Q+A  :  GENERAL MUSIC  :  MUSICAL STYLES - classical to folk, jazz to world music and more


What classical music do you like to listen to?

I particularly like modern British composers like Elgar and Vaughan Williams, Walton etc., 20th century Europeans such as Berg and Schoenberg, Shostokovich, Mahler etc., New world composers: Gershwin, Barber, Kurt Weil and the minimalists like Reich, Glass, Nyman and Wim Mertens.

Do you ONLY like "organic" sounding electronic music?

I'm not sure what you mean. I like electronic music but I find the rigid quality of programmed drums too restrictive. I like the idea of mixing analogue elements with more 'organic', groove-based rhythmic parts as well as many other sounds and instruments.

You've said you like all kinds of music but you're supposed to have said the only exception is metal. Is that so? Any particular reasons? Could you name any metal/AOR/hard-rock-ish bands you admire or like in any way?

I like metal for comedy value - just look at Ozzy Osborne. If I have the choice of 'Soul MTV' or Tommy Vance on VH1, I'll take Tommy every time.

Have you ever considered the possibility of having a foreign language introduced to Recoil in a lyrical form?

I like the sound of certain languages (Italian, for example) which are very musical. I've used snippets of foreign languages before.

Your taste in classical music is right on! Are you a fan of Holst too? Is it just me or was it not until the 20th century that Britain managed to produce good composers... ;)

Yes, I do like Holst. Regarding English composers, go and read up on Elizabethan England. We boasted the finest composers in the world - Gibbons, Byrd, Tallis.... to name but a few.

You mentioned a few American composers that you liked, have you listened much to Alan Hovhaness? What pieces really stick in your mind and inspire you?

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Hovhaness but I'll look out for him when I'm next in a record store. The most inspiring American composers for me have been the minimalists - Reich, Adams, Glass etc.

What do you think of the modern French composers like Ravel and Messiaen?

Not mad on the Impressionists - Debussy and Ravel had some interesting harmonic ideas but overall too wishy washy for me, a bit like the painters. Messiaen - not listened to much but has done some good organ stuff. The modern French composer Boulez, is pretty unlistenable .

And I'm most interested to know your opinion of John Cage ...

I recently bought a CD of his music. I really wanted to like it because he was obviously innovative for his time - I didn't.

I've had this interesting idea for quite some time - actually since I heard your version of 'Moonlight Sonata' on the 'Little 15' single several years ago. I thought it would be interesting if you were to release a CD of your interpretations of your favourite classical songs. Maybe even as a Recoil project. What do you think?

Unlikely - can't really see the point of such an exercise.

What's your opinion on Britpop music like Suede, Pulp and other bands like that, do you ever listen to it?

I quite like Pulp's singles but there's not much else in the Britpop scene that I'm particularly enthusiastic about.

Have you ever been interested in using a Russian male choir?

I have used some Russian choirs in the past - on 'Hydrology' I think. You'll have to listen closely though.

Have you ever considered doing remix work for more progressive techno artists?

I'm not really interested in doing remixes for anyone unless something very special comes along. I'd rather put my energy into Recoil.

Have you ever thought about making music for a modern ballet, working together with a choreographer? This idea came up when I watched a weird dance piece with all kinds of music and noises.

Well, as yet no-one has approached me with such an idea. It could be interesting though. I like Stravinsky's ballet music - have you heard 'Petrouchka'?

You mention "Petrouchka" as an interesting ballet music, and then I thought of an electronic adaptation of "The Rite Of The Spring", but trying to make it sound dark-industrial... What do you think?

Not sure about that..

And what about Gorecky?

Yes, I really like his music

Have you ever put any thought into incorporating 'world music' into your work, ala Robbie Roberston or Michael Brooks.

Don't go all Paul Simon on me...they all go that way eventually, don't they - Peter Gabriel...

What do you think of rap music? Any favourites?

I like some rap artists. The first Disposable Heroes... album was excellent and I like Public enemy, House Of Pain and Cypress Hill amongst others.

Who are your favourite reggae artists?

Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, a few others....

Have you ever thought on working with jazz musicians or making a whole new type of sound in that kind of music?


What do you think of drum n' bass and do you plan on incorporating any of it in future remixes? I particularily liked Barry Adamson's mix of 'Controlfreak' and thought the rythms suited the track quite well.

I wouldn't class Barry's mix as drum 'n' bass.

