I want to start by commending Dazed and Confused on their February issue. I hold this magazine up as my personal favorite, and once again they deliver the goods, this time with an in-depth look at Thom Yorke’s newest ventures. Thom is on the cover for his Atoms for Peace project, which will release it’s debut album entitled Amok on February 25th. An interview wasn’t enough for the Dazed crew; they posted a 25-minute mix of unreleased solo material and remixes, a Uni of Yorke digital feature, which has 14 producers asking Thom a question each (Actress, Machinedrum, Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound +). In addition, there is an Atoms For Peace competition to create cover art accompanying that 25-minute mix, with the chance to win a Thom Yorke signed copy of Amok. This magazine goes above and beyond expectations to present an immersive and collaborative experience with one of the world’s most distinct artists.
For the remainder of this Disco Droppings feature, I will hand the controls over to Tremel, who first pitched the idea of discussing Thom Yorke as a DJ.
Ever since Kid A was released back in October of 2000, people have been fascinated with Thom Yorke’s affection for electronic music. His influence has burgeoned further since then, into a vast modern tapestry of all shades and colors. We’ve all known for some time that Thom dabbles in DJ’ing (reference any of Radiohead webcasts and you’ll see him plopping records down on his techs). But it’s only in the last year or so that he’s become more active, crafting DJ mixes for radio (BBC 6 mix, XFM), underground parties (Boiler Room Radiohead takeover, the “surprise” Low End Theory set) and even a party for Occupy London (with Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja). The selection of artists for the King of Limbs Remixes releases indicated a finger on the pulse of the electronic community, that has to be related to Mr. Yorke’s recent activity. The Internet is a surfeit of Radiohead and Thom Yorke fanboy-isms. For me, it is the thoughts I’m left with after hearing him DJ, not what made my feet move that interests me most.
Listening to his DJ mixes, I find myself wondering how much time he spends searching through music. You can hear how many different things grab his ears, his attention. How listening, for him, might be a meditative process through sound and texture. How transcendence seems to take priority over escapism. He seems to strive to hear things from the crux of intellectual and emotional reaction in order to trigger inspiration. You can almost hear the painter in him – the very techniques DJ’s use to make floors move become more like brush strokes for Thom. He stitches soundscapes together like pictures or lost memories, with so many of his own scraps of ideas finding their way into the mix.
It seems as deliberate as it is accidental, that the lines become blurred about what is strictly dance music.
For Thom, mixing tunes seems like another medium to explore ideas. For us, it’s a unique adventure into someone’s creative space. It’s an interesting way to walk the fuzzy lines between different perspectives about music, all the while in search of exactly that – Perspective. –
– Jimi Jaxon & Tremel