With his first release dating back to 1993, Luke Vibert is undoubtedly a member of the old-guard of British electronic music. With Roland synths as his muse, the man also known as Kerrier District, Wagon Christ, and Plug (just to name a few) has been churning out disco, drum n’ bass, acid house, and all sorts for the best part of two decades. His versatility is only surpassed by the outstanding quality he’s somehow managed to maintain over a 19-album discography. He fielded a few of our queries ahead of his forthcoming Button Factory double header with Nathan Fake.
At what stage did you know you were going to make music for a living? When was the last time you had to hold down a shite job?
I worked in Our Price [now defunct chain of record shops] from 1991 to 1994… but really enjoyed it! At that time they sold vinyl, and I could order anything I wanted. As I was one of the few DJs in a small town I used to be mean and keep the best ones for myself, putting the not so good ones out in the shop. I started releasing stuff while I was there and left as soon as I could afford to. I always hoped to make music for a living since I was about 11yrs old, but at that point I probably wanted to be Prince or Michael Jackson.
I might be running the risk of offending you here, but I’ve always thought that some of your music has a sense of humour or irreverence about it. Would you agree?
Indeed…sometimes to the detriment of the track, probably, but I can’t help myself. I like to undermine the slightly serious nature of electronic music any way I can, and ‘silly’ vocal samples are kind of the easiest way to do that I think.
Hip Hop seems to be one of the most profound influences on your productions, do you have any time for the direction hip-hop (mainstream anyway) has taken over the last 15 years or so?
Not really I’m afraid… I don’t think I’ve even heard something I’d consider proper hip-hop for a few years now. But yes, it was one of my first loves, and I still listen to the old school shit all the time.
You’ve released a remarkable 19 albums, with such a vast amount of output, is there an album that, looking back, you’re not that happy with, or regret?
Not really…I liked them all at the time and thought they were as good as they could be…With hindsight there’s maybe just the odd track here and there I’d like to re-mix.
I’ve read that you occasionally submit a cache of songs to a label, and allow them to select and program the track list as they see fit. Does that stem from indecisiveness on your part or from trust of the people your working with? It’s interesting to see an artist allow for such outside involvement in a project.
I usually try to submit what I think is a finished LP, but then we compromise a bit. It very much depends on the label though… Virgin let me do exactly what I wanted [Tally Ho! by Wagon Christ] where other labels have a stronger vision of what they want. It took James Lavelle months to find the tracks he wanted for Big Soup for example…
You’ve been releasing records since 1993, have you ever considered composing film scores or been approached to do anything outside of the EP or album format? Any interest?
I’ve tried submitting stuff for films and adverts but it’s never gone very well! Me and Aphex even did a track for a film once, but it wasn’t accepted. The only thing I’ve done quite well with is remixes for other people, which I enjoy.
What do you listen to when you’re not producing or DJing?
Anything really… usually a bit jazzy and funky, and usually old, ’50s – ’70s shit
Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
Always! Got a Wagon LP [tomorrow] coming on Ninja Tune in March, and then planning to put out some Plug stuff [first time in years!] then hopefully another Planet Mu LP before the end of the year.
Nightflight welcome Luke Vibert and Nathan Fake to the Button Factory on Friday February 11th.
Words: Paddy O’Mahoney