by Dave Simpson: The source of the rocker’s enviable eternal youth? In the words of the man himself, it’s avidly rooting out new artists into his 70s (and beyond)…
I keep reading that we decline in our 70s so I try to keep using my brain. Discovering new music opens my mind and the element of surprise keeps me connected. I feel like I’m mining for diamonds – and when you find the diamond, you know. When I heard Chaise Longue by Wet Leg I got really excited: it’s cheeky, with a wicked groove, but it’s the vocals – they’re almost metronomic. You could ask 100 people to sing it and it wouldn’t sound the same.
Ever since my adolescence, I’ve got angry when the radio played something trite and felt good when I liked something new. David Bowie introduced me to Kraftwerk. I met them and told them: “I go to sleep listening to your music!” They went very quiet and thought I was taking the piss, but it was the highest compliment I could pay anyone. Florian Schneider had such mental balls to lay down those melodies when so much music was “sell, sell, sell”. He trusted people to come round, which is my philosophy.
For a period in the 90s there was so much competition and struggle in music. I was dissatisfied with my own stuff, and really low – making a dubious Hollywood film called The Crow 2 and going through a divorce – so I stopped listening to anything but oldies. Listening to Miles Davis to go to sleep brought me back.
Then I subbed for Jarvis Cocker on his radio show. When it came to doing my own show, I wanted it to be contemporary. I didn’t want to be that guy. Now I play 1,200 tracks a year, from all continents, so I’ll scour dailies – the Jamaican paper The Gleaner will have a murder investigation next to the new yardcore single – and listen to friends.
There’s a semi-doctrine of repetition-based music on the show – after all, I’ve been doing what I do for a while. (Somebody once tried to be sarcastic and said: “How many times can he sing ‘I wanna be your dog?’” I could sing it until it fucking gets over. I got it over.) The most fun ones to listen to tend to be real young people. I like stuff that sounds like now and sometimes it sounds even better if you play it next to something that sounds like then, so I’ll play a jazz record next to Goat Girl, and they complement each other.
I’m sick of hearing old boys say you shouldn’t use synthetic tools. If you’re rich and have a garage and a car, you could start a rock band. But there’s people using synthesisers to play with guitars, horns, hypnotic breaths, and it’s fantastic. If I hear anyone say: “Things aren’t as good as they used to be,” I tell them to listen to the Moses Boyd remix of Pace by Nubya Garcia. It’s fantastically advanced contemporary music that tugs at the heartstrings. From Sons of Kemet to the Comet Is Coming, there’s so much good stuff about now. At my age, it helps to remain curious.
Source: The Guardian