We saw you last night, it was great ! So we know you're from NYC (New York City), you grew up there, and you made your culture from the records you bought.
Blockhead : Yeah I'm not a record collector. I buy records to sample. I don't really buy them to listen to them.
Trip-Hop.Net : so what was the first CD you bought ?
Blockhead : mh... "Thriller' !
Trip-Hop.Net : Really ! Mine is "Bad' ! (laughs) My uncle offered me it, I was like... 12 or 13.
Blockhead : I got it as a Christmas present.
Trip-Hop.net : How did you start ? Listening to MJ ? (smile)
Blockhead : No, no, no (laughs). I started rapping. And then, I just decided to make music. I was helping people make beats, who had samplers. And then around 1995 I got my own sampler. (Trip-Hop.Net : nothing related to your parents ?) They listen to music, I mean, they listen to jazz and operas. And yeah, I grew up with that obviously.
Trip-Hop.net : Why not continuing rap ?
Blockhead : I thought I wasn't good at it... I realized I was better at production. I figured that by myself ! I used to rap in a group, and then I met people, and they were better rappers than me... (Trip-Hop.Net : yeah, like ... ... ... Slug of Atmosphere, Murs, Mike Ladd, MacLethal and SA Smash) Yeah, you got it.
Trip-Hop.net : How did you meet Ninja Tune guys ?
Blockhead : Randomly. I sent out my finished album to some record labels. It's kind it did work out that way. They were interested. (Trip-Hop.Net : what about other Ninja Tune artists ? Did you already meet some, like Bonobo for example ?) I haven't met him yet, I met Coldcut, Skalpel and Kid Koala, I met everyone for the first time this week for the Zen TV Tour. (Trip-Hop.Net : what's your age ?) I'm 27. Pretty old huh ? (Trip-Hop.Net : You must be kidding ! You're young !) (laughs)
Trip-Hop.net : What are you saying at the end of the track "Carnivores Unit' ?
Blockhead : The "Carklingendeor' (it's not a word, just a kind of phonetic thing here readers !) thing ? That's just a thing I had in my tape collection for a while, it's a radio show in NY, it's CoolKeep on a radio show, it's a long interview, very funny, and in that part, it's the craziest part, he's kind of rambling on, he's pretty high or something. And I just wanted to put that on my album (laughs). I just wanted to use it somewhere, it's so weird... (Trip-Hop.Net : but what does that mean : "Carklingendeor' ?) It's like a made up comic book character. It's just the image of a glassman, and he just totally made that up, cause it's just non sense ! There's no really pronunciation for it, it's not like a real word. He pronunciated it different ways every time. Carklingendeor and then Carlindedor, It's just odd ! It's totally made up word !
Trip-Hop.net : You agree that there's a specific order on your album... Could you explain ?
Blockhead : Yeah, totally. There's 2 different orders. There's one European order, and one North American order. The Amercian order is the one I initially made, but they took couple of songs off. The American order was kind of funny, with a cute intro, and they didn't feel it that way for the European audience. They wanted to make it more "serious'. (Trip-Hop.Net : We're less funny than Americans here ?) Obviously, it is a serious album. They wanted to make it totally serious. The order is quite logical then. It takes you in a path. It's all planned, it's meant to go from one song to the other.
Trip-Hop.net : Did you compose all the songs in the same period ?
Blockhead : No. I made the songs through like... 4 years. Some are really old songs, some remain 1990's and I just picked them and polish them. When you're done, it's fun to make an order.
Trip-Hop.net : It seems there's always a story in your songs. Remember in Aesop Rock album : "Breakfast with Blockhead', "Lunch with Blockhead' and "Dinner with Blockhead' tracks...
Blockhead :: (smile) Yeah, I like to build stories, cause you can look at the songs and if you want to understand a story, you can. You can definitely find a story in some, like "Insomniac Olympics' or the "Triptych' series. Some have one. (Trip-Hop.Net : and globally, do you want to transmit a message to listeners ?) You mean, like what politics (not smiling) ? (Trip-Hop.Net : Oh My God no ! especially now ! Americans are not so good at that for the moment !) (laughs) I'll avoid that ! (Trip-Hop.Net : and you're right !)
No I don't think there's a global message. Take "Triptych', it's a story, but doesn't mean something really. It's like kind of relationship, good part, the OK part and the bad part at the ending, but I didn't really based it on myself, so much. I felt emotions that I tried to bring into music. ... One exception : if you think about "Insomniac Olympics', I do have some troubles with sleeping !
Trip-Hop.net : How do you work on your songs ? Do you have a specific method ?
Blockhead : How it comes together ? (Trip-Hop.Net : Yes) I look at all the different parts and see how I can organize them in a way. It's like maths. Very mathematic. It's like graphs ! You're always searching for the combination that sounds best. It's kind you set back, and feel the thing. If you want something to come in, you have to search for it, listen to it.
(Trip-Hop.Net : How do you start a song ?) Well, I sample... I can basically just start with sampling... There's really no science how I make music. I just sit down, go to a record, listen to a sample I like... put some drums on it... from there, I take it wherever it's got to go. Cause for every beat I make, there's also something to add. It all depends... all this is like a set of beats.
