Sunday, February 18, 2007

TAPEd Conversation: Mudd (Rong Music / Claremont 56)

Hardened TAPE-watchers will know how much we rate Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy and his slinky, dubbed-out disco excursions on Rong Music. ‘54B’ was a massive tune here at TAPE Towers (actually a small shed behind Bristol bus station) and featured in my top 100 12"s of last year, while previous Rong release ‘Adventures In Bricket Wood’ has had it’s fair share of rotations too. Since last summer, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the UK release of his ‘Claremont 56’ album, scouring the internet almost daily for news that never came. Well, it seems like our long wait is almost over. We hear the album will finally see the light of day on March 26 via Rong and Amato Distribution. It’s in the diary already: “March 26: Clean out fridge, buy Mudd album”. But we digress. As a way of celebrating this mildly momentous occasion, we phoned up iDJ Editor and self-proclaimed “balearic beard” Sell By Dave and asked him to give the Mudd-ster a thorough virtual grilling. So he did. Here’s a transcript of the interview…

You've been kicking around for a few years doing bits and pieces of production, first as part of Akwaaba for the Idjut Boys’ labels and latterly as a solo artist. How did you first get into production?

“It all came about when Tom Lee, Steve Kotey and I met the Idjut boys at the Phreek parties which were happening at the Cross in the early ‘90s. At that point I was really going off all of the music that I was hearing out so it was a breath of fresh air to hear one DJ playing great records all night. The Idjuts introduced us to the early sound of U Star and that inspired me to spend my student loan on some equipment and get cracking. Steve, Tom and I formed Akwaaba and the first release was ‘Just Pilau’ on Discfunction records in 95.”

Looking back through my record collection, I have tracks of yours which vary from Idjuts-ish dub disco and deep house to straight-up neo-folk via balearic, downtempo disco. Who and what would you say are your main musical inspirations?

“My first influences came from the early electro sounds, I was only 10 but they really struck a chord with me. I used to make the tapes that we did our break routines to at The Pioneer Youth Club in St Albans. As I got a bit older I moved to the St Albans Civic Centre for entertainment, where people like Steve Walsh used to play Soul, Funk and a bit of Disco and after that, I got into Hip Hop and then the heady days of Acid House. Although there's a fair mixture of influences, none explain my acoustic folk tendencies so I'm not sure how that developed!”

In your Akwaaba days you made a lot of dubby but dancefloor-friendly deep house. You seem to have moved away from this. Is this because you've changed or are you just less inspired by house at the moment?

“Not really, I think it's just a natural progression. I've been making music for 14 years now and I think you constantly need to develop to keep it interesting. I'm actually not that great at making good house music. I'll make something simple and then i'll add strings/guitars/vocals/flutes to it so they always turn into something completely different. I wish I could leave the buggers alone!”

Over the last few years you’ve largely released your music on Rong, a favourite label of mine at present. How did you first hook up with DJ Spun and Ben Cook, the boys behind the label?

“I've known Ben for over 10 years as a friend so when he started the label he asked if I had anything knocking about. I had the ‘Adventures in Bricket Wood’ track sat on my computer which I'd finished four years previously but nobody seemed to be into it, Ben loved it, got it remixed for the floor and it all started from there. I've only known the Jason [DJ Spun] for a couple of years, but like Ben, he's right behind anything I throw at them.”

This month you're finally releasing your debut solo album, 'Claremont 56', in the UK. How long did that take to record and what were your inspirations?

“I was working on my own stuff when we were making the two Akwaaba albums, so the album is a collection of music over a seven year period. I was influenced by many different styles of music during that period which is hopefully reflected in the album. I think 'Summer In The Wood' took me four years to do!”

We're really enjoying 'Claremont 56' at TAPE Towers. Would it be fair to call it "Balearic disco"? If so, why the 'Balearic' vibe?

“Excellent! Personally, I'd be bored shitless by making one style of music – there's so many musical styles that I aspire to and I like to be working on a mixed bag. I guess this is seen as being Balearic to some people which is fine by me, but there's no way that I could categorise my style.”

Speaking of "Balearic" – which we sort of were – we've noticed that the whole ‘80s Balearic disco thing seems to be making a comeback. Why do you think this is?

“I don't know, everybody's got an opinion on it but I think the term has moved away from the Alfredo days and now possibly could be mean 'eclectic'. In my experience, the people into this sort of music are all getting a bit older and are sick of hearing one style all night so people are searching further and further – I think this is great. People like Moonboots have been doing this for years and are adept at it so they've become more popular at club nights.”

There's a lot of nice instrumentation on 'Claremont 56' – strings, jazz guitar, flutes etc – as well as some rather good slo-mo beats and basslines. Are you a good musician or are there a lot of extra players you got in?

“I normally start by programming the beats and then I'll play a bassline and put a chord in. I play everything pretty badly so when I'm working with people I use a lot of references from various types of music to try and explain what I'm trying to achieve. The annoying thing is that I know exactly what I want to hear but I can't play it which means I do lots of embarrassing humming too the many talented musicians that I work with!”

