Colin McDowell is an impeccable authority on all aspects of…
Richard Norris is best known as one half of The Grid. He made a splash on the rave scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with hits such as ‘Swamp Thing’, ‘Crystal Clear’, ‘Texas Cowboys’, ‘Rollercoaster’, ‘Floatation’, ‘Cybernetic’ (with Robert Fripp and Phil Manzanera) and ‘Crystal Clear’.
He’s been a journo at the NME, written a biog of über-DJ Paul Oakenfold, produced a Genesis P. Orridge album and carved out a career as a highly credible remixer with Erol Alkan- collectively the pair are known as The Wizard’s Sleeve.
When did you last have a really good night out?
In Belgium, playing at a new club called Fan Club. I was DJing upstairs, while downstairs a heaving mob were stage diving to an ace live karaoke band who were doing Guns N Roses and Stevie Wonder songs. I got up and did Iggy’s ‘The Passenger’ and jumped up and down a lot. Hopefully Silver Odyssey will be as good!
Did you cut anything very juicy from Oakenfold’s biography?
Sure, there were pages of things the lawyer made me fight over. I had to prove some ‘70s New York DJ’s were gay (duh). Couldn’t say something particular about Boy George. And left a heap of Happy Mondays stories out for my forthcoming Happy Mondays book. Can’t say what, but hopefully they’ll be in the new book.
What was NME like in its heyday?
I think I missed the real heyday with Tony Parsons, Nick Kent, Julie Burchill etc, but my lot seem to have done pretty well – Danny Kelly, James Brown, Barbara Ellen. I was young and naive and used to have the piss ripped out of me by Stephen Wells.
James Brown was very interested in the magazine I edited (as he wanted to start one himself, perhaps?) And Jack Barron and Helen Mead turned it into a party. The editor did pay for me and my girlfriend to spend two weeks in Ibiza because I’d convinced him we needed to be the first to write about Balearic music, which was nice. I could have said Corfu or Benidorm, he would have still paid for the trip – his blind faith was rewarded though as we were the first weekly music paper to write about it.
If you could own any piece of art in the world, what would it be?
Rock Drill. Or a Valasquez. Or one of Hockney’s recent woodland vistas – stunning. Can’t wait to see them in Nottingham.
Who makes you go weak with desire?
The chef at Galicia, Portobello Rd. It’s the squid in ink that does it.
Did you need to take drugs in order to work with Genesis P. Orridge?
I don’t think I needed to. Whether I wanted to was maybe another matter…
Do you think downloading will kill the music industry?
No. It’s just another form of distribution. I think music is in a very healthy state – new ideas, lots of global cross pollination,loads of new ways to explore music (particularly in the last two years as broadband has become universal and laptops are cheap) . It reminds me of the first days of independent music, post-punk. The ‘industry’ may change but music is in great shape.
Who is your favourite fictional character?
Odin (the Germanic god of wisdom, war and magic, he was worshiped throughout Britain, wherever the Vikings and other Nordic tribes settled).
Is there anyone you wouldn’t remix, even if the money was obscene?
We have turned down more than we’ve done, and the offers have been pretty good. No one I regret though. I wouldn’t remix anything I didn’t like, didn’t think needed a remix or didn’t inspire me.
You’ve remixed quite esoteric, experimental artists, is that intentional?
No, we just get offered a mix, and if we like it we do it. I think we do get offered some great tracks to rework, like Midlake’s ‘Roscoe’ – we’ve been pretty lucky.
People might say that much of your music has mostly been enjoyed by people on drugs- how would you respond to that?
I’m glad they liked it.
If you could be trapped in a lift with any 3 living people?
Tarot expert Rachel Pollack, film maker and tarot specialist Alejendro Jodorowsky and an interpreter. They could both do my cards.
Will all DJs be using laptops in a few years time? do you miss vinyl?
I don’t miss it as I still use it. DJ’s will use whatever format works and rocks the crowd. I’m not really a laptop man myself though – I like the contact you get with vinyl.