(Trip-Hop.Net : Where do you find your inspiration ?) I don't bind inspiration source, my music is guiding more than my brain, as far as I am making hip-hop beats... It's just how wherever it takes you. I'm not the kind of guy who's gonna be sad one day and say yeah "let's do a sad song today'. No... It never happens. It doesn't work. I don't get inspired by my emotions. I'm not a sad or emotional person ! (laughs) My music doesn't reflect my personality, you know. It's how it comes out. (Trip-Hop.Net : maybe it's because you're always a happy guy !) Maybe my music is all my sadness coming out ! (laughs) You never know ! Maybe I'm a sad person...
Trip-Hop.net : Are you travelling a lot ?
Blockhead : This is the first time (now) I've been outside the States... The first time in Paris... I like it by the way ! It reminds me NYC. The language thing is a problem. But the girls are pretty ! (Trip-Hop.Net : What we suggest you is to have a French girlfriend ! You will practice then and learn very fast !) (laughs) Yeah ! I like it here... The food is great... not like in London (smile) It's really expensive there. I like London, but it's crazy there. I'd like to come back here in Paris, not on a Tour. I really have to spend some days here and visit. In London, for a week, and then in Paris, and just be there... I'm going to Amsterdam for one day, and then to Brussels. I'd like to see Europe in more than just a day. (Trip-Hop.Net : We imagine you are deeply feeling your home in NYC right ? doing gigs at usual places ?) Yeah ! I don't even play, I just hang out with my friends...
Trip-Hop.net : Not worried about becoming popular ?
Blockhead : I'm not worried. I'll never be famous in the US ! This type of music doesn't work so much, just with few small groups of people. If you take Koala for example, he's kind famous (he's Canadian and appreciated in North America AND Europe, ndlr) but not like Moby or Fat Boy Slim... I'd like to do really well here in Europe ! and be noticed... but I'm not interested by popularity. I just want my life, you know.
Trip-Hop.net : How do you know one of your song is 100% finished ?
Blockhead : I'm NOT a perfectionist at all. I just finish things, and don't look at it again. I can evaluate a song, but if a song is done, it's done. I don't pickle. I'm not picky ! (Trip-Hop.Net : so you should sleep well !) (laughs) I am not stressed out, but I'm a late sleeper. I just wake up easily.
Trip-Hop.net : You said your music is like maths... So how do you consider yourself ? Are you a musician ?
Blockhead : I'm more a VJ. Some create their own music... I'm taking from other sources. It's like making a "collage'. It's really just find pieces... It's pretty similar when you think about it. You come out with a riff, it's based on something. I just don't play any instruments. I can figure out some piano stuff cause my sampler is a piano. (Trip-Hop.Net : not tempted ?) ... Oh, yeah, I'm doing some stuff... I play baselines. A lot. I feel more comfortable sampling people. The thing you sample is bringing the vibe you know. Who knows if I am a good composer ? It could be. (Trip-Hop.Net : Yeah, but there's a certain harmony in all the tracks you did...) If I could like play guitar, I could put some stuff out of my head and come out with melodies... It's why I want to work the singing... (Trip-Hop.Net : you would consider to sing...) Oh Yeah ! I'm going to do it when I'll get back this Summer, with 2 singers. I'll make the music and help them sing. Obviously, there will be a lot of fun. (Trip-Hop.Net : I don't know if Shadow does that...) Yeah, no, I don't think so. I don't know what direction there's gonna go. There's gonna be a good combo. (Trip-Hop.Net : You know Moby is doing it !) Yeah... I'm gonna try to make better (laughs) I can sing actually...I can do background vocals (Trip-Hop.Net : really ?!) (laughs) Yeah I'm alright I'm alright ! I can hold a note you know... I'm training.
Trip-Hop.net : What would be your true musical dream ?
Blockhead : Mmm... Can I defy the laws of physics ? (Trip-Hop.Net : Yeah !) I'd love to do either an album with Stevie Wonder or with Cool J Rap (1990's). I'd love to go back to the 70's or the 90's in fact... You know, I'd like to sing with the real voices... Like, I wouldn't like to do a digital thing with their voices nowadays... I'd like to go back and get the analog ! (Trip-Hop.Net : What about Ninja Tune guys ?) You know, they are producers... Usually, producers don't work with other producers.... I mean, Kid Koala for example, it would be great ! There's a lot of rappers I'd like to work with, you know. MF Doom and other famous names... like Mistikal. You know "Shake Ya Ass !'
Trip-Hop.net : We read you're doing comedy too ! The Party Fun Action Committee... You're doing a lot of things man !
Blockhead : Yeah. I don't know if it's going to be a continuing thing... It was kind of vanity project... We didn't do it with the intention of a coming out, and a LP on Def Jex Records. It was fun. A lot of songs were pretty old... They putted it out. It didn't sell really. It's comedy music.
Trip-Hop.net : So, now you're touring (Zen TV Tour 2004) ... and then ?
Blockhead : I have my "singers' project. This summer I'm gonna try to make a lot of stuff done. I'm gonna work with singers, but more importantly : my second album, on Ninja Tune. I have basically put the beats together. Fortunately, it won't come out till .. next year... You never know ! I really prefer to work on studio things than touring. I'm not a DJ.
Trip-Hop.net : What about the visual aspect ? Will you work with a VJ soon ?
Blockhead : I think I'll have to, I don't have a show yet. I'd love to. The visual aspect is for the show... If I have a show, then... I'm not a filmmaker (smile).
Trip-Hop.net : Last one : why "Music By Cavelight' ?
Blockhead : Oh, actually I did my music downstairs, in the basement... by cavelight (smile) The only light was probably the window. That was my cavelight.