Have you ever had the idea to produce a very long, involved piece of music - something in the order of 30 - 40 minutes? Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream and The Orb have all done some interesting things with this genre of "long" form music. I truly enjoy it when an artist goes "out on a limb" and does something experimental.

Nothing wrong with being experimental. Self indulgent - that's another thing. I don't have rules about track length or, for that matter, style. I think it's actually a bit too easy to just knock out an instrumental LP and then call it "experimental"

You said that you like classical music. Are you familiar with Marin Marais or Saint-Colombe?


In an earlier answer (29/5), you said you "can't listen to Autechre". Is this just a question of taste or can I draw a connection with another of your replies "I think it´s actually a bit too easy to just knock out an instrumental L.P. and then call it 'experimental'..."?

I just find their music too abrasive to listen to for any length of time.

I think Recoil would be perfect on the soundtrack for the upcoming film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel 'American Psycho'. Any chance you will ever score a movie?

I'm glad you mentioned that this was coming out as a film considering it's one of my favourite books - I shall be looking out for it now. Noone interesting has ever asked me to score a movie but I'll consider any offers that come my way.

Have you considered working with more operatic samples as you did in the 'Poison Dub' mix of 'Drifting'?

It would be great to work with a fully trained opera singer and see if I could translate their technique into something that worked in the context of Recoil. The risk of course, is that you end up with 'Classics On 45'...

Have you contemplated composing/constructing an opera entire?

Andrew Lloyd Webber? - mmm, I don't think so.

Your music and almost all others borrow from some other style or time period. Do you think there is a chance that someone will create something unto itself or different in the music world that we have never heard before?

Or in other words, what's the next big thing? Who knows eh...

I picked up an issue of Interface which had an interview with you. It is a magazine concerning industrial and post-industrial music. Would you say that your music is headed (if not already) in this direction?

'Industrial' is a silly term which I find rather irritating. I don't really know what it means. I think of bands like Front 242 and Test Department as industrial I suppose, but I don't relate it in any way to my work.

In the early days, 'techno' was music made in an electronic and more mathematical way. Nowadays most ordinary music uses both these elements. So according to you, what 's 'techno music'?

I'm not quite sure. The word has become synonymous with dance music and come to mean anything of that ilk - in much the same way 'electro' has grown to categorise anything using synths. They're both pretty inappropriate terms.

Have you thought about maybe going the Middle Eastern route? Try to get a copy of 'The Blue Camel' by Rabih Abou-Khalil. This artist composes jazz heads using Arabic scales whilst having American Jazz musicians play solos. This produces a very unique texture of sound based mostly on melody and rhythm.

I'm open to all kinds of music - I'll check it out.

As a musician, do you feel that writing some tracks with lyrics and some as pure instrumentals should be done intentionally in order to reach different musical environments?

It is a mistake to try to predict and write for a particular market. I think integrity is the key word. Stick with what you're good at and don't be swayed by the latest trend. I never consciously set out to write in a particular style.

Any plans to cross over and make hard electro music? The seeds have always been there even in your work with DM and since each release you put out is radically different, is this a possibility?

Anything's a possibility but it's unlikely I would make a whole album like that.

I've recently discovered the joys of Jazz. Do you like it and what albums would you recommend?

I'm not a massive jazz fan although there are certain records that I would listen to. The odd Miles Davis or John Zorn perhaps as well as the early lot like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday etc. Mmmm, nice.....

You definitely found some of your inspiration in repetitive music from people like Philip Glass especially in the first track of your first Recoil album. I was wondering whether you felt part of a particular music force in the 20th century beyond pop music?

No, I wouldn't presume to be so arrogant. I just make the kind of music I like to listen to and I don't really worry about where it fits in. In fact, I think it's almost impossible to pigeon-hole Recoil because it's such a synthesis of so many different styles - a marketing man's nightmare.

What is the most important country for music evolution?

Well, if we're talking about all types of music then I don't think you can pin it down to one country. There are great composers from all over the world. England and America have always had the greatest influence over pop music. Even though lots of bands come from England, the roots of the music can very often be traced back to black America and the blues. Electronic music is much more European in it's influence.

I am a classically trained flutist and greatly enjoy your music. There are many pieces composed for solo flute accompanied by electronic music recordings (Stockhausen's Kathinkas Gesang als Lucifers Requiem). Have you ever thought about using your knowledge of electronic music to compose such pieces for classical instruments?

