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Winner of Mojo’s Best Electronic Album of 2011, Blue Daisy’s The Sunday Gift is atmospheric electronica that sounds like it belongs in a grimy dystopian Brit flick. He’s been compared to Flying Lotus early in his career, but don’t bring that up again lest you want to be called a lazy critic. Recently Blue Daisy spun at Home Club in Singapore, JUICE got to chat with the DJ/producer and found out why he doesn’t identify with being a “beat maker” and the philosophy behind his name…
How are you doing? You recently won electronic album of 2011 by MOJO. What do you make of this win? Do you feel like you’ve officially made it?
Thank you, this win was amazing for me, came as a surprise to be honest, I mean it’s my debut LP and winning electronic album of the year in such an established publication is definitely an awesome feeling and achievement but as far as “making it” or “made it”, I feel this is only the beginning and I mean that. I feel I have not even reached my potential half way, so have I made it?! No, maybe never will in my eyes ‘cos having that mind set of “I’ve made it” will only mean I become content and I never want to reach that stage of being content, I’ll forever be putting in my all with art and boundaries will be pushed.
Is this your first time performing in Asia, or at least this particular part of the region? What do you think of the beat scene in Singapore?
Yep, very first time in Asia. And what an experience it has been thus far. I never thought there was a scene for this type of music over here but how wrong I was, it seems the people are very much in touch with what’s going on. The beat scene, from what I’ve heard, is gradually developing, at Syndicate’s night they put on a beat invitation section and I heard some real good stuff, one in particular called Eta, I think that was how you spell it, but yes some incredible stuff… also heard some new stuff from Syndicate top boy Kiat and Ooooffff, you are in for a real treat. But yeah I’m definitely going to be heading back to these parts in the near future.
Speaking of which, I read that you don’t identify yourself with being a ‘beat maker’ and you’ve also said the beat scene has gone tired. Why do you feel this way?
Yes this is fact, I do not identify myself as a “beat maker”, I never have… I don’t think it’s anything to do with the title/label, it’s more to do with me not boxing myself, succumbing to these labels only restricts the creative spirit one possesses. Music, as well as many other art forms, to me is a free spirited, no barriers and open minded form of creativity. I think once you start allowing yourself to be confined to certain labels then you are simply locking your creativity in solitary confinement. My opinion on the “beat scene” derives from the fact that there really isn’t much innovative material coming out. Nothing that makes you think, nothing that makes your mind feel slightly uncomfortable yet still wanting to hear more. You know like you listen to old Aphex Twin records and your mind takes a while to adjust to it because it’s pushing boundaries and a lot of what is coming out as of late is not pushing boundaries, a lot of safe card players and also a lot of “wolf-cry” music.
Is there anyone from that particular scene that you’re keeping an eye on though?
There are a few but 2 that are on my radar are Lapalux and Illum Sphere. I won’t classify them as part of the “beat scene” but I guess this is what they have been associated with by lazy critics.
The Sunday Gift felt very cinematic to us. Are you a movie buff? Do you get inspired by movie scores?
I cannot call myself a movie buff, I know movie buffs and I am far from that, though I am a massive fan of film scores and visual representation of a story. The Sunday Gift is defiantly a record I made as a feature film in some ways. I wanted to make it a story, a listening experience in which also puts you in a world of imagery. I didn’t want the listener to just listen but to also see the story that lies beneath come to life in their imagination.
How did you get the name Blue Daisy?
Blue Daisy came as, something like, an epiphany. I started out as Re:Kwes but there was another UK producer called Kwes, we are actually good friends now. But yeah, so people used to get my Myspace page mixed up with his thinking it was his remix page, which was cool I guess ‘cos it probably attracted a variety of listeners but after a while I just thought a name change was needed and Blue Daisy came as one of those moments in life I’d always remember and cherish. I was walking through my local park, Regent’s Park, on a sunny clear blue skied summer’s day and came across a batch of daises but in the batch there was one that stood out from the rest. It sat on something like freshly planted green grass, it was amazing. So my mind is just amazed by this find and an understanding of its existence started reciting in my mind, what it interpreted as the meaning for this occurrence was that this flower represented individuality amongst repeated actions of society, and though it was in the environment of repetition it was not part of the environment, it was its own product to society, aware of its surroundings but stood for his own beliefs, did as its soul pleased, and that was what I’ve always tried to do with my music, never been one to fit in with what’s cool, was always a leader and never a follower, Blue Daisy is the outcast of the scene/environment he is in and aims to remain an individual in a society of many one way routes. So Daisy came from the flower appearance and Blue is influenced by the clear blue sky that was current at the time of the daisy find.
Some of the tracks on The Sunday Gift recall the sounds of 90s UK trip hop. Were you consciously referencing that particular era with the album?
I have always been a big follower of the trip hop era, but I won’t say any of the tracks were a conscious reference to that era, maybe subconsciously, but not at all a planned reference, during the making of the album I was actually listening to more Black Sabbath, Fever Ray and Efterklang.
Early on in your career, you were compared to FlyLo a lot and now with this album one name that always pops up when describing the music is Massive Attack. What do these comparisons mean to you?
