Calling All Nutters

By Antonio Walker

There is a thin line between genius and madness, or so the old maxim says, right? Well, some nutters are more neurotic than others. Richard James, aka the Aphex Twin, has for years been proclaimed as the dark genius of electronica. Like the sound of a waterfall made from crashing hammers, giant buzzing insects, and beats, James's music is for electro-dance fans in need of Prozac and trendy scenesters with nerves of iodine and diesel fluid.

James's 1996 album, Richard D. James, was an homage to his dead twin brother. In his popular "Windowlicker" video single, James was portrayed as a trio of grotesque femme fatales with massive fake breasts, bikinis, and bad teeth. One even sported a deformed head.

By contrast, James's latest two-CD set, Drukqs, is calm and coherent. He hasn't made any serious sounds since '96, during which time he often said that he might not ever make music again. With his typical sarcasm, that proved false, though you will not get any straight answers from James.

With his bright red beard and mournful cow-eyes, James has the odd look of a crank scientist blinded by test tubes and microbes. But his tools consist of samplers and keyboard-generated sounds from which he created the psychologically warped Muzak of Drukqs, which alternately recalls the pure piano pieces of Erik Satie and the robo drill 'n' bass of Squarepusher. "The drums played with my foreskin and made me feel all funny inside..."

James has only participated in email interviews to promote Drukqs, enabling him to control the dialogue and reveal as little as possible. All replies are with original Richard James's misspellings, punctuation, and syntax:

LAUNCH: Why the wild dichotomy between mad acid tunes and kinder, gentler melodies?

RJ: I havnt worked tht out yet.

LAUNCH: Will you tour for Drukqs, and, if so, what grand visuals can we expect?

RJ: Yes I did a last week, they were all quite lo-key events around the uk and eire, I played the last one in the old cinema in elephant+castle last night.

LAUNCH: Are you working entirely with Macs and PCs, or still using outboard gear like drum machines and samplers?

RJ: got loads of different setups.

LAUNCH: It sounds like you used Syndrums on some tracks. Did you sample them off record, or are all the sounds we hear self-generated samples? Did you play the drums yourself on a keyboard?

RJ: The drums played with my foreskin and made me feel all funny inside.

LAUNCH: How have your musical interests changed since the Richard D. James album?

RJ: They have just increased and I like more and more fings.

LAUNCH: Are we hearing your voice in "Omgyjya Switch"? Or someone else's?

RJ: my mum

LAUNCH: What other commercial projects are you currently engaged in?

RJ: putting out an album.

LAUNCH: Are you getting mellower or madder? Still driving the tank? How 'bout a round of golf?

RJ: i bought a submarine which is sooo good, tank is broken, I want to buy a missile now, u can get them u know on the internet.

LAUNCH: Can you be bothered with new electronica, two-step, Radiohead?

RJ: im into 3% step and 54foot-slide

LAUNCH: One of your favorite albums that is not your own?

RJ: go plastic-squarepusher.

LAUNCH: What is the next frontier for programmers making music?

RJ: to make music that actually shifts universal time when its played.