Gracing legendary labels like London's Hyperdub, the electronic duo return from their tour with new experimental sounds before they play Dazed's first festival
Darkstar have been busy. Non-stop touring across the world has meant that it has taken almost a month to arrange this interview. However, as we enter the final stages of preparation for Dazed Live it all seems to be coming together. Forged in the fire of London’s FWD>> and the surrounding grime scene, Darkstar has taken its influence from those seminal events and added a dose of cyborg science fiction electro.
They were catapulted into fame with the success of their Apple-warped ‘Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer’, which made Pitchfork’s top 100 tracks of 2009 and Hyperdub’s five year anniversary compilation. However, since the success of the track, they’ve refused to be taken along with the wave it has created. Independence is intrinsic to the Darkstar mentality. We met up with James Young to find out more…
Dazed Digital: When did you first become aware of Dazed and Confused?
James Young: A fair few years ago. To me, there was an affinity between grime and magazines like Dazed and Confused. I was going to FWD>> and was on the edge of the whole thing that was going on there, so it was interesting to see magazines like Dazed and Vice take note of that kind of culture. It was always on the periphery but then when FWD>> started kicking off it really started to get me interested in those magazines.
DD: Are you guys excited to be playing the first Dazed Live?
James Young: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to the Village Underground before.
DD: Looking at the line-up, what else are you looking forward to catching?
James Young: Factory Floor, I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.
DD: How have you found the reception to ‘North’?
James Young: Really good actually. I knew that it wasn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. We knew who wouldn’t like it and who would but generally the reaction has been really positive. It’s set us up to go on and do what we want, rather than what people are expecting. I’m happy about the position it’s put us in.
DD: What kind of things will it allow you to do?
James Young: Well, it’s good for us because I don’t think after ‘North’ people are going to expect that we’ll be doing more 2-step stuff or continue in the direction of that album, you know? I think we’re now in a position where we can get away with a few things and try and experiment and enjoy the second album rather than feel the pressure, which is definitely something we felt from the first album. We’re in a healthy position right now: going to the studio and just having a good time.
DD: Have you started working on the second one?
James Young: Yeah but only tentatively. We’re picking it up now and hopefully we’ll do a three-week session in May. It’s all speculative at the moment though….
DD: Did you feel pressure from the success of ‘Aidy’s girl is a computer’?
James Young: I suppose so. People liked the idea of an album in that ilk but it wasn’t something we ever aimed to do. Or if we did then it was that that pushed us into that mentality. Deep down it was never our ambition to make a dance record.
DD: What were you listening to at the minute?
James Young: Portishead. I’ve only just got their latest album and had that on while we were in Mexico recently; a lot of House; and Joy Orbison has made a couple of tracks recently that have really impressed me. My manager sent me a guy called Frank Ocean’s album, he’s in the Odd Future clique. It’s quite nice in a guilty pleasure way.
DD: What’s next for Darkstar?
James Young: We’ve got a few more dates and then I think we wind down. We’ll be in America in July, doing the Pitchfork festival. Then hopefully we’ll get this album done, although I shouldn’t say that as it got me in trouble last time! I don’t know how long it’ll take. We’re in a bit of a purple patch and we seem to be getting results so hopefully it’ll continue…
Darkstar is playing Dazed Live on Saturday April 9, 2011. The festival takes place at several occasions in and around Shoreditch and is presented in partnership with Levi's and Absolut Vodka. Find out more about the Dazed Live HERE and buy your tickets HERE