|ClashMusic Dj Mix Podcast - 808 State|
24 November 2011
Classic and contemporary twisted dance vibes
Legendary Manchester outfit 808 State, known for pioneering acid-house, provide a mix of classic and contemporary twisted dance vibes for this week’s Clash DJ podcast, taking in techno, rave, minimal and ethereal.
Clash caught up with the group to chat about the mix and what they’ve been up to for all those years.
Tell us about your mix and why you included some of the selected tracks:
808 State: When we DJ in a club we like to mix it up a bit, instead of keeping to one style of dance music. We get bored very easily so we try to make the set a melting pot of dance music. It always works for us and the clubbers love it.
Tell us about the ‘Blueprint’ release:
808 State: The idea of ‘Blueprint’ started out as a simple greatest hits package. However, we had already covered that idea back on the singles collection ‘808 88 98’, which is still available. We talked about expanding beyond the ZTT catalogue to include some tracks from our early years and some tracks from the Outpost Transmissions period, a full timeline. We also wanted to include some of the remixes we had done for other artists. This would have been spread over two CDs. We dropped the 808 state remixes idea after we realised it would take about five years to sort out, not to mention the budget. So we then set about fitting on one CD a ‘best of’ which didn’t overlap the previous one. We did this by using different versions of classic tracks, cherry-picking some album tracks and including some rare tracks voted for by our website regulars at 808State.com. We also included some unreleased tracks and updated mixes from our current live show.
It’s been quite a while since your last album – what have you been up to in that time?
808 State: 808 State functioned for 14 years as a group and essentially in 2002 split up. We didn’t announce it and maybe we should have. We all were still in touch and occasionally did the odd gig. Darren and Andrew kept up the DJing side, I’ve never stopped making music. I had a project called TOOLSHED that fused electronics and live musicians into a big band format. I played in another large ensemble called HOMELIFE who were on Ninja Tune. Both of these had almost the same musicians and for instance Paddy Steer of Homelife and James Ford of Simian and SMD were also in the 808 State live band as well. I had a solo electronica project called Massonix, releasing an album on SKAM and touring with Autechre. Recently I’ve had a project called The Sisters of Transistors. SOT is a Ladies Organ Quartet, I play live drums in that and write a lot of the music. I still do remixes, film, music, etc.
You play a lot of gigs as a full live band now – does that afford you more opportunities than a purely electronic set?
808 State: We’ve played as a full live band since the mid 90s. It’s kind of developed through touring, night after night you couldn’t help but want to effect change in what essentially is programmed music. There have been certain 808 albums that were then affected by what we were doing on stage. Don Solaris and Outpost Transmissions were great to play live, but recently we've been doing a more classic set but kept the band format. We have been adaptable and experimental as a band, but if you’re playing somewhere like Creamfields or Bangface, you better just get your ‘bangers’ out and build up to an almighty climax, you’re there to win hearts and bend minds. In a recent gig in Tokyo I was chuffed that someone who hadn’t seen us for ten years said, “My god that was like a CAN gig from 1974.” Well I’ll take that as a compliment, but it’s not what I heard onstage.
How different is the 808 State of today compared to the act that released ‘Newbuild’ in 1988?
808 State: A few years ago Gerald and I got together and did a gig in London as ‘Rebuild’. The promoter hired in all the old Roland equipment, 808s 303s 101s etc. We got together the day before to do some programming, ended up just chatting, decided to do a long soundcheck that didn’t happen, then just did the gig on the fly, which is how we used to do it. In fact it was 90 minutes long, which we instinctively knew from filling C90 cassettes all those years ago... it was a process and an improvisation, systems music.
We’ve covered a lot of approaches since 1988, but we would have killed to have the technology we have now back then. Some of that original feeling is still going, it’s about technology and trying to conjure new feelings out of it. The music that never existed because it couldn’t until that point in time. All that lost chord stuff runs like a relay race through time, we always felt like we were trying to add to what people had done before. I think we could relax and say we have contributed, I know some grown-ups whose lives we may have sound-tracked.
But I get a lot out of people discovering it for new with out all the baggage. You can’t be an experimental band and find new music without making a mess. Now I feel like we are well on the way to organising the mess so its all in one place. We maintain with fierce pride the 808 tradition of being awkward surly northern misfits.
808 State Tracklisting
1. State 808 - xXxXx