For a man almost two decades into a music career, details on Marcus Lambkin are quite sketchy. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. With a short bio on his Myspace providing all the personal knowledge you’d need to know, the Dublin native let’s the music does the talking. Well sort of; it’s mainly instrumental. Now, with a string of excellent dance 12”s behind him, the first Shit Robot album is about to emerge. The ingeniously-titled From The Cradle To The Rave brings several new dimensions to the Shit Robot sound, broadening the horizons of a man usually more associated with “the more technical stuff”. While preparing for a short photo shoot at the end of a long day of press work, Lambkin elaborates. “I didn’t want to have an album of instrumental dance music. And that’s sort of what I’m known for. There is some dance music on there but it’s mainly more easy going. There’s a lot of vocals, the poppier side of Shit Robot.”
So after the best part of twenty years making music, why do the album now? “It was basically just getting shit finished you know? It was almost done two years ago because I wanted to get it done before my daughter was born. We got most of it done but it just wasn’t quite 100%. I’ve been working on stuff for years and I finally felt I had enough for an album. It wasn’t a decision to say now is the time to sit down and make a Shit Robot album.”
With his history as one of the hottest DJs in New York with Plant Records and his long-standing friendship with James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy of DFA, Lambkin had a large group of friends to call on when making the record and there are many guests featured including previous collaborators Ian Svenonius of D.C. Punk legends Nation of Ulysses and Saheer Umar from House of House. The vocal stylings of Nancy Wang and The Juan Maclean also make an appearance. It is, as Lambkin puts it, “a traditional DFA family affair”. “I didn’t have any of this planned out before I started. They all started out as instrumental songs and we just though, who would be good for this, who could we get for this? There was no master plan.”
Probably the most high profile voice on the record is that of Hot Chip front man, Alexis Taylor. “With the Alexis track we were working in and New York and we though, oh, Alexis would be great for this. Hot Chip were actually playing that night in New York and we were going to the show anyway so after the show we said, “We have this track, would you be interested?” And he said he’d love to. They had a day off the following day so he came out to the studio and did it there and then.”
Lambkin remains somewhat of an analog loyalist, sticking mainly to vinyl when playing out. This attitude is reflected in the sound of the album, a dark and beautiful record that harks back to the early days of dance music. “I’m still influenced by the early days of acid house, that mixed with my punk upbringing, Killing Joke and things like that”, he says. “Early acid house, early techno, that does it for me. There’s a vibe to them which is really fresh that I’m always trying to capture but still still make it relevant to today so it doesn’t become pastiche.” With its combination of vintage influences in its composition and the ridiculously cool heads of DFA at the mixing desk, the album does truly bring together the best of both worlds, at once classic and modern.
With constant DJing all over the world taking up his weekends and the small matter of making an album filling the weekdays, Lambkin is a busy man. Working from his home in Stuttgart, his touring takes him pretty much everywhere. “Back to Japan next month, hoping to go to Australia in January”. So any favourites? “Japan would probably be my favourite, Brazil too. I’m developing a real love affair for France. Italy’s great because it’s the food, the weather, the people are great too.” And how about the hometown? “I love coming back here believe it or not, it’s always good to get home anyway. There’s always great fun, lots of laughing and it’s always in a great spirit. It’s always good to see Mom too!”
Photos by James Goulden.