DJ SPOOKY - Interview

Based on a real interview recorded in Lille both in English and French (please pay no attention to language since there might be formal distortions). Here is DJ? Teacher? Theorist? Global artist? Spooky eating fish. Kinda peruvian hat betraying global approach. Trousers betraying NYC residence.

DJ Spooky = architecture or collage?

It's more like architecture because if you think about rhythm and beats, I just try to formalise things a little bit as a kind of structure of ideas and on that level I just kinda play with history, you know hiphop is always about sampling, evokation and quotation so I think about it as an architecture of time.

Past as an ingredient among others?

Yes, time becomes a piece of archive, you can play with fragments of time as you like and at the same time it is some kind of irreverence. The fragment within the structure/architecture becomes a variable element. The turntable becomes a time machine but still there are some rules...

Is there a relevant connection between music and space (or is it another abstract metaphore)?

Well, if you think of the physics of sound, you can't have sound without space. Space regulates all aspects of the world, including time. It's a condition of the universe. Let's put it this way: hiphop... drum 'n bass, everything... plays with our sense of time, our psychological perception of time. 'Ever had that feeling? You come to a club and lose track of time because of repetition. It creates a psychological atmosphere. Lots of artists have played with the idea of losing the track of time, Afrika Bambaataa among others... Whereas in our capitalist societies time is over-regulated...

That approach is really close to the Ambient musicians' perspective (Spooky is often labelled as Illbient just as Spectre or even Vadim). What about body time?

I think I do play too with the notion of what is corporal and what is incorporeal, hence spooky, 'le fantôme'.

About playing electronic music live and the evolution of DJing.

I think that little by little everyone's gonna start creating one's own instrument. You know about vinyle DJ, there's also robot-DJ (see (...) When I'm live on stage I'm just having fun. (...)

About the small influence of alternative America and his vision of the American identity.

A lot of people live in the suburbean areas and get a sense of what's going on outside through videos. If you watch video clips you can see each world watching the other. Videos become a distorting means of communicating. I like to think of certain symptoms of hiphop as a reflection of voyeurism within the country but also between the US and the rest of the world. When I come to Europe, I also feel a sense of translation and uniformity...Same McDonalds, same Starbucks, etc. (...) There is no precise definition of the American identity...such definition would be useless...but there are certain dominant features, for example the hyper-commercial culture and the global approach. So identity is variable but different presidents and mass media can impose different visions of this identity. That's what Bush is doing to some extent, by not talking about such issues as environment, change, etc. (...) For a large portion of the population, life means TV and consumption, imagination has become a fiction.... You only see new things in the avant-garde (Saul Williams, APC, Aesop Rock...).


I usually travel 3 weeks a month. I explore the world. It is easy for me for music has no boarders. But at the same time, it has become difficult these days. I feel a lot of hatred toward the USA and the American way of life.

This hatred may be legitimate to some extent but is highly unfair to the American counterculture.

As an artist my role is to be ahead of political ideas and spread them among a generation that is not interested in politics.

DJ Spooky's new album Under the Influence is out now and distributed in France by Nocturne. It is a mix album with a sense of flow that is specific to Spooky's style.

Interview: Came, Matthieu and nICO

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