Interview by Richard Hawtin and SweaterSweater: Have you heard the new Plastikman album yet?
Richard D James: No, but I'm looking forward to it. Is it out yet?
Richie Hawtin: It just came out this week.
RDJ: I've been spending all of my time and money on new computer software.
RH: Are you using a Mac or PC?
RDJ: I'm working on four different Macs, but I'm about to get a PC.
RH: Let me know when you do, because I've got some stuff to send you.
[The two go off on an unintelligible jag talking excitedly about new programming tricks and gear.]
RH: Hey Sweater, you better ask some questions, or we'll go on like this for hours.
Sweater: Okay. So Richard [James], you're recording now, right?
RDJ: Yeah, I'm in the studio messing about. I'm gonna release two more albums and that will be that.
Sweater: What do you mean?
RDJ: No more releases.
Sweater: You're retiring?
RDJ: [Laughing] Hardly. I'm just over the whole music business aspect of it. I've made more than enough money. I really enjoyed all of it; meeting so many industry pricks and winding them up has been immensely entertaining, but its gotten old.
RH: Tell me about it. After five years in the business, you figure out who's cool and who's not and you meet everyone you want to meet.
RDJ: It affects the music, too. When I think in terms of singles and albums, I work differently. Like "Come To Daddy." That was something I put together really quickly without even thinking about it. Music like that is such a cop-out. It's too easy. There's no challenge there. That was just me being aggro.
RH: I love that song. Most people don't like to think about their music. They want it handed over on a silver platter. The words to "Come To Daddy" are so brilliant because that's exactly the type of person the song is talking about. Richard uses lyrics really well. But I agree with him; I'd rather just make music and not have to worry about release schedules and promo tours. I release things when they feel right, not when some record company thinks it's most profitable.
Sweater: Wasn't there talk of you two working together?
RDJ: Yeah, we met up some years ago and talked about it.
RH: That was more at the beginnning of our careers, and we had more time. We both got really busy really quickly. I think the last time we hung out was at that laser park in London where I almost got killed.
RDJ: Now that's a story. A bunch of us went to this laser-tag park, where people get all kitted up and chase each other around with laser guns. I guess this guy thought that Rich hit him in the face or something...
RH: ...And he put me in this choke hold until I nearly passed out.
RDJ: He was this massive bloke that threatened to take all of us on.
RH: Hey, maybe it's better that we don't hang out too much!
RDJ: Have you been playing a lot of gigs?
RH: Not really.
RDJ: Neither have I. The stuff I'm doing now seems to be way too experimental to subject on other people.
RH: Same here. I had some live gigs lined up, but I cancelled most of them. It's still too soon.
RDJ: I've been doing a lot of DJ gigs, though. I get bored at night. If I play a gig, then everyone gets together and we have a laugh.
Sweater: Did either one of you attend Jeff Mills' recent art opening in London?
RDJ: No, but I did run into Jeff in Cannes recently. My mate Chris and I won some video award and they put me and my girlfriend up in this really nice penthouse for four days. We hung out in the room until we got bored, then we just came home. We didn't even go to the awards show.
RDJ: But I ran into Jeff and he was like this total businessman in a suit and everything. I found it very amusing.
RH: The two sides of Jeff. When he's in business mode, he's really in business mode.
RDJ: I just that he's getting married.
RH: Maybe you should take him and his fiancÚ out for an afternoon of laser tag.
RDJ: Sadly, all of the laser tag parks are closed now. There are a few paintball places, though.
RH: Paintball can get pretty violent.
RDJ: The last time I went I caught one of the balls with my face. Nothing quite like a mouthful of paint.
Sweater: Was the Cannes award for the "Come To Daddy" video?
RDJ: Yes, it was directed by Chris Cunningham, who I first met about five years ago at this party where I was heavily tripping. I just kept bumping into him, and it was really weird because he looks a lot like me.
RH: That's a great video.
RDJ: Thanks. He's gonna do one for my next single, which will probably be my last proper single.
Sweater: So if you're not going to make records, what are you going to do?
RDJ: Focus on my label, Rephlex. I've been neglecting it for a while, and my partner Grant works really hard on it. It's time I gave him some support.
Sweater: You both run record labels on top of everything else.
RDJ: Yeah, it's weird for me especially since I only employ my friends.
RH: It's the same for me. You just have to remind them who's the boss.
RDJ: [Laughs.] That part is so funny. We'll all be up late getting stoned and someone will say, "I've gotta oack it in so I can get up for work tomorrow," and I'll just give them the day off. I'm not a very good boss.
RH: I heard that you live in an old bank these days. What's that like?
RDJ: It's great. A really solid structure, as you can imagine. It's in a great area, mainly because everyone else seems to think that it's shit.
RH: Why's that?
RDJ: It's not trendy at all, and it's quite grey and industrial. But I like it that way. No one bothers me, and I get left alone. It's a challenge every time I go outside. This guy tried to kill me a few weeks ago for looking at him.
RDJ: I was eating dinner at this restaurant and I was sitting by the window. This guy walks up to the window and just stares at me. I was already in a pissy mood, so I just stared right back at him. The longer I stared back, the madder he got until he just started pounding on the glass. Then he shattered the window.
RH: So what happened next?
RDJ: Security had to come and haul the guy off. I could've averted the whole thing by just looking away, but it was just like fuck him, you know?
RH: So I want to see this bank.
RDJ: It's actually right around the corner from Ministry of Sound, this famous club I just hate. It's horribly cheesy. The queue to get in goes right by my front door. I throw water balloons down ion their heads from the roof.
RH: [Laughs.] Are you coming over here anytime soon?
RDJ: I'm actually trying to put together a Rephlex tour of the States, and then use that money to tour South America. I love playing shows where the audience is 10 people that have absolutely no idea who you are. Those are the best. And I love riding in those massive rock 'n' roll tour buses.
RH: There are plenty of those going around. I got stuck on one with the Prodigy and Moby once.
RDJ: Moby actually rode the bus?
RH: For a few dates, anyway. He started flying because he couldn't deal with people smoking.
RDJ: When I toured with him, he wouldn't even get on the bus.
[Laughter all around.]
RH: My favourite gigs are in towns like Lubbock, Texas, or anywhere in Mississippi. The people there are just as freaked out by us as we are of them, which always makes for a better show.
RDJ: My best gig ever was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. Just complete bullshit. There's this giant guitar out front and everything. That place was a nightmare, just pure hell.
RH: I guess Speedy J just got married in Vegas.
RDJ: Much respect is due for a daft move like that! Nice one, Speedy!