“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
Damon Albarn Is Unfortunately Really Good at Predicting the Future.
Damon Albarn can tell the future. The Blur and Gorillaz architect’s work has landed much too close to where rock or pop or electronic music would end up a year or so behind him to call it a coincidence. Blur’s mid-’90s trilogy of Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, and The Great Escape was sharp enough to make seething rivals of the lad rock kings in Oasis. Then, ’97’s “Song 2” stumbled on the electrorock jock jam and broke the band in America by accident; 1999’s 13 album bridged the earthen guitar theatrics of end-of-the-century gems like Grandaddy’s Under the Western Freewayand Radiohead’s OK Computer and their technophiliac year-2000 counterparts The Sophtware Slump and Kid A. 2001’s Gorillaz mixed wigged-out cartoons, underground hip-hop production, and nods to Japanese otaku culture six months before the birth of Adult Swim.
Albarn did it again with this year’s Humanz, the fifth Gorillaz full length. Working with a troupe of gifted rap, house, soul, and dancehall artists, Albarn crafted an album about rescuing humanity from the brink of ruin, instructing his collaborators to imagine a life-threatening calamity and write about the fight to best it. Without a prompt, the rappers Pusha T and Vince Staples decided our dark night of the soul would involve Donald Trump being elected as president and turned in verses and choruses about missing the peace of the Obama years while greeting death under cracked skies. Those contributions — alongside album-closer “We Have the Power,” which is fueled by an impassioned call for unity from Jehnny Beth of the post-punk revivalists Savages and backing vocals from Albarn’s former nemesis Noel Gallagher — make for the most overtly political Gorillaz album to date, but really it’s just a sharp portrayal of themes that have been present on this planet all along Read More
‘I Don’t Understand That Potato Reference’: A Bizarre Conversation With Damon Albarn About Gorillaz and America
Damon Albarn is a little late and very sweaty. He emerges suddenly from somewhere among the circle of trailers, out from behind the ping pong table. His face drips and his hair is mussed. He plops down at the wooden picnic bench with the weight of the road, thousands of fans catered to near-nightly and 21 Gorillaz shows this year successfully behind him.
He immediately lights a joint. He’s earned it.
“Is that courtesy of the festival?” I ask.
“Oh, I just figured, because I know III Points Festival usually gives joints out to the artists as gifts– ”
“I don’t smoke anything if I haven’t watched it been rolled, ya know what I mean?” he quips, flashing a gold-toothed grin that says “I’ve learned my lessons the hard way.” Read More