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"Inga's was the only opinion that mattered": An audience with the elusive Dean Blunt

Naturally, being granted an audience with Dean Blunt is unlike interviewing any other musician.

Rendezvousing in the affectless sphere of communication that is Skype’s instant messenger service, and instructed by Blunt’s people not to ask any questions pertaining to what – or who – might have inspired his anomalous album The Redeemer, the resulting back-and-forth puts the interviewer (that is, me) in a terrifying position. The balance of power shifts subtly towards the unseen subject who, hidden from the inquisitor’s gaze, is able to pause and reflect before answering, to brush off unwanted questions with a blank screen or leave non-sequitur replies hanging limply in the ether. Maintaining the appropriately deadpan composure is likewise unnecessary for the invisible interviewee.

As a result, the conversation slips from the serious (the shadow of his former collaborator) to the irreverent (Danny Dyer’s arrival on Eastenders), and every ‘sensible’ question on my list suddenly seems as facile as it does futile. Ultimately, it’s Blunt’s show, and I’m merely the messenger – a situation that few, if any, other musicians are able to orchestrate so successfully (even that great media manipulator, Kanye West).

Blunt’s impenetrable veneer has been in place since he first sloped into view as one half of engagingly weird duo Hype Williams, whose steady trickle of lo-fi, sample-heavy and deeply unsettling loops and collages finally petered out this year as the pair announced their split. The album that Blunt delivered this spring, The Redeemer, along with its low-profile companion piece Stone Island, which slipped out quietly via a Russian website this summer, presented a drastic about-face for the producer and singer. Driven by deeply personal (though perhaps questionably sincere) lyrics and constructed from pop music’s most familiar gestures of heartbreak and despair (weepy strings, gently fingerpicked guitars), Blunt’s new material is above all guided by his own voice.

His transition from art provocateur to doleful troubadour is both awkward and fascinating; a recent show at The 100 Club in London offered the unexpectedly weird experience of seeing Blunt simply perform, standing centre stage and singing the intimate details of his messy break-up (albeit with an interlude devoted to an aural onslaught of sub-bass). It’s hard not to assume this rupture has something to do with the disappearance of his former Hype Williams accomplice, of course, and though questions of this nature were decisively banned from our conversation, Blunt himself lets slip the occasional fragment that hints at his unhealed wounds, and what could be the title of his next release (A Bullet In Yr Eye, Throwin Money Tha Sky). Frankly, it feels like the closest we’re going to get to the artist in his current incarnation.

Apparently located in Atlanta, Georgia, for the duration of FACT’s interview, Blunt will soon return to Europe to tour his live show across Portugal, Germany, Holland, France and the UK before the end of the year, beginning with a performance at Unsound Festival in Krakow, Poland, on November 18. Catch him if you can.

Dean Blunt: da,hi

Hello. Where are you today?

atlanta

Really? What brings you there?

teaching kids about agency

What kind of agency?

just making them aware of the wide palette

i don’t like kids

so its not one of those

I’m teaching them so hopefully i’ll like kids in the future

college park waterbwoys

Are you making music with them?

nein

i couldn’t teach them anything in regards to that

Okay. Well let’s talk about music anyway then.

do we have to?

guess so

It’s vital that we do. You played at The 100 Club recently, and for once you were the visible ‘star’ of the show. How did it feel to be at the front of the stage, exposed? With Hype Williams gigs you were often hidden in darkness.

yeah i get paid more now

Who was with you?

joanne and dave

rosie and jim

tia and tamera

You had a security guy on stage with you too. Is that to protect you from rabid fans?

few reasons.always need a brother by my side

always

Tell me about the support act you chose.

he can do the whole maxwell mtv unplugged in acapella

working on the lauryn hill one

minus the breakdown

or maybe including it

cannae rem

j star valentine is his name

he believes in himself

 

“Justin Timberlake ain’t a good dancer. He counts his steps like raatid mathematician.”

 

The show included a section of heavy strobing and sub-bass – was that music that you had made especially for the show?

It’s not the first time you’ve created an extreme, visceral experience as part of the live performance. I saw the Hype Williams show at The Dome last year – it was pitch-black and I remember feeling like I was being physically attacked by bass. It was very disorientating – I couldn’t even work out where the stage was after a while.

On one hand it seems like a mode of performance art – bludgeoning your audience with volume, making them uncomfortable? Or is there a link with dub music too, maybe?

the dome is shaka country . don’t think I’ve ever intentionally made dub

I’m from here,so certain sounds enter your language

so can’t articulate beyond that

its a noisy city

But you enjoy forcing that intense experience on your audience, I guess?

people not from london obsess over london sounds

way more than actual londoners

they try too hard

so most ‘dub/uk/bass nonsense is usually swag

when its made by tom from bath

like …

justin timberlake aint a good dancer..he counts his steps like raatid mathematician

it isn’t natural to him

and it translates

so ramalamadindongman

or whatever he is called

can’t ever nail what he’s trying

because its assimilated

not felt

anyway

dub…not thinking about it

conciously

or at all

 

“The answers to all these things can come in a less direct form.”

