Prefuse 73

HHC: Could you briefly sum up the whole idea of "Preparations"?

Prefuse 73: So the idea? I mean, obviously from everybody that recently heard the record it is less focused on the structure than the last LP's, but it was more like a concentration on the structure than whatever, I hardly knew I was going to produce a double CD or whatever at that time. I was going for a simple idea, making a beat and taking more time to just restructure it, like the main parts of the roots of everything, do it backwards, you know what I mean?

HHC: Like... more basic sounds?

P: Yeah definitely. I tried to avoid doing the tricks I know. I think it s a cool concept to try to recreate what you are sampling from or the sources you are sampling from. It's not written on paper anywhere because I guess it's not important for the people who are supposed to sell it but my point was to recreate the things I chose to sample. It's just a reflection backwards.

HHC: The artwork plays once again an important part in your artistic development. Talking about artworks, I was wondering who's the guy on the bicycle on the cover of "Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives"? What's the link between the different covers and your music?

P: I contacted Kemt to do it, I know his work and I know he's more used to do some minimal stuff but he's familiar with what I do and I'm familiar with what he does, he understood what I was doing and I tried to get him to do it. I think you could do something differently with me, like... doing some minimal stuff based on screen-printed transfers, methods which are hand-made. That's the way he works and that's why I picked him.
(about the first album's artwork) This guy who worked on the artwork is called Georgos Strade, his wife is from Nigeria and he took a bunch of flicks from a trip and the guy on the bicycle? Well it's just a guy who hanged around with him at that time.

HHC: The second version of 'The Class Of 73 Bells' video contains an important assimilation of old traditions that are not really well known by the French and European audience? Could you sum up very briefly the idea behind the video? Is it important for you not to appear in any video? Is it a choice that you made consciously?

P: We had a different video at that time and it sucked. It was like fucking garbage man. Full budget, shot video, they (cf. Claudia and Alejandra Deheza former members of on!air!library! and now part of The School Of The Seven Bells project) were in it and the result was like a sort of Blair Witch project but terrible because the references are so over and obvious. This was an idea taken from a spooky b-side project and this was the recommend of the director.
Basically Claudia and Alejandra were so embarrassed by what they had to do that they didn't even tell me how embarrassing it was for them until I said "I saw it today... I am fucking sorry" and they were like "ok, it was like fuckin' hell but we are sorry too, we thought it would be good". The asshole who put it on youtube, I don't even know him because he's gonna get sued. I still wanna talk to him... because first of all, I don't appreciate being put on the internet or whatever youtube maybe because you are mad because someone else did a greater job. The last version (cf. the animated one) really recreates the artwork of the album and actually the director who made it did his best with very little time. This all story is about disappointment. The dude who did the Battles video (cf. 'Atlas') was supposed to do it but his dp's couldn't do it so we had to pick somebody else very fast. Three directors did the video and it ended up as an animated one which is crazy but the guy who put that on youtube, I still don't even know who it is but I still wanna talk to him. The woman from Workfilms was like "yeah... what were you thinking? It's not just a Prefuse's track but a real collaboration and you are transgressing all laws concerning copyright". You could find another way to express the fact that you are mad, yelling at me, calling me or whatever... he's in New-York, he could have come to my house, just talk to me.

HHC: Why did you choose to release your album much later in the U.S.? Was it a choice imposed by Warp since it is an European album?

P: I have nothing to do with it. I have no interest. I don't involve myself in it. I just collaborate with the press and that's it.

HHC: The School Of Seven Bells is now the band of the former members of on!air!library... I had this strange feeling listening to sempiternal... sounds like Modulo1000?

P: Modulo1000? That's fair enough man! They don't even know who is it probably but... I do. Man, that's good! Good references man! That's seriously! I am impressed. Damn! I thought I was the only one who bought that CD or just talked about it. That's interesting you saw a kind of parallel with School Of Seven Bells I gotta pass it on to them.

HHC: How do you define the whole idea behind the term "cut up"? How do you get this idea to record such album as "Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives" using vocal samples and actually producing rhythms thanks to them which is clearly exemplified in 'Point To B'? Was it a way to assert your subversity or was it something that avoided your spheres of creation?

P: It was not one of my creations. It was just an inspiration, a blend of what I was listening to and actually a very open... how could I sum it up? Well you communicate something, I didn't wanna do it so obvious but it's also coming from the technique you know? Like an exercise, if you take the first album it has no restraint, everything is chopped up with not so much structure than now, some people might hate it now or like it more, I don' t know. I was inspired by Mantronix and the way Premier chopped stuff and just cutting everything in general, with very simple DJ cuts and combine the all thing with my way to work. I wanna see if I was able to go back to my own song and hear it, and get bugged out by it. I had to figure out what I just did. It was almost like drawing everything in your brain, setting it up and doing it in your own way.

HHC: What kind of material do you use?

