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Q&A: A Conversation With Darkstar + Video Premiere (FILTER EXCLUSIVE)

By Kendah El-Ali on February 6, 2013


Q&A: A Conversation With Darkstar + Video Premiere (FILTER EXCLUSIVE)


Known more for its sheep and whipping winds, Yorkshire has rarely been synonymous with English electro-pop. But after their impressive debut, 2010’s North, Darkstar not only defy the unlikely—they may well be on the way to redefining how the two genres intersect. Back with a second album, News From Nowhere, and now signed to Warp, their chilling, yet soothing synthesized sounds inspire a landscape no less sublime than its origins. Beautifully cold, yet oddly warm, vocalist James Buttery’s ethereal wails pierce through manipulated metalliphones in single “Timeaway,” resulting what is both a needed breath of fresh air to pop, yet gorgeously human spin on machine-made music. Its sets the standard for a strangely atmospheric album that inspires northern abandoned factories as readily as it does idylls of a space time largely forgot.


FILTER caught up with Darkstar as their album released this week, catching up with Aiden Whalley, James Buttery and James Young in London.



This album is a stylistic twist from North, which was underscored by being Northerners who were living in London. What influences were behind News From Nowhere?


AW: This album was definitely shaped by where we were living. We had moved from London to Yorkshire. It’s so dramatically different there than in London. We stayed in a remote village, so we didn’t have any distractions outside of making the record. It encouraged us to experiment a lot more because we had a lot more time on our hands.


Moving to a new record label, the album’s expectations are a little different. How have things grown since 2009?


AW: There was a lot more interest in the last record, because we were a new band. This time around, it’s more organic—we have to live with the record for a little bit longer. This album offers more than the first.


JB: We’ve isolated ourselves for quite a long time. We’re off on our path, not part of a scene anymore, building our own fan base.


AW: Yes, with Hyperdub, we shared bills with other acts. With Warp, we’re selling our own ticket so it’s much more from a point of growth this time around.


The album cover art is quite stunning, especially set against the single “Timeaway.” Who did it?


AW: Ed Quarmby. But you have to pronounce that properly, like you’re English. We were introduced to him in the summer. He didn’t show us anything, but he was so infectious about wanting to be a part of it that we thought we’d give him a go. We’ve met a lot of new people making this album.


The album at times sounds almost Caribbean, with what sounds like a marimba. How did you craft those warmer tones?


JB: It’s a plug-in processed through reel-to-reel tape—a sample that we processed with Richard Hornby, who helped us produce the record. It was a pushing of software into analog, using marimbas and a glockenspiel that we affected.


Who is responsible for what in creating your sound? And what’s your favorite track on this album?


AW: We all do a bit of everything. We all get stuck into eachother’s areas… from time to time [laughing]. No, but we all kind of get involved in ideas from a very early stage, pass them back and forth. By the time we got to Richard’s studio, we already had our own thoughts, and everyone had his own stamp on it. “Timeaway,” Or, “You Don’t Need a Weatherman.” I am really happy with how it all turned out though-- it flows. I know what’s coming next between each track and I quite like that. F

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