Music production has always been as important to James Murphy, (frontman/maestro of LCD Soundsystem) as the band itself. For this very reason, he formed DFA Records, an acronym taken from his thunderous style of sound engineering, dubbed the “Death From Above.” Grappling with the success of a trailblazing and internationally recognized band is no cakewalk and for this reason and others, it appears that James will be putting this thrashy 80s electro baby to rest. Check out my interview with James and Nancy Whang (also of The Juan Maclean).

Jesse: So how is the tour going?

Nancy: Well we just started.

James: No, we did UK and Europe. It was really good. We actually started with four shows in New York in April. We got to sleep in our beds each of the four nights. That was great, but weird. It took an hour to get to the venue each day which was very strange.

Nancy: I still managed to get nothing done.

Jesse: So a lot of the nights have been sold out…

James: I don’t know if Montreal was sold out. There was a big game [Habs vs. Flyers Stanley cup semi-finals].

Nancy: But it was quite full, we were very excited. They were very positive.

Jesse: Is there ever any doubt that you guys will have a good turn out?

James: It’s always a surprise to me when we have a big show, and it sells out. I think its always strange. We don’t presume much.

Nancy: We always hope people come.

James: All we can really go on is the last time we played. It’s always hard to have an impression of what the band is doing in the world. If youre reading stuff about LCD Soundsystem, you’d have the impression that the band is doing a lot but we always see a lot of stuff about us because it gets sent to us by our PR agents. We have no idea if that’s a real impression or just a result of being…

Nancy: A narrow scope of what exactly is happening.

Jesse: So it’s been a few years hiatus, what have you been doing in your off time?

Nancy: He made a record, spent a lot of time doing that.

James: I made a record for Free Energy too.

Nancy: Oh ya, and he made a soundtrack [Greenberg].
James: You made a record.

Jesse: Yes, of course, with The Juan Maclean.

James: Juan! [Said with latino gusto!]

Jesse: Do you produce it on your own or do you collaborate?

It depends. I look at this way. It’s my responsibility. I have to plan stuff and book studios. The best analogy is there’s different kinds of directors and actors. If LCD was a movie, I would be the director, but with…

Nancy: An ensemble cast?

James: Well with the people I work with, you, Pat, Tyler and people that we play with live, its more like…I am flattering myself here, but I see myself as Scorsese and you are all my De Niros. You’re involved in the script early on, but at the end of the day, people have different jobs that they have to do. Mine is more akin to that. It’s a collaborative effort but not in the traditional rock band sense, or maybe it is even more clearly traditional? We escape the regular infighting and bruised feelings, but with us it’s like “I don’t want to have to be in that meeting. Ok cool, let the director deal with that stuff.”

Jesse: So you recorded the album in LA or somewhere like, say…Barcelona?

James: We did it in LA. It’s a bit like Barcelona but filled with more douchebags.

Nancy: And they speak…English.

James: We weren’t isolated. We were in this house with a studio. There was always at least five people there. Nancy was on tour with Juan Maclean. Pat was there a bunch, mostly swimming and reading magazines. Big Matt and Little Matt were there. A lot of people came to visit, a lot of people came to stay over.

Jesse: Were you influenced by any sounds when producing?

James: There’s stuff that we all talk about, listen to and like. It’s a never-ending process of trying to put something down of your own that works in the way that you think you really like as well. I think that there’s a way to do that forever, still chasing the same sound whether it’s a Suicide record, or a Roxy Music record. You’re perpetually chasing that same alchemy. You’re never really done. It’s like cooking food. You’re not going to cook meat and then never cook meat again. It’s an endless way of trying to play the stuff that you like. Does that make sense?

Nancy: Yeah.

James: You just tuned out, didn’t you?

Nancy: [laughs] Ya.

Jesse: So…the big news is….

James: That there is a HUGE oil spill in the gulf!

Jesse: Yes, that is very horrible news, but…

James: But slightly more important than that….

Jesse: You have announced that you will be taking a leave of absence from LCD.

James: Ok, let me explain. I’m 40 and everybody has stuff to do. To do this band correctly, is a full time job. You have to make a record, and then B-sides, and then album art, and a special pack and videos, and you have to do press, and go on tour, and make sure the Facebook and MyHead page don’t explode. It’s just a full time job, which is fine, it’s a great full time job, but I like to be able to do other things. I have a notebook filled with ideas and I’m going to do them when I have time. Forty seems like a pretty good time to be getting into that notebook. It’s nothing against the band, or like we’re going to stop and be in a supergroup with a bunch of clowns from other bands from the last ten years. It’s not to go away and come back with a new name, or go in a new direction. I want to be making music from the same place but not being in the business in the same way. I feel beholden to do as good a job as I can. I don’t want to pull back and do a half assed job with it. On the other hand, I don’t want LCD to be my life forever.

Nancy: The more we tour, the more we find new and exciting things that we want to do.

James: Yes.

Nancy: While on tour and playing music, we come across great opportunities for us to take advantage of but we cant because we’re on the bus all the time.

James: We’re not complaining. It’s a great life, it’s just not something you can only dabble in. It’s like being married.

Jesse: Can you talk about future projects you’ve been scribbling in your notebook?

James: I want a rooftop garden, a really nice one. We had these vegetables in Paris that were amazing. I’d love to help my friends make records, like 12 inches and songs for friends of mine. That used to be a big thing for me, but I can’t do it anymore. That’s why DFA started, but I feel like that’s vanished because there hasn’t been the time. I’d also love to do this subway project for the city of New York, to help them sound nicer.

Nancy: there are a couple of sound installations we’re talking about, of the non-traditional kind.

James: Ya, fun interesting stuff like that. It’s hard to say “I would LOVE to go on that tour with you but I have to meet with city officials and talk about the subway installation.” Eeeerg….not so good! [laughs]. I basically want to eat, hang out with people, come up with ideas and do them. That’s how DFA started.

Nancy: And that’s how this band started even. It was just a fun, weird project.

James: Ya. It wasn’t supposed to be a band. I put out some 12″s and all of a sudden I got asked to play shows in England. It was supposed to be a one off thing where we were going to play weird stuff and never really be a band and then it snowballed and we found ourselves here, which is amazing, and awesome, but you know, at a certain point, I’m going to die and I’d like to do as many things as possible!

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[…] all seemed so genuine too: big festival bookings, prophetic interviews and a track listing that seemed to trace LCD Soundsystem’s rise and resolution. Just as […]

Songs of 2010: LCD Soundsystem’s “Home” | treeswingers added these pithy words on Dec 26 10 at 4:01 pm

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