Before you interview dance producer maverick man Powell – who once sent an email to Steve Albini and subsequently printed his reply on a massive billboard in east London – you get sent a tongue-in-cheek list of rules for the interview (you must tell him he looks nice, describe your qualifications, like sharks and refer to him as London- based EDM producer, etc). Some of those rules have been adhered to below. This interview was conducted via the medium of email, FYI.
You’re looking good today Powell. I was born in Kent, have some GCSEs, A-Levels and a degree. I like music and I write for BEAT mag. I absolutely love sharks.
Let’s begin: What’s your favourite fruit?
That’s great you love sharks. Nice one. Fruit-wise, I’m a fan of all sorts, but my favourite is definitely watermelon.
What’s your least favourite online music content publication?
If I told you then XL would probs drop me. In all seriousness, it’s pretty mad the role press now plays in music. Of course it’s always been important, but records are made by views, clicks and streams now. It’s a game.
As a London-based EDM producer, what do you like most about a) London and b) EDM?
I love London because my family is here. I love EDM because I can now watch Paris Hilton DJ’ing.
What’s your least favourite song on the radio at the moment?
I don’t listen to the radio much. To me it all sounds the same. It all just merges together into a sea of nothingness. NTS is good, though — especially when Melon Magic’s rollin’.
For a bonus point, what’s your favourite?
I somehow heard Erasure’s ‘Sometimes’ on the radio recently and haven’t stopped humming it since. Vince Clarke is a god.
There are moments on your album Sport that are almost unlistenable. Do you enjoy pissing off the listener?
I actually don’t think any of it is unlistenable. It’s just about bringing my influences and presenting them to the world in a way that feels like me. I have a background in extreme music, but equally I love pop and groovy acid and stuff. I use sounds because I like them, not because I want to piss people off. Of course, provocation and absurdity are important to me too: I think it’s important to spend your life trying as hard as possible to never, ever be vanilla [although vanilla is absolutely delicious — especially in yoghurt].
One website called Frankie “gleefully ugly”. Do you agree?
Nope. I made it ‘cos I think it’s beautiful. It’s my music so of course I don’t think it’s ugly. I spend ages making it look and sound like I want it to.
My favourite song on the album is ‘Junk’. What can you tell me about that one please?
It’s got a Mark E Smith sample on it which was somehow cleared. Never thought that would happen! It’s a good summation of what Powell music is I think, that track: kinda twisty, unpredictable, dry as hell, elastic.
The press release suggests your album is what rock music should sound like only with electronics. Is that fair? In what ways are you a rock star?
We didn’t do a press release. We just put my email address on a billboard and if people wanted to know about the record they could ask me direct. Rock music was a laugh and I think my music is a laugh, so yeah, that does make me a rock star. I have a bath on my rider. I hate showers. Al Jourgensen was the same.
Do you like Muse?
I’ve never heard them but I’ve met people who like them so can only assume I don’t.
Are you still in touch with Steve Albini?
I invited him to our Diagonal show in Chicago and he mailed back to say he’d love to be there and that his mates were planning on heading down — but he was in an airport off somewhere. We always had a very civil relationship over email and still do today.
The Powell artwork and logo is amazing. Can I have a t-shirt with it on please?
If we ever get our shit together and get t-shirts made and find a way to ship ‘em, sure. I’d like one too.