Mary Anne has always been a supporter of Warp and she’s also a supporter of the kind of music we like, which is good as she’s made a compilation with Planet-Mu which highlights some of the best stuff she’s heard this year, all of it coming out of the UK. There's also a live event at Brixton's Mass this Friday to celebrate its release. (see the End of the interview for listing and lineup)
We interviewed her about it all:
Q: What attracts you to the music you listen to?
A: Well, right at this moment, I'm head-over-heels for a tune from Skream's new album titled 'Kut-Off'. It's one of the most challenging, complex and brilliant beats I've ever heard this year. I just cannot figure out how that boy has done the maths at all!! I get such a rush listening to it because it's so primal, so absolutely unique. That's the beauty of a great piece of music no matter what genre, it will provoke such rare and exquisite human emotions.
The core axis of the Radio 1 show is made up of dark electronic music in all forms, but it's a show that exists without boundaries or prejudices of any kind.
Q: So why do you think you go for dark music, do you think it’s night time music, or do you think radio one needs to contrast with the daytime lightness. I get what you say about all types of darkness, Skream’s music sounds to me like tooth rotting candy floss, day-glo and slightly garish...
A: I think my new compilation ‘Warrior Dubz’ draws clear parallels between the different ‘dark’ genres that intoxicate me… drum & bass, dubstep, grime, dance floor. I love the idea of sonic storm-chasing. Mike Patton for example, is a master at drawing down the concentrated power of metal... compressing, warping and pressurising it, and then re-applying it in other musical fields, with Fantomas, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk, Bjork and Executioners… He never fails to leave me breathless...
My feeling about the Radio1 show is that it’s a bridge I build between a global audience so tenacious and hungry... and the pioneering artists and producers I adore.
In my minds eye, that bridge looks like it’s made from dirty rope stretched across some devastating crevasse in the Amazon jungle… other times, it looks like a heavenly constellation built out of burning stars … and then again, it can often look like a crazy twisted Dr Seuss cartoon.
Q: Do your tastes at home differ to your tastes on the radio?
A: I listen to pirate radio and 1Xtra too. I love the sense of sharing the energy, the atmosphere and the scent of the street with pirate selectors. My favorite album of the year is Burial's debut on Kode 9's Hyperdub imprint and it gets rinsed in the kitchen every Friday night. I miss John Peel's show so much.
His play list was boundless, every show thrilling, jammed with the most arresting pieces music he'd found from every corner of the planet, the like of which I will never encounter again, in this life or the next.
Q: Have you got any guilty pleasures or are you pretty much ‘on ‘ all the time in contrast to Peely, do you think you’re show could draw on World ‘ghetto’ music like Brazilian Baille Funk and Reggaeton etc?
A: Guilty pleasure? Would Prince qualify? Bobby Friction once said… “you can’t be trusted if you don’t like Prince” and he’s right!
My former producer Ben Cave (now with Giles Peterson) was a big Baille Funk and Reggaeton fan and we did rep those sounds on the show in 2005. This year I guess the show has been - not exclusively by any means - but certainly more sharply focused on the UK underground because it’s just so exciting right now… People from all over the world, Tokyo, Brussels, Massachusetts, New York City, Paris have hit me up at myspace to say they’re flying in to see the artists who are playing at my ‘Warrior Dubz’ launch party at Mass in Brixton on October 20th. Loefah & Pokes, Plastician, Amit, The Bug & Flowdan, Kode9 & The Spaceape, Milanese, Virus Syndicate and Andy Stott.
Q: What do you think the future holds for radio?
A: People know that I spend most of my time looking for music that will change their lives, and the creation of a show from the fruits, after exhaustive research every week, is appealing to my listeners because it takes the pain out of the process for them.
But the way people consume that show changing. Many people will still make an appointment to listen live.
But as time is the most precious commodity that we have in 2006, others prefer to listen on line-on at their leisure. People have been screaming my house demanding a Pod-cast. I have some ingenious plans afoot, and I will respond shortly.
Q: That sounds excellent, do you have a great sense of freedom when you programme your shows?
It seems that when John Peel went a lot of people at the BBC really took up his baton and Radio 1 in the evening is better for it.
A: I have carte blanche to do what I like with the show, which is a great priviledge, a blessing, and I never take it forgranted. The best that I or any other specialist DJ at Radio1 can do is carry Johns torch forward, and remember what he taught us: Never sell out anything you believe in. Give the the best of your love and your time to your family, your friends, your football team and the artists you cherish, and you will be rewarded with great happiness. Life is really that simple… it’s not about a yacht in St Tropez at all.
