Joining The Slits on their Japan tour will be producer Adrian Sherwood. One of the key figures on the British reggae scene for the last 30 years, Sherwood has most recently been working on new Primal Scream and Lee “Scratch” Perry material, while some of his past credits include New Age Steppers (who included Ari Up on vocals), The Fall and Nine Inch Nails.
On The Slits
I’ll be mixing the band, for the first time probably since 1979-82. They did some gigs (in the U.K.) and they’re sounding excellent. Why did they get back together? It’s just the demand for it. A lot of people are very interested in that period and are hailing The Slits as being a very important band, which they are. I used to love how The Slits sounded like it was collapsing in the old days. It’s still got that ingredient about it. And Ari, as an entertainer — she’s a genuine one-off. She’s like an explosion on stage.
I’m not a musician myself; I play the mixing desk. Putting the whole thing together and shaping the sound — that’s my thing. I’ve always used a similar production technique to keep it not crowded. I’ve worked very hard to develop my own sound, not to any great commercial success . . .
If you were to take out (the dub ingredients) from most club tunes now, they’d be very formulaic and boring. Just boom-ch-boom-ch-boom-ch-boom. But with all the magic dub noises or plugins and processing units, they sound outrageous, don’t they? Like, wow, that’s out of this world! And it’s basically, as most people who know anything about music know, got its origins in the Jamaican dancehalls of the early ’70s. If you play anything from anywhere else in the world in that period, although you had some magic records, they weren’t studying sound. They were studying the music, and the performance, but the Jamaicans were studying the sound.
On getting older
It’ll be 30 years next year since my first tune came out. How do I feel? Like an old wine. (Laughs.) Not empty. You’ve got to keep working with young people. I’m currently working with some of the new dubstep people in London, like Digital Mystikz. I’m not trying to bring some new blood in: I’m actually looking to work with people who can get the best out of me, as opposed to perhaps me getting the best out of someone else. You need to push yourself as you get older.
It’s quite an exciting time at the moment. Every time I go out to (a dubstep event), I can really relate to it because it’s got the roots underbelly to it.
I think the first time I went there was ’84. To still be coming on a pretty much yearly basis, I’m really proud of that. And I’m very glad that I can do that rather than having burnt myself out doing any old crap. I think if you stick to your guns and say, well, bollocks . . . that’s why, I suppose, I’m still breathing.