Exclusive interview with Damon Albarn, the genius behind Gorillaz and Blur.
The documentary No Distance Left to Run (2010) describes the life and work of Blur, the drugs, his internal problems and why it disintegrated. His leader, Damon Albarn, one of the greats songwritters from the 21st century, confesses that the heroine destroyed the band. As noted in this brief talk with SEMANA, today he doesn’t care to talk about Blur and the past.
This man, who will be 50 years old in Bogota, is now disturbed by music from different parts of the world – he is obsessed with Africa – and the world of Gorillaz, his virtual band. According to him, this is “more real than the people who appear on television”.
Somewhere in Germany, and after several protocols, Albarn answered the phone call in which he fully demonstrated his reputation as carefree and cheerfull. It could not be otherwise.
Blur was one of the pioneers of ‘britpop’, in the mid-nineties. What did the band and the ‘britpop’ itself leave to music in general?
DAMON ALBARN: Amigo (in Spanish), I really don’t know, I still compose and make music. I don’t spend time thinking about it. Read More
“El Salvo capturó mi imaginación”
El 13 de diciembre está Gorillaz en el Velódromo, y antes, su creador charló con El País.
Damon Albarn está atascado en el tráfico. El cantante inglés, miembro fundador de la banda Blur, se encuentra en Manchester, según cuenta por teléfono en un conversación con El País. En esa ciudad nacieron los hermanos Liam y Noel Gallagher y su banda, Oasis. En la década de 1990, Albarn y los Gallaghers fueron parte de una batalla que buscó definir cuál era la banda más popular del britpop. El ganador no fue declarado. Desde entonces, Albarn no ha parado de componer. En los últimos ocho años, Blur volvió a tocar y grabar; Albarn editó su primer disco solista y recientemente publicó Humanz, el quinto álbum de otra de sus bandas, Gorillaz.
Gorillaz comenzó como un proyecto desafiante para la industria musical de principios de 2000. Sus miembros son, en teoría, personajes animados creados por el ilustrador y colaborador de Albarn, Jamie Hewllet. Hoy, ese aspecto es solo una parte del proyecto, que el músico inglés convirtió en una banda colaborativa global cuya música puede abarcar el hip hop, rock y el soul, según quien participe.
El pasado viernes compartió que estaba en camino al hotel para descansar antes de dar un nuevo show con Gorillaz en el Manchester Arena. La presentación es una de las últimas fechas europeas de la gira Humanz. Luego vendrán a Sudamérica. Gorillaz tocará por primera vez en Uruguay el próximo 13 de diciembre en el Velódromo Municipal. No será la primera visita de Albarn a Montevideo, sin embargo. Read More
“No podemos seguir haciendo esto con seriedad durante mucho tiempo más”
Damon Albarn y Jamie Hewlett viajan con Gorillaz por primera vez a la Argentina para cerrar el BUE presentando Humanz, primer disco en siete años, después del enorme Plastic Beach. El cantante y el historietista recorren la historia de la banda sin perder el ánimo, aunque admiten que este trabajo nació de una pesadilla que se volvió realidad: la elección de Donald Trump.
Por Azzedine Fall
No hay mucho para hacer cerca de Canada Water, una zona industrial que rodea el lago frío y austero del sudeste de Londres. Pero la capital inglesa reinventa sus noches a unos pocos metros del agua, entre los pasillos metálicos de un enorme galón de 60.000 metros cuadrados. Printworks es el nombre de la nueva súper discoteca que abrió en la imprenta abandonada a la que van periodistas internacionales, VIP y fans elegidos al azar. Todos van a ver a Gorillaz por primera vez en vivo después de siete años. Read More
Inside Track: Gorillaz ‘Charger’
Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Stephen Sedgwick
Behind every virtual band, there are real producers and engineers. In the case of Gorillaz, they were Anthony Khan and Stephen Sedgwick.
Blur frontman Damon Albarn has spent the last two decades working on a dazzling variety of musical projects and collaborations, the most famous of which is inarguably Gorillaz. A collaboration between Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, with Albarn responsible for the music and Hewlett for the visual representation, Gorillaz are a virtual band comprising fictitious musicians 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. For something that was initially seen as a novelty act, Gorillaz have been both long-lived and remarkably successful. Released this Spring, the fifth Gorillaz album Humanz instantly went to number two in both the UK and in the US, and topped the iTunes charts in almost 60 countries around the world.
Albarn’s lyrical and musical starting point for the album was the “dark fantasy” that Donald Trump would win the US presidential election — this was the beginning of 2016, well before Trump had even secured the Republican nomination. Conceived as a “party for the end of the world”, Humanz features an enormous number of guests, including famous names like Grace Jones, Mavis Staples and Carly Simon giving it, as one critic wrote, “the wildly entertaining feel of a circus show”.
“High-tech? Nothing beats my old Nokia”
“Do you play table tennis?” asks Damon Albarn (49) when he sees me staring at the ping pong table. We are on the top floor of Studio 13, a recording complex on west London, close to the Westway. In the corner of the room there is a piano, a piece of text from Under the Westway is written in faded letters: ‘Am I dissolving out at sea /Lift me up off the Westway? ‘
Seen from the street, there is no suspicion that one of the most influential British songwriters of his generation is keeping his office here. The building has the façade of an abandoned paint store, but no fewer than three reception rooms are housed inside. It is where he recorded Blur albums since the mid-nineties, where he made his solo album Everyday Robots (2014), where he created projects such as Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen (with afrobeat legend Tony Allen and Paul Simonon) and Africa Express. And where he also holds ping-pong competitions.
“Many rappers fight with each other via social media. My big hip hop thing is: I challenge musicians to a table tennis tournament” says Albarn. “Recently, I have defeated Pusha T. And my next opponent is Drake. If he dares to respond to my request.” Damon Albarn: icon of the britpop, and also a bit of Forrest Gump.
He insists. “I’m ready, man,” he grins. But it’s working day, and we have to talk about Humanz, the first Gorillaz album in seven years, the virtual band created by Albarn and cartoonist technology wizard Jamie Hewlett. There is no slow triphop, children’s choirs or strings, like predecessors Gorillaz (2001), Demon Days (2005) and Plastic Beach (2010). Humanz is actually a house record, with a soul, funk and pop touch. Read More
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett got the cartoon band back together after a seven-year absence to make Humanz, winner of the Q Best Album award.
Congratulations on winning another Q Award. Happy?
Damon Albarn: It’s really nice. It’s about the music. Genuinely, we’ve been really touched that people recognised this record because it was a bit of a departure in that I’m not really in it much at all. Obviously I helped to make it. And I forgot to mention [producers] Remi [Kabaka] or The Twilite Tone, but I’m not very good at speeches.
What are you drinking to celebrate?
Jamie Hewlett: I’d love a glass of wine. Have you only got Q wine? Oh, is it a 2017 vintage…
What’s been your album of the year?
DA: I don’t really work like that. I work with experiences, really. I’m in and out of so many different types of music all the time, so I don’t really engage in music in that way. In terms of experience, that happened a few days ago when I went to see [producer, rapper] Mike Will Made It. He did Kendrick Lamar’s albums and I went to do some work with him while we were on tour. As a new experience in music-making this was something that I will never forget: it was so loud and brutal. This man is the top hit-maker in the world and it was interesting to witness that kind of alchemy because it doesn’t last forever. It was interesting, the interface between the two of us, and how he picked up on what I did and what I picked up with him. Read More