Archive

2014

The Hot Press Cover Story: Damon Albarn

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The world sat up and listened when sometime Blur frontman Damon Albarn revealed that he had taken heroin as a creative boost. In an exclusive interview he talks about chemical inspiration, his growing spirituality and how he and Noel Gallagher came to bury the hatchet – and not in each other.

Damon Albarn is none too pleased about having to talk to Hot Press. It’s nothing personal; the former Blur frontman isn’t especially keen on doing any interviews today. Which is rather unfortunate because, with his debut solo album, Everyday Robots, about to be released, his label has lined up a full day of press and promotion.

Our location is 13 Studios, his personal recording facility situated deep in the bowels of west London. A Swedish TV crew and a German journalist have just departed the building, leaving yours truly as Albarn’s final-face-to-face of the morning. After he talks to me, he has a series of phone interviews to do with publications as far afield as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and America.

As a veteran star who’s hardly hungry for publicity at this stage of his illustrious career, he’s not especially thrilled at the prospect.

“No reflection on you, mate,” he says, shaking his head apologetically. “I’ve just got a piece of music in my head that I’m fucking itching to get out.” Read More

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‘It’s a record 100% honest.’

Interview translated by Kevin. Find the original article in french here.

“Everyday Robots ” is the first album of the English singer under his name. Poetic and very personal.

After twenty years of one of the most prolific careers of pop after the Blur project, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & the Queen, Damon Albarn reveals itself more than ever.

 This first solo album is it the start of something?

That is possible. But it may be that this is a dead end, too! I give my full attention to each of my projects. I devote the time it deserves. When it runs out of steam, I try a new approach. The idea is to continue this creative spirit, to sustain life. And that has not changed since my debut, I’ve always wanted to have new and interesting things to do. At the moment, I am about my own attention. But this is not necessarily a permanent condition. Read More

Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn on Tech Anxiety and the Magic of Partnerships.

Few musicians have stayed as interesting for as long as Damon Albarn. As the frontman of Blur, he helped define the sound of ‘90s Britpop. With Gorillaz, he achieved the impossible of mixing hip-hop and rock in a way that didn’t suck (and in cartoon form, to boot!). With eclectic projects like The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Dr. Dee, and Rocket Juice & the Moon, he’s proven what’s possible when an artist stops worrying about his audience’s expectations.

Yet, somehow, Albarn’s latest album, Everyday Robots, is his first to be released under his own name. It’s a subtle, often somber collection of electronic-tinged songs that explore (among other things) technology, loneliness, and the relationship between technology and loneliness. WIRED spoke with Albarn about his creative process, his gadgets, and why he lets someone else run his Twitter account.

WIRED: How early in the process of making Everyday Robots did you come up with the album’s overall concept?

Albarn: The title song was one of the earliest I worked on, and I guess the concept for the full album formed around it as I began working on other songs. The concept came out of me thinking about whether technology has brought us closer to ourselves or further away from ourselves. Read More

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I’m totally overrated.

With Blur and Gorillaz, Damon Albarn played at the top of the charts, with world music and opera, he convinced even the most skeptical critics. Now the 46-year-old musician released “Everyday Robots”, his first solo album. A conversation about his childhood, love songs and ambition.

During a visit to Damon Albarn’s studio in west London you can already see on the interior that here an energetic artist lives: hanging on the wall the map of Mali, on the shelf an instrument built from an oil can, and the coffee table shows an excerpt of the route of London Underground.

Damon, here is where the magic happen?

Sometimes. On a good day.

Down at the entrance there is a bookcase where the last three books are about occult philosophy, have you actually read them? Read More

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How did you get on a Luc Besson film?

By a call! I knew some of his films, and some of Eric’s music. Luke called me, offering me to work with him for “Lucy”. We had lunch together, then I saw some scenes and I said yes immediately. I felt potential. But my inspiration for the song is very abstract. I was on a plane returning from the Sundance Film Festival and there was a whole group of Mormons on there… They all had a sticker with their name, and one of them was ‘Sister Rust’. It was obvious: Scarlett Johansson made a trip into the unknown with “Lucy”, similar to the total and complete faith that Mormons have in their religion.

It is surprising to see you in a French production. Instead, I imagine you in the studio with Ken Loach …

Well, I love Ken Loach and his science fiction. Loach never asked me anything. All musicians are seeking for new collaborations, new ideas. Why would I say no to Luc Besson?

Is it more complicated to write a song for a movie rather than for an album?

For a film, I tell you, the connection between the song and the images is quite distant. I went to the studio Eric Serra owns in the Seine. He took me to dinner because there was nothing really ready at that time. Then he played me some things. It has a sound of its own, which is really Besson. And I was interested on being a member of the team, not to be at the front. For once. I’ve experienced the same sensation when I was planning my opera “Dr Dee”. And now, between gigs, I write the soundtrack for a film. It is exciting… Read More

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Rip it up, magazine from New Zealand.

BLUR CATAPAULTED DAMON ALBARN TO STARDOM, WHILE GORILLAZ OFFERED HIM VIRTUAL REALITY ANONYMITY. NOW HE’S BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH HIS VERY OWN OFFERING, EVERYDAY ROBOTS, SAYS DES SAMPSON.

Better late than never: it’s an apt adage to describe the protracted delay between Blur’s finale, Think Tank, in 2003 and Damon Albarn’s first solo album, Everyday Robots – eleven years later. The most pressing question is: what took him so long?

“I’m lazy, and just don’t get round to doing things,” shrugs Albarn, yawning absent-mindedly. “It’s like I’ll fill a dishwasher with dirty plates, without bothering to take out the clean plates already in there from the previous wash – and hope no-one notices – because I just can’t be bothered putting the dishes away!”

Despite his confession, Albarn’s prolific musical output with Blur, then Grammy Award winners Gorillaz – the most successful virtual band in history – and side-projects like Mali Music and The Good, the Bad and the Queen suggest he’s anything but lazy. In fact, if you include the myriad film scores he’s written and the two operas he’s adapted, including the classic Chinese tale Monkey: Journey to the West, it’s evident he’s more workaholic than work-shy. Read More

The Hardest-Working Man in Rock.

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Why Damon Albarn can’t stop collaborating.

By Dan Hyman

Damon albarn is at a rare loss, unable to recall the name of a band he was in a few years back. It’s understandable, given that the 46-year-old British rocker has spent the past 25 years playing in an ever changing lineup of groups and collaborations, including Britpop icons Blur in the 1990s; the animated, dubinfluenced virtual band Gorillaz in the aughts; and a multime dia opera, Monkey: Journey to the West, inspired by a 16th century Chinese novel, which had its U.S. debut at Lincoln Center last year.

“What’s that other band I was in?” Albarn asks on a recent afternoon, letting the words linger in midflight. He’s trying to recall a one-off trio—you know, the one with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea and Nigerian drummer Tony Allen? “Ah, yes!” he declares. “Rocket Juice & the Moon!” He lets out a nervous laugh. “Hey, I’ve got a lot going on!”

That he does. Albarn remains consumed by his kaleidoscopic musical endeavors, which are almost compulsive in their variety: collaborations in Mali and Ethiopia with native musicians; production work on soul legend Bobby Womack’s 2012 comeback album; an in-the-works bossa nova track for this summer’s World Cup. And most recently, in April, the release of his weighty debut solo album, Everyday Robots, for which he hits the road this summer on a 24-date global tour, including stops at festivals such as New York’s Governors Ball, Bonnaroo in The Hardest-Working Man in Rock. Read More