Mike Atkinson

Interview: Lone (Matt Cutler)

Posted in interviews, Nottingham Post by Mike A on October 24, 2008

Your debut solo album Lemurian has been out since August. What sort of reaction have you been getting?

It’s all been really flattering – which has been strange, because I always tend to think the worst about stuff like this. It has given me a lot more confidence to do another one, and not be too worried about what people think about it.

Were you worried it was a bit too leftfield to connect with people?

It was the only thing I was worried about. My mates all said: oh, it’ll be all right, people will like it – but the only thing you’d have to worry about is that maybe it will go over peoples’ heads.

When I first played the album, the first things that hit me were all those warped, wow-and-flutter samples. I think there’s a bridge that has to be crossed there – but two or three plays in, they just become a natural part of the fabric of the music.

Yeah, totally. It’s strange for me, because obviously when I’m making the tracks I hear them over and over again, so none of it really shocks me at all. So I can forget that for other people, on their first listen, it might be a bit strange – but hopefully you can get into it after a while.

How did the idea come about?

I’ve always been into Boards Of Canada, who were the first people that I heard using it. I took it from a different angle – like a warm, hazy sound like you get on an old tape that has been out in the sun too long. It’s something I’ve been obsessed with since I was really young, from listening to tapes in my parents’ car that were warped. I thought they sounded better like that.

It just makes things sound nicer, for some strange reason. It gives a more gritty feel to the music. It almost makes it more human. It gives it more personality, rather than just sounding really clean, and turning into ambient, which is something I really don’t want it to be.

Did you have a particular concept for the album, even before you started recording the music?

I knew I wanted to make music that sounded kind of warped, but it wasn’t until I’d made loads of tracks that it started taking shape, and getting this summery feel. I didn’t really set out for it to be a summery sounding record. As I gradually got more into it, it took that on for itself. I just ran with it.

Comparing the reviews, the same words keep cropping up: shimmering, sun-drenched, hazy. What were the climate conditions like when you wrote the tracks?

Not quite as nice! I started it last summer. I made a couple of tracks in a short space of time, and the weather was really nice then. So I thought: right, if I keep making tracks like this, it will get me away from the fact that the weather’s going to be really shitty and horrible. I kept making tracks that sounded like they were for the summer, because I hate the winter so much. So maybe there was a bit of escapism.

How about this summer? Did you go to anywhere sun-drenched and heat-hazed and lie by an ocean?

I’ve just been in Nottingham for the whole summer, in the rain basically. It’s typical: I make a really summery record, and I hoped that once I got to the summer, it would all be perfect – but we’ve only had about a week of sun. Typical, really. But never mind.

At what age did you start making music?

Probably about twelve. Probably even earlier – but you really couldn’t call it music, it was just messing around with a tape player and keyboard. Then I heard Boards of Canada on John Peel when I was twelve, and that was it – I just got into music from then. It was their appreciation for writing melodies, basically. The most important thing for me now is nice melodies, and they were the best I’ve heard.

You’ve got some club dates in Nottingham coming up. When DJ-ing, are you setting a mood or are you aiming to fill a floor?

I want to make people dance. I try to get music in there that relates to what I do – but it’s totally different, because my stuff just doesn’t work in a club.

So what sort of avenues do you go down?

What I usually want to hear in a club is dubstep, but I’ll try to play as much as possible. I’ve been playing a lot of sleazy Eighties synth-funk, because that’s the stuff I’m going to try and make next. Things like Michael Jackson, and even stuff like Luther Vandross. If you can mix that with hip hop and stuff, then people go with it, which is lucky. And I do play a bit of acid house: the real early stuff from the late Eighties.

You’ve got an EP scheduled to come out later in the year. How’s that going to sound?

It’s totally different. It still sounds like my stuff, but it’s a lot faster and it’s really influenced by Eighties synth-funk. I don’t know if it’s going to put people off who like the album, but I just don’t want to repeat myself.

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