by / August 19th, 2009 /

Interview with Hercules & Love Affair

Andy Butler is Hercules & Love Affair. In 2008 the self-titled album on DFA wowed critics and music fans across the board with tracks such as -Blind’ and -You Belong’. The soulful blend of disco-inspired songs provided the perfect soundtrack to last summer. A year on, Sidetracked arrives just in time for those demanding a similar musical fix, this time for the legendary Renaissance label.

Back in July, on the evening of the Michael Jackson funeral/not funeral/remembrance service/cringe inducing media fiasco State caught up with Andy in San Francisco to discuss Sidetracked, what’s next for Hercules & Love Affair and his upcoming DJ set in Tripod.

Can you tell me about Sidetracked?
I guess as a project Hercules & Love Affair has one foot in indie land and another is dance music. Renaissance know that I’ve DJed and they were curious to see if I’d be interested. To me, I grew up very aware of the Renaissance label because I was going out a lot as a teenager and started to read DJ mags early on. In the mid 90’s Sasha and Digweed brought that label to a certain prominence. I mean I just knew who they are so when they asked me I thought it was fun. Plus they are a proper dance music label, so I’m kind of honoured that they would ask me to do it.

Was it difficult to whittle it down to those 14 tracks? Are they a representation Hercules & Love Affair or are they just tracks you’re enjoying at the moment?
They definitely are reflective of music that has inspired me to write. It’s a little bit of both to be honest with you. Some of the music on the compilation I really just put there because it’s the music that has made me want to dance most on dance floors recently. I wanted to definitely do that, just put that out there. I wanted to create a sense of what you might expect to hear from me when you come to hear me DJ. I [also] wanted to convey some of the inspiration for Hercules & Love Affair’s newer material so effectively the last four songs on the compilation are still disco but more on a softish-70’s vibe. Those songs have really inspired me in the past year to write music.

Is DJing something you’ve done the whole way through Hercules & Love Affair or just between albums?
I’ve kind of done them both simultaneously, you know. DFA were constantly throwing parties in New York City so I was always playing those events. Then I would pick up gigs while we were on the road, you know, an afterparty here or there so I felt like, I was DJing pretty regularly over the course of the past year and a half. But it had not been as strenuous as it has been this past year.

Have you come across some interesting remixes of your own material?
Well, I definitely a fan of some of the remixes that have come out already like the Frankie Knuckles remix of ‘Blind’ and the Riton remix of ‘You Belong’, I think its pretty effective and fun.

Have you started work or thought about the next Hercules studio album?
I actually have. I’ve been here in San Francisco for the past 5 or 6 months and I’m quite a ways into the record. I’ve got maybe, 10, 11, 12, 13 songs done, well about 80 percent of the material have been produced, recorded and stuff. There’s definitely some finessing that needs to go on.

When can we expect a release?
I don’t know, I wish I could say but it’s the kind of thing that’s a little open ended. I definitely feel I need to work a little more on each track. I going to have to say ‘No, this is it, that’s it, no more working.’ But right now I think there’s more to be discovered in terms of finessing and prettying it up more and more and more. But that could be an on going project, I’m hoping that this year will see the release.

Did Tim Goldsworthy (DFA) work on this album?
No, I’ve been working out here in California, San Francisco, with this old school producer. A guy who used to work primarily with industrial bands (Mark Pistol). Yeah, he’s still an active member of Meat Beat Manifesto. I grew up just a real fan of his work. He was in other bands called Consolidated and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. So as a 15 year old boy I was really a fan of Meat Beat and all of those kinds of bands. When I got here I needed to get a remix done and went into his studio and just found myself very comfortable there and decided I just might come out to San Francisco and do the record there.

Where are you from Andy?
I’m originally from Colorado but I’ve lived in New York for about 11 years.

So how was the relocation to San Francisco?
Very welcome.

Did you need to escape New York?
Yeah for sure, for me its not nearly as flavoursome as it used to be and that’s even in the past 10 years. I’m kind of just a little bit disenchanted with the city at the moment. When I go back there are always things that really excite me. There is definitely a bunch of people that I love to death so I will always go back. But San Francisco at the moment is, I don’t know, everything from the architecture to the skyline, you know, the nature and the people and the night life is all kind of appealing to me right now.

So can we expect all these new elements to feed into the new record as opposed to New York/Studio 54 influence in your first record?
There’s still a lot of disco, and as in the mix there’s a lot of dance, but yeah there’s definitely a softer more lyrical thing that’s going on as well at times. I don’t know if it’s reflective of the city I’m in, more the frame of mind I’ve been in for the past year.

Has the success of your debut affected what you produce?
I think I’ve been producing what I want to produce anyway. But I’ve definitely thought ‘I wonder what the response to something like this would be?’ But at times when I think I don’t know where this should be going I get reminded by friends that where you should be going is where you’ve been and where you are and you can’t change that. So there’s no point in forcing it.

The last album is a very different experience when played live, following on from last year’s extensive touring are you more aware of the live set up when it comes to writing new material?
To a degree, yes. Having a band around as much as I did last year was a lot of fun and offered me an education in a way. Like writing for players, I got to have them at my disposal all the time so I could write and get them to practice or play some things on the fly which was fun. Actually the new live show that I’ve been configuring is a little different. It’s a little more pop in some ways and there’s not going to be as many live elements. It’s going to be in some ways more exciting and spectacular and at the same time less, I don’t know, I’m rethinking the whole concept of the live show.

I understand some members of Hercules have gone on to form Jessica 6, who can we expect to see on stage?
There are a couple of new singers in the mix; you wouldn’t really know them by name. [They are] young and vibrant characters. One from Berlin, one from Chicago and they’re just big voices with very commanding presence on stage. I’m really excited about both of them. Along with just a couple of musicians, it’s going to be different. I’m going to make you wait.

Are you going to make us wait to see what guests you have on the album too?
Yeah, you know part of the thing of having big names of the last album was that there was only so much that, for example Antony, could avail himself to. He couldn’t tour with us or play live so I want to take the show on the road so with regards guest artists they’ll be on a different scale.

Hercules & Love Affair play a DJ set on Friday 21st in POD on Harcourt St. €15 / 11pm.

Sidetracked – Tracklisting
01. WestBam – And Party
02. Sax – No Pares (Don’t Stop)
03. Hercules + Love Affair – I Can’t Wait
04. In Flagranti – I Never Screwed Around Before
05. Dubwise – Hold me Real Tight
06. Fax Yourself – Sunshine
07. Todd Terry Project – Weekend
08. Daniel Wang – Zola Has Landed
09. Rhythm Masters – Oh Oh Why
10. Los Kings Del Mambo – Studio X
11. Dr. Buzzards Original Savannah Band – I’ll Play The Fool
12. Ray Martinez Jnr – Lady of the Night
13. Gino Soccio – Dream On
14. Rainbow Team – Dreaming