Interview: Florian Obkircher, Foto: Jason Evans
In an excerpt from the only interview accompanying the release of his latest album Beautiful Rewind, Kieran Hebden explains how he managed to break free from the traditional model of promoting records. Hebden also reflects on how Steve Reich influenced the creation of the album, confesses his love for UK garage and opens up about the urban myth that he and Burial are the same person. The unabrigded German translation of the interview is now available in the current print edition of Groove.
You haven’t done any magazine interviews yet in order to promote your new album „Beautiful Rewind“. Why is that?
Becoming a father a few years ago made me re-assess what I was doing. I had the idea to eliminate the things that seem stupid and get in the way of either making music or being a parent. [On] top of the list was: press. One in 50 interviews has any purpose, the rest of it is just meaningless. Nowadays, to do an interview that covers anything that’s not on my Wikipedia page is rare. It was just meaningless, this endless regurgitation of the same information again and again. I decided to move away from all those things so I could free up time.
„It was just meaningless, this endless regurgitation of the same information again and again.“
Is that why you prefer answering your fans’ questions directly on Twitter? And do you think social networking indicates a revival of DIY culture in pop music?
Maybe in some ways. For me it is very efficient being able to run everything from Twitter. I think depending on the type of music you are making, there are different methods that work for different people. Everybody is too stuck in trying to find one model to promote music. I like the idea that people find different approaches to the type of music they release and their audience.
Your albums aren’t available on Spotify. What do you think of streaming services?
I managed to get everything taken off Spotify. I got a lot of stick for not being on there, because of this notion that there is only one way to do something. But I don’t identify with Spotify. I don’t use it, I don’t feel particularly attracted to it and I decided to opt out. People get in such a flap over saying no to big companies nowadays. But for me, this is quite normal behaviour. I turned down an Apple advert. Nobody says no to Apple but I don’t really care so much. I just need to follow the things that feel right and true to me. I don’t believe that not being on Spotify makes music less valued.
„Beautiful Rewind“ is the first proper album you’ve released without the support of your former label Domino. What are the advantages of independence?
Having released a lot of music with Domino, I was getting into that traditional album cycle: album, press, tour. It still works, and you sell records, but I’ve done it a bunch now. I don’t need to do it anymore. I was looking forward to doing everything at my own pace. It just felt really refreshing. When Pink [2012; a compilation of tracks that had already been issued as 12-inch singles] came out there was no CD release. I haven’t bought a CD in a few years and I don’t feel a particular connection to them. They are just going to be landfill in a couple of years. The distributors thought I was crazy. But I’m running a label where I remove the concept of trying to sell records. It gives you enormous freedom to make very bizarre decisions. The quantity of records we sell is not the priority of anything at all. The priority is my sanity and peacefulness in life. I didn’t even send out any free promos of Beautiful Rewind. That way there was no possibility of an album leak, which was really nice. I really hate album leaks, not because you lose sales but because you work on a record and the way you present it to everybody is part of the whole thing for me.