You’re so many things all at once: a DJ, songwriter, producer, singer, even performance artist. If you had to narrow it down, which do you consider yourself most?
“Sanger.” The other things I find tricky in the sweet steam of the shower.
Are you a visual artist as well, or did you ever imagine yourself to be?
I’m a dabbler is all. A kid asked me to draw a bike the other day and so, of course, I had a go. When I was finished, I observed the result and it dawned on me that what I was capable of scribbling now is no better than something I could do at his age. I guess that about sums it up. Drawing is time travel for me.
I take horrible photos, I’m told, which I’m pretty proud of…never take a picture of someone up the barrel of his nose is the lesson here.
Once, I wanted to make a helicopter that would do graffiti. The idea was that it would fly up to billboards way up high and get busy dropping doodoo on the ads…then I realized the ultimate graffiti artist would be a remote-controlled bird that would be able to spray from its beak. Bloody hard to detect. Who would suspect a bird? Then I had this thought that such birds would be great spies. I’m sure there’s a film in here somewhere. I already wrote a song about it on the second Super_Collider album called “Loose Tails.” I could go on…
Is there an artist you particularly admire?
I’ve always been a big fan of Michel Gondry. See, where most artists find one or two strong ideas to hang a story around, Gondry will find 20 or so. All strong! He doesn’t just sit on a signature style and milk it. He’s always pushing himself to find a fresh way in and out – keeps the jaw ajar.
What do you think it is that makes a musician or artist "good"?
Sweet invention, baby. When you start sitting on your one thing too much, chances are you’ve lost that thing that thing that thhhhiiiiinnng. Keep on keeping, people!
You often collaborate with artist Pablo Fiasco on videos and during live performances. Is it mutually spontaneous, or does he follow your lead?
Pablo and I have been co-conspirators in the game for many a year. He was always a guy that gave me ideas by the dozen. A fella that I could sit with for hours, dreaming and scheming. He’s got a real knowledge of all the arts, from descension to ascension, from under-the-bridge-dark to city-neon-luminous. He has a vast understanding of outer storytelling, history, music, and all that. Knows how to take film to other planets. When we work together we’re continuing a story that started 10 years ago, when we first started doing shit together. If anyone knows when I’m going to hang a left, it’s Pablo. He’s the reader and the writer at the same time.
Who’s done your album art in the past?
Pablo did both of the Lidell solo albums. Red Design did the Super_Collider artwork. It’s a tricky business, the sleeve game. As an artist, you’re told about the costs and the troubles of getting that oversized pack in the rack at the record shop. It’s a balance, of course. Warp and Lex Records always made a lot of effort to have the wacky boxes ’n shit.
Do you have a favorite record sleeve, sleeve artist, or even a musical act that consistently has amazing packaging?
I don’t know who did it…it’s an old ’60s or ’70s thing…some kind of color wheel that you can rotate and it trips the fuck out of you when you’re dipping. Not that I do that anymore. I just like the thin cardboard sleeves now. I’ve heard it said once before, and I have to agree: "Space is the place."
Do you have a lot of friends who are visual artists or designers?
Yeah, I’m lucky enough to hang with a lot of creative folk in Berlin.
What do you do when you get together?
There’s this place that we’ll go to on a night out that does these amazing pizzas that span two plates. We’ll start sharing one of those babies, then sink some suds and talk it up. Usually by 2 am we’ll be making stories, making songs…all of which sound much better when they’re fresh, if you know what I mean. I do know straightedge designers too, you know. Really.
With all of your travels for music, what do you think is the most vibrant, creative place right now?
I’m still pretty happy living in Berlin. I was feeling Montreal, too, recently. I’m keen to spend more time in LA, to feel the buzz and see if I can’t get a taste of that. What the hell. Seems like if you have the reach in LA you can get so much done. Berlin is cool but it suffers from the sleepy thing. I might need a change of pace sooner or later…
You’ve been so experimental musically, what’s the next move for you?
To be honest, I was pretty worried about my next move until I played this gig the other day. Went from the hard croon to the hardcore and the audience was with me the whole way. I was buzzing. It made me realize that minds are not as closed as I’d feared. The green light is all I need, then you can watch me run!
Okay, we know you must have one, so what’s your signature dance move?
The schlip. With one foot or two, it’s always a winner.