James Holden

British electronic mainstay James Holden takes on our quick-fire question machine

Hello James, where are you right now and what can you see?

“I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I can see our dog Heidi snoring on her bed in the corner, a pretty decent black coffee and pile of components and failed 3D prints. I’m in the middle of building something, we’ll be able to eat at the table again next week.”

The title of the new record comes from a message you scribbled to your future self. Erm, what does it mean?

“Who knows? 3am me is a different person to 10am me, the two only really communicate through notes. I think 3am me was working on ideas about MIDI mapping and got a bit carried away… what if you think of a song as a journey through the high dimensional space defined by the parameters you’ve chosen to adjust during it?”

You say this is “the record teenage me wanted to make”. How so?

“Back then, I was pretty open and naive and wanted to make the biggest, most joyous records possible. I kept trying to do that, but the naive, open part got a bit buried. When I was starting out, I had to exist in a scene where the value judgments and fashions maybe ground me down a little. But I’ve lived a bit now, and I think I’ve come back to myself.”

You talk about being a teenager, living in the sticks, balancing your radio on a wardrobe to pick up Leicester pirate stations…

“It was the feeling that something was happening out there, that there were crews and scenes and people DIYing cool stuff outside the awful, boring mainstream and the dead little town I was stuck in.”

You say this album represents coming to terms with your own musical past?

“My career’s been a winding path. I’ve explored a load of avenues and some of them seem contradictory. So yeah, this ex-trance DJ has done a spiritual jazz-influenced LP… but this record ties them all together in one thing.”

The album features samples of your childhood violin and recorder. Much-maligned instruments in the hands of beginners, right?

“Yeah, but I think that quality is why I’ve come back to both of them. I like all my sounds to be on the edge of falling apart – usually it takes hours of patching to make the modular wobbly enough, but the violin is pure chaos straight out of the box.”

You describe the album as “rave music for a parallel universe”. What do we need to know about that universe?

“I think you need to imagine a nicer world to get to it, don’t you? My personal idea is some kind of eco-anarchist party utopia, where Roland never stopped making the TB-303, money doesn’t exist and everyone’s so happy and loved that no one needs to be right wing. Yours might be different!”

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