In the past you've done a few collaborations. Who are your main collaborators?

“Ben Smith was the first person I started the more folkier side with. We finished an album in 2001 but like before, nobody seemed to be into it. Now the tracks are being picked up separately by labels – 'Blue River' on Cottage, 'Summer In The Wood', 'Plot of Land' etc. on Rong – so he was my main musical partner. Recently I've been working with Kevin Pollard who is a genius on the keyboard. He pretty much knows what I'm trying to do instinctively so we're racing through tracks now. The greatest person I've ever collaborated with was Chico Hamilton, one of my true heroes. That all came about with me selling his manager a Blaze record on eBay! Funny old world.”

You're about to launch your own label, also called 'Claremont 56'. What can we expect from that, and what inspired you to strike out on your own?

“Releasing a record takes a long time and my friends labels have all got tonnes of music to put out so it would take a long time for whatever I give them to be released. The label is a way of me releasing stuff when I want. I haven't got any boundary lines for the 'Claremont 56' really, it's just an option for me to put out anything I feel is right. They'll be lots of slow chuggy stuff like the Villa Stavros 12 [the first Claremont 56 12, due soon - SBD] and I'm half way through an album for the label called 'Smith, Mudd & Pollard - An Odd Race' which is more along the style of 'Blue River', very laid back.”

When I talked to you a couple of weeks back you told me you’ve already started on your second album for Rong. How much have you finished, what can we expect, and when will it be released?

“I'm going along a very similar line to the first one. I want to mix it up, so there'll be some floor music as well as some nice down tempo pieces. Again, they'll be lots of instrumentation as I don't seem to be able to leave a track alone once I have started! I think we're going for September 2007 for it, but it takes a long time for things to come out so who knows. I finished ‘Claremont 56’ in March 2006 and it's still not out – except for Japan!”

Speaking of other projects, what's this we hear about a folk album?

“I've been working with Rachel Davies for some time now and she leans towards this style, so as a side project we're working on a Folk album. It's a great lesson for me as a producer, I'd normally bodge a mistake with a cheeky delay but you can't do that with acoustic music so it's teaching me to record properly and be more precise.”

Aside from the 'Claremont 56' album, what releases can we expect in the next few months?

“First up there’s the Mudd & Pollard ‘Villa Stavros’/’Dub Stavros’ 12” on Claremont 56. There’s also a limited edition Mudd album sampler featuring ‘Mimpi Manis’, ‘c40’ and an instrumental of ‘Damn Flu’. Then towards the end of May there’s a remix 12” featuring a new track called ‘Plot Of Land’, a DJ Spun version of ‘Mount Pleasant Lane’ and a Quiet Village mix of ‘Spielplatz’.”

Blimey, a Quiet Village remix. We’ve been loving their epic, smacked-out reworks. What’s their mix of ‘Spielplatz’ like then?

“Joel gave me the mix but they then decided to get Pete Z to put some keys on it so I haven't heard the finished version. The version I heard was a 14 minute hypnotic head nodder which sounded great. It was interesting to see what they came up with as I never played them the version I did, all they got where the parts. Generally speaking I’m into their stuff – I think they've carved out a fairly unique sound so fair play to them. I love the trilogy on Whatever We Want records.”

A few promoter mates of ours tell us you're a very good DJ. What sort of stuff do you play these days, and do you still regularly spin out?

“I play fairly regularly but it's always abroad, getting a gig in London seems to be so hard! The end of last year for me was pretty great, a tour in Japan, Lux in Lisbon and a couple of times in Norway. I'm off to Oslo in March, then a mini tour in Sweden in April and then San Fran/LA and Mexico in June so I can't complain! The only thing I do in London is an occasional party in the Red Lion, Angel called Silver Bob's Disco Meltdown that I run with my good friends, Andy and Tom. Considering we pay DJs with pints and peanuts we've had some pretty good ones! That'll will be starting up regularly again in the Spring. I play all sorts but generally go towards the Disco side of things, but I'll play house, good techno and all the odd stuff in between.

OK then, here’s a disco nerd’s question for you. Which disco acts and producers most float your boat?

“Although he's not strictly a disco producer, Quincy Jones is pretty much my musical hero. Apart from him, it's pretty much the obvious ones: Manuel Göttsching, Vincent Montana, Cerrone, Konk, Walter Gibbons, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Tee Scott, Francois K, Arthur Russell, Larry Levan, Holger Czukay and on and on....”

Fair enough. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

“Moonboots is a mean knitter.”

Mudd’s ‘Claremont 56’ album will be released by Rong Music on March 26.
Find out more at:

In the meantime, Sell By Dave will be joining myself and Puffin Jack at the next Mutant Pop for a session of disco delights, balearic belters, and organic grooves that even Gillian McKeith would approve of. He’ll also be doing us a TAPE guest mix very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

For more info on the iDJ big man check his Myspace page here:


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you - clean out a fridge?! hahahahahahahahaha

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