FACT mix 141 is the eerie, absorbing work of Demdike Stare – the Manchester-orbiting duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty.
Whittaker is perhaps best known for his austere, dub-infused but club-friendly releases on Modern Love as MLZ and as one half of Pendle Coven; Canty is one of the tireless nugget-hunters working behind the scenes at Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers label. Like the Haxan clubnight which predates and informs it, Demdike Stare is a project combining the duo’s interests in techno, dub, drone, early electronics, astral jazz, off-kilter ethnic musics; grounded in samples, it blurs the boundary between DJ and producer, collector and creator, and has yielding astonishing results on record. The first Demdike offering was 2009’s Symbiosis album (released on CD and across two self-titled 12″s), followed by the enchanting mix CD Osmosis and most recently another LP of original material, the two-track, vinyl-only Forest of Evil.
Buoyed by the considerable cult success of their releases, Summer 2010 finds Demdike Stare have venturing out into the world for a number of live audio-visual performances, including an appearance at Shedding The Past, Dubbing The Future (Nocturne 3), a collaboration with FACT at the 2010 Mutek festival that also features King Midas Sound, Shed, Ikonika, Actress and others. Mutek takes place across various venues in Montreal over the period June 2-6, with the FACT event happening at Club Soda on Friday 4. Catch ‘em if you can.
Above and beyond their often tongue-in-cheek invocation of the occult, there is something truly uncanny about Demdike Stare’s overlapping and synthesis of textures ancient and modern, eastern and western. Witness their FACT mix, which sees ‘La Dance De Nadia’ by Lebanese composer Elias Rahbani sharing airtime with Robert Hood’s 1998 minimal banger ‘Grace Under Fire’ (Nighttime Mix) and Carl Craig’s noir-techno sure shot ‘Darkness’, and also features psychedelic reggae of Keith Hudson and German art-prog from Guru Guru as well as four previously unreleased Demdike Stare productions: ‘Rain And Shame’, ‘Matilda’s Dream’, ‘Caged In Stammheim’ and ‘The Stars Are Moving’.
Grab the mix and cop the tracklist below. See the next page for a Q&A with Demdike Stare.
1. Demdike Stare – Rain And Shame
2. Demdike Stare – Matilda’s Dream
3. Guru Guru – Atommolch
4. Demdike Stare – Caged In Stammheim
5. Keith Hudson – Satan Side
6. Unknown – Unknown Thai track
7. Elias Rahbani – La Dance De Nadia
8. Robert Hood – Grace Under Fire ( Nightime Mix )
9. Demdike Stare – The Stars Are Moving
10. Carl Craig – Darkness
How’s it going? What’s been on your mind?
MW: “Musique concrete, early 90s US and Italian house music, lots of jazz, dub and African music, our new soundcard, good hummous and the Jigoku film.
How would you describe Demdike Stare to the uninitiated?
“Specific moments of space and time derived from vinyl records, signposts to our tastes in music and film.”
Obviously Demdike Stare invokes darkness and the occult, that’s at the core of the project, but there also seems to be a current of humour running through proceedings…
“The occult is one reference out of hundredd that are all part of the Demdike Stare make-up; the humour is another, and definitely intended, mainly because we don’t take ourselves too seriously and neither do a lot of our influences. A lot of 70s films and records had the same edge: the subjects might have been perceived to be dark or foreboding, but have that secondary level of humour attached, makes the whole more palatable.”
“Demdike Stare is about specific moments of space and time derived from vinyl records, signposts to our tastes in music and film.”
You and Sean have known each other for a while, so what actually prompted you to sit down and collaborate as Demdike Stare? Why now?
“We’ve been friends for so long it blurs, records have always been the core aspect of our relationship too, so we’ve kind of evolved with each other and our tastes in music. We’re both on different paths musically too, which is where the enjoyment and freshness comes into working together, we both fetch something different that somehow ends up crossing over. A few years ago Sean phoned me and he’d decided that it was time for us to write a soundtrack together, a kind of horror/noise record that he’d had an idea for, and that’s where the project really started.”
You’ve talked in previous interviews about your belief in the importance of mixtapes in the furtherance of music culture. Can you tell us a bit more about this, and your relationship to the mixtape over the years?
“The mixtape has been very important to us both, as we both get excited when we hear music we don’t know, and that used to happen a lot before the internet age – through the mixtape medium. A lot of the important influences in our identity come from that format. Recently this role has been taken over by the podcast or internet mix, but it’s also made tracking old mixtapes down a lot easier. we’re still finding more amazing mixes even now, thanks to people uploading them to blogs and such.”
Is it fair to say that Demdike Stare is very British in character? How do you think its concept resonate with an international audience?
“Demdike Stare is kind of a melting pot, or a meeting place of different strands of music. In this way it’s definitely British, as we see Britain as a melting pot society. So we think it will easily cross over to an international audience, as we have no borders within Demdike Stare.”
What would you say is the common thread that unites the music in the mix you’ve recorded for FACT? What qualities are you drawn to when drawing upon other people’s music in a Demdike Stare context?
“The mix is a simple way of us showing how open-minded we are about music. We’re also trying to inject a bit of character to the mix, as we like many, many genres and styles of music, but only certain things really affect us both and become part of the Demdike Stare sound.
Can you tell us a bit about what to expect from your live set?
“We like to incorporate all of our identity with the live set, so we have visuals that are chosen for each section of the show, and we use records to mix live over our own music to add another layer. We like to improvise as much as possible – this can also be dictated by the atmosphere of the venue and crowd too, which all becomes part of the show.
Catch Demdike Stare at Mutek 2010, June 2-6, along with the likes of Shed, Matmos, The Caretaker, Actress, Ikonika and Nurse With Wound. More info and tickets here.