 

Stone Island seems like a companion piece to The Redeemer, it seems to share the same musical DNA, if you like.

same champagne

different pourer

different hotel

And you gave it away as a free download – was that a way of drawing a line under this particular phase, so that the next record will be quite different?

i gave it to the russians because they always have to rip things from us,no one wants to give them anything

didn’t want it to leave russia

Unfortunately that’s what happens when things appear on the internet. So will you be drinking the same champagne in a different hotel soon, or are you onto a different drink entirely now?

she chooses i drink

and pay

she rolls i smoke

and pay

dynamic set

That’s a bum deal. Let’s talk a bit about actually making music. How long do you spend on composition, or does writing happen almost at the same time as recording?

nah sorry

the answers to all these things can come in a less direct form.

its not important how long i spend

or what happens in that space

Let me try to be less direct, then. Why do you think some people might find your music “difficult”?

never thought about what people think

inga was the only opinion that mattered

‘was’

and i can’t answer ..as its not difficult to me

why would someone make something purposefully difficult

i understand it

but aint nobody here got time for that

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 1/2)

You obviously prefer not to “explain” your music – but do you welcome other people’s attempts to excavate meaning from it?

And if I’m talking too fast it just means you’re listening too slow. And if you listen a little faster maybe you’ll catch up

and i think I’m talking at a normal pace so who nose

I’m not on the net so i don’t know what people think

has nowt to do with me

but someones listening and keeping me out of trouble

else i’d be back in the ring

But the fact that you release music means you know that people are out there, listening to it.

nope

people bitch about the world

You could choose not to release it – surely you’re putting it out there for others to enjoy as well?

but its there job to make things exist

that they want to see or hear

else stfu

*their job

nobody listened and i had to do other things to get by

then i didn’t have to

production of work has never ceased

in all that time

but now i don’t have to do certain things to get by

and can own a bugatti

so ..

who nose

bugatti without drivers licence

bum deal

kim deal

reel deal

holyfield

evander is a serious name

What happened to the play you wrote? It was going to be performed at the ICA but I think it got cancelled.

yeah the ica is bruck pocket

no pay no play

turned it into a bbc radio play

should air this year

trying to get the cast of that itv show oasis to do the sequel

but dean gaffney is a bit of a long ting

diva

Aren’t you in the play yourself?

no i wrote it

Have you heard that Danny Dyer has just moved into the Queen Vic? I’m deadly serious. Maybe Dean Gaffney is not such a long shot.

danny dyer has had a reverse career..all he wanted was to have his name above that door

everything till now was for this moment

I’m getting a tear tattoo in his honour

and pouring some hen-dog in his memory

henn-dogg

What’s your favourite British gangster film?

blunt wraps , and

a pembury estate coming of age story

yoots , dreem

You’re from round there right? Do you spend much time in Hackney these days?

pretty dry now

all the new people think I’m gonna rob them

other wise they ask me to sign shit

so no

its dry

 

“People like to remove themselves from the place that triggers their insecurities.”

 

Have you left London completely? I read you once said something along the lines of Berlin being a coffee shop for people who’ve failed in their own city. I always remember that.

yeah i lost a few berlin soldiers after that one.skype contacts dropped a bit

but they too sensitive

all that damn coffee

i lived in lisbon

Do you think living in London is better for making art and music then?

nope

its just better than berlin..people like to remove themselves from the place that triggers their insecurities

or to save relationships

go where temptation doesn’t exist

But maybe insecurities are inevitable.

like mice in a hole

face the demons

london is full of them

new york is worse

hence why i like it

need to go through the inferno

to know the truth

and find peace

its rewarding

Does pain always make for good art?

dunno…ask him

I’m just going to ask a few more questions cos I’ve kept you for an hour now.

I’m easy.watching a film

What are you watching?

black gestapo

Recommended?

nein

Ha ha.

depends what amuses you in it

gotta see a black face on screen at least once a day

I don’t know it but a quick Google tells me it’s a solid one-and-a-half star rated film. Is that unfair?

today its a bad reel

Okay, two more questions. Hype Williams has come to end. You’ve described it before as a project that gets passed on from one artist to the next, but it seems like you held onto it for quite a while. Have you passed it on to another person? Would we be able to recognise the next reincarnation of Hype Williams somewhere?

hype williams hasn’t ended

inga just isn’t there

but she wasn’t the only other person involved in the project

sometimes to work with someone ,you need to consume each other to realise things.and unfortunately once that consumption has run its course,things may change

but the child remains

Do you think you would want to work with someone else again? Or is it a solo mission from now on?

as i said,hype williams is not a two person affair

just two fools that take the flak for it

*took

Ha. Okay, final question.

A Bullet In Yr Eye ,Throwin Money Tha Sky’ ….soonish

Do you think I’m going to ask what you’re releasing next? And is that the answer?

I was actually just going to ask what the weed’s like in Atlanta.

demonik

like a slap in the face from a tootsies miami doorman

Perfect. Okay, well enjoy the rest of Black Gestapo. Thanks for Skyping man.

peace

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