Sunday, August 12, 2012


As EDM dominates the world's biggest stages and festivals, one act, who has been around for over two decades are finally making their way here in America. England's Plaid, who have been DJing, remixing and making people go mad in clubs since 1991 and have worked with everyone from Bjork to Goldfrapp, Plaid are now experiencing the exposure they rightfully deserve after years of building their name and sound. We spoke with member Andy Turner about Plaid's beginnings, impressive body of work, EDM and technology today. Take a look.

Electronic music has seen a boom in the last few years and DJ’s have become more in demand now more than ever. How do you explain the rise in popularity?

Electronic music is relatively new. When we started playing shows 20 years ago we'd often be asked 'where are the instruments?'. Mostly people have grown up with it now and appreciate the skills needed to DJ. There are many reasons to socialize that don't directly relate to the style of music being played of course.

After making music for 20 years, how do you stay current?

It's up to others to judge if we are. We keep up with the technology, the tools of our trade but we try and let the music flow naturally without much or any concern for current fads. We'd prefer to be in the moment rather than to follow it.

After 20 years, what still inspires you?

We write to make ourselves feel better, to change or enhance our moods. This has never changed and is never likely to.

London is the epicenter of all things dubstep since the city is credited for birthing the genre? How do you feel about dubstep? Does it represent the city?

We're not big fans of genre labels in general and 'dubstep' is no exception. Labeling restricts creativity to a degree. There is a need to categorize due to the quantities of music becoming available but it leads to far too much emulation. 

London's a richly varied city. No one music represents it. No one culture.

Has London influenced your work?

Undoubtably, it's one of our favorite places. Immigration has enriched the City many times. There are few Cities in the world that have this culturally diverse and embrace it happily.

 Your latest album, Scintilli was released in 2011. What did you do different on this last record that you never did before?

We've used synthesized vocalists on a few tracks this time. The software is actually a few years old now but it's new to us and we haven't heard it used elsewhere. The result is not dissimilar to the heavy pitch correction favored by some pop producers but we found it more interesting to make our 'singers' sing slightly out of tune. It gives them far more character.

What does Scintilli mean?

It's a made up word based on the Latin for 'spark'. To us it means 'I am many sparks'. It's an attempt to describe the feeling music sometimes gives us. As if there were sparks inside. People also call this feeling 'goose bumps' but that title didn't go down well with the focus groups.

You have contributed much music to motion picture soundtracks, do you like that better than crafting your own albums? Or is it a totally different animal?

It's quite different really, there is specific direction given. Michael Arias, the director of the movies we've scored to date gave us quite a lot of space to interpret his direction but even so we had to write for specific moments. The timing and mood of the music is crucial. We enjoy  writing music in general, directed or not.

 Given that your music is electronic and the ever-changing landscape of technology we are in, do you, as a musician even find it difficult to keep up with how fast technology changes? Do you still use some gear from back when you started?

We still have a few old Roland machines but they're rarely used these days. It's not too difficult to keep up. The only barrier is money really. We're pretty happy with the quality of digital synthesis now. We've used hardly any analog or live recordings on this last album.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Our recent work with the Southbank Gamelan players has been very educational, definitely a highlight. We hope to develop and record the pieces we've written and performed with them early next year.