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DFA Producer Shit Robot Comes Clean

Marcus Lambkin releases his debut album, 'Cradle to the Rave', after 20 years on the New York club scene

Marcus Lambkin, aka Shit Robot, has had a career which virtually chronicles the last 20-years of New York’s club scene. It’s a simple fact but it’s the reason why he has only just released his first album: he’s been too busy. After leaving his native Dublin in the early 90s, Lambkin was soon a regular fixture on the East Village DJ scene. It was an emigration which has shaped his life, and brought him into contact with some of the defining cultural movements of the last two decades, including: House, Techno, Trip-Hop and DFA Records – or to be more precise James Murphy (Lambkin, a trained cabinet-maker, helped build DFA’s studio). So, why do an album after this length of time? What, from the rich context of a successful career do you decide to lay down on your debut LP? Dazed went along to find out about the gestation Shit Robot’s Cradle to the Rave.

Dazed Digital: Can you describe your sound?
Shit Robot: I like to think of it as a mix of old school acid house, disco and early techno, but some of the stuff on the album is definitely more on the poppy side.

DD: Why do the album now after 20 years?
Shit Robot: Mainly because I’ve only been making music for half that time, I hadn’t even thought about an album before now. I was originally only interested in making dance 12s. I never thought of myself as an album artist.

DD: What were your main musical inspirations when putting Cradle to the Rave together?
Shit Robot: When I’m making music I’m usually thinking about my early days going out to raves and clubs. There was a great sense of optimism back then. I’m really into that old warehouse sound, which had a mix of everything, house, disco, rave and techno.

DD: What was it like Dj’ing in NYC during the 90s?
Shit Robot: 
It was a lot of fun. NY was a bit wilder back in the early nineties, there was no cabaret laws and no Guliani, so you could get away with a lot more. Most places in the East Village had turntables and a couple of dealers in the back room, so there was a lot of partying going on. There was also a huge influx of Irish and English at that time either on green cards or J1 visas for three months in the summer. So there was a continuous turnover of fresh faced kids looking for a good night out. The bars were very busy then, almost every night of the week. I cut my chops playing in these bars where you usually had to play from 10pm to 4am. You learn a lot, very quickly when you do this two or three nights a week.

DD: We’ve read that James Murphy is the one who pushed you from the start. How did you meet him and how has the relationship helped you create the album?
Shit Robot: 
We met through a mutual friend and then we shared an office space in the west village, which is now DFA HQ. He had a lot to do with the album, besides producing the shit out of it; he was the one that got me to start taking music seriously in the first place. He also helped me thorough the whole process. I mean, he’s done it a couple of times, so even if he didn’t produce it, I would have been going to him for advice.  He also helped me with a lot of the decisions and pointed me in the right direction when it came to finding other artists to work with. Without him, this record wouldn’t exist.

DD: How much has growing up in Ireland influenced you as an artist?
Shit Robot: I don’t think the growing up bit had much to do with it, but it definitely influenced me in the sense that it’s where I first really got into dance music and that’s where I heard all the music that still inspires me today.

DD: Why do you think there’s such an emigration mentality in Ireland?
Shit Robot: Economics really, isn’t it? I mean, it originally started because of the famine and Ireland hasn’t really had much to shout about since then, until the whole Celtic Tiger thing. Once that got going the emigration pretty much stopped. When I was in NY a few years back and Ireland was booming there was ads in the paper saying “Ireland need you!”, to come home to Ireland, they needed carpenters, etc. People are just looking for work. A lot of people went home at this time. I think people are happy to live there as long as there is something to do and a life to be made.

DD: What’s next for Shit Robot?
Shit Robot: 
I’m going to go out DJing for a bit to promote the record. Then I want to go back to just making some fun dance 12”s and not worry about albums for a minute.

From the Cradle to the Rave is released on DFA Records on 20th September.