The album will also be the first release on the Invada label, a record label Anderson and friend, Geoff Barrow from Portishead have started together. With huge support from radio and a groundswell of interest via word of mouth Anderson says he’s been a little surprised with the quick success of the album.
…it’s been presently surprising. I didn’t expect as wide a range of people to be into it. I hoped that people specifically into that style of music would appreciate it but it’s been broad, good feedback; a pleasant surprise indeed.
What were your expectations?
It’s an interesting thing. They say if you don’t have any expectations then you’ll never be disappointed so – not that I expected nothing to happen with it – I just did the best job I could and just put it out there and see what the reaction was. I’m a perfectionist to some extent and I’m always quite critical of things I’ve done. But I’d had plenty of people, whose opinions I value, give me good feedback about it prior to its release so I kind of expected it to make a few waves, but maybe not the splash that it seems to have made.
The album was made over a two year period, that seems like a long time to working on a release?
Yeah it is. It was a process that took a bit longer than I would have hoped but there were a lot of changes that went on during that time and a few other distractions, work-wise and that sort of thing. I wrote quite a few more tunes than are actually on [Manipulating Agent]. A lot of them got to the mastering stage before the final track listing was decided; there was a fair bit of material written but I guess I looked at the record differently throughout the process… Things changed, definitely. It was a developing project rather than something I set out to do.
Will you be releasing any of the tracks that didn’t make it onto the album?
Yeah I’d like to. There’s a couple of tunes that I really like and I think it would be really good to get them out there, otherwise they’ll just sit there and never be released. I’d like to try and do something towards the end of the year; maybe a 12” or a 7” or a couple of B-sides. We’ll just wait and see. But there are plans to get it out.
In the past you’ve had a tendency towards more downbeat music, but with Manipulating Agent there’s just as many up-tempo tracks.
I sort of started on the record with laid-back, introspective kind of beats and tunes and it’s definitely the case that a couple of those got left off the record just because… I didn’t want to cover the same ground again and again and again. I also tried to make it a bit more accessible as well, with different moods, so it wasn’t only a down-tempo, chill-out kind of CD…
You’ve also focussed almost entirely on instrumental tracks as well. Is there a reason you don’t use MCs or vocalists?
The basic issue is finding someone you want to work with, someone whose sound you like. I think there’s some good Australian MCs out there, they’re just not necessarily going to suit the style that I’m after. Each to their own as far as what MCs you like and what you don’t but there’s something about the Australian accent that, sometimes, I find a little hard to swallow.
I think there’s a lot of people that think that.
Yeah; I mean that’s not taking anything away from Australian MCs, I think it’s good that they’re out there doing what they do and there’s some good Australian MCs out there it’s just that they’re not really my bag.
Do you think that has something to do with growing up hearing predominantly MCs from the US?
I think there is that element to it and sounds naïve and narrow minded to say ‘I only want American MCs’ – and I’m not really saying that – If I found someone Australian that I did want to work with, I’d forge ahead and look at doing a project with them. I think that the level of Australian hip hop over the last couple of years has really reached a new plateau and I hope to see more, and better groups getting out there and promoting Australian hip hop. While I was working on this project I wasn’t overly concerned with trying to find anyone in a vocal capacity, whether that be a singer or an MC or spoken word or whatever. I set out initially to write an instrumental record.
Are instrumental records what you prefer to listen to?
No, I enjoy instrumental stuff but I listen to a lot of stuff with vocals as well. Probably more stuff with vocals, I guess. But coming from a writing perspective, I often listen to stuff – even stuff with vocals – it’s really the tune I’m listening to and not so much the vocal. But, like I say I’m keen to go down that road with a future project and get some vocalists working on some tunes.
Manipulating Agent is very much sample based, with more and more producers taking this approach do you think it’s harder to find the less obvious samples and to do something original?
It was a different game when people first started using samplers. You’d just take a loop that you liked off any record and clearance issues weren’t even a problem back then. It was pretty much a sample free for all, James Brown, whoever you wanted. All the obvious things disappeared first because they’re more accessible and more obvious, and you’ve definitely gotta look farther afield than previously and that will continue to be the case. A lot of people are moving away from actually using the sample and they’re getting people to replay stuff and chopping that up.
You’ve been working a lot with Geoff Barrow (Portishead), how did that come about, and why do you think you clicked?
It was probably just as much on a personal level as it was on a musical level. I met Geoff through a mutual friend and we hung out and, both being music producers, we had a fair bit in common and were into quite a few of the same producers. So we shared a lot of influences and came to the understanding that we’d probably work well together – not that I really work with Geoff, he’s helped me in a few areas and I’ve done work with him over in England. The whole Portishead thing, that’s his bag and that’s what he’s working on at the moment.
You’ve also started up the Invada label with him, what are the plans for that?
We’ve got another release planned for later in the year, we’re trying not to get too ahead of ourselves and signing millions of people in the first few months of starting up. Dynamo Productions, which is Andy Smith and Scott Hendy… They’ve release stuff on the Illicit label [in the UK] and they’ve got a new album due out soon, so we’ll probably be doing that out here. That’ll come out on Invada near the end of the year. I think it’s due out in October; I’m not sure whether we’ll wait a month or two before releasing it out here, and then we’ll get them out for a tour over summer… I’m hoping to free up a bit of time after that tour for the next record and getting back into the studio to turn something over in a much quicker fashion than this record.