Probably not for a single instrument. One of the interesting things about the Recoil sound is that I try to bring in influences from all genres of music, including classical. So few people, it seems, are prepared to mix the sounds of the orchestra with, say, electronics or gospel. I find myself increasingly drawn to the sounds of the orchestra but I certainly wouldn't want to make 'conventional' sounding classical music. If I were to concentrate fully on classical instrumentation, I would be shooting myself in the foot. I would also be accused of trying to write a rock symphony or some such pretentious thing - think Paul McCartney.

Will you explore rock deeper in the future (you did it great on 'SOFAD')?

Ahh yes, 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion'.....that great rock classic. You know, I really wanted to take the rock thing further but the others like weren't cool about it. I designed these great leopard-skin spandex trousers for us right, and I sort of like envisaged Dave swinging from the ceiling Bon Jovi style, and I was gonna grow my hair long man, and like dye it blond and get the old home perm out. It could have been so totally cool 'cause, I'm just like fuckin' Sabbath, me! Raaack on.....

I also thought we could lob dead animals at the audience during some of those great rock numbers like 'Consecration' and 'Get Right With Me(at Loaf). Didn't you notice the subliminal 'heavy' titles like 'Rush' and 'Judas (Priest)'..... my idea. Talkin' of 'Judas', that end bit wiv' the fuckin' synthesiser, that's like so totally ACDC isn't it!!!....Of course, the album title was also a problem. I wanted to call it 'Suck My Stalagmite' but I got outvoted 'cause like apparently we were s'pposed to be some poofta New Romantics band.......an' all these years I thought I was a member of Iron Maiden...... Lived eht fo sdnah eht ta eid lliw uoy.

Any plans to cross over and make hard electro music? The seeds have always been there even in your work with DM and since each release you put out is radically different, is this a possibility?

Anything's a possibility but it's unlikely I would make a whole album like that.

I was a bit saddened to read in one of your answers that 'Control Freak' was one of the tracks you had the greatest difficulties with and that perhaps you weren't entirely satisfied with it. I think it was one of the few tracks on 'UM' that had the exciting electronic feel to it, that so dominated 'Bloodline'. Does this mean that you are totally giving up on making these more up-tempo, electronic-sounding songs?

Firstly, I'm not unhappy with it, it's just that when something seems so difficult to complete, it suggests to me that there's something wrong with it, and that awkward process ultimately taints my overall enjoyment of the track. As I've said many times before, I don't have any predetermined ideas about the direction the music will take in the future so I can't say whether it will be any more or less electronic.

Do you think you'll ever try a complete "raw" sound with Recoil sometime, just stripping your future songs down to maybe a lone piano or an acoustic guitar, with no other electronic synth-enhancements? Perhaps the 'Recoil Unplugged' album?

I really don't like the 'unplugged' idea so this is highly unlikely. My main interest in music-making is finding unusual sound combinations.

Wouldn't it suit Recoil fine to do an ambient album? An instrumental record with some vocal samples and the occasional trippy beats (not that I am telling you how to do your music, just an idea).

There's plenty of other people making music like that if you fancy a snooze

Many people have asked about your doing electronic film scores someday. What about an orchestral work or something strictly piano?

Unlikely. There are so many people around who can write orchestral scores. My skills are in mixing different styles together (like electronic and orchestral) and making something new and different. That's what I'm really interested in.

What do you thing about new trends in french electronic music? i.e. Air, Daft Punk, Mr Oizo.

Air - ok, Daft Punk - excellent, Mr. Oizo - silly.

Do you like French music? As I can receive some of the French radio stations, I think that the French are very much into electronic music. Did you ever think of making a song with French vocals?

Pah! I fart in their general direction....(in French accent...)

You have said in the past that the only music you despise as a whole is Country + Western. Do you, or did you like punk ? If so, what bands?

Q. What do you get if you play your C+W records in reverse?

A: Your money back, your house back, your wife back etc.....

Of course I liked Punk although I have to admit that I was suspiciously more New Wave than punk ;-) Actually there were only one or two punk bands that were any good. I was more into bands like Magazine, Television, The Stooges, XTC etc...

Have you ever heard of Bad Religion or Black Flag ? Both were punk bands in the 1980's that were hugely influential to a lot of kids. The singers for the bands, Greg Graffin (BR) and Henry Rollins (BF) both have very distinct, unique voices and both are very smart and very good lyric writers. Would you consider maybe using someone odd like that ?

Yes possibly. I like Henry Rollins.

What do you think of the 'circuit party' phenomenon here on this side of the septic pond? I was in Montreal for Black and Blue and New Orleans for Halloween (both this past October) and have found a large number of 'party- goers' grew up listening to DM and knew some Recoil - 20 thousand in attendance at B & B, with such a dark edge to the event, well, how could a few of them not? ;-) Do you enjoy some of the music to have come out of this "scene"?

