Having found himself lumped uncomfortably into the so-called
'folktronica' movement with previous album 'Chiff-Chaffs
and Willow Warblers', the release of this year's 'Maritime'
has seen Minotaur Shock (aka David Edwards) triumphantly
shrug off such contrived media pigeon-holing. Having now
made the transition to the 4AD label, his set of shiny sea-shanties
has received praise from all quarters, not to mention forming
possibly the happiest album of the year. With latest single
'Muesli' out this week, we caught up with the
Bristolian by email to talk about Prefab Sprout, turning
prog and the dreaded 'f' word.
How are you?
Shock: I'm ok thanks. Got half an eye on that Dylan
documentary. Waiting for the bit where he gets shouted at
for plugging his guitar in. Bit windy outside, nice to be
What's the inspiration behind your music making?
Shock: Its like an itch that I wake up with sometimes.
More often than not I'll get 'inspired' when I'm nowhere
near any recording equipment and I'll have the best melody/drum
break ever in my head and then forget it. And then I'll
sit in front of the computer all day trying to write something
and end up getting nothing done except emails. I guess the
main inspiration is to try and make people's lives that
little bit better for however long they devote to listening
to any music I make, whilst always making sure the music
amuses me the most.
SXP: You cook up such a varied musical hotpot with a broad
set of influences, who are your musical heroes?
Shock: It changes depending on what mood I'm in,
but today I'll say Steve Reich, Robert Wyatt, Prefab Sprout,
DJ Shadow, Pavement, Steely Dan, Miles Davis, Pet Shop Boys,
Scott Walker, Philip Glass, Gentle Giant, Cocteau Twins
and David Bowie.
How would you say your sound has evolved since previous
album 'Chiff-Chaffs and Willow Warblers' and how do you
see it evolving in the future?
Shock: The sound has certainly firmed up a lot
- 'Maritime' is not based on samples like 'Chiff-Chaffs'
was, and I was a lot braver in what I wanted to do. I tried
not to fall into the trap of attempting to be experimental
for the sake of it, I was far more interested in creating
something that challenged myself (melodically and harmonically),
and I wanted to make something that on the surface was quite
simple but was a lot deeper than meets the ear. The production
values are certainly higher, anyway, and I concentrated
on structure a lot more. The sound is gradually moving towards
a more organic, complicated mess. I'm turning prog, basically.
'Maritime' is such an ecstatically happy album, are you
in love or is it just the sea air?
Shock: I'm in love with the sea air. I got bored
with modern electronica and wanted to make instrumental
pop. To see what would happen.
What shall we do with a drunken sailor early in the morning?
Shock: Steer clear of him, I should think.
Does 'folktronica' actually exist and do you find the tag
Shock: No idea if it exists, not even sure what
it means. The tag did annoy me but now I'm so used to it
that I don't really care. At least its not trip-hop, that's
SXP: How has the move to 4AD changed things for you?
Shock: There are more people involved with the
records, including a lot of people I've never met. Which
is a bit weird. I've never really had worldwide distribution
on my records before either so it's strange thinking that
some silly music I made in my spare room has found its way
to Australia. It's also pretty crazy that I'm now
on one of my favourite labels from when I was a teenager.
You have a link to the Bristol Tourist Board on your website,
what do you think makes the city such a hotbed for left-leaning
Shock: I think Bristol exists in a strange vacuum,
I only ever notice it when I go up to London or wherever,
but people move very slowly in Bristol. There isn't a particular
rush - people develop at their own speed. I think that's
why the musical community in Bristol is such a strong one,
people are left to their own devices and just get on with
it without jumping on bandwagons and suchlike. I reckon.
Finally, what are your plans for the future?
Shock: I'm working on an as-yet-unnamed electro-pop
project right now which will have proper singing and everything
(not by me), and I've got some remixes lined up. I'm also
demoing tracks here and there for the next album. Which
is hopefully going to be a lot of fun. It's sounding a lot
'liver' than Maritime. And I'm going on holiday this week
so that's gonna be ace.
Shock: No, no, thank you.
Ian Roullier, 09/2005