Q: Why do you think people find it so difficult to get into 'non-Tesco's' music when its available to them so easily?
A: I have no experience of this. My audience is global, and numbers expand every day. They are hungry, ambitious, passionate lovers of music. Regular listeners come in so many shapes... there's a barber's shop in New York that pipes a stream to their customers every day. A Royal Navy ship's crew stationed up in the Arctic at the North Pole. A blind boy and his guide dog Murphy who haven't missed a show in 7 years. the actor David Hyde Pierce who played Niles Crane in the TV sitcom Frazier, he's a regular... so is Loefah.
The stupidest mistake any broadcaster can make is to under estimate the intelligence of their audience.
Q: What would you be doing of you weren't a DJ?
A: I'd be a motorcycle stunt girl in Hollywood, doing all the scenes for Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's movies like 'Kill Bill'.. ;)
Q: What bike do you currently ride?
A: Kawasaki ER6-n
Pictures at www.myspace.com/maryannehobbs
Q: Where did the Warrior Dubz compilation idea come from?
A: I've never known a headier time for underground music in the UK since rave culture gave way to the birth of jungle. I wanted to draw together a clutch of my favorite artists operating across different genres; drum& bass, grime, dubstep, dark dance floor to represent the UK underground's phenomenal fire-power in 2006.
Q: Who is your favorite Warp artist & why!?
A: That's so tough.. but if you're gonna push me for one name it would have to be Squarepusher. I have strange, wonderful and deeply rewarding relationship with Tom. It's a great honor to have done so much work shoulder to shoulder with him in the last 7 years on my Radio1 show. I bang on about this a lot, but one of the greatest interviews I've ever done in my life was with Tom. He spoke in great depth and with fierce intelligence about his theory that human producers could no long claim sovereignty over the computers they use to make their music, because computers contribute more to the creative process. The Squarepusher session and mix to launch the new Thursday night slot 2am-4am on Radio1 in September,
was simply peerless.
Q: Who would you like to see collaborating / putting records out on Warp?
A: Darqwan - he's the boy! Sheffield based architect of the most incendiary dark garage beats, founding father of dubstep, heads up his own Texture label. His sounds and those of El-B, Zed Bias et al are informing so much of what's going down in the clubs and on the next generation dubstep producer front-line right now.
Q: Yes he did a mix of LFO a while back, do you l think something of those original producer’s sound has been lost in the newer dubstep productions, some people are amazing at that half step thing but sometimes the whole thing needs some energy. We were very impressed with the Kode 9 album, it’s got synthy lightness and vocals, when it could have been a catatonic affair, what aspects would you like to see added to the dubstep formula?
What about Digital Mystikz, do you think Warp would make a good place for them?
A: One of the beauties of dubstep is that every important producer draws on different influences – the boundaries are limitless - and each has their own unique interpretation of the sound. The only common denominator is sub-bass. The next wave of up-coming dubstep producers will have to come with an original sonic identity of their own, or they won’t be taken seriously at all.
Digital Mystikz and Loefah tunes on their own label DMZ sell out in a matter of moments when the vinyl hits the shops. There’s constant on-line speculation about what the next DMZ label release will be, and the back catalogue is already so collectable it’s selling at sky high prices on E-Bay. I would love to see the DMZ label expand over the years to become like another Warp or Planet Mu.
Q: What would you like to see happening next year in music?
A: The beauty of the landscape I work in is that it's forever changing.. I would quote Woody Allen from the film Annie Hall: "A relationship, I think, is like a shark. it has to constantly move forward or it dies"... That's the relationship I have with music, and it's what I hope will always keep the Radio1 show sounding fresh.
Q: Please give us your hot tip for 2007!
A: Michael Eavis asks DMZ to curate the pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival. ;)
Q: Do you think Michael Eavis can ‘meditate on bass weight’?
Michael Eavis was BORN to meditate on bass weight.
Plus the Warrior Dubz night on Friday 20th October at Mass, Brixton.
Presented by Overkill in collaboration with Planet Mu, a late night digital dubstep mashup celebrating the album
compiled by Mary Anne Hobbs.
Friday October 20th @
ST. MATTHEWS CHURCH
LONDON SW2 1JF
10pm - 6am
TICKETS: £11 adv :: seetickets / £12 on the Door