Clark Interview: My favourite piece of equipment is my brain

Warp records' Clark is heading to Manchester on Saturday 1st; we spoke with him ahead of his appearance at Gorilla.

Jimmy Coultas

Date published: 28th Feb 2014

Image: Clark

In the world of leftfield electronica Warp records reigns supreme. The Sheffield imprint has been at the cutting edge of machine music for approaching thirty years, home of a range of sonic troubadours such as Aphex Twin and The Black Dog who sail close to the outer realms of what can be achieved with electronic music.

That avant garde status has been continued in recent years via St Albans, or more specifically one its sons, a man eschewing his first name Chris to simply focus on hi: Clark. The sleepy Hertfordshire Cathedral town has birthed one of dance music's more cerebral figures, able to float effortlessly between the more atmospheric and ethereal edges of electronica and the muscular drum led savagery it's capable of delivering.

He's currently on tour, taking his show out under the moniker of the name Phosphor, a concept you can catch a tantasliing glimpse of what to expect on the video above. That show swings by Manchester's Gorilla on Saturday 1st March, where the under the arches rave den will also see performances from 50 Weapons' brutallist Shed and a DJ set from the sinister techno duo Clouds.

Ahead of the show we caught up with the producer, now resident of electronic music's mecca Berlin, to find out what to expect on the night.

Hi Clark, thanks for speaking with us. We've read that you're living in Berlin now. For someone of your understanding of the club scene worldwide, how does the city compare to elsewhere in the world?  

I rarely go to clubs in Berlin. I’d like to compress every single kickdum that has ever been played out of a soundsystem in Berlin, listen them all at once on iphone headphones. I'd sigh, post coital bliss and relief that it's all at last, finally over. Berlin is an interesting place to live though.

Chris, it is notable that throughout your career you have had an impressive and long connection with warp records. What is it about Warp records and Clark that has allowed such an illustrious and compatible relationship

It certainly has been a long relationship, and a fruitful one. I’m into these new Warp beans… OPN, Rustie etc as everyone is radically different. Also, I think that diversity is a good thing, makes it less of a ghettoised scene thing and more forward looking.

Your music is in our opinion is impossible to pigeon-hole under one specific genre. What creative factors would you accredit this to?  

I really don't know... the process changes all the time, fluid rules, always open to change and possibility. 

At what point in your life did you decide that it was music that you wanted to do for your career?  

Probably almost three decades ago although. Career is a bit of a funny word. I suppose it is. I still think, is this my “career”? Feels well jammy, that feeling of glad the weekend is over cause now I can get back to work is a strange one, I can never fully get used to it. 

Linear music is rewarding, for sure, but overkill working in that form makes me want to try other things, re-calibrate the inner tape machine sorta thing. Making huge long slabs of pure improvised noise is the perfect antidote to that. 

Did your early interests in artists such as Kraftwerk, Prince, Public Enemy, DJ Hype and Jeff Mills craft your sound early in your career? How would you describe your evolution from then to the present day? Would many new age sounds influence your productions compared to ones of the past?

Certain things like early Prince and Apocalypse 91 just seem to eclipse almost new everything new I hear but it’s so subjective I’d never make any claims about it - just that powerful entrenched memory of hearing it for the first time. Today's ears/production make something like Prince's Alphabet Street sound like a sort of comedy sesame street hit.

One of our all time favourite clubbing experiences was hearing 'Penultimate Persian' (above) in a venue in Manchester for the first time. Do you have any producers in which you get the same excitement when hearing their work?  

Oh nice one ta! I’m all about the walking/headphone experience. I haven’t really been listening to a lot of other music cause I’m deep in album/writing mode at the moment.

We caught one of your sets in Manchester a few years back as part, when you played as part of a Modeselektion party, and we felt it was the highlight of the evening which is a massive accomplishment on a bill with so many well regarded artists. How do you ensure that your sets continue to hold such an impressive energy about them after playing for so many years? Is it difficult to meet your own high expectations in such a consistent manner?

Expectations are always stupidly high… I actually still love playing shows, in some ways as much as studio work although I’m a shite traveller.

What was your first favourite piece of equipment and do you still use it?  

My favourite piece of equipment is my brain. 

And finally, dream situation time - if you had to make a band of any 4 people, who would they be and why?

I’d love to see Mark E Smith, Francis Bacon, Lars Von Trier and Michel Houllebecq form a jazz band. 

Get your tickets for Clark (Live AV Show) @ Gorilla, Saturday 1st March.

Like this? Also try Venue Focus: Gorilla in March.

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