So you are currently living in the UK?
Yeah. I moved from Toronto about IX months ago because I wanted to do my PhD at Imperial College. It's in tnathematics.
You make music by night and study maths by day?
Hmmm. I always get concerned when I am stereotyped as the mathematical electronics geek. It annoys me because I don't think it‘s a fair reflection of my music. I hate stuff that has that super clean sound. How did you meet Kieran Hebden?
I was a fan of his ﬁrst. Then I became a friend. He‘s the person who passed my music on to Leaf [Snaith's record label] and I guess our music is quite similar. He lives just round the corner from me now so we spend quite a bit of time together.
Your latest album, Up in Flames, is quite a departure . . .
When I made the ﬁrst album I was very excited by the electronic music I was hearing. Take the ﬁrst Boards of Canada album — that completely blew me away. but since then I've been bored stiff with all the minimal stuff. There's no reason why laptop music shouldn't sound like 30 people playing at once. The people I love. like My Bloody Valentine. always had that drive to sound big and I feel like when you make a record. you should try and make the best record ever. You should reinvent the wheel — not just turn it.
And you actually sing!
Yeah. that's a weird one. I don't know what possessed me to sing because I can't. I had to sample everything. I am starting to believe that there's something unique about the sound of the human voice.
Did you set out to be deliberately different?
No. It was because I was experiencing London frustration. I was coming back from school on the tube and felt the need to punch people. Being frustrated creates this urge inside of you to rise above it.
So it was born of frustration?
Frustration with the city and frustration with the music I was hearing. reflected in the live shows too. I've seen too many guys playing away with their laptops on their own. It gets so boring. So our new live show is the opposite. It's exciting and engaging. There's three of us and we're all dressed up in bear masks and there's two drum kits. If you make laptop music you can play a DJ set but if you want to play what’s on the album. you have to give ‘em a show. This time we’re going to give ‘em a show.
20 THE LIST 1&3: Apt 2003
Left: Kieran Hebden thinks long term with Four Tet; this picture:
Dan Snaith, the maths man behind Manitoba
Head spinning electronica is their speciality, but DAN ‘Manitoba’
~ . d... i “ I v. if 1 $ 0 "
SNAITH and KIERAN ‘Four Tet’ HEBDEN prefer to pontificate over drugs, geeks, psychedelia . . . and each other. tram. Tim Abrahams
What’s that music playing in the background?
I‘m working on a Super liurry Animals remix from their new album. It is amazing. Psychedelic. but in a men-in-corduroy-suits-w ith—beards kind of a way.
Your friend Manitoba’s new record is quite psychedelic in a men- in-corduroy-suits-with-beards kind of a way.
Yeah I think there is an excitement at the moment about looking back at the more intricate side of psychedelia. I love records from the late otls and early 70s. They have such a great warmth to them.
What’s your new album like then?
Everything has been processed and mixed around with in a much more extreme way than on past records but the sound is acoustic. It isn‘t a retro rec‘ord though. I like the sonics of the 70s but I try to manipulate them — entirely on computer — in the most forward thinking way I can. When did you first meet Dan?
I met him at the Big ('hill I‘estival four years ago. He invited me to Toronto to DJ and we hit it off. It was like meeting someone in another country who was a weird reflection of myself. The things that he makes and what I make always have similarities and echoes.
Do you share the same frustrations?
We both felt that last year was a poor year for mtisic. All the things that were getting the hype were attempts to recreate a certain magic from the past like the electroclash thing which disturbs me a lot. It made me want to put out a record unlike any other record that comes out this year. Unlike Manitoba’s as well?
Dan's record is incredible. It makes a great step forward and yet people still understand it. To make innovative music but for it to sound totally natural — that is the Holy Grail. ('p m FIN/NUS will stand the test of time. Will your own work?
I've made eight albums and my standards get higher and higher. Tracks may sound great now but I've started learning about what they w ill sound like in six months' time. I hate thinking: 'Why the hell did I put that on the record‘." But I listened to Prime recently and I'm still very happy with it.
Four Tet and Manitoba play the Venue, Edinburgh, Fri 25 Apr and the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 27 Apr.