Q Interview

February, 1995

Q Magazine #101

Participants: Mike Pickering (M People), Justine Frischmann (Elastica), Karl Wallinger
(World Party) and Steve Lillywhite (producer).

Q. What does the immediate future hold for you personally?

I'm working on a video album with 3D computer software. This new particle system enables you to make up to 20 different mixes of the same track. And because chips are getting more and more powerful, in 10 years time all this stuff is going to be so cheap that anybody will be able to design their own pictures, and maybe then people like us will be out of work. That's how I envisage my future.

KW: Out of work?

Well, no, what we as creative people need to do is find new ways of using technology.


Q. Back to the future : does new technology offer a way forward for music or not?

Oh definitely. But what will happen in 50 or 100 years time is what interests me. What we need is a fundamental new discovery in science like the wheel or atomic power, ha ha. It can't be just another piece of software.

[various comments from panellists]

You're all talking about recycling old things - old mikes, old desks. What we need are new ways of doing things. You're never gonna make samplers go away, because all this technology has zillions of dollars being poured into it.

KW: But I don't see that just because technology exists people really need it. I went to Brighton last week and people were coming up to me and saying, We had this CD-ROM demonstration and do you know what? You can remix Duran Duran. And I thought, well, yeah, all you do is cut out Simon Le Bon's vocal, that's much better already. I don't think that most people can be bothered to work out all these new gadgets. They just wanna put something on, press a button and sit back and enjoy it.

Maybe people of your generation do, but not younger people.

SL: They like Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, don't they?

JF: There's an awful lot of kids who wanna listen to the same music they hear on their computer games. It's depressing but true.

The future shouldn't be depressing. We're all depressed around here!

KW: I'm not.


Q. And what about the music that's often held to be the enemy of good songwriting, techno?

MP: I think it's quite progressive actually. For instance Jam & Spoon (German
technomeisters of note) are doing pieces which are not unlike what Mike would do.


MP: Yeah - Jam & Spoon.


Q. Mike, what do you think of this modern ambient stuff?

I don't know what it is. I don't listen to music. I live in my own world and always have done. One thing I do think is happening, tough, is that the days of music being enough on its own are over for a modern young person.

SL: That's absolute crap! It's just that the people making the music aren't good enough at it.

Well, how old are you?

SL: I told you before this started. I'm 37.

So how can you talk about what a 14-year-old is interested in?

SL: Look. We are letting down the public...

Well _you_ might be.


Q. How does the way the music industry operates now affect the future development of your career?

I think the attitude you have to your music and your life really affects the outcome of it. You shouldn't be thinking, How much money am I gonna make? As soon as I started thinking that, it all fell apart?

MP: In my city of Manchester I can't think of a single band who approach it as just a career.

KW: Oh yeah, The Stone Roses really make the sort of music they love, don't they? They haven't been affected by getting a huge deal...

JF: I think Mike's lucky to have come out of the 1970's.

Well, I hope you don't get red and start shouting at me again but the reason I've lasted so long is because I've never been afraid of technology, or young people or trends in music.

All: Aaaaaargh (laughter, mayhem)

I'm not interested in next year, which is all most of you can focus on. I'm interested in what happens in a thousand years time. We don't live in a little bubble, we live in an infinite universe. How can you talk about the future when you're locked in this tiny time slot? To think like that is to have the intelligence of a rabbit. I'm so optimistic about the future.

JF: Yeah, but as you said, you're not listening to any music.

(More laugher, argument and general Oldfield-baiting. To fade.)

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