P: Back in those days I only had a MPC 2000 and a PC Computer I recorded to.
Nowadays I use every MPC... pretty much. I use any MPC, any MPC is good for me... I guess.

HHC: Did you hear what happened to Radiohead lately? They sold more than 1 million copies within two days and the U.K. chart refused to register them since selling on the internet is something ineligible?

P: They don't have a label now? (note : at that time Radiohead hadn't signed their current record deal with XL recordings) What? Bullshit? It's crazy! It's total bullshit man. U.K. billboard man... I don't even know why they said that... man... I have to think about how crazy it is first! Well, as far as putting music on the internet, as long as the band is cool with it... it was their decision to do it like that, it's amazing the way they did that, especially if they don't have a label now... like "we're still gonna release good music just the same dope tracks we used to do". I heard some of the new stuff at Rough Trade the other day. I thought it was amazing. The first time I heard it, I was like "what's this??" and then I heard the singing and I was like "shit, this is the new Radiohead". It's hasn't been marketed, people can talk about it, now it makes sense. It's available, you can buy it, it's easy for people to get it, there's a communication going on with them. Ok they are Radiohead but still... I have total respect for that.

HHC: What are you listening now? What kind of music are you fond of by now?

P: Well... to sum it up right now I am surrounded by my friends doing some music as we speak, so I have been listening to their music. I have been listening to Jose Gonzales' album as well as the last Voice Of The Seven Woods' album... and oh yeah the new Kanye West. I received it two months ago and I am still listening to it.

HHC: Who's this guy on the video on your myspace page mocking some Kanye West track (cf. 'Can't Tell Me Nothing')?

P: That's Will Oldham! (cf. Bonnie Prince Billy) That's why it's a genius concept. Kanye got that comedian Zack Galifianakis and Bonnie Prince Billy, he co-produced the video and just went to their farm! This is not a joke, that's some serious shit, they are like three different versions but I thought it was the most genius shit ever! It makes no sense! I saw it also as a change, now people are getting smart enough to do a little more thinking even there's less budget, you can be creative... just to match the images with the song and what it's all about... It's amazing.

HHC: We all know your different musical identities, which one of these identities corresponds to you at best?

P: I just tried to treat every project equally, no matter what it is, I just try to work on it, you know, go into it. I just treat each project with the same level of intensity. If it's a concept, it's a concept. I don't really work on music half way. They are the same, they represent me the same.

HHC: You're very close to Nobody. You have set up the band called La Correcion, you're touring a lot together and you have even dedicated one of the tracks on the "Security Screenings" album to him. When did your friendship start? How did you meet together?

P: Back when we both were working in studios, producing other bands, engineering or whatever. We had similar tastes and we both released records at the same time. We knew each other stuff and got in touch somehow... I can' t remember really the way we got in touch, probably during the mid-90's, after we both met after the release of "Soulmates", and we instantly jumped on the phone talking to each other for hours, talking about random and random shit. It's just a really good friend. We have been on tour for so many tours, he even toured with Savath y Savalas and Prefuse, he's just a really talented producer and musician, a great person.

HHC: Is any album of La Correcion in preparation?

P: It's more like a lot of unfinished stuff. He lives in L.A., I live in New-York, he has his band now called Blank Blue (with Nikkiradda) and he's been really busy with that right now. The last thing we were talking about, I mean doing something in common was... well I can't remember... you should ask him! He's nice!

HHC: You lived in Barcelona for a couple of years and now you have moved back to New-York. What are the different aspects of the cultural and European life you miss the most? Which one you are glad to find again in the USA?

P: Well in the US, it's culturally fucked. It's pretty terrible right now. It's no mystery to anybody, we have the worst government on earth and I am not talking about the obvious stuff like wars or whatever, Bush... That's easy. Everybody knows he's a fucking idiot with his corrupted government. No, really... I am talking about health care, poor people not getting taking care of and people ignore, but he chose to invest so much money for bullshit really instead of taking care of people. The sad thing about it is that if the government changes I wonder what could happen. I have been reading in the newspapers that it won't really any change at all. US is crumbling now. I mean inside of itself. To take a self example, is like if I was addicted to heroin and kept doing it, I wouldn't be able to hope one day to get better, I would die one day.

HHC: You mean, even if the democrats take over?

P: Certain things would change structurally speaking but I don't really see anyone who has the balls to put the troops out of Iraq. I think it is too deep now. I prey it would end one day. I questioned that anybody who got elected, even if they can talk shit before getting elected... nah... those things aren't recognised right now. I don't want to be like negative or something but what I see is a crumbling. There are those laws that they passed a few years ago involving Cuba and I read in the Village Voice that even Hillary Clinton, a democrat, is totally going to keep that law. There's no candidate against it. I can't read the future but it's really depressing now, this country is supposed to be one of the best regarding social matters at least offering better social conditions. So compared to Spain? Dude, c'mon! Anywhere in the world, even if the government is fucked up here, it's more fucked up there!

