This week, our February issue coverstar Thom Yorke has been giving us via 14 exciting new producers his insightful answers to their burning questions. Having had the likes of Lapalux, Flying Lotus and Caribou earlier on this week, 'Class 4' today sees NYC's Arca (who has just announced an album of the wonderful Hippos In Tanks label) and the San Francisco-based experimental sound artist Holly Herndon. Whilst studying for a Ph.D in Electronic Music at Stanford University, Herndon released her acclaimed 'Movement' album on RVNG Intl; whilst Arca's trippy electronic sounds have got the likes of Merok and UNO backing him.
HOLLY HERNDON: What can be done to make the laptop a more engaging performance tool that translates the intimacy of recording an album into a live environment?
Thom Yorke: I wonder about that a lot. Half the reason I had that strong urge to do Atoms for Peace was that I wasn’t happy just going onstage with some machines and having them run through a clock and having me just sing over the top. I’ve always really struggled with that. I do it occasionally, but I don’t know how you would change that perception. There’s lots of interfaces that are quite visual but that all gets a bit Star Trek for me. My whole thing is that it doesn’t matter what you create, you can scribe it for a musician to play. I was fascinated by the concept that a laptop is intimate but it’s also intricate – you can be so intricate with it because you don’t have to share all your ideas with anybody, it’s all just in there, going directly to your machine. You can be really complicated and endlessly change it, but when you give it to musicians to play it gives it a new edge and brings it full circle.
ARCA: Who is your favourite rapper?
Thom Yorke: DOOM. Ultimately to me it’s not rapping at all, it’s poetry. The way he freeforms his verses and puts it all together, I don’t think anyone else quite does it like that. I don’t necessarily like a lot of the beats, but he’s always amazing. ‘Guvnor’ (from JJ DOOM’s Key to the Kuffs) was my single of 2012. It’s genius, that tune.