meantime. including the tremulous In a Beautiful Place out in the Country EP. Skip forward to 2005 and the arrival of The Camp/ire Headphase, a record which builds on the energy and otherness of what has gone before but broadens their palette, with more live instruments recorded. stretched and mutated while remaining quite odd. sad and mostly brilliant.
The pair happily exist outside the radar of any cultural scene. ensconced in the Scottish countryside with their own studio and alchemist‘s cupboard. Hexagon Sun. They continue to thrive and seem as content as any musicians you‘re likely to meet.
Was this record any more difficult to make than its ....... predecessors? Marcus: No. we don‘t find “23,5 making records difficult at all. We love it. We only take so long to finish albums because we‘re always going off at tangents. We record something like 20 songs for every one that appears on the finished record. Would you regard yourselves as perfectionists? Mike: I think that‘s been levelled at us enough times now for me to start believing it! I don‘t know. we‘re just not able to let things go unless we‘re totally happy with them. so we do tend to spend a lot of time on tiny musical details that some other musicians might think are trivial. Is that frustrating in itself at times? Mike: It can be. There are times when I‘d love to just simplify things by rocking out like the Foo Fighters or something. But there would always be a part of me that was looking for someone else who was making really subtle music. I think a lot of mainstream pop and rock music is fantastic. I listen to everything really. but you need the ‘Clair de Lune‘ moments . . . What do you think of the idea that some of the most special moments of Boards of Canada music are when things sound ‘wrong’: wow, flutter or general wonkiness? Mike: I would say that‘s exactly the point. Do people take your music too serioule Mike: I think some people do. Especially since Geoguddi. we sometimes hear about people finding things in the music that aren‘t even there.
A lot of what we do is done with a sense of
humour that can be missed if you‘re not careful. How does it feel to have people drawing up deep theories about your music?
Marcus: Well, we do try to put themes and references into most of our tracks. usually as a kind of ‘spike‘. Sometimes we put things into tracks where we think the idea is so obscure and arcane that nobody will ever notice it. But they
always do. and it gets a bit crazy at times when we realise people are really going to incredible lengths to analyse everything we do. you know, even stripping tracks apart with spectral analysis. How might your music change if the environment you make it in did?
Marcus: 1 don‘t think nature and rural life is really what it‘s all about. The main thing for us about being based away from the city is that it allows us to switch off. We can create a hermetic bubble where our music exists without any outside influence at all. When your studio is out in the country you can easily imagine that you‘re in any place. or even any era that you like.
This record in places sounds more ‘Iive’ than its predecessors. It even sounds like Arab Strap at one point.
Mike: I‘d take that as a compliment. We just decided for this album that the sound we wanted to go for was more of a loose. amorphous l‘)7()s pick-up-truck acid jam.
There is an air of melancholy that pervades loads of your work. Why do seemingly happy people make such beautifully sad music?
Mike: That‘s a good question. I‘ve never really been interested in ‘happy‘ music. It seems kind of pointless. I think when people are feeling sad. they actually find it therapeutic to wallow in it a bit with some sad music. llaving suffered some pretty savage depression in the past. I‘ve always found sadness to be the strongest emotion in music.
Are Boards of Canada a modern folk band? Marcus: No. our music is often working from the
perspective of current music shifted onto another
branch in time. so when you hear things that sound folky or traditional in our melodies. they‘re usually sitting together with odd hip hop rhythms or some atonal electronic riff. None of it would make any sense unless you were listening to it with a specific set of experiences. I mean people of our generation. l-‘olk music. on the other hand. is something that uses traditional motifs and repeatedly translates them into new arrangements for new generations. almost the opposite of what we‘re trying to do.
Is anything sacred nowadays?
Mike: In a world where people watch execution videos for entertainment. I think we can safely say nothing is sacred anymore.
What records could you claim have been an inﬂuence on Boards of Canada’s music that fans might not expect?
Mike: That‘s a good question. Maybe ‘Geno‘ by Dexy‘s. That‘s my favourite song.
Mike, has fatherhood changed your approach to music?
Mike: Well. I have to run all our tracks past my daughter now. She‘s a tough critic: she just stares intensely and sometimes breaks out into a jiggle. How does growing up in Canada compare with growing up in Scotland?
Mike: (‘anada‘s a bigger. colder version of
Scotland. It‘s possible to get colder than Scotland. Are you paranoid or just being canny? Marcus: We just try to be prepared f‘or anything. Are you fucking with our heads? Or is that just us?
Mike: Ha ha. we prefer to get the listeners to fuck with their own heads.
The Campfire Headphase is out Monday 17 October on Warp. Thanks to GNER for travel. For tickets and information call 08457 225 225 or visit www.gner.co.uk.
What kind of music is Boards of Canada anyway? Here’s an idiot’s guide to those pesky musical pigeonholes.
Electronica The general umbrella for dance music you can't actually dance to. The term used for bleepy music when you're too polite to ask if the record is at the wrong speed. Counts for everyone from Boards of Canada and Four Tet to Snap and Technotronic (nearly). Glitchcore The unpleasant and disorientating bits between the groovy. enjoyable parts of electronic music all gaffer taped together to form something not far from music.
Ambient The stealthy technique used by fans of Gong and Caravan to get those acid-induced wig outs played again without getting birched by sticking a plodding beat behind them. See System 7. the Orb.
Clownstep When both drum and bass go down the pan. Derogatory term for those slightly too wobbly basslines which wibble and wobble and do fall down.
lllbient Imagine the soundtrack to the Five series When Acid Flashbacks Go Bad.
Grime The musical soundtrack to applying Cillit Bang! to your unsightly corners as purveyed by teens from north London estates in hooded tops like the Mitchell Brothers and Kano.
Emo Not. as many think. a shortening of Elmo. the popular Sesame Street character. but a derivation of emocore. spawned from ‘emotional hardcore' which is 80s American punk music with the bellowing lestosteroned vocals with a specky whiner moaning about how the cool girl at the back of maths class won't even look at him. See any band on The CC for proof.
Down tempo Instrumental hip hop that can't really be arsed. Typified by the Mo' Wax stable in the 903 who prized the collectibility of their products over the actual quality of the music. Ice Metal Bands like See Die & Her and Lacrimosa. Big in Finland. As. of course. is ice itself. We're not making this up. I assure you. Tropicalia Musical genre derived from the popular fruit juice range employed by Beck on his Mutations albums and numerous David Byrne solo LPs.
Crunk Chunky. clunky hip hop derived from the Southern states of the US made famous by bejewelled chalice toting loon Lil' Jon, oddly named in that he isn‘t very ill at all.
Nu jazz From the point of view of any jazzer worth his (and it is normally men who find these things important) salt — all jazz should be new in its outlook.
Bitpop Making electronic music using archaic home computers from the mid-80$. Made for and enjoyed by people who sat for hours and hours trying to complete Manic Miner.
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