Music Features

Bestival 2012: dan le sac (Interview)

Those of you who follow us on Twitter (@noripcord) may have noticed a strong Bestival-theme to our tweets last weekend.  The reason?  Well, together with 50,000 other music lovers, No Ripcord (represented by Joe Rivers and myself) descended upon the Isle of Wight for Bestival 2012 - a festival that was nothing less than a truly awesome experience.

Now that we've had chance to recover, in the next few days, we'll be publishing a series of interviews we held with artists performing at the festival, together with a few words giving our thoughts on the festival.  Our first interview comes from artist, DJ and producer, dan le sac.  About to embark on a nationwide tour in support of his début solo album, Space Between the Words, dan took a few minutes to talk to us about his experiences at Bestival, his love for music festivals generally and his plans for a new album with Scroobius Pip.

So, dan, I understand you've just come from Stealing Sheep's set, is that correct? How was that?

It was dope, man. At first, I got to the stage and they weren't there. And I went out the back, because I'm playing the same stage as them. I thought I'd introduce myself to the liaison, get in early. If you can get their number early enough, it means that they're more attuned to you needing help. I couldn't see Stealing Sheep and I thought, “What's going on?” So I went and got a sandwich and then they came on. They got here late and couldn't get their kit onstage so they did it a cappella. Their voices are pretty fucking impressive... am I allowed to swear by the way?

Yeah, go ahead.

Fuck! Cunt! Yeah, their voices are dope anyway, but I hadn't realised quite how good until I saw them then.

Their music lends themselves to a more acoustic setup anyway. I'm surprised they don't do that more often.

It's weird. Their setup is fairly acoustic but at the same time, it's not. They still have to plug things in but it's not like they have big distortions. They're a band I've been following for two years now, maybe a bit longer. I saw them at Stanton Calling last year and maybe saw them at Camp Bestival the year before. So yeah, they're dope.

And who else have you seen so far this weekend?

The Horrors last night were, again, unbelievably good. I'm so jealous of that band. It's what I want to do – I just want to be the bass player. I think his name is Spider Webb – or that used to be his name anyway.

I do think that, with the kind of music that the Horrors make, it must be quite depressing being in a band like that. I know they do have some more upbeat songs...

I don't know. It's definitely become a lot bigger and rockier. There's a bit of Simple Minds in there somehow, which is weird. You can hear it on the last single. But they seem to have fun up there. They don't seem like a moody group of blokes either. One of them runs a club night. They like to have fun from what I gather. I don't know them!

And who else are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?

There's a lot today [Saturday]. There's a guy called Slugabed, who's playing the Rizlab, and The Lovely Eggs on the Bandstand. [Scroobius] Pip sampled them, actually. Well, Zane Lowe sampled them on Pip's album. So I'll be interested to see them. There's tons though. New Order tonight is kind of why I came. But yeah, all sorts.

And then you've got your set tomorrow? You've brought some friends with you, I understand?

Yeah, there are some friends here. B. Dolan - if he turns up, he'll be onstage with me. I don't know, man, it's hectic getting on site at the moment. He's getting here at 5 today. I can see him and Sage Francis and the 21-piece marching band they're bringing all going, “Nah! Nah! We're going home!” They've got to leave site at 3am after their set as well, and then all get on planes back to America because it's Dolan's wedding this week.

[Joe] How did they get him to agree to come here this weekend, when his wedding's this week?

Well, it's ridiculous. He does this thing called The Church of Love and Ruin which is crazy - a big, 4-hour spectacular with this brass band. It's got strippers, everything! Sorry, burlesque. So I got him the booking for that. I literally phoned Robby and said, “I've got an idea. Let's do this.” But then he built a tour round it, so he's been over here for about a week. He's stupid though, he should never have said yes! So he's on with me, as is a guy called Joshua Idehen, who headlined Pip's poetry stage yesterday. And a girl called Sarah Williams White, she's coming down for the day.

[Joe] Was she on The Logic of Chance [Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip's second album]?

No, no, Kid A's on The Logic of Chance, she's not there. But we are doing some of the Kid A stuff I wrote way back, before The Logic of Chance. It's going to be cool. Although Kid A will probably be grumpy that I didn't ask her to come. But she lives in America – I'm not paying for her flight! I'm getting like £1 to do this show. And I think I've even got to pay for my own petrol so that's not going to go very far. And a lad called Frazer Rowan, who's down from Scotland and just happy to be here for the weekend is going to come and sing along as well! If I see anyone else, other people that I've done songs with that are here this weekend, I'll see if I can work them in.

You know, Joe and I have quite a considerable musical talent between us...

Yeah...we could open mine and Pip's set and we could do a pastiche of Scroobius Pip, just mock him! Just stroke your chin and hit your chest a lot. Fake beards and hitting your chest with open palms. I don't know what that means, but it means something. I think that's when he talks about himself. And if he's thinking, he taps the side of his head. So yeah, all fun and games. And it's the first time we've ever done it so yeah, I'm excited.

And looking forward to after Bestival, next month's pretty hectic for you.

Yeah, it's gonna be crazy. It's our first gig tomorrow night and then we take it on the road. There are gonna be different guests across the tour. This guy called Merz who's on the album a couple of times, he's going to come along. Sarah William White's on the whole thing, Joshua's on the whole thing. Pete Hefferan from Pete and the Pirates is going to come and do a few dates. And I think I might have even got Riz MC to come and do some of the stuff. It just depends what town you're in. Some of them are going to be rammed full. Some will just be me, Sarah and Joshua.