I am honoured to be compared to such gifted artists as these artists are. I don’t really take on much media critics, I mean sometimes you read one or two and you can tell they understand the album fully and have taken time to soak up the music but more times you get the lazy ones that just pull out the first most talked about artists that they can compare you to, as soon as you are known for doing beat, bass electronic music you get 2 comparisons – Burial and FlyLo. Now it can work either as a hindrance or a blessing ‘cos it’ll entice new ears to hear your material but they could be left either very disappointed or extremely pleased to hear the major differences between the aforementioned comparisons.
These days just about everyone can be a producer. Getting the right software is getting increasingly easier. Do you think the easy availability of softwares and hardwares are diluting the scene with half-baked bedroom producers?
I personally think it’s a great thing that these things are so accessible. It just gives many budding young artists to be able to find their comfort zones and sounds… Yes, there are a lot of “half-baked” ones that make it harder to find some genuine soul within the cloud but as a dedicated listener you will always hear the truth within a composition the same way you can always hear the lies…
We read that what really pushed you to producing was ‘Ye’s College Dropout. How did you go from being inspired by that kind of hip hop production to what you are currently doing?
Yes, Kanye’s College Dropout was the eye opener for me. At the time I was writing lyrics and a lot of poetry and hearing Kanye’s album made me feel like yes, I can do this. See, Kanye came about as that guy who no one would think he could do anything but behind closed doors he was as ambitious as any other kid but was reserved about it. He wasn’t the greatest lyricist but the superbly sampled records backed his vocals up, it’s so perfectly structured yet with a deconstructive layout. Yeah, that album is classic. But yes, listening to that album and going back to find the original samples finally led me so many types of music, from folk to rock and the journey simply started and I ended deep into the experimental, electronic scene looking for all kinds of different artist within that scene and became a massive fan of warp and Ninja Tune, the journey is still going on.
On the same note, what influences your sound? Music and beyond music.
May sound cliché but really it’s just my everyday encounters and my environment, but also politics, anarchy, fog, rainy weather, dark clouds, forests, you, me, him, them and so on, haha!
That gas mask you occasionally rock is swagging. Do you wear it for aesthetic reasons or is there some sort of meaning to it?
Haha!! Thanks. That would be quite mental if I wore it for aesthetic purposes but no I don’t. The mask came just by chance, wasn’t a contrived act at all, but the meaning behind me occasionally rocking the mask was to give a warning to the audience that what they are about to experience could be very unhealthy and precautions must be taken…
Also, why not wear it during your SG performance?
I haven’t worn it for a while, been showing my face quite a bit, but also because when I was wearing it I was doing live shows with my desktop computer and with those sets it was literally my aim to murder your ears with noise, distortion and major glitch methods. My recent live sets I’ve taken a little pity but one day soon I shall strike like BOOOM!! Haha!!
And what’s up with the Singaporean anthem played at the beginning of your set? That was pretty subversive, not that we mind!
The Singapore anthem was sung to me by Vandetta when Syndicate came to London and I was blown away. So I told her to record it for me and if I ever played Singapore I would mos def use it as a sign of respect for the beauty of the anthem. On the night though it was actually accidentally pitched down, oops!
We appreciated that you weren’t just straight up DJing, you did some live drumming and sampling during your set. What do you feel about DJs who pretty much just get up on the decks and press play?
I have no feeling towards any DJs as long as they play good music. I don’t necessarily think DJing is about how good you can beat match or mix etcetera, it’s more to do with selection in my eyes, you can get the best scratch mixing DJ in the world but if he/she ain’t dropping some good stuff then forget it, I don’t want to know.
We saw your homie recording you on video all the way through your set, where and when can we see the footage?
Haha! I don’t actually know when that footage will be seen. My mate lives in Singapore and it was on his iPhone so it’ll be a bit of a mission to get hold of the footage at this very moment in time but it’ll most probably end up online somehow in the near future.
If it’s not too cliché of a question, what’s your production style? How do you set out making a beat?
I don’t have a set way of staring out on a beat, I rarely think of how a bit is gonna end or start, I just get into the zone, free flow and let the my music spirit do the talking.
You’ve said that you want to make proper timeless music as opposed to dancefloor-ready beats, but do you see your music working just as well in a club setting?
I see my music working just as well in a club built in 3030 with microchips in people’s foreheads, haha. But I don’t personally see myself as making music for clubs because I don’t, I mean I have my tunes dropped in a couple clubs before but they’ve either been at the opening or ending of the night.
You Facebooked that you wanted to work with Lana Del Rey. What kind of left field collabs can we expect from you in the offing?
Yup, would love to work with Lana Del Rey, think that would be a beautiful match. But in the line offing I’m working on some stuff with electronic/experimental group Stateless who just recently released an album on Ninja Tune called Matilda and I also did a remix for a song on this album. Also, I may be hooking up and doing some music with Psychologist, if you don’t know him make sure you check him out, he has 2 EPs out now, Waves of OK and Propeller. Check it out!
On a final note, give us the meanest thing you can say about brostep.
BRO-STEP MAKES ME NO-STEP!!! Haaa!
Blue Daisy performed at Home Club pres. Syndicate feat. Blue Daisy on 3 December. Get a whiff of electronic blue daisy at soundcloud.com/bluedaisy.
There’s “no pretense, no bullsh*t” at Home Club, find more niche acts at homeclub.com.sg.