Call me old fashioned, I don't know the scene you're talking about Jeff. You lost me around 'circuit party' I'm afraid ;-)

What is your favourite Christmas song?

In no particular order:

'Happy Xmas (War is over)' - John Lennon
'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day' - Wizard
'So Here It Is - Merry Christmas' - Slade
Any Xmas song (about Chestnuts and things like that) sung by Nat King Cole.
The Motown Christmas album,
and of course, Bing..

How well do you think you have followed the development of electronic music in the '90s?

Not sure I quite understand the question. If you mean have I followed electronic music closely, then no I haven't. There are so many electro / techno artists around these days - I can't keep up with it. I like good electro but I'm not purist about it. As I'm sure you can hear from Recoil, I'm obviously interested in many different types of music.

Do you prefer instrumental songs over songs with lyrics / singing?

No, not really. I have no real preference. If it's good, I like it.

Are you familiar with 'The Planets' by Holst? This is my favourite orchestral piece. If so, does any particular track stand out to you?

Yes I am familiar with it. I like Mars, Jupiter and Neptune.

Any thoughts on the US ska / punk trend?

I didn't know there was one.

Do you like the opera? What about musicals?

I like to listen to opera when cooking. I hate most musicals.

Can you give some comments on Asian music (Chinese, Indian etc.)?

Er......... try me on sport....

I know very little about Chinese or Japanese music. Most traditional Japanese sounds a bit too plaintive for me. I quite like Classical indian music, especially whilst eating Chicken Korma with Pilau rice washed down with several pints of lager. Philip Glass did an interesting LP with Ravi Shankar and it's quite nice to see some Asian influences becoming more popular in the dance area (Talvin Singh, Asian Dub Foundation etc.)

Have any ambient musicians influenced your music? What do you think about Klaus Schulze music?

Eno is probably my favourite 'ambient' musician. Most electro crosses over into ambient at times, like Kraftwerk, Suicide etc. I also like Panasonic and Plastikman. I like some of Klaus Schulze.

What is your opinion on recent R&B music (i.e. Mase, Master P)? Have you heard them at all?

Well, I haven't heard of these but you've put me off instantly by describing them as 'recent R&B'. If you're talking about anything that sounds like one of those horrible manufactured all-girl vocal groups or anyone who samples a bit of classical music then mumbles "everything's gonna be alright" 547 times followed by "ah-ha, ah-ha, yo, respec to my nigga", then I can't stand it! And what the fuck is a 'Bootie Call'?

I have for some time admired your obvious talents - you were the backbone of DM. I also admire and appreciate your intelligence. However I am somewhat saddened by some of your remarks! Being that I am a black English woman now living in America, I feel your remarks regarding R&B to be somewhat harsh and almost racist. Not all R&B videos have half naked hip gyrating hoochies (whores) so it seems unfair to label most new R&B acts that way! I'll be honest, most rap music makes my brain hurt, however my dislike for it ends there. Whenever you've ever mentioned a rap band you've liked, they have always been of the Caucasian persuasion or maybe hispanic (House Of Pain, Cypress Hill etc.). Who do you think influenced them! I'm by no means calling you a racist, however, reading some of your remarks, someone might mistake you as such!

Oh come on - give me a break.

I recorded a track on 'U.M.' about the civil rights movement in the deep south which featured Hildia Cambell, a black gospel singer. Not only is she a good friend but I've also said many times that I think she has an incredible voice. I recorded a tribute to Bukka White, a black blues singer whose vocals featured on the track in question. The influence of rap and hip-hop on my music will be obvious to many people and I have cited artists such as Public Enemy, Disposable Heroes and early pioneers Grand Master Flash as favourites. I have also said I love gospel and blues in general and specifically singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Jimmy Scott, Nat King Cole and Neneh Cherry amongst others, as well as reggae and dub artists. etc......need I go on?

Every day MTV (England) devotes an enormous amount of air time to what they label 'R & B' - at present, about 10 different artists are cycled over and over again: Honey, Deetah, Lutricia McNeal, Sweetbox, All Saints, R. Kelly, Brandy + Monica, Des'ree, Toni Braxton etc.. All I'm saying is if this is Rhythm & Blues, then I don't like it.


Q+A  :  GENERAL MUSIC  :  MUSICAL STYLES - classical to folk, jazz to world music and more