Coincidentally, I live in Gloucester and Joe lives in Guildford, and your tour is coming to both towns.

Yep, coming to both! Andy Vale from Guildford, the promoter, is just a dude – a dude who works really hard and promotes the gigs he loves. And it's hilarious because they're selling more tickets than anyone else. Because he actually gives a shit, it's not just a money-making scheme to him. So I'm really excited about that. And Gloucester, the people who are putting it on are fans of Joshua, and Joshua's band are supporting that night as well. They're two gigs that I'm actually really looking forward to. There are some where I'm like, “Really? This is gonna suck!”

Not naming names!

No, you can't! Because then I'll get an email saying, “That gig's been cancelled, dan.” And I'll be like, “What?!”

I should mention as well that both Joe and I saw you and Scroobius Pip last year at 2000 Trees, your first time headlining a festival. That was a lot of fun.

It was dope, man. We didn't do many gigs last year, either. I don't think we even got to twenty. Pip was off doing his solo stuff and I was writing my album as well. So when they offered the headline it was like, “Yeah, alright – we'll come out of retirement for it!” It was cool, nice to do it. Again, they're nice people. The people who run it are the people who are invested in it and care for it, so I like festivals like that. There's a little festival down in Cornwall called Leopallooza which is like 2000 Trees, but a few years ago. So it's still tiny, but fucking amazing.

Do you still go to festivals as a punter?

Yeah, yeah. This year's been a bit quieter because I've been so busy but I went down to The Great Escape for the weekend and Reading Festival as well. I popped into Camp Bestival for a day. Me and Pip had gigs that weekend, so we just went on the Sunday. But I do go, I like to go. And I still actually watch bands, I'm not one of “those”. It's stupid - why go to a festival and then stay backstage for the rest of the day? We're sitting about two seconds away from the backstage bar, and in that backstage bar are loads of people who profess to love music. The agents, the managers, the infrastructure of the music industry. And all they do is sit in there and get fucking pissed all day, watching the main stage bands. But they don't even really watch the main stage bands, they just insult them. They sit there and insult them the whole time. There's stuff going on, guys!

It's so frustrating, isn't it? So many people would kill for the chance to come to Bestival. It's sold out, and even before it sold out, not everyone could afford to come here.

Yeah, none of the festivals are cheap but this one, you have to get a ferry to, which doesn't help. It's definitely a privilege that a lot of people don't use. But it's been dope this year because they've been streaming the Main Stage and Big Top [second stage] on YouTube and they're streaming the Replay with Rob da Bank stage on another website. It's cool that people get to experience some of it, and then from Bestival's point of view it's good because it means they're going to sell more tickets.

In terms of your future plans, what have you got coming up?

Well, as you mentioned, we're going to do the tour. And once that's out the way, me and Pip are gonna start writing. But we'll see how it goes. If it's shit, it's not coming out. There's no way.

[Joe] You haven't got an obligation to release a third album?

Our record label are expecting a third album but to be fair, I'm in that place mentally where, if it's not good enough, I'll go and get a job. I've had six years of festivals and fun. If it's a good album, then I'll do it. But fuck it otherwise, man. Pip and I have these amazing fans and I don't want to go, “Oh, you see this pile of shit? Eat it, EAT IT! Pay us money to eat our shit!” And to be fair, Pip doesn't need this any more. He can go off and be a celebrity. It's nice for me because I don't feel I'd be letting him down, or stitching him up.

And when you write, do you each come up with your own ideas and bring them together?

I dropped Pip about 35 beats a month ago, maybe a bit more. He'll go through those and see what ideas come naturally. And once he's picked a few of those (he'll probably only pick maybe four of those beats), that'll speak to where the album goes – what he's writing about and the way I approach it. So it's a bit of both. But I just write and write and write. During the course of writing my album, I probably ended up with eighty tracks. Most of them haven't got vocals.

And a geeky question – what software do you use to write with?

Ableton. I don't use any of the big ones because they can do too much. You can get bogged down in trying to get the right sound and forget to actually write. You should write the songs, get the melodies and then come back and work against the software to find what you want. It's that, and also - I still play a lot of the stuff live. On my album, I play the guitar and all the bass parts and keys parts are all me. I just wish I had more hands and then I could do it all live! But I've got a live keys player and additional shit for live, so it's gonna be cool.

[Joe] Do you and Pip ever sit down in a room together?

We wouldn't survive if we did it in the same room. From his point of view...from both our points of view, it's fucking boring. I'm sitting there going, “This snare drum, mate, this snare drum.” And I can work on a break for maybe two hours. It makes it easier to come together and have a listen together and talk about it, and then go off. It makes far more sense than spending that whole time. It's such a defined split as well – it's not like The Horrors, where they have to be in a room and writing together and each person has their element. Mine is the music and his is the words. But when we record his vocals, I try to get in there. Sometimes, no-one can understand what he's saying so I tell him, “No, you're going to have to slow that down. You'll have to change that word, man”.

Details of dan le sac's upcoming tour can be found on his website,  Follow him on Twitter @danlesac