on with the change of name? Is it anything to do with
the fact that you share a name with Motown’s one
and only white soul diva?
It actually isn’t although that does seem like
a good reason. I reckon all the Chris Clarks should
perform together as one magic band, either at a dingy
local pub or Wembley Stadium. Mmmm. Actually I don’t
really reckon that. Sorry it’s been a while since
I’ve done interviews. The name change just means
people don't have to waste oxygen on "Chris".
"Chris" Clark is also just a bit too much
"oh look at me aren't I just everybody’s
jovial little mash-head pal".
The mini-album suggests a more immediate sound
than we have heard from you before. There is a sense
of urgency on Throttle Furniture that wasn’t
so apparent on Empty The Bones Of You or Clarence
Park. This is suggested even in the title of one
of the tracks, Urgent Jell Hack. Should we
expect more of this when the full album is released?
Yeah it’s direct and punchy. I love it when you're
thrown into a world of sound with no preparation. It's
like when you're a kid and someone’s on the second
diving board and you stamp on it just as they're about
to dive off, although obviously I was never that cruel
as a child. I like the idea of people being forced to
belly flop into my world.
It’s easy to waste time deliberating on intros
etc… I always find myself fast forwarding intros.
It seems like an easy thing to do as well, especially
with a computer and unlimited hard disk space. I (try
and) work with a discipline that doesn’t allow
for long tossy samples to cloud the essential “core”
of a track. Although a long tossy sample is good once
in a while. Time seems to become more precious as you
get older and this is hopefully reflected in the music
– i.e. 20 seconds in musical time is a lot of
time. Thousands of events can take place, the possibilities
Is the new album finished?
Yeah almost. It’s just textural tweaking. Real
anal stuff that would probably bore the pants off you.
When do you expect it to be released?
Hopefully before I die. Hopefully. Maybe even this year.
From a young age you have been considered the
great hope carrying on the torch for the traditional
Warp sound. In a time when the label is producing more
guitar-based music do you feel pressurised by the weight
I guess most external pressure kind of bounces off me
really. I’m so self-critical and sealed into my
own world that the outside world can sometimes seem
like a bit of a mirage (like that UR track).
All expectation is ultimately just a reflection of that
person’s musical prejudices, which of course we
all have. I don't feel affronted by expectations nor
do I blame people for having them. But when you see
expectation like that as a purely subjective thing,
it doesn’t really affect you, you just have to
plough on with your own vision and ignore all the noise.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel any
record label pressure though, although these moments
are fleeting - i.e. once every seven months when I talk
to Steve Beckett [Warp label head] hehheh.
The funny side of it is when you go and do a gig with
hours and hours worth of new material and people are
like “Oh, I thought you had enough, I thought
your last LP was your final release”. It kind
of motivates you to get off your ass and release some
of yer work.
How difficult is it being an artist on Warp
Records surrounded by figures such as Autechre, Aphex
Twin and Squarepusher? Do you feel under pressure to
try to be different?
Yeah kind of but again it’s not like someone says
“be different” and you go “OK”.
It’s more complex. The idea that you operate in
a vacuum, separate from all these looming musical figures
is semi-ridiculous but semi-true, especially as your
own taste develops, your own particular brand of musical
obsession has time to breathe and grow. This is why
Warp are still ace, because they allow that space, they
have an ability to nurture their artists, yet maintain
a certain respectful distance which is necessary. In
that sense there has never been any pressure at all.
There’s a huge legacy of amazing music on Warp
and that is ultimately a great thing, but you become
less aware of it as you get on with your own stuff,
your own garden if you like.
It’s been a while since Empty The
Bones Of You. What have you been listening to in
the period between albums?
Moondog, Converge, Cecil Leuter, A-Ha, Parmegiani (still),
Cale, Dream Syndicate, Thomas Koner, Shellac, Tobias
Schmidt, Big Jus, Bibio, Basil Kirchin, Awesome Wells,
Smog, Zoviet France, Slint, Cristian Vogel, Silver Apples,
Arthur Russell… kind of in that order.
You once referred to Autechre’s Vletrmx
as “the eighth wonder of the world”. Has
the ninth been created yet?
Jeez did I say that?? Not that I didn’t mean it
at the time but (blush) my propensity for bombast must
be kept in check. I’m not going to answer the
second part of that question (see former statement).
Many journalists have struggled to adequately
describe your music over the years. It seems something
that you are reticent to do as well. If you were forced
to describe it what would you say?
Heheh , Forced how? Like now in an email or something
a bit more sinister? I think it’s a good thing
that people struggle to find descriptive terms and lingo.
With the new LP I suspect this may be even more apparent.
Hopefully the time I have spent honing the new material
has paid off and will demonstrate this with total precision
(that last sentence sounds quite amusing if you read
it to yourself in a German accent). It doesn’t
sit easily as a genre piece of any kind. That’s
why I will never be as commercially ubiquitous as say
Mylo (is that a good example? I dunno) but also hopefully
shows why my conviction in music is deep-rooted, and
is, clearly to anyone who knows me good and proper,
a life long pursuit. Even a lifetime is nothing, a blip
in terms of the musical landscape you can explore. I’m
sorry to make life awkward with my reticence. I guess
a central thing in a lot of the new tracks on the LP
is that feeling of “what is it? I don’t
know what this is?” It definitely isn’t
techno, hip-hop, IDM, drum and bass, classical, death
metal, electro, acoustic. But elements of all of these
“fashions” must somehow permeate my work.
I feel it is just not up to me to tell you how and in
which way they do, and in which way the listener should
interpret any hidden meanings that may be buried beneath
the surface fabric of the music. In a sense this relative
absence of my “writer’s intention”
is totally undeliberate… It’s not like I
even know myself what my music says and this is how
I want it.
Rather than explore one sentiment go between the spaces;
consider the contradictions. For instance on completion
of one track for the LP I was so chuffed I pegged around
Birmingham on my bike for ages... partly shit scared
that I would die before handing my LP in, whilst also
laughing my head off, grinning maniacally and simultaneously
weeping for joy. It must have looked a right sight.
Quite what this is supposed to say about the human soul
I really don't know.
In terms of defining what I do though I suppose all
you are going to get is a more and more convoluted form
of evasive rhetoric. I spend nearly every waking hour
operating the music making machinery with a kind of
closely scrutinised schizophrenia, my desire to explore
new worlds of sound is in constant flux, and full of
aesthetic contradictions. Whilst this might frustrate
some it is kind of at the centre of what I do. Why this
need to be on one definite, clearly defined side of
the fence? To draw conclusions? I guess that’s
why the ethos of musician and the journalist are at
constant loggerheads hehheh….
The strictly limited 3" CD, Throttle Furniture
is available to buy exclusively through Warpmart.
Clark is currently touring the UK with 65daysofstatic.
For details visit the Warp
Email interview February 2006
Thank you to Chris. Photo: Greg Eden.