HHC: You have set up your own label called Eastern Developments. Thanks to it you were able to sign such artists as Daedelus, Eliot Lipp, Dabrye and A Cloud Mireya. What were the motivations behind this creation?

P: It's more like a community label really involving the guys I am hanging with. At a party we decided to create a hand made label, trying to distribute those artists, put their records out, the purpose was not to get money out of the label but just try to get them hear and distribute, because they are talented, they gave us brilliant demos that we listened to in our hotel rooms. That was the initial concept but things have changed, if you decide to get more focus on certain bands, others would expect more distribution and attention... some people are like "Man, how much money do you owe me?", "Dude! You only sold 400 copies, I lost money for that..." So it starts like a way to help friends but now it gets more difficult, it just depends on the person. Right now I only do it with the persons I am close with. I'm kinda less involved in it right now, because we all are kinda busy in different projects.

HHC: Talking about the Cloud Mireya project, was this collaboration a better mean to express a certain sensibility that you couldn't do with your project as Prefuse 73? How was it to work with the mother of your child?

P: Well that's the mother of my child... it's pretty much like... we wake up in the morning and decide to make a song. We were not focused on the production, we were more like "let's make pretty songs today", things positive. It is what it is and it is going to remain there. We had a bad distribution at one time, that's why many people never heard of it. But that's one record I can listen to it and you know just... go back to it... objectively. I think that Claudia would rather focus on School Of Seven Bells by now. The tracks we didn't release would probably reach surface one day. It's like the old Piano Overlord project... we are still like "damn... it is a good thing to have released it". I still have a bunch of records that haven't been released yet. Someday...

HHC: You succeeded in gathering both Ghostface Killah and El-P on 'Hideyaface' which is quite incredible regarding the artistic differences between all three. Can you talk about the story of the track: how did you meet Ghostface and how did you convince him to get involved in such project? Did this meeting come to reality or not?

P: It was pretty easy... like "Do you want to do this or not?"... It seems much more difficult but they are both open-minded people. I had my own impression of them because they are seen as entities rather than humans. They both are involved in different things musically speaking, they aren't stagnant. So I was like "I'm gonna put them on the same track... and I'll put the background". I just wanted to hear them on the track. I wanted them to appear on it and see what would happen. So it's just an idea, like two of my favourite mc's on the same track, coming from different places, and two different mind-sets but both open. That was the point of the all record. It wasn't done to prove anything, but just try you know? Some things work better than others to me personally and some didn't but it was worth to do it.

HHC: Do you feel like the Japanese people are more likely to understand and catch the sense of your art rather than others? Was it a reason that pushed you producing Twigy's album? Can you give us further details concerning the album and why did you choose him in particular?

P: He choose me. I had to learn who he was first. He had so many groups... he was emceeing since the 80's, so I was like "whoa"... then I realized that he was in the group Microphone Pager and I actually had this single in the early 90's and I was like "damn, that's Twigy?" and then next thing the dude came to my house, we were chilling and we had set it up the fact I would do his entire album so he picked up the songs that he liked. I was really surprised since the ones he wanted to do I was like "ookaaay... if you want to!"... but he just wanted to do something different. You know, in Japan he's been growing like a star and he still does quite well but he's an amazing person and a really good mc. He was in DJ Krush's crew back in the days. He came with these cultural things and aspects that could limit you partly because Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn and understand. The phonetics that we are speaking and so... but you know if you really feel the person, those things don't matter. You know if you are in the same thing or not, immediately. You can feel the same energy, look at him and just go. So it was quite easy, really. You asked me a question about my art in foreign countries and more especially in Japan... Do they accept my art in Japan more? Well, that would be pure speculative because geographically I can't say who wins, I don't follow that. I just try to reach people wherever I tour. It's just there if you want it.

HHC: Is it the next step towards an entire Prefuse produced album for a particular american mc? If it is, which one will you choose?

P: We were just talking about the fact to produce an album with Slick Rick. That would be ideal. I wonder if he would be up for that. Or a all record with Nas which would be more visible or sort of more available because I don't really know how to find Slick Rick. He is an older cat... but New York isn't such a big city after all.

HHC: What did you think of the critics made about the "Surrounded By Silence" album and more particularly your so called unability to produce proper tracks for mc's?

P: Yeah regarding like conceptually what I was doing on this record, they just didn't understand what I was doing in first place, if they had such strong opinion about it... I mean... fuck'em... I enjoy reading that kind of stuff... I don't know why... it is a part of me... I like ridiculous criticisms... to see how far and how off base people could take a record... you realize that it takes so much effort to explain how bad was the job that I did or how bad I am or just speculating about what I can think of different things. Well, it's the funniest. It's like they know you personally. Musical journalism sounds more like entertainment to me sometimes. The way they wrote about it wasn't something considered as sacred, at least in that perspective, it's all ironic. Sometimes it's like a puzzle to figure it out, it's a game.

Interview by Phara and Aaron
June 2008

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