For the debut podcast in our new series, “One's & Two's,” we asked Lee Jones (Hefner, MyMy) to make us a mix and chat a little about his new solo record, Electronic Frank (Aus Music). He kindly obliged and we couldn't be happier to have such an established and successful electronic musician kick this series off!
Okay, so when you make these mixes, how do you do it? For a mix that isn't made at a club, is there some sort of “game plan” beforehand or do you just play what you feel like playing?
Firstly, this mix wasn't a live DJ mix. It was assembled on my computer using the Ableton Live software. For podcasts or radio shows I always “cheat” using this method because I don't see the point in doing live (by mixing the records together manually). The results are better because I'm able to place all my favorite tracks into the arrangement window, and then move them around endlessly until I'm happy with the running order. Then I'm able to blend them together seamlessly, even pitching the tracks so they are in tune with each other.
You're pretty established now, so I'm wondering what your take is on today's minimal and techno scenes. A lot has changed since the 1990s… things seems to have become more simplified. How have you changed (and adapted) over your career?
I've been making music for a long time, but in terms of House and Techno I'm quite a newcomer. It was only when I moved to Berlin 6 years ago that I was inspired by the minimal dance music there and began to produce music in this way. It was the simplification in the music that attracted me to it. The dance music I'd heard growing up in England never interested me because it was always rammed full of everything but the kitchen sink.
I'm curious to know why you tacked “MDMAzing” on at the very end of your latest LP, Electronic Frank. It's an incredible song, and most people would put it somewhere in the middle, I think.
I didn't think of it as being tacked on the end. I thought it worked well as an emotional climax to the album. I still like to think as albums as a single entity that might sometimes be listened to from beginning to end. I don't want to stack all the strongest, or more obvious, tracks at the beginning so they get noticed more. In a way I think “MDMAzing” stands out more from being at the end.
What made you want to “go solo”?
It's nice to release a personal record that I don't have to compromise with at all. The work I do with Nick as MyMy has to suit both our tastes. Also, I guess that MyMy has become a larger beast now, and we're making an album that we hope we can reach a larger audience with. I don't expect to reach any particular audience with this record. It was just fun to make.
I love the artwork for Electronic Frank. Who did it and what's the message you wanted to convey with it?
Certainly a sense of fun and a sense of humor. An old friend of mine Richard Wilkinson drew the animals on the LP AND EP's. He's a brilliant illustrator, and quite a funny chap too. I didn't tell him what I wanted except that it should be eye catching. He heard a few tracks and came up with the zebra.
The interesting thing about techno—to me, anyway—is the fact that it isn't recorded like pop, rock, jazz, or anything else of the more “organic” quality. So, you assumedly don't need to overdub anything you do or chop out bad sections of songs… you just write a song and record it with electronic equipment. Am I wrong?
The process of making a track is quite unique to this style of music. I think of it a bit like sculpting, where you can chip away at any part of the structure until you are happy. The entire track is worked on at once—you don't need to record things in real time, or in any particular order. You can work on the ending one minute, the beginning the next. Actually, I do a lot of “chopping out” sections, cutting up the whole track and reordering it. I record myself playing many things, but then that will be edited and processed into something else. You write the song as you go along, often with an idea at the beginning that turns into something quite different at the end.