"I always tried to dissociate myself from all the stuff I was lumped in with. Even as a DJ, there were times I’d be labelled big beat, when I was actually knocking out Carl Craig records.”
You'd be forgiven for thinking that a seven year hiatus in this fickle world we call nocturnal aural electronic explorations would go some way to dulling interest and fever for any act. But Richard Fearless and the return of his Death In Vegas has already been causing quite a stir... and they’ve not even released anything new yet.
After seven turbulent years, which saw him up sticks from London to New York, form a rock & roll band, and eventually move back to London again, Fearless is back as DIV, releasing their first record ‘Trans-Love Energies’ since 2004’s ‘Satan’s Circus’.
Prior to a full UK tour later in the year, their first London appearance in quite some time takes place next Thursday 22nd September @ fabric where they’ll be showcasing tracks from their forthcoming album. Ahead of this hiatus breaking beatdown R$N caught up with Mr Fearless for a very brief chat over a bad skype line.
I’ve not been privy to the full album, due out on September 26th yet - come on SF, send it me! :) - but the two tracks I’ve already heard - available for your ears here hark back to his love of stripped back early Detroit stylings and the beauty created through the interspersion of electronic atmospherics and whispery female vocals, especially on Your LoftYour Loft by Death In Vegas
What you hear on Your Loft, already points to a masterpiece in waiting. Memories of the main room @ The Heavenly Social way back when, come flooding back.
Richard, why so long between now and the last DIV album?
Well, I’d gotten rather saturated with the whole Death In Vegas experience. DIV had been part of me since I was at art college. I produced the music, made the videos, mixed it, produced the artwork and everything that went with it. I needed a break, moved to NYC, started Black Acid and went back to college to study photography and design and pick up from where I’d left off on that front.
So how did the raw power rock & roll of Black Acid come about? Quite a departure from the electronics of DIV.
Well when I moved to New York I didn’t have all the synths and equipment that Tim and I had used to work on with DIV which was is why Black Acid started to sound like it did.
I was reading that you'd re-scored these psyche/surf films that were filmed at the Barbican - do these form part of the new album?
The Barbican had asked me to re-score some psychedelic surf films and then we went in the studio a few days later and recorded it in one long take. 10 songs in a continuous 90 minutes. These aren’t actually in any way part of the new album. They’re another whole ‘lost death in vegas record’. The new album came purely from the last year and a half of material.
You’re back in London, living in your old flat in East London and renting a studio space at Mr Weatherall’s Rotters Golf Club. Did you record the whole new album there? Tell us about the process of the new album.
No, it was all programmed there but we did the vocals - Richard sings for the first time on this album and Katie Stelmanis (Austra) - who sings on 'Your Loft' and the Liz Phair/Cocteau twins-esque 'Witch Dance' - in my parent’s place in Donegal and recorded the rest in new york.
I took the mixes to a studio in Michigan, recommended to me by The Kills & Adult who’d also both recorded there. The studio (Chicago’s mythical Key Club) run by Bill and Jessica was in a remote setting where I work best. I need to be shut away! They’ve also got one of Sly Stone's old Flickenger consoles which gives that great dead, woody sound to the mixing desk.
Whilst there I started producing Von Haze who’re touring with DIV on our main tour and produced this band Black Horses from Brighton. Black Horse say of Richard "A massive part of our sound is down to Richard's production." I also remixed Yoko OnoGive Peace A Chance (Richard Fearless Reach Out Mix) by Death In Vegas
Are the two tracks I’ve heard on the site reflective of the album as a whole - I've not had a chance to check it in full yet? Your Loft is incredible with the amazing vocals of Austra and the woozy instrumentation as is the vocal-less Enforced Peace. It feels like a real return to your obvious love of Detroit.
Well there’s some Syd Barrett lost vocal over strings & middle eastern Bazoukis on one track and then on into My Bloody Valentine sonic space rock but then yeah about 80% of it is very detroit enthused.
You studied film and photography whilst in NYC, have you produced anything that i've been naive enough to have missed?
Well I made a film for the Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy for the Devil for Scorcese’s tour. You can see it in his film on a 50 foot screen!
Why fabric for the live gig? Obviously you have a long-running relationship with them, even mixing fabriclive 23 for them.
Well I was pretty much a resident at the start - well, I think i was?! I’ve always really liked the smaller room there. I think this gig is a much more intimate and intense vibe to that of your normal gig venues... plus, they were the first to ask me!
Do you still DJ much?
Well I’ve kind of fallen off the radar. You do when you’ve not been around much for 7 years! I didn’t have an agent or a manager for quite a while. I haven't DJ'd for a while but I’m starting to get a lot of offers of late with the way the new album’s been received. I’ve had people like Optimo sending me emails asking for a copy and Ivan (Smagghe) and Andrew (Weatherall) - that means a hell of a lot to me. People I admire still caring about what I’m doing after all this time. Also Mixmag giving us album of the month and also being received really well by the likes of Q & Mojo has been great.
Were it not for the rather poor skype-o connection and time restrictions, there’s a load more things I’d have loved to have discussed with Mr Fearless. Not least of all the wonder The Heavenly Social and his residency there, ‘that lost Oasis album’, was all the Kenneth Anger referencing merely aesthetic and stylistic or was there more to it than that and did the DIV studio go all 'Performance' (as in Jagger)... but let’s leave that for another time and another tour... I’ve not even heard the full album yet!
On 22nd September, prior to a full UK tour, the band will be showcasing tracks from their forthcoming ‘Trans-Love Energies’ album, due out on September 26th through Drone Records - Richard’s own label - alongside classic tracks from their previous long players. DJ support from Andrew Weatherall, Richard Fearless himself and Stopmakingm
Listen - and download - Richard's 6Music mix below...Richard Fearless Mix For BBC 6